BOSTON—Even if she doesn't coach Maryland to its first women's national championship tonight, Brenda Frese has already made NCAA history.
Yesterday's afternoon practice, on the TD Banknorth Garden floor, was open to the media, the first time in the 25-year history of the women's Final Four that a coach had let writers and broadcasters in to a pre-title game practice.
For Frese, the open practice was just another chance to shine the light on her program and on women's basketball.
"I'm probably different from most coaches and teams in that I want the sport to become as visible as possible," Frese said. "And I feel like I don't have anything to hide. There aren't any secrets that go about in this business and with this game. It's going to come down to who can stop who [tonight]. And I want to be able to give that kind of access to our media, to still continue to get to know these players, our team, so that they can be well-received and so we can grow this sport and grow it as far as we can."
For the past two seasons, the Maryland program has been the subject of a reality series, Under the Shell, which airs weekly during the season on Comcast SportsNet. Frese has given total access to ESPN during the tournament, and when she agreed to let the network into yesterday's practice, it became open to all media.
Duke coach Gail Goestenkors was surprised to learn yesterday that Frese had opened Maryland's practice, but she kept the Blue Devils' practice closed.
"I think that it probably goes to everything they have done up to this point," Goestenkors said. "They have really opened up the doors, they have had the media on their bus and at their training tables, so it makes sense now that she would continue to do that and her team has played extremely well.
"I think I would worry about my team's focus, but we're just in a different place, so what works for one team doesn't necessarily work for another. But it's worked for them."
Call me Crystal
Terps sophomore forward Crystal Langhorne can't stand the nickname given to her by her teammates: "Franchise."
"I wish they'd stop calling me that," Langhorne said with a bashful smile. "It means a lot for my teammates to call me that. It gives me a lot of respect, but I don't like the nickname."
But what else do you call the player who is averaging 24 points in five NCAA tournament games and 8.4 rebounds? Those numbers are reason enough for freshman forward Marissa Coleman to stick with the nickname.
"She is the franchise. She's our best player, our go-to player. She's been dominating all year," Coleman said. "She hates it, [but] that just shows how humble and modest she is."
Goestenkors unveiled a victory dance after the team's 64-45 rout of LSU in the national semifinals on Sunday night, but the details of the dance were hush-hush.
Junior point guard Lindsey Harding claimed to have missed the show, while sophomore guard Wanisha Smith would only describe it as "fun." Not even Goestenkors would divulge the secret behind the dance.
Frese, who has a Running Man dance patterned after Elaine of Seinfeld, said she would be willing to compete in a dance-off for the national title. "I would love it," Frese said with a laugh. "Bring it on."
Goestenkors, however, declined to accept the challenge, saying, "I think she'd probably win."
And don't expect Coleman, the Atlantic Coast Conference Rookie of the Year, to join Frese dancing. Apparently, her father, long ago, tried to introduce her to the boogie, but the lesson didn't take.
"There was a father-daughter dance, I think in elementary school," Coleman said. "I didn't want to go, but he made me go. I think we danced a few times, but I'm just not big on dancing."
Seed of success
Maybe getting the No. 2 seed wasn't such a slight after all for the Terps.
The past two national championships were captured by No. 2 seeds: Connecticut in 2004 and Baylor a year ago.
"When we got here and Coach B told us to look up in the rafters and see all of the banners, for the past two years, the No. 2 seed has won the national championship," Coleman said. "That's definitely a motivation factor."