NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Maryland’s Final Four trip took on the feel of a family reunion Saturday as former Terps stars Kristi Toliver and Laura Harper arrived at Bridgestone Arena and greeted coach Brenda Frese.
Another former Maryland star, Marissa Coleman, also was expected for Sunday’s game.
“Once I saw Maryland was going to be in Nashville, I was like, ‘Got to book it,’ “ Toliver said. “Coach B asked me if I wanted to speak to [the team] and I said, ‘Of course.’ “
Harper, a Loyola Maryland assistant coach, sat courtside and chatted with with Toliver and Frese as Maryland held an open practice at the arena. Frese’s twin 6-year-old sons, Markus and Tyler — who had their faces painted for the occasion — played nearby.
Harper and Toliver were teammates on the team that won the national championship in 2006, when Maryland last advanced to the Final Four.
Toliver recalled how most of the Terps had become ill with a stomach virus or food poisoning before the 2006 NCAA tournament regional-final victory against Utah that sent them to Boston for the Final Four.
The illness affected players, coaches and relatives. Bill Frese, Brenda’s father, remembered Saturday that he became sick during the net-cutting ceremony in Albuquerque, N.M., and ended up in the hospital. The elder Frese drove here this weekend from Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
Toliver said she never doubted she would play in the regional final, and invoked the memory of Michael Jordan’s “Flu Game” in the 1997 NBA finals.
“In my mind, it was: ‘Let’s do the MJ flu game,’ “ Toliver said.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun