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No. 12 Maryland women’s basketball weekend preview: Gulf Coast Showcase

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The Terps open up 2020-21 on the road against three strong teams in what will be an indicative weekend for the first portion of the season.

NCAA Womens Basketball: Big Ten Conference Tournament-Ohio State vs Maryland Marc Lebryk-USA TODAY Sports

After finishing the 2019-20 season on a 17-game winning streak with Big Ten regular season and tournament championships, No. 12 Maryland women’s basketball will be back in action Friday for the first time since March.

Now, the Terps and head coach Brenda Frese will look to repeat their success for the 2020-21 season. But it won’t come easy by any means.

The Terps lost seven impact players from last season and will look to some fresh faces to recapture the Big Ten title and fulfill their goals of a championship.

“All the players that have been brought into this program and everybody who’s continued to be here is just somebody who wants to win,” sophomore guard/forward Faith Masonius said. “I mean, Brenda, as a coach and our coaching staff, they recruit people and get people here who want to win and who want to be successful.”

Maryland will face off against two top-25 teams to open the season, including the likes of No. 24 Missouri State and No. 14 Arkansas, at the Gulf Coast Showcase tournament this weekend in Estero, Florida. These matchups will certainly bring a challenge to the Terps, and the outcomes could set the tone for the early portion of the 2020-21 slate of games.

Let’s take a look at what the Terps will be up against this weekend, starting with Davidson on Friday.

Davidson Wildcats

2019-20 record: 16-15 (8-8 A-10)

Head coach Gayle Fulks is entering her fourth season as the head coach of the Davidson women’s basketball program. She led the Wildcats to a second straight winning season in 2019-20 and helped Davidson reach the A-10 Championship quarterfinals for the second consecutive season.

Players to know

Suzi-Rose Deegan, sophomore guard, 5’10, No. 0. Deegan had a very accomplished first season with the Wildcats, capping off the 2019-20 season by being named the Atlantic 10 Rookie of the Year and making the A-10 All-First Team. She led Davidson in scoring last season, nearly averaging 16 points per game. Deegan was also second on the team in minutes per game and led the Wildcats in steals. Keep an eye out for the do-it-all sophomore in the opening game.

Katie Turner, senior guard, 5’7, No. 1. Entering her final season as a Wildcat, Turner is one of the more consistent players on this Davidson squad. She was named to the A-10 All-Third Team for the second consecutive season, while averaging 10.4 points per game after making 31 starts on the floor in 2019-20. Last season, Turner became the 21st player in Davidson program history to reach 1,000 career points last February.

Sarah Donovan, senior guard/forward, 6’0, No. 11. Despite missing the final 18 games last season due to an injury, Donovan averaged the second-most points on the Wildcats in 2019-20. She led the team in field goal percentage and rebounds per game before missing out on the rest of the season. Donovan is certainly a bounceback candidate for this Davidson team, and she’ll need to provide a positive impact if the Wildcats hope to beat the Terps.

Strength

Stopping the 3-point game. As a team, Davidson held its opponents to just a .295 3-point shot percentage over the course of last season. That’s the kind of defensive recipe the Wildcats will need against a traditionally sharp-shooting Maryland team. The Terps had a .366 3-point shot percentage last season as a team, so it’ll be interesting to see how both these rosters feed off their own strengths in that regard.

Weakness

Road record. The Wildcats haven’t had a winning road record since the 2012-13 season when they went 10-9. Last season, Davidson managed a 7-9 record away from home. The Terps will look to take advantage of Davidson’s poor road resume as Maryland finished with a stellar 9-3 road record last season.

No. 24 Missouri State Lady Bears

2019-20 record: 26-4 (16-2 MVC)

Head coach Amaka Agugua-Hamilton is entering her second season as Missouri State’s head coach. She was named the Spalding Maggie Dixon Rookie Coach of the Year by the Women’s Basketball Coaches association for her 2019-20 performance. Coach “Mox” was just the second-first year head coach in MVC history to be named Valley Coach of the Year.

Players to know

Brice Calip, senior guard, 5’8, No. 11. Calip is returning to the Lady Bears as the reigning MVC Defensive Player of the Year for 2020. She averaged to most minutes on the team last year and finished second on the team with 12.6 points per game. Heading into her senior season, Calip will certainly play a significant role for the Lady Bears when they take on the Terps.

Jasmine Franklin, junior forward, 6’1, No. 32. Franklin received a First-Team All-MVC selection after her performance a season ago. She finished third on Missouri State in scoring and averaged 8.7 rebounds per game, the highest mark on the Lady Bears roster in 2019-20. Look out for Franklin on the boards as she will look to harass the Terps in the rebound game throughout the contest.

Emily Gartner, senior center, 6’4, No. 50. With Missouri State’s leading scorer from last season gone, Gartner is one of the choices for an improved season on this Lady Bears roster. The center is the tallest member on the roster and averaged the second most rebounds on the team. She’ll be on the floor often against the Terps as the Lady Bears will look to combat Maryland’s height advantage.

