Chris Weller will spend her 25th season at Maryland looking to improve on the worst season in the program's history. Because of expirations of eligibility, a transfer, an injury and an academically ineligible player, she was forced to rely almost exclusively on freshmen last season. And while that makes for an unusually experienced group of sophomores, the program has a long way to go before it can regain the national prominence it enjoyed earlier in Weller's career.
During her first eight seasons, the Terrapins averaged 22 wins and finished in the top 10 nationally six times. From 1978 to '89, they dominated the Atlantic Coast Conference, winning eight of the first 12 conference tournaments. Maryland also once did well in the NCAA tournament, with Weller engineering two Final Four, two round-of-eight and two round-of-16 appearances. But since the 1993-94 season, Maryland has gone 78-95 and has made one NCAA tournament appearance -- a 26-point, first-round loss to Purdue in 1997.
This season, the Terrapins have eight underclassmen on their 12-player roster. But four starters return, including Deedee Warley (St. John's in the District), who became only the fourth freshman in the program's history to lead the team in scoring, and senior Tiffany Brown, who played well in 19 games after regaining her academic eligibility.
Brown was forced to play more than 38 minutes per game last season because she was the team's only natural ball handler. This season, she should receive help from freshman guards Vicki Brick, Terri Daniels and Renneika Razor. Their arrivals also will enable Marche Strickland, who started all 27 games last season as a freshman, to return to shooting guard.
Weller is particularly eager about Brick, who led her high school team to a 26-0 record and a USA Today top 25 ranking last season.
"I like the way that Vicki Brick plays the game," Weller said. "I like the way she thinks on the court. I like the way she attacks the game, the way she attacks her opponent. She has an intensity, a fire."
Last season: 6-21, 3-13 Atlantic Coast Conference.
Coach: Chris Weller (25th season, 453-242).
Top returning players: F Deedee Warley, 6-2, Soph. (13.4 ppg, 5.7 rpg); C Branka Bogunovic, 6-8, Sr. (11.7 ppg, 6.9 rpg); G Tiffany Brown, 5-6, Sr. (6.6 ppg, 6.9 apg); F Cara Ferris, 6-1, Sr. (4 ppg, 3.6 rpg); G Marche Strickland, 5-9, Soph. (8.6 ppg, 3.1 apg); F Rosita Melbourne, 6-3, Soph. (3.5 ppg, 3.1 rpg).
Key departures: G-F Kelley Gibson (12.3 ppg); G Ginji Perry (4.7 ppg, former All-Met player of the year dismissed from team).
New faces: G Vicki Brick, 5-7, Fr. (Baltimore); G Terri Daniels, 5-11, Fr. (St. Mary's); F Brie Jackson, 5-11, Fr. (Bullis School); G Renneika Razor, 5-8, Fr. (New York).
20 Loyola College, 7:30
23 Penn State, 7:30
27 Coppin State*, 4
28 UNC Charlotte or West Virginia*, 2 or 4
30 Fairleigh Dickinson, 7:30
2 North Carolina, 7
8 Howard, 7:30
11 Robert Morris, 2
20 at Richmond, 7
28 vs. Southern Methodist**, 4
29 vs. Miami or Brown**, 2 or 4
3 Duke, 7:30
6 at Clemson, 7
9 at North Carolina State, 12:30
12 Florida State, 7:30
15 at Virginia, 2
19 at Wake Forest, 7
23 Georgia Tech, 12:30
27 St. Bonaventure, 7:30
30 at North Carolina, 1
3 at Duke, 7
6 Clemson, 7:30
10 North Carolina State, 7:30
13 at Florida State, 12:30
20 Wake Forest, 12:30
24 Virginia, 7:30
27 at Georgia Tech, 2
3-6 ACC tournament in Greensboro, N.C.
**Hurricane Holiday Classic in Coral Gables, Fla.