During the 2015-16 season, Kristen Confroy was Maryland’s go-to spot-up 3-point shooter, setting the Terps’ all-time record for 3-pointers made in a season by a sophomore.
This year, the shot has been a little off, but Confroy has helped her team in every other way.
“Whether it’s behind the scenes or on the floor, Kristen does so many valuable things for us,” head coach Brenda Frese said. “[It] may not always show up on a stat sheet, but it helps in terms of your championship culture and your winning mentality.”
As Coach Frese pointed out, Confroy’s production hasn’t quite shown up on the stat sheet as much as it did last season. After averaging eight points per game and shooting 40.8 point percent from the 3-point range in her sophomore campaign, Confroy is averaging just 5.2 points and shooting 38.6 percent from long range this year.
Despite the decline in scoring , the Ohio native’s hustle plays have continued to make her an important part of this year’s Maryland team as it continues its run through the NCAA Tournament. Confroy is averaging 3.7 rebounds per game and has already dished out 11 more assists than she did all of last season.
“Those things are easy to me because every day you can bring that,” Confroy said. “You can rebound, you can communicate, you can get stops on defense… those are things you 100 percent get control of.”
Along with the hustle plays and the defensive intensity that Confroy has brought to the court this season, she has also taken on a leadership role as a captain. Shatori Walker-Kimbrough and Brionna Jones are the only seniors on the team, but as a junior, Confroy has made just as much of an impact in the locker room — especially considering the Terps have six freshmen on the roster.
“I think I’ve really just taken a lot of the freshmen under my wing, knowing it’s a grind of a season and not like anything I had ever done before my freshman year here,” she said. “[I like] being cognisant of what it’s like to be in their shoes and helping them through their struggles. [I] try to get the best out of them.”
However, it wasn’t the junior guard’s first instinct to become a leader this season. It took a little bit of a confidence boost from her coach, who knew her young team needed more leadership than just the two seniors.
“[Coach Frese] has been phenomenal in helping me grow as a leader and showing me the way of what it takes to really lead a team,” Confroy said. “This freshman class has been phenomenal and they want to learn, they’re willing listen [and] they don’t think that they know it all. It’s been a fun year of me growing as a leader and a basketball player as well.”
Frese, with the help of Confroy and her two seniors, has put together a veteran-led team with a winning mentality that still has young talent.
“This team loves to win [and] hates to lose,” Frese said. “They want to do everything in their power to play the game the right way and play it at the highest level. They’re a team that really plays for each other.”
Now, as the Terps head to the Sweet 16, Confroy will bring the little things and the locker room presence she has brought all season, but she will also have a 3-point shot that has started to come around in the last month. The starting guard is shooting 52.9 percent (9-of-17) from long range over her past six games.
“[I’ve] stopped thinking about it,” Confroy said. “I think a lot of times it’s tough as a shooter. You get so locked into seeing the ball go in, and when it’s not going in it’s difficult. I started pressing a little bit, trying a little too hard, I think, instead of just playing the game, and that’s what I’ve done lately. [It’s] awesome to be trending upward come March.
With Walker-Kimbrough and Jones both averaging over 18 points per game, and freshman point guard Destiny Slocum hitting buzzer-beaters from 70-plus feet away, Frese may not need a lot of scoring from Confroy. But, she will continue to be vital to this team’s championship run.
“She’s the glue,” Frese said.
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