Photo courtesy of Maryland Athletics
By Daniel Sarver
“The program is not for the weak.”
That’s what Maryland women’s basketball manager Brenda Frese said about the match challenge Maryland basketball will face this year. They face 12 of the top 25 opponents, including a formidable match against South Carolina in the home opener.
“Probably the most difficult program we’ve ever faced,” Frese also noted.
This will be Frese’s 21st season at College Park, where he has won a national championship and achieved tremendous success. However, this year marks a new chapter and a new challenge for the program.
The Terps have lost several key players this off-season, including last year’s starters, forward Chloe Bibby and guard Katie Benzan until graduation. They also saw several players exiting the program via transfer. Striker Angel Reese, whom ESPN named the 7th best college basketball player this year, has decided to bring his talent to Baton Rouge and join the LSU Tigers. Guard Ashley Owusu, who ESPN had at 16 on her list, rushed to Blacksburg to join Virginia Tech. Mimi Collins also left for NC State.
In their wake, the Terps welcome nine new players this year; five transfers and four freshmen.
“Obviously, we are putting together a lot of different pieces this season, which has really stimulated our staff,” said Frese. “Every training is an opportunity as we are learning many new players, just like all of you. It’s a great puzzle to put together and we can’t wait to maximize our roster. ”
All five added transfers can score, as demonstrated by each averaging at least nine points per game last year. The protagonist of this group is guard Abby Meyers. Meyers, a transfer from Princeton, was last year’s Ivy League Player of the Year. You have already shown in the preseason games in Maryland the ability to score in various ways, even from three points. “I know I have to be a knockout shooter,” Meyers said.
Among other transfers, guard Lavender Briggs averaged 21.8 points per game last year in the SEC game for Florida. Frese described it as a “scoring machine”. Elisa Pinzan seems to be the starting point guard of the team. Frese praised her for her court vision. Striker Brinae Alexander, a transfer from Vanderbilt, brings versatility and toughness to the team. The team took a hard hit when Towson’s transfer Allie Kubek suffered an ACL injury while preparing for the year. Frese said he was competing for a starting role to give the team more size and length before his injury.
Terps also welcome one of the top ten recruiting classes. The group includes guards Bri McDaniel, Gia Cooke, Ava Sciolla and striker Mila Reynolds. McDaniel looked good in preseason games, especially on the defensive side. Frese said he thinks McDaniel is already one of their best defenders.
“My intensity is like a lion, I go out and do it,” McDaniel said when asked about her mentality.
Gia Cooke has shown the ability to manage the attack effectively in preseason games and will be an asset in the reserve point guard.
Despite all the new faces, the team leader is still Diamond Miller senior. Miller ranked 21st on the same ESPN rankings and figures to be one of the Big Ten’s best players. Miller will be the focus of the attack this year, but her main goal is to win.
“Points don’t really matter. Statistics don’t really matter. As long as we win the game, then I’m happy, “she said.
The team returns three other players in Faith Masonius, Emma Chardon and Shyanna Sellers.
“All of our returns have all come back better,” Frese said. Masonius is returning from an anterior cruciate ligament injury. Frese called her the “collanatrice” of the team.
Sellers was last year’s Big Ten Sixth Player of the Year.
Maryland made it through their preseason games, defeating two Division II opponents. However, Frese wants to keep expectations low for the season.
“It will be a marathon, not a sprint,” Frese said.
The Terps start their season on November 7th at George Mason. Then they face South Carolina’s number 1.
“We will discover ourselves very soon,” Frese said.