Many college basketball coaches cringe at the more thought of starting two freshman. At this time last season, University of Maryland women's coach Chris Weller would probably never have considered such a thing, but that was before she saw the likes of Betsy Bailey and Cris Kirchner.
It has been the spectacular play of Bailey, former All-Met at Marshall High School, and 6-foot-3 Kirchner that has Weller feeling optimistic before facing national power UCLA and its three-time All-America Ann Meyers in the first half of a doubleheader Wednesday night at Cole Field House.
The UCLA-Maryland women's game at 6:30. will precede the Maryland Duke ACC men's opener at 9.
We're very excited about playing a team from the West Coast," said Weller. "Of course a victory won't guarantee us a return trip to the nationals but it sure would go a long way toward boosting our confidence."
This is probably the biggest game on the Terps' schedule in terms of prestige, Maryland (3-0) has yet to be tested, having destroyed Madison, 78-39; Howard, 105-49, and Ursinus, 94-39.
"I'm pleased with the play of the team. Our defense has been very good," said Weller. "Both Betsy and Chris played in the junior Pan Am Games during the summer and that gave them valuable experience. So far they have played very well."
Even UCLA first-year coach Billie Moore has been impressed with the credentials of Maryland's two first year players.
Maryland had probably the best recruiting year of any school in the country. They came up with at least two excellent players," said Moore, who compiled a 150-17 won-loss record in eight years at Cal State at Fullerton.
The game shapes up as a shootout between two fast-break-oriented teams.
Led by Meyers, a 5-9 senior jump shooting machine, UCLA (4-0) is averaging 108 points per game. Meyers, sister of Milwaukee Buck Dave Meyers and member of the 1976 Olympic team, is playing about 25 minutes per game. However, she is averaging 19 points on 70 per cent shooting from the floor, six rebounds, five assists and three steals per game.
Meyers is surrounded by talent. Denise Curry, a 6-1 freshman, is averaging 24.8 points and 7.2 rebounds per contest. Heide Nestor, at 6-1, is averaging 11.3 points and 5-7 Anita Ortega 18.3.
Maryland features a balanced attack with four players averaging in double figures. The 5-9 Bailey, an exciting, devil-may-care performer, is the Terps leading scorer with a 12.3 average.
Mary Briese and Jane Zivalich are averaging 11.3 points per game while Kirchner sports a 10.3 average to go with her 10 rebounds and two blocked shots per game. The key to the Terps running game is 5-6 All-America candidate Tara Heiss.