Like the men's team at Maryland, the women's team has become the standard by which others in the area are judged. Maryland Coach Chris Weller is a winner: 107 victories, 30 defeats and the finals of the AIAW tournament in 1978. Her team last year was somewhat of a disappointment -- "only" 21-9 and elimunation in the quarterfinals of the AIAW tournament -- but winning brings increased expectations.

The 1980-80 Terrapins, ranked 14th in one preseason poll, are smaller, due to the transfer of 6-foot-3 all-America Kris Kirchner to Rutgers for her senior year and the graduation of 6-5 Krystal Kimrey. Weller can still field a team with a front line of 6-3, 6-1 and 6-1, however, so the terps will be able to match up with most teams.

Maryland will sorely miss the scoring (20.9 points) and rebounding (12.1) of Kirchner. The big players are young, so Maryland will most likely use its team speed and outside shooting to win games. Its second- and third-leading scorers return, along with an excellent freshman class.

Myra Waters, a 5-10 junior, averaged 14.3 points per game and is set at one forward spot. The back-court positions will be handled by 5-10 senior Pam Reaves, the team's third-leading scorer last year with a 13.1 average, and 5-10 sophomore Debbie Lytle, a flashy ball handler. Two freshmen, 5-8 Marcia Richardson of Rocky Mount, N.C., and 5-7 Tina Hodgson of Immaculata High School, provide depth in the back-court.

Up front, Weller is counting on two 6-1 players, Yugoslavian Jasmina Perazic and Lydia McAliley. A 6-3 freshman, Belinda Pearman of South Hagerstown High School, is being worked into the lineup. Pearman scored 10 points in 20 minutes in an opening victory over Georgia Tech, and Weller says she could be starting by midseason.

Strengths: A good group of guards, team speed and above-average height. Waters and Reaves are excellent shooters. Lytle averaged five assists and set a school record for steals last year.

Weaknesses: Most major-college powers are using centers at least 6-3, and at this point, Maryland has no one to match up with players that big. Lack of experience could hurt as well.

Outlook: The schedule is difficult: eight teams ranked in the preseason top 20, plus games with local powers Virginia, Howard and Georgetown. Three ACC opponents were ranked in the top 20. The Terps also have games with No. 2 Old Dominion, No. 3 Tennessee, No. 4 Rutger's and No. 6 Long Beach State Weller will find out early and often what sort of team she has. Georgetown

This could be a good, good team -- better than the one that went 21-3 last year. The top four scorers return, and seventh-year Coach Francis Carr has recruited a 6-foot-4 freshman center and a flashy guard from St. Anthony's High School to join what is probably the best back-court in the area.

The guard corps is so deep, in fact, that Carr probably will go some of the time with a three-guard alignment. K. C. Comerford, a 5-7 sophomore point guard from Brooklyn, impressed everyone in averaging 20.4 points and five assists a game. Alongside Comerford will be 5-7 senior Abby Dillon, who averaged 18.1 points a game. "She's probably the best pure shooter in Washington," said Mary Briese, the assistant coach, of the Hoyas' all-time leading scorer.

Erin Reid, who averaged 12.5 points, and freshman Diane Tolliver, an all-Met from St. Anthony's, gove Georgetown even more strength at guard. The front court is iffy: 6-3 Kit Hepp (10.8 points, 7.4 rebounds), probably will open at center, with 6-4 freshman Juanita Davisd of Sao Paulo, Brazil, counted as backup. Ulrike Myhr, a 5-10 freshman from Sweden, and 5-11 Kerry Keefe, will see action at forward.

Strengths: Exceptional guard corps, a proven center in Hepp, good team depth. Being four-deep in the back-court gives Carr great flexibility, particularly on defense. If Davis matures, Georgetown will have an enviable 1-2 punch at center.

Weaknesses: The forwards are a question mark right now. The team's leading rebounder, Maria DeVita (eight per game), has graduated, and her position probably will be filled by 5-11 Kerry Keefe, who missed nearly all of last year with an injured knee.

Outlook: Georgetown should be exciting, and should win most of its games. The Hoyas were accused of playing a squishy-soft schedule last year, but it has been upgraded considerably. The Hoyas could be a better team with a worse record. UDC

The Firebirds' prospects are so good that even Coach Bessie Stockard, violating her profession's credo of never saying anything good about yourself, admits "You could say we'll be a powerhouse."

Eleven of 15 players return from last year's 21-5 squad. Foremost among them is Alice Butler, the nation's sixth-leading scorer (26.1 points per game) and second-leading rebounder (18.2 per game). The 5-foot-9 junior forward made four all-America teams and was a preseason selection this year. She may have to share the spotlight with Claflin College transfer Debbie Davis, a 6-3 center who also made a few all-America teams last year. Combined with veterans Gwen (Ms. J) Jones and Theresa Snead, the four form a solid nucleus.

