Associate Head Coach, Karen Blair, will step in for Brenda Frese

COLLEGE PARK, Md. (WDVM) – The Maryland Terrapins will travel to Columbus, Ohio without their head coach, Brenda Frese, after the school announced she is back with her family is Cedar Rapids, Iowa to mourn the death of her father.

Bill Frese passed away after a long battle with prostate cancer, as the news was shared before Maryland’s game against Michigan on Sunday.

“He’s my heart,” Brenda Frese said of her father, after coaching against Michigan. “I think a big piece of who I am obviously as a coach and motivating, and he’s always been that.”

Associate Head Coach, Karen Blair, will step in for Frese this Thursday, as the Terrapins prepare for #25 Ohio State. She shared the last few days since Sunday have been hard on the team.

“We’re all thinking about Coach Frese and her family,” Blair said Wednesday afternoon. “We know how important her dad was and what a great work ethic and great legacy he leaves behind. We’re happy she’s able to take this time to be with her family and to be there, and that’s the most important thing.”

Blair has had stints coaching at Colgate, Virginia Commonwealth, Southern Methodist, and North Texas to name a few; joining the Terrapin staff under Coach Frese in 2018. She says it’s a testament to Coach Frese for building a program centered around family, preparing them for moments like this.

“I don’t know if there is another coach in the country that’s better at mentoring her staff and preparing us.” said Blair, ‘So she’s prepared us for this moment. She allows us to be able to coach, and be very vocal in practice, and have a part in this program. And that’s why we all love being here, and for us its our turn now to step up for Brenda. That’s what we want to do for her.”

Maryland will have to battle against Ohio State on Thursday, who boast the Big Ten’s top offense, scoring 83 points per game. The Buckeyes are bolstered by junior Jacy Sheldon, and senior Taylor Mikesell, who previously played for the Terrapins before transferring out. Both average over 18 points per game this season.

“We were so out of character in that last game, the amount of turnovers that we had.” said Blair, pointing to the team’s struggles in the 69-49 loss to Michigan on Sunday. “In the halfcourt we’ve got to be able to value the ball. We’ve been working on that, cleaning up some things…Maryland basketball is about running, we’ve got to be more diligent, in trying to do what we do well. And that’s getting the ball out quicker, and getting running, and having fun.”

Blair also served as Head Coach for the Terrapins in two exhibition games during the 2021-2022 season. But for her, and the rest of the team, she acknowledges that this game will go beyond looking for a redeeming win for the program.

“Our job is to make the Frese family proud.” said Blair, “For what Bill [Frese] stood for, he was a guy that packed his lunch pail everyday and he went to work. That’s what he did, that’s what he’s instilled in his children, and that’s why Brenda has built this program in Maryland to be a family, around hard work. That’s what our focus is going in there, to honor that legacy.”

The Terrapins tip off at 6pm on Thursday against Ohio State.