After a 27-day layoff, the Johns Hopkins women's basketball team (8-1) will get a chance to buff away any rustiness as it goes against 3-6 Chicago tonight at 6. But looming in a second home game this weekend is the challenge of playing Washington University in St. Louis, the defending champs in NCAA Division III, ranked No. 1 with a 10-0 record and featuring the best player at that level, Alia Fischer.
If Hopkins can overcome the odds to beat the Bears, it would avenge its only loss last year in the University Athletic Association, a conference whose prestige sometimes supersedes that of the Centennial Conference from which Hopkins gets its NCAA bids.
"In the past, we've dominated the Centennial Conference so much that the team always got up for the UAA," said Johns Hopkins coach Nancy Blank, while noting that the team is more aware of the Centennial after losing to Muhlenberg in the conference final. "[The players] still use the UAA as a frame of reference, but they also know that the Centennial is our ticket to the NCAAs."
So far this season, Blank's team has adjusted well to the loss of leading scorers and all-Centennial League selections Julie Anderson and Angie Arnold. Led by Leslie Ritter (19.2 ppg) and Marjahna Segers (13.9 ppg, 10.2 rpg), the Blue Jays suffered their only loss to New York University on Dec. 6.
But even the game against Chicago will be a tough test for a team that has practiced only a handful of times in the last month.
"It'll be a good test with the first game back," Blank said. "You never know what to expect."
The men (7-2) will go through the same thing as the women, returning from their own sabbatical to face Chicago (6-3), the UAA titleholder, at 8 p.m tomorrow, followed by a game against Washington (5-5) at 1 p.m. on Sunday.
Men's coach Bill Nelson said the Blue Jays head into this weekend with six practices under their belts since beating Rochester on Dec. 12, a factor he attributes to the demands of last semester's exams and the disparate locales of players' hometowns.
"Most of our players are from out of town, and they don't get to go home that often," Nelson said. "It's good that they had a chance to spend time with their families and get a little rejuvenated after a hectic December."
At Towson, the gymnastics team looks to rebound from a season in which it missed the NCAA regionals for the first time in 12 years. Its attempt comes with nine letter winners returning, including seniors Kim Yenco, who was the team's best last year, and Liane Williams, the East Atlantic Gymnastics League co-rookie of the year in 1996 before being hampered by injuries in each of the next two seasons. But first, the team will be sponsoring an event for all local grade schools, next Tuesday from 10: 30 a.m. to noon. The Coppin State track team continues its indoor season tomorrow with the Father Diamond Invitational at George Mason. The men have been without the efforts of half-miler Ian Roberts, an indoor All-American last year who transferred to St. John's for his last year of eligibility.
All donations from Coppin State's can drive during its basketball games against Bethune-Cookman will go to Bea Gaddy Family Centers. Coppin wrestler and 1998 NCAA qualifier Sidney Billups is redshirting this season because his coach, Kenneth Taylor, wanted him to have a better chance of placing high in the national meet. Still, that didn't stop him from winning the Wilkes Open last week, the second year in a row that he has won the 149-pound category in that meet. The UMBC swim teams, returning from a holiday training session in Florida, are playing host to a dual meet against Rutgers at 1 p.m. tomorrow at the UMBC natatorium.
Pub Date: 1/08/99