December 17, 2022
‘We need that’: Maryland’s Abby Meyers is picking up right where she left off at Princeton
Along with being the Terps’ second-leading scorer, Meyers has brought leadership and an unmistakable joy to College Park
In the second quarter of Maryland’s game against UConn on Dec. 11, starting guard Abby Meyers signaled to the Terps’ bench that she needed a breather. Both teams like to play up-tempo, and Meyers hadn’t come out of the game yet.
But head coach Brenda Frese ignored her co-captain’s request, and on a subsequent pair of free throws, she called Meyers over. “Yeah, no,” she told her. “You’re playing.”
Meyers played all 40 minutes in the Terps’ 85-78 win and had a team-high 20 points, six rebounds, three assists and two steals. She made eight of her 17 shots, including four of eight 3-point attempts, and 16 of her points came in the decisive second quarter. Maryland won that quarter by 11 points, whereas every other quarter was decided by four or fewer points.
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Meyers is in her first season in College Park after joining the Terps as a graduate transfer from Princeton. She was named the Ivy League Player of the Year and an AP Honorable Mention All-American last season after averaging 17.9 points, 5.8 rebounds, 1.6 assists and 1.4 steals per game. She led the Ivy League in 3-point shooting at 39.3%, and she helped Princeton go undefeated in conference play and beat Kentucky in the NCAA Tournament.
When Meyers announced her destination for 2022-23, there was widespread belief that her standout senior season would carry over to the Big Ten, but it wasn’t a given. She had to learn a new system and mesh with several other newcomers, and transferring from a mid-major program — even one as accomplished as Princeton — to a Power 5 program can be challenging. But Meyers hasn’t missed a beat, producing at a similar level as she did in the Ivy League and bringing all the intangibles that separate her as a player and leader.
This season, Meyers is averaging 14.1 points, 5.4 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.2 steals in a team-leading 31.2 minutes per game. She is Maryland’s second-leading scorer and rebounder as well as a smart defender, coming from one of the nation’s staunchest defenses a season ago.
Playing next to projected WNBA lottery pick Diamond Miller, Meyers is attempting about two fewer shots per game than she did at Princeton, but she has been even better at spacing the floor, shooting 41.9% from 3-point range on over five attempts per game. Her minutes and assists are also up from last season, the latter by almost 50%.
Meyers has scored in double figures in 10 of 12 games this season after doing so in all 30 games at Princeton in 2021-22. She started her Maryland career with 19 points on 7-for-13 shooting and six rebounds against George Mason on Nov. 7, then poured in 21 points and six rebounds in a loss to No. 1 South Carolina on Nov. 11. The Terps were playing without Miller in the latter contest, but Meyers had 14 of their first 17 points to keep them within striking distance early.
Against UConn, Maryland trailed for most of the first quarter, but a 12-4 run in the second quarter gave the Terps a 27-23 lead. Meyers had five points in that span, including the final 3-pointer to force a UConn timeout. She then scored the Terps’ next eight points and, for good measure, added a 3-pointer in the final 40 seconds of the half to put the Terps up 43-36.
“It was huge,” Frese said postgame of Meyers’ second-quarter scoring. “I mean, I thought she really elevated … and it really gave [us] a ton of confidence. And that’s who Abby is. I’ve loved the approach she’s had, and she impacts the game in so many different ways.”
The Terps are 9-3 this season but have been inconsistent, with wins over three top-25 teams and surprising losses to DePaul and Nebraska. All season long, though, Maryland has performed significantly better on both ends with Meyers on the court. According to CBB Analytics, the Terps score 4.2 more points per 100 possessions and give up 6.8 fewer points per 100 possessions when Meyers is on the court. They are outscoring opponents by nearly nine points per 100 possessions with her and getting outscored by two points per 100 possessions without her. She had a similar effect on Princeton last season.
It hasn’t all been storybook for Meyers: She has struggled to get to the free throw line this season, and she didn’t start on Dec. 8 at Purdue after scoring just eight points in her two previous games. But she accepted the decision and responded well, getting the game-winning assist at Purdue and averaging 19.5 points against Purdue and UConn.
“Coach [knows] what’s best, right?” Meyers told The Washington Post after the Purdue game. “… For me, it’s just trusting the process, and I’ve just got to keep working and keep doing my thing and playing my role.”
In the three-day Fort Myers Tip-Off over Thanksgiving, too, Meyers struggled with her shot in the first two games — scoring 21 total points on 36.0% shooting — before erupting for 23 points on 50.0% shooting in the finale against Pittsburgh.
