Penn women's basketball taking it one step at a time
Sophomores Meghan McCullough and Alyssa Baron lead improving team into Rider matchup
November 18, 2011, 12:56 am·
Pete Lodato | DP
After opening the season with a victory over St. Francis on Sunday, Penn’s women’s basketball will continue to take it one game at a time.
“We’re still getting used to each other, but we’re getting closer,” sophomore starting point guard Meghan McCullough said. “Coach wants us to feel more comfortable on the court.”
Although coach Mike McLaughlin sensed a lack of chemistry at times in his team’s first game, he was still content with Sunday’s outcome.
“Anytime that we find a way to win at the end, it’s always a good thing,” McLaughlin said. “As a coach, though, there’s obviously things we can improve upon.”
Saturday’s game against Rider (2-0) at the Palestra will be the team’s next opportunity.
Last year against the Broncs, the Quakers (1-0) went to New Jersey and handled business with relatively little rebuff, winning, 60-45.
In that game, then-freshman McCullough led all scorers with 17 points. She grabbed five rebounds and was dead-eye from the three-point line, shooting 4-for-4.
And though she had, by all accounts, a successful freshman campaign, she knew that it’d be necessary to put in work and grow as a player over the summer to continue on her upward trajectory.
“This summer, I had to work on a few things: strength, speed,” McCullough said. “I did, and coming in sophomore year is a lot better because we’re all so much more comfortable.”
As a starting sophomore, she will be called upon to be a leader amongst a large group of freshmen. Thus far, she seems content with what they are bringing to the table.
“The freshmen are doing great, they’re all contributing,” McCullough beamed. “Each one comes in and does whatever the team needs to play better.”
“The freshmen did well for their first game; it’s never an easy transition. There’s a lot going on, you’re excited, you’re anxious, you’re nervous, all those emotions and then trying to perform.”
Another sophomore who will be consistently called on to lead this team is reigning Ivy and Big 5 Rookie of the Year Alyssa Baron.
And after dropping 27 points in the first game of the season, it’s safe to say she’s picking up right where she left off.
“She did some really special things last game and just willed us to the win with those big shots,” McLaughlin said.
Although Baron had to deal with questions about shot selection from time to time last year, McLaughlin feels comfortable with her progress and the role she’ll play on the team this year.
“Her role will of course be to score the ball, but I hope she can grow as a defender every day as well,” he said. “We want her to be that all-around player.”
For the young Quakers, their success depends on the continued growth of all players. Rider will be a test, as they too are bringing back a veteran team — that’s also undefeated — to oppose the Red and Blue.
“It’s good being young,” McCullough said. “Our team is exciting. The next few years are all uphill for us.”