Appearing on yesterday’s WTOP Sports Page–

One of the nice rewards covering womens college basketball is that unlike the mens game, the elite players remain for their full four years.  No “one & dones”, “two & throughs”, or even “three and outs”.  For the contending programs, it almost feels like the mens game in the 1980s when the Ralph Sampsons and Patrick Ewings played out their entire eligibility.  Programs like UConn, Notre Dame and Tennessee reload and pad stacked rosters for future tournament runs.  Over the last decade Maryland became one of those programs…which makes the departure of their most electrifying underclassman all the more difficult to take.

The University of Maryland announces that sophomore Lexie Brown has been granted a release and plans to transfer from the school.  Brown is from the Atlanta suburb of Suwannee, Georgia.  She helped lead the Terps to consecutive Final Fours as a freshman and sophomore while also leading the school to an 18-0 conference record during the program’s first season in the Big Ten.  Brown took Most Outstanding Player honors as the Terrapins won the Big Ten Tournament before averaging 11 points, 5 rebounds and 3 assists during the team’s NCAA Tournament run. For the fans in College Park who were wondering how much better the 1st team all-conference selection would get over the next two winters, the wondering ends.

“I want to thank Coach Frese, the staff and my teammates for two great seasons at the University of Maryland,” Brown said. “After talking with my family, I thought it was in my best interest to continue my education and pursue playing basketball at a university closer to my home. I truly enjoyed the friendships that I made and the outstanding support of the great Terp fans during my time in College Park.”

Brown was second on the team in scoring while leading the team in assists, steals and three-point shots made.  Her departure means that coach Brenda Frese loses her top two scorers (fifth-year senior Laurin Mincy wrapped up her eligibility at the Final Four) and now has to replace what many feel is the toughest position to replace:  starting point guard.

“We appreciate all of Lexie’s contributions these past two years to our program,” Frese said. “With two Final Four appearances, a Big Ten regular season and tournament championship, it’s been an incredible ride. We wish Lexie nothing but happiness and success in her future.”

Options for Coach Frese this fall will include redshirt senior Brene Moseley;  the Paint Branch High school product averaged 6 points and 3 assists off the bench as a freshman before missing the next year with a torn ACL.  Rising senior Chloe Pavlech stepped into the starting role after Moseley went down in 2012-13 and notched 4 assists a game playing major minutes as a freshman.  Kristen Confroy was more of a shooter off the bench this past winter as a freshman but showed the ability to handle the ball as well.

Maryland after a 34-3 record with four underclassmen starters was expected to be a Preseason Final Four pick this fall…and they should still be ranked and perhaps even a favorite to repeat as Big Ten champ.  But instead of worrying how the incoming recruits would mesh with a strong nucleus or which returning reserve forwards would make the leap, we now have our offseason question facing coach Brenda Frese and her staff.