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45 Minutes of Shell

Two years ago, John chronicled the march of the University of Minnesota women’s basketball team to the final four. That team had been shaped by its former coach, Brenda Oldfield, who turned the program around and was named national coach of the year before departing for the University of Maryland in the spring of 2002.

Oldfield (now Brenda Frese) quickly made Maryland a winner, and tonight the Terrapins defeated Utah in overtime to advance to the final four. With a number of players misfiring, freshman point guard Kristi Tolliver (playing with a stomach virus) carried the team, contributing 28 points, 6 assists and 6 three-pointers. The team’s star, Crystal Langhorne, chipped in with 18 points and 11 rebounds. Shay Doron, the outstanding Israeli shooting guard, has been in a slump all tournament and was held tonight to six points on 2-11 shooting.

I’m no expert on women’s basketball, having watched a grand total of three games this year — Maryland’s last three tournament games. I will say that (at least with Doron playing the way she is) the Terps don’t quite have the look of a national champion — yet. But with all of their top players returning next year, and all but Doran either a sophomore or a freshman, this year’s ride may only be the beginning.

By the way, the inexcusable title of this piece is based on the team’s unfortunate slogan — a riff off of Nolan Richardson’s old slogan at the University of Arkansas and the team’s turtle nickname.

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