The Washington Post
During holiday time, Terps get helpings of tough opponents
How are you celebrating Thanksgiving today? Hopefully with a big meal surrounded by family and friends. And maybe a favorite dessert! I love pecan pie with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
The University of Maryland women’s basketball team may be too busy for a big meal this holiday. On “Turkey Day,” the Terps play the fifth-ranked North Carolina State Wolfpack at the Baha Mar Hoops Pink Flamingo Championship (don’t you love that name?) in the Bahamas.
There’s no time to relax after that game, because Maryland will play the defending National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) champion and seventh-ranked Stanford Cardinal on Saturday.
The Terps’ schedule gets even harder when they travel to the University of South Carolina to play the top-ranked Gamecocks on December 12. Head Coach and Hall of Famer Dawn Staley has built a powerhouse in the Palmetto State and was recently rewarded with a seven-year, $22.4 million contract.
It looks like the bad habit of paying men’s college basketball coaches huge salaries is spreading to the women’s college game. But enough about money, let’s talk about hoops.
Maryland’s Big Ten conference schedule is tough too, with seven games against Indiana, Michigan, Iowa and Ohio State — all ranked in the Top 25.
The Terps have the talent to stand up to their outstanding opponents. Maryland has returned all its top players from last year’s 26-3 (26 wins and 3 losses) team.
Ashley Owusu is the Terps’ allAmerican, do-everything point guard. Veteran forwards Chloe Bibby and Mimi Collins can score underneath and battle for rebounds.
Shooting guard Katie Benzan is the team’s three-point specialist. Last season, Benzan led the country by hitting 50 percent (93 of 186) of her three-point shots. She also hit 93.8 percent (30 or 32) of her free throws. Those are superstar Stephen Curry kind of numbers.
This season, the Terps will also have the full services of Angel Reese. The 6foot-3-inch forward was hampered by injuries during her freshman year and could play in only about half of the team’s games.
But this season Reese is full-go. She leads the team in scoring (19 points per game) and rebounds (11.5 per game). Reese is showing why she was the highest-rated high school player to come to the Maryland women’s program.
The only thing that might stop this high-scoring Maryland team is injuries. The team has not had star guard Diamond Miller on the floor much so far. Still, the Terps are 6-0 and beat 2019 NCAA champion Baylor, 79-76, led by Owusu’s 24 points and six assists.
The Terps will not have much time to celebrate this Thanksgiving, but they may be good enough to celebrate at the Final Four in April.
Bowen writes the sports opinion column for Kidspost. He is the author of 26 kids sports books, including seven about basketball.