Familiarity breeds contempt.
Or, so the saying goes.
If there is such a thing as respectful contempt, it should be on full display tomorrow night at the Spokane Arena. The Maryland Terrapins and Tennessee Volunteers will play in the Spokane Regional final of the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament.
Two elite programs with a final four bid on the line is enough to bring out a little contempt. Contempt because the other stands in the way for a trip to Tampa, Florida. “It’s going to be a dogfight,” said Maryland’s Shatori Walker-Kimbrough.
Dogfight. Battle royal. Rumble. Pick the word and that will describe tomorrow night’s regional final. “We just want to take care of business, one day at a time. Right now, it’s a prep day, so we’re focused on preparing for Maryland. We have a great opportunity in front of us. This is what we have been working for all season,” said Tennessee’s Cierra Burdick.
All season for one game
All season comes down to one game tomorrow night. Last night’s victories were all about survive and advance. That’s what teams have to do in the NCAA tournament. But, tomorrow, the key will be focus. “It is such a fun time of the year with the tournament. You survive and you advance and it has been fun,” said Tennessee freshman, Jaime Nared. “I think if we play to the best of our abilities and focus on what we have been focusing on the whole year, we will be great. If we focus I think we will be okay.”
Focus on the court means proper preparation was done beforehand. “We have always prepared our team in regards to getting ourselves ready and in terms of playing our best basketball,” Maryland Coach Brenda Frese said.
— Maryland Women’s Basketball (@umdwbb) March 29, 2015
Reversal of 2014
The roles are reversed for these two teams this year. Terrapins are the #1 seed in the Spokane Regional while Tennessee is the #2 seed. In 2014, Tennessee was in the #1 role. Coach Frese and her #4 seeded Terps came out on top, 73-62, in a Sweet Sixteen game.
That was last year with a completely different team. “They’re two different teams, two different seasons and two different rosters,” says Coach Frese. “For us, it’s been about just coming out and playing our best game. So, that win last year doesn’t guarantee us anything moving forward.” Tennessee’s Coach Warlick agrees, “I think they lost their All-American (from last year), but I don’t think they have missed a beat. As they relied on their All-American last year, I think they’re just spreading the ball out more and more people are involved.”
Last year is in the rear-view mirror. As are last night’s games. What will happen between Maryland and Tennessee tomorrow night could be one for the ages.
With a trip to Tampa on the line, it’s a time to lay it all out on the court.
Or, so the saying goes.