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Maryland grabs top billing in AP poll

November 09, 2006

Maryland followed one milestone by achieving another.

Seven months after winning its first national championship in women's basketball, Maryland is No. 1 in the preseason for the first time.

The Terrapins were an overwhelming choice as the top team in The Associated Press poll on Wednesday, receiving 47 of the 50 first-place votes from a national media panel and compiling 1,246 points - 85 more than No. 2 North Carolina.

It's easy to see why.

Coach Brenda Frese returns her entire starting five, led by second-team All-American Crystal Langhorne, plus her top three reserves from last season. And if that isn't enough, transfers Christie Marrone (Virginia Tech) and Sa'de Wiley-Gatewood (Tennessee) are now eligible, though Wiley-Gatewood can't play until the first semester ends in December.

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Still, Frese understands that talent and the top ranking don't guarantee anything. Since the 1989-90 season, the No. 1 team in the preseason poll has won the NCAA championship only four times, most recently Connecticut in 2003-04.

"Every year is new and different," Frese said. "Obviously, we have to stay healthy like we did last year. But the most important thing is we have to improve and get better, especially since every team we play is going to give us their best shot. Hopefully, we'll have the chemistry we need."

The only other time Maryland was ranked No. 1 came during a four-week stretch in January and February of 1992. This is the first time in the last 10 years that someone other than Connecticut, Tennessee or Duke has led the preseason poll.

Maryland, which beat Duke in overtime in last year's title game to finish 34-4, opens Friday night at Middle Tennessee State.

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