Three months ago, Gabe Romano was helping Chris Weller coach the women's basketball team at the University of Maryland. Now he's head coach at Stone Ridge, a small all-girls prep school in Bethesda.
But the switch from the high-powered Atlantic Coast Conference to the low-key Independent Schools Physical Education Association seems to agree with Romano, who's directed Stone Ridge, which finished 3-8 last season, to six victories in 11 games through last weekend.
"I was hired three days before the first game," said Romano, who also worked as a sports information assistant at Maryland and for the Washington Federals. "We've been working on fundamentals from the start. We still devote the first hour of each practice to fundamentals. And the players are learning how to shoot correctly, dribble without looking at the ball and similar skills. That makes the game more fun when you're learning more. Winning doesn't hurt either."
Juggling part-time jobs as a substitute physical education teacher at Jewish Day School and as a basketball scout for a national scouting bureau, Romano enjoys his hectic schedule.
"When (headmistress) Sister Ann Dyer and (athletic director) Patty Prince hired me, they told me they wanted the girls to learn how to play the game better and to have fun," he said. "And that's what I've tried to do."
Senior forward Chrissy Corcoran is the team's most consistent player and leads in scoring with a 14-point average. Sophomores Marian Dealy and Chrissy Carmody and freshmen Molly Coleman and Molly Bryson also start for the Gators.
"We're only playing 13 regular-season games plus our postseason tournament. I wish we could have scheduled more, but by the time I was hired, everyone else's schedule was filled," Romano said.
"There isn't the high pressure here like in college, and that's nice. Here academics definitely come first. Players sometimes miss practices because they have to study for a big test, finish a lab or go on a field trip, but they work as hard as anyone else when they're here, and that's all I can ask."
When Byron Tucker left the floor after a disagreement with his coach during the third quarter of a game against Forestville, it was thought it would be the 6-foot-8 junior's last appearance of the season for Potomac, according to Coach Taft Hickman.
However, Tucker, who was averaging 21 points per game and had been chosen team captain, recently returned to the lineup after missing two weeks of play.
"If he hadn't agreed to follow the team's rules, he would have been off permanenttly," said Hickman. "As it is, he's coming off the bench now and will have to earn his starting job back. He's a very good player, but he has to follow the same rules of everyone else."
Former DeMatha and Virginia player Billy Langloh is now the basketball coach at Severn, a small private boys school near Annapolis. Langloh, who assisted at Ireton for two years before accepting the Severn job, has turned the team into a .500 club. His best player is 6-6 DeMatha transfer Perry Bowen.
McNamara has three open football dates for next season. The Mustangs need games on the weekends of Sept. 5-6, Sept. 18-19 and Oct. 24-25. Call Coach Frank Neitzey at the school . . . Former Maryland state supervisor of athletics Jack Molesworth has resigned as football coach at Western Maryland after three seasons . . .Tryouts for girls 18-and-under AAU basketball teams are now being scheduled. Call Sallie Woodward at 946-1579 for information.