With the season set to begin in a little more than three weeks, the Terrapins not only are adjusting to a new conference and a newly branded arena but also to significant lineup changes. Maryland graduated three starters following a second appearance in the Final Four under Coach Brenda Frese and for the first time will be without Alyssa Thomas.
The three-time all-American finished as the program’s career leader in scoring and rebounding and was the second in history to win ACC player of the year three times. In moving to the Big Ten, the Terrapins also are going to be facing opponents that in most cases aren’t as star-studded as former ACC rivals such as Duke, North Carolina, Florida State and Miami. The Terrapins, meantime, are picked to win the conference following preseason voting among coaches and media.
“I’m just open to the opportunity and new experience,” said guard-forward Laurin Mincy, who is Maryland’s only senior. “Obviously it’s going to be different with the style of play. The ACC is more uptempo and athletic, and the Big Ten has a lot of good teams, and we’re going to have to go in and play physical.”
Maryland has advanced to the round of 16 three straight times thanks in large part to robust rebounding, including ranking seventh in rebound margin last season and second the season before that. Thomas and center Alicia DeVaughn were major contributors, finishing first and second, respectively, on the team last season.
But with those physically imposing players no longer in the mix, the Terrapins are in search of others to patrol the lane. Sophomore center Brionna Jones and junior forward Tierney Pfirman are among the first options, and an athletic rotation of guards will be asked to contribute, too. Jones is Maryland’s leading returning rebounder after averaging 4.5 per game. Pfirman averaged 3.7.
“Probably my biggest question mark of this team, and painful to say in terms of where our rebounding is going to come,” Frese said. “It keeps me awake at night at the moment, so that’s why we are going to have to be different. I think we’re going to have to generate a lot more with our team speed. We’re going to have to generate more defensively. Brionna Jones is going to be a key player in terms of where our rebounding comes from, and right now everything else is up in the air.”