Newcomers Diane Bushrod, an all-Met at Eastern High who can play forward or guard, Sharon Dennis, a 5-7 ball-handling whiz, and Chanel Hamilton, a 6-3 center, will cause opponents some long, cold winter nights.

Strengths: Everything, particularly overall experience, depth and speed.

Weaknesses: Inexperience of the newcomers, which probably will vanish after a few games.

Outlook: Only a tougher schedule, with 14 Division 1 teams compared to six last year, stands in the way of a better record. Anything less than a regional tournament berth will be a major disappointment. Howard

Sanya Tyler replaced Tommy Lee as Howard's head coach, and she brings to the job an unbridled enthusiasm. Example: Of point guards Blondell Durnell and Michelle Dyer, Tyler says, "They can shake and bake with the best of them."

Or, talking about sophomore guard Carolyn Baylock, who will become eligible in January, Tyler says, "One-on-one, she's probably the best player in the city."

Tyler also predicts an exciting, fast-paced offense, not to mention an improvement upon last year's 12-10 record. Returning are 6-foot-1 1/2 center Essie Haney, and senior forwards Eyvette Weaver and Deborah Davis. cAll averaged in the 10-12 point, 10-rebound neighborhood last year.

"I think Howard has the most talented team in the city," Tyler said. "It's a matter of putting it together."

Strengths: A varied offense, improved defense and shooting.

Weaknesses: Youth -- eight sophomores and two freshmen. Lack of a floor leader.

Assessment: A team that won't be boring and should win more games than it loses. Prince George's

Three starters and five players return from last season's 18-5 team, including leading scorer (20.1 ppg) and rebounder (15.8 per game) Patti Walsh and second leading scorer Debbie Fletcher (14.1). Backing up that potent combination are Jackie McDermott, Carolyn Barnes and Penny Jackson.

Strengths: Spped, conditioning and experience.

Weaknesses: Lack of height, with Walsh the tallest at 5-foot-8.

Outlook: Stronger than last year. Should repeat as champions and avenge second-round loss in the regionals. Gallaudet

Coach Kitty Baldridge has only four players back from last year's 12-9 team, but all are starters. She still won't have much experience or depth: There are no seniors, and only two juniors, on the nine-player team.

The two juniors, 5-foot-6 Vicki Marlowe and 5-5 Lindy Deane, will handle the backcourt chores. Caroline Newsome, a 5-10 sophomore, returns at center, where she averaged 10.5 points last year. The forwards will be 5-7 sophomore Karen Halupnik (five points) and 5-6 freshman, Jo Ann O'Neill.

On offense, Baldridge is working on establishing an inside game. A 2-1-2 zone will be the defensive staple. Gallaudet has won its first two games this year, beating Marymount and Goucher, but Baldridge was not happy. "We made only 20 of 47 free throws against Marymount," she said. "Our shooting has got to improve."

Strengths: An experienced backcourt, O'Neill's: shooting touch. Marlowe and Deane are members of the Deaf Olympics team, and will provide scoring and leadeship. O'Neill, another Deaf Olympian, is a good outside shooter and Baldridge is counting heavily on the freshman.

Weaknesses: Lack of height, particularly on the front line. With so few players available, Gallaudet could be in real trouble if any starters are injured.

Outlook: This could be a good team with another year of experience and the recruiting of a 6-footer or two. Now, limitations in height and depth will mean many close games for Gallaudet. Virginia

After years of watching North Carolina State and Maryland run the Atlantic Coast Conference, the Cavaliers made themselves known in the league last season. It will still be tough for Virginia. Maryland, N.C. State and Clemson were all ranked in the preseason top 20, but the Cavaliers have almost everyone back from a 20-12 squad.

Chrissy Reese, a 6-foot-1 center from Holy Cross High School, had an impressive freshman year, averaging 12.1 points and 10.5 rebounds in making the second-team all-ACC squad. Ten other lettermen return, including 5-7 junior guard Melissa Mahoney of O'Connell (15.3 points) and 6-3 senior forward Jackie LaBerge (10.6 points, 6.1 rebounds). Coach Debbie Ryan pulled off a major recruiting coup in capturing Parade all-America Linda Mitchell, a 6-0 guard-forward from Jersey City, N.J., who averaged 28 points and 14 rebounds.

"I have a lot of depth, which is a novel problem for me," said Ryan. "I'll be able to use three-guard alignments for pressing. We've also got better rebounding, so we'll try to run as much as possible."

