By Mike Esse, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - This time one year ago, Coquese Washington and her Penn State Lady Lions were headed to Baton Rouge, La. to play the first two rounds of the 2012 NCAA tournament as a four seed. In 2013, LSU is still the host site and Penn State could see them again in the second round on its home floor, but this time it is as a three seed.
The announcement was made Monday night as the Lady Lions gathered with their coaches and supporters to find out when and where they would play in this weekend's first round of the tournament.
Last year, Penn State won both games in Baton Rouge, including a 90-80 win over host LSU, and advanced to the Sweet 16.
The result of having to go back to Baton Rouge turned out to be a little ironic for point guard Alex Bentley and her teammates.
"We have been joking around that we wanted to go back (to Baton Rouge)," said Bentley. "It is funny that it happened this way and we are really excited."
There was a lot of talk heading into the selection show on whether Penn State would be a two or a three seed after falling in the Big Ten Tournament semifinals to Michigan State.
For Washington, though, not getting the two seed wasn't too big of a deal even though the seeding could have gone either way.
"I think it was really close," said Washington. "It could have gone either way with a three or two seed, but to me it doesn't really make a difference because if both advance you play each other anyway. We're just happy to be playing and happy that we get an opportunity to compete in the NCAA Tournament and play another day."
The familiarity of playing in Baton Rouge might be something that will help the Lady Lions in the first two rounds, especially if they can get past Cal Poly and have to face the Tigers on their home court for the second straight year.
"We're familiar with where we are going, we have practiced in that gym, we will have shot on that court before, so I think it will help a lot," said Washington.
Penn State is already an experienced team that starts three seniors and two juniors and Bentley sees the return to Baton Rouge as yet another piece that will prepare them for another tournament run.
Compared to 2012, this Penn State team might be a little different simply because of the fact that they have made a deep tournament run before. That was something they didn't have heading into last year's tournament and they now know what it takes to get to the Sweet Sixteen and beyond.
However, with that said, guard Maggie Lucas stressed the fact that her team cannot look past its first round opponent in Cal Poly.
Admittedly, Lucas and Washington both said they didn't know much about Cal Poly, but Washington and her staff were starting to prep for the matchup immediately after the selection show celebration was over.
"The turnaround is immediate," said Washington. "As soon as all of these people get out of here, we get to work, so that's what's fun [about tournament time]. We want to get on the plane now. Let's go play."