Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Crying Out Loud. Plenty of tears were shed on Sunday by the Terps, their families and (of course) their fans . . . Senior Day, Coach B's post-partum appearance, Lang's Banner-raising. But the crying didn't end there. Nope, last night, pre-Terp Lynetta Kizer (our incoming All-American) shed some tears of joy after scoring the winning basket (with 1 second remaining!) as her team (Potomac H.S.) upset the favorite (and previously unbeaten) Stonewall Jackson High in the Virginia Northwest Region quarterfinals. Lynetta scored 21 points, pulled down 22 boards (the same total as the entire Stonewall Jackson team!) and handed out 5 assists. We've said it before and we'll say it again . . . we can't wait to see Lynetta step onto the court wearing Terrapin red. And we're also looking forward to seeing another pre-Terp arrive in College Park, Dee Liles. Dee, who plays for Gulf Coast Community College, has just been named to the Coaches All-Panhandle Conference First Team. Congratulations to both future Terrapins!

Speaking of All-Americans . . . we learned this week from the always-informative Terps website that for the second time in her career, Crystal Langhorne has been voted an Academic All-American. Just another example of why her banner belongs in Comcast's rafters! Congratulations, Lang!

New-New . . . New Coach? Every year the WBCA (Women's Basketball Coaches Association) hosts a post-season invitation-only two and a half day workshop for players who've completed their eligibility and aspire to join the coaching ranks. Terps senior (and consecutive game record-holder) Ashleigh Newman is one of this year's invitees to the Nike-sponsored "So You Want to be a Coach" workshop. The BasketCases think New-New would make a great coach . . . let's face it, she's been mentored by one of the best. Congratulations, Ashleigh!

And Some News from the Mystics. As expected, the Mystics not only matched Minnesota's offer to Nakia Sanford, but signed her up for the next three years! So fan favorite Kia will be sticking around the Phone Booth for several more summers at the very least. And, speaking of long-term contracts . . . the Mystics guaranteed that All-Star Alana Beard won't be changing jerseys anytime soon either. Mystics GM Linda Hargrove announced Monday that the team has signed Alana to a four-year contract. More good news for Mystics fans! By the way, Alana and Nakia participated in an on-line chat with fans yesterday . . . in case you missed it, you can find the transcript here.

Photo Credit: HoopGurlz

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Amazing! Maryland opened its regular season at home on November 9th (against the Princeton Tigers . . . remember them?) and today, February 24th, the Terps played their last home game of the regular season, an overtime victory over Florida State, 92-84.

All that time in between . . . they never lost at home. We repeat: they never lost at home. Amazing. On any given day, one team's shots just seem to fall, while another's don't. Or one team gets some lucky bounces or friendly calls, while another doesn't. A perfect home-run is an amazing feat. And that's exactly what this team accomplished today, treating their local fans to 19 consecutive victories.

And while the ACC season is always a battle, this year's non-conference home schedule was amazing in and of itself. Maryland was a terrible host this season . . . they invited ranked opponents like LSU, Ohio State, Notre Dame, Pitt (not to mention Duke, the Cavs and others) into their house and sent them home unhappy. They played and beat an amazing list of notable opponents and still finished the home schedule without a blemish.

Of course, they could not have accomplished what they did without the contributions of the senior leadership in this season's line-up: Crystal Langhorne, Laura Harper, Jade Perry, Ashleigh Newman (plus support from injured transfer Christie Marrone). As Crystal told the crowd, she chose Maryland at a time when Maryland's program wasn't "cool." But now, just four years later, thanks to those amazing young women (and their coaches and teammates), Maryland is looked up to, not only for its NCAA Championship, but because it is one of the "coolest" programs in the nation.

Also thanks to the TV series Under the Shell and the Rebounders' socials, the BasketCases and other fans have been privileged to gain a little "off the court" peek at the players, especially the Seniors, who make up the Terps team. All we can say is that every one has impressed us in some way . . . as mature, as kind, as funny, as sensitive, as caring, as intelligent . . . in many cases, all of the above. As their families walked the Seniors out onto the court before the game, the pride they took in their daughters was obvious and well deserved.

Of course, who better epitomizes the quality (and "cool") of the Terps program than Ms. Amazing herself, Crystal Langhorne. And how very fitting that the University decided to honor her at the conclusion of today's game in front of a crowd of more 16,000 fans by raising her #1 into Comcast's rafters, the first player so honored prior to graduation!

