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The Penn women's basketball players said they are sad to see Soriero leave but agree this is the best move for her future. Last Wednesday, Penn women's basketball coach Julie Soriero surprised her athletes by announcing that she will resign after the completion of the 1998-99 season. After the shock subsided, the Quakers were not only able to focus on Saturday's game at Bucknell -- which Penn won 56-53 -- but the players were also able to put Soriero's decision into perspective. "She was feeling a lot of pressure from other people and herself to win, and I think she felt it was hurting her coaching," junior co-captain Mandy West said. The most surprising part of Soriero's announcement was its timing. Players initially questioned why such a resignation would be made in the middle of the season. "I was surprised because that wasn't where my mind was," senior co-captain Sue Van Stone said. Although the players understand and respect Soriero's decision, that is not to say they disliked her as a coach. "She relates to her players very well and puts together good scouting reports," Van Stone said. Relating to her players has been a speciality for Soriero, establishing her as a true "players' coach." "My favorite thing about her as a coach is that I like her as a person," West said. "She says she values our relationship. I respect her and feel comfortable going to her because she is open." "She's fun and has a good sense of humor," sophomore forward Diana Caramanico added. "Off the court you could always talk to her if you needed." As the team's one senior, Van Stone is the only Quaker who has played under Soriero the past four seasons. Van Stone played her first two seasons coming off the bench, averaging 10 minutes of playing time per contest. Van Stone was given a starting role last season as a junior and is yet to relinquish it. Saturday's win over Bucknell marked her 40th consecutive start. Throughout this stretch Van Stone has averaged about 30 minutes per outing. "She [Soriero] is supportive of me as a player and a student-athlete," Van Stone said. "She's helped me carve out a role for myself and helped me build on my strengths." Since Van Stone is the lone Quaker graduating this spring, she is the only team member who will not be playing for a new coach next winter. The rest of the players obviously understand that a transition period looms in the future. "Every time I see Julie make a decision, I say to myself 'I knew she was going to do that'," Caramanico said. "Now I'm a little nervous because I don't know what next year is going to be like." Penn's only player who has played under a different coach in her collegiate career is West, who transferred after playing two seasons at Boston College. "It's always difficult changing a program or coach," West said. "Our team is close though, so at least we'll have each other." The Quakers' team unity has certainly shown its effects this weekend. Soriero's plan to resign following the season could have negatively affected the squad. However, the team showed its ability to deal with adversity at Bucknell by winning a close game, which the Quakers have been struggling to do all season. Penn's team unity has also been exposed by the maturity the players have exhibited. The athletes, who have a tight relationship with Soriero, have shown their support by acknowledging that she is making the correct decision -- the decision in Soriero's best interest.

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