March 15, 2023 - March Madness

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March Madness Guide

The University of Maryland’s Independent Student Newspaper the diamondback


4 Men’s Basketball Selection sunday

5 Women’s Basketball Selection sunday

6 Brenda frese’s plan comes together

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3 Gia cooke brings flair to maryland’s handshakes
7 Jahmir Young owns return to maryland
Table of Contents 2
Maryland Women’s Basketball celebrates during the team’s 82-71 win over Illinois on Feb. 12 2023. (eric robinson/the diamondback)

Chest bumps and hair flips: Gia Cooke brings flair to Maryland’s handshakes

When Shyanne Sellers hears her name called during the announcement of Maryland women’s basketball’s starting lineup, she hands out high fives while making her way through a tunnel of her teammates before stopping in front of Gia Cooke.

Sellers and Cooke smack their hands together down low, and Cooke brushes off Sellers’ shoulders. The duo wraps up the handshake with a couple of high fives before Sellers takes her place on the court.

When the 2022-23 season began, Sellers stood in Cooke’s position. She had the job of pumping up her teammates with custom handshakes during the lineup announcement before the start of games, continuing the role she started during a few away games last season.

But when Sellers became a permanent addition to the starting lineup during the Fort Myers Tip-Off in late November, the Terps needed a new teammate to perform the handshake duties.

Others were hesitant to step into the role because of the need to remember all of the different handshakes, Sellers said. In the end, it was Cooke who volunteered for the position.

A few months later, Cooke relishes her role as one of the last people to give her teammates an energy boost before tip-off.

“We just get worked up, so I just try to be that stress reliever,” Cooke said. “I just want to give that energy off and give it to my teammates.”

At first, Cooke was concerned with her ability to remember the different handshakes, but it became easier once she put her own spin on them. Working with players such as Abby Meyers and Faith Masonius to create their handshakes convinced Cooke she could perform the job long term.

Masonius and Cooke’s hand-

shake shows off their “girly” side with synchronized ponytail flips after two high-fives.

“I just feel like that represents me,” Masonius said about the hair flip. “I feel like I am a feminine basketball player.”

Cooke loves the handshake for the same reason.

“It just feels like … you can still be super girly and still play basketball,” she said.

Cooke’s other favorite handshake is Diamond Miller’s.

Miller and Cooke meet in the air for a chest bump, a big leap for Cooke who is listed six inches shorter than Miller.

But while she has her favorites, Cooke has fun with all of the handshakes. She wants her teammates to have the same fun she has, which she tries to convey with her role in the team’s pregame preparation.

“Once I give all the energy and stuff, everybody just feeds it off, and we be lit, we be having fun,” Cooke said.

For Cooke, it’s important for her and her teammates to have fun because they have the opportunity to play basketball together and shouldn’t take it for granted, she said. Cooke has always seen herself as an energetic person and didn’t want to change herself when she

made it to the collegiate level.

Sellers thinks Cooke is doing a great job taking on the task of performing all of the handshakes. Performing the handshakes before each game “gets everyone going,” Sellers said.

“Gigi is one of the best hype men, so I feel like she just enjoys giving us energy,” Sellers said. “ Gigi is always just giving good energy.”

Chest bumps and hair flips 3
Shyanne Sellers and Gia Cooke take part in their handshake routine during the pregrame introductions leading up to Maryland women’s basketball’s 96-68 win over Iowa on Feb. 21, 2023. (cam andrews/the diamondback)

Maryland men’s basketball earns No. 8 seed in NCAA tourney, plays West Virginia in first round

Maryland men’s basketball is going dancing in its head coach’s inaugural season for the first time in program history.

Less than a year after hiring Kevin Willard, the 21-12 Terps have earned a No. 8 seed in the NCAA tournament and will take on No. 9-seeded West Virginia (19-14) on Thursday in Birmingham, Alabama.

“Your first one is really important for a lot of reasons,” Willard said. “One of the main reasons is you have a lot of kids that haven’t been here before, so their reaction and their emotions and their feelings [are] great, it’s awesome. It’s great momentum for the program moving forward.”

The Terps haven’t taken on the Mountaineers since 2015, when they played them in the round of 32 of the NCAA tournament, and have played them just twice in the 21st century.

Maryland hasn’t defeated West Virginia since 1991.

Should the Terps advance, they would likely face a rematch of 2021’s NCAA tournament second round game against No. 1 seed Alabama. Maryland fell 96-77 to the then-No. 2 seed Crimson Tide in the last matchup between the two teams.