Perhaps it was also fitting that today's game was won in overtime . . . a little reminder for all of us of that overtime-rich season that concluded with Lang, Harp, Jade, Ashleigh and the rest of the Terps cutting down the nets in Boston. In her ceremonial remarks, Crystal joked (?) that she and her teammates had planned today's overtime all along . . . we just wish they'd let the fans in on the plan . . . a lot of fingernails might have been saved. But aside from that, we loved hearing Crystal speak from the heart about what this honor meant to her, and especially about how much she credited her coaches, teammates and everyone associated with the Maryland program for her success. She's an amazing young lady and she will be missed. (Thank goodness we'll get to follow her post-collegiate career in the WNBA.)

For a change, no one had to worry that another overtime game would send Coach B into labor. Brenda made her first post-delivery public appearance at the pre-game ceremony honoring the Seniors, but left the court afterwards, leaving Coach Park at the helm. After the break, she returned to her big-chair (just one week after giving birth to twins . . . she's amazing!) providing critical support in the second-half and in OT, as well as chairing Lang's banner ceremony. From the cheering she received when pictures of her and the babies were shown on the Jumbotron, it was clear the fans were so happy that Coach B and her husband (and Daddy-Cam operator) Mark Thomas are now the proud parents of two healthy sons. And speaking of being proud, we suspect that Coach B is pretty proud of the job that Coach Park has done with the team in her absence . . . and, in our opinion, rightly so.

19-0 . . . what an Amazing home season!

And thank you, Seniors . . .we will miss you all!

Photo Credits: DC BasketCases

George Solomon? Holy Cow! The Washington Post's George Solomon? Yep. George, who almost never, ever writes about women's sports? Yes, the very same! So while we can hardly believe it, we're pleased to report that George's column this Sunday leads off with a story about Coach B and the remarkable success of her Terrapin program.

But there's more good reading this morning. Someone who does write about women's sports (often) and does a great job covering the Terps -- Milton Kent -- has a wonderful article on Laura Harper in today's Baltimore Sun. Meanwhile, over at the Washington Times, Mike Fratto reports on the unsurprising news that it's "business as usual" for the Terps as Coach Park continues to lead the team while new Mom Coach B takes a bit of double-maternity leave.

So get your reading in now, then start making your farewell signs for the Seniors. It's going to be a huge and emotional day at Comcast. Not only will we be saying farewell to the winningest class in Maryland history (111 and counting), but a victory over Florida State this afternoon will give the Terps an undefeated season at home. And be sure to leave plenty of time to get to the game; tickets sales are already in the five figures!

    Friday, February 22, 2008

    They're Sooooo Cute!!!!!

    New MOM Brenda looks GREAT! And the boys . . . they're just little angels!

    No Shortage of Baby-Sitters in the Thomas-Frese Household!

    Photo Credit (and thanks!): Gail Burton (AP)

    Wednesday, February 20, 2008

    Let's Get Caught Up!

    Shay's About to Get Some Company!

    On Monday, the Terps announced that Crystal Langhorne would be honored at this coming Sunday's Senior Day game by having her number raised to the rafters at Comcast.

    We guess the University figured, why wait? Since Lang's name already appears at the top of so many categories in the Maryland record book (in addition to the gold medals and honors she's earned wearing the Red, White and Blue of USA Basketball), it's inconceivable that she wouldn't be accorded such an honor! So, before Sunday's 2 PM tip-off against FSU, all the Terps' Seniors will be honored, and after the game, Lang's #1 banner will join Shay's, Vicky's and those of all the other Terrapin Greats in that rarified air up there in Comcast. Lots to look forward to!

    Sunday has all the makings of a two-hanky day . . . with this game marking the last regular-season appearances at home for Lang, Harp, Jade, Ashleigh and Christie Marrone . . . and then, at game's end, seeing Crystal's jersey honored . . . whew . . . two hankies might not be enough! Those of us who've followed the careers of these talented young ladies will no doubt be feeling a certain sense of loss. But cheer up, Terps fans, there's still plenty to smile about . . .

    McDonald's & WBCA All-American. Lynetta (Yah-Yah) Kizer, Maryland's incoming recruit from Potomac H.S. (Woodbridge, VA), was named this week to both the McDonalds and the WBCA (Women's Basketball Coaches Association) All-American teams. As we've previously reported, Lynetta is the nation's top-ranked post player in the 2008 class. Congratulations to Lynetta! We can't wait to see her in a Terps uniform, playing alongside Drey Mingo and helping to fill some of that open space in the front court left by the graduation of Lang, Harp and Jade. Should be exciting!

