Freshmen Doron, France give Terps women hope

Top recruits in spotlight as practice begins tonight

College Basketball

October 17, 2003|By Christian Ewell | Christian Ewell,SUN STAFF

COLLEGE PARK - Rude awakenings are expected for high school superstars such as Shay Doron and Kalika France when they get to college.

When the Maryland's women's basketball team reported early last month, it was the physical conditioning program that held surprises for the pair of former Parade All-Americans.

The 6 a.m. start time was no problem - that's about the time high school seniors often get up to get ready for class. Instead, the intensity delivered the jolt.

"I was expecting a little jog, a little warm-up. Nope. Stairs," Doron recalled. "I don't think we'll forget that."

It may not be the last of the contrasts noticed by the guards, who last year were mainstays on two of the nation's top five high school teams. As practice for the Terrapins begins tonight, Doron and France are beacons of hope for a program that fielded a 10-18 team last season.

In all, Maryland has two other newcomers on scholarship - center Aurelie Noirez and transfer guard Alli Spence - but Doron and France are the ones viewed as the most coveted recruits.

Doron averaged 17 points, five assists and five steals for Christ the King in Queens, N.Y., a program that produced stars Chamique Holdsclaw and Sue Bird.

France averaged 12 points, six rebounds, five assists and five steals for Bishop McNamara of Forestville.

Their arrival follows the departure of senior guards Terri Daniels and Renneika Razor.

"That's why they were so excited to come here," Maryland coach Brenda Frese said. "Both have an opportunity to contribute from Day 1."

But Frese warned supporters to be patient. "They're still freshmen, and there's still a learning curve."

Both players know where they fit in the grand scheme of things. France had no problem laying it out, envisioning older players such as senior Vicki Brick (McDonogh) teaching younger point guards, including Doron. Among the shooting guards, France would learn from a spot-up shooter such as Chrissy Fisher while helping Fisher with her slashing ability.

"We all just push each other to get better," France said. "We're all accountable to everyone."

The players said they believe it's a leaner and wiser team than the one that took the court in 2002.

"There were things that were in our control," Brick said, referring to turnovers and missed free throws that hurt. "That was the most frustrating thing."

Power forward Delvona Oliver said that last year's team was simply out of shape. She has lost 35 pounds, hoping to become a quicker player than the one who averaged 10.5 points and 5.3 rebounds after joining the team at midseason.

"I'm not sure we were ready for last year," Oliver said.

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