Terps' Harper Finally Living The Dream
Since we're out of season, intensity-wise, in the college world, to reward you for linking over, here's a recent interview with local-girl-makes-good-at-Maryland Laura Harper that sat in the silos behind a jam of stories involving local-major-league-baseball-team-playing-well-when-Barry-Bonds-comes-to-town and local-horse-runs-good-in-the-Kentucky-Derby. :)
It appeared Tuesday in print and on Philly.Com.
By Mel Greenberg
Inquirer Staff Writer
Now that it's just over a month since Maryland won the NCAA women's basketball championship and sophomore Laura Harper was named the tournament's most outstanding player, the Cheltenham High graduate finally accepts that those events in Boston were more than a dream.
The 6-foot-4 forward, during a recent phone call from College Park, mentioned several events that have happened since the Terrapins overcame a 13-point second-half deficit to beat Atlantic Coast Conference rival Duke, 78-75, at the TD Banknorth Garden.
Harper was one of three Terrapins with 16 points in the title game. That came after she had scored a career-high 24 points in the 81-70 semifinal upset of tournament favorite North Carolina, another ACC rival.
A few days after their return to campus for a wild celebration, the Terrapins made the short trip to the White House for a presidential salute.
"That was really cool," Harper said. "Seeing Lang with President Bush and all the pictures, I definitely liked that."
Lang is Harper's teammate, sophomore Crystal Langhorne, a graduate of Willingboro High.
"Just getting congratulations from everyone, walking around and being known, seeing the game again, seeing all the posters and clippings, it's starting to be more real and less of 'Oh my God. Did this actually happen?' " Langhorne said with a chuckle.
Harper, Langhorne and the rest of the Maryland players are also scheduled to make a trip to Europe later this month that had been scheduled before the Terrapins' rise to the top of the women's basketball world.
Harper said she was "shocked" when her name was called for the MVP award after Maryland beat Duke.
"I went from not playing [most of] last year" due to a ruptured Achilles tendon injury "to MVP," Harper said. "I would have never thought I would have gotten such an honor.
"Everyone assumed Crystal was going to get it, and I was happy for her. That moment they were about to announce it, I was happy because Crystal was going to get it."
Harper, the daughter of Maria and Haviland Harper, the Central High boys' coach, said that winning a national basketball title was never an objective before she got serious about the sport.
"I played field hockey and really liked that," said Harper, who got serious about hoops when she was a junior at Cheltenham. "My thing about basketball is, I wanted to win a state championship in high school.
"My mom always had me in gyms. She knew she couldn't personally help me, but she wanted people to help me. So she threw me in gyms, threw me with trainers.
"My dad was always at practice."
Harper said Cheltenham wants her to speak at a few events, but she won't get involved until returning home from the European trip. She and Langhorne will also make a homecoming visit next season when Maryland visits Temple.
"It's a shame [Candice Dupree] won't be there," Harper said of the former Temple star who graduated this year. "But playing Temple is still pretty cool."
Although it was tough to miss most of last season with the Achilles injury, Harper said the injury was "a blessing in disguise."
"Everything always happens for a reason," Harper said. "I got stronger internally. The team got stronger without me, and coming back, I was like an addition that made the team stronger."
With an eye to the WNBA two seasons from now, Harper said she plans to work on her game this summer.
"I was happy with the overall outcome, but as far as me, I didn't get to work on personal things," she said, citing the injury. "I'm a very hard worker in the off-season. I want to work on my overall strength and quickness. I want to work on my post jumper from inside the lane.
"Those types of things can take me to another level as a player."
Contact staff writer Mel Greenberg at 215-854-5725 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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