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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -
The 18th of August cannot come soon enough for Sandy Barbour.
Introduced as Penn State Director of Athletics on Saturday afternoon, Barbour
is thrilled to begin her tenure as the leader of an athletic program that
aspires to continue its long history of excellence on and off the field of
"When you spend a professional lifetime serving institutions and most
importantly students, you dream about coming to a place like Penn State,"
Barbour said. "You dream about the opportunity to lead a program like Penn
State athletics. Why? Because it represents the opportunity to have it all: Athletic
excellence, academic achievement, community engagement and fiscal
responsibility. So thank you, Eric [Barron]. I am absolutely thrilled, over the
top excited about this opportunity and about being the athletic director at
A graduate of Wake Forest where she was field hockey team captain, Barbour grew
up on the East Coast and has always had a deep passion for Penn State
University and its athletic department. That's what drew her to the position
when she originally spoke with President Barron about the opportunity.
Immediately, Barbour felt a connection with the people, pride and remarkable
accomplishments of Penn State University and its athletic department.
"I love the 'We Are Penn State.' I particularly love what it stands for. It
stands for family," Barbour said.
Barbour desires to see national titles in all 31 sports on campus. But first
and foremost, she will strive to lead a department with student-athletes who
are elite performers in the classroom.
"We are athletic programs again that are all part of a university," Barbour
said. "Our student-athletes will be students first, Penn State is incredibly
proud of the academic performance of their students and we will continue to
Eager to hit the ground running when she begins her duties as athletic director
in 23 days, Barbour wants to learn from everyone in the department, especially
the head coaches leading Penn State's 31 athletic teams.
"Unity doesn't mean one opinion, and I actually embrace that, embrace the
diversity of opinion, diversity in a variety of different ways, and I actually
think that will make us stronger in our ability to move forward," Barbour said.
"As I said before, I have something to learn from everybody, and I'll be doing
a lot of listening."
Numerous head coaches were in attendance at Saturday's introductory press
conference. The coaches and athletic department staff then had a chance to
mingle with Barbour at a private reception before she boarded a flight to
Chicago for Big Ten meetings. The head coaches in attendance exuded great
confidence in the future direction of the athletic department.
"There is a culture, history and tradition of
tremendous academic achievement at Penn State and that will continue," said
head football coach James Franklin. "I know it's important to our president,
athletic director and all of our coaches. That will continue. I know we'll
spend as much time as we need to so we can start building."
"I am truly thrilled that Sandy Barbour will serve as
the next athletic director for Penn State," Lady Lions head coach Coquese
Washington said. "Sandy is a strong, dynamic and passionate leader. She is also
an incredibly smart visionary and strategic thinker. It is exciting to imagine
all the ways Penn State University, and Penn State athletics in particular,
will be positively impacted by her leadership."
"I loved everything I heard today," head women's hockey coach Josh Brandwene
said. "She has passion, vision and just a great understanding of the Penn State
community. Both as a head coach and as an alumnus, I am really excited to start
working with her."
Barbour will return to California in the coming days to prepare for her
full-time return to Happy Valley on Aug. 18, and the new leader of Penn State Athletics
is fired up to get started.
"We are Penn State. I'm
all in. I'm ready to get going," said Barbour.
Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - As the calendar begins to shift towards the start
of the 2014-'15 athletic season, GoPSUsports.com wanted to take a look back at
a tremendous campaign for Penn State Athletics.
Fueled by national championships from women's volleyball, wrestling and fencing,
Penn State accumulated a record point total in the Learfield Sports Directors'
Cup in 2013-'14.
Penn State's three NCAA Championships are its most since winning three in
1999-2000. Penn State student-athletes, who have an 88 percent graduation rate,
won a school record-tying and conference-best eight Big Ten titles in 2013-'14
and 16 over the past two years, easily topping second place Michigan (9) in
combined titles the last two years.
Take a look back at some of the top events from a stellar Penn State sports
Men's Hockey: Oct.
11, 2013 - Penn State 4, Army 1 (First Game in Pegula)
It was a night fans in Hockey Valley had been dreaming of
for years. The Nittany Lion men's hockey team christened the state-of-the-art
Pegula Ice Arena with a dominant performance before a boisterous sold out crowd
on opening night for the 2013-'14 season.
At 8:14 p.m., the puck dropped in the first game inside Penn State's sparkling
new home for hockey.
