Maryland women's basketball greatest player: Number 25 is not the Greatest of All-Time

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Spor

Before Alyssa Thomas donned number 25, Marissa Coleman enshrined it in the rafters. Before Alyssa Thomas came to Maryland, Marissa Coleman was the most versatile player to play for the Terps. Yet she's not in my top three. What could I be thinking?

In my search to select the Greatest of all Time (GOAT) in Maryland women's basketball history, I'm down to my final four: Vicky Bullett, Marissa Coleman, Crystal Langhorne, and Alyssa Thomas. And frankly, as I encountered in eliminating Kristi Toliver, I face many speed bumps in paring this amazing race's list to three. It becomes a hair splitting exercise.

This player is one of the most versatile to ever wear a Maryland uniform. She's one of two players to finish her career with over 2,200 points, over 1,100 rebounds, over 400 assists, and over 200 steals. Her number was the first number 25 to hang from the rafters at Comcast Center. It resides with four of her teammates from the 2006 national championship team and that number 25 belongs to Marissa Coleman.

A personal aside

Before I explain the roadblocks that kept Marissa from my top three, let me take a brief personal detour. One Rebounders (MD WBB Support Group) tradition is compiling a scrapbook for every player. The scrapbook is presented to her at the team banquet when she graduates. In my dozen or so years as a Rebounder, I agreed to this task once and it was Marissa Coleman's scrapbook that I compiled. I should say scrapbooks.

Marissa's accomplishments were so numerous and my obsession so intense that I broke the informal rule that each player should receive only a single volume for her career. Believe me when I write that when you accept a project like this and see it through to its conclusion over four years, you develop a bond with that player that is considerably stronger than the typical fan's respect. Thus, choosing to eliminate Marissa is compounded by my personal history.

A do it all player

When she finished her career at Maryland, Marissa Coleman was second only to her teammate Crystal Langhorne in points scored and was sixth in scoring average. Langhorne was also the only roadblock between Coleman and being the all-time leader in career rebounds. She was seventh in rebounding average. Despite playing four years with the Terps all-time leader in assists, Riss still managed to dish out 453 good enough for sixth all-time. To this day, only Kristi Toliver has made more three point baskets than Coleman.

There's still more to weigh in her favor. She was the ACC Rookie of the Year in the national championship season. She was named to the All-ACC second team as a freshman, sophomore, and junior before breaking through to first team All-ACC as a senior making her the secon player in Maryland history to be named to an All-ACC team in each of her four years. Before Alyssa Thomas donned her version of number 25, Marissa Coleman was the only Terrapin woman to have recorded a triple double. Coleman was a consensus All-American as a senior. Oh, and if you read the previous article in this series you may remember that I noted only two Terps players can lay claim to both an ACC Tournament championship and a national championship. Toliver is one. Coleman is the other. And need I mention the name of the MVP of that ACC Tournament? I'll stick to her number - twenty-five.

One singular sensational performance

Few of those in attendance at the 2009 Sweet Sixteen game in Raleigh will forget Coleman's heroics that night. The top seed in the region, the Terps were being sliced to bits by Vanderbilt. With 6:28 to play in the first half, Maryland trailed 33-15 but would go on a 21-6 run to trail by only three at the half. That run was fueled in large part by Coleman who scored eleven of the Terps' twenty-one. The Commodores built the lead back to eleven at 68-57 with seven minutes left in the game. The Terrapins again went on a 21-6 run and again Coleman scored eleven of Maryland's points while also pulling down five rebounds and guarding Vanderbilt's best player, Christina Wirth. An exhausted Coleman, whose Terrapins career ended two nights later with a loss to Louisville in the Elite Eight, finished with 42 points and 15 rebounds and simply willed Maryland to the win that night.

Wrapping it up

Coleman played in more games than other other player in Maryland women's basketball history. She started more games than anyone other than Crystal Langhorne and her streak of 138 consecutive games played is second only to Ashleigh Newman.

Versatile? Check. Durable? Check. Powerful? Check. Skilled? Check. Consistent? Check. But not the GOAT? Why? For me, it again boils down to Coleman playing all or most of her career with some of the best players to ever don a Maryland uniform and the difficulty in determining who made who better. There's also the issue of the number of games she played that drags on the raw numbers. Admittedly, this isn't the strongest foundation for cutting her, but it is a factor for me. Marissa Coleman you're the last to arrive and you've been eliminated from this amazing race.

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