“When we saw her struggle a little bit in those first couple of games, we’re like, ‘Okay, we need her to do it one more day,’” Pitt head coach Lance White said postgame. “… Abby was the difference today. And she really is a great player … She’s been a huge addition to what [the Terps] do.”
Meyers told reporters after that game that she has “definitely played this game long enough to know” that slumps happen and that she needs to keep shooting. Even when her shot isn’t falling, she often spends halftime stretching and keeping her body loose rather than obsessing over her shot. She is always confident that her shots will fall eventually and that she can contribute in other ways, whether with rebounding, passing or defense.
Meyers showed that same self-assurance last season at Princeton, and it has rubbed off on her teammates in both programs. “We need that calming confidence where we have so many new players on the floor and coming back into the fold,” Frese said after the George Mason game. “And I just thought she did a phenomenal job, as she has done every single day that she’s put on the Maryland uniform, just leading and leading by example with everything she does.”
That leadership includes diving on the floor for loose balls and cheering loudly on the bench. It includes wrapping an arm around Miller’s waist in the UConn game after a Miller steal led to a Maryland bucket and a UConn timeout. Meyers is even the player who sophomore guard Shyanne Sellers called for a ride from Baltimore-Washington International Airport to campus this fall because, as Sellers put it, Meyers “just wants to make sure everyone’s OK.”
Meyers also highlights her teammates at every opportunity in press conferences, pointing out what they did well and how it helped everyone else succeed. After the season opener, she told reporters, “Tonight, [shots] fell for me, but credit to my teammates, especially [point guard Elisa Pinzan]. They were open shots because they were the ones that got me open.” (That has continued all season: Each of the other four starters record assists to Meyers more often than to any other player.)
Similarly, when asked about her 16-point second quarter against UConn, Meyers said, “Shy definitely broke the ice with the threes with that one beforehand, and I just appreciate my teammates looking for me in transition.”
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But Meyers isn’t afraid to provide the tough love required of a leader, either. Against DePaul at the Fort Myers Tip-Off on Nov. 25, Meyers was fired up during the first-quarter media timeout. With her team down 8-2, she entered the huddle shaking her head, then said something to her teammates to start the discussion. Miller spoke with a similar urgency while Meyers got water, then Meyers added, “We can’t settle,” referring to the team’s poor shot selection. After the timeout, the Maryland bench was noticeably louder, though the Terps eventually lost 76-67.
With Meyers providing the same statistical punch, confidence and leadership at Maryland that she provided at Princeton, both programs reached uncharted territory. Last season, Princeton beat two top-25 teams to give the program three such wins all-time, and it came the closest it ever had to a Sweet Sixteen, losing by a point in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. This season, Maryland’s win over UConn was the first in series history in eight attempts, and it earned two wins over top-10 teams (UConn and Notre Dame on Dec. 1) earlier in the season than any Terps team since 2007-08.
Perhaps the most noticeable similarity of all between this season and last for Meyers is that, if she feels any pressure to perform, she hasn’t shown it. Instead, she plays with palpable joy and freedom. She was so excited about her first game in a Maryland uniform that, when asked postgame about making her debut and adjusting to a new team, she finished her answer with, “I kind of forgot the rest of the question, but it was just a great first game.”
A few weeks later against DePaul, Meyers grabbed a defensive rebound and pushed the ball in transition, then stopped at the elbow and delivered a cheeky behind-the-back pass to an open Pinzan. Against UConn, she let out delighted yells for big shots by her teammates, including a Sellers 3-pointer in the fourth quarter, and reveled in forcing an over-and-back call on UConn. She celebrated the win with a run-and-bump with Pinzan before thanking the crowd for its support, grinning ear-to-ear as she spoke into the microphone.
Following that game, Meyers was asked how she felt after playing a full 40 minutes. “I definitely was feeling the cramps in the calves near the end of it,” she said with a laugh. “But yeah, that’s the first time I’ve played 40 minutes ever … and I feel good. So hopefully it’ll continue.”
As the assembled media chuckled, Sellers looked over at her teammate knowingly. “Wait,” she said, “‘til tomorrow morning.”
Written by Jenn Hatfield
Jenn Hatfield has been a contributor to The Next since December 2018 and is currently the site's managing editor, Washington Mystics beat reporter and Ivy League beat reporter. Her work has also appeared at FiveThirtyEight, Her Hoop Stats, FanSided and Power Plays.