Washington: Lady Lions Need Defensive Stops
Coquese Washington made one thing very clear at her fifth media day experience in her Penn State coaching career: defensive improvement will be the key to winning this season.
“We need to create more points on the defensive end,” Washington said during her Q & A session. Penn State ranked first in the Big Ten last winter in points scored, but also ranked first in points against and eighth in scoring defense.
“We also need to be better as a team with rebounding, and getting our guards involved with that.”
The Lady Lions didn’t lose most of their statistical leaders from last year, but one glaring loss is Julia Trogele, who shot a .481 clip from the field last year and pulled down six boards a game. However, Washington said she’ll be missed just as much off the court as on it.
“Julia was such a great leader, whether it was having everyone follow our conditioning plan, or helping out the younger girls, she was always doing something positive,” Washington said.
It will be an unfamiliar season for the Lions, for the simple reason that, as Washington eluded to, they won’t sneak up on anybody this year after finishing 25-10 overall, and 11-5 in the Big Ten last year.
“We’re the hunted this year, not the team hunting the big teams, and we like that feeling,” Washington said. “We just have to be mindful that other schools will hold beating us in high regard, and we have to play our best night in and night out.”
Alex Bentley and Maggie Lucas return for a Lady Lions offense that will get out and run even more this season as Washington now has a roster completely her own in her fifth season. Bentley was named to the Wooden Award Preseason Top 30 watch list in the offseason.
“So many point guards have come in here and been legends, and I hope to continue that tradition,” Bentley said, asked to talk about the history of strong point guard play at Penn State.
And if anyone thought the three-point line moving back to the men’s distance in the women’s game would cause Lucas problems, think again. The sophomore guard knocked down five in a row from deep behind the arc. “If you look at the film from last year, we were often behind the men’s line, anyway, so it won’t make much of a difference,” Lucas said.
Stay tuned to Onward State for a Lady Lions season preview and observations as the season unfolds.