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Maryland Women's Team Eats Kids


Marissa Coleman, eating kids. (Photos by Gail Burton - AP)

Probably because I've written so many words about men's college basketball this year, and hardly any about the women, I asked a lot of men's-vs.-women's questions after the top-seeded Maryland women pounded 16th-seeded Dartmouth in College Park today.

There are some obvious differences. I don't know of many men's teams that have lucky fingernail polish colors, for example, the way a few of the Maryland women do. (The color is black. As someone who once regularly painted his fingernails black, I completely approve.) And I'm not judging, but I've never seen a Lord & Taylor bag in a men's basketball locker room. That I can recall, anyhow.

But don't call this group soft. Because they have the most ruthless slogan I've ever heard, in any sport, at any level. Sure, when they're breaking huddles on the floor, they say normal things like "Defense!" and "Intensity!" But in the locker room?

"We say Eat Kids!" Anjale Barrett told me matter-of-factly.

Bet you never heard a John Wooden adage about that one.

So here's what happened. Back in the fall they had weekly rehearsals for their Midnight Madness dance routine. To keep the intensity up during these rehearsals, sophomore forward Emery Wallace began shouting out motivational things. A Mike Tyson quote jumped out in her mind.

"What'd he say?" she asked me. "Something about eating kids."

And thus, a motto was born.

"She's not stable," star forward Marissa Coleman pointed out about Wallace.

Regardless, that slogan became a tradition during the dance rehearsals. Then it moved inside the locker room. The players started writing it on the white board before games, underneath the three keys provided by the coaching staff. They began putting their fists together and shouting it before leaving the room. They return to the message at halftime, with Wallace tailoring her exact advice based on the first-half performance.

"She'll be like, 'We're halfway through the kids' body now, keep going,' " Yemi Oyefuwa explained. "It's not like we played bad, you already had the head, you already had the hair."

"I've heard her say, 'Get to the feet,' " Marah Strickland noted.


Kristi Toliver, having eaten kids.

And I guess you could go two ways with this once the media--or, at least, the D.C. Sports Bog--catches wind of the whole kids thing. One way would be to carefully explain that the slogan isn't literal.

"We try to stay away from THAT definition; the, you know, real definition," Strickland said. "Eat their kids is more a statement of domination. It's a metaphor.

"We're not actually eating kids," Demauria Liles agreed. "We're just dominating, we're stomping them to the ground."

"We love the kids," Barrett interjected, trying to make sure that no one believes the Maryland program to be anti-child. "it's just something that gets us motivated. We're not like Hannibal Lecter or anything like that."

And the other approach? Well, I'll just let Oyefuwa, a very civilized Londoner, speak for the other approach.

"Every month I choose a child," she told me. "Sometimes it's one from back home, sometimes it's someone from this country. You try to pick the juicy ones, the ones with nice hair, delicious ones, pretty eyes, because you know, the eyes are the best."

Ok, look, she was joking too. Everyone loves kids. And because I'm sensing that you want to read more on this topic, here's one final burst of Terp reaction to eating kids.

Marissa Coleman: "The coaches don't even know what it means. We write it on the board before every game, and they're still wondering what it means. So it's one of those trigger phrases that you can say, and the energy changes, and we get ready to play."

Brenda Frese: "I just know what they write, I don't know what it means. They won't give me an answer. I've asked. Have they given you an answer? Kids. What they come up with nowadays."

Marah Strickland: "Eat their kids is a statement of empowerment.

Kristi Toliver: "I don't really understand it, personally. I was not in the inside joke when that was going on. So I'll say it, I'll put my hand in there and say it, but as far as the meaning of it, I don't understand."

Yemi Oyefuwa: "Just because we're girls doesn't mean we're all...I mean, we are kind of prissy, but it's a sport. It's not a women's sport, it's not a men's sport; it's a sport. And if they can go hard, we can go hard as well. It's funny, it reminds us of the past, and all the memories of how we got here, but the meaning is just don't give up."

Their next meal, by the way, comes Tuesday night in the Comcast Center against 9th-seeded Utah. Hide the children.

By Dan Steinberg  |  March 22, 2009; 7:23 PM ET
Categories:  College Basketball , Terps  
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Next: Gilbert to Return Saturday?

Comments

I knew there was a reason I liked Emery Wallace; I just thought it was the dancing.

Does she ever size up Markus and Tyler and yell "GET 'N MAH BELLY"?

Posted by: info_stuporhighway | March 22, 2009 8:11 PM | Report abuse

This is without a doubt the greatest thing that has ever happened in women's basketball. "I've heard her say, 'Get to the feet,'" just brought me from laughing at to laughing with...go girls go!

Posted by: JohnnyBlades | March 22, 2009 8:59 PM | Report abuse

Yemi Oyefuwa is my new hero. As are you, Mr. Steinberg, for bringing this to light. Outstanding.

Posted by: random-adam | March 22, 2009 9:24 PM | Report abuse

Custom jerseys now available..#20 Baby Eater..#10 Lecter..#25 Juicy ones with nice hair..whatever works, go terps

Posted by: Bainsey | March 22, 2009 11:31 PM | Report abuse

Hungry Turtles.

Posted by: littles_ | March 23, 2009 2:48 AM | Report abuse

This put me over the edge and made me officially a fan of the Maryland women's team as well. (This is as opposed to a well-wisher, which I was before this season.) This is a GREAT lineup of quotes. Especially "Eat their kids is a statement of empowerment," which I hope was delivered with a poker face.

I could never read enough on this topic. I hope we will get updates on the progress of this meme throughout the tournament.

Posted by: Lindemann777 | March 23, 2009 8:32 AM | Report abuse

There were some shocking statements in this blog entry. Probably the most shocking was: "As someone who once regularly painted his fingernails black." I love how this was just throw in there unexplained.

Good stuff.

Posted by: Barno1 | March 23, 2009 10:21 AM | Report abuse

LOVE this team! I can't believe they've been doing this all season and it's just now coming out.

Wow - I just flashed back to the ACC championship game when Marissa was stomping her feet and thumping her chest after being thrown to the floor but no foul was called. At the time, I thought she was trying to motivate her team. Now I'm thinking she was just hungry: "Bring me a kid NOW! You - in the second row. Front and center."

Posted by: krae-kartoons | March 23, 2009 10:44 AM | Report abuse

You're not the only one with the nail polish, Dan. I did it too. Must be a writer thing.

Posted by: Incredulous2 | March 23, 2009 11:16 AM | Report abuse

I love the mentality and knowing that that the entire Metro area is chomping with them ought to keep the Ladies HUNGRY!!!!!!

Posted by: elbriscoe | March 23, 2009 2:26 PM | Report abuse

Just a heads-up... Jim Rome just did a 1/2 hour bit about the lady Terps "eating kids" after seeing this story.
In today's age with the 24hr news cycle, it is inevitable that word gets around fast, but this story is so out there that people from all corners of the blogosphere will take it and run.

Go Terps! stay hungry.

Posted by: madn | March 24, 2009 2:26 PM | Report abuse

WE ATE UTAH'S KIDS TONIGHT, BABY!

Bring on them tasty Vanderbilt little ones!

EAT KIDS, LADIES!

Posted by: BurgundyAndGold | March 24, 2009 10:26 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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