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ACC Women's Preview #3 - Maryland

2000 Summary:
16-15, 5-11 ACC

Head Coach:
Chris Weller

Who's Leaving:

Brown, Tiffany/ G, 5-7 (10.7 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 3.7 apg, 2.1 spg, 3rd team All-ACC)
Bogunovic, Branka/ C, 6-8 (3.6 ppg, 3.9 rpg)

Ferris, Cara/ G-F, 6-1 (2.5 ppg, 2.3 rpg)
Gabriel, Antonieta/ F, 6-0 (1.9 ppg, 2.4 rpg)

Who's Coming Back:

*Strickland, Marche/ G, 5-9, Jr. (14.3 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 40% 3FG, 3rd team All-ACC)
*Brick, Vicki/ G, 5-7, So. (7.2 ppg, 4.3 apg, 3.3 rpg, 3.1 steals pg--led ACC)
*Warley, Dee Dee/ F, 6-2, Jr. (12.9 ppg, 5.1 rpg)
*Washington, Crystal/ F-C, 6-2, Fr.
*Melbourne, Rosita/ F, 6-3, Jr. (5.8 ppg, 5.1 rpg)
Razor, Renneika/ G, 5-8, So. (6.6 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 1.7 spg)
Daniels, Terri/ G, 5-11, So. (2.4 ppg, 1.3 apg)
Agba, Ije/ F, 6-0, Jr. (4.4 mpg)
Jackson, Brie/ F, 5-11, So. (2.5 mpg)
Shuett, Jeanette/ F, 5-11, So (2.3 mpg)

Who's New:

Jenkins, Sarah/ G, 5-7
Wimbush, Kiki/ G, 5-8
Washington, Crystal/ F-C, 6-2
Harrell, Jamecca/ C, 6-4 JuCo

Strengths: Quickness on the perimeter, guard depth, scoring

Rebounding, inside play, foul shooting

Scouting Report:
Maryland rebounded from a wretched 1999 season, advancing
to the third round of the WNIT. That they managed to attain a winning record
without any inside game is a testament to the youthful energy and offensive
firepower the team possessed. The turnaround was really nigh-miraculous for
a number of reasons, and none was more important than the issue of coaching.
Chris Weller, one of the group of ACC coaches I like to refer to as the
Great Old Ones, has been the heart and soul of the program since it began.
Not only has she coached the team for 26 years, but Maryland is her alma mater
as well. Still, her unbending, tyrannical style resulted in a near-mutiny
two years ago, and she came close to losing her job. Still, in her 5-win
season of 1999, one thing was accomplished: getting Strickland and Warley
a lot of playing time. This paid off in a big way last year, as Strickland
used a lethal jumper (second in the ACC in 3FG%) and Warley her slashing
ability to give Maryland some powerful weapons. Along with senior shooter-
playmaker Tiffany Brown, the deadliest player in the league from three when
she got a screen, Maryland had the guns to scare any team in the league.

Maryland not only scared the top teams in the league, they beat them. They
stunned ACC first place finisher Virginia in Cole, and then amazingly beat
both Duke and Clemson on the road. They also had very narrow losses to
UNC on the road and Clemson at home. With that kind of potential, why did
the Terps only win 5 league games? The reasons are twofold: first, the Terps
were the most wildly inconsistent team in the league. The same team that
lost to Wake Forest at home beat Virginia four days later. Second, those
that live by the jumper, die by the jumper. Without a viable scoring threat
down low, many teams threw zones at the Terps, and their shots simply wouldn't
fall. Moreover, they had trouble holding leads because of their awful foul
shooting (60%) and rebounding (-2.9 margin). That meant teams could foul them
to gain extra possessions without hurting themselves, and hit the boards
hard for offensive tips.

Everything related to post play gave Maryland problems in 2000. Their
incredible team speed made up for quite a bit, as they led the league in steals
with two players in the top five. Once teams got past the quick hands of
the guards, the Terps were rather ordinary. Warley and Melbourne tried
as hard as they could (both putting up reasonably impressive rebounding
numbers) but couldn't guard bigger players.

