- The Washington Times - Friday, May 14, 2004

Third-seeded Maryland and Army meet in the first round of the NCAA tournament tonight at Byrd Stadium, and it’s unlikely anyone will have the same mixed feelings as Dick Edell.

Edell led Army to the postseason four times from 1977 to 1983, then moved to Maryland. He took the Terrapins to 13 NCAA tournaments before retiring for health reasons in September 2001.

One of the postseason bids sent him to West Point to face his former school in the first round in the 1993 tournament. With the entire boisterous cadet corps in attendance, the Black Knights upended the Terps 15-11 — the last time Army won a postseason game.

“If there are 4,300 cadets, then there were 4,300 right behind us,” Edell said. “On one side, there’s like a single tier that probably sits 8,000 or 9,000, and that’s the side the benches are on. My head probably stopped hurting in about July [1994].

Tonight marks only the second time since 1976 the teams have met. Edell was apprehensive about the 1993 game (“I wanted no part of that. The way we played that day, it didn’t seem the players did either.”) and made certain Army never appeared on Maryland’s regular-season schedule.

“I was not comfortable with that situation,” said Edell, who will attend tonight’s game. “If I was still active today, I would never want to go back to either of the places. You put your heart and soul into it, and you care about the place where you work. I wish they could both win.”

The new guys

A year after five teams made their first NCAA appearances, Providence is the only program making its postseason debut this month. The Friars (9-7) won last weekend’s Metro Atlantic tournament to clinch the league’s automatic bid.

“We’ve worked very hard to get here, but we’re not where we want to go yet,” Providence coach Chris Burdick said. “We’ve seen the progress the last couple years, but unfortunately we didn’t get the job done in the conference championship. This is just one of the steps along the way of where we want to be.”

The Friars won’t have it easy — they will face top-seeded Johns Hopkins this afternoon at Homewood Field. Providence has some impressive athletes on defense, including three-time conference defensive player of the year Brian O’Rorke, and will need all of them against the explosive Blue Jays.

“You have a team like Hopkins that’s obviously tremendously skilled and very well coached, you put together a multiple-scheme plan and go down the list until you see what works,” Burdick said. “We’re not going to leave anything in the cupboard. Anything we have as a team, we’re going to use. They’re going to see a lot of different things from us over the course of the 60 minutes.”

Voelker’s gamble

Penn coach Brian Voelker cobbled together as difficult a schedule as he could — including nonconference games with Army, Johns Hopkins and Maryland — then hoped his team would back it up. Thanks to the strong schedule and a victory over Cornell, the Quakers (7-6) reached the NCAA tournament for the first time in 15 years.

“I said [before the season] I’m either going to look really smart if we finished with a winning record, or I’m really going to look stupid and we’ll win one or two or three games and we’ll be scratching our heads saying that we put the kids through something too tough for them,” said Voelker, whose team visits second-seeded Navy tomorrow. “All credit to our kids. We scheduled the tough schedule, but they won the games, and it’s a real tribute them.”

Voelker concedes he wasn’t sure whether Penn would be in the tournament mix when the season started. The Quakers’ program had been in flux — Voelker was Penn’s third coach in four years when he took over before last season — but with senior attackman Will Phillips (40 points) and a stingy defense leading the way, the Quakers went 5-1 in games decided by two or fewer goals.

“Whatever happens this weekend, this team definitely overachieved,” Voelker said. “We’re not the most talented team, but it’s a great group of kids.”

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