Area women's basketball squads won more than 60 percent of their games last season, compiling an overall 204-135 mark with eight of the 17 schools competing in postseason tournaments.
Many of these schools have seasoned players returning and with a banner recruiting year locally, area schools should improve their records.
Maryland remains the area power, two or three years ahead of everybody else, because of its vast resourses, Catholic Coach Marie Wiles said. Even with most of last year's 22-7 stalwarts gone, the Terps should remain strong with 6-foot-4 standout Kris Kirchner in the center, returnees Krystal Kimrey and Pam Reaves and a strong freshman crop.
Still, Virginia may be the class of the Atlantic Coast Conference with nine players -- including the entire starting lineup -- returning from last year's 16-12 edition. Four recruits 5-foot-10 or taller, including tw0-time Washington Player of the Year Chrissy Reese from Holy Cross, give Coach Debbie Ryan depth, experience and talent.
Catholic has virtually its entire squad returning and George Washington its starting lineup intact as both schools attempt to make the AIAW playoffs for a third consecutive season.
Navy, Maryland AIAW runner-up in 1978-79, has eight veterans back from a 17-7 season and the Mids appear to have established themselves as a power in the four years Navy has had women's athletics.
Georgetown has four starters back from a 15-9 team as the Hoyas prepare for their first season in the AIAW Division I. Howard has a young squad which should be formidable after obtaining game experience.
American and George Mason will attempt to get on the winning side with fast-break tactics. Linda Ziemke snagged three top players from Pennsylvania -- Joe Frazier's daughter Jacqui and all-staters Jeanie Booros and Jan Gustin in her first full recruiting season. The Patriots have top players Erin Cloyd and Kathy Kleha back with a group of young players who should improve with time.
At the University of the District of Columbia, Bessie Stockard returns for a second coaching stint after leading Federal City College (now part of UDC) to prominence in the early 1970s. Stockard in 1977-78 led American to its best-ever season (18-2) and will be helped by transfer Alice Butler, who helped for accomplish that success at AU, leading all area scorers as a freshman.
On the minus side, Bowie State, the Maryland AIAW Division II state champ, and Prince George's last year's Maryland and Region 20 junior college champs, must start over after losing most of their players.
Gallaudet is expected to remain at the .500 level. Southeastern, Mount Vernon and Trinity have made strides in establishing successful programs with each more than doubling the number of scheduled contests.