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Maryland women’s basketball vs. Albany preview: Terps open up 2017-18 season

After a busy offseason, it’s time for Brenda Frese’s team to finally take the court.

NCAA Womens Basketball: Big Ten Conference Tournament-Purdue vs Maryland Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Maryland women’s basketball officially opens up its season Friday when it takes on Albany at the Xfinity Center.

The Terps are coming off a 32-3 season that included a third straight Big Ten regular season and conference tournament title, but ultimately ended in disappointment with a loss to Oregon in the Sweet Sixteen.

A lot has happened since that loss. Destiny Slocum and three other players transferred out of the program, point guard Channise Lewis switched her commitment to Maryland, and the Terps finished in fifth place at the World University Games.

Last year, Maryland could rely on its two star seniors. Now, it will have to be a team effort. The Terps have just 10 players on the roster, and junior wing Eleanna Christinaki isn’t eligible until Dec. 20.

The Great Danes are also in a bit of a transition, having lost the program’s second all-time leading scorer in Imani Tate. They won the America East conference tournament last season, and their reward was playing UConn in the NCAA Tournament.

This year, the Great Danes are picked to finish second in the America East behind New Hampshire, who won the regular season title last year.

Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m., and the game will be streamed on BTN Plus.

Albany Great Danes (0-0)

2016-17 record: 21-12, 12-4

Head coach Joanna Bernabei-McNamee is in her second season at Albany. She spent three years at NAIA University of Pikeville in Pikeville Kentucky. There, she led the Bears to 63 wins and an NAIA Final Four appearance in 2016. She also had a one-year stop as the coach at West Virginia Wesleyan in 1998. She has a 102-57 record in five years as a head coach.

Bernabei-McNamee spent nine seasons as an assistant coach as well, including four years on Brenda Frese’s staff from 2003-07. At Maryland, she also served as the recruiting coordinator, bringing in the stars of the 2006 national championship team.

Players to know

Jessica Fequiere, redshirt senior, guard/forward, 5’11, No. 15. Fequiere averaged 12.5 points and seven rebounds a game last season on her way to a second team all-conference selection. She was a preseason All-America East selection.

Mackenzie Trpcic, sophomore, guard, 5’7, No. 00. Trpcic averaged 5.2 points and four assists per game, and her 104 assists were an Albany freshman record. She’s one of two capable point guards on the Great Danes roster, but will have to handle the duties on her own in non-conference play while fellow sophomore (and Maryland native) Khepera Stokes recovers from hip surgery, according to the team’s season preview.

Tiana Jo-Carter, senior, forward/center, 6’2, No. 33. Carter will help lead the front court as a senior. She averaged 6.2 points, 4.3 rebounds, and 1.3 blocks per game last year, and was the America East Sixth Player of the Year as a sophomore.


Forcing turnovers. Albany forced 20.5 turnovers a game last season, which was the 16th in the NCAA. Maryland’s up-tempo offense can lead to turnovers at time, so Albany could take advantage and get some easy points.


Turnovers. The Great Danes strength is nullified by their weakness. They averaged 19.7 turnovers per game last year, which is almost five more a game than the Terps averaged last season. If they even want to be competitive with Maryland, Albany will have to be smarter with the ball.

Three things to watch

1. How different will this Maryland team be from last season? We’ve seen this team play in Taiwan, but this is there first game against NCAA competition in over seven months. It’s also their first official game with just this group, since Tori Jankoska and Malina Howard were on the World University Games Roster.

2. Who will start? Heading into the season I expected Lewis, Confroy, Charles, Jones and Fraser to be the starting five. That wasn’t the starting lineup in either of the exhibition games. Obviously, things can change, but the fact that Lewis came off the bench in both exhibitions is mysterious.

3. How will Frese handle the rotation? Last year, Frese relied on her starters for too many minutes, and struggled to get all 15 players on the team enough playing time. With only nine players for non-conference play, she’ll need to rotate players more to keep them fresh during the game. South Carolina comes in on Monday, so the Terps’ small bench could get more playing time than usual.


Maryland wins, 88-63.