10 Reasons To Root For Maryland Women's Basketball This Season
Brenda Frese had a thought.
She also had a question.
So the Maryland Terrapins Head Coach decided to start this season by sharing both with her team.
“I don’t know about you, not a lot of people are talking about us. I think that’s great, right?”
At that initial meeting, Coach Frese went on to impress the importance of “legacy”, or as she calls it “legUSy” - with an unmistakable emphasis on “US.” (Trademark pending, Coach?) She has focused the team’s mentality on creating its own legacy.
“We’re going to get to show the nation who we are, what we’re about,” she said. “We’re fired up because we think a lot of people are underestimating the talent in this locker room.”
Maryland has been a legacy program in the NCAA with Brenda Frese holding the reigns for 20 years. She has made it to three Final Fours, won 14 conference titles, and took home national championship in 2006.
All photos by Taylor McLaughlin
In 2021-22, the Terps finished 23-9 overall, reached the Sweet Sixteen, but then suffered a disappointing loss. With only four from that roster returning, the press has not shined much of a spotlight.
However, Brenda Frese thinks that is the perfect source of motivation.
2. New Faces, Newer Adversity
Following last season, the Terps lost starters Katie Benzan and Chloe Bibby who graduated and several others to the transfer portal. Most notably, Angel Reese, ranked as ESPN’s 7th best player in college basketball, transferred to LSU and Ashley Owusu, ranked 16th on the same list, left for Virginia Tech.
Former Terrapin Angel Reese
Former Terrapin Ashley Owusu
Former Terrapin Chloe Bibby
The Terps, therefore, added nine new players: four freshman and five transfers.
Coaching and getting to know a brand-new roster comes with adversity, but so far, these ladies have not disappointed and the team chemistry is as strong as ever. They have had some exciting wins against big teams, like #7 Notre Dame and #17 Baylor on the road.
Though they lost to current #1 and reigning national champs, South Carolina, Maryland held the Gamecocks to a 37.1 percent shooting in the first half and forced 20 turnovers that lead to 14 points.
This is an impressive start for a roster full of new faces and the Terps are just beginning to warm up.
3. Honey, She’s Home!
Welcome home, Abby Meyers. The 2022 Ivy League Player of the Year at Princeton, has returned to her Maryland roots. Last year, she had a heavy stat sheet while leading the Tigers. Now as a Terp, she has been voted co-captain and reached 1,000 career points.
Abby grew up in Potomac, MD, about 30 minutes away from the University of Maryland. She and her twin sister adored Maryland and Head Coach Brenda Frese. They would often attend games to watch the Terps’ current WNBA stars, like Alyssa Thomas and Kristi Toliver.
“It’s just a special thing to see, you know, ‘Maryland’ across my chest and see my last name on the back of the jersey and just know that I’m representing something bigger than myself,” Meyers said. “I’m representing the state of Maryland and my hometown.”
Being so close to home has provided the opportunity to be with her family and an appreciation for the proximity. Meyers said that it felt really special to win against UConn in front of people who have supported her throughout her basketball career.
4. A Family Tradition
Head Coach Brenda Frese’s twin sons at Maryland’s pre-game shoot around in Spokane, Wash. on March 25th, 2022. (Photo by Taylor McLaughlin)
While coaching at the University of Maryland, Brenda Frese has always been about family, especially when it comes to her twins.
In February of 2008 during her sixth year with the Terps, Frese welcomed her two sons, Markus and Tyler, to the world. As you can imagine, holding a prominent role, like hers, is a challenge to juggle while being a mother to a duo of boys.
So, why not bring them with her?
From day one, the boys have been an integral part of the Maryland team and attend every event, from daily practices to NCAA tournament trips.
“It’s just fun,” Markus said.
When asked what his favorite part about being around the team is, Tyler responded, “Mainly just seeing all the stuff my mom does, like all of the recruiting and also, just the games because they’re fun to watch.”
It is hard to ignore and not admire the family environment of this team. It is something that sets them apart from other organizations.