    Vanilla Park. All successful coaches have to have a certain amount of ice running through their veins, but it was news to the BasketCases that Coach Daron Park has some Vanilla Ice running through his! Apparently Jim Carrey isn't the only guy who knows how to put his personal spin on a little Vanilla Ice Ice Baby!

    And, of Course, More Baby News! The Diamondback has provided two articles this week . . . a very Lite-hearted one yesterday and another today telling us that Mom Brenda, Dad Mark, and babies Tyler and Markus all arrived home yesterday. Great news!

    Under the Shell. This next episode should really be something! We've heard there'll be some very special pre and post-partum coverage of the arrival of the two newest Twerps Terps on Saturday morning's Under the Shell (10 AM on Comcast SportsNet). So write it in (in ink) on your calendars, set your TIVO or boot up your DVR . . . this is one episode you do not want to miss!

    And Some Mystics News. This time next year when Nakia Sanford hands her accountant her Form W-2, she can thank the Minnesota Lynx for her bigger tax bill. Kia, a WNBA restricted free agent this year, was signed yesterday to an "offer sheet" by the Minneapolis franchise. The Mystics have 5 days to match the offer if they wish to retain Kia's services. The BasketCases and many other Mystics fans (judging from message board chatter) expect that the Mystics will match whatever amount the Lynx are offering . . . which, perhaps, will bump fan favorite Kia into a higher tax bracket.

    Speaking of the Mystics . . . GM Linda Hargrove is planning to attend Sunday's Terps game (she speaks so highly of Maryland in her blog that we're convinced she's a closet turtle fan, but don't anybody tell Alana Beard or Mo Currie. *wink*). Don't forget, the Mystics have the 6th pick in April's WNBA draft.

    P.S. to our blogging buddies over at, jessie & steve: Is Nakia really 6'4"? Well, she's as real a 6'4"er as the rest of the gals of "that height" are in the WNBA.

    Photo Credit: Noam Galai

    Sunday, February 17, 2008

    Happy Birth-Day! What better present could the Terps have delivered to newborns Markus and Tyler on the day of their birth --not to mention to their Mom, Coach B, and Dad, proud new father Mark Thomas -- than a sweep of Duke? Wow! This is one day in the life of the Thomas-Frese family that they will never forget! And this generation of Terps fans won't easily forget it either . . . mark it on your calendars folks, February 17, 2008.

    The birth of the twins trumps everything in importance, but this evening's win over the Blue Devils, 76-69, was also Maryland's first victory in Cameron since 2000, and the first regular-season sweep of the Dookies in 15 long years. (Think about that . . . 15 years from now, M & T will be only a year away from getting their learner's permits . . . that's a loooong time!)

    A large, enthusiastic contingent of red-clad Rebounders and other Terps fans traveled to Durham and were there, in person, to help cheer the team to this important victory. As special as that no doubt was, those of us watching at home got a little special treat of our own . . .we had the privilege of seeing Markus and Tyler make their national TV debut during the game, cradled in the arms of their beaming Mother.

    As for the game -- well, Lang was virtually unstoppable and led all scorers with 25 points, to which she added 12 rebounds for another double-double. Marissa also had a double-double (15 points, 11 boards). Floor general Kristi Toliver was the focus of Duke's defensive efforts, as pretty much every possession saw her bumped, pushed, pressed, or trapped. KT still managed to run the offense successfully, and contributed 23 points of her own. Harp had 12 points and also made her presence felt under the basket, particularly late in the game when she had a monster block just as Duke was threatening a come back.

    And as long as we're recognizing outstanding achievements, we would be remiss if we didn't mention Coach Park. While this is Coach B's special day, Coach Park took the Terps into one of the most hostile arenas in the country and came away with the WIN. Congratulations Coach Park!

    A day like today definitely deserves a little bubbly, so the BasketCases will be popping a cork tonight and toasting Markus, Tyler, Coach B, Baby Daddy Mark, Coach Park, and the entire Maryland team.

    Happy Birth-day!

    It's a Boy . . . and another Boy! Markus William Thomas and Tyler Joseph Thomas arrived this morning . . . on the very day of the Duke game!

    Congratulations to new Mom, Brenda Frese, and new Dad, Mark Thomas!!!!!
    Update: New Mom and the Twins make their video debut on Under the Shell special programming on the Terps website!!!

