September 29, 2020
Maryland roundup: Alaysia Styles addition, Karen Blair promotion, ESPN poll
The Terps make roster and coaching staff moves as season approaches
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Terps add graduate transfer Alaysia Stevens
Maryland announced Monday that it is adding 6’3 forward Alaysia “Bird” Stevens, a graduate transfer who spent the previous three years with California.
“We are thrilled to welcome Alaysia to the Maryland family,” Terps Head Coach Brenda Frese said in a release. “We have known ‘Bird’ since we recruited her back in high school. At 6’3″ and as a grad transfer she will bring immediate size, depth and maturity into our program right away. She is a versatile player that runs the floor hard and can rebound and score from so many areas. On top of that, she comes from a conference where she has gained a tremendous amount of experience in Pac-12 play. It has been a long awaited time and we can’t wait for her to get here.”
As Styles is technically still an undergraduate, she will finish the fall academic semester with California before relocating to the east coast in the spring.
Styles averaged 8.4 points and 3.9 rebounds in 21 games during her 2019-20 junior season, starting 20. She helped the Bears amass 41 wins her first two seasons in Berkeley, including two NCAA Tournament appearances.
“I am forever in debt to Coach Frese in her everlasting support of me as a player and human being. The decision to finish my collegiate career in College Park is like nothing I’d ever imagined,” Styles said in the release. “COVID made the process a bit more interesting, however all it took was one Zoom call to know where I wanted to call my next home. I am thrilled and sincerely grateful for this unreal opportunity and this step into an incredible journey with incredible people. Dreams do come true, and I am entirely honored to share mine with my teammates, coaches, and the City of College Park.”
On the court, Maryland will look quite different after graduating four seniors and losing Taylor Mikesell, Shakira Austin and Olivia Owens to the transfer portal. In addition to Styles, the Terps have added freshman guard Taisiya Kozlova, Mississippi State transfer Chloe Bibby, Harvard graduate transfer Katie Benzan, and No. 2 overall recruit Angel Reese.
Just six players return to the roster from last year’s team that went 28-4 and won both the Big Ten regular season and tournament championships.
Karen Blair promoted
Maryland assistant Karen Blair has been promoted to Associate Head Coach, the program announced earlier this month. Blair served as an Assistant Coach on Brenda Frese’s staff for the past two seasons and was named the 2020 WBCA Assistant Coach of the Year in March.
“I am humbled and extremely thankful to Coach Frese and the Maryland administration for this promotion,” Blair said in a release. “I love what I do, and working with Coach Frese and the Maryland family has been a blessing. The people around me, from the student-athletes to my colleagues and the best fans in the country, are what make coaching so special, and I am grateful to be surrounded by the best of the best at Maryland. It has been a privilege being a part of winning championships these past two seasons and look forward to many more to come.”
Blair played a key role in the Terps’ signing of Angel Reese, the second-ranked prospect in the class of 2020 and the highest recruit in school history. Blair also helped sign the third-best national recruiting class to Maryland last season, including 2019-20 Big Ten Freshman of the Year Ashley Owusu as well as Diamond Miller.
During the two years that Blair has served on the Terps’ staff, Maryland accumulated a cumulative record of 56-9, two Big Ten regular season championships, one conference championship and one NCAA tournament appearance (a second alluded the program due to COVID-19).
“Karen is more than deserving of this promotion,” Frese said in the school’s release. “From the moment she has stepped foot on our campus, she has made an impact on our program. She is someone who is always here for everyone and is selfless in her pursuit to help others achieve success. Karen’s wealth of experience allows her to know exactly what needs to be done when needed and in the best interest of our program. Karen is someone I lean on and trust and I am grateful for what she means to our team and University.”
Maryland comes in at No. 12 in ESPN poll
On the heels of an NCAA announcement earlier this month declaring that women’s college basketball season may begin on November 25, ESPN.com released its “Way-Too-Early” top 25 rankings for the 2020-2021 season.
Though analysts Charlie Creme, Mechelle Voepel and Graham Hays all cast their votes to determine their rankings, it was Hays that explained the experts’ reasoning for placing the Terps at number 12.
“Moving on without players who accounted for 70% of the team’s minutes a season ago is a tall enough order. It’s even more challenging because Maryland wouldn’t have expected to lose transfers Shakira Austin or Taylor Mikesell on top of the seniors,” says Hays. “But all is not lost — hardly. Sophomore Ashley Owusu, last season’s Big Ten Freshman of the Year, and new arrival Angel Reese, the No. 2 recruit in her class, are a good foundation. Harvard graduate transfer Katie Benzan is no afterthought, either.”
Though Maryland is the highest-ranked Big Ten program in the poll, it is joined by four other conference foes in No. 16 Northwestern, No. 17 Indiana, No. 21 Ohio State and No. 25 Michigan.