COLLEGE BASKETBALL PREVIEW

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Coppin State at a glance

Coach: Britt King, first season

Affiliation: Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference

1996-97 record: 7-20 overall, 7-11 MEAC

Radio: Undecided

Arena: Coppin Center

Starters lost: Two

Tickets: $5 general admission, $3 children

Best home game: Defending MEAC champion Howard, Feb. 9

Best visiting player: Howard's Alisha Hill, the league preseason Player of Year after averaging 17.1 points and 8.1 rebounds per game last season.

Outlook: Coppin State enters another phase this season, having lost one of its best-ever players, second-team All-MEAC guard Lisa Briggs, and having to adapt to new head coach Britt King, who replaces five-year coach Tori Harrison. Junior Trisha Allen, who came to Coppin with King from the University of the District of Columbia, will be counted on to provide instant scoring. Allen averaged 18.1 points and 8.8 rebounds for the Firebirds last season. Junior guard Alicia Ritchie averaged 29 minutes per game last season, but just 3.6 points and a team-leading 2.5 assists, and will also be expected to provide more offense, as will fellow guard Liani Adair (3.1 ppg). King, who was 64-57 with the Firebirds, took the Coppin State job after UDC eliminated athletics in a cost-cutting measure. After one losing season at UDC, she crafted four consecutive winning years, including a 20-6 season that won her the Black Coaches magazine's Coach of the Year award.

Around the league: Expect Howard to again control the league, with some pressure in the tournament coming from Florida A&M.;

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Returning players

Name, Year, Ht, Pos, Fast breaks

Celena Falline, Senior, 5-9, G/F, Top returning scorer (8.2 ppg)

Alicia Ritchie, Junior, 5-4, G, Started every game in '96-97

Ayesha Dockery, Sophomore, 5-11, F, Second-team MEAC All-Rookie

Simone Adams, Sophomore, 6-1, F, Led team with 20 blocked shots

Kristi Webb, Sophomore, 5-10, F, 11 points, 12 rebounds at Bethune-Cookman

Liani Adair, Senior, 5-8, F, Three-year letterman

Liesha Mitchell, Sophomore, 5-11, G, Prop 48 playing in first season

Michelle Duncan, Junior, 5-4, G, '95-96 second-team MEAC All-Rookie

Danielle Scott, Junior, 5-6, G, Two-year letterman

Newcomers Trisha Allen, Junior, 5-9, G, Transfer from District of Columbia

Javonti Jones, Freshman, 5-8, G, Largo High product

Charron Beckham, Junior, 5-2, G, Walk-on Coach: Pat Coyle (76-67), sixth season

Affiliation: Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference

1996-97 record: 9-19 overall, 5-9 in MAAC

Radio: WWLG (1360 AM) for games Nov. 19 (at Maryland), Dec. 22 (Towson), Jan. 16 (at Rider)

Arena: Reitz Arena (3,000)

Starters lost: One

Tickets: $4. Call 410-617-5014.

Best home game: Siena, Jan. 14. The Saints are the preseason favorite to win the conference.

Best visiting player: Melanie Halker, Siena. The 6-foot-1 junior forward averaged 19 points and 12 rebounds last season and is a preseason first-team all-conference pick.

Outlook: The Greyhounds are hoping the adversity of last season will make them stronger. Loyola was touted as one of the top teams in the conference last season, but a plethora of injuries dashed any postseason aspirations and the Greyhounds finished fifth in the MAAC. Coyle plans to continue with a three-guard alignment, but if she chooses to go with a bigger lineup, the Greyhounds could present serious matchup problems for the rest of the MAAC. At 6-1 and 6-2, respectively, Susan Bryce and Erica Rath would be the biggest small forwards in the league. In addition to four returning starters, Loyola also has sophomore guard/forward Jennifer Bongard back. Bongard started all 28 games as a freshman, but was redshirted last season because of chronic leg pain.

Around the league: The Greyhounds, along with Siena and St. Peter's, are the projected top teams in a conference that appears to be wide open.

