Terps Seek Redemption for 2010-2011 Season

Terps hope intense offseason workouts will translate into wins.

As an ardent Coach Brenda Frese addressed the press for Maryland women’s basketball Media Day on Tuesday, October 19, the theme for the upcoming season was unmistakable: redemption. Ever since the end of the 2009-2010 season in which the Terps posted a record of 21-13 and did not qualify for the NCAA tournament, the coaching staff and players have continuously emphasized a burning desire to reestablish the Maryland legacy. Coach Frese confirms this intensity, noting that this past offseason, more than ever before, the Terps have shown an unrelenting determination to improve. “Of all the years that I’ve coached, I can tell you that this team has had the biggest presence in terms of what they’ve done, in terms of the amount of work in the offseason,” Frese declared. And most importantly, Frese reports that the team’s unfaltering efforts are coming to fruition.

Frese explains that with the recent hiring of Strength and Conditioning Coach Kyle Tarp, the team has been able to fulfill one of its most sought-after offseason goals; “This offseason, we made a commitment, as a team and as a coaching staff, that we wanted to come back and be not only one of the fittest teams in the ACC, we wanted to be one of the fittest teams in the country,” said Frese. Tarp, who Frese describes as “cutting-edge,” has helped the team to lose a combined 72 pounds since his arrival this summer. “And when you talk about converting that [weight loss] to strength and muscle, we should see a lot of great results,” said Frese. “We’ve felt that he has separated us into an elite category.”

Frese speaks specifically of juniors Lynetta Kizer, Kim Rodgers, and Anjale Barrett and sophomore Tianna Hawkins with respect to such marked improvements in conditioning.

“Lynetta is the lightest and fastest she’s been since she’s been here on campus. She’s lost 65 pounds since her senior year in high school,” declared Frese. “She’s someone we feel like should be able to play a lot more minutes this season, because of the shape she’s in.” As the only returning starter from the 2008-2009 ACC championship team, Kizer’s wealth of experience can be more effectively utilized with an expected increase in playing time, and will allow her to maintain a more constant vocal presence and to be a source of leadership.

Frese notes that junior guard Kim Rodgers has also noticeably reaped the benefits of Tarp’s conditioning program and has finally had a healthy offseason, something that had seemed continually elusive due to numerous knee injuries. “She’s in the best shape of her life. She looks phenomenal,” said Frese. “I feel she is ready to have a break-out year for us.” A healthy Kim Rodgers, according to Frese, will mean more depth from the three-point line as well as an opportunity to capitalize on her high basketball IQ and vocal leadership.

Frese reports that sophomore forward Tianna Hawkins and junior guard Anjale Barrett have both “become a step quicker.” Hawkins lost 15 pounds and spent the whole summer working out with Coach Tarp. Frese notes that Hawkins has been “really separating herself to be able to get ahead this season.” “We feel that she should have a really special campaign for us,” said Frese. According to Frese, Barrett has also “gotten herself into tremendous shape and is a lot lighter.” Frese suggests that Barrett’s offseason efforts will allow the team to better benefit from her veteran experience.

Frese also highlights the fact that this offseason has proven the Terps’ resiliency and triumphs in the face of injury.

Sophomore forward Diandra Tchatchouang had to undergo rehabilitation for an ankle injury she sustained this summer while playing for the U-20 National team in her native country of France. After the injury Tchatchouang quickly returned to Maryland in order to receive treatment from the Terps’ athletic trainers and doctors, and is “fully rehabbed” according Frese. Frese estimates that Tchatchouang will be able to practice with the team in about two weeks, and is confident that the level of success Tchatchouang had with her national team will continue with the Terps. “[Before the injury], she led the French U-20 team in scoring and rebounding and was on track to be named MVP of the tournament,” said Frese. “She’s someone that we’re really counting on to have a great season for us.”

Freshman guard Laurin Mincy, who averaged 18.8 points in high school before her knee injury, is “really ahead of schedule” with her rehab according to Frese. “Every single day you see her timing and her explosiveness and her quickness coming back for her,” said Frese. Frese expects Mincy to be able to effectively create shots for herself and others, as well as maintain a strong defensive presence.

Junior center Yemi Oyefuwa and freshman forward Whitney Bays are both recovering from offseason knee surgery, and are therefore taking rehabilitation slowly in order to ensure healthy recovery. Oyefuwa is reportedly doing form running and is “starting to get back into the mix with the team.” Frese notes that Bays is being evaluated on a day-to-day basis but that the team “has seen snapshots, when she is out there, of her competitiveness and her ability to rebound and score the basketball.”

Sophomores Essence Townsend and Dara Taylor have shown especial progression since freshman year and have been able to take advantage of gaining another year of experience.

Townsend, a 6’7’’ center, was able to gain 18 pounds of extra muscle in the offseason and according to Frese, “with another year under her belt, has really been able to utilize Coach Kyle with the strength and conditioning component.”

Taylor has come back with more consistency in shooting and “a lot more confidence” since freshman year. “She went back to Point Guard College and really learned a lot of things we feel will allow her to provide some great leadership for this team,” said Frese.

Another promising advantage for this 2010-2011 team is that the freshman comprise the number two recruiting class in the country, and Frese believes they are all extraordinarily far along in their skills development.

Alyssa Thomas, a freshman forward, averaged 24.3 points and 12.8 rebounds as a senior and can play positions 1-4. Frese states that Thomas already has “a tremendously high skill set; she can pass, she can rebound, she can make difficult shots.” “She’s extremely versatile. She can pass left and right handed, and can score from either hand,” said Frese.

Alicia DeVaughn, a freshman center, averaged 19.5 points and 18.7 rebounds as a senior and has “a ton of potential,” according to Frese. Frese compares her to 2008 graduate and 2006 Final Four Most Outstanding Player Laura Harper, but thinks that DeVaughn is “further ahead in terms of her skill development.”

Natasha Cloud, a freshman guard who averaged 12.3 points and 4 steals per game as a senior, is “a natural floor general and is always the first to speak in team huddles” according to Frese. In addition to maturity in skill development, Frese adds that Cloud has a mature sense of leadership. “Her energy level, poise, and confidence as a freshman have been very exciting for our staff and our team,” said Frese. “I think that she’s just barely scratched the surface of what she’s going to be able to bring to our team this season.”

Finally, Sequoia Austin, a freshman point guard who made the team as a walk-on, perhaps embodies the entire spirit of this 2010-2011 team with her determination in being able to play for the Terps despite the fact that she was not initially recruited. “She’s going to be able to give us additional depth this season,” said Frese.

All in all, the Maryland women’s basketball team seems to have achieved their goal of coming back as a “reloaded” team for the 2010-2011 season. The combination of effective conditioning, successful rehab, newfound leadership roles, the immediate ability of the freshmen to contribute, and most of all an unrelenting hunger to succeed makes this year’s team one of the most formidable in program history.

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