Terps ready for UConn challenge in Jimmy V

By Carl Adamec

The University of Maryland women’s basketball team has faced more than its share of adversity in this young season.

When the Terrapins announced Friday that junior guard Laurin Mincy would miss the rest of the year due to a torn anterior cruciate ligament in her right knee, she became the third Maryland to suffer a season-ending knee injury since summer. They earlier lost Brene Moseley and Essence Townsend and now have only eight players on their roster.

“We’re down to eight but I couldn’t ask for eight better players,” Maryland coach Brenda Frese said. “ They bring it every day and they’ll have to against an extremely talented Connecticut team that is so deep at every single position.”

The 11th-ranked Terrapins travel to Hartford Monday for a matchup against No. 2 UConn in the Jimmy V Classic at the XL Center. It will be the first meeting between the two schools.

For Frese, who coached Maryland to the 2006 national championship, playing in the Jimmy V Classic is an honor. She deals with adversity all the time. Her 4-year-old son Tyler was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia in September 2010.

“There was no question when we were invited that we knew we wanted to play in it,” Frese said. “For me, personally, with my son Tyler going through leukemia and with his diagnosis and his treatment I think it just helps us to be able to with a national audience and on TV bring even more awareness to all the people out there that are battling cancer. Our family is one that’s directly impacted. But the fact that we can play a game and bring exposure is really important and we’re just really fortunate to be a part of it.”

Frese said her son is on the road to recovery.

“All signs are great. He’s not showing any cancer at the moment and he’s doing extremely well, she said.

On the court, Maryland (4-1) is doing better after being upset by Saint Joseph’s of Pennsylvania. The Terrapins knocked off No. 21 Nebraska 90-71 in Lincoln, Neb., Wednesday night.

They are led by All-American junior guard Alyssa Thomas though senior forward Tianna Hawkins is their top scorer and rebounder, averaging a double-double.

Freshman Chloe Pavlech runs the point alongside Katie Rutan, a transfer from Xavier. Alicia DeVaughn rounds out the starting lineup.

Maryland averages 81.8 points per game and is among the nation’s leaders in rebound margin.

The Mincy injury, though, will hurt.

“First and foremost, she was our defensive stopper on the perimeter,” Frese said. “We could match her up with the point guard. We could match her up on the wing. That’s going to be difficult to overcome. The fact that she was playing extremely well. It just puts us much, much thinner in those positions.”

Will eight players, including a walk-on, be enough, though?

“It’s not going to change who we are and the effort that we give,” Frese said.

UConn is scheduled to make a return trip to College Park next season.