By Brittney Bridges
The Maryland women’s basketball team prepares for 2017-2018 season as it had its last exhibition match Friday evening against the Bowie State Bulldogs. Maryland won the game with a final score of 98-47.
The Terps’ season last year was cut short when they fell to Oregon in the Sweet 16 by 14 points. The loss was a shocking one considering the Terps were then ranked No. 3 and finished with a record of 32-3. With the sudden departure of freshman guard Destiny Slocum, along with seniors Shatori Walker-Kimbrough and Brionna Jones graduating, there were a lot of holes to be filled. The main question was who’s going to fill the vital positions that the Terps lost. Maryland’s roster has been cut down to only 10 players in comparison to its 12 last season.
“There are so many new players playing significant roles,” said 16th-year head coach Brenda Frese. “I thought we did a nice job at trying to get better.”
The main area where the Terps look to fill is the point guard position. Maryland has some new additions to the team, including freshman point guard Channise Lewis and University of Florida sophomore transfer Eleanna Christinaki. Lewis, a 5-foot-8 Miami native, averaged 13.9 points and 7.2 assists with her Miami Country Day High School team last season and also won two National Championships.
Christinaki, a Greece native, averaged 17.6 points and 4.7 rebounds in just nine games with the Gators before transferring to Maryland. She also earned All-SEC Freshman Honors in 2016. Standing at 6-feet, Christinaki will be especially useful as she can play both the guard and forward position. It is worth mentioning, that she will not be eligible to play until December due to NCAA regulations.
Brionna Jones’ younger sister Stephanie Jones, along with redshirt junior Aja Ellison, are a couple of the returning players that will take on the task of managing the paint. Meanwhile, the wing and forward positions are still significantly covered with returning players Kristen Confroy, Kaila Charles, Brianna Fraser and Ieshia Small.
Another returning Terp getting major minutes is sophomore guard Sarah Myers, who played some minutes last season, but never got the chance to make a splash. Myers played the majority of the exhibition game and looked poised and prepared. She finished with 15 points and showed how effective she could be in transition, connecting with Blair Watson on multiple occasions, who also had an impressive game with 30 points. Myers credited this to the team’s close knit friendship.
“We communicate with each other very well both verbally and nonverbally,” the Georgia native said. “It’s really helped us.”
Watson had a dominant game and made it clear that she can score from everywhere on the floor: from behind the three-point line, to inside the paint and pulling up from the elbow.
“We’re really excited about Blair,” Frese said when asked about the scoring performance from the sophomore from Nutley, New Jersey. “You can really see the confidence she’s gaining,”
Frese emphasized the practices the team has been having, especially for the newer players and how they’ve been effective in determining how they will compete in games.
“I know these guys are ready to be tested and know where they stand,” Frese continued.
Ultimately, the Terps biggest test will end up being how they play against high-caliber teams that the take on early in the season. The Terrapins will face both No. 4 South Carolina and No. 1 UConn in mid-November. Until then, the Terps season opener will take place next Friday vs. Albany at 7:00 p.m.