Christie Rogers grew up in Davidsonville and played basketball at Archbishop Spalding in Severn and later at Division III St. Mary’s and Washington College.
When she was about 20 year old she was able to meet long-time Laurel resident Brenda Frese, the head coach at the University of Maryland who was recently voted the Big Ten coach of the year for the third time.
“I have so much respect for her. She put basketball on the map in my home state,” said Rogers, a former Towson University assistant who is now an assistant at Big South champion Radford in Virginia.
Rogers may be too young to remember Silver Spring resident Chris Weller, who won 499 games at Maryland for 27 years through 2002. But since taking over for Weller, Frese has taken to the Terps to the NCAA tournament 15 times in 17 years.
So how does Frese get her team ready for post-season play, moving from the Big Ten field to the NCAA event?
“I would say there is not much difference because we are trying to focus on us and Maryland basketball and what we do,” said Kaila Charles, a standout junior guard this season for the Terps. “But they really focus, like coach focuses, on reiterating and staying present and focuses on one opponent at a time. So, we had the (Big Ten) tournament; that’s over, we can’t get it back. So now we are looking forward to each game that we can get in the (NCAA) tournament.”
Frese is married to Mark Thomas, who grew up in Laurel and played football at Laurel High School. They have two sons and have lived in the Howard County portion of Laurel for several years.
The latest trip to the NCAA tourney began March 23 when the Terps won at home over Radford, the Big South champion.
The season ended two days later when the Maryland (29-5) was eliminated by UCLA, 85-80, in the second round.
Against Radford, freshman guard Taylor Mikesell had 16 points and Charles had 14 for No. 3 seed Maryland, which entered the game ranked No. 9 in the country in the Associated Press poll.
“I want to credit Maryland for having an outstanding team and having a great environment today. I think it’s great for women’s basketball,” said Mike McGuire, the head coach of Radford.
Frese has helped to create that environment, making the Terps popular entertainment for youngsters, many of whom attend games in College Park with their parents.
Mikesell had four three-pointers against Radford, giving her 94 for the season.
That is the most in a season in school history, breaking the mark held by veteran WNBA player and Washington Wizards assistant coach Kristi Tolliver. Rogers worked for the Mystics about 10 years ago.
How did Frese help Mikesell bounce back after a rough outing against Iowa on March 10 in the conference tournament?
“I think early in this game it was just instilling confidence in her,” Frese said. “She was expecting a face guard, that’s what she has seen all conference season. I thought she was rushing herself a little and I thought she started making plays off the bounce and great assists that allowed her to get back into it. But we didn’t make a big deal about to be honest. It was uncharacteristic game for her. Iowa really scouted her and we knew she was going to bounce back.”
Rogers, the Radford assistant, had several family members and friends at the game at Maryland.
They included her parents, two brothers, three uncles, two cousins, two former teammates and two of her former players at Towson. Radford won the Big South title for the first time since 1996.
“We were very excited to be here,” Rogers said after the game. “That is a top 10 team right there. They were excellent in transition. Our defense was subpar, to say the least, early on.”
Former Pallotti standout Marcquise Reed had a game-high 24 points when Clemson beat Wright State in the NIT on March 19 and he had 19 points when they were eliminated by Wichita State.
Former Laurel resident Naji Marshall had 19 points for Xavier (19-16) in an overtime loss to Texas on March 25 in the NIT.
The Howard men ended the year 17-17 after a loss to Coastal Carolina in the College Basketball Invitational (CBI) on March 20.
“We have a great group of young men,” associate head coach Keith Coutreyer wrote. He is a former head coach at Laurel High and another assistant for Howard is Sean Whalen, who grew up in Laurel and played at Pallotti.