Thursday's edition of The Washington Post incorrectly said Chris Weller, current University of Maryland women's basketball coach, coached Lin Gehlert at Maryland. Weller actually played on the same Terrapin team as Gehlert.
Recent emphasis and increased popularity of women's college basketball has brought the game to more people in more places.
The following vignettes involve people in the sport. One is the story of a new coach, one of a player at a new school and one of a new fan . THE COACH
Although Lin Gehlert was 10 years out of college when she began her new job last summer, she realized her education was just beginning.
Gehlert needed to learn fast and well so she could convey the new information to her charges, the George Washington women's basketball team.
Gehlert was hired for the Colonial coaching slot out of Sherwood High in June. At Sherwood, her teams had dominated Maryland girls basketball -- winning five county, five regional and two state titles.
But Gehlert quickly found out it was a different state of affairs on the college level.
"It's still the basic game," Gehlert said. "But there's a lot more to learn about little things, different strategies and tactics, intricate things I had never even noticed."
During much of the summer Gehlert attended coaching clinics, read books of basketball theory and generally lived with the sport for hours each day. During fall men's practices at GW, she watched how Colonial Coach Bob Tallent ran his squad, picking up several nuances previously unknown to her.
"I found out little things, like how to funnel the ball toward a certain section of your defense," Gehlert said, shaking her head in wonderment. "I had never even heard of things like that."
Eight games into the season, Gehlert is somewhat more relaxed. She's enjoying her work and the Colonials are 9-6 after regaining a pair of highly regarded freshmen from the volleyball team last month.
She admitted there was no great pressure from the athletic department to immediately produce a big winner.
"The object is to be the best you can -- that's the real priority," she said. "Hopefully, that includes coming up with a big winning season, maybe eventually going to a postseason tournament."
Because she started late, Gehlert had no say in this year's recruits. She currently is in the process of mailing some 500 postcard questionnaires to coaches at schools in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia and the District. For each questionnaire returned, Gehlert mails an application to the potential player for GW's 12 scholarships -- some partial and some full.
Gehlert is her only recruiter. After checking the morning mail, answering correspondence and conducting afternoon practices, she will, on a typical nongame day, cruise the area to scout a high school game. "My job depends on recruiting well."
Gehlert considers the highlight of this season GW's victory over Howard, an old nemesis. The low point was a humiliating 36-point loss to secondranked Stephen F. Austin in January.
"We had been waiting too long for the Austin game," Gehlert said. "We were real high to play them for weeks, but we lost it one or two days before the game. I think we would have made a better showing had we played them a little earlier.
"But the value in that loss is that the girls were able to see how good a team could be. I hope we came out of that with a goal in mind. Even if you lose, you should be happy if you'd played a good game. But, still I really hate losing."
As a collegian, Gehlert played for the University of Maryland under Coach Dotty McKnight and current Coach Chris Weller.
"McKnight demanded excellence and good sportsmanship," Gehlert said. "I value that experience and those ideals a lot. Women's basketball is more fun for the players than men's; it has to be.
"I'm not saying you should be a good sport and give up aggression. But it makes the game more fun if you know you're not going to get tripped or elbowed." THE PLAYER
Jane Connolly was an All-Met at powerful Regina High School in Adelphi. A three-year starter, she averaged 22 points for her career.
Signed by Maryland, Connolly was rudely awakened to the facts of bigtime basketball life. She was just one ray of light in a constellation of stars. Connolly got little playing time and, following her sophomore year, transferred to Catholic University.
"She had always played," said Catholic Coach Marie Wiles, who also coached Connolly at Regina."Jane was willing to sit out for one year. But the next season, she could see she was not even on the second string. I think she saw the handwriting on the wall."
Connolly has now found her niche at the Brookland school. The junior has stepped in to average 18 points, including highs of 29 and 27.
Connolly has never looked back to College Park. "I'd always attended small, parochial schools," said the 5-foot-8 player, who swings between guard and forward for the Cardinals.
"The size of Maryland was intimidating. Catholic is a much more personal school. The pressures of basketball are off me, we don't travel as much, and I'm doing better academically.
"Here, more time is expected to be spent on academics. Some of the girls at Maryland don't even have a major, half of them are not getting an education."
Wiles, of course, was esctatic to be reunited with Connolly. "She's a leader on the team -- the girls look up to her. They know she knows her business.
"She can dribble, rebound, is an excellent shooter and very fast on defense -- she averages five steals. I really couldn't tell you her weaknesses."
Connolly said the pressure on the players to win at Catholic is about the same as at Maryland but, "At Catholic, if we lose, we lose. We want to have a good time. That's conducive to being in a small league.
"At Maryland, winning means more. The players give up much more of their time than they would at a smaller school. At Catholic, we can say we're not pressed by the publicity that Maryland gets."
Wiles said there existed no hard feelings between Connolly and Weller. That fact apparently reflects Connolly's personality on the court.
"She always stays cool, never shows signs of emotion with the officials or other players," Wiles said. "I want her in there when things get tough." THE FAN
Winston Baker is a devoted basketball fan, one who will stop and watch a three-on-three playground pickup contest to criticize, owns computerized games and probably wonders why he is not a coach or general manager in the NBA.
But for years, he had made it a point to avoid any games involving women.
"Watching women play basketball seemed like watching an all-male chorus line," Baker said. "The concept might be legit, but the execution leaves a lot to be desired."
However, this season Baker, no doubt enlightened by Title 9 and the women's movement in general, has found himself watching a few women's college games.
Baker disclosed his first impressions at a recent Howard women's contest.
"One thing," he began "is that watching women play is easier on your neck muscles. Females don't move as fast horizontally or as far vertically, so watching is a lot less of a strain.
"I have seen evidence of skill emerging at scattered times from some of the players. But most of them still need work on the basics, like catching the ball, shooting layups, etc."
As Baker watched a recent game, he began warming up to it vocally.Disagreeable calls by the referees were met by the same high-decibel judgments that normally leave him with little voice after Bullet games.
"I can't believe these calls the refs are making," Baker steamed. "The next one they make should be to call a cab. Now I see why the women sometimes play so timidly. You know the girl Snidely Whiplash always ties to the railroad tracks? These officials wouldn't call charging on the train, they'd call blocking on the girl."
Baker also was perplexed by the lack of visible emotion among the players and coaches to a poor call.
"I will say one thing, though. The women are very good sports, much better than men. When an opposing player takes a hard fall, everyone goes over to make sure she's all right. You don't ever see that anywhere else."