Team previews

State Division I women

November 18, 2005|By BILL FREE

COPPIN STATE

Coach: Derek Brown, seventh season at Coppin State (87-77)

Affiliation: Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference

2004-05 record: 23-8 (15-3 MEAC)

Arena: Coppin Center (1,720)

Consensus MEAC favorite: Coppin State

Starters lost: Three

Outlook: Coppin State experienced its first taste of NCAA tournament competition last season and the Lady Eagles loved the experience, even though they were swamped by North Carolina in the first round in Chapel Hill. Getting that national exposure has helped Brown's recruiting efforts immensely, and it helped the Lady Eagles gain instant respect around the MEAC. Earlier this month, Coppin was installed as the pre-season favorite to win the league title again. Brown said of that early anointment of his team, "I think if schools had done their homework they would see we only have three players returning who have seen significant floor time." However, one of those three is 2004-05 MEAC Player of the Year, Sherrie Tucker, and the other two are starter Talia Sutton and Rashida Suber, a member of the league's All-Rookie tean last season. There is also a plethora of new talent at point guard, led by Hofstra transfer Shalomar Oakley.

LOYOLA

Coach: Joe Logan, first season at Loyola

Affiliation: Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference

2004-05 record: 10-18 (9-9 MAAC)

Arena: Reitz Arena (3,253)

Consensus MAAC favorite: Canisius

Consensus Loyola prediction: Fifth

Starters lost: None

Outlook: Loyola failed to live up to predictions that it would win the MAAC last season. The expectations are more modest this season, but the team might have more experienced talent and certainly is deeper. Eleven players return, including all the starters, and three freshmen have joined the veterans. Senior forward Katie Scherle, a preseason MAAC first-team selection, headlines the talent Logan has been dealt. The team's other top players are senior forward Jackie Valderas, last season's MAAC Sixth Player of the Year; senior point guard Krystle Harrington; and senior forward Lauren Troupe. "We keep saying, play harder, play longer," Logan said. "The harder we work and play now, the longer we'll be playing basketball this season, the farther we'll go in the postseason."

UMBC

Coach: Phil Stern, fourth season at UMBC (26-60)

Affiliation: America East

2004-05 record: 8-20 (3-15 America East)

Arena: RAC Arena (4,024)

Consensus America East favorite: Hartford

Consensus UMBC prediction: Ninth

Starters lost: None

Outlook: After watching his team be out-muscled and outrun in the conference the past two seasons, Stern can afford to express a little optimism. He has five starters returning, including fifth-year, 6-1 senior guard Matea Pender, who had the third-largest increase in points per game in Division I women's basketball (1.5 two years ago to 13.3 last season). "I think we've finally caught up with the rest of the league as far as height and speed are concerned," said Stern, whose team ranked last in the conference in rebounding last season. "I think we're real prepared for the America East, where in the last two years we were kind of feeling our way through." UMBC has added two 6-2 freshmen (Mackenzie Butler and Suzanne Morris), along with 6-0 junior college transfer Nicole Dixon (CCBC-Dundalk). Smooth-passing point guard Brittnie Hughes and standout small forward Sharri Rohde are other top starters returning.

UMES

Coach: Fred Batchelor, second season at UMES (12-16, 10-8 MEAC)

Affiliation: Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference

2004-05 record: 12-16 (10-8 MEAC)

Arena: W.P. Hytche Athletic Center (5,500)

Consensus MEAC favorite: Coppin State

Consensus UMES prediction: Fifth

Starters lost: Three

Outlook: It's nice to exude the kind of confidence Batchelor has as he leads the Lady Hawks into his second season, but it's not easy to back up the bravery at a school that has been down for a long time. "I would not be surprised if we make a substantial step in becoming an elite program in the MEAC this season," he said. There were some positive signs in Princess Anne late in the season, as UMES upset powerful Hampton and nearly upended league champion Coppin State in a five-day stretch. Now the big question is, can the Lady Hawks follow those strong efforts this season now that those teams won't overlook them? Senior guard Toni Kennedy and 6-0 senior Jamila Griffith are talented enough to help take the team a long way. All they need is a lot of help from 6-3 sophomore Kristi Veltkamp and the newcomers on the squad.

MORGAN STATE

Coach: Donald Beasley, first season at Morgan

Affiliation: Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference

2004-05 record: 4-23 (2-16 MEAC)

Arena: Hill Field House (4,250)

Consensus MEAC favorite: Coppin State

Consensus Morgan prediction: 11th

Starters lost: Three

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