A lot can happen in three weeks.
When Penn women’s basketball next takes to the court, three weeks will have gone by since the team’s last outing.
Last Saturday, the Quakers won a nail-biter against Richmond, 47-44, but now they’ll have a new challenge – not playing basketball.
“It’s a chance for us to take a little bit of a pause and reflect on where we are at,” coach Mike McLaughlin said. “It’s the first time we talked about a record.”
Sitting at 4-4, the Red and Blue firmly know where they sit after this early bout of non-conference play. One of the themes of those first eight games was being weak at home but strong on the road.
Penn has won all but one of its five away contests, having dropped the season opener at Duke.
Yet, the team’s three home showings have resulted in three straight losses, two of which were close games against Big 5 rivals.
This break will serve as an opportunity for the Quakers to assess their standing and make refinements over the break.
“It’s the one time we can get away from studying and get away from all the school work, so once we get in the gym we are all focused and locked in,” junior Michelle Nwokedi said. “The key is to continue working hard and challenging ourselves each and every day, and we will be successful when we get back to playing.”
Last year, McLaughlin’s side took its winter break trip to Hawaii, winning both of its games against BYU-Hawaii and Hawaii. This season’s edition will see the Red and Blue take their talents to California, where they will play CSU-Northridge and UC Riverside.
The trip presents another opportunity for Penn to impress on the Pacific coast, but it will still take some restructuring to address the team’s issues that McLaughlin hopes to remedy.
“I think we’ve left a few [games] on the table,” the eighth-year coach said. “We had some opportunities out there, probably more on our home floor. We’d love to have a couple of those games back perhaps. But we play really, really well together on the road. I think one of the things if we want to be good is we’re going to have to be much much better at home.”
Three weeks, however, is nine days longer than last year’s break in play, meaning the Quakers will have to figure out how to keep progress moving forward and utilize this opportunity.
“The momentum is something hard to keep over a long period of time,” McLaughlin said. “To keep consistency is really what we are looking for... That’s our charge. I think we’re going to put this together at some point.”
The two games over winter break will also provide the last opportunities for Penn to refine its game before Ivy play opens up on January 7 against Princeton.
When the team reunites in California to play on New Year’s Eve, the rest of the Ancient Eight will be looking at the defending champions to see just where they stand in this campaign.
With this most recent win, McLaughlin knows where his team lies and has made it clear to his players that there is room for improvement.
“They know that,” McLaughlin said. “We have to put it together.”
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