Junior Alyssa Thomas received another preseason award last week when she was named to the Associated Press Preseason All-American team.
Last season's ACC Player of the Year, Thomas is used to getting national attention. Along with senior Tianna Hawkins and junior Laurin Mincy, Thomas was also named to the Preseason All-ACC team.
“It's a huge honor,” Thomas said. “It's a lot of people in the ACC and to be one of the people on that list is definitely a huge honor and I couldn't be happier.”
Thomas earned the honors by leading the Terrapins to the Elite Eight in last season's NCAA Tournament, and topping the ACC in scoring at 17.2 points per game as a sophomore. This year, the 6'2” forward will be expected to increase her leadership role on a team with limited depth.
“Being a leader and setting an example for the freshmen is just crucial, and they look to you for advice and answers when they're struggling,” Thomas said. “We've been in their predicament and to see what I've done in the ACC, I know that I can give them little tidbits on what helped me get through the ACC.”
With sophomore guard Brene Moseley's season-ending knee injury, this year's team is down to ten players, meaning everyone will have to contribute. Freshmen Chloe Pavlech, Malina Howard and Tierney Pfirman will play larger roles than they may have expected, but Thomas thinks they're ready.
“We're expecting great things from the freshmen,” Thomas said. “They've been working really hard; they got here early in the summer, they've been here since Summer 1, so they've transformed their bodies and are really prepared for this year.”
Besides freshmen stepping up, Thomas also said fitness will be a crucial aspect to overcoming the team's depth issues.
“We've just got to be smart,” Thomas said. “Take care of our bodies, get our sleep, eat right, because we are short in numbers this year, but I don't think that's going to be a factor for us if we take care of the little things.”
“They just established fitness here and just being in shape,” Thomas added. “I feel like everyone has bought into the system with the nutrition and conditioning level and it shows on the court, it showed last year when it came down to tough games, and being who can play forty minutes. It's very crucial that we're in shape and have the best nutrition.”
At the end of the day, the Lady Terps will need Thomas to not only continue her success from last season, but build on it. The Pennsylvania native said she's adding to her game to make sure the team can get further in the postseason.
“I've really tried to increase my range this year and get more of an efficient three point shot,” Thomas said. “And this year I really want to be a lock-down defender so I've been really focusing on my defensive stance and just trying to tweak those little things.”