Carolyn Kieger Brings Culture Change To Start Of Tenure With Lady Lions

Penn State women’s basketball is entering the preseason with an energy that’s unlike anything in recent memory.

This can mainly be attributed to the arrival of head coach Carolyn Kieger, who was highly regarded as one of the top coaching prospects in the country before leaving her alma mater Marquette for Penn State.

While Kieger hasn’t worn blue and white for long, she’s already done plenty to change the culture inside the locker room and completely redefine Penn State women’s basketball. What’s different? Kieger is raising the bar and setting high expectations for the Lady Lions.

“I’m a competitor so obviously the goal is to make the NCAA Tournament and that’s something we’re not going to shy away from,” she said Tuesday morning at the season’s opening press conference. “That’s going to be our goal every single year.”

While this may seem like a bit of a stretch for a squad that has consistently underperformed in recent seasons — boasting a 6-10 record in Big Ten play last year — Kieger is confident that great strides can be made as long as the team works hard, remains disciplined, and buys into her “MVP” process.

“We’re going to work for it every single day, 200 feet at a time, one practice, one weight room session, and hopefully that work will pay off when the Big Ten tournament comes around.”

So far, Kieger’s competitiveness seems to be radiating to her players, who are adapting well to the new coaching staff and style of play. Like Kieger, they seem hungry to win and ready to battle, all with the ultimate goal of a championship in the back of their minds.

“I couldn’t be more proud of the team and where we’ve come in the last seven months,” Kieger said. “We’re asking these young ladies to give us stuff they’ve never had to do in their lives. We’re asking them to work harder than they ever had. We’re asking them to play a different offense, play a different defense, change the culture, and just be at a really high standard every single day.”

It should come as no surprise that Kieger is so focused on winning and setting high expectations for her team. She found great success in the last five years she spent as head coach of the Golden Eagles, accumulating a 99-64 overall record and leading Marquette to three consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances.

She’ll aim to bring that same success with her to Happy Valley, another environment conducive to winning. Although she’ll need to embark on a rebuilding process with the Lady Lions, her excitement and confidence offer Penn State fans some much-needed hope.

“When you look at the success that six head coaches here already have won a national title,” she said. “Fourteen programs have won a national title. That’s what I want to be surrounded with…I’m thrilled to be here and be a part of that winning culture.”

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About the Author

Rory Pelella

Rory is a senior from Binghamton, New York majoring in Spanish and journalism. She's been bleeding blue and white ever since her older siblings decided to create a family dynasty in Happy Valley in 2006. So, as you can imagine, she loves absolutely everything Penn State (especially the Cheese Shoppe downtown). She's also a die-hard Yankees, Knicks, and Giants fan (it's brutal), and would do anything for a good old fashioned New York slice. Feel free to email her at [email protected] or follow her on twitter @rorypelella.

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