In Part I of our series with Terps new Assistant Director of Basketball Performance Lanie Deppe, we delved into the group of seven newcomers -- six comprising the nation's No. 1 recruit class -- plus Baylor transfer combo guard Ieshia Small, who sat out last year under NCAA transfer rules.
In Part II, we break down the current team, led by All-American returnees Bri Jones and Shatori Walker-Kimbrough, and their summer progress in strength and conditioning. The ladies head overseas to France for an Aug. 5-13 exhibition tour, thus are allowed 10 additional summer practices by the NCAA.
"It makes my job a lot of fun, because when you have such talented athletes like that, well we are able to throw a lot more at then," Deppe said of the group she inherited. "They can handle a lot more, and so you really get to see the kind of program....but really try out new things because we have that much talent and that effort. So the door is wide open. And they took me right in and we're kinda hitting the ground running."
Deppe said the group as a whole "has a little bit of everything. They are very, very strong athletes," she added. "And the thing about training basketball players, there is so much of everything. You have to train them physically for their power and explosiveness or their strength. It's a contact sport so you have to make sure they are ready for that. Then the amount of movement, and all the movement patterns that come along with the sport, so there is so much involvement. And they have got all of those checked off as a group."
Deppe said most teams lack in one area, but not this one.
In the weight room and conditioning, Deppe said her most vocal leader is Walker-Kimbrough, the rising senior guard/sharpshooter who broke out last season from deep range.
"From Day One, I looked at her and I could tell right away she gets everyone going," Deppe said. "She sets the example, she tells them the little details, you know five minutes early, all that stuff."
Deppe said Small has also led the team and blended in very well, while sophomore Kiah Gillespie, the 6-2 sophomore inside player, "has really been standing out for me a lot in the weight room but more so in the conditioning factor. She's a post, but very, very athletic and she's got a motor to her. She has been standing out a lot."
Deppe has added several new conditioning drills to the team's menu, and all 14 players on campus are working diligently towards them and have barely missed a beat. She has four players -- Kiara Leslie, Aja Ellison, Blair Thomas and Stephanie Jones -- recovering from off-season surgeries and easing back in, limited to certain training aspects this month. The Terps run twice a week in and around their practice schedule. Deppe has also added some new explosive-movement drills to the mix, too.
"And just the focus on performing reps. I want disciplined, controlled reps," Deppe said of changes she has made since arriving. "I don't want you in there throwing weight around, you need the momentum. I want everything to be disciplined, and that is kind of the focus point of our program as a whole."
Deppe said that, pound for pound, Walker-Kimbrough is the strongest Terp, while overall it may be 5-9 junior guard Kristen Confroy who leads in total strength categories.
"Kristen, she is a beast, a beast. And I haven't even really tapped into what she can really do," Deppe said. "I am pretty excited to see her [from here]. And Destiny [Slocum] is another one like that."
Deppe has not done max bench presses yet with the girl, "but both of them [Confroy and Slocum] have squatted 135 [pounds] for sets of 10 and eight. No problem," Deppe said.
She said Walker-Kimbrough's upper body has improved markedly this off-season. She said Walker-Kimbrough and freshman Kaila Charles are likely the top two athletes on the team.
As far as which Terp has come the furthest since Deppe arrived on June 20, well 6-3 sophomore Brianna Fraser may take honors.
"She has really come a long way in everything,. Her conditioning I think was her weak point for her coming in a little bit, and she has done a lot now. Her lifting, I remember three weeks ago when she had to do a basic barbell back squat, and struggling with that, and now she was at a squat of 145 [pounds] today. That's huge progress in a short amount of time."
Deppe also said freshman 6-6 center Jenna Staiti is another Terp that has come a long way in a short time.
But overall, Bri Jones has set a high bar for the entire team. The 6-3 senior center's body transformation has been remarkable since she first arrived on campus three years ago, and Deppe is in awe as well.
"Bri Jones is so great because she comes in every day and you would never she is ever tired, fatigued, stressed, she is always smiling," Deppe said. "And she is SO fit for a post player, too. And her and Kiah [Gillespie] go back and forth and battle. She is another one as a post player that has some great mobility. But a workhorse, dominant player on the court...plus to be a pre-med major and go through all that, too, is very impressive."
Meanwhile, the ladies have also enjoyed the new technology systems the men/Kyle Tarp added this summer, thanks to a gift from booster Harvey Sanders, like Elite Form, which tracks bar speed and wattage with cameras on the weight racks. They also have the Zephyr system, which is an advanced heart rate monitor, which tracks the athlete's heart rate, recovery, overall body landscape. "So what is the total road the athlete is going through throughout the week," Deppe said. "And you definitely want to stay on top of the cutting-edge technology, because if not you are going to be left behind because there is so much."
The ladies have the added practices/camp this summer in the run-up to the Italy trip, and Deppe said it has been a great crash-course in getting her up to speed on the team as for their playing ability, too.
"The thing that's great about the timing is this is the start of their off-season, as the main meat and potatoes of off-season, really for basketball, is in the summer. And I have been lucky to get in for the very first day for that. And they were training beforehand and everything, but to start fresh when they started fresh is really key for me to not only see their training, but because the off-season for basketball is very short. There's a really big season, then a really short off-season. So I am trying to pack in as much as I possibly can.
"And then to really bond with them as strength coaches are very unique in that they spend almost more time with the players than a lot of their head coaches [by NCAA rule]. So that is something that is very, very critical for me.
Normal 0 false false false EN-US JA X-NONE
"And one of the best quotes that I love is, 'They don't know care how much you know until they know how much you care.' So to be able to have that throughout the summer....I am very lucky to come in the way that I have had with Coach Frese and start practice as it makes the season a lot smoother and it's not as big of a change. They are ready for everything. So I have been very lucky."