Terps to rep­re­sent U.S. in Tai­wan in ’17; Frese ‘ec­static’

Baltimore Sun - - ORIOLES - By Jonas Shaf­fer jshaf­fer@balt­sun.com twit­ter.com/jonas_shaf­fer

For the time be­ing, here’s what the Mary­land women’s bas­ket­ball team knows about next sum­mer’s World Univer­sity Games in Tai­wan:

A United States All-Star team isn’t go­ing, as it had for the past four ap­pear­ances. The Terps will rep­re­sent the coun­try in­stead, quite hap­pily. And ... yeah, that’s about it.

The jer­seys? “USA” on the chest, for sure, said coach Brenda Frese, but maybe not on the shorts. Maybe “Mary­land” on the shorts.

The host coun­try? “It’s next to China,” ju­nior guard Kris­ten Con­froy said, “and I’m sure they have good food.”

The suc­cess of the last, and pre­vi­ously only, women’s col­lege team to take on the world? Frese didn’t know that, ei­ther. That might be for the best.

One decade af­ter Char­lotte fin­ished sixth in the 2007 World Univer­sity Games — the Amer­i­cans’ last non-gold-medal per­for­mance — the Terps will take on the world them­selves in the Aug. 20-29 com­pe­ti­tion in Taipei. Pur­due will rep­re­sent the U.S. men at the mul­ti­sport event, open to ath­letes ages 17 to 24 who are en­rolled in col­lege or are at most one year out of school

“Once I got the call with us be­ing told that we were the team they wanted and started to un­der­stand and grasp it,” Frese said in a tele­phone in­ter­view, “I was just ec­static and hon­ored and hum­bled.”

Among the United States In­ter­na­tional Univer­sity Sports Fed­er­a­tion’s chief se­lec­tion cri­te­ria, ac­cord­ing to Frese: classes. As in, which team’s re­cruit­ing classes have it best po­si­tioned for suc­cess abroad, and which team’s aca­demic cal­en­dar lends it­self to the fewest classes be­ing missed.

On the court, the Terps will lose only two se­niors to grad­u­a­tion, All-Big Ten Con­fer­ence guard Sha­tori Walker-Kim- brough and cen­ter Bri­onna Jones (Aberdeen), de­par­tures that could be off­set by the mat­u­ra­tion of the nation’s top-rated fresh­man class. In the class­room, the first day of fall classes for the 2017-18 aca­demic year at Mary­land is Aug. 28, just one day be­fore the fi­nal com­pe­ti­tion date in Tai­wan. (At many other schools, the se­mes­ter starts ear­lier.)

The Terps proved the best op­tion. This sur­prised Frese, who didn’t even know in­di­vid­ual schools were un­der con­sid­er­a­tion. Just last year, one of her own, Jones, was among a hand­ful of col­lege stand­outs who took home World Univer­sity Games gold in Gwangju, South Korea.

“It’s all great,” Frese said. “It’ll def­i­nitely get us pre­pared for the next up­com­ing year.”

For its Au­gust trip to Italy, Mary­land used all 10 of its NCAA-sanc­tioned prac­tices. Frese called the ex­tra work “ex­cep­tional.” Now she’s a year out from hav­ing ev­ery col­lege coach’s dream. Be­cause of the na­ture of the com­pe­ti­tion, Frese said, the Terps will be al­lowed to prac­tice “as much as you want.” As much as the im­me­di­ate goal will be to beat Canada, or Aus­tralia, or whomever, in Tai­wan, the real pay­off fig­ures to come months later, dur­ing the NCAA tour­na­ment, against a do­mes­tic power.

In Mary­land’s trav­els to Rome, Florence, Mi­lan and Lake Como this sum­mer, the Terps might have had some­thing of a pre­view of 2017. It was a crash course in cul­ture, yes, but also bas­ket­ball. Teams ran of­fen­sive sets that were “dif­fer­ent than any­thing I’ve ever seen be­fore,” Con­froy said. Some rules were dif­fer­ent. The of­fi­cials could speak English on the court, but al­most no op­po­nents did. What­ever Con­froy in­tu­ited was largely guess­work.

“That’s the beauty of be­ing from the United States, is pretty much ev­ery­one can speak English,” Con­froy said. “Some­times they just choose not to.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.