Maryland basketball players get head start at Point Guard College

July 4, 2012

WESTMINSTER, Md. — On a steamy Tuesday afternoon in July, when many of her peers were presumably at the beach, the starting point guard for the Maryland women’s basketball team was in the gym at McDaniel College doing anything but relaxing.

Brene Moseley was going through shooting drills with approximately 120 other men and women at Point Guard College, where director Chad Songy every so often offers words of encouragement with the gusto of a seasoned motivational speaker.

“You’re either contributing or contaminating,” Songy says.

Moments later, another: “A quiet gym is a losing gym.”

In response, PGC attendees, who include Moseley’s Terrapin teammates Laurin Mincyand Katie Rutan, begin to clap and holler with even more fervor, amplifying the volume inside the athletic facility in this tranquil town an hour from College Park.

This is where Moseley, Mincy, the starting off guard, and Rutan, a redshirt junior transfer with a knack for three-point shooting, have spent the week refining their game in anticipation of a season of elevated expectations. The reigning ACC tournament champions finished 31-5 and ended last season one game shy of the Final Four. Five of their top six scorers will be back this fall.

Songy “is breaking it down deeper than a lot of people,” said Moseley, who, as a sophomore, will be entrusted with directing a team that figures to land in the preseason top five. “I’m loving it so far. It’s a lot of things I’ve never experienced and never thought about, so he’s making me think about being a point guard differently.”

Point Guard College, which offers similar courses at university and college campuses across the country, was the brainchild of founder Dick DeVenzio. A decorated college basketball player at Duke, DeVenzio ran PGC from the early 1990s until his death in 2001 at 52.

Shortly thereafter, protégé Dena Evans assumed ownership, helping PGC flourish and expand. Evans played college basketball at Virginia, where she was the point guard on three Final Four teams in the early 1990s and absorbed the finer points of the sport from then-coach Debbie Ryan, a member of the women’s basketball Hall of Fame.

Some of the most accomplished coaches in the country, both college and professional, have endorsed PGC’s teachings. Its alumni include Ivory Latta, the 2006 national player of the year for North Carolina; former Terrapins standout and 2008-09 ACC player of the year Kristi Toliver, and Bria Hartley, a junior-to-be at Connecticut.

Toliver found PGC so influential that she kept her notes from the intensive program and often reviewed them before games at Maryland.

“You can’t call it a camp,” said Songy, who has been with PGC for a dozen years. “It’s a nit-picky thing. To me, camps are places you go, and they just roll out the ball, and you play. This is a learning environment. It’s a college.”

A typical day at PGC includes three classroom sessions that last an hour each and three court sessions for two hours at a time. They are held in the morning, afternoon and evening, with classroom work and film study immediately preceding drills on the court.

For Moseley, Mincy and Rutan, the experience is similar to being back on campus at Maryland, except that rather than studying English, history and math, they're mastering passing, shooting and court management, even if it means watching from the side.

And that’s exactly what Mincy has done for just about all of PGC after spraining her left ankle on the first day of the program that, despite its name, is not only for point guards. PGC’s mission is to have all its participants think like point guards. It emphasizes communication, leadership and teamwork regardless of position.

“With our seniors graduating, we have to take on a bigger role,” said Mincy, the Terrapins’ second-leading scorer last season, when she was a sophomore. “This is giving us an advantage and an edge over teams because this is something that they won’t be getting.”

Gene Wang is a sports reporter covering many local and national beats, including Navy football, the Capitals, Wizards, Nationals, women’s basketball, auto racing, boxing and golf. He joined The Washington Post sports department in 1990 as a member of the high school staff and worked as a copy editor and assignment editor for almost 19 years.
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