By Brian McLaughlin, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- Throughout a four-year college career, athletes tend to evolve and mature both as players and as people. Whether that be adding something new to their game, or just improving at a weakness, this is a goal of almost every basketball player.
In one offseason, sophomore Jaida Travascio-Green has transformed from a spot up sharp shooter to a legitimate scoring threat from everywhere on the floor.
"This summer I definitely got a lot stronger just physically. It started last year but just having a full year of strength and conditioning and just actually playing at the college level," Travascio-Green said. "Then increasing that this sophomore summer and coming back and feeling more confident and being able to step into a bigger role has helped me."
Adding to her outstanding touch from three, she now also employs a strong dribble drive allowing her to get to the basket and finish through contact.
In Penn State's matchup against Drexel on Sunday, Travascio-Green showed off her development with a career day. She finished with 31 points and seven 3-point field goals, both of which were career-highs.
"As a freshman playing on a senior and veteran laden team, she had a smaller role doing a great job of spreading the defense. That was one thing we talked about working on over the summer, adding some different elements to her game," head coach Coquese Washington said. "Being able to put the ball on the floor, and get to the free throw line. Last year I don't even know if she shot 10 free throws for the season and we talked about adding that to her game."
In the game against Drexel, Travascio-Green went to the line four times and went 4-of-4 from the charity stripe. It is not just additional scoring that has become a part of Travascio-Green's new role on the Lady Lions. She has become a leader for the team especially with some of the captains struggling with injuries.
"With Teniya (Page) being out and when Amari (Carter) hurt her finger, she was out of practice for a week and a half, Jaida has done a really good job in that time of stepping up into that leadership role," Washington said. "I think she has warmed up to the idea of having a little bit more of a leadership role on the team than we probably expected coming into the season."
Carter and Travascio-Green are both sophomores who have big roles on this team. They have been able to earn respect from their teammates not just from their special play on the floor, but in the way they carry themselves off the court.
"They (Travascio-Green and Carter) are really positive people, they built great relationships with their teammates and their teammates trust them," Washington said. "I think that allows them to be good leaders and the consistency and relationships with their teammates."
The sophomore duo has stepped forward in Page's absence on the court as well. Carter's control of the action has been critical, and Travascio-Green's scoring has powered the Lady Lions to a 3-0 record.
"I think I just try my hardest to give energy where I can and talk as much as I can. I try to support our captains as much as I can too," Travascio-Green said.
In the most recent game for Penn State they defeated Marshall 80-65 behind 20 points from freshman Kamaria McDaniel sparking the Penn State offense. McDaniel is one of many Lady Lions who have felt impact of the strong leadership on this squad.
"We have great leaders, with Amari, Sarah (McMurtrie) and Teniya our team captains are always helping me if I am confused they help clear things up. And even off the court I can trust them and I think that transfers on the court because we know we have each other's best interests," McDaniel said. "Jaida is the same, if I need anything I know she will do the best she can and helps on the court. With shooting threes and scoring, she has a lot she in her game that I want to put into mine."
As Penn State moves forward, this newfound role for Travascio-Green will only help the Lady Lions add scoring depth. Whether she is spreading the floor during a Carter drive, or creating her own shot, there is a new aggressiveness to her game.
"She is shooting the ball with tremendous confidence and knowing that she can put the ball on the floor has given her another dimension that makes her even more difficult to defend," Washington said.
Penn State will continue to rely on Travascio-Green's scoring and presence moving forward this season. While she changed some aspects of her game, she insists the key for her team is to stay the course.
"I think we have to keep doing what we've been doing. We've been working a lot in practice on our defense. Just being disciplined and being really competitive on defense," Travascio-Green said. "I think for me and everyone else it's just about sticking to what we've been doing because it's paid off."