Frese's intensity mirrored in her Terrapins' play

Updated: April 5, 2006, 12:57 AM ET
Associated Press

BOSTON -- Maryland coach Brenda Frese twice stepped onto the court -- the first time to shout in slumping star Marissa Coleman's face, and a second to celebrate the Terrapins' first national championship with her.

In the end, it was Coleman who calmly hit a pair of free throws with 13.4 remaining in overtime to seal the Terrapins' 78-75 win over Duke on Tuesday, capping a 14-point comeback and Frese's quick rise among the nation's elite.

"She was yelling at me because of the emotions of the game, but it was a positive thing," Coleman said. "She said, 'We need you for this win. Don't worry about your turnovers or not making your shots. You're going to hit a key basket for us, so put a smile on your face and go out and play the game you've been playing for so long.' "

Coleman didn't let her down.

"Just knowing her and what she thrives on I knew I had to be firm with her. She just needed to snap out of it," said Frese, who spent much of the first half flashing gnashed teeth, squeezing her head in her hands and beaming intense glares at her players in what looked like a blowout in the making.

But there was method to Frese's madness, as she seemed to single-handedly will the second-biggest comeback in NCAA women's finals history. And when the game went to overtime -- where the Terps were 6-0 this year -- Frese cooled finally off.

"Overtime," she said, "is our time."

It could very well be Frese's time for a while now.

In her four years at Maryland, Frese revived a program that hadn't been to the Final Four since 1989. She arrived in 2002 after a year at Minnesota, where she was honored as AP coach of the year.

After going 10-18 in her first season at Maryland, Frese led the Terps to three straight NCAA appearances -- and then this, a record-breaking year. The Terps' 33-4 record marks the most wins by any Maryland basketball team, men or women.

Frese' starting lineup was young yet feisty -- much like the Terrapins coach. She started two freshman, two sophomores and a junior.

She paced the sideline Tuesday night, alternately stomping, cheering, and when necessary, getting right into the face of whatever player needed it. Late in the first half, it was Coleman, a freshman wing, who drew the coach's ire.

Duke had just fired off a 5-0 run to go up 34-21. During that run Coleman had been stripped of the ball, made a lazy pass and sagged with frustration trotting up the floor while glaring at her teammates. At the next timeout, Frese met her halfway and lit into her.

It worked.

Coleman helped lead the second half turnaround, scoring six points, all on fadeway jumpers in a 13-6 Maryland run. Her bucket with 6:51 left in regulation pulled the Terps within one at 57-56.

"Coach B is never going to put you down. Even when she's yelling at you she's going to be picking you up," Coleman said. "We definitely feed off her emotions. She loves coaching and we love playing for her."

Time and again her young team played like veterans. Freshman guard Kristi Toliver hit a 3-pointer with 6.1 seconds left to tie it 70-70 and send the game into overtime. The Terps hit all six of their free throws in the extra period to keep Duke at bay. When Duke's last chance -- a 3-point attempt by Jessica Foley -- fell short at the buzzer, Frese hugged her assistants then hurried back out to join her young champions.

They had been waiting for her.

"I'm living out a dream," Frese said. "The thing that's so special is just looking into the eyes of each and every person, player, staff member, fan. Just how much joy is out there because they understand how much hard work went into this game."


Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press