By Mike Esse, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK Pa. - Coquese Washington has made it obvious that she will play anyone at any time to give her team the best chance to win. While it is clear who her starters will be for the majority of the 2012-2013 season, the talent and depth of her bench players has not gone unnoticed either.
"The great thing is that we have a number of people that can provide that spark," said Washington.
Tori Waldner, Talia East and Gizelle Studevant return to a group of bench players that also add transfer guard Dara Taylor and true freshman center Candice Agee. Each player replaces a key component of the Penn State offensive and defensive attacks, including Waldner and East who come in off the bench for starter Nikki Greene.
With the aggressive style of play that Greene brings to the table, fouls come with it, thus, Waldner and East have to prepare themselves to be ready to fill the void.
"For the minutes that we go in and take Nikki out, we don't let up," said Waldner. "We keep the pace going and there is no drop in intensity."
The Lady Lions are known for their fast, up-tempo style of play, which can produce situations similar to the Nov. 14 game in College Station against Texas A&M. Guard Alex Bentley found herself on the bench early in the first half with foul trouble and that is when the responsibility falls on Taylor to ensure the drop off in production is minimal without Bentley or guard Maggie Lucas on the floor.
sees having the bench depth that her team has as a luxury with the tough
schedule featured in 2012-13.
"It is awesome," said Maggie Lucas. "It gives us a lot of confidence because throughout the course of the game there are going to be a lot of fouls, so knowing that you don't lose much (production) when you bring the bench in is a big confidence builder."
Confidence is visible with the starters as well as Taylor, who knows exactly what the bench needs to do and also knows that each of them are capable of stepping in for the starters.
"The five (starters) can't play the whole game, so when we come in there can't be a let down or a step off," said Taylor. "We have to come in right in stride and (show) the other team that it is not just a bench player that is coming in, it is a whole new five that is going to be tough for them to play against."
In Sunday's 75-34 win over Lafayette the Penn State bench combined for 28 points between Agee, Taylor, East, Studevent and Waldner and Taylor recorded six assists in just 23 minutes of play on a night. There were only two Lady Lions that reached double digits in points and the team was still able to tally 75 points, simply by having nine players score five or more against the Leopards.
The true freshman, Agee, had a career-high seven points and four rebounds in just her third collegiate game. The growth of Agee will be very important and something that Washington hopes will progress during the team's tough non-conference slate and before Big Ten play begins.
"As the game slows down and she gets more experience, Candice is going to be somebody who is going to come in and make an impact," said Washington. "She's just has so many talents, so many gifts on both ends of the floor that as the year goes on I think she's going to be having more and more of an impact for us when she's on the floor."
Washington and the Lady Lions look to continue to grow the depth of their bench as the team heads to Northridge, Calif. for the Radisson Hotel Chatsworth Thanksgiving Tournament. Penn State will open play versus Detroit on Nov. 23 and play either host Cal-State Northridge or South Alabama on Nov. 24.