A familiar face has found its way onto the bench in College Park, Maryland as Brionna Jones was announced last week as the newest member of Brenda Frese’s staff.
Jones will join in a new capacity for Maryland, and herself, the Director of Player Personnel.
“I feel like my role is more to just be a mentor for the players,” says Jones.
“Give them all my insight, experience, as a player at Maryland and a professional athlete… whatever they need from me, whether that’s on or off the court being a resource for them.”
Jones currently stars for the Connecticut Sun, but missed the majority of this past WNBA season with an Achilles injury. She’ll continue working on rehabbing and preparing for next season while with the Terps. Injuries suck, point blank, but the time off the court opened Jones’ eyes to new opportunities and perspectives, key in pushing her to further impact the program she starred for in her home state.
Re-joining the Sun later in the season on the sidelines for games, she took in games in a new way. When she was at home watching games on her couch and resting, it was harder for her; she could see things play out, but she couldn’t point that out to her teammates. Back on the bench in Uncasville, she could find small pockets to impact the game through what she was seeing, talk things through with teammates, and be an extra pair of eyes and ears.
“It led me towards wanting to take this opportunity (with Maryland) and get the insight for coaching,” Jones said. “Even though it does suck to be out, I’m trying to make the most of it and do what I can to learn and get better. Being able to work with this team and work under Coach B (Frese) is definitely going to help me be a better player as well.”
So excited to get to work with this group! https://t.co/bxIYaoFlrl
— Brionna Jones (@_bjones18) October 25, 2023
Coaching herself has already given her a deeper understanding and appreciation for what her coaching staff does. She’s working to learn how to clip games and use Sportscode, a software program that’s essentially a coding program to break down film; you tag plays, players, what’s happening and it builds out a database that makes it simpler to pull something quick.
You want a pick-and-roll from Shyanne Sellers on the left side of the court where she pulled up and made it? Cool, that’s all set and tagged.
“I’ve seen people do it, and I’m like, ‘You guys make it look so easy, so I just want to learn how to do it to see how it actually is,'” says Jones with a laugh.
It’s exciting to be back home, says Jones, but also a weird feeling at times.
She’s in the same facilities, same town, with the same program, but the role is so different. She’s been graduated for a short time (2017), but players on roster are telling her that they watched her at Maryland growing up. The staff is different; Frese and Director of Video, Joe Glowacki, are the only constants from Jones’ senior season (Glowacki was an assistant with Towson last season, but re-joined Maryland this summer).
While her role is defined on the court with the Sun, defining her own role within the staff has been a learning curve thus far, but is one Jones is embracing.
“It’s a great staff and they’re so quick with it…being able to understand what they want and be able to relay that, but when I’m thinking things, also finding ways to interject myself,” jones said. “Just learning how to get my thoughts out there and understanding what they want from the team and what they’re asking, so that’s been a different balance.”
She’s on the same court; 94 by 50 is the same no matter where you go, but her spot just a few feet over on the bench has been an adjustment.
“I’ve caught myself a few times,” Jones said. “We had our exhibition game the other day (a win over East Carolina) and I would like dap up everybody and walk towards the players huddle and was like, ‘Ohp, nope!”
Warm-ups and shootaround are replaced by pregame coaches meetings. She’s pouring over extra film, personnel, and reshaping how she gets her mind right before tip.
A first look at @_bjones18 back on the court in Maryland 😍
— Connecticut Sun (@ConnecticutSun) October 30, 2023
But, the preparation that’s made her a great pro, something instilled in her under Frese as a player, will undoubtedly translate to her coaching. She gives a great deal of credit to Frese and Maryland as a whole for how it built her up and prepared her for the next level. Sports psychologists, nutritionists, state of the art training rooms, and high standards across the board set the table on the court, but Jones recalls fondly so much of what prepared her off the court to be out of college.
“She helped us be adults,” Jones said. “They’d put in place that we had to take care of our rent as a college student, and I don’t know if you get that everywhere. Getting back into the real world when you graduate, you’re ready for all that… it makes you aware of all these things. If you don’t pay your rent that’s on you! It’s your responsibility, like yeah, we can go back and fix it, but it’s different when it hits what’s in your pockets.”
Jones is remarkably accomplished in the States and across the globe, where she’s starred overseas, most recently in Prague alongside fellow former Terp and teammate with the Sun, Alyssa Thomas. This is her first season since getting drafted to the W that she won’t be playing overseas, and while that’s a new journey to embark upon, she’s prepared for it, giving back to the program that helped her reach the heights she has.
The Maryland Terrapins take on the Harvard Crimson on Monday, November 6th at 7 p.m. EST in College Park at Xfinity Center. Be sure to tune in as Jones and the Terps tip off their new season and look to build upon a strong 2023 campaign.