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Returning players

Name, Year, Ht, Pos, Fast breaks

Jennifer Bongard, Sophomore, 6-0, G/F, Redshirt averaged 9.8 ppg as freshman

Susan Bryce, Senior, 6-1, F, Played on 1994-95 NCAA Tournament team

Theresa Cooney, Junior, 5-6, G, Started 16 games last season

Mary Anne Kirsch, Junior, 6-1, C, Averaged 19 ppg, 9 rpg in postseason

Julie Mesaros, Sophomore, 5-7, G, One of MAAC's fastest players

Jina Mosley, Junior, 6-0, G/F, Athletic slasher is tough to guard one-on-one

Catey Peters, Sophomore, 6-1, F/C, Solid rebounder with nice touch

Newcomers Shannon Cohen, Freshman, 5-6, G, Mercy standout could contribute immediately

Diana Keeney, Freshman, 6-0, F, Physical in the paint

Desiree Peterkin, Freshman, 6-0, G, Made 36 straight free throws in high school

Erica Rath, Freshman, 6-2, F, Potential inside/outside threat

Sherika Wilson, Freshman, 6-3, C, Averaged 5.3 blocks for high school career

Kevin Eck

UMES at a glance

Coach: Joyce Jenkins (20-62), fourth season

Affiliation: Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference

1996-97 record: 13-15 overall, 12-8 MEAC

Radio: Undecided

Arena: Tawes Gym

Starters lost: One

Tickets: $6 general admission

Best home game: Defending MEAC champion Howard, Dec. 11

Best visiting player: Howard's Alisha Hill, the league's preseason Player of the Year after averaging 17.1 points and 8.1 rebounds per game last season. She was second in the nation with a 65.6 shooting percentage.

Outlook: UMES expects to at least do as well (fourth) as league coaches predicted in a preseason poll, especially with the return of junior All-MEAC preseason second-teamer Kristi Sheldon (4.7 ppg, 4.6 rpg) and classmate Aileene Frazer (10.1 ppg, 2.9 apg), the team's second-leading scorer. Sophomore Nicole Council (9.5 ppg, 2.3 spg) will be relied on for extra contributions after being named to the conference all-rookie team last season. JUCO transfers Marlena Smith and Dana Spriggs should help at the power-forward spots, and a player to watch will be freshman Nykeesha Thompson, who was the Philadelphia high school Player of the Year last season after averaging 19.7 points, 4.6 rebounds, five assists and two steals per game.

Around the league: Expect Howard to again control the league, with some pressure in the tournament coming from Florida A&M.;

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Returning players

Name, Year, Ht, Pos, Fast breaks

Aileene Frazer, Junior, 5-4, F, Led team in scoring (10.1), assists (2.9)

Nicole Council, Sophomore, 5-8, G, MEAC All-Rookie first-teamer

Kristi Sheldon, Junior, 6-0, G, Averaged 4.6 rebounds per game

Nikki Appleberry, Sophomore, 5-10, G, Averaged 13 minutes per game

Crystal Little, Senior, 5-8, G, Averaged 6.1 points per game

Jeannette Simmons, Junior, 6-2, C, Played in 23 games off bench

Brandy Thomas, Sophomore, 6-0, G, Little-used substitute

Tene Wilson, Senior, 5-8, G, Averaged five minutes per game

Vanessa Valez, Senior, 5-9, G, Third-leading scorer (9.8) last season

Newcomers Marlena Smith, Junior, 6-3, C, JUCO transfer from Sullivan, Ky.

Nykesha Thompson, Freshman, 5-6, G, Street & Smith's honorable All-America

Dana Spriggs, Junior, 6-0, F, Expected to replace grad Dawnyelle Brown

Kiana Lewis, Sophomore, 5-7, G, Did not play last season

Shantwan Dowell, Sophomore, 5-11, G, Lewis and Dowell only Shore players

Tonjonna Hayes, Sophomore, 6-4, C, Did not play last season

Brant James

Maryland at a glance

Coach: Chris Weller (432-208), 23rd season

Affiliation: Atlantic Coast Conference

1996-97 record: 18-10 overall, 9-7 ACC

Radio: WMUC (88.1 FM)

Arena: Cole Field House

Starters lost: Three

Tickets: 301-314-7070

Best home game: Maryland meets defending conference champion North Carolina and the most recent in-state star that got away, St. John's Prospect Hall grad Nikki Teasley, Jan. 18 on ESPN2.

Best visiting player: Tracy Reid, North Carolina's All-America forward, was the conference Player of the Year last season.

Outlook: The Terps look for peace and progress after a season replete with allegations of player abuse and other distractions. They finished third in the ACC last season, and lost to Purdue in the opening round of the NCAA tournament. They return their top three players, all seniors, and the heart of their much-trumpeted 1994 recruiting class in versatile guard/forward Sonia Chase (10.5 ppg, 6.4 rpg), leading scorer Stephanie Cross ppg, 6.7) and center Kalisa Davis (10.9 ppg, 4.9 rpg). Guard Kelley Gibson's ability to move to the basket or shoot from the perimeter offers tantalizing possibilities, but the redshirt junior has played in just 49 games in three seasons, averaging 10.9 points. Maryland may lack depth, with returners Branka Bogunovic (a 6-8 center) and Rachel Cimmier (redshirt junior) and three newcomers Weller's only options.

