Seven months after being eliminated by Norfolk State in the first round of the NCAA Division II basketball playoffs, University of the District of Columbia Coach Wil Jones still is angry.

Bitter over what he called poor seeding and questionable officiating (Norfolk State shot 45 free throws en route to a 68-64 victory), Jones has declared the 1987-88 season his turn for retribution.

"For those reasons, this is going to be a special year for us," Jones said. "Our goal each year is making the playoffs. This year, we're on a mission and yes, I think we can go undefeated. Am I putting pressure on myself? The answer is yes."

With 10 of the 12 players on last season's 24-6 squad returning, senior Lyndon DeBellotte coming back after sitting out a season with an injured hand, two fine transfers and several highly regarded freshmen, it is easy to understand Jones' enthusiasm.

"All of them can play. I call them my SAT team. None of them have scored 700 {out of a possible 1,600} so they have to listen to me," he said. "They play very well as a group and, top to bottom, I think they are my best team ever."

That's a brash statement considering UDC's 1981 national championship team (25-5) and the 1982 national runner-up team (29-3). But Jones feels this team has more quickness, height and, most important, depth.

"I guess the problem might be getting enough playing time for everyone. But {junior point guard} Tony Harris has already told the guys no one is averaging more than 14 points per game," Jones said. "When your turn comes, you better shoot and make it because someone else will be ready to shoot."

UDC loves the upbeat tempo, averaging nearly 95 points a game last season. Don't expect anything to change. In fact, the Firebirds may run even more.

The key back court players are the 6-foot-3 Harris (14.0 points per game), the designated three-point goal shooter; 6-3 senior DeBellotte (17.5 as a junior), probably the most talented player on the team and the player Jones feels has pro potential; 6-2 sophomore Laraun Queen and 6-4 junior Dexter Johnson.

Tim Stanfill, a 6-7 junior (13.8 points, 6.9 rebounds); 6-8 junior Richard McLean (11.2, 6.3); 6-7 sophomore Cyril Cox (4.5, 4.7); 6-7 Eric Johnson (4.0, 3.2), and 6-11, 290-pound sophomore Robert Pollard (4.6, 4.1) will be depended on for rebounds and inside scoring.

Transfers 6-9 junior Vincent Copeland (Bakersfield Junior College) and 6-7 junior Conrad Eaddy (UMBC) also are solid inside players.

Jones' freshmen are 5-11 Melvin Middleton (Spingarn), 6-1 Eric Jones (Spingarn), 6-3 John Hymes (Springbrook), 5-10 Dana Jackson (Lake Clifton) and 5-10 Wayne Benson (Fairmont Heights). They will get a chance to play since the Firebirds prefer full-court pressure and a fast-break offense.

"When I ask my reserves to come in, they are supposed to turn up the pressure a notch," said Jones, who has a 156-66 eight-year mark at UDC. "This team has the potential to be very, very good. We plan to put up a lot of three-pointers because we have people who can flat out shoot the ball.

"We will press, shuttle people in and out and try to wear down people. Everyone gets to do their thing for two minutes. No one should be tired in the final minutes.

"We're bigger and if we blend in together, we can complete our mission -- win another title so I can get in the Congressional Record. In the past, even with those Earl Jones, Michael Britt teams {1981-82}, I only had one or two bullets to use. Now I have a bench full of silver bullets to slay the werewolves. I can keep shooting this year."