Terps women: filling in blanks

NCAA champs' list of goals includes ACC title, better `D'

College basketball

November 01, 2006|By Milton Kent | Milton Kent,SUN REPORTER

COLLEGE PARK -- Contrary to popular belief, the Maryland women's basketball team didn't get everything it wanted last year.

To be sure, the Terps got the program's first national championship. During yesterday's media day, a few of the players sported the very large championship rings, with the last remnant of the title run, the championship banner, to come in the home opener against George Mason on Nov. 12.

Those are very nice things, but there were enough missing components from last year to fuel this year's quest.

"There's so much more that we need to accomplish," Maryland coach Brenda Frese said. "There are moments when you appreciate it [last season's title]. I see those pictures and videos and you appreciate what young people have been able to do in order to be successful. But I think when you get too much into yourself and satisfied, then it's going to be over. I think I'm always on to the next challenge and how great and how dominant of a team we can be here at Maryland."

For one thing, the Terps didn't win either the Atlantic Coast Conference regular-season or tournament championship, though, in winning the national title, they beat North Carolina and Duke, which both finished ahead of them in the regular season.

The Tar Heels knocked off Maryland in the ACC tournament final, extending Maryland's conference title drought to 18 years.

"We wanted to win an ACC championship, and we didn't accomplish that," sophomore forward Marissa Coleman said. "We got close, yes, but we didn't do it. Yeah, we won the national championship, but right now, we're just working on trying to get better as a team and really focusing on the defensive end and taking care of the ball. Everything else will fall in place if we do those three things."

To a player, defensive improvement has been the mantra in the preseason for the Terps, who, with all five starters returning from last season, have been largely established as the consensus No. 1 team in the country.

"All our emphasis this year is on defense," said senior guard Shay Doron. "We don't just want to beat people. We want to dominate a game for 40 minutes and hopefully carry that over to the NCAA tournament. At that point, your legs are tired, you're nervous. Your shot may or may not fall and you need to fall back on defense, which you can always bring. We're really, really focusing on defense this year."

If nothing else, the Terps, who open the regular season on Nov. 10 on the road against Middle Tennessee State, will spend the season battling the perception that they caught lightning in a bottle last season with their championship run, that they may not have gone through enough to merit those gaudy rings and the soon-to-be unveiled banner.

"I've even heard that from other players, that `You guys didn't put in enough time and effort. You guys just did it,' " said junior center Laura Harper. "That's funny. We work just as hard as every other team and this year, we're working even harder than we did last year. We know what it takes to win and how hard you have to work. We're not going to let up, and if anything we're working harder this year. That's what's exciting and it's going to be exciting to watch."

milton.kent@baltsun.com

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