Terp of the Week: Alyssa Thomas
Jan. 12, 2013
COLLEGE PARK, Md. - Each week during the 2012-13 season a Maryland student-athlete, who has shown excellence on and off the playing field, will be selected as the Solomon Eye Associates Terp of the Week. This week's Solomon Eye Associates Terp of the Week is Alyssa Thomas from the women's basketball team. The 2012 ACC Player of the Year averaged 17.5 points and 15.5 rebounds in the Terps' games at No. 15 North Carolina and vs. No. 19 Florida State.
By Taylor Smyth | Media Relations Assistant
Early in a tight second half against No. 24 Miami, Alyssa Thomas retrieved a loose ball, and while still prone on the floor, fired a bullet pass to a cutting Tianna Hawkins. After Hawkins laid the ball in, Thomas flashed a confident, knowing smile towards her bench.
It would not be Thomas' only smile of the night as the junior poured in 18 points, along with five assists and eight rebounds, in Maryland's dominating 84-62 victory over the Hurricanes. However, when asked about her sparkling performance, Thomas did not focus on her offensive production.
"I think I could tighten up my defense," Thomas said. "I really could be a better on-ball defender."
Thomas could be forgiven for some struggles on the defensive end. A First Team All-American last season as just a sophomore, her consistent offensive output, combined with the emergence of Hawkins, has paced the 12-3 Terrapins.
But it hasn't all been easy for the junior. In two early season defeats to St. Joseph's and No. 2 UConn, Thomas shot a combined 8-38 from the field. Since the UConn loss, Thomas has noticed her teammates adjusting to their roles and subsequently becoming more comfortable on the floor.
Part of Thomas' role this year has extended beyond her play on the court. With freshmen Chloe Pavlech, Tierney Pfirman and Malina Howard forced into action after a rash of injuries, Thomas has embraced the role of a mentor to Maryland's productive, but inexperienced, newcomers.
"They know what to do," Thomas said. "We've just got to boost them up and make them know they should take open shots. We've just been giving each other confidence. The freshmen have been put in roles really early, and we've just tried to build them up. Now we're playing team basketball."
Named ACC Player of the Year as a sophomore, Thomas has seen increased defensive pressure from opponents this year. As a result, the Harrisburg, Pa. native has embraced the role as a playmaker for the Terrapins. At times serving as a point-forward, Thomas is averaging a career high 5.2 assists per game.
"Teams key-in on me" Thomas said. "I just look for the open player because if two people are playing me, somebody has to be open."
Her ability to adapt to these aggressive rotations and double teams helped Thomas notch the second triple-double in Maryland women's basketball history. Her 11 points, 13 rebounds and 11 assists keying a 90-40 win over George Mason last month.
"I love being a playmaker," Thomas said. "I love giving my teammates easy baskets."
With an Elite Eight appearance and an ACC Championship already under her belt, Thomas is ready to push the 2012-2013 Terrapins deep into the postseason. Whether it's through scoring, creating shots for her teammates or even playing better defense, as long as the success comes, Alyssa Thomas will be all smiles.