Angel is heavenly for UMBC

Angel Webb can do just about anything for the women's basketball team at UMBC. The 5-foot-11 junior forward from Woodlawn leads the Retrievers in scoring, rebounding and blocked shots, and her field-goal percentage is tops among the regulars.

Just don't ask Webb to do any distance running.


Coach Sue Furnary has a not-so-little requirement dealing with a timed two-mile run. Its main purpose is to initiate the freshmen to the rigors of Division I basketball, and it's graded to the individual. Webb was asked to complete it at an eight- minute pace, and she didn't do so until the Christmas break, the reason she came off the bench in UMBC's first nine games.

"I don't like running whatsoever," Webb said. "I guess I can live with sprints, but forget the longer stuff. The funny thing is, my father got me into a couple of track and field meets when I was younger.


"Actually, starting or not doesn't affect me, but I had to meet the two-mile time before Christmas or else I couldn't even suit up. That was a big incentive."

Furnary's ultimatum took some guts, because Webb's all-around play is a huge reason UMBC is making the most of its first season in the East Coast Conference. Heading into today's (5:15 p.m.) home game against Central Connecticut, the Retrievers lead the ECC with a 6-1 mark, and are 12-8 overall. UMBC has never won more than 15 games at the Division I level, but it's in position to do so this season.

Webb is averaging 16.8 points on 45.3 percent shooting from the field. She's the top rebounder with 8.6 a game, and also leads in blocks with 30. With 820 career points, she already is UMBC's No. 6 all-time scorer, and 1992 could see her end up No. 2, behind only Tammy McCarthy's 2,063 achieved from 1983-87.

Webb has a soft shooting touch and can run the floor. She's led the Retrievers in scoring in 12 games and in rebounds in nine games, but she is by no means a one-person team. The Retrievers also rely greatly on Karyn Swann, a junior guard from Wilde Lake; Felice Pinkney, a senior forward from Greenbelt; and Missy Quille, a sophomore guard from Annapolis.

Webb was a two-year varsity standout at Woodlawn, and drew much interest from Virginia Tech. She wanted to stay close to home, and was able to make an immediate contribution at UMBC, averaging 10.6 points and 6.5 rebounds as a freshman. The numbers dipped to 8.0 and 6.3 last season, but Webb improved during the offseason at the college summer league run at the Community College of Baltimore by Western High coach Breezy Bishop.

Webb turned 20 just last week. She was 17 for most of her freshman season, and Furnary said much of her increased production was a simple matter of maturity.

"She was so young coming out of high school," Furnary said. "Because of the work she's done in the weight room, her body's a lot bigger and stronger. She had some adjustments to make. It took her a while to realize I wasn't her enemy."