They may be young, but they’re ready to ball.
The Penn women’s basketball freshmen are eager to add to the winning formula that has produced back-to-back Ivy League titles for the Quakers the past two seasons.
And these freshmen know just what they want to accomplish in their first year.
“Three-peat,” said Chrissy DiCindio, joining the team from West Windsor, New Jersey. “That’s obviously the main goal.”
If Penn is to achieve this feat, it must make up for the loss of three seniors, guard Kasey Chambers, forward Jackie Falconer, and center Sydney Stipanovich, who all graduated after last year.
The absence of Chambers and Stipanovich, in particular, leaves a void that must be filled, as both players started in all 30 games for the Quakers in the 2016-17 season.
Enter the five freshmen.
Joining DiCindio are Eleah Parker, Tori Crawford, Michae Jones, and Katie Kinum.
Expect each player in this well-balanced incoming class to make a contribution in one form or another.
Parker will look to establish herself as a strong presence down low at the center spot. Jones and Kinum add depth to an already talented group of guards, while Crawford and DiCindio are hoping to play significant roles at forward.
Joining a team as successful as Penn also has its added pressures, and while the young players are confident in themselves, there’s no denying that they’ll need time to grow.
“It’s definitely an adjustment,” Crawford said. “We have to get used to being freshmen and learning everything again.”
Part of this adjustment is the fact that all five will be asked to take on roles that they may not be accustomed to playing.
As is typically the case, each was a star player in high school and have, therefore, been used to carrying the load for the team.
This will not be the case for them this season, with reigning Ivy League Player of the Year Michelle Nwokedi poised to have another monster season and senior Anna Ross looking to build off her solid guard play last year.
That does not mean, however, that this new crop of five will not have a meaningful impact on the team.
Jones, for one, knows exactly what she has to do to make her presence felt.
“As a freshman, [the goal is] to improve,” the guard from Thibodaux, Louisiana said. “Don’t be the same player that you were last year; you have to keep improving every year if you want to get playing time and if you want to help out the team.”
Another thing helping the freshmen in their transition to the college level is the bond that they’ve already developed with one another.
All five live in Hill College House, which is a key reason, they believe, for their closeness.
“[Living in Hill together] has been awesome because we walk places together, we go home together, and we see each other all the time,” DiCindio said.
The freshmen are hoping that this off-court chemistry will translate on the court as well, both with one another and with their upperclassman teammates.
The older leaders on the unit have already made their mark on the up-and-coming players, according to Crawford.
“What I’ve taken from the [upperclassman] girls is that you come in and you compete everyday, and even if you’re not having the best day, you just get it together and pick it up because this is a winning program.”
This type of understanding of Penn’s winning culture is vital if the team is to improve upon its Ivy League Championship and NCAA Tournament appearance last season.
“It’s awesome to know what we can get to and what we’re trying to achieve in the future,” Kinum added. “Being a part of that is a great opportunity.”
So when the Red and Blue take the court this season, take note of the five freshmen — they'll be around for a while.
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