By Mike Esse, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - It's no secret what Alex Bentley can do on the court. She can make a 20 point game look easy, have five or more assists and throw in a couple steals for good measure. The senior has been able to do a variation of that almost every time she takes the court.
The senior point guard was the Big Ten's preseason player of the year and has been all over the individual awards that are handed out pre and postseason, especially in her last two years at Penn State.
As her career winds down, though, her coaches, teammates, and most of all herself, aren't really talking much about the individual numbers Bentley has put up in her time as a Lady Lion.
Rather, all the talk is on what she has done from a leadership standpoint and it has happened in a deserving manner.
"I think Alex has done an absolutely amazing job running this team," said Penn State head coach Coquese Washington. "We asked her to do things a little differently than she did in her first three years and she took it and she's excelled at it. She is running the team the best she ever has, as far as being a point guard."
Bentley had to change her role coming into the 2012-13 season as Maryland transfer point guard Dara Taylor emerged as another weapon for the Lady Lions.
No problem for Bentley, though. She saw it as exactly that, another weapon. Not a downgrade in her control of the team on the court or any other negative spin that could have been put on it, just a positive addition for her team.
That's the leadership she brings. That's the legacy she has created at Penn State, something her teammates won't forget.
"Alex has been unbelievable for this program," said Maggie Lucas. "She's an unbelievable leader. I am going to miss her a lot next year, but the culture she has left behind and what's expected at this program will carry on for a very long time."
On the court, it's stingy defense and flashy plays that pump up her team and the crowd at home games at the Bryce Jordan Center. She's chest bumping Lucas or firing up Nikki Greene after a defensive stop. You can't miss her on the court during games.
It's even harder to miss her in practice where she is cracking jokes with teammates and finding a way to lighten the mood while being competitive every step of the way.
That's just part of the way Bentley plays the game.
"I just love the game," said Bentley. "That's my motivation."
Bentley hasn't led the team in scoring in the past two years. She hasn't received numerous Big Ten player of the week honors and when she does, it doesn't matter.
Not to the player that came to Penn State to win championships and rebuild what was at the time a struggling program.
With two Big Ten regular season titles, two trips to the NCAA tournament, a third on the horizon, Bentley has done just that. Those awards trump any sort of individual recognition, something a trophy or a box score cannot define.
"The biggest thing is her competitive fire and her will to win," said Washington. "They are two intangibles you can't put statistics on. Her competitive fire and will to win are two intangibles that helped turn this program around."
When asked about Bentley's legacy once her career ends at Penn State, Washington looked right to her joking personality, ability to lead her team to victories and steady improvement.
Bentley has developed her play offensively and defensively and with that, Washington believes that has led to the programs development as well.
For Bentley, as far as what the biggest thing she will takeaway from her Lady Lion career, well, that remains undefined.
"I don't know yet," said Bentley. "I don't know what the biggest [moment] is because it's not over yet. I'm having fun right now and I'm just enjoying every moment."
Penn State has two regular season games remaining, at Minnesota on Thursday and at Nebraska on Sunday, before the Big Ten Tournament begins on March 8 in Hoffman Estates, Ill.