    More here from the Terps website and an article here from Milton Kent of the Baltimore Sun and another here from Kathy Orton of the Washington Post.

    Saturday, February 16, 2008

    Duke on Sunday. But of course you already knew that. Does a Maryland fan ever forget an upcoming game against the Dookies? (Don't answer that . . . the question was rhetorical.) And for those of us who are not lucky enough to be traveling with the Rebounders (or on their own) to Durham, the game is being shown on Comcast SportsNet beginning at 5:30 PM.

    It's never easy to express the excitement a Maryland fan feels about a game like this . . . or her (his) feelings about Duke. However, we did find one fan of the Gentlemen Terps who found an outlet on YouTube for his true feelings about the Dook men.

    Warning: This is not your typical PG-rated BasketCases fare. No, not even close! This is rough, uncensored, expletive-rich (not to mention highly politically incorrect!) material from a guy fan expressing his heartfelt emotions. If the F-word or other nastiness is too much for you, please DO NOT WATCH THIS VIDEO. Really. And whatever your personal feelings about such raw expressions . . . please be advised that this is NOT FOR CHILDREN. But with these caveats, if you hold strong feelings about Duke . . . and you think you can handle it . . . then this video just might interest you. (Just double click on the arrow.) But, remember, we did warn you!

    Thursday, February 14, 2008

    O Say Can Did You See . . . Boston College sophomore point guard and popular "American Idol" contestant Ayla Brown singing the National Anthem at Comcast tonight? It's not often in sports that a member of the opposing team is invited to perform the Star Spangled Banner, but last week, Coach B (always a gracious host) called Ayla and asked her to sing the Anthem. It was clearly a thrill for Ayla and her BC teammates . . . as well as for the Terps' fans, who gave her a loud, appreciative ovation.

    Unfortunately for the Eagles, however, that was the highlight of their evening. The Terps proved tonight that sometimes . . . though your opponent may sing softly . . . it's better to carry a Big Strick. Thanks in part to a career night by freshman starter Marah Strickland, Maryland put the game out of reach pretty quickly, ending things with a 78-51 rout.

    After several games with below-average 3-point shooting performances, the Terps were particularly impressive tonight from beyond the arc, connecting on a whopping 11 of 22 treys! Marah, who led all scorers with 20 points, hit all five of her three-point attempts! Senior Ashleigh Newman (who breaks the Maryland record for consecutive games every time she steps onto the court) had an impressive night off the bench, finishing with 15 points, including 3 three-pointers of her own. Harp added a double-double (13 points and 10 boards) to her stats, as well as the 187th blocked shot of her career, which broke Maryland's record for blocked shots -- a record that had stood for 28 years! Wow! [Note to Rhet: order more basketballs . . . all these records are depleting the supply.]

    For the 6,700 fans who chose to spend their Valentine's Evening at Comcast Center, Ayla and the Terps provided an excellent night's entertainment. But for the biggest laugh of the night, the BasketCases want to give a shout out to the folks who run the "Who Am I" quiz on the Jumbotron, in which a baby picture of a Maryland player or coach is shown on the screen along with biographical clues. Tonight's quiz featured a picture of an adorable African American girl, along with the biographical information of . . . the also adorable, but clearly not African American . . . and not female . . . Coach Daron Park!

    But the good news is that the Jumbotron quiz was just about the only thing that went wrong this evening for the Terps. The BasketCases and the rest of the Terps' fans left Comcast having enjoyed a very Happy Valentine's Day.

    Photo Credit: DC BasketCases

    Eagles Landing.

    Tonight at 7 PM, the Terps face Boston College at Comcast as the ACC regular season is quickly winding down.

    It seems like almost yesterday when we were all playing trick or treat at the Halloween game between the Terps and Team USA. And amazingly, that exhibition against the national team was the only time at home this season that Maryland fans haven't seen the Terps win. Talk about double the fun!

    Of course, there's been much more than just all those home victories to get excited about this season. How many seasons can anyone recall when the head coach was pregnant . . . with twins?

    And Coach B's pregnancy set the stage for the emergence of her new Assistant Coach, Daron Park. There's no way to overstate the challenges faced by a new assistant coming in from a different conference, from across the country, and having to step in and take a top-5 team on the road in the ACC without their natty-winning head coach on the bench or even in the building. But having to do just that is one of the increased responsibilities Coach B's pregnancy quickly placed on Coach Park.

