The 10-0 record for the women's basketball team at St. Mary's College is impressive, but it might not have been possible had coach Shann Hart not reached a crossroads nearly four years ago.
Hart, 33, was an assistant at Central Florida, and at Richmond before that. But she wasn't sure if she had chosen the right career, so she took a job at the Division III school, hoping more control would give her "the opportunity to see if college coaching is what I'd want to do."
Now the Seahawks are first in the nation in scoring margin at 29.2 points per game -- led by former Navy player Felicia Harris (20.6 ppg, 4.7 apg) -- and are poised for action in the Capital Athletic Conference that could lead to their third consecutive NCAA tournament appearance.
With what she calls "the most athletic team I've had since I've been here," Hart said she hopes her team can do a little more in postseason play than it has in the past.
"We're trying to go a couple of rounds into postseason play," she said. "We want to win a national championship."
Mitchell's return, Part II
Stanley Mitchell will be back as Morgan State's football coach for 2000. The only question is when that fact will be formalized.
Mitchell and Ricardo Perry, vice president of student affairs, hope that a contract can be hammered out by this weekend, when the first-year coach heads off to Anaheim, Calif., for the American Football Coaches Association convention.
Both parties have been sure of the union for more than a month, since the Bears' 2-8 season ended. Under the circumstances -- which included a late start and the need to play wide receivers and running backs at quarterback -- Mitchell believes the team made sufficient progress, and the Morgan administration seems to agree.
Mitchell said that he trusts Perry and other administrators to the point where it doesn't seem like a delay. "They've been really good and we'll take care of it this week," he said.
"I consider it done," Perry said. "It's just a matter of crossing t's and dotting i's."
That would leave hiring an athletic director and finding a place to play football next season as the major pieces of business facing Morgan State.
It's been nearly six months since Garnett Purnell began working at Division III Wittenberg College in Ohio after serving the Bears as athletic director for three years.
The school has narrowed its search to three candidates. One is believed to be Bowie State athletic director David Thomas. He declined to comment on the matter, but his interest would stem from his time as an undergraduate and grad student at Morgan State in the 1970s.
Long-anticipated improvements at Morgan State's Hughes Stadium, which is being gutted, began this month and are expected to be completed by June 2001.
When the workers are finished, the Bears will be playing at a facility with 10,000 seats (compared with the current 7,000), new lights and concession stands as well as a new field and running track. The football team is expected to move most, if not all, of its operations from Hill Field House to Hughes at that time.
The renovation, which was supposed to have begun in November 1998, was twice postponed. There has been no word on where the football team will compete in the 2000 season.
Towson gymnasts face UM
The Towson women's gymnastics program begins its season with a dual meet in College Park against No. 18 Maryland tomorrow at 7 p.m.
Seven gymnasts return from a team that went 14-10 and, while finishing sixth in the NCAA regionals, did bounce back to win USA Gymnastics' year-end NIT invitational meet.
The team's top performer is junior Niina Parjanen, who finished second all-around in the NIT event and won the vault title with a score of 9.875. The East Atlantic Gymnastics League also named her to its first team for the vault, and to its second team for floor exercise and all-around competition.
Other returning EAGL honorees include Angie Stritt, who was a first-teamer in the uneven bars, and teammates Charlotte Andreasen and Heather Hanson, second-teamers in the balance beam.
The Terrapins return the top two performers -- sophomores Gillian Cote and Laura Moon -- from a team that went 29-13 last season and finished fourth in the NCAA regionals.
Led by Shakira Smith, who averages 19.3 points, the Morgan State women's basketball team is off to a 3-0 start in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, its best league start since 1979-80. The Johns Hopkins baseball team was recognized as Division III's 26th best in a preseason ranking by Collegiate Baseball. Osama Abdelwahab and Johnny Craig are the leading players returning from last year's 25-15 team. Five former UMBC athletes are scheduled to be inducted into the school's athletic hall of fame on Jan. 22. Jeff Hahn (lacrosse 1969-71), Kirk Hewling (track 1991-95), Jennifer Jewell (volleyball/softball 1991-95) Kevin Loewe (baseball 1992-95) and Bobby Wagner (soccer 1990-93) are those who will be honored at a dinner. UMBC baseball coach John Jancuscka was named as an inductee to the hall of fame for the Maryland State Association of Baseball Coaches. Jancuscka, coach of the Retrievers for 23 years, will be inducted on Feb. 19. Brooke Brenneman, diminutive for a center at 5 feet 8, has played big for a struggling Western Maryland women's basketball team, averaging 11.1 points, including a recent 20-point effort against York College.