This year, Penn’s women’s basketball team has a special name for the paint.
They call it the ‘Boneyard,’ after freshman forward Kara Bonenberger.
On the court, thus far, Bonenberger has intimidated her opponents, while scoring just under eight points and grabbing six rebounds per game.
Her bruising play is the main reason she has twice been recognized as Ivy League Rookie of the Week.
When she was told about the honor, however, her true personality showed.
“We went into the locker room before practice to tell her, and we were all really excited,” senior Jordan Banks said. “And she acted like it was no big deal.”
“Her focus is on the team,” coach Mike McLaughlin added. “All she cares about is winning.”
Her humble nature is what has allowed her to adapt to the game so quickly.
Much more fast-paced than its high-school equivalent, the collegiate game forces players to be ready for the increased tempo from the get go.
“From the day she started out, Kara has shown that she’s willing to put in the work to get into shape,” McLaughlin said.
Her work ethic and her team-first mentality were just two of the traits that put Bonenberger on Penn’s radar as early as her junior year of high school.
“We recruited her pretty hard,” McLaughlin said. “She came to a lot of our games last year, and she formed good relationships with the girls on the team.”
Bonenberger fell in love with Penn’s campus, as well as the Palestra’s prestige. The fit has worked out for both sides.
Bonenberger is second on the team in scoring and rebounding, while playing almost 25 minutes per game.
While she’s off to an impressive start, Bonenberger is still making some rookie mistakes.
“All the freshman need to work on some of the little things,” Banks said. “Things like seeing a call for help, not turning her back when she’s in the low post and playing every play all the way through.”
The speed of the game was the adjustment that Bonenberger had the hardest time with.
“In high school, there’s no shot clock,” Bonenberger said. “[In college] you can’t take any possessions off.”
In her coach’s eyes, Bonenberger needs to become more aggressive to take a step to the next level. However, he understands that it’s a process.
“Her personality is more laid-back,” McLaughlin said. “But as she gets more acclimated, her game will become that much better.”
Bonenberger continues that growing process on Saturday night. She returns to the Boneyard as the Quakers (4-2) take on Army (6-4), which has lost three of its last four, at 7 p.m. at the Palestra.
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