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Baltimore Sun's Rick Maese is No Friend to Brenda Frese

BOSTON - APRIL 04:  Head coach Brenda Frese of the Maryland Terrapins celebrates during their 78-75 overtime victory over the Duke Blue Devils in the 2006 NCAA Women's Basketball Championship Game on April 4, 2006 at the TD Banknorth Garden in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Jarrett CarterAnalyst IApril 1, 2009

The Baltimore Sun’s Rick Maese is normally a reliable voice on local sports, usually approaching topics with an honesty and candor rarely found in such a biased and shrinking-in-relevance newspaper.

But he got it wrong in this morning’s column on Brenda Frese being exposed as a poor in-game coach.

A sample of the nonsense:

But the real questions arose in Monday’s Elite Eight matchup with the Walz’s Cardinals. Frese stuck with an ineffective zone defense for all but the final few minutes of the first half even though Louisville was out-shooting and out-rebounding Maryland.

The bigger problem again was that the Terps couldn’t solve the opposition’s defense. Coleman, fresh off 42 points against Vandy, scored Maryland’s first basket against the Cardinals, but the Terps never could get her involved in the offense. In the second half, the comeback strategy seemed to hinge entirely on Toliver’s jacking up three-point attempts and allowing momentum to take over. It didn’t work.

I get that to sell the paper, you’ve got to come with some heat every now and again. For every smart and sensible column offered by David Steele, somebody has to meet the idiot quota with inflammatory page-view magnets. Mike Preston usually fills that role well, but today appeared to be Maese’s turn at the wheel.

If Brenda Frese had lapses in her final two tournament games, which were against Final Four-level competition, by the way, it’s not a sign of things past or things to come. For a coach who gets the talent, gets them to buy into a system and then makes the tournament as a 20-plus-win squad every year, Maese’s argument doesn’t pass the smell test for chronic inability to manage games.

Apparently, a memo went out among Sun writers that the Gary Williams angle had run its course, and that Maryland women’s basketball should be the talk of the town; for better, or preferably, for worse. I get that, especially since it’s clear Williams isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. But is that a reason to start breaking down the unapparent failures of a coach whose worst tournament appearances would be successful seasons for Gary Williams?

Are we that pressed for a negative story line out of College Park that we’re going to break down a coach that has gone to the tournament five straight times, won a national title and went to an Elite Eight this season? Really, Rick?

You’re smarter than that. We’re all smarter than that.

Say what you will about Frese’s game planning against two top ten squads with very little scouting or prep time, but don’t attribute it to poor in-game coaching. You don’t win national titles, ACC titles, regular season titles, and everything else that is a sympton of good coaching without actually being a good coach.

Just like you don’t become a columnist without fanning the flames every once in a while.

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