Willard has immediately helped turn the Terps around after they suffered their first losing regular season since 1993. Maryland was voted to finish 10th in the Big Ten preseason poll but earned a No. 6 seed in the Big Ten tournament before defeating bottom-seeded Minnesota in the second round and falling to No. 3 seed Indiana in the quarterfinal.

The Terps are one of eight teams from the Big Ten in this season’s NCAA tournament.

Maryland got out to a historic 8-0 start in Willard’s inaugural campaign

and went 9-2 in nonconference play, with the Terps’ only losses coming against ranked teams in UCLA and Tennessee. Maryland went 11-9 in Big Ten regular season contests, winning all 10 of its home games in conference play.

Willard made the national tournament in six of his last seven seasons at Seton Hall, but has never taken a team past the second round. The Terps haven’t reached the Sweet 16 since 2016.

The coach will hope to change his new team’s recent fortunes in postseason play.

“It’s been an unbelievable journey so far because this is such a great program with unbelievable alumni,” Willard said. “… This team has been so fun to coach in my first year. They’ve just given me everything that they’ve had.

So it’s been a whirlwind, but it’s been fantastic.”

mens bball selection 4
Maryland men’s basketball coach Kevin Willard stands courtside during the team’s 66-55 win over Indiana on Jan. 31, 2023. (rohan pandit/the diamondback) Maryland men’s basketball regroups during the team’s 71-66 win over Illinois on Dec. 2, 2022. (cam andrews/the diamondback)

Maryland women’s basketball earns No. 2 seed in NCAA tournament

women’s basketball is ready for March Madness.

“This is just all our hard work,” Diamond Miller said. “We’ve worked hard every game to try and get better and that was super exciting and super rewarding that we got a two seed.”

second rounds of the tournament at Xfinity Center next weekend. Maryland will play Holy Cross on Friday and if they move on will face the winner of Arizona or West Virginia.

The Terps are one of seven teams from the Big Ten conference in this year’s tournament. Other conference opponents in the big dance include No. 1 seed Indiana, No. 2 seed Iowa, No. 6 seed Michigan and No. 3 seed Ohio State.

the top-16 seeds, including two of the No. 1 seeds. The team’s seven wins over ranked opponents and four wins over top 10 opponents have shown its ability to compete with the best in the country.

Last year’s team earned a No. 4 seed and fell in the Sweet 16 to Stanford. After their season ended, the Terps lost four of their five starters to graduation or the transfer portal. Frese rebuilt with five transfers and four freshmen.

After a nonconference schedule featuring three top-10 teams and battling in the Big Ten conference, Maryland

After losing in the Big Ten Tournament semifinals, the 25-6 Terps earned a No. 2 seed in the NCAA tournament. They’ll host the first and

“Although it’s hard when you’re actually going through the 18-game conference slate, I mean it absolutely prepares you for now and for March,” coach Brenda Frese said. “We love that we’ve already faced those battles and we feel like we’re more than prepared.”

Maryland has played against six of

“It’s definitely crazy to think a program that loses all those people and has nine new people coming [earned a two seed],” Faith Masonius said. “I think we exceeded our expectations.”

Despite a rough start with losses to DePaul and Nebraska early in the season, the Terps found their rhythm in the new year to finish the regular

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Maryland women’s basketball leaves the court after the team’s 96-68 win over Iowa on Feb. 21, 2023. (cam andrews/the diamondback)

What happens when a plan comes together? Look at Maryland women’s basketball.

Briggs, a Florida transfer working her way back from a fractured shin and Emma Chardon, a rising sophomore who played sparingly in her first year.

“Last year we all know was a tough year, personally and professionally,” Frese said. “So to have all the changes … from our staff’s end, when we were looking at one point with seven, eight players on the roster, it was pretty daunting in the spring. You can ask my husband and my family.”

short of her season high — to go with five assists and three steals. Pinzan ran the point and also had a pair of steals. Sellers nearly had a triple-double with 17 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists.

And there was the pair of Briggs and Alexander, who combined for 43 points off of the bench. Briggs had 19 points and five rebounds, but her biggest contribution came on the defensive side of the ball. For most of the evening, the Utah native guarded Caitlin Clark and held her to her second lowest scoring game of the year.

Iowa coach Lisa Bluder has a lot in common with her Ohio State counterpart, Kevin McGuff. Both have teams that have been ranked in the top 10 this season. Both have helped transform the Big Ten into one of the toughest conferences in the nation. Both have won more than 67 percent of their career games as head coaches.

