Maryland women’s basketball looked to tune up for the 2019-20 season with exhibitions against California University of Pennsylvania and Lincoln University (PA), and did just that.
The Terps won both games, 109-67 and 115-52, respectively, and will have one week to fine tune ahead of the season opener against Wagner on Nov. 5.
Here is what to watch for as Brenda Frese’s new squad heads into the 2019-20 campaign:
The roster will be thinner than expected to start the season
Maryland took a hit to its depth in the preseason as it was announced transfer Mimi Collins would take a redshirt season and freshman Zoe Young tore her ACL in early-October. Center Olivia Owens is also out with an illness, and could miss a handful of games to start the season, taking away some of the expected depth the Terps planned to have.
These events have led to Frese and her staff having just 10 players to use at the moment — which is the same predicament the Terps dealt with all of last season, except this time all 10 players can make a difference on the floor.
“I think the fact that we are able to send waves, I think that our depth was extremely strong,” Frese said after playing California University of Pennsylvania. “Everybody that played [Friday night] did some really positive things.”
Maryland will be able to feed off of its highly-touted 2019 recruiting class – which ranked No. 3 in the nation – giving this squad of 10 more depth and experience than last year’s squad.
Looking ahead even further, spacing out Collins and Young’s eligibility by another year and allowing them to adapt to the program from the sidelines could prove to be a blessing in disguise for the Terps next season and beyond.
Freshmen will certainly play key roles
The Terps’ No. 3 recruiting class from 2019 is the best Frese and her staff has brought in since 2016 – this year’s senior class – and will figure to play a large role in the team’s success this season.
Point guard Ashley Owusu averaged 22 minutes, 12.5 points and 3.5 assists across Maryland’s two exhibition games and will likely play one of the more consistent roles on the team.
“I thought they were tremendous,” Frese said of her freshmen after Friday’s exhibition game. “They came in and the moment wasn’t too big for them. I thought they came in and played hard.”
Forward Faith Masonius, who finished with 21 points, seven rebounds and four assists Tuesday night against Lincoln, averaged 15 points and six rebounds across 26.5 minutes in Maryland’s two exhibition games. She’s a rather versatile player with a high basketball IQ who figures to fit into the three or four role on the floor this season off the bench.
“I think coming into the second game, the nerves of the first game [were] kind of away— just coming off the bench and just get[ting] into my flow,” Masonius said.
Wing depth may be the team’s biggest strength
Last season, Maryland struggled to produce consistently at the wing position due to a lack of depth on the roster.
This season, the addition of Owusu allows Kaila Charles to slide down to her natural wing position, while the additions of freshmen Diamond Miller and Masonius to junior Blair Watson will give Frese a plethora of choices at the two, three and four spots to play big or small lineups as she feels necessary.
“[It’s] huge being able to have versatile pieces,” Frese said. “I thought Faith was phenomenal. When you talk about what she brings from the moment she steps on the floor with her energy and her communication and her IQ, it allows us, with our athleticism, our size, with both Kaila and Diamond, to send some waves at people.”
Even though freshman Diamond Miller — who averaged eight points and 6.4 rebounds across the exhibition contests — has yet to pop off the score sheet, Masonius did so Tuesday night and showed the amount of depth that is on the Maryland bench.
Press defense will be a staple
Against Lincoln, Maryland made great use of different full-court and half-court defensive sets, forcing 37 turnovers and running away with the score early.
The Terps forced 14.85 turnovers per game last season, but through two exhibition games Maryland’s opponents are averaging 28.5 turnovers per game.
“Obviously utilizing our depth as well as making teams uncomfortable,” Frese mentioned, are two key points of emphasis this season. “Having a lot of different wrinkles that we can go at, so we’re definitely trying to look at different things that we can utilize.”
With the elevated levels of experience and skill, the 2019-20 Maryland team will be able to keep fresh legs on the floor and play with higher levels of intensity throughout games this season.