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Frese has big expectations

May 16, 2007|by CHRIS CARTER / Staff Correspondent

Twenty-eight wins and a fourth straight trip to the NCAA tournament would be considered successful for most women's college basketball programs.

Not Maryland.

Goal No. 1 for the Terrapins last season was to defend their 2006 national championship. The Terps had the elements to do it - all five starters returned to the team - yet they came up shy with a loss to Mississippi in the second round of the tournament.

"To win a national championship and have everyone back, we expected to be there again," said Terps coach Brenda Frese, who visited with Terrapin Club members last week at Fountain Head Country Club. "But at the end of the day, it helped us grow as a team."

Maryland lost to only four teams - Ole Miss, Georgia Tech and twice to both North Carolina and Duke. The Terps won their first 18 games and spent the first 10 weeks of the regular season as the top-ranked team in both The Associated Press and ESPN/USA Today polls.

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Four of the six losses came against teams ranked in the top five in the country.

"It's a totally different animal," Frese said. "Getting everybody's best shot for 32 games took a toll on us. You don't understand the magnitude of it until you're there."

Maryland hopes to make it two titles in three years as it once again brings a core group of starters back to the team - Crystal Langhorne, Laura Harper, Marissa Coleman and Kristi Toliver.

The only starter who will not return, however, might just be the hardest to replace in guard Shay Doron, who has seen more game action that any other player in the history of Maryland women's basketball. During her four years, Doron played in 134 games - 119 starts - and ranks in the top 10 in field-goal attempts, steals, assists, 3-pointers attempted and 3-pointers made.

She was drafted by the New York Liberty of the WNBA last month.

"Losing Doron at guard will be a key position to fill and it will be a challenge," Frese said. "Not just because of what she brings as a skill player, but as a team player as well."

Frese will look to fill the void with the incoming class, which features four Parade All-Americans and two McDonald's All-Americans. Recruiting has been one of the strengths of the program since Frese joined, and the Terps have had a top-10 class in each of her five years - including the top-ranked class this year.

"With the players we have coming in, there's going to be extensive competition," Frese said. "This is one of the hardest-working teams I've seen in terms of offseason work. I'm ecstatic and looking forward to coaching them."

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