Both have also suffered blowout losses to Maryland women’s basketball in College Park.

The Terps blasted the Hawkeyes 96-68 on Feb. 21, and thrashed the Buckeyes by 36 in early February. The Ohio State win was No. 7 Maryland’s largest win ever over a top 10 opponent. Against the Terps, Iowa gave up its most points and scored its fewest points this season.

“This team has won eight straight games at home and including top 10 wins against UConn, Ohio State and Iowa. So just putting in a really complete resume peaking at the right time going into the tournament,” coach

Brenda Frese said. “I mean, this team’s gonna go down as a really special group.”

To understand the elation around the Iowa win, go back to where the program was last spring. Frese’s squad was coming off of its worst-ever performance in the Big Ten tournament, failing to reach the final for the first time since joining the conference in 2014, and crashed out of the NCAA tournament in the Sweet 16 after falling to Final Four-bound Stanford.

All-conference players Ashley Owusu and Angel Reese and role player Mimi Collins transferred shortly after. The exodus from College Park continued with the graduations of Katie Benzan and Chloe Bibby, and the only returning starter, Diamond Miller, had knee surgery in April.

Left on the roster were Faith Masonius, a rising senior who tore her ACL in January 2022; rising sophomore Shyanne Sellers, who averaged just 7.7 points per game last season; Lavender

Frese brought in reigning Ivy League Player of the Year and Maryland native Abby Meyers, Vanderbilt’s leading scorer Brinae Alexander and South Florida’s starting point guard Elisa Pinzan in the offseason.

After fall workouts, Frese had to decide on a starting lineup. It took some tinkering, but she finally landed on Sellers, Miller, Meyers, Pinzan and Masonius. The final member had started just one game in her career.

The team formed an identity as the season progressed: Play fast, share the ball, limit turnovers and get in the other team’s face.

Many overlooked the Terps, Frese said. Maryland was ranked fourth in the Big Ten preseason coaches ranking — but it defied expectations en route to a 20-win season with four wins over top 10 opponents.

“To see the right pieces come together and fit and then to buy into a whole new system has been pretty incredible,” Frese said.

They fit perfectly Feb. 21 at Xfinity Center.

Meyers grabbed nine rebounds, two

“It feels great to finally have a game like this after I feel like I’ve been working hard,” Briggs said. “I’ve had a hard season, so it just feels good.”

Alexander, who said she loves being here, regained her scoring touch. After shooting 15 percent from three in the eight games before the Feb. 21 matchup, she made six of nine attempts versus Iowa and finished with a gamehigh 24 points, just two short of her career best.

“I was due for a good shooting game,” Alexander said. “But also at the same time, I think my defense fuels my offense, and I really try to, when shots aren’t falling, that’s one thing I can keep consistent.”

Their performance is also a credit to Frese. The coach lost two stars in the offseason but reloaded her roster. She got her players to accept new and occasionally less-glamorous roles for the team to have collective success.

The results are clear — the Terps overwhelmed the sixth-ranked team in the country. They’re not done either.

“Letting them enjoy it tonight,” Frese said. “But then, this is our three games in seven days the second time around. So just understanding what it takes to come back down from that and being ready to finish this out.”

WBB Has a plan. 6
Brenda Frese celebrates during Maryland women’s basketball’s 96-68 win over Iowa on Feb. 21, 2023. (cam andrews/the diamondback)

Once overlooked, Jahmir Young returned to Maryland and made it his

Fear rarely crept into Jahmir Young’s heart. The dynamic guard punished and slithered through opposing defenses like almost no other at his position in the Big Ten. Then UCLA made the cross-country trip.

The Bruins, who will join the Big Ten in about a year, interrupted Maryland’s offensive rhythm with consistency. Young turned over the ball four times in the game’s first 10 minutes.

UCLA jumped out to a 29-point lead at halftime. Young and other’s turnovers boosted The Bruins, who romped to a comprehensive victory in front of Young’s family and friends. For the first time in his then-96game college career, the guard failed to convert a single shot from the field.

After the game ended, Young walked back onto the court alone. He said he needed to clear his mind, and he went back to work.

But the frustration hadn’t ended yet. Young dribbled and shot like the Bruins still shadowed him and bounced a few balls off the rim. After a pull-up jumper clunked off the rim yet again, he turned away and yelled in frustration.

He had already elevated Maryland to colossal highs. His dramatic dagger against Big Ten foe Illinois with seconds to go sent the Terps to an 8-0 start in the Kevin Willard era, but adversity struck 12 days later.