Around the league: The ACC sent six teams to the NCAA tournament last season, and should continue as one of the nations's elite women's basketball conferences with three preseason Top 25 picks.

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Returning players

Name, Year, Ht, Pos, Fast breaks

Stephanie Cross, Senior, 6-1, F, Led Terps in scoring (11.9), rebounding (6.7)

Kalisa Davis, Senior, 6-2, C, Shot 59 percent from field last season

Sonia Chase, Senior, 5-11, F/G, Always guards top scorer

Kelley Gibson, Junior, 5-11, G, Healthy knees should boost output

Tiffany Brown, Sophomore, 5-6, G, Set school 3-point mark (48) as freshman

Branka Bogunovic, Sophomore, 6-8, C, Tallest women to ever play at Maryland

Rachel Cimmier, Junior, 6-2, F, Redshirt returning from knee injury

Newcomers Antoineta Gabriel, Sophomore, 5-11, F, District of Columbia transfer

Meghan McIntyre, Freshman, 6-1, F, Considered one of nation's top 60 recruits

Michelle Miller, Sophomore, 5-8, G, Walk-on a three-sport athlete at Glenelg

Brant James Coach: Darcel Estep (15-13), second season

Affiliation: Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference

1996-97 record: 15-13 overall, 11-7 MEAC

Radio: Undecided

Arena: Baltimore City Community College Field House

Starters lost: Three

Tickets: $5 general admission

Best home game: Defending MEAC champion Howard, Feb. 14

Best visiting player: Howard's Alisha Hill, the league's preseason Player of the Year after averaging 17.1 points and 8.1 rebounds per game last season. Hill was second in the nation with a 65.6 shooting percentage.

Outlook: What Morgan State lacks in experience, it makes up for with youth -- just four of 14 players are upperclassmen, and the Bears could start two sophomores and a freshman after losing starters Nitrease Hamilton (9.8 ppg), Faith McGriff (7.7 ppg) and Kaira Warfield (12.1 ppg). The Bears will build their game around sophomore Monique Liddell, its returning leader in scoring (11.2 ppg), rebounding (6.6) and field-goal percentage (.498). Senior forward Tressan Dugan (3.7 ppg, 3.8 rpg) is the team's emotional leader and a physical rebounder, and senior forward Jodie Patrick (1.9 ppg) will become a starter. Sophomore guards Gabriella Beckles and Myisha Cherry will be counted on to stabilize a backcourt hurt by the loss of Warfield.

Around the league: Expect Howard to again control the league, with some pressure in the tournament coming from Florida A&M.;

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Returning players

Name, Year, Ht, Pos, Fast breaks

Monique Liddell, Sophomore, 6-0, F, Already Morgan's best

Myisha Cherry, Sophomore, 5-9, G, Played in just 11 games last season

Jodie Patrick, Senior, 5-11, F, Playing time to increase

dramatically

Tressan Dugan, Senior, 5-11, F, Aggressive rebounder, emotional leader

Gabriella Beckles, Sophomore, 5-6, G, Replaced injured Kaira Warfield midseason

LaShaunda Clark, Junior, 6-2, C, Last season's most improved player

Newcomers Lisa Mickens, Freshman, 5-7, G, Virginia Central Region Player of the Year

Calibra Alston, Freshman, 6-3, C, Philadelphia prep all-star

Janelle Queen, Junior, 5-10, G, Transfer from Arizona, Anne Arundel CC

Tamara Parham, Freshman, 6-0, C/F, All-District in Virginia

Kimberly Harris, Freshman, 6-0, FC, Averaged 14 points, 13.6 rebounds

Shakira Smith, Freshman, 5-10, G/F, Averaged 19 points

Latiesha Abraham, Freshman, 5-7, G/F, Averaged 20.2 points

Lesley Crowder, Freshman, 5-11, F, Averaged 21 points

Brant James

UMBC at a glance

Coach: Kathy Solano (225-209), 16th season

Affiliation: Big South

1996-97 record: 4-23 overall, 1-13 in Big South

Radio: WWLG (1360 AM) for games Dec. 10 (at Mount St. Mary's), Jan. 6 (UNC-Asheville)

Arena: UMBC Fieldhouse (4,024)

Starters lost: None

Tickets: $6 adults, $3 children

Best home game: Liberty, Jan. 13. The Lady Flames are the favorites to win the Big South.

Best visiting player: Liberty's Elena Kisseleva, who averaged 21.6 ppg, 8.3 rpg last season.

