Getting Better the Goal for Terps Freshmen

Terps to rely on freshmen Howard, Pfirman and Pavlech a great deal in 2012.

They may be only freshmen, but the No. 5 Maryland women's basketball team is going to be relying on Malina Howard, Tierney Pfirman and Chloe Pavlech a great deal this season.

The trio of rookies, along with junior Sequoia Austin, makes up the Terrapins entire bench, which means there will be plenty of playing time to go around. It also means that they are going to be expected to contribute early and often this season.

“I definitely think I'm playing a lot more than I expected originally,” said Pavlech, a point guard who saw her role on the team expand after projected starter Brene Moseley tore her ACL in preseason.

Pavlech, the No. 23 point guard in her high school class, is now faced with the challenge of being called on to run the offense often, despite still being quite new to the Terps' system.

“I have not to think too much. A lot of new things are being thrown at me, but I have to remember to settle down and just play, take care of the ball and handle it with confidence,” she said.

While Pavlech has been thrust into a key role earlier than anticipated, center Malina Howard came to Maryland with high potential rested on her shoulders. The No. 1 ranked post player in her high school class, Howard is expected to be a big contributor for the Terps this season. But if you ask Howard, she'll tell you that she doesn't feel any pressure extra at the top.

“I never really bought into that whole ranking system when I was in high school,” she said. “The No. 2 player and I are probably similar. You've just go out there, and if you're playing your hardest and working hard for your team every night then that's what matters.”

Forward Tierney Pfirman, who head coach Brenda Frese has compared to ex-Maryland player Marissa Coleman, is the third Terrapins rookie this season, and she said the biggest adjustment to the college game has been the new pace.

“In high school it was a 'walk the ball up the floor slow' pace, while coming into the ACC it's an up-tempo push in transition,” she said. “Just feeling that and getting in shape to run like they run has been a challenge.”

Helping them adjust to the college game has been Moseley, who despite being injured has long made her presence felt on this year's team.

“Ever since day 1 of being here, Bones has been there for us,” said Howard. “She's staying with us right now through her injury, and she's at practice every day so she can see what we're going through and give us advice. She was in our position last year and went through the same things we went through, so just being able to communicate with her has really helped a lot.”

Howard added that senior Tianna Hawkins has also stepped up to often help, and Pavlech said all of the upperclassmen have been very welcoming to the rookies.

“They're very patient with us and talk to us and they just want us to get better,” Pavlech said.

Getting better is something at the forefront of all three of their minds, as they look to take what they've learned so far and use it in any way to help the Terps win.

“Whether it be defense, offense or communication-wise, I want to play one role in the game to help us get the win,” said Pfirman.

“I don't want to let one day go by that there wasn't something that I got better with personally and that our team got better with,” added Howard. “There's going to be other teams out there working hard, and you don't ever want to let someone one-up you.”

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