- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 19, 2022

This offseason for the Maryland women’s basketball team has been far from normal, but that didn’t stop the university from handing longtime coach Brenda Frese another contract extension.

Maryland announced Tuesday it had signed Frese, who just wrapped up her 20th season with the program, to a contract extension. The deal could keep Frese in College Park through the 2028-29 season. 

The terms of the extension were not released by the school on Tuesday. She was previously inked through 2026-27 — a contract she signed last May — for $1.4 million per season. 

The extension for Frese, the winningest coach in program history, follows an underwhelming season. The Terrapins finished fourth in the Big Ten, lost their first game of the conference tournament and were bounced from the NCAA Tournament in the Sweet 16 for the second straight season. 

But nothing compares to how strange the offseason has been thus far for the program. 

Shortly after losing to defending national champion Stanford in the Sweet 16, five Maryland players, including its top two scorers, hit the transfer portal. 

The first player to announce she was transferring out was rising senior guard Ashley Owusu, a three-year starter who averaged 14.3 points and totaled more than 1,000 points as a Terrapin. Later that day, even more shocking and consequential than Owusu, star forward Angel Reese entered the transfer portal as well. The Baltimore native averaged a double-double this past season (17.8 points and 10.6 rebounds) and was voted as a third-team All-American by the Associated Press. 

Joining Owusu and Reese in the portal were Mimi Collins, a rising redshirt senior who scored 7.9 points per game last season, as well as bench players Taisiya Kozlova and Channise Lewis. Collins is the lone ex-Terrapin in the transfer portal to land with a new team, as N.C. State on Tuesday announced the addition of the 6-foot-3 forward. 

“We wish these student-athletes all the best as they continue their basketball careers and education elsewhere,” Frese said in a written statement earlier this month. “Every team has been impacted by the transfer portal on both ends of it. Maryland basketball is bigger than any one lineup or person. Our staff is committed to bringing the best student-athletes to Maryland.” 

While the exodus was concerning, it hasn’t been all bad news on the transfer front for the Terrapins.

Last week, Frese gained one of the top transfers in the country in former Princeton guard Abby Meyers. The Potomac native was an AP All-American honorable mention last season after scoring 17.9 points and grabbing 5.8 rebounds per game to earn the Ivy League Player of the Year award. 

“We’re so happy to provide Abby a homecoming here at Maryland,” Frese said in a press release. “When we can add a conference player of the year, a winner, a leader, a great teammate, and someone who thrives in the big moments, it’s exciting.”

Frese also added South Florida transfer point guard Elisa Pinzan, who averaged 9.3 points and 5.3 assists for the Bulls last season, for her final year of eligibility. 

The new transfers, along with the contract extension Tuesday, are signs that the exodus earlier this month was more of an example of the new age of college basketball — one where the transfer portal is widely used — than a reflection of Frese

In 20 seasons with the Terrapins, Frese has led the team to six Elite Eights, three Final Fours and its only national championship in 2006. Her .777 winning percentage is the best of all Big Ten coaches, and she’s won a conference championship in 70% of her seasons at Maryland, including six of the last eight Big Ten crowns since Maryland joined the league in 2014. 

• Jacob Calvin Meyer can be reached at jmeyer@washingtontimes.com.

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