Terps Win and Keep Improving in Season Opener

Maryland, led by freshman Laurin Mincy with 15 points, takes care of Monmouth 73-40

Although Maryland’s two blowout exhibition wins over Gallaudet and UDC left no doubts as to the inherent skill level of the 2010-2011 Terps, many were left eagerly awaiting the opportunity to see how the young team would fare upon facing Division I competition, most immediately the Monmouth University Hawks. On Saturday, November 13 the Terps proved not only their Division I level talents, but also debuted their adaptability and reinforced the importance of their depth in their 73-40 season opener victory over Monmouth.

Even though the Terps never trailed in the contest, the first half, in marked contrast to those of the exhibition games, revealed a Maryland team troubled by missed lay-ups, difficulty initiating offensive plays, and a surprising rebounding advantage of just 22-19, less drastic of a margin than their height advantage would suggest they would be capable of.

“We had some lulls in the first half,” said head coach Brenda Frese in a post-game press conference. “Our intensity level went down once we got that big lead, and I didn’t think our rebounding was very good.”

However, once these issues were addressed in the locker room at halftime, the Terps proved to be not only naturally talented but responsive; in the second half they clearly showcased a greater sense of composure as well as improved rebounding. Maryland out-rebounded Monmouth 28-12 in the second half, making the total 50-31 for the game.

“I think it’s tremendous that you can challenge this team at halftime and they absolutely will respond,” said Frese.

Freshman guard Laurin Mincy, who led all scorers with 15 points on 4-6 shooting, agreed that the team proved they can respond well to instruction. “I think as a team we did a phenomenal job of meeting the goals that Coach Frese set for us today.”

Less noticeable on the stat sheet but an essential asset for the Terps’ second half resurgent sense of composure was sophomore point guard Dara Taylor, who dished 3 assists and noticeably affected the tempo of the game. Her characteristically crisp passes seemed to allow the Terps a less frantic offensive presence and opened up sophomore forward Diandra Tchatchouang and junior center Lynetta Kizer for more looks in the paint; both Tchatchouang and Kizer posted 11 points, with Tchatchouang scoring 9 of 11 in the second half and Kizer scoring 7 of 11 in the second half.

“I thought [Dara Taylor] was the difference in the game,” said Frese. “She really sparked the team from her energy level, and I thought it was a big difference for us in the second half.”

The Terps also demonstrated the true power of their size and depth. The Terps proved that although their ability to run the floor is highly emphasized, it is not the only advantage they possess over opposing teams. Despite only converting 7 fast break points from 14 steals, the Terps outscored Monmouth 40-2 in the paint. The Terps also put 10 players on the floor for at least 14 minutes each and outscored Monmouth’s bench 31-10.

“I think what makes Maryland so good is their size and athleticism,” said Monmouth head coach Stephanie Gaitley. “They’re one of the biggest teams I think my teams have faced in my [twenty-five year] career...[and] they have something in every position.”

Finally, the Terps revealed long-term commitment to improvement in addition to improvements from the first to second halves. The Terps, who had shot 64.7% from the free throw line in the last game against UDC, had been placing special emphasis on increasing that percentage this past week in practice, in which failure was immediately punishable with push-ups and sprints. Against Monmouth, the Terps missed only two free throws the whole night, connecting on 19 of 21 opportunities for a 90.5% success rate.

Given the vital opportunity to test their composure and practice adapting their strategy, Frese says the Terps are excited to play their first road game at No. 13 ranked Georgetown on Tuesday, November 16.

“It’s going to be a tremendous environment and I know our team is looking forward to it,” said Frese. “It’s a chance for us to be able to continue to improve and get better as a team.”

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