Interview: Maryland Terrapins women's basketball coach Brenda Frese excited to return to Big Ten

Evan Habeeb-US PRESSWIRE

Maryland Terrapins women's basketball coach Brenda Frese took some time to chat with Swish Appeal to preview the season, discuss how the team will respond to the loss of sophomore point guard Brene Moseley, and - of course - the school's move to the Big Ten.

Back in 2002, Brenda Frese became a highly sought after coach after turning around the Minnesota Golden Gophers women's basketball program and winning the AP National Coach of the Year award.

A decade later, Frese has fulfilled her potential as head coach of the Maryland Terrapins and coincidentally finds herself headed back to the conference where she rose to national prominence.

In light of the big news of moving to the Big Ten, Swish Appeal had a chance to interview the veteran head coach about expectations for her team in the present and the school's change of conference affiliation in the future.

Swish Appeal: After losing starting point guard, Brene Moseley, where do you expect your team to be by conference play?

Brenda Frese: "That’s actually the conversation I was having with my staff today, kind of a big picture perspective, that’s where we have to be ready as a team. Obviously our non-conference schedule this season is brutal, it’s (what) we expected with having four of our returners back and an experienced team, (that) we would be prepared.

"We weren’t expecting to lose our starting point guard (Moseley), it’s a process obviously, we’re still trying to work through in terms of putting players in position that aren’t natural for them. And where we can get our point guards comfortable. That is our big picture is to continue to gain confidence and get better as a team and work point guard by committee."

SA: Can you talk about Alyssa Thomas’ versatility being that you are able to play her at the point guard position?

BF: "It’s exciting obviously with Alyssa’s versatility, she’s actually playing one through four for us. Up at St. Joseph’s, she started at the perimeter, she backed up the point (guard) and then she went into the post when we got into foul trouble. The fact that she can play so many positions (is impressive). What I love about her at the point guard spot is her power, her speed, the ability to get up and down the floor. Her ability to be able to pass and get other players shots."

SA: What separates Alyssa from all of the great players that you have coached in your career?

BF: "I have been very fortunate (to coach great players) and those players, their so many intangibles that they have: high mothers, the work ethic and the skill set. But I continue to go back to for Alyssa - one, she competes in everything she’s going to do, first one to be out on the court, the first one to make the most shots. "I think she’s been different as a player -- in the sense of having that kind of power and speed that she has at that position. The ability to play every position on the floor; and that what separates her from the rest."

SA: What is your opinion about moving to the Big Ten Conference?

BF: "I’m excited, it’s a conference I’m very familiar with, a conference I grew up with. Anytime you have change, it’s an opportunity to grow and improve. From our end, we’re excited to take our Maryland brand to the Big Ten. From our (perspective), it’s not going to change in terms of who we recruit.

"The student-athletes we can recruit at a national level, the bar that we set to compete for championships -- we’re going to continue to be who we are and our style of play; and just hopefully be able to open it up to a lot more households. And to be able to be on TV a lot more with the Big Ten Network -- just taking it a broader national audience."

SA: How exciting is it for you when you think about the opportunities that the Big Ten Network will bring to Maryland women’s basketball?

BF: "It’s really exciting, I think what a lot fans and players on the east coach is just how rich the tradition of basketball is in the Midwest. Tremendous fan bases that we are going to be able to go into these arenas and play in front of, we’re going to create our own rivalries out there within the Big Ten.

"Again, I think a lot of people in the Midwest haven’t been able to see our Maryland brand. For us to be able to extend that footprint beyond the east coast, I think is really exciting."

SA: What are your expectations for Lauren Mincy this season after having a breakthrough year last year?

BF: "Lauren really showed last year and got to the level of where we felt like her game was going to get to -- after being slowed from that (knee) injury coming out of high school. She’s playing with a lot of confidence. I think early on (this season), she’s being really selfless taking on the role of the point guard position. And obviously, it’s asking her to go into a completely different position she never practiced, that’s going to take some time.

"Once she gets comfortable between sliding back and forth between the two positions, I think you’re going to see the Lauren Mincy that arrived late last season; and is really going to take off. We’re hoping we get that by conference play in terms of working this (out) in the non-conference."

SA: What have you seen thus far out of your freshmen and what are you expecting out of them this season?

BF: "Our three freshmen, Chloe (Pavlech), Malina (Howard) and Tierney (Pfirman) -- the first thing I would say about all three, they have a workman’s-like mentality in terms of everything they do - whether that’s school or whether that’s basketball. Their mentality is to work as hard as they possibly can. They set the tone by being the first (freshman) class to come into both sessions of summer school. We asked them to come in for one session of six weeks, and they committed to both sessions.

"(They) wanted to come in to really get ahead a head start to really help this team. All three of them are contributing for this team immediately. Compared to what most freshmen play, they are above that average and are having a tremendous impact on our team. All they know how to do is run through a wall for you and do everything that you ask. They’ve been really fun to be able to coach."

For more on the implications of Maryland's move to the Big Ten, check out our storystream on the subject.

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