Terps women set their sights higher Terps hope to be wiser from experience


Young people constantly are knocked for displaying a lack of perspective, but the argument can be made that there are times when forgetting the past isn't such a bad thing.

Take this season's Maryland women's basketball team. Off last season's 11-18 record, the second-worst in the program's history, the Terps start this year hoping for a massive case of team amnesia.

"It's not easy," said sophomore guard Sonia Chase (McDonogh). "We're not carrying it [the memory of last season] on our shoulders. Everybody knows. Everybody is aware of what happened last year. We're just going to go on and just try not to do what we did last year, and learn from last year."

There's certainly a lot to forget from 1994-95, including:

* A first-ever last-place finish in the Atlantic Coast Conference with a 2-14 conference mark.

* A first-ever loss to a team in the state (73-68 at Loyola in December).

* First-ever sweeps by perennial ACC also-rans Georgia Tech and Wake Forest.

* A 95-29 pasting at Cole Field House by then-No. 1 Tennessee.

"We are a lot better than last year, but how competitive remains to be seen," said Maryland coach Chris Weller. "The brightest part [of last season] was that we learned how important it is to be competitive."

The Terps -- who open on the road Friday and Saturday at the Prairie Lights Hawkeye Classic at the University of Iowa before playing host to Rutgers a week from Saturday -- indeed may be better than they were last season, if for no other reason than the freshmen and sophomores who made so many youthful mistakes are a year older.

Maryland will have no seniors and two juniors, but only two players on the roster are without collegiate experience. However, three recruits, including prized JuCo forward Tora Darden, left the team before the fall semester began because of injuries and unsatisfactory grades.

The Terps, who shot 40 percent from the field last season, will depend on a core of three sophomores, Chase and forwards Stephanie Cross and Kalisa Davis, and the return of highly recruited swing player Kelley Gibson to lead them.

Cross, last season's leading scorer, who was named to the ACC All-Freshman team, and Davis, who missed nearly half the season with a stress fracture in her right foot, will provide the bulk of inside scoring.

Gibson, a 5-foot-11 redshirt freshman who tore her anterior cruciate ligament in the third game last season, will shift between small forward and shooting guard, and is being counted on to give the Terps the kind of explosiveness from the wing that they haven't had in years.

"She has that first year to go through and that first year is tough, but I think she can handle it," said Chase of Gibson.

And then there's Chase herself, who with Gibson was the prize of last year's recruiting class.

Chase, a 5-11 perimeter player and member of the gold-medal-winning East squad in this year's Olympic Festival, led Maryland in rebounding from the backcourt. In the absence of a proven floor leader, she'll be asked to play the point.

"I didn't have a strong shot last year, and it's getting better," said Chase. "I'm not going to say that I have the strongest shot that I could ever have, but I'm working on it. It's much better than last year and I have much more confidence and that plays a major part in it."

College previews

The schedule of college basketball previews in The Sun:

Tomorrow: National women, area Division I women, Morgan men

Friday: Navy, Loyola

Saturday: Mount St. Mary's, UMES

Sunday: UMBC

Monday: Towson State

% Tuesday: Coppin State

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