As senior guards go, so goes Maryland’s season

Maryland advanced to the second round of the NCAA tournament last season with a roster that had no seniors. This year, the Terrapins will have three — guards Anjale Barrett and Kim Rodgers, and center Lynetta Kizer.

Kizer and sophomore forward Alyssa Thomas were named to the Wooden preseason top 30 list, but the team will be without Kizer indefinitely after she was suspended Nov. 1 for a violation of team rules.

“You always see with your seniors a greater sense of urgency, and you’re definitely able to see that right now,” coach Brenda Frese said. “Anjale and Kim are competing and playing at an extremely high level. You can try to give your team a sense of urgency, but until you’re a senior, you don’t understand it.

“You can already tell with our seniors, with their voices in the locker room, that they can see the end. It’s going to be very powerful to have their leadership this season.”

The Terps are ranked 10th in the preseason ESPN/USA Today Coaches’ poll, and 11th in the Associated Press rankings.

Sophomore guard Laurin Mincy is returning from ACL surgery, and Frese called her progress the talk of the preseason.

“You could feel it toward the end of the preseason that she was getting there,” Frese said. “She has really arrived in terms of confidence level she’s playing with, the leadership, the vocalness, and her ability on the court. She’s making a lot of players more confident, able to score. That’s exciting, because it gives us another consistent threat from the perimeter.”

Mincy is expected to see time at the point and two-guard positions. Frese said the team will go as far as the guards can take them, but she also emphasized the importance of the team’s post presence. Last season, the Terps were one of the most dominant teams in the ACC in rebounding.

“I expect a lot of great things from us,” sophomore center Alicia DeVaughn said. “We’ve been working hard all summer, and it shows. All 12 of us have improved and matured. There’s always great competition in the ACC, but we’ve got it. We’re going pretty far.”

Last year’s team went 24-8, including 9-5 in the ACC.

“We’re looking to the tournament, to the Final Four,” said Rodgers. “The ACC is a perennial power, so we have to come prepared. Having seniors this year, of course, helps with experience, but on this team everybody has learned to be a leader.”

The Terps open their season Friday at home against Loyola.

“The ACC was very kind to us again this year, second straight year, to give us the toughest ACC schedule,” Frese said. “I say ‘kind’ in the fact that they’re going to get us prepared for postseason play.”

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