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Alyssa Thomas interview: Despite injuries, junior forward sees Maryland as 'miles ahead' of where they were last year

Reigning ACC Player of the Year Alyssa Thomas spoke last Friday about her mindset coming off of last year's success, Tianna Hawkins' breakout season and where her team stands with the second half of ACC play coming up. For more on the Maryland women's basketball team, also see yesterday's interview with Terps forward Tianna Hawkins.

Alyssa Thomas is having as good of an all-around season as anyone in the ACC.
Alyssa Thomas is having as good of an all-around season as anyone in the ACC.

Swish Appeal: A lot of expectations for you coming into this year, having the season that you had last year. Did you feel pressure to try and top that this year?

Alyssa Thomas: No, you know I knew I would have a target on my back this year and just tried to come out and play my game and expected people to come with their best.

SA: When you think about the 2006 national championship team they really had five stars, all of their numbers are hanging from the rafters. How important do you think it was for Tianna [Hawkins] to become the star that she's become this year and take pressure of off you and help this team get to the next level?

Thomas: I think she understands the importance - it's her last year and last chance to really go out there and show people what she's made of. And I think she's done a fantastic job of just leaving everything she has left.

SA: What was it like getting the triple-double and how do you feel about Marissa Coleman as someone you look up to?

Thomas: I've never had one before so that was a really cool thing to get. And to find out that Marissa was the only player to do it before me, I was definitely proud of that.

SA: All three of the freshman seem to be fearless and composed out there. What have they done this year to earn your trust?

Thomas: We trusted them from the start. You have to have that trust in order to be a successful team and with the injuries that we've had this year we've really had to rely a lot on them and they've responded really well.

SA: Despite the injuries, do you feel like this year's team can be as good or better than last year's team?

Thomas: Absolutely. No one has expected us to be this far right now. We're at the top of our conference and there's still a lot of basketball to play. We're definitely miles ahead of last year's team, just with the heart and the effort that we play with.

SA: What's it like seeing your brother [Devin Thomas] have the success that he's having at Wake Forest?

Thomas: I'm definitely proud of him. I've told him everything that he needs to know to be successful in the ACC and he's definitely listening.

SA: Do you guys give each other a hard time now about being at rival ACC schools?

Thomas: Not really, you know we're both on the same side. He's coming to play Maryland*, so I'm definitely going to be rooting for him and vice versa.

*Interview was last Friday. Alyssa is referring to the men's basketball game between Wake Forest and Maryland that took place in College Park on Saturday.

For more on Maryland at mid-season, visit our storystream.