Last year at this time, the Maryland women’s basketball team was still processing the sobering news that presumptive starting point guard Brene Moseley would be out for the season with a torn ACL.
Circumstances grew only worse from there when starting off guard Laurin Mincy and reserve center Essence Townsend had their seasons end prematurely with ACL tears over the next month.
The atmosphere at Terrapins media day on Wednesday afternoon was decidedly more upbeat, with Coach Brenda Frese calling her full complement of players “probably the most driven, committed team I’ve ever been around in my 12 years here at Maryland.”
Maryland has 14 players on this year’s roster, all of whom figure to contribute minutes, even if limited, but the Terrapins’ fortunes rest heavily on Alyssa Thomas. The senior is the two-time reigning ACC player of the year and a leading candidate in the preseason for national player of the year.
But the additions of a healthy Moseley and Mincy are no less important given how Maryland used a patchwork back court last season in advancing to the NCAA tournament’s region semifinals.
Moseley has been cleared to resume full basketball activities after recovering from the second ACL tear since high school. Mincy, meantime, was cleared today to do the same, saying she feels she’s roughly at “80 percent” following her second ACL tear.
“I’m a firm believer everything happens for a reason,” said Moseley, a first-team All-Met as a junior at Paint Branch High School. “We’re determined.”
Frese also introduced four freshmen, including Lexie Brown. The daughter for former NBA player and current Sacramento Kings assistant coach Dee Brown provides depth at point guard, where last season Frese used Thomas and then-freshman Chloe Pavlech out of necessity.
Forward Tierney Pfirman was among the long list of injured players last season, but the sophomore is back following a dislocated kneecap and a bout of mononucleosis. So is guard Katie Rutan, a three-point specialist who played last season despite a broken nose suffered during the team’s ACC road opener at North Carolina Jan. 3.
“After we lost last season, where most people would have been satisfied with a Sweet 16 finish, this group wasn’t,” said Frese, named ACC coach of the year last season for keeping the Terrapins competitive with a rotation of seven regulars. “They committed to each other, to themselves.”
Maryland will find out early in its schedule how far along it has come since last season or how far it has to go to reach a championship level when it hosts Connecticut on Nov. 15. The Huskies are eight-time national champions.
Playing its final season in the ACC before moving to the Big Ten next year, Maryland also has a home game against Notre Dame. The Fighting Irish have advanced to three consecutive Final Fours.
“We’ll go as far as our defense goes,” said Mincy, considered the team’s best on-ball defender. “We’re really deep this year. We can go small, or we can play bigger. We can use everything to our advantage. We can be so diverse.”