Strengths: Good size up front, plus a veteran guard combination in Mahony, a second-team all-ACC selection, and 5-11 Jill McDone (9.3 points). The improvement of 6-4 sophomore Vicky Hoops has prompted Ryan to try Reese at forward. This means more flexibility for the Cavaliers and more headaches for opponents.

Weaknesses: The Cavaliers like a fast-break offense, but bog down when they have to set up. "We're not a good shooting team yet," notes Ryan. Lack of team speed is another problem.

Outlook: The young Cavs were often beaten decisively by good teams last year, but with more depth and experience, it should be different this year. Although a rugged conference schedule will provide bumps and bruises, Virginia could challenge for the championship. George Mason

Pat Layne is in her fourth year as George Mason's head coach and never has had a winning team. She figures this is the season that should change.

"I think we can be above .500," she said. "We're a stronger team than last year and we have more depth. Right now, we're making a lot of mental mistakes but once we clear through that, we should have a decent team."

The Lady Patriots, 12-12 last season, have nine letterman returning. Senior guard Kathy Kleha and sophomore forward Lavon Jones each averaged around 15 points per game, and Layne is expecting big things from 6-foot-1 freshman center Jeanne Daunoras. Junior guard Barb Hill and sophomore forward Norma Horne should also start.

A tough schedule, including eight NCAA Division i opponents, again faces Division ii George Mason.

Strengths: Experience, good shooting and team speed. Not much height, but good leapers.

Weaknesses: Early-season difficulties with offensive patterns. Lack of an outstanding ballhandler. Tendency to foul.

Assessment: A good recruiting year and a lot of veterans should produce the first winner at George Mason in five years. Trinity

Trinity College plays 12 games this season, compared to six last year and three the season before that. "We've expanded quite a bit," Coach Nancy Dosch said. "I just hope we can be competitive. I'm not sure if we'll be over .500, but that's our goal." Trying to help realize that objective are six lettermen returning from last year's 2-4 team, including junior wing Veronica Dean, the leading scorer at 12 points per game. Dosch also has high hopes for freshman Julie Smith.

Strengths: Good rebounding, experience.

Weaknesses: Inconsistent outside shooting, no home gym.

Assessment: Should be competitive with other small-college teams. Catholic

First-year coach Diane Ryczek takes over a program in transition. Formerly a member of the NCAA's Division I, CU has elminated scholarships and is now Division II. The plan is to eventually scale down to Divison III.

Three starters who have kept their scholarships return for Ryczek as she hopes to improve upon last year's 14-14 record. They are senior point guard Bernadette Kerley, a 12.3 game scorer, 5-foot-11 senior forward Sharon Hodges (12.2) and 5-11 1/2 junior forward Maggie Chapman (9.8).

But it's not a tall team, and as a result, CU is "going with a lot of defense," according to Ryczek. "We're going to play a defensive game rather than overpower people."

Junior wing Nora Glennon also will start, but the fifth spot is up for grabs.

Strenghts: Cohesiveness and teamwork, necessitated by lack of a dominant player. Emphasis on defense.

Weakness: Lack of height and a pure point guard. Little depth.

Assesment: An above-.500 season a possibility if the team stays healthy. Navy

Growing up is hard to do, as the Mids will find out. The club was 15-9 last year and earned a second consecutive Division II playoff berth, but this season it moves up a few notches.

The Mids have some formidable weapons. Junior Colleen Cassidy, a graduate of Seneca Valley High School, riddled opposing defenses for 20.2 points per game last season and holds almost every Academy scoring record. She'll get help from senior Bernie Boska, a Hayfield High graduate, who averaged 16.4 points per game and was the leading rebounder with 7.5 per game. They will be ably assisted by returnees Lynne Coe, Sheila Fox and Linda Bolan. The vacancy at center caused by the graduation of Cathy Rayhill should be filled by Barb Nester or Angela Smith, both of whom are 6-2 and can clear the boards.

But Coach Dave Smalley's biggest problem is not his players. It's his schedule, which includes several Division I powerhouses. "That's going to be our biggest adjustment," Smalley says candidly. "We've got more Division I teams than we've ever had."

Strenghts: Experience, depth, and good plebes.

Weaknesses: Lack of size, especially in the backcourt.

Outlook: Probably a better team than last year, but it might not be noticeable because of the schedule. Hard-pressed to repeat a 15-9 mark. American

Coach Linda Ziemke has six returning players from last year's 8-14 team, but she will still field a young squad -- no seniors and only four juniors. The biggest loss is point guard Sandy Thomas, who averaged 17.3 points and set team records for assists and steals. Ziemke must also cope with the absence for several weeks of promising 6-foot freshman Josie Zamolyi, who recently underwent knee surgery.