Nate Jenson owns the honor of tallying the first goal for the Nittany Lions in
Pegula. He took a feed from Taylor Holstrom early in the first period and beat
Army goalie Rob Tadazak to the high corner, glove side. Just as Jensen scored,
the crowd of 6,370 exploded and Zombie Nation blared through the speakers.
An early third-period two-on-one shorthanded goal from Curtis Loik and a
breakaway goal from David Goodwin would spark the same reaction. Leading 3-1,
Eric Scheid notched a last-second empty net goal to seal the first win in their
inaugural game in Pegula.
Hockey Valley could
not have any been prouder of its team following the 4-1 victory, and the
student section made that very clear. The Roar Zone was full song from the
moment it walked into the building 90 minutes before faceoff.
The Nittany Lions went on to win four games inside Pegula Ice Arena during
their first Big Ten season. The list of victories included a thrilling 4-0 win
over Michigan and a 4-2 triumph over Ohio State during conference play.
Football: Oct. 12,
2013 - Penn State 43, Michigan 40 (Beaver Stadium)
Down by 34-27 at its own 20-yard line with 50 seconds on the clock and no
timeouts, Penn State found itself in a difficult situation in sold out Beaver
Stadium against rival Michigan.
The stakes were simple. Drive down the field and score a touchdown or the game
True freshman and 18-year old signal-caller Christian Hackenberg jogged onto
the field to lead the offense during the 2-minute drill with the game on the
On first down at the 20, Hackenberg connected with Robinson, who dragged his
toe just inside the sideline paint in front of the Penn State bench for a
One play later, it was Brandon Felder's turn.
Hackenberg's toss to Felder in front of the Michigan bench covered 29 yards and
set up another first down at the Michigan 37-yard line.
Two plays later, Robinson returned to the spotlight with the play of the game.
Hackenberg fielded Ty Howle's snap and looked to Robinson, who was lined up
wide on the left side of the formation. Robinson stuttered in the first 10
yards of his route, attempting to freeze the Michigan defensive back. As he
regained full speed, Hackenberg's pass was in the air.
Robinson skied over the Michigan defender and plucked the ball at the highest
point in his jump before falling to a rest at the 1-yard line.
Hackenberg finished the drive off with a plunge into the end zone, capping off
a five-play, 80-yard game-tying touchdown drive that covered just 23 seconds on
The teams exchanged blows in the overtime frames before Bill Belton became the
hero. Belton trotted into the north end zone of Beaver Stadium for a game-winning
touchdown in the fourth OT, capping off an epic comeback and a victory that
will live in Penn State history for decades.
Women's Volleyball: Dec.
21, 2013 - Penn State 3, Wisconsin 1 (Championship Match)
Penn State's road to the national semifinals in Seattle was not an easy one
in 2013. After knocking off LIU Brooklyn and Utah inside Rec Hall to open the
NCAA Tournament, the Nittany Lions traveled to Kentucky for the regional round
of the 64-team tournament.
Penn State rallied from 1-0 down to defeat Michigan State in the regional
semifinals, which set up a showdown against seventh-seeded Stanford for a trip
to the national semifinals.
The Lions and Cardinal battled to a fifth set in what evolved into an epic
clash among two of volleyball's heavyweights. Penn State trailed Stanford 9-6
in the fifth before head coach Russ Rose used a timeout. Out of the break, the
Lions were not going to be denied.
Penn State scored the next six points in the decisive set on the way to
punching a ticket to the national semifinals in Seattle.
Playing in the NCAA semis for the 11th time in program history, Penn State
rolled over Washington (3-0), which was playing just four miles from its
campus, with a truly dominant performance.
The national title match, the Lions' ninth all-time appearance, was next.
Facing off against Wisconsin in the first all Big Ten national final, Penn
State jumped out to a hard-fought 2-0 lead before the Badgers rallied to make
Wisconsin took a 23-20 lead in the fourth and was just two points from forcing
a fifth set, but the Lions were not done. A service error from the Badgers made
it 23-21. With ice water in her veins, ESPY nominee Micha Hancock stepped to
the service line. The junior delivered four potent jump serves, two of which
dropped for aces, before senior Deja McClendon's kill clinched the program's
sixth national title and fifth in the last seven years.
In six NCAA Tournament matches this season, the Nittany Lions dropped just four
Men's Basketball: Jan.
29, 2014 - Penn State 71, Ohio State 70 (Value City Arena)
The Nittany Lion basketball team trailed Ohio State, 59-48, with 7:58 to play
in Columbus after Buckeyes capped off a 10-2 scoring run.
Penn State never panicked, largely thanks to a dominant performance from D.J.
