Sunday, October 16, 2011

Open for Business Practice

It was a beautiful day in our Nation's Capital . . . perfect for a drive up the Baltimore-Washington Parkway to College Park. The leaves are just beginning to turn; the sun was shining. And, best of all, a chance to attend the Maryland Women's Basketball Team's annual Open Practice for the Rebounders! Although the Terps won't play an actual game until November 1, the BCs always look forward to the Open Practice. It's kind of like the start to the fan-season, our return to Comcast Center after far too many months away. As always, it was great to be back!

No, the Terps aren't practicing a dance routine to audition for America's Got Talent. UMd's Gymkana's already been there, done that. (Don't you love Gymkana?) What you see above is the work of Coach Kyle Tarp, the Maryland Women's Basketball choreographer strength and conditioning coach, who has the team warm up before every practice and every game with some unconventional -- but highly effective -- "functional movements." Just watching the players go through their paces is exhausting. (Not to mention, it vicariously stretched muscles and ligaments that people the BCs' age aren't sure we still have.) One thing was clear: every member of this year's Terps team looks to be in great shape!

Today's three-hour practice included three 12-minute (professionally officiated) scrimmages against the male scout team. This year's "scouts" look like a very quick and athletic group of guys. BTW, the BCs think it's terrific the way the scout team players work so hard, behind the scenes, to help the Women's team get better. (Thanks, guys!) But as quick and athletic, and as hard working as they were, the scout team still lost all three scrimmages to the women. No doubt, Coach B and her staff's coaching might've had a little to do with the outcome.

The Terps ended practice with some rhythmic clapping as they moved in for a final mid-court huddle, so the Rebounders began to clap too. Turns out, we didn't stop when we were supposed to (plus we weren't all that rhythmic, either.) So, Senior Anjale Barrett stepped up and tried a couple of times to explain how the clapping was supposed to end, but it was clear that the Rebounders are a bit clapping-impaired and still need a little more practice. Fortunately, no one made us run sprints on the floor for messing up (which is what the entire team had to do the few times someone missed a free throw during the final drill from the line).

As they do every year, the Terps ended the Open Practice by introducing themselves. Great to see, and hear from, each returnee. This year, the Terps have only two newbies: Freshman PG Brene (aka "Bones") Moseley. (FYI, "Brene" is pronounced like Renee, only with a B.) Brene is not only talented, but she already looked totally comfortable in the scrimmages. The other newbie is Katie Rutan. (FYI, "Katie" is pronounced like Katie.) Katie is a transfer from Xavier, and wow, can she shoot from long-range! Unfortunately, 2011-12 is her redshirt season, so we only get to see her skills in practice. But just wait till next season! And although, technically, she's not a newbie, Whitney Bays will finally get to make her debut in regular season games. We think she'll be a great on-court addition to an already terrific core group of players.

And with the toughest schedule in the ACC this season, the Terps will need Whitney and everyone else firing on all cylinders. Of course, the sad part of the introductions was hearing Lynetta, Kimmie and Anjale identify themselves as seniors. That means this is the last season we'll get to see them play at Comcast. While we are looking forward to great things from all three this season . . . we're starting to miss them already!

When Coach B talks about the Maryland program being one big family . . . this family photo gives a little indication of what's she's talking about: team, coaches (and twins) . . . fans, young and old. Today, as we have on so many days, we felt once again a part of one big happy family at Maryland! Isn't it great that the college season is finally about to begin? Go Terps!

Photo Credit: DC BasketCases

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Fun Again

Basketball hasn't been much fun in a while. (That’s hardly news to our readers.) But now, thanks to some exciting news out of College Park, we have a very good reason to smile again . . . finally.

As a couple of our readers reported in the comments to our previous post, 6’3” Malina Howard, the #1-ranked post player of the high school class of 2012, has verballed to Maryland. Malina, who’s ranked the #7 player overall in that class, tweeted yesterday, “It’s official I am a terp.” And the BCs – not to mention every other Terps fan who’s paying attention – couldn’t be happier.

If, in the last month or so, one of Malina’s teachers back in Twinsburg, Ohio had asked her to write one of those “What I did on my summer vacation” essays, the BCs have a pretty good guess how Malina’s would begin: I donned the red, white and blue uniform of USA Basketball, traveled to Puerto Montt, Chile, and helped win a gold medal for the United States of America in the FIBA U19 World Championship. Not a bad summer, all things considered.

Welcome, Malina! If only we didn’t have to wait another whole year to see you don the red, gold and black of Maryland! However, with Lynetta Kizer scheduled to graduate this coming spring, Malina’s arrival couldn’t come at a better time.

Though Malina’s considered an exceptional talent, she isn’t the only reason the BCs are smiling. The recruiting class of 2012 (that Coach B and her staff have worked relentlessly to assemble) is shaping up to be something very, very special. Maryland has already received verbal commitments from the #22 overall player in that class, 6’2” Forward Tierney Pfirman (from Pennsylvania), and from the highly-ranked (4-star) PG, Chloe Pavlech (another Ohio native). And don’t forget that Katie Rutan, a sharp-shooting 5’8” guard who transferred from Xavier to Maryland this year, will be eligible to play starting in the fall of 2012.

The talented 2012 newcomers will be playing alongside some very terrific veterans – Tianna Hawkins, Alyssa Thomas, Alicia DeVaughn, and Laurin Mincy, to name a few. All of those vets will still be on board during the 2012-13 season. A promising mix of youth and experience! And, looking ahead to the fall of 2013, Coach B has already received verbals from Alexis (“Lexie”) Brown, the #2-ranked PG in the class of 2013, and A’lexus Harrison from Digital Harbor, MD, the #14-ranked forward in that class.

The BCs were already excited about this year’s Maryland team (including the debut of Brene Moseley and Whitney Bays’s return to the court). Maryland Madness on October 14th! The team’s annual open practice for the Rebounders on the 16th. And then, the coming of the Messiah on November 1st! We can’t wait. But now, as great as we expect 2011-12 to be, we know it’s just going to keep getting better.

Great university. Great city. Great facilities. Great fans. The Best coaching staff. Is it any wonder all these phenomenal young ladies are attracted to this Great program? No. But the BCs are sure happy that they are.