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Maryland Women Depart for Raleigh

There was little fanfare when the Maryland women departed Comcast Center this afternoon for Raleigh, N.C., where they will play Vanderbilt in a South Region semifinal on Saturday. Four television cameras filmed the players as they wheeled their gear out of the arena, into a light rain and onto the bus that will take them all the way to North Carolina. (The NCAA requires teams that are playing at a site within a 350-mile radius to use ground transportation.)

Senior Kristi Toliver was the first player on, while junior Dee Liles and redshirt freshman Anjale Barrett brought up the rear. Mark Thomas carried the bags of his wife, Coach Brenda Frese. (Twins Markus and Tyler are staying with Thomas's parents.) About a dozen athletic department employees stood outside and cheered and waved when the bus began to pull away shortly after 1:30 p.m.; they laughed when it stopped and video coordinator Mike Harness got off to run back inside. He returned moments later with a DVD of the last "Under the Shell" episode and the ESPN broadcast of last year's Maryland-Vanderbilt NCAA tournament game.

The Terrapins won that game, 80-66, in the West Region semifinals. The familiarity they have with Vanderbilt will help them prepare, but they also know that last year's result might motivate the Commodores, the Southeastern Conference tournament champion.

"I'm excited about it, it's going to give us a chance to go out with that much more energy," senior Marissa Coleman said. "They're going to come out with the mentality that this is a revenge game. That's going to be a challenge for us to come out with that much more intensity and focus."

Maryland won't have the benefit of playing in front of a large, enthusiastic home crowd, as it did in the first and second round. The two games at Comcast Center drew a total of 20,912 fans, which was easily the biggest crowd at any of the 16 sites, and was 10 times larger than the crowds at the worst-attended site, the Galen Center in Los Angeles (total of 1,978). Still, the Terrapins expect to be well supported at Raleigh's RBC Center, just as they were at Greensboro Coliseum for the ACC tournament.

"Yeah, it's been a while since we've been on the road, but Vandy is on the road, too," Toliver said. "It'll be a home environment because we're going to have so many fans there, so we feel really good about that."

Said Frese: "We have the best fans in the country. It just brings back fond memories, just Greensboro and the ACC tournament, which actually was about an hour and a half further [than Raleigh]. For the championship game, we had more fans than Duke, who was only an hour from their campus. For us Raleigh is an easy drive, and I know that for all the great fans and supporters we have, there's going to be a tremendous sea of red in the stands. That's something that's very exciting for us."

By Camille Powell  |  March 26, 2009; 2:35 PM ET
Categories:  Women's basketball  
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Comments

Good luck to the lady Terps. Win 2 for Debbie, in her sister's backyard. RIP Kay Yow.

Posted by: Barno1 | March 26, 2009 2:49 PM | Report abuse

I'll assume they are traveling in the awesome MD Terrapins black bus. Those buses look awesome heading down the highway and let everyone know whose in them - they're AWESOME - just like the women's BB team! Bring home two more wins and a trip to St. Louis! GO TERPS!!!

Posted by: TerpGrad | March 26, 2009 3:03 PM | Report abuse

I am so excited that the Terps are playing in Raleigh...and that I can go! The ACC tournament this year was the best one I've been to. Ok, probably because Maryland won. But the number of Terp fans was really impressive. I hope there's a similar turnout in Raleigh, and from what I heard after the Utah game, I think there will be. I expect it to be LOUD!

GO TERPS!

Posted by: krae-kartoons | March 26, 2009 3:31 PM | Report abuse

I'd bet dollars to donuts the Lady Terps could give their male counterparts a run for their money and would probably win.

Don't forget ya'll the Lady Terps eat kids.

Posted by: Poopy_McPoop | March 26, 2009 6:56 PM | Report abuse

I'll be among those swimming in the Red Sea of Maryland fans at RBC Center, or Comcast South.

Posted by: imterpsfan2 | March 26, 2009 8:16 PM | Report abuse

This is all very bittersweet for me because I will miss these two seniors as much as any previous Maryland players, men or women. They are so much fun to watch. People who make fun of women's basketball have never spent enough time watching. Best of luck in the tournament girls, you are awesome! Hey Washington Mystics, Kristi would look great in a Washington uniform and you need a point guard! Pull the trigger!

Posted by: georgerados | March 26, 2009 8:40 PM | Report abuse

EAT KIDS!!!

Posted by: info_stuporhighway | March 26, 2009 10:45 PM | Report abuse

They have a women's tournament too? Well I'll be...

Posted by: peterandmeredith | March 27, 2009 11:17 AM | Report abuse

Yeah, I'll be getting in a car at 6am tomorrow to follow 'em down too. I'm already wicked pumped for some of my favorite things -- breakfast at Sonic, lunch at Zaxby's, and some good solid Terp hoops action in North Carolina.

Posted by: random-adam | March 27, 2009 11:17 AM | Report abuse

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