Articles written by Charles Nyonga
Maryland women’s basketball struggled at times in a rocky 2018-19 campagin. While there were many positive performances, the Terps bowed out of the NCAA Tournament earlier than they might have hoped.
But this year could be different. Big Ten Coach of the Year Brenda Frese has her team primed to perform and improve on last season’s disappointment.
Maryland returns all five starters led by seniors Stephanie Jones, Blair Watson, and unanimous All-Big Ten First Team selection forward Kaila Charles.
“Obviously we go as Kaila goes, it has been amazing how her career’s gone by,” said Coach Frese. “They have been through the wars when you talk about four seniors. That is the veteran leadership you want to rely on.”
Maryland has a top-five recruiting class with incoming first-year players Shakira Austin, Taylor Mikesell, Olivia Owens and Diamond Miller. All will add valuable depth to an already strong team. The veterans are impressed with the incoming class from the work they have put in during the preseason.
“Our depth is crazy,” said Stephanie Jones. “They are a great group and really listen to us upperclassmen and coaches, each day you see them getting better.”
Charles believes the underclassmen are a key to the team’s success. Maryland had often failed to close out games last year — a difficulty brought upon by a lack of depth. Charles believes the returning the stars games have improved, and first-year players exceed expectations.
“We are adding more weapons,” said Charles. “I don’t think we will have a drop off this year between our starting five and our bench.”
Maryland has a rich basketball tradition that attracted players such as freshman guard Diamond Miller. An All-American, Miller left New Jersey to come to College Park because of that solid reputation.
“The family aspect and the coaches knew how to deal with me,” said Miller. “This is what I came for, and I am excited for the experience.”
One player Terrapin fans will have to wait to see play is USA Today Iowa Player of the Year, freshman guard, Zoe Young. Young suffered a torn ACL, and has medically redshirted while she recovers. Yet she remains optimistic about her Maryland basketball future.
“It’s been hard at times, but the support staff and family around here is really positive keeps me up” said Young. “I am going to focus on staying positive and getting better off the court and progress it to on the court. I know I will be ready next season.”
Maryland opens its season Tuesday, November 5, at home in the Xfinity Center against Wagner.