All of that said, Maryland's guard play was simply incredible last year.
Strickland was a top ten scorer in the league and excelled at pulling up
on breaks. Much of the Terps' success was due to bold frosh guard Vicki
Brick, a scrappy player and natural point who quickly gained a starting
role. As her name might suggest, she was not a great shooter, but her
ability to penetrate made her surprisingly effective on offense. If she
can improve her jump-shot, she can be a true star. Like all young players,
she must cut down on her turnovers; she averaged 4 a game. Razor naturally was
most effective on cutting to the basket, but she played several positions
and was a defensive ace. She will mostly likely be the first player off
the bench and may even earn a few starts, though she's a bit short to play
forward full time. Daniels added another shooter to the squad, and with
the graduation of Brown, will be expected to take many more shots. I expect
Wimbush to get significant minutes as a frosh, backing up Brick. This will
free Daniels up to play more at two and Razor to play more at wing. Jenkins
probably won't play much as a frosh if I'm interpreting her bio correctly,
since "will add depth" generally means "will get lots of DNP-CD's".

The frontcourt has little room for error in 2001. 6-8 Bogunovic went from
being a starter to barely playing at all, because Weller realized that
Maryland played best going to a full-throttle speed game, something that
poor, lead-footed Bogunovic was not going to fit into. With that in mind,
Maryland got a significant recruit in Washington. She adds much-needed muscle
to the frontcourt but should still be quick enough to fit into the up-tempo
style. This is the main reason why I've tabbed her as a starter, though
this could easily change. If she could step into the pivot, this would allow
Melbourne to slide over to PF and Warley to SF, giving the Terps a more
conventional lineup that was still very athletic. Moreover, it would give
them a chance to rebound better. Along these lines, JuCo Harrell, known as
more of a defensive specialist, might also get some minutes this year for
that very purpose. At 6-4, she will at least have the height to challenge
most of the other posts in the league.

It's hard to overstate what Warley brought to the team. She's a tenacious
and undersized slasher who also could not only get to the foul line (led
the team in attempts and makes), but could convert, shooting 71%. Melbourne
is a classic "junk" player, who does a little of everything but rather
quietly. She led the team in blocks and offensive rebounds, had a fair
number of steals and shot close to 50%.

The Terps are probably another year away from being true contenders.
I expect them to have another winning season (especially with their wimpy
non-con schedule) and to beat several of the top teams in the league once
again, but their overall depth and experience level is just too shaky for
them to be a first division team. Losing Brown and several other experienced
seniors means that new roles will have to be defined rather quickly, and
the frosh will be called on immediately to contribute. Most crucially,
Strickland is the only returning Terp who has proven herself as a shooter,
and other teams may cheat on her more as a result. Daniels and the other
guards must be able to step up quickly.

The frontcourt has the tools to be effective, but they are incredibly
thin. If the new players aren't ready for a lot of minutes quickly, it could
be a very long season, because it will mean a number of players out of their
natural positions once again. Last but not least, having no seniors
will hurt them at certain crucial times, especially with so many experienced
teams in the league. Maryland still has too many ifs to rank them
any higher at this point, but if they can answer all their questions...
watch out. Strickland has the potential to be first team All-ACC, Warley
and Brick will also get some consideration. But they can't match UNC's
one-two punch of Barksdale and Brown, nor the depth and star power of Tech
with Butler. But in out.

Schedule Analysis: The biggest name on the schedule is Penn State, a final
four team in 2000. The Lady Lions suffered some heavy losses, but will still
be a formidable opponent. The Terps will head west to play WNIT team
Santa Clara and San Francisco in what should be a challenging pair of games.
Beyond that, and a possible run-in with Long Beach State in Maryland's own
tournament, it's mostly cupcakes. Howard, Loyola, UMBC, Wagner, Coppin
State and Lafayette should all be easy wins. While this should help puff
up the Terps' record nicely, it won't help them prepare against the ACC.
An interesting early game will be against UNC; Maryland travels to Chapel
Hill in early December.

Predicted finish: 7