LOUISVILLE — The Maryland women’s basketball team went through its final practice on Saturday afternoon in preparation for Sunday’s NCAA tournament Sweet 16 game against Tennessee, and although the Terrapins have been bracing for one of their more physical opponents, they also clearly were enjoying themselves during the 90-minute session at KFC Yum! Center.
Before practice began in earnest, several assistant coaches provided some basic basketball instruction to Coach Brenda Frese’s twin boys, Tyler and Markus, as players stretched and warmed up. Markus tried to persuade point guard Brene Moseley to listen to music that was playing through a pair of headphones on the announcer’s table, but the sophomore politely said she had to participate in shooting drills and would join him after practice.
Players offered one another spirited encouragement throughout the afternoon, with the atmosphere underscoring how Frese and her staff have imparted on the team the importance of soaking in the moment while also making the most of an opportunity to reach a second Elite Eight in three years.
“I think leading up to it there’s no balance,” Frese said with chuckle. “I think as you approach the day or two before, you try to enjoy that balance as much as you can within all the things that you’re juggling.”
Shortly after practice, players met with the team’s sports psychologist and then headed out for an Italian meal on a cold, wet evening in the home of the Kentucky Derby.
Players, coaches and support staff spent Friday night, their first in Louisville, at a dinner in a restaurant at the top level of the team hotel just steps from the arena. The setting was more formal than usual, but there was the novelty of the rotating dining room with a bird’s-eye view of the city.
“It’s just about coming out and giving everything you have because you never know when it’s going to be your last game,” Maryland senior forward Alyssa Thomas said. “You’ve got to work hard out there, but at the same you’ve still got to enjoy your teammates.”