COLLEGE PARK, Md. – In the pre-season polls, the University of Maryland Lady Terrapins do find themselves ranked in the top 15 of both (#15 in the AP poll/#13 in the Coaches poll) and after losing two huge stars to the WNBA, the 2017-18 team will have two early BIG tests.
Having lost graduating seniors Shatori Walker-Kimbrough (she now plays for the Washington Mystics of the WNBA) and Brionna Jones (she plays for the Connecticut Sun, also of the WNBA), Head coach Brenda Frese is dealing with a slightly younger and less experienced group of players that will get tested in two of the first four games.
After opening the season at home against Albany on Friday, November 10th, they will then host the reigning NCAA Women’s Basketball Champions, the #4 South Carolina Gamecocks on Monday, November 13th (7:00 PM ESPN2). After an early home game on Thursday, November 16th at Niagara, the Terps will head on the road to the toughest place to play a game, the #1 ranked Connecticut Huskies in Storrs, CT on Sunday, November 19th (1:30 PM ESPN).
There are only two seniors on Maryland’s roster this season; 5’9″ G Kristen Confroy and 6′ G Iesha Small (who was a red-shirt junior last year after playing at both Florida State and Baylor before transferring to Maryland).
But if the Terps lack overall playing experience, they make it up in height and size. Only Confroy and Freshman G Channise Lewis (5’8″) are the only Maryland players under six-feet tall. There are two players who are 6’3″ (Junior F Aja Ellison and Junior F Brianna Fraser).
If one thing Frese has proven since coming to Maryland back in 2002, it’s that she knows how to get a team to work together and get results almost immediately. In her first season (’02-’03), she suffered her one and only losing season as a head coach, finishing the year (Maryland played in the Atlantic Coast Conference then) at 10-18. Since then, she has been on a winning streak of 14 seasons, including winning more than 30 games in six of them, including the last two when Maryland moved from the ACC to the B1G Ten.
In B1G Ten conference play, the Terps have gone 34-2 doing the two regular seasons (both losses came to the hands of Ohio State in the 2016-17 season) and has won both the regular season and conference tournament championships. Her overall record at Maryland is 359-107 (.770 winning percentage).
Frese has taken three of her teams all the way to the NCAA Women’s Final Four (2006, 2015 and 2016), winning Maryland’s only title back in 2006 (a thrilling 75-70 OT victory over Duke in the championship game).
We should be able to see how well these girls will play together after just four games and will see if they send any warning signs that they’re ready to play with the big names of Division I women’s basketball.