Six games into the 2016-17 season, Kristen Confroy was dead last on the Maryland women’s basketball team in scoring. The junior had only recorded 11 points all year, going scoreless four times. She was shooting 3-of-15 from the floor and 2-of-12 from three.
In Maryland’s past three games, though, Confroy has enjoyed a resurgence. She’s scored in double figures in consecutive contests, including 17 Sunday against UMBC. Confroy added 11 points in the No. 4 Terps’ win Tuesday over Towson.
Her shots still weren’t falling against Louisville (1-of-5, all from beyond the arc), but Confroy contributed in other ways, pulling down 11 rebounds and helping the Terps hold Louisville’s Asia Durr to 8-of-27 shooting. She played 39 minutes in that game, which shows that Brenda Frese trusts her even when she isn’t shooting.
When those shots do go in, Confroy becomes another weapon in an already-loaded Maryland offense. And in the first two games of the Terps’ homestand, she’s 10-of-13 from the field. She made her first four three-pointers Sunday. Although the turnaround is drastic, it didn’t take a lot to make it happen.
“Being a shooter, you just have to keep trusting the process,” Confroy said. “Every shot I’ve taken, it feels like it’s going in. Earlier in the year, it just wasn’t.”
In three games, Confroy’s scoring average has crept up from 1.8 points per game to 5.0, which is still less than half that of any other Maryland starter and well below her 8.0 mark from last season. Her shooting percentages, though, have skyrocketed quickly. Since the Louisville game, she’s turned 20 percent from the field into 42.4 percent, and 17.6 percent from three into 39.3 percent.
“She knows that the percentages and all the numbers, it’s gonna come her way if she continues to take as many shots as she always does in practice, keep working on her game,” Frese said.
As time passes, the start of Confroy’s season will probably be dismissed as a cold streak, but there were valid reasons to think she wouldn’t have been such a key part of the offense going forward. Freshman guards Kaila Charles and Destiny Slocum quickly established themselves as effective scorers, and it’s rare for college teams to have five true threats in one lineup (last year’s Terps started Chloe Pavlech, a point guard who hardly ever scored).
Of course, 28 points in 34 minutes of action will silence any of those doubts. Confroy’s recent explosion doesn’t surprise Frese, who saw the same player during the slow start as she did during the high points of last season.
“Kristen has one of the strongest mindsets on our team,” Frese said. “As we continued to check in, it never changed. That’s a credit to the work she’s put in.”
Confroy and the other starters haven’t been needed much in second halves during the past two games; on Tuesday, the group combined for 29 minutes after halftime. Expect a similar number Thursday, when the Terps face 1-6 Saint Peter’s, a team that lost by 56 points to Penn State, a middle-tier Big Ten squad.
In the long run, though, Confroy’s renaissance is huge for Maryland. When she was cold, the Terps’ lineup was still great. With her back in the mix, it’s championship-caliber.