Women’s Basketball: Katie Terhune’s journey from dominance to development

Katie Terhune BU
Photo courtesy of BU Athletics

By: Ethan Fuller

Sixteen years after graduating from Boston University, Katie Terhune still sets her homepage to BU Athletics. Despite moving on from the Terriers, one of the greatest players to ever don scarlet and white stays keyed in on her alma mater.

“Every morning that I get up to check my email and see what’s going on, it’s one of the first things that comes up,” she said.

If Boston University women’s basketball had a Mount Rushmore, Terhune would be guaranteed a spot. The 2004 graduate is the program’s all-time leading scorer with 1,971 career points. Her name decorates the record books; Terhune ranks in the top five in career field goals, three-pointers, scoring average, free throws made and free throw percentage. Her number 15 hangs from the Case Gym rafters.

Now with an illustrious playing career behind her, Terhune has launched herself into the frenetic world of AAU basketball. As a program director of United NJ and Hunterdon Hoops, Terhune (a New Jersey native herself) helps develop the state’s next generation of hoopers.

“It’s a nice hobby for sure,” she said last week. “It’s very rewarding, and I say ‘hobby,’ but it’s something I enjoy doing.”

The recruiting scene, especially for young women, has exploded over the last twenty years. Terhune, who played numerous different sports growing up, did not “get serious about basketball” until she entered the AAU scene in her sophomore year of high school. Today the decision for young athletes often happens much earlier.

“Once they hit usually around eighth grade, [we’re] trying to explain to them how much work it takes to actually play at a Division I level,” Terhune said.

With the pursuit of college basketball comes access to resources that never were available to players twenty years ago.

“I didn’t have any online profile, recruiting services or anything like that,” Terhune said. “The recruiting world was just a lot different.”

Making BU History

A primitive recruiting world did not stop Terhune. As a 5-11 wing, she jumped right into a dominant career at BU. Joining her in a strong senior class was high-energy forward — and current Terrier head coach — Marisa Moseley, who experienced firsthand the nature of Terhune’s dominance.

“One of the things I really loved about Katie was that, even being the best player, and eventually getting her number retired, she was just one of us,” Moseley said. “There was no superstardom type of vibe about her.”

BU WBB 03
BU women’s basketball after their 2003 NCAA Tournament appearance. From left: Katie Terhune, Adrienne Norris, Margaret McKeon, former BU provost Dennis Berkey, Marisa Moseley and Katie Meinhart. Photo courtesy of Kalman Zabarsky/BU Bridge.

On the court, however, Terhune’s natural bucket-getting ability set her apart. BU ran a “Big 15” conditioning drill in practice that involved each player competing to hit 15 jump shots from the free throw line and beyond while sprinting between charity stripes. Coincidentally (or perhaps not), number 15 obliterated her competition.

“In my mind I was like, ‘I think they call it Big 15 because Katie’s number 15,” Moseley said with a laugh. “I swear Katie won it every time. She was accurate, she was competitive, she was fit — she was good.”

The Terriers went 10-19 and lost ten straight contests in Terhune’s first season. But head coach Margaret McKeon continued to recruit well, and her team continued to improve at the “blizzard” zone defense McKeon brought from Joe McKeown at George Washington University.

Terhune’s junior year saw BU break through in historic fashion. The squad knocked off Vermont in the American East semifinal, and Maine in the title game, to clinch the program’s only NCAA Tournament bid ever. Terhune averaged 17.1 points per game.

The Terriers ranked second in the 2002-03 conference preseason poll behind Vermont. Terhune attributed that standard, along with a brutal non-conference slate, to her team’s preparedness.

“High expectations typically generate added pressure, but our team rose to the occasion and conquered those expectations,” she said.

However, nothing could prepare the Terriers for their NCAA Tournament opponent: Connecticut, a college basketball titan, led in 2002-03 by the legendary Diana Taurasi and a much younger Geno Auriemma. Moseley, who attended camps with Taurasi, still calls “D” the greatest Husky ever.

“There’s nobody like D — she just was a different level,” she said.

The game was a wash. UConn clobbered the Terriers, 91-44, with Taurasi’s 21 points leading the way. At one point she splashed a three in Moseley’s face, smacked her and said, “Come on Marisa, this isn’t camp, baby.”

But Terhune would still choose that loss, against an elite program, over any other possible matchup.

“It was just great being at the Gampel Center,” she said. “Being on TV, we were a little star-struck, but when the game got going we were less so.”

Terhune and Moseley still talk frequently. And while basketball expectedly weaves its way into conversation, larger elements — family, work and life progression — have become “the most important part” of their relationship.

“I really made a friend for life,” Terhune said.

Her family caught a Terrier road contest this year and saw firsthand how “Coach Mo” continues to bring the same energy that defined her college career.

“Those players look at her the same way her teammates used to,” Terhune said.

The Next Generation

Terhune and Moseley will share a common protégé in 2024 guard and United alum Sophie Beneventine. The incoming freshman joined Terhune’s AAU program as a “little pipsqueak” in elementary school, but Terhune always saw the potential.

“It’s awesome that she gets to go to the school I attended,” she said. “That makes it truly special.”

Beneventine joins a handful of United graduates who have advanced to Patriot League squads, including current Lehigh senior Cameryn Benz. Terhune’s role in propelling these players to college includes getting AAU players as much exposure as possible through tournaments across the country. She also makes sure they understand the work and commitment required to turn a college basketball dream into reality.

“We try to mold them and instill in them a work ethic that could put them in the position to be recruited,” Terhune said.

But to Terhune, the most satisfying part of a player’s journey is not when they head off to college. Instead it’s when they choose to return home to the program to help coach and train young kids.

“We’ll watch them from little kids who can barely walk and chew gum to these responsible adults that can manage a team,” she said. “To watch these kids grow up and get past college is very rewarding.”

Terhune has been ingrained in New Jersey AAU since joining the program in 2006. But as passionate as she is about basketball, Terhune still has a full-time job — as a detective.

“It wasn’t something I had thought of much prior,” she said. “[But] now I don’t know how I didn’t grow up saying this is what I want to do. It’s a good fit for me, for sure.”

Detective work might not be the obvious parallel to basketball. However, Terhune sees many of the fundamental habits for success crossing over between both professions.

“Commitment, time management, discipline, all those founding principles of being an athlete, they apply in the real world and they definitely apply in this field,” she said.

Terhune hopes to stay connected with United. She also might be developing another generation of basketball players; her two daughters, ages four and one, have so far “taken a liking to the sport.” Terhune won’t put pressure on them to maintain the basketball tradition, saying she just wants them to be “happy and healthy.”

But basketball is in their blood, and Terhune may find the next evolution in her basketball journey catalyzed by her kids.

“It’ll be interesting to see if one of them takes to it, and then I switch roles from a player, to a coach, then to a trainer, then if I become one of those annoying parents on the sideline cheering them on,” Terhune said. “So we’ll see.”

Featured image courtesy of BU Athletics.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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