Maryland women’s basketball’s offseason has been anything but ordinary. Star seniors Brionna Jones and Shatori Walker-Kimbrough graduated and four players, including Big Ten Freshman of the Year Destiny Slocum, transferred out of the program. On top of all that, the team is also preparing for the World University Games, where the Terps will be the representative for the United States.
For head coach Brenda Frese, the trip will not only help the team be prepared for hostile road environments during the season, but also to try to figure out what everyone’s role is after losing more than 60 percent of last year’s scoring.
“This is the part I love the most, is assembling these pieces together,” Frese said Thursday. “It’s going to be a lot of fun, having this work and early competitive games to prepare us for the year.”
Maryland opens up pool play Aug. 21 against Uganda, and the Terps are getting in more practice time than a typical offseason to prepare.
In a normal offseason, players can work out with coaches for eight hours a week and spend just two hours with them on the court, according to NCAA rules. After going home for five weeks following the end of the spring semester, the players have been working out almost every day to get ready.
“Normally we don’t go this hard because usually we’re getting ready for November and the beginning of the season,” senior guard Ieshia Small said. “But since we’re playing in Taiwan in August, we’re getting in better shape than we’ve ever been before.”
Besides getting the players into better shape than usual at this point in the offseason, the practices also serve to help the players get acclimated to unfamiliar rules. In FIBA play, the three-point line is moved back over a foot, which means less room between the arc and the out-of-bounds line. Other key changes include only eight seconds to move the ball past half-court—instead of 10 like in the college game—and the shot clock resetting to 14 seconds on an offensive rebound instead of a full 30.
But according to players and coaches, the biggest adjustments have been trying to get used to the physicality of international play.
“Coach B told us about how the games go over there, and it’s very intense, it’s very physical, and I think that’s something we’re not really used to,” senior guard Kristen Confroy said. “So that’s a big thing we’ve been focusing on in practice as well, just understanding the intensity and the physicality of every possession.”
This intensity makes it different from last year’s trip to Italy, which Confroy described as “like a vacation.”
“Yes, we played, but we got to tour Rome, and go to Florence, and down the lake,” Confroy said. “So it was a lot of fun and we didn’t play a ton so it was really hanging out a lot outside of basketball. I think this trip is more competitive. When we get there, we’re really going to battle.”