Penn women's basketball looks to roll through holidays
After three-day break, Quakers head to San Diego for Surf ‘N Slam Classic
December 11, 2011, 11:28 pm · Updated December 23, 2011, 2:25 am·
Kai Tang | DP
While most Penn students are anxiously awaiting the long winter holidays for much needed rest and relaxation, the women’s basketball team is looking at the extended break in a different light.
“It’ll be a time to put skill work into getting better as individual players, but also as a team,” freshman Kara Bonenberger said.
After their Dec. 22 meeting against Drexel (4-2), the Quakers have only three days with their families for the holidays before flying out on Dec. 26 to San Diego for the Surf ’N Slam Classic.
But don’t feel too bad for the team, as they’ll be enjoying the beautiful weather and hope to add to an already impressive 2011-12 campaign.
“It’ll be a good bonding experience,” senior captain Jess Knapp said.
The team will play UNC-Greensboro on Dec. 29 and San Diego State on Dec. 30. These teams are 2-6 and 4-4, respectively.
Although the Red and Blue have gotten off to their best ever start over seven games, they aren’t content with their 5-2 record. The ultimate goal is the Ivy championship and the team knows they still have work to do in order to achieve that.
“Our mentality plays a big role in this game,” Knapp said. “It’s a long season. If we’re not working hard everyday, we won’t get to where we want to go.”
Over the first seven games of the season, the Red and Blue have averaged 56.4 points per game. More than thirty percent of those points have been poured in by sophomore Alyssa Baron, who is averaging 18.1 points.
Freshman starter Renee Busch leads the team with 15 assists on the season, while fellow freshman Bonenberger is second on the team with 6.3 rebounds per game coming off the bench. She is also second in points with 9.7 per game and dropped a career-high 21 on Saturday against Army.
While the Quakers youth is largely responsible for their excellent play, their elder players have definitely helped steer the ship straight — a necessary facet of any young team.
Knapp has continued her ever-consistent play and leads the team with 6.7 rebounds a game. She is also second in assists and steals.
Stifling defense has always been a basic principle of coach Mike McLaughin’s philosophy with the offense as a natural progression.
This season, in particular, that mentality is finally paying off, as the Quakers have held their opponents to an abysmal .349 shooting percentage, while forcing an amazing 18.6 turnovers a game.
The Quakers are off to a good start, but it won’t be easy to keep up the good play.
“Our road is going to continually get harder from this point on but we’re getting better at the same time and we’re getting closer to [an Ivy championship] as a team.” McLaughlin said.
After New Year’s, the team will open Ivy play on Jan. 7 against rival Princeton (7-2) at the Palestra. Although the reigning Ivy League champions will be a stiff test for the young Quakers, Knapp doesn’t seem too worried.
“It doesn’t matter who we play. We’re going to put up a fight — and I think we proved that with Notre Dame.”