Maryland suffered its largest ever loss at Xfinity Center against UCLA. Fans left but Young stayed and used his competitive fire to work toward coming back to inflict consistent pain on his foes — overcoming the rare occasion in which an opponent erased his impact.

He’s typically hard on himself and it showed with his sweat after the buzzer. A tight family bond armed him to face the disappointment of losing out on earning a spot at his dream school, something that forced him away from home until a new coach prompted his return.

The UCLA loss was one of many bouts of adversity Young would overcome. It wouldn’t stall his basketball journey.

A familial drive

The Maryland point guard displays an unwavering and stern on-court demeanor. But anywhere else, his behavior unveils a person much unlike his playing persona.

Those closest to Young describe him as soft-spoken, silly and caring. He cherishes his family, a close-knit group. He has three siblings: Daesha Young, 20, Jabari Young, 18 and Nylah Young, 14. Their mother, Iesha Brewster-Young, helps teach children with disabilities in Prince George’s County.

“There was never any competition between [the siblings],” Brewster-Young said. “They always loved each other.”

Young is especially close with his youngest sister. Nylah Young plays on the same Takeover AAU team that he did and the Maryland point guard takes time out of his schedule to train Nylah Young and attend her practices.

“He inspires me to play basketball,” she said. “He’s more like a father figure to me, and he looks over all of our siblings to make sure we’re good.”

Without his father, Young felt he had to take on the “man of the house” role and mature quickly. Nylah

Young took inspiration from him in basketball — a player who drenched himself in the game from a young age too. His athletic gifts — his mother described him as “a child that could ride a bike with no training wheels,” — spurred him into first playing basketball at the Bowie Boy’s and Girl’s Club at seven years old.

“He loved it,” Brewster-Young said. “Jahmir has always been very, very competitive and an extremely hard worker. From early on, I knew sports was going to be his interest.”

One of Young’s mentors was his uncle, rapper Dave East. East, who has worked with 2 Chainz, Pusha T, Nas and Lin-Manuel Miranda,also played college basketball at Richmond and Towson. He played against Kevin Durant and Greivis Vásquez in AAU. Young has tried to emulate him, both in his goal to mentor those younger than him but also by using his success to take care of his family.

“[Being a role model] it’s something that I enjoy, just being able to take them under my wing, trying to set a good example for them on and off the court,” Young said. “It’s something that I take pride in.” High school success and challenges

Young left his first high school St. Mary’s Ryken because his coach, Patrick Behan, left for his current job at St. John’s. Young knew then-DeMatha coach Mike Jones through attending his basketball camps at a young age.

“[Young was] always a dominant player, but never said too much,” said Jones, who is now a men’s basketball associate head coach at Virginia Tech. “A lot of the young kids ran their mouths a little bit talking trash, [Young] never really got into that. He just wanted to play.”

Jones described Young as one of the best rebounding point guards he had ever coached.

Despite playing on a team that included Michigan’s Hunter Dickinson, Villanova’s Justin Moore and Bryant’s Earl Timberlake, Young started every game he played for Jones. His AAU team included Dickinson, Duke’s Jeremy Roach, North Carolina’s Armando Bacot and several other Power Five commits.

Those talented players overshadowed Young. He didn’t start for Team Takeover and some college coaches shied away from him because of his 6-foot-1 height. He only averaged about four points per game in AAU during 2018.

“I’ve been around talented players my whole life,” Young said. “It elevated my level of play also — growing up playing with guys like Justin Moore and Hunter Dickinson, seeing them get high-major [offers], I knew I would slip through the cracks and eventually somebody [would] take their shot on me.”

Young didn’t receive national attention until a 16point performance in the championship game at Nike Peach Jam, a highly-acclaimed part of the Nike EYBL circuit, during his junior year. That’s when Charlotte and numerous other colleges reached out to him — Maryland wasn’t one.

“[Former Maryland coach Mark] Turgeon wasn’t interested in him, so we moved on,” Brewster-Young said.

Charlotte coach Ron Sanchez, then an assistant coach

at Virginia, said he frequented DeMatha but didn’t think Young could play in the ACC. But when he became the 49ers head coach, he made the guard his first recruit. Flourishing at Charlotte

Young started his collegiate journey pissed off.

At least, that’s what Jones said. It’s not that he wasn’t grateful for the opportunity Sanchez had presented him — he reveled in it. But Young, according to a few people close to him and obvious in his pride for the current letters on his jersey, never saw himself outside of the Terps’ red, black and gold.

