Maryland's Anjalé Barrett Shows Improved Three-Point Shooting After Knee Injury

In high school, Maryland's Anjalé Barrett wasn't known for her shooting. But when she missed last season with a knee injury, she improved her touch. Now she leads the ACC in three-point shooting in conference games.
In high school, Maryland's Anjalé Barrett wasn't known for her shooting. But when she missed last season with a knee injury, she improved her touch. Now she leads the ACC in three-point shooting in conference games. (By John Heller -- Associated Press)
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By Camille Powell
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, February 9, 2009

When Anjalé Barrett signed with Maryland in the fall of 2006, Coach Brenda Frese figured that the Terrapins were getting an unselfish playmaker, someone who liked to push the tempo and attack the rim. And so far, the redshirt freshman has been just that in a reserve role for the 13th-ranked Terrapins (18-4, 6-2 ACC).

"But the pleasant surprise is the consistent way she's been shooting the three," said Frese, whose team plays at Boston College (17-6, 5-3) tonight. "The most impressive thing is she doesn't take a bad shot. That's why her percentage is so good."

Barrett is shooting 68.8 percent -- 11 for 16 -- from beyond the arc in ACC play, which leads the conference. (It's worth noting, however, that of the top 15 players, she's attempted the fewest number of shots.) She is averaging 6.9 points in the eight conference games, and 4.3 points for the season.

Barrett admits that shooting was not one of her strengths when she finished her high school career at St. Michael's Academy in New York City; she always considered herself a distributor, first and foremost -- like her older brother, Andre, the former standout Seton Hall point guard who now plays for F.C. Barcelona.

But one of the things she worked on as she sat out last season was her shooting. Barrett was limited in what she was allowed to do at practice after undergoing two surgeries to repair a torn meniscus and torn anterior cruciate ligament -- Frese said that they took a cautious approach to her rehabilitation, to make sure Barrett fully recovered -- but one thing she could do was put up shots.

"I knew that once I got here, I'd have to be able to ballhandle and shoot," she said.

The year off also allowed Barrett a chance to watch and learn from her older teammates. She paid particular attention to Kristi Toliver, the Terrapins' point guard, who also happens to be one of the best shooters in the country. She watched her other teammates, and tried to figure out how she would fit in with them once she resumed playing.

"Learning tendencies, knowing what people like helped tremendously this season," said Barrett, whose 38 assists place her third on the team, behind Toliver (111) and senior Marissa Coleman (69). "I knew what to expect, I knew when and where people wanted the ball."

Early in the season, Barrett seemed hesitant to look for her shot; through the first 10 games, she attempted just three three-pointers, making two. She said that she came back from winter break with a different mind-set; she finally started listening to her coaches and teammates, who were telling her to be more aggressive.

She had one of her best games in Maryland's 68-65 loss at No. 4 Duke on Jan. 12, scoring 10 points and adding four assists with no turnovers against the Blue Devils' pressure. She hit two three-pointers in the second half as the Terrapins rallied from an 11-point halftime deficit. At No. 17 Virginia on Jan. 30, she ran the offense during the first half when Toliver was saddled with fouls, and finished with eight points and three assists in the 89-81 defeat.

"I think the great thing with Anjalé is, she brings something different," Frese said. "She's such a spark off the bench, with her ability to get to the rim and her unselfish style of play."

And her shooting has given the Terrapins a spark as well. Even though Barrett has the best shooting percentage on the team, she still defers to Toliver, who beat No. 15 Florida State with a buzzer-beating three-pointer last Monday and then went 5 for 6 on three-pointers against N.C. State on Thursday.

"She's a pure shooter, a great shooter," Barrett said. "That'd be a little tough to beat her."

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