Feb. 3, 2004
COLLEGE PARK, Md. - Tom Hanna believes in the cyclical nature of athletics. Like in many programs in any sport, Maryland's head men's golf coach feels there are certain years that programs can achieve at high levels.
Based on a blend of experience, leadership and preparation, Hanna thinks the Terrapin men's golf squad could be at the top of a cycle and the top of its game during the 2003-04 season.
"If you look at the history of the golf program since 1993, it's about every third year or maybe every fourth year that we seem to get very good," said Hanna, who is in his 13th season directing the Maryland men's team. "Every third or fourth year, we seem to get two or three seasoned veterans who really come to the top, and we also get a young supporting cast."
This year, Hanna is pointing to seniors Dan MacDonald and Tim Kane to lead the Terrapins to a season that could go beyond solid to special. Hanna seeks an improved standing at this year's Atlantic Coast Conference Championship as well as a return to the NCAA Tournament.
"We've got some senior leadership," said Hanna. "We've got Tim, who was a Regional All-American last year, Dan had a great summer and obviously is playing well this fall."
Kane returns after leading the Terps with a 73.8 scoring average a year ago. He won medalist honors at the Wofford Invitational, one of his team-high four top-10 placings as a junior. The senior from Simsbury, Conn., has been a fixture in the Maryland lineup since his arrival on campus.
MacDonald, a senior from Plandome, N.Y., came from three strokes back to shoot a final-round 65 to win the individual title at The MacLaughlin in late September, played at the Red Course at Bethpage State Park in New York, the site of a recent U.S. Open. He had a strong fall season in 2002 before helping the Terps in six tournaments last spring.
Maryland's third senior is Vertti Iso-Ahola, a product of nearby Upper Marlboro, Md., who is recovering from an injury suffered in a car accident last year. He is seeking to break into a tough lineup after coming to Maryland as a three-time All-Met selection at Frederick Douglass HS.
Pittsburgh native Bobby MacWhinnie is the lone junior on Maryland's squad this season. MacWhinnie had a strong freshman year, finishing second on the team with a 74.5 scoring average in Spring 2002. After playing in eight tournaments as a sophomore, the Terps are hoping for something of a resurgence from him this season.
John Eades, from Charlotte, N.C., had an outstanding freshman year, finishing the spring of his first season with the Terps atop the scoring-average list at 74.4. He led Maryland at both the NCAA East Regional and ACC Championship last year, matching Kane in posting the low score for the Terps at four tournaments a year ago.
Jeff Spradlin is another sophomore, having played well last year for the Terps after transferring from Wichita State. Spradlin, from Leawood, Kan., averaged 75.8 strokes per round in 10 tournaments for Maryland as a freshman last season.
Devin Drobbin is a redshirt freshman from Holmdel, N.J., who played in the U.S. Junior Amateur Tournament while in high school. He will provide depth and competition to those with more experience.
Hanna will blend in four freshmen whom he hopes will benefit from the senior leadership on his team.
Tyler Witman joins Maryland with outstanding promise from Rehoboth Beach, Del., and earned a top-25 finish in his collegiate debut at the Cleveland Golf Kiawah Island Intercollegiate that opened the Fall 2003 season. Witman joins a promising freshman class that also includes Hunter Bendall of Richmond, Va., Skip Clasper from Gaithersburg, Md., and Matt Schall of Jersey Shore, Pa.
"The seniors who accept the leadership role, those teams seem to play well," said Hanna. "That's because they're leading by example. They're practicing, they're shooting good numbers and that's contagious.
"There's a lot of interplay that comes with the seniors being around four or five years."
Hanna said another factor in his optimism comes from a tough schedule. Maryland's battle in the ACC aids in its ability to play well in District 2 and hopefully qualify for another NCAA postseason berth.
"I think we're going to be fine," said Hanna. "I'm very confident that we'll play well in a lot of tournaments. Whether we play well in the right tournaments is yet to be determined, but we should. I just want consistency."