    Today's Salt Lake Tribune has a great article about Coach Park and his whirlwind first season here at Maryland. There is, however, one factual error in the article, which no doubt all our loyal readers will notice. As it's a Utah paper, we'll cut the Tribune a little slack . . . this time. (But don't let it happen again!)

    Photo Credit: DC BasketCases

    Sunday, February 10, 2008

    That Settles It. Try as we might to squeeze in a little R&R during a relatively slow week for the Terps (a road game against an 0-7 ACC opponent, Virginia Tech, and a rematch against a good Wahoos team . . . but a team that Maryland had already beaten on the road . . . and this time the Terps would be playing at home), we learned a valuable lesson. There's no such thing as a "slow" week for fans of Maryland basketball. No, despite the best laid plans of mice turtle fans and men women, we managed to miss an overtime thriller from Blacksburg and a come-from-behind nail-biter win over the Cavs at Comcast. But what we missed most was seeing Shay's number raised to the rafters.

    We were sailing the Atlantic Ocean when we first heard the news that Shay would be honored at halftime of last Friday's game. And in case you're ever planning to take a vacation cruise of your own, you should know before you board that the captain will absolutely refuse to turn the ship around for a banner-raising ceremony. Trust us! However, our cruise director "Soozy" did tell us that one of the most interesting questions she was asked by a passenger was whether the crew sleeps on board. She answered (quite seriously) that "No, every evening they swim ashore." After hearing that, we considered joining the nightly exodus . . . but since one of the BasketCases is still recovering from shoulder surgery, we decided that as much as we wanted to be there for Shay, alas, it was impossible.

    While we were extremely disappointed not to see Shay honored in person, fortunately Shay's Official website has a marvelous photo gallery of the event that practically made us feel like we were there. Even though most of you, our loyal readers, were there, we think you'll enjoy scrolling through the 100+ photos of this wonderful event. The BasketCases send a Titanic-size thank you to Noam Galai for the fabulous photographs!

    So last week, while most of you were enjoying watching the Terps play the Hokies for 45 minutes on ACC Select, the BasketCases were reduced to filling their time swimming with stingrays, snorkling in crystal Langhorne clear turquoise waters, or simply sipping margaritas on a deck overlooking a tropical Caribbean port.

    If that doesn't make you feel sorry enough for us, just remember that while you were busy anticipating the upcoming (Friday) game that would honor breast cancer survivors and Shay, we had to distract ourselves with a visit to Mayan ruins on the coast of the Yucatan Peninsula.

    And if that weren't bad enough, while you were experiencing that oh-so-special night at Comcast, all we got to do was enjoy see some street performers at Mallory Square in Key West, watch the famous sunset over the harbor, and sip some umbrella-topped drinks in a restaurant garden full of flowers and palm trees wrapped in strings of sparkling lights.

    The same way we don't like to complain (too much) about officiating, we also don't believe in wallowing in self pity . . . so we can assure you that we did our very best to distract ourselves from the disappointment we were feeling. It wasn't easy, but like true Terps fans, we soldiered through.

    "Soozy" our cruise director also told us that a passenger asked her if our ship generated its own electricity. As she explained to this feeble enquiring mind, "No, it runs off a long extension cord plugged-in back in Charleston." So luckily, by week's end, Captain Ronny was simply able to follow the cord back to South Carolina and deposit the BasketCases on dry land. And speaking of "cords," while we missed quite a lot last week, we did not miss news of any "cords" of another kind being cut (as far as we know). So now that your officially unofficial bloggers are back on the job, if we hear of any cuts of that variety being made, we promise to keep you, our loyal readers, well-informed.

    Photo Credits: Stingray: Juan Carlos; all others: DC BasketCases

    Saturday, February 02, 2008

    The BasketCases are in hiding for a while. Well, not hiding exactly . . . the truth is we're on a short vacation.

    That's the good news (for us!). The bad news is that we're actually going to miss seeing -- and blogging about -- a couple of Terps games while we're away . . . and possibly other Terps or Mystics news that may break while we're incommunicado (hopefully we won't miss news of any water breaking, if you catch our drift).

    We should be back on the job no later than February 10th, but you might want to take a peek at the BasketCases blog a few times between now and then . . . because if we happen upon a stray Wi-Fi signal in our travels, we might just poke our heads out of hiding for a brief blog update.

    Catch you later!