Terps-Hoyas women's tournament preview

Terps-Hoyas women's tournament preview
March 21, 2011, 8:43 pm
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Monday, March 21, 2011, 4:50 p.m.

By Milton Kent
CSNwashington.com

There are few sports where tradition and history are more respected and cherished than womens basketball. The accomplishments of one program, especially championships, are typically held in high esteem by the players and coaches of another.

Apparently, that memo hasnt reached the Georgetown campus, as the Hoyas spent a good part of the Monday news conference leading into Tuesdays second-round NCAA tournament meeting with Maryland giving short shrift to the Terps legacy.

For the record, that includes nine Atlantic Coast Conference titles, four Final Four appearances and a national championship in 2006, banners for which the Hoyas all practiced under Monday in preparation for Tuesdays game.

Georgetown senior guard Monica McNutt, when asked about the Maryland tradition, sighed, then leaned forward in her chair to essentially dismiss all those banners and what they stand for.

I dont know if you guys know, but we beat Tennessee earlier this season, said McNutt. And we played UConn three times already. I dont think were very concerned in terms of the legacy of a team or what a team has done.

Were playing the five girls that step on the floor to match-up with our five girls in uniform. Im a local kid from Suitland, so I had a chance to watch those championship teams. Former All-America Marissa Coleman is not there anymore. Things have changed.

In the immediate sense, thats a true statement, as the Hoyas beat Maryland, 53-45, in November, in the second game of the season at McDonough Arena.

It was the first time a Georgetown team had beaten the Terps in nine meetings, though the schools hadnt played since 2003, when most of the players were in elementary or middle school.

Georgetown coach Terri Williams-Flournoy, who initially was reluctant to schedule Maryland, downplayed the idea that a cross-town rivalry existed between the programs.

Its a rivalry because thats what you guys (the media) call it. We call it another game, said Williams-Flournoy. Its just another game. It would be the same if we were playing George Washington, George Mason. It doesnt really matter.

For her part, Maryland coach Brenda Frese and her players steered clear of declaring their relationship more than what it is presently: namely a game to advance to the Sweet 16, and the Philadelphia regional next weekend.

For us, its about getting through to the next round, said junior guard Kim Rodgers. It doesnt matter who we play. We are going to be prepared. It just happens to be Georgetown. Its going to generate a lot of local interest. We are just focused on us and what we are going to do.

The Terps (24-7), ranked 16th in the nation and seeded fourth in the region, have had trouble this season with teams like Georgetown (23-10), which press from end to end.

Marylands last loss before the NCAA tournament was to Georgia Tech in the ACC tournament quarterfinals, during which the Terps committed 23 turnovers. The Hoyas also beat the Yellow Jackets in November, for good measure.

No. 22 Georgetown, the fifth seed in Philadelphia, forced a whopping 29 Maryland turnovers in November, and made no secret of the fact Monday that they intend to trap and press the Terps all over Comcast Center Tuesday.

The one thing that we want to do is we want to make the game extremely long starting in the backcourt first, said Williams-Flournoy. So pressuring in the backcourt and making them only have about 10-12 seconds to get the ball over (half) court hopefully will help us defend in the low post, so its not as long trying to defend there.

The Terps, who beat St. Francis (Pa.) 70-48 Sunday in their NCAA opener, have a decided height advantage with center Lynetta Kizer and forward Diandra Tchatchouang, and a host of taller defenders coming off the bench.

On both ends, weve got to be able to get the ball up the floor to use our size inside for an advantage on the glass, said Frese. I also feel like there are opportunities for us to use our size and length on the defensive end, so youve got to be able to utilize your strength on both areas of the floor.

The Terps will also have their hands full in defending guard Sugar Rodgers, a 5-foot-11 sophomore, who torched Princeton for 26 points in Georgetowns 65-49 first round win Sunday.

We are really going to try to focus on being on her at the catch so she doesnt get any easy looks, said Marylands Kim Rodgers. Whether we have to have emergency switches or some players helping, we have to make sure that when she gets the ball, she doesnt have an easy look.