Slowly and quitely, UMBC is staging a small-scale renaissance in its athletic program, and no one could be happier than its athletic director, Charles Brown.
The latest example is the volleyball team, which travels to Los Angeles tomorrow night for the NCAA tournament and a first-round game against Southern California.
After two consecutive seasons of falling just short, the Retrievers (22-6) and coach Catherine Lavery gained entry by winning the Northeast Conference tournament last month.
"She's our most successful coach in the 1990s," Brown said. "We've had a lot of near-misses, and, to make the NCAAs, I'm really happy for them."
The volleyball victory gave UMBC three conference championships in the fall.
The teams in men's golf and women's tennis were the other league champs, and the school is expected to pick up championships in women's lacrosse and women's swimming, and is a favorite in men's tennis.
"We're having the best fall in our history of Division I," said Brown, UMBC's AD for the past nine years.
According to UMBC athletic spokesman Steve Levy, a majority of the Retrievers' athletes were freshmen and sophomores in 1995-96 who grew over time.
They were part of the breakthrough of 1997-98, when the Retrievers won the NEC in women's lacrosse, the Big South championship in women's tennis, the Eastern College Athletic Conference championship in men's swimming, and made the NCAAs in men's lacrosse.
"Last year was our breakthrough year," Brown said. "Our biggest question was, 'Can you follow that year with another good year?' and we're following it with a better year."
Washington College men's basketball coach Tom Finnegan picked up his 350th victory on Monday night in the Shoremen's 74-70 win over St. Mary's. Finnegan, who guided Washington to the Division III semifinals in 1990, is 351-304 in 28 seasons.
Before the loss to UMBC on Tuesday night, the Towson women's basketball team had won its first four games, the best start since the then-Division II Tigers went 9-0 in 1979. One of their wins in a tournament at Lehigh was against UNC-Greensboro, 77-76, which went to the NCAAs last year and beat Maryland by 18 earlier this season.
The Johns Hopkins women's basketball team, which narrowly missed the Division III semifinals in 1997-98, is off to another brisk start, winning its first four games. The Blue Jays have been led by Leslie Ritter and Marjahna Segers, the top two scorers in the Centennial Conference. Ritter, who averages 21 points, also ranks second in assists with 5.5 per game, and Segers (18.5 points) is second in rebounds with 10.5.
Three Bowie State football players were named to the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association's first team last week. Tight end Mike Cox and defensive standouts Rod Williams and Damon Wilson were honored after the Bulldogs had their first winning season since 1989. Williams totaled eight interceptions in nine games, ranking him second in Division II.
Morgan State center Curtis King, the team's second-leading scorer and rebounder (11.4 ppg, 4.8 rpg), is out with a badly sprained ankle at least until Monday's game against Howard at Gilman School.
The women's bowling teams at Towson (club team) and Morgan State will compete Saturday at the Eastern Pennsylvania-Maryland Intercollegiate Bowling Conference meet, to be held at the Strike House Lanes in Hyattsville. The Bears finished eighth and Coppin State fifth at the North-South Intercollegiate Bowling Championships at Howard University on Nov. 21. The Bears' Janelle Richet and Vernita Bostick made second team all-tournament.
Pub Date: 12/03/98