Outlook: The Retrievers' fortunes went from bad to much worse last season. UMBC plummeted to 4-23 after successive 12-15 campaigns. The Retrievers did not lose a single player to graduation. In addition, Solano successfully recruited three promising freshmen and will have Charleston Southern transfer Courtney Simmons available after sitting out last season. The Retrievers have already suffered a crucial loss, however, with a season-ending knee injury to point guard Maggie McDevitt. Sophomore Erin Davis, who was projected to serve as McDevitt's backup, may now start. Davis also battled injuries last season, but when healthy, she provided solid minutes. Simmons should take some of the scoring, rebounding load off Monica Logan.

Around the league: Liberty was picked first in a preseason poll, followed by Radford, Winthrop, Charleston Southern and the Retrievers.

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Returning players

Name, Year, Ht, Pos, Fast breaks

Tara Boyd, Senior, 5-9, F, Averaged 4.5 rebounds; started 15 games

Kim Brown, Sophomore, 5-7, G, Regarded as best athlete on squad

Kendra Damann, Senior, 5-10, G/F, Was in double figures 20 times last season

Erin Davies, Sophomore, 5-4, G, Missed eight games due to injuries

Kathy Doyle, Junior, 5-8, G, Started 13 games last season

Serena Hampton, Sophomore, 5-10, C, Averaged seven minutes as freshman

Nicole Johnson, Junior, 5-10, G/F, Long-range threat

Monica Logan, Junior, 6-0, C, 11th in country in rebounding last season

Suzanne Manzi, Sophomore, 6-0, F, Provides rebounding and defensive help

Newcomers Hannah Freeman, Freshman, 5-9, F, Walk-on vying for time at wing

Theresa Moore, Freshman, 6-1, F, Was a teammate of Nikki Teasley

Courtney Simmons, Junior, 6-0, F, Transfer from Charleston Southern

Emmalee Spiek, Freshman, 6-2, C, Bruiser inside

Kevin Eck

Mount St. Mary's at a glance

Coach: Bill Sheahan (357-91), 17th season

Affiliation: Northeast Conference

1996-97 record: 15-13 overall, 9-9 in NEC

Radio: WXTR (820 AM) for games Jan. 17 (St. Francis, Pa.), Feb. 9 (Long Island, Feb. 18 (Monmouth)

Arena: Knott Arena (3,196)

Starters lost: Three

Tickets: Free

Best home game: St. Francis (Pa.), Jan. 17. The Red Flash is the defending conference champion and favored to repeat.

Best visiting player: Mary Markey, St. Francis. The senior forward was NEC Player of the Year last season.

Outlook: Times have certainly changed for the Mountaineers. They had won eight consecutive Northeast Conference regular-season titles before slipping into a three-way tie for fourth last season. And after losing 56 percent of its scoring and 47 percent of its rebounding to graduation, they may not be able to regain the top spot. A key is the successful return of Megan Gardiner. The 1995-96 NEC Newcomer of the Year played just six games last season before going down with a knee injury. Gardiner averaged 15.8 ppg and 6.3 rpg in her abbreviated season. The Mount has just one senior, Rachel Harrington, who will fill in at center behind 6-foot-2 freshman Rachael Williamson. Juniors Jo-Val Nance (4.9 ppg) and Beth Henson (4.7 ppg) split time at shooting guard last season.

Around the league: St. Francis is the prohibitive favorite to repeat as conference titlist. A preseason media poll had Wagner finishing second, followed by the Mount.

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Returning players

Name, Year, Ht, Pos, Fast breaks

Jennifer Chapman, Sophomore, 5-9, G, A step quicker than last year

Vera Feldbusch, Sophomore, 5-9, G/F, Averaged 8.6 ppg, 3.4 rpg at small forward

Megan Gardiner, Junior, 5-10, F, Impact player at power forward

Rachel Harrington, Senior, 6-0, F, Will fill in at center

Beth Henson, Junior, 5-7, G, 29 three-pointers were 2nd highest on team

Tchemavia Hill, Sophomore, 5-10, F, Led team with 18 blocks

Lauren Menichini, Sophomore, 5-8, G, Will run the offense

Jo-Val Nance, Junior, 5-8, G, Started 18 games

Newcomers Deanna Butters, Freshman, F/C, 6-0, Athletic reserve power forward

Margaret Carey, Freshman, G, 5-3, Promising walk-on could back-up point guard

Kia Williams, Freshman, F, 5-11, Tantalizing mix of size and speed

Rachael Williamson, Freshman, F, 6-2, Should be big help on the boards

Pub Date: 11/14/97

Kevin Eck

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