Toliver and Coleman Together Again

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(Image from The New York Times)

Toliver and Coleman. The pair, whose names will forever be side by side in Maryland lore as epitomized by their banners hanging next to one another from the Comcast Center rafters, have crossed paths again.

The official website of the Los Angeles Sparks has reported that former Maryland guard/forward Marissa Coleman has been traded from the Washington Mystics to the Sparks, where she will join former Maryland guard Kristi Toliver. The duo that won a national championship together in black and red, will now try to win a WNBA title wearing purple and gold.

What Kristi and Marissa have accomplished together speaks for itself. While at Maryland they went to the tournament all four years, reached three elite eights, won the national championship in 2006, won the ACC tournament championship in 2009 and compiled a record of 126-19. Both were important players on the team all four years, including during their freshman year’s national championship run. And both put their names all over the Maryland record books.

Coleman is second all-time in points and rebounds at Maryland, trailing just Crystal Langhorne in both categories. Toliver is third in points and is the all-time leader in assists. Toliver also leads the school in three point field goals made by a mile, while Coleman is tied for second in that category. The pair is first and second in free throw percentage as well. Toliver shot an incredible 86.6 percent from the line over her four years and Coleman shot 81 percent. Coleman and Toliver are first and fourth, respectively, in games played at Maryland and second and third in games started. Clearly, all of this adds up to your names being put up in the rafters and it is why they are considered two of the greatest players to ever put on a Maryland uniform in men’s or women’s basketball.

But all that glory is in the past. Kristi and Marissa are now in the WNBA, a league that gets paid little attention. And while their reunification brings up memories of all they’ve achieved, it also makes us wonder why we haven’t heard from them recently and highlights the lack of respect there is for women’s basketball in the United States.

After the Atlanta Dream took Louisville’s Angel McCoughtry first overall in the 2009 WBNA draft, Coleman and Toliver were taken consecutively. Coleman went to the Mystics with the second pick and Toliver was taken by the Chicago Sky with the third pick.

Coleman came off the bench in her first two seasons before becoming a starter last season. She and the Mystics lost in the conference semifinals twice over the past three years.

After one season with the Sky, Toliver was traded to L.A. where she now starts on and off. She was the Sparks third leading scorer a year ago with 11.2 points per game.

In leaving Washington, Coleman parts with another fellow Terp in Crystal Langhorne, the same player who leads her in all-time points and rebounds. Langhorne was the grade ahead of Kristi and Marissa in school.

But while she leaves one Terp, Marissa joins forces with Toliver, with whom she played all four years at Maryland. And if there was ever a place in the WNBA that might get paid some attention it is L.A. The Sparks are the franchise of former WNBA great Lisa Leslie. It is the franchise of Candace Parker, the Tennessee superstar and number one overall pick in the 2008 WNBA draft. Playing in this environment, maybe Kristi Toliver and Marissa Coleman will get the recognition Terp fans know they deserve. And if not, maybe it will at least bring a smile to the face of some to know that two of the all-time greats are back together.