5. Diamonds Are A Girl’s Best Friend!
Senior guard and fan favorite Diamond Miller had the opportunity to play with prior Maryland greats. Now it is her turn to lead. She is certainly taking on that role and people are starting to take notice.
Last month after Miller’s stellar performance in the huge road win against Notre Dame, NBA writer and scout Mark Schindler wrote, “It’s the multi-faceted, versatile nature of Miller that makes her so intriguing as a prospect and equally perplexing as to who she might develop into.”
Against Notre Dame, Miller led the team in points (31), rebounds (12), assists (five) … oh, and she hit a one-legged, buzzer-beater jumper to win the game 74 to 72. And the media were not the only ones to notice her performance as NBA stars Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry also left their regards on Twitter and Instagram.
“That is just something I have to process later. But the fact that he’s (Durant) in the NBA, and he supports women’s basketball is extremely huge,” Miller said. “And we’re just going to keep growing the game, and people need to watch us because we all can ball and we all are talented. And just because we're women doesn't mean we're less than any other man.”
6. No Salon Trips Needed
In the first episode of the team’s seasonal documentary series, “Under the Shell,” we learned a bit more about some of the new additions. Freshman Gia Cooke, whose nickname is “Hollywood” for her big personality, has also become the team’s hair stylist.
Cooke grew up practicing her skills on her dolls’ hair with assistance from her mom, a licensed hair stylist. Once she started getting better at it, she began doing other peoples’ hair and actually developed some clientele.
“I enjoy it,” she said. “Other than basketball, that’s something I’m really good at.”
She has created hairstyles for all of her teammates. She has also done the hair of Maryland students and players on other teams while managing to keep up with her original clients.
“I enjoy it because, you know, you get to talk to your teammates and learn more about them,” Cooke said.
7. Court to Campus Farm
One unique landmark at the University of Maryland is a small farm that is right next to Xfinity Center, the school’s basketball arena. The campus farm is a part of the Department of Animal and Avian Sciences where you will find sheep, horses and a member of Maryland Women’s Basketball.
Freshman Bri McDaniel, originally from Chicago, has a love for farm animals despite growing up in the Windy City. McDaniel’s passion came about while visiting her family’s farm in Tennessee, she told the University of Maryland’s sports publication Terrapin Sports Central.
McDaniel, a four-star recruit ranked #42 in ESPN’s class of 2022. now takes classes through the university’s agricultural program. There she can pursue an array of livestock veterinarian studies and actually milk a cow.
8. Faith Masonius’ Big Return
ACL - three worst letters for any college basketball player, especially if followed by the word tear. Faith Masonius heard that dreaded combo last January. Throughout the remainder that season, Masonius energetically cheered on her teammates and kept a great attitude throughout her recovery process.
The senior has returned ready to prove she took her rehabilitation process seriously. Though ACL injuries come with notoriously lengthy recovery periods, she now moves and plays and an impressive pace. Watching her comeback this season will not be something you want to miss.
9.Basketball In Her DNA
Sophomore Shyanne Sellers’ feisty personality and energetic game may have you thinking: “Why is that name and face familiar?”
Sellers, coming from Aurora, Ohio, has basketball in her blood - coming from her father. In the 1986 NBA Draft, the Chicago Bulls picked picked Shyanne’s father, Brad, in the first round to play alongside Michael Jordan.
Against the University of Connecticut, Shyanne Sellers scored 19 points, three more than Dad’s college career average. She is extremely competitive and fun to watch, like her father. Maybe even better.
10. New Team, More Opportunity
Although the Maryland Terrapins seem to have a spot in the NCAA Tournament every year and currently hold the #13 ranking, rooting for them will not make you a bandwagon fan - promise.
A bunch of unfamiliar faces strung together in the offseason and excluded from much media talk, now somehow think they can create their own legacy - sorry, legUSy.
It has been 16 years since Maryland has hoisted the NCAA Championship trophy. Who really thinks they can do it again this year? They do. And they’d be happy to have you rooting along.
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All photos by Taylor McLaughlin