Counting the three games this year, Penn women’s basketball has played 62 games in the past three seasons. Only one player from Penn has started each and every one of those 62 games. And no, it isn’t reigning Ivy League Player of the Year Sydney Stipanovich or reigning first team All-Ivy selection Michelle Nwokedi. Well who can it be then? The correct answer is actually 5-foot-9 junior guard Anna Ross.
While this might be surprising to some, anyone who’s followed Penn women’s basketball closely for the past three years knows just how important Ross has been to the team’s success.
Often overshadowed by her higher-scoring teammates, the Syracuse, N.Y., native has quietly established herself as one of the best guards in the Ivy League. In her 62 games for the Red and Blue, Ross has led the team in assists with 228, while also proving herself as a lockdown perimeter defender. Her 1.3 steals per game are also good for tops on the team.
While Ross hasn’t put up the biggest numbers so far this season, her value to the team is unquestioned. It is no accident that she has led the team in minutes thus far with 36 a game.
“It is well deserved,” Penn coach Mike McLaughlin said. “She can play a lot of minutes. She’s deserved everything she’s gotten so far and I’m just trying to take her game to another level.”
With great quickness and athleticism, Ross certainly has the potential to take her game to another level, but it will probably require her scoring a little more. She averaged a respectable 9.4 points per game last season, but McLaughlin wants to see Ross raise that average even higher.
“I just need her to be an aggressive scorer,” McLaughlin said. “She has the ability to do it, she’s just inconsistent on doing it. I’m trying to give her the autonomy to go play and go score. You know coach is telling you take to 10 or 12 shots, take that as a good thing.”
Ross was largely on the same page as her coach.
“I think the first few games have revealed to me and probably the coaches that I need to step it up a little more, maybe put more points on the board, get more rebounds,” she said. “So I think those games have revealed my weaknesses that I need to improve on going forward for us to win.”
If Ross is successful in taking on a bigger scoring role this season, look for Penn to take big steps moving forward. Penn is already the heavy favorite to win the Ivy League once again, but having such an athletic scoring threat in Ross would only make them more dangerous. And the opportunity is certainly there for Ross.
The Quakers boast dominant post play from Stipanovich and Nwokedi that makes it very difficult for opponents to focus too much on backcourt players. Couple that with the Red and Blue’s multiple deep shooting threats, and there should be plenty of room on the court for Ross to roam freely.
Games don’t really get important until Ivy League play starts in January, but for fans looking to see if Ross can shoulder a bigger scoring load, the Quakers will be in action Tuesday against Saint Joe’s in the Palestra.