Strength

Veteran leadership. Out of the 13 players on the Missouri State roster, six of those players and seniors and four of them are juniors. This is a very top-heavy upperclassmen team, and that will play into Missouri State’s favor against some of the top collegiate teams in the nation. The Lady Bears have the experience to make a run this year and their veterans make them a very dangerous team.

Weakness

Three-point defense. It’s hard to find any flaws from this roster last season, however, Missouri State gives up a fairly strong 3-point percentage to opponents with last year’s mark hitting a .362 percentage. Maryland will need to take advantage from behind the arc to avoid a Lady Bears’ upset attempt.

No. 14 Arkansas Razorbacks

2019-20 record: 24-8 (10-6 SEC)

Head coach Mike Neighbors has turned this Razorbacks program into one of the best in the nation. He holds a 59-41 record as the Arkansas head coach and has the most wins (157) of any NCAA Division I head coach that has led a program for seven or fewer seasons. Neighbors is entering his fourth season as the head coach of the Razorbacks as they are coming off one of their best years in the SEC in program history.

Players to know

Chelsea Dungee, redshirt senior guard, 5’11, No. 33. Starting all 32 games last season, Dungee averaged the highest point total on the Razorbacks with 16.9 points per game. She played the second most minutes on the team and will see the floor often against the Terps. Dungee also chipped in last season with the second most rebounds on a per game basis for Arkansas. Dungee is a dynamic guard that needs to be guarded closely all game.

Amber Ramirez, redshirt senior guard, 5’9, No. 23. Another major weapon on Arkansas is another veteran leader who averaged 14.7 points per game in the 2019-20 season as a redshirt junior. Ramirez also started every game for the Razorbacks a season ago, and she led the team in 3-point percentage. She shot a remarkable .447 percentage from long range last season and the Terps will need to keep an eye out for Ramirez on defense.

Destiny Slocum, redshirt senior guard, 5’7, No. 12. Slocum is a dangerous offensive player that stemmed from Maryland’s basketball program and recently transferred from Oregon State. In her lone season in College Park, she was named the WBCA National Freshman of the Year. At Oregon State, she averaged 15.2 points and 4.6 assists per game over the course of two seasons. She will be a force to be reckoned with this weekend when the Terps see her again.

Strength

Turnover margin. Arkansas did a fantastic job with its team turnover margin, which stood at +5.3 in 2019-20. The Razorbacks only averaged 11.0 turnovers per game last season. Their discipline with the ball will be a huge factor come Sunday when they face the Terps.

Weakness

Inexperience in the front court. Arkansas doesn’t have much veteran leadership in the front court of its roster. There are only two upperclassmen that play the forward position and that could be an issue when the Razorbacks take on a very tall Maryland team.

Three things to watch

1. How will the new faces on the Terps shape up? The likes of Kaila Charles, Stephanie Jones, Blair Watson, Taylor Mikesell, Shakira Austin, Sara Vujacic and Olivia Owens have all departed from the Terps’ roster for the 2020-21 season. A lot of new players are in town for Frese’s new-look roster.

“Our staff is really enjoying coaching this team, you know, highly, highly competitive,” Frese said of her Terps. “I’m used to coaching competitive teams, but I think even more competitive than even last year’s team, and they were extremely competitive.”

If Maryland wants any chance to repeat for a Big Ten Championship, the Terps will need huge positive impacts from the underclassmen on the team. It’ll be interesting to see how Frese splits the minutes for each player as it could indicate what the rest of the season will look like.

2. Look out for Angel Reese. All eyes will be on Maryland’s highest-ranked recruit in program history in the opening weekend of play. The 6’3 forward/guard from Baltimore, Maryland, will look to have a big impact right away for the Terps. Reese was the No. 2 overall player in the class of 2020 and the No. 1 wing as ranked by ESPN.

“For Angel, every time she steps out on the court, she wants to get better,” Frese said. “She’s not sensitive. She just wants to be great.”

Reese will seemingly have a large role to play on this Maryland roster. Look for how Reese will respond to facing two ranked teams in her collegiate weekend debut.

3. How will the sophomores develop? Ashley Owusu, Diamond Miller and Masonius all had significant roles to play in last year’s run to a Big Ten Championship before the NCAA tournament was cancelled due to COVID-19. Owusu was the Big Ten Freshman of the Year last season and recently was named to the All-Big Ten Preseason Team for the upcoming season.

“I think it’s 100% possible,” Owusu said of bringing a national championship to Maryland. “I think a lot of people have been doubting us because we lost so much from last season. But, I think we’ve just been keeping our heads down and focusing and playing as hard as we can.”

Miller and Masonius averaged about 19 minutes and 13 minutes per game last season, respectively. With a lot of impactful freshmen coming in, it’ll be critical for these three players to make a positive jump in performance if the Terps want to keep their early season aspirations alive.