Newbill down the stretch.
A pair of buckets from Jordan Dickerson and two free throws from Newbill set
the score at 62-59, Buckeyes, with 2:20 to play.
Newbill then fielded a long pass moving right to left across the floor from
Frazier before burying a corner three, which tied the game at 62-62 with 1:08 to
go. Ohio State scored the next three points to make it 65-62.
Newbill answered in the form of a second clutch 3-pointer with 11.0 seconds to
After Ohio State's final possession in regulation came up empty, the game
headed into overtime.
The Buckeyes took a 70-67 lead on a pair of Lenzelle Smith Jr. free throws in
the extra frame, but Newbill was not done.
The Philly product snaked through the Ohio State defense for a lay-in with 45
seconds to play, pulling the Lions to within one (70-69). The Buckeyes turned
the ball over on the next possession, setting up an inbounds play with 13.2
Tim Frazier inbounded to Jordan Dickerson, who handed the ball off to
D.J. Newbill in front of the scorer's table. Down one with 11 seconds to play
in overtime as he crossed halfcourt, Newbill raced to the right side of the
The Philly native wanted the ball in his dominant hand. With one of the Big
Ten's top defenders an arm's length away, Newbill began his move with 5.4
seconds on the clock.
After one power dribble to his right, he sent the ball to his left hand under
Aaron Craft's extended right arm. Newbill took one more power dribble with his
left hand before elevating at the right elbow with 3.5 seconds on the clock.
The ball never touched the rim as it sailed through the cylinder to give the
Lions a 71-70 victory. Penn State's win at Ohio State was its first since 2001.
Women's Basketball: March
1, 2014 - Penn State 77, Michigan 62 (Bryce Jordan Center)
To put it simply, Senior Day couldn't have gone any better for Penn State's
four seniors in 2014.
Maggie Lucas, Talia East, Dara Taylor and Ariel Edwards all
were double figure scorers on a day where they were honored with friends and
family in attendance as the team claimed its third consecutive Big Ten title
with a 77-62 over Michigan.
Edwards led the Lady Lions with 21 points on 8-for-12
shooting from the field while Lucas, East and Taylor added 17, 16 and 11 points
Penn State had control of the game from start to finish as
they shot 54 percent from the field, missed just one free throw on 19 attempts
and collected seven blocks and 11 steals.
The group of seniors combined for 65 of the team's 77
points; epitomizing their leadership during their time at Penn State in their
last regular season home game.
That was expected from a group of four leaders who ensured a
team of seven freshmen didn't miss a beat coming off of two-straight conference
titles heading into the season.
Edwards, Lucas and East left Penn State as one of the winningest classes ever.
They finished with 101 wins, good for second in program history. Taylor was at
Penn State for 75 of the 101 wins after transferring from Maryland.
With all of the championships, accolades and wins, it was a
perfect way for Lucas, East and Taylor to complete their Penn State careers.
Penn State's third-straight Big Ten title put the Lady Lions in elite company
with Iowa and Ohio State as the only programs in the conference to win three or
more consecutive conference crowns. The title also fueled the Lady Lions'
second run to the Sweet 16 in past three years.
Wrestling: March 22,
2013 - Nittany Lions Clinch Fourth-Straight NCAA Title
Penn State's reign over the college wrestling world continued in March
when the Nittany Lions captured their unprecedented fourth-straight NCAA team
title in Oklahoma City.
Fueled by NCAA individual crowns from seniors Ed Ruth at 184 pounds and David
Taylor at 165 pounds, the Lions celebrated on the sport's grandest stage inside
Chesapeake Energy Arena as the 2014 national champions.
By no means was the fourth title an easy one for the Nittany Lions, who edged
Minnesota by 5.5 points in the final team standings. Following a victory from
Ruth at 184 pounds, the Lions pulled ahead of the Gophers by 1.5 points after
two championship bouts.
Minnesota suffered setbacks in its two national title bouts, with the second
coming in the ninth match of the evening. As the 157-pound bout ticked to zero
on the clock, the white-clad Penn State fans rose to their feet to celebrate
the program's fifth national championship.
But the work was not quite done for the Nittany Lions, as Taylor was on deck in
the final championship match of night against Oklahoma State's Chris Perry.
You could not have scripted a better way for Taylor's career to end in a Penn
State singlet than the way it did on Saturday night. The epitome of a team
player, Taylor's imprint on the program goes far beyond his stellar accolades. He
didn't miss a match at the national tournament because