Much of the inside will be carried by 6-1 junior Rhea Farberman, who averaged 13.5 points and 10.5 rebounds last year. The guard situation looks good with sophomore Jeanie Booros (10.5 points) and junior point guard Annette Allor, who missed last year with a knee injury. Jacqui Frazier, a 5-9 sophomore,and 5-7 Jan Gustin will handle the forward positions.

"We'll have good team speed and quickness," said Ziemke, "and the teamwork is coming along. Right now, we don't have much depth inside, especially with Josie out. She's also the fastest player on the team, so she'll be missed."

Strenghts: Farberman, a capable scorer and inside player. Booros can shoot and Allor, who has been impressive in preseason, should be a good replacement for Thomas.

Weaknesses: Except for Faberman and Zamolyi, no player is taller than 5-10. Opposing teams averages four more rebounds than the Eagles last year, and this year could prove to be more of the same.

Outlook: Ziemke is hoping Zamolyi can be back by February. If she can come back and help out Farberman inside, and if the guards perform as exected, American should finish at least .500. Mont./Rockville

Montgomery-Rockville's season doesn't start until Jan. 3, and Coach Cynthia Changuris has a special problem: Who will be eligible? In the questionable category is forward Joan Kleinknecht, who averaged 12 points and nine rebounds a game last season as the Knights went 8-10.

Two 6-foot centers, Chris Lewis and Laura Hall, could help. Others who should contribute are veterans Michelle McNichol and Chris Coleman and newcomers Sharon Liptak, Sonya Clingon and Cathy Cosgrove.

Strengths: Strong rebounding and effective outside shooting.

Weaknesses: Average speed, poor depth at guard.

Assessment: New-found height will help, but eligibility could play the ultimate role. Mount Vernon

Basketball at Mount Vernon College is a low-key, low-priority operation. Second-year coach Bob Meden has nine players returning from last year's 2-14 team, and again will be a team without much size and depth.

Strengths: Meden is high on 5-2 senior guard Wynter Byrd, a good shooter who was the most valuable player last year. Despite its limitations, the team has worked well together and Meden is pleased with its cohesiveness.

Weaknesses: A lineup of 5-1, 5-2, 5-7, 5-6 and 5-9 will have problems matching up with anyone at the collegiate level. Little experience and even less depth.

Outlook: There is no place to go but up, Fortunately for Division III Mount Vernon, its schedule isn't over. whelming, although Washington Bible, a team it beat 55-9 last season, isn't on the agenda this year. Another long season, perhaps, for Meden and Mount Vernon, but there have been longer ones. GW

After being ignored for a tournament berth last season despite an 18 10 record, the Colonials are determined to make amends. The material is there, with 10 players returning. It is up to Coach Lin Gehlert to mix the ingredients properly.

She starts with junior Trish Egan, the leading scorer (14.9 points per game) and rebounder (8.4 per game). Add Alurie Cann, the senior floor leader, 6-foot-1 junior Leslie Bond and 6-foot sophomore Anne Markle for some inside power, throw in some good shooting by Carol Byrd, Robin Illsley and Patty McCormick and strong defense by Juri Durda, and the team seems certain to be better than last year.

It may not show in the record, though. The schedule is far tougher, with more Division I teams. Freshmen Anne Feeeney and Jennifer Johnson, both Pittsburgh-area stars, should provide needed height and depth. "We've got nobody to blame but ourselves if we don't make the regionals," Gehlert says bravely.

Strengths: Outside depth, inside experience and defense.

Weaknesses: Rebounding and questionable offense.

Outlook: Better than last year, with a regional playoff berth an excellent possibility. Bowie

A solid mix of veterans and newcomers should make it a pleasant winter for Coach Arleene Creek. Annette Rolle averages 22.4 points and 15.5 rebounds.Bernadette Vann and Bonnie Washington will be on hand, leaving two spots open, but Creek doesn't seem worried.

Strength: Experience and the leadership of Rolle.

Weaknesses: Lack of depth at guard.

Outlook: Definitely better than last year's 14-7. Should make playoffs. National

Two-time defending national champion Old Dominion has lost its two all-Americas, Nancy Lieberman and Inge Nissen. Louisiana Tech will be without 6-foot-5 supercenter Elinor Griffin. Tennessee loses not one, but two Olympians: Holly Warlick and Jill Rankin.

So when the preseason polls were released, the following teams were the top three: Louisiana Tech, Tenessee and Old Dominion. There is a bevy of excellent teams around the country, but these clubs rank as favorites to win the Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women championship in late March in Eugene, Ore.