“He always wanted to go to Maryland,” Jones said. “He always saw himself as a hometown kid and wanted to put that hometown on his jersey across his chest.”

North Carolina felt far and unfamiliar. Young’s family could no longer easily travel to a game.

“We would drive down, go to the games, and then go to his apartment, take a nap, and then drive back,” Brewster-Young said.

His family couldn’t be as routinely involved in his life, and at first, the texture of the new environment sanded down Young’s spirit.

“The first semester was hard,” Brewster-Young said. “The people in Charlotte were great, but it was different than the DMV. He was really trying to get used to it and make coach Ron Sanchez proud.”

Despite the emotional hardship Young experienced early on at Charlotte, it didn’t seem to affect him on the court. He played in 29 games and averaged double-digit points with over five rebounds a game. The guard was named Conference USA freshman of the year.

If Young longed for home, it didn’t show in his play.

Sanchez felt the special bond he and Young had gave him the confidence to trust Young with the ball early on in his career.

“You have to give Young a lot of credit,” Sanchez said. “The one thing that he’s always done since he’s been here was put in the time to get better.”

Young jumped to a first-team Conference USA spot the next season after averaging 18 points per game. He earned the accolade again as a junior. One of Young’s personal highlights in his final season at Charlotte was a 27-point, nine-rebound and four assist game against Wake Forest — a performance that proved he could perform against Power Five competition.

“He was really, really good for us against some really good competition,” Sanchez said.

But Young never quite forgot about the separation from his family. In the rare moments he got with them, he would run on the track with his mother and little sister. Sanchez called it a “unique and nice dynamic” they had together.

But the distance proved too great and the guard planned to find a way to get closer to them through the transfer portal.

Maryland finally came calling. Young kept in communication with Sanchez about the process despite any potential awkwardness resulting from the departure and said he left Charlotte due to “business reasons.”

“I’m so thankful that he spent the time that he spent here with us,” Sanchez said. “And if my role in his bas-

ketball journey was to help him get to the Big Ten and be the best player that he can be in the Big Ten, then I’m thankful to have played that role in his life.”

A return home

Young returned to the DMV and had his family back within reach. Maryland coach Kevin Willard nabbed his first critical transfer player to tie together a roster with two key veterans in Hakim Hart and Donta Scott, along with the returning Julian Reese.

Young found relief in the stage and jersey he felt like he belonged in. Brewster-Young said his first game with Maryland brought a weight off the guard’s shoulders.

“It’s like a dream come true, really, just being able to be up the street from where you grew up from,” the guard said.

He watched and looked up to Maryland guards like Vasquez, Anthony Cowan and Melo Trimble. Now Young had to process trying to fill their same roles — a task he fulfilled admirably.

“Usually when you jump conferences [there’s] a drop-off,” Young said. “It’s more like a mental side to it. It’s really the same basketball.”

The guard contributed to Maryland’s success immensely in their fast start, but his game-sealing three against Illinois on a national stage sent the Terps to 8-0 on the season. His mother said Young’s grandfather made a poster with a picture of his shot on it.

Maryland was ranked No. 13 in the AP poll not long after.

A few games later, UCLA came to College Park. Young struggled and the Terps dropped out of the AP poll days after. It wasn’t until after two non-conference games and further struggles, now against Michigan and Rutgers, that Young truly rebounded.

He shredded Ohio State for 30 points and 11 rebounds, tying his career-high in scoring. The game was one of a bevy of dominant performances from Maryland’s top-scorer. Before Young’s senior day, Willard reflected on his impact on the program.

“Jahmir Young has been instrumental in helping get this program back to where we want to get it,” Willard said in a team Twitter video. “Not only has he been humble even on the court, but most importantly, he’s been someone that, as a staff, we can depend on to help us recruit, to help young guys, to help this program get better every single day.”

The guard later dropped 18 points, three rebounds and two assists on his senior day against Northwestern. 42 of Young’s friends and family watched him take what could potentially be his last game at Xfinity Center. He still has his extra year of eligibility due to COVID-19 left, if he decides to use it.

His mother and sister always marveled at how the point guard can switch on his playing persona — an athletic guard that will drive in the paint against anyone, a beast, as Nylah Young says — and manage to switch off for his family.

Finally, after the roses, tears and sweat, Young departed the court he’d dreamed of playing on, the setting for many of his finest moments as Maryland’s lead guard.

Jahmir Feature 7