When news of her star player’s latest award reached Maryland Coach Brenda Frese, there was no celebratory phone call or congratulatory text message. It happened the first time, when forward Alyssa Thomas earned all-American honors during her sophomore season. It even happened last season, when Thomas repeated the honor. But for the third time? Awesome. Cool. Yawn. What else is new?
“This year there was no call from me,” Frese said Thursday. “It was automatic, because she knows.”
Thomas continues to shred her way through the record book for a Terrapins team that is headed to its first Final Four in eight years, largely thanks to the efforts of its senior workhorse. Already this season, Thomas has become the school’s all-time leading scorer, regardless of gender, and crushed the women’s record for both field goal attempts, double-doubles and free throws made. She currently stands one rebound and four made field goals away from setting new records in those categories, too, overtaking Crystal Langhorne in both.
Not that Thomas has noticed.
“I had no idea,” she said Thursday, before the team departed for Nashville. “I never know when I’m close or if I’m going to break a record. It’s really about getting a win out there.”
Thomas rarely has any clue when she approaches a record, but for different reasons than her teammates. She ignores the accolades that have showered her since she came to College Park. Fellow Terps can’t keep track.
“I’m just waiting for the end of the season where we can see the whole list,” classmate Sequoia Austin said. “It’s happening every day. Someone will say that this one’s broken, or that one’s almost broken. Just show me the list after.”
Said Essence Townsend, another fellow senior, with a laugh: “I’m like: ‘Can you leave some for other people? You’re so selfish.’ I’m really excited for her. She’s done a lot for this team and we really appreciate her. We really, really do.”
Thomas will need her supporting cast to excel in Nashville if Maryland hopes to upset top-seeded Notre Dame in Sunday’s national semifinals, with a national title the last remaining honor in her already-stuffed trophy cabinet. This season, she was named ACC player of the year for the third straight time, only one of two women to ever earn that distinction. And, while her senior season was still happening, the program deemed her legendary enough to raise her jersey to the Comcast Center rafters.
“It’s phenomenal, in terms of everything she’s accomplished,” Frese said. “Are we ever going to see something like this again? You don’t know. That’s why you have to appreciate these last moments that we get to have with her, because she’s been a dream come true to coach.”