COLLEGE PARK — After dominating the Big Ten for three straight years, the Maryland women’s basketball team is ready to take on the world.
Maryland was selected by the United States International University Sports Federation to represent the U.S. in Taiwan at the World University Games.
The Terrapins will open on Monday against Uganda, face Poland on Tuesday and the Czech Republic on Wednesday. The gold medal game is on Aug. 28.
This is only the second time a full team from a women’s collegiate program has represented the United States at the World University Games (UNC Charlotte did it in 2007).
It’s a huge responsibility, and Maryland knows it.
“We understand that this is bigger than us,” coach Brenda Frese said.
“This whole opportunity is a huge blessing,” sophomore guard Kaila Charles said. “We get to represent our country, we get to represent our university.”
The Terrapins seem worthy of the honor. Since joining the Big Ten in 2014, they’ve won three straight conference titles and won 58 of 61 league games. A perennial fixture in the Top 10, Maryland captured the NCAA championship under Frese in 2006, reached the Final Four in 2014 and 2015 and last year made it to the Sweet 16 before closing with a 32-3 record.
Now, the Terps are eager to find out how their act plays abroad.
“The biggest difference is the intensity and the physicality,” senior guard Kristen Confroy said. “So we’ve really been going at it at practice.”
The current roster has been enhanced by 6-foot-5 center Malina Howard, who scored 770 points and grabbed 542 rebounds in four years at Maryland through 2016. She also won gold medals with the U.S. in the 2010 and 2011 FIBA World Championships.
In addition, Frese added 5-8 guard Tori Jankoska, Michigan State’s career leader in points (2,212) and successful 3-point shots (320) before being selected ninth overall in the 2017 WNBA draft.
Though Howard and Jankoska are on loan, the rest of the players - most notably freshman point guard Channise Lewis - are gaining valuable experience for the 2017-18 season.
“Channise Lewis has taken the reins and done a tremendous job,” Frese said. “This international competition is going to be a tremendous head start for us going into the following season.”
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