Maryland Women’s Basketball 2018 Season Preview
Feature photo Courtesy of Maryland Athletics
Maryland women’s basketball was shocked when their NCAA tournament ride ended abruptly after a 74-60 loss against North Carolina State. Last season was the first year that the team didn’t win the Big Ten regular season conference or Big Ten season tournament since joining the conference in 2014. Although their tournament run ended swiftly, last year’s season was not a disappointment. Overall, the Terps won 26 games and 12 conference games, finishing in the top 20 of both the AP and USA Today Coaches Polls.
“I thought last season gave us a tremendous amount of experience, which I thought was very invaluable to our young groups as was being able to finish out strong,” Head Coach Brenda Frese stated via Testudo Times.
This will be her 16 year coaching Maryland and Freese still remains one of the top coaches in women’s basketball. She has led her team to a 2006 National Championship and more than 10 back-to-back postseason appearances. Frese is amongst the top most winningest coaches in Division I history, placing her at number eight.
With the dissatisfaction of last year’s season in the past, the Terps look forward to a new season with new goals and another chance to win the NCAA title.
“It has been a phenomenal summer for us. I think the thing that separates this team right now is their bond, and their chemistry which is stronger than any team I have seen in a long time” Frese said via Testudo Times.
The first game of the regular season will be against Coppin State on November 9. December 28 will mark the start of their Big Ten matchups, heading on the road to face Penn State. The team will start the new year off with a title rematch against Ohio State.
As intimidating as it seems, Maryland has high hopes for themselves. The Terps team have been projected to win the Big Ten. If they succeed, this will be their fourth victory in a span of five years.
Maryland’s best player Kaila Charles is returning this season for the Terps. She averaged 17.9 points, the most ever for a Maryland sophomore, and 8.1 rebounds, while shooting over 50 percent from the field. Charles was named to the WBCA All-Region and First Team All-Big Ten. In addition to Charles, Blair Watson, Stephanie Jones, and Brianna Fraser will be returning.
Channise Lewis, ranked second in assist as a freshman, hopes to progress this season entering her sophomore year. “I think I grew all around: confidence, being able to keep my composure on the court, defense, being faster and stronger. It’s going to help me in the long run.” said Lewis via Testudo Times.
After losing Aja Ellison to Texas A&M, Ieshia Small and Kristen Confroy to graduation, and Eleanna Christinaki to be selected by Polish team, the Terps still remains a strong team with a few fresh faces to add to the mix. For yet another season, Maryland has signed a top-10 recruiting class.
“I think a big piece for us, as I look on the floor, is that we have more weapons and we have more scorers,” Frese said via Testudo Times.
That’s exactly what they received.
The third-best prospect in the nation according to ESPN, Shakira Austin, a 6’5 forward, is bringing much-needed height and depth to the Terps. In addition to Austin, Taylor Mikesell and Olivia Owens are also new faces, contributing their skills on the floor.
Sara Vujacic is bringing much-needed shooting and floor spacing.
“I look at the ability to shoot the three right now is very high for us – when you look at Taylor, you look at Sara Vujacic, they’re able to expand it.” Frese said.
This season Maryland is anticipating their comeback and hungry for more title wins.
“I know our fans are really going to enjoy this new group—they’re talented and they’re going to really have an impact immediately for us. The energy and the personality of this team is going to be a lot of fun to watch this season” Frese said via Testudo Times.
The Terps will be hosting Kutztown at noon on Sunday at the Xfinity Center.