(Image taken by Gerry Broome, Associated Press, www.chron.com)
The Maryland women’s basketball team has a lot to look forward to in the coming years for a number of reasons.
First of all, the Terps’ sophomore nucleus of Alyssa Thomas, Laurin Mincy and Alicia DeVaughn will be poised to wreak havoc over the next two years as upperclassmen.
Secondly, Brene Moseley, who had the best three point shooting percentage on the team as a freshmen, will likely take over the starting point guard job and be more of an offensive threat than Anjale Barrett was.
And lastly, Brenda Frese is bringing in the 9th best recruiting class in the nation, highlighted by the No. 7 overall recruit Malina Howard and the No. 22 overall recruit Tierney Pfirman.
All in all, Brenda Frese’s crew has the pieces in place to make a run at the Final Four again next year. And if Frese has her way and the program truly starts reloading instead of rebuilding, they could be making those runs frequently and for a long time to come.
However, that doesn’t necessarily diminish the disappointment that marked the end of the Terps’ 2011-2012 season. It was an incredible season where they started 16-0, recorded the biggest blowout in program history, won the ACC tournament and surpassed 30 wins. But it ended short of a national championship with an 80-49 loss at the hands of Notre Dame in the Elite Eight. The sting of that will likely linger, just as the sting of last year’s embarrassing loss to Georgetown in the tournament lingered into this season.
Whether or not Maryland should have been more competitive against Notre Dame is a very debatable topic. Some will argue that the 1 seeds were just in a different tier than everybody else this year. In the Elite Eight, made up of entirely 1 and 2 seeds, the 1 seeds all won by double digits to advance to the Final Four. Others will argue that Maryland was supposed to be the best 2 seed and had no business losing by the greatest margin by far out of all the 2 seeds.
Either way, it is a difficult way for seniors Anjale Barrett, Lynetta Kizer and Kim Rodgers to end their careers as Terps. And while Maryland has a bright future, they do lose three great contributors. Barrett at times would put the team on her back and played with a lot of passion and determination. Kizer was a starter her first three years, but had to adjust to her new role coming off the bench this year and won ACC Sixth Player of the Year. Rodgers was a spot up shooter whose role also changed as senior. She saw diminished playing time and handled it with class.
Barrett, Kizer and Rodgers leave the program in good hands. And they can at least say that they helped bring Maryland women’s basketball back to elite status in 2011-2012 after a two-year hiatus.
As for the rest of the team, they look onward to what they hope will be bigger and better things. Alyssa Thomas, the AP First Team All-American, will be a junior and then she will be a senior. The team will get better around her and the Terps will maybe have a couple of shots at national championships. But Thomas wasn’t thinking about that as she checked out of the Notre Dame game for the last time. There were tears in her eyes. She wants to be in Denver right now.