Women's college basketball will take another step -- it hopes -- forward tonight at the University of Maryland when the Terrapin women's team plays in the first of five doubleheaders scheduled with the men's team this season.
Chris Weller's Terps, 2-0 on the season, will play Montclair State at 6 p.m., Lefty Driesell's 2-1 team takes on Brown at 8. In addition to sharing Cole Field House with the men, the women will share live television time. Both games will be on WTTG-TV-5.
"We wanted to try these doubleheaders to give our women to opportunity to be seen by a large majority of our student body and a lot of our basketball fans who have not seen the women play," Athletic Director Carl James said. "We're hoping that if they like what they see in these doubleheaders, they'll come back just to see a women's game sometime in the future."
Next Saturday the women will play Edinboro State prior to the men's game against Catholic. Both Montclair and Edinboro are among the stronger teams on the women's schedule, though they are unfamiliar names in men's basketball.
"We're hoping that people who see the women play against Montclair and Edinboro will want to come out and see the team when it plays Southern California on Jan. 4," James said.
"Two years ago when the women played the first game of a doubleheader against ULCA it went great; the fans loved it. But it was never followed up on. We'd like to see it followed up on this time."
Currently Maryland charges $3 and $1 to its women's games and $10 for a six-game season-ticket package. Nevertheless, crowds still are well under 1,000 per game, on the average.
James said that he would like to see Maryland average 2,500 spectators a game within the next two years at women's games in Cole Field House, which seats 14,500, he said he would like to see the average close to 5,000 sometime in the next five years.
"If we can do that, then we'll be doing a super job," he said.
The Maryland women have had considerably more success than the Maryland men the last two years, playing in the national championship game two years ago and finishing sixth nationally a year ago.
The Maryland men should have a much more leisurely evening than the women, who beat Montclair a year ago by two points. The men's opponent, Brown, comes in with a 1-2 record, including a loss to basketball nonpower Northeastern.
"I guess we ought to beat them," Driesell said. "But they'll probably come in here and slow it down on us. And when that happens, you never know."
Driesell defended his team's December schedule which, aside from Wednesday's (lost) Georgetown game, does not include a game outside Cole Field House and brings in opponents like Brown, Catholic, Bucknell and Kent State.
"I think our schedule's just fine," Driesell said, "especially with Buck Williams hurt. I think the Lord must have been guiding me when I made the schedule because he knew Buck was going to get hurt."
Georgetown (2-0), has an even easier game than Maryland tonight, facing St., Leo at 8 its opener in McDonough Gym. Catholic, 0-3 on the road, will try to use the home-court advantage of Brookland Gym to get a win over St. Francis (Pa.) at 8 p.m.
Navy (2-0) has the toughest game of the day, playing host to Temple at 2 p.m. in Annapolis, The Owls were 58-52 losers to Virginia on Wednesday. George Mason, winless, is on the road at Robert Morris.
George Washington and American are both playing in tournaments.
The Colonials, 1-2 after last night's opening-round loss to Missouri in the Show-Me Classic in Columbia, Mo., will play the consolation game of that tournament, against Auburn at 8 p.m.
American, 2-1 after winning in the James Madison Invitational against Baltimore last night, plays James Madison State tonight at 9.