T h e view is different from the top.
And it’s been quite a few years since Penn women’s basketball has had that perspective.
Starting the season predicted to tie atop the Ivy League with Princeton, one might expect the Quakers to have a bit of a different approach. After all, this is far from the same team that celebrated their Ivy League title on the Tigers’ home court in the spring.
Gone are the days of Alyssa Baron, who went down as one of the greatest players in program history. Meghan McCullough, Courtney Wilson and Kristen Kody aren’t going to come walking through the door.
The party is over. Last year was last year.
Now comes a new era.
And Penn has the same approach.
The team is still led by a core of senior captains able to contribute on and off the court with a unique variety of leadership styles.
There’s still the same intensity in practice and a humility that drives the team onward.
Sophomore Sydney Stipanovich , the reigning Ivy League Defensive Player and Rookie of the Year, still stands tall at center.
On paper, the roster still has the same level of talent, perhaps even more. Coach Mike McLaughlin continues to bring in better and better recruiting classes, and this year appears to be more of the same.
Yet every season is its own battle, and Penn has its fair share of challenges awaiting it.
It begins with the first game. It’s safe to say there are very few, if any, teams in the country that would match up favorably at No. 4 Tennessee, and the Quakers certainly aren’t an exception.
The early season schedule has the potential to force Penn into a slow start, but that’s to be expected. The real season begins with Ivy League play, and by the time the Quakers make it through their nonconference schedule, they’ll have worked out some of the kinks.
In terms of the roster, guard play will be the biggest question mark throughout the season. With Baron and McCullough gone, McLaughlin needs to find ways to fill the void at the guard spots and fast.
Freshmen Anna Ross and Beth Brzozowski will see their fair share of minutes at the point, but over the years it has proven difficult to win the league with freshmen just due to the issue of inexperience alone.
Yet across the rest of the roster, experience abounds. McLaughlin has a pair of senior wings in Kathleen Roche and Renee Busch and plenty of talented bigs from Stipanovich and Kara Bonenberger to Michelle Nwokedi and Sade Gibbons .
With the wealth of forwards, McLaughlin will have the ability to push opponents with three forward lineups, using senior Katy Allen — whose shooting ability lets her stretch the floor — at the three. Even with just two forwards, the thought of Stipanovich and Nwokedi guarding the rim is rather intimidating.
The experience at the wings and at forward may be able to hide inexperience elsewhere, but the team will still have a learning curve in that regard.
Penn will see bumps on the road with an early season schedule that would challenge the toughest of Ivy League teams and inexperience at some key positions.
But that’s to be expected.
Just because this team has championship aspirations doesn’t mean it’ll be championship ready on day one. Penn certainly wasn’t last year, and we all saw how that turned out.
At the end of the day, there’s a reason these Quakers were picked to tie with Princeton. The talent is there, and if the cards fall right, Penn’s meeting with the Tigers at the Palestra in March will have the same implications as last year.
The game may have the same meaning, but don’t expect to see the same Quakers on the court. This isn’t last year’s team, but that’s not what they’re expected to be.Comments powered by Disqus
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