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Maryland women’s basketball’s Allie Kubek embraces vocal role on the bench

After two ACL tears, Kubek’s college career has evolved into something new.

Chris Lyons/Maryland Terrapins

Maryland women’s basketball junior forward Allie Kubek was stretching her ankle on a medicine ball during a mid-morning practice ahead of the team’s Big Ten opener against Nebraska.

She wore Maryland women’s basketball apparel, black shorts and a white long-sleeve shirt as she looked at her teammates running screens and playing zone defense against the male scout team.

On game day against Nebraska, she dished out the ball to her teammates during the pregame shootaround and had a wide grin.

This has not been the season — or college career — that Kubek envisioned for herself. She did not expect to tear her anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), let alone do it twice. The first tear came during her sophomore campaign at Sanford School, where Kubek played in high school.

When an athlete hears the word ACL, Kubek said it’s a nine-month sentence, trapped from competing at a high level and instead dealing with another arduous recovery process after a successful surgery.

“I know that kind of pain,” Kubek said. “I knew it was torn.”

The second time around is only different than the first because she has prior experience with the arduous recovery process. Her goal now is to prove to everyone in the CAA and Big Ten that she can recover and be the successful player she knows she can be.

Kubek transferred from Towson to the University of Maryland — just 50 minutes away on I-95 — and was expected to play a significant role in the Terps’ offense this season. Being six-foot-one with a scoring ability untapped at the high-major level brought a lot of potential to Maryland head coach Brenda Frese.

However, Kubek has a new role this season.

“She’s like a mini student assistant coach for us,” Frese said.

Frese is happy that Kubek is not just taking the year off. She’s a sponge on the bench taking in the little details of the game so she can prepare herself for her senior season next year.

When Maryland played Towson in the Fort Myers Tournament in Florida, Frese prepared the scouting report but she needed the “little nuggets” that an insider with deep relationships and knowledge could know.

She turned to Kubek for a scouting report on her former team. She had a more profound level of understanding of the Tigers’ game plan since she was a 12-point-per-game scorer in 54 games with the program. She started all but one game of her Towson career.

It made Kubek feel valued that the 20-year head coach of the Terps received her input well.

“I just said push in transition, a little bit of personnel, how Kylie [Kornegay-Lucas] really likes pull-up [jumpers] and going to the rim … just a little bit of stuff on each of the players and the team overall,” Kubek said. “I really think that helped us get the dub.”

Kubek looked forward to seeing her Terps win but looked forward to playing in the game even more.

“Seeing them was awesome,” Kubek said. “Of course, I wanted the dub, but I was glad to see them play well.”

A prior connection

Kubek knew Maryland and Towson would face each other when she donned the white, black and gold for the Tigers. However, she did not know one of her opponents last year would become her future teammate.

Princeton’s Abby Meyers dropped 18 points and Kubek scored a team-high 19 at Jadwin Gymnasium — the Tigers’ home arena — in a 68-54 win for Princeton last January. Now with Maryland, Meyers said she does not remember too much about the game but recognized Kubek’s name when she was in the portal.

“I remember her in the scout … it was a good game vs. Towson, I remember that,” Meyers said as she finished up a practice before the Terps’ game against Purdue.

As for that new role Kubek has assumed this season, Meyers has noticed the effort that Kubek puts into being a vocal presence on the bench.

“She’s very loud, always counting down the shot clock, she’s always screaming ‘Defense; go defense,’ she’s just very active,” Meyers said. “I think that’s going to be her role for the year and she’s embracing it.”

Kubek is focused on her recovery now and admitted that some days are harder than others but is proud of the progression. She’s right where she needs to be.

“I’m doing squats and stuff like that, lifting a lot more so I’m progressing a little bit more,” Kubek said. “... [Athletic trainer] Melissa [Chepulis] says I’m doing really well, like, I’m a little bit ahead of schedule, that’s pretty exciting. It gives me a little bit of hope.”