Maryland women’s basketball lost to Nebraska on Dec. 4 to begin conference play. It was its third loss and the Terps were trying to find some cohesion within the program.
A dejected head coach Brenda Frese and graduate transfer guard Brinae Alexander addressed reporters who watched Huskers guard Jaz Shelley nail six 3-pointers at XFINITY Center.
Frese said in part, “We need Lavender to do more,” referring to senior guard Lavender Briggs, who came to College Park from the University of Florida in the middle of last season.
It has been an up-and-down year for Briggs, and she will be the first to admit it. Getting to where she is now was daunting work, and there were some dark times this season when she said basketball was no longer fun.
She began the season in the starting lineup and was removed after Maryland lost to DePaul on Nov. 25. That was the second of a three-game stretch where Briggs shot 0-for-12.
A little over a month later, Briggs’ recent double-digit scoring games have the veteran head coach saying this version of Briggs is what she has been hoping to see all along.
“With Lav, I mean, SEC elite-level guard, 1,000-point scorer, this is what we need to be able to have from Lav and I just love seeing where she’s come back after break,” Frese said.
Briggs knows she needs to be patient and that there is more work to be done.
“I wasn’t performing how I know I can perform and mentally that can take a toll on you … I was feeling like I was kind of failing at what I am trying to succeed at,” Briggs said.
When asked who she thought she was failing, Briggs said “Myself. Because I know I’m so much better than what I’m showing.”
Recent games have showed her “that I’m not a bum,” she said with a laugh. “That I get in my head too much.”
Being in Poughkeepsie, New York for the holidays helped her regroup because she could confide in family members like her mother, grandma, aunts, uncles and cousins. She could take a step back and be with people who understood what she was going through.
“I got to have a lot of good conversations before I came back to school,” Briggs said.
As for the team, senior guard Diamond Miller has been someone Briggs has gone to for advice and they’ve had multiple conversations about basketball. The best advice Briggs said she received from her was to be present.
Graduate guard Brinae Alexander said Briggs needs to “give herself some grace” and “it’s really starting to come back for her.”
Briggs attributed her struggles to recovering from a torn labrum, among other ailments, that caused her to be away from the court for a while. The most evident change Briggs has noticed in her recent games is that her confidence in shooting the ball has returned.
“Having that same level of confidence when you first got hurt is hard to maintain, especially over such a long period,” she said.
After the Michigan State win on Jan. 7 — she finished that game with 15 points and seven rebounds — Briggs tweeted “It feels so nice to finally start getting my groove back.”
It feels so nice to finally start getting my groove back— lavenderbriggs (@lavbriggs) January 7, 2023
Consistency, to her, means shooting and rebounding the ball well over the course of a few games. She knows achieving her goals comes with time. She’s in a different situation now with Maryland than in Florida, where she was an All-SEC second team honoree in 2021.
“I’m a different type of player,” Briggs said. “I’m working out a different type of way and I’m playing a different type of way and I’m playing with different teammates … It’s kind of crazy to expect to be that type of player when I’m in a whole different environment.”
She knows she can play better and has done so in her career. She said in no uncertain terms that her goal is to try to increase her level of play and make the WNBA. That mindset shift has helped her find her passion again for the sport she loves. It goes back to the emotions behind the tweet she wrote.
“Me having my confidence back, it’s different and it has me feeling good in practice, after practice, going into games,” Briggs said. “It’s making me love the game again.”
She said the team has only seen flashes of what her true potential is but they have yet to see it fully. That is something that excites her.
An end-to-end smile came across Briggs’ face when she thought about what that version may look like.
“It’s exciting,” Briggs said. “I can’t wait until I can get back there … I haven’t even reached my best yet.”