COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- TT caught up with Terps head coach Brenda Frese after the Terrapins’ Oct. 22 scrimmage versus the male scout team at the Xfinity Center, as the Terrapins fine-tune for the start of upcoming season.
TerrapinTimes: Tell us Brenda, what were the biggest team ‘takeaways’ from the last two scrimmages this week with the guys, both of which were wins for the ladies including today’s come-from-behind, three-point win?
Brenda Frese: The scrimmages have been really encouraging in many ways. Normally, early in the season, it's hard for us to beat the guys, and then we eventually get them as the weeks go on. The guys are pretty good players. They're not guys we plucked out of Hornbake Library. So, they help us learn a lot about our team on both ends of the floor, our rotations, our depth. We're going to be a work in progress all year with eight freshmen and sophomores, but there's really good potential there.
TT: And how about freshman point guard Destiny Slocum’s couple of key plays in the final stretch, including the two free throws and a steal in the final five seconds? And her impact overall?
BF: In our second scrimmage (today), we jumped out to an early lead, but the guys came back on us. We actually trailed in a close one in the fourth quarter. I like that our freshman point guard had to play against pressure and in tight situations where time and score mattered. And against good opponents that challenged her. She made all the right plays, hitting ‘KC’ (Kristen Confroy) and Shatori (Walker-Kimbrough) for shots, and then making one of her own. That's kind of her in a microcosm -- leading our team, sharing the ball and then delivering points of her own when we need it.
TT: And talk about the emergence of freshman wing Blair Watson, recently coming off the labrum surgery and rehab, but ramping up pretty quickly as evidenced by her shooting and rebounding in these two scrimmages since just getting back.
BF: Blair has only been cleared for a week, so there's a lot of information coming at her. We have to be patient with her as she really learns our system, but she's going to be special. In our first scrimmage she was our third-leading scorer and really rebounded well. That was about four days after being cleared.
TT: And do you have an idea yet as to what your starting five will be?
BF: Right now I have an idea who our first five might be, but we still have a little time. I'm not ready to declare it, but some players are separating themselves.
TT: Another surprise, from what we have heard among the rookies, is the play of Kaila Charles of late, who also appears to be coming on very much.
BF: Kaila Charles has been the biggest surprise to me. I knew she was really talented, but what I've absolutely loved is how competitive she is in every setting. On the court, in workouts or whatever we're doing, she is an ‘alpha.’
TT: And what are some of the questions you still want answered as you forge ahead in camp and prepare for the season tip?
BF: The biggest questions entering preseason practice were probably our point guard and the four spot. We had to replace seniors in both positions. We know Destiny is going to start at the point guard. We know what we're going to get from Bri and Shatori. We need to figure out who else is going to give us scoring and rebounding. And with six freshmen, defense is always going to take the longest, building a trust level among them.
TT: How about the improved perimeter defense with some of the new guards you have? You must be pleased there as well?
BF: We should be a better perimeter defense team. Kaila Charles is really unique in that she can make it hard on opposing players whether they're on the perimeter or in the post.
TT: And any word yet on when freshman Stephanie Jones will be cleared to play after her injury/surgery?
BF: Stephanie Jones has an appointment on October 31 that could potentially get her cleared. She's close, but we want to make sure we're patient and do what's in her best interest.
TT: And switching gears a bit for the final question, how about Kristi Toliver getting another title, this time with the WNBA Los Angeles Sparx last week, and hitting yet another clutch shot late?
BF: Kristi's clutch three looked really familiar for Maryland fans. We've all seen it before and know she's really comfortable taking those shots. She's just one of those players that has a knack for those situations. Of course, ten years ago, she hit one of the biggest shots in NCAA women's history in the national championship game. So, of course, that flashed in my mind, along with a lot of other shots she's hit over the years. I couldn't be happier for her and her family who are really special people to us. She still comes by to see our team, train with us or just talk. I had dinner with her dad in DC this summer and we've visited with him at his home in Myrtle Beach. So, it's really great to see her happiness and all her hard work pay off.