Womens basketball gets a treat tonight as the Maryland Terrapins host the Uconn Huskies. The Terps last faced the Huskies in the Maggie Dixon Classic last year in Madison Square Garden. For those that don’t follow college basketball, whether mens or womens, the Garden is anything but a”neutral” site when facing either Connecticut team. Still, the Terrapins played a great game and gave that Huskies team the most competitive game they played last year.
It’s a season later and both teams are totally different, especially in the personnel department. Maryland and Connecticut lost some very key pieces due to graduation and the WNBA last season. Gone are Malina Howard, Chloe Pavlech, Brene Moseley, and Tiernny Pfirman for Maryland. That historic Senior trio of Breanna Stewart, Morgan Tuck, and Moriah Jefferson are no longer on campus either.
There is a reason that both teams are amongst the top five teams in the country, they have evolved after the departures and are both undefeated heaing into tonight’s bout. Maryland has the type of size that could bother Uconn, Brionna Jones isn’t a finesse big, she is a physical low post threat that demands a double team. Uconn had a bit more height on their side last year, but she still scored 24 points on 12-of-14 shooting. Her classmate, now Senior Walker-Kimbrough had a good game as well, finishing with 14 points on 6-of-11 shooting. Outside of their Senior leaders, the Terps are blessed with a roster of versatile players with good size. It’s imperative that their freshman class make an impact in this matchup, but it’s not all on them. Junior Kristen Confroy played in that game last season as did Sophomores Brianna Fraser and Kiah Gillespie.
For the visiting Huskies, it’s about players growing in their new roles. With that star-studded trio leaving, there’s been an opportunity for current players to step up and fill the void. Napheesa Collier, Kia Nurse, Saniya Chong, Gabby Williams, and Katie Lou Samuelson combined to score 22 in last year’s contest. They are no longer members of the supporting cast as they are big pieces on this year’s Huskies. While Maryland has the size advantage, Uconn makes up for some of it with their overall length and versatility.
It’ll be fun to see how these teams navigate the matchups as each team has advantages at different spots on the floor. Depending on how things shake out as the year goes on, this could be a Final Four or National Championship preview. It’s that big of a game, while Uconn is on another one of it’s historic winning streaks, Maryland deserves respect heading into this matchup. This could be a classic, last year’s certainly was.
Below are a few interviews from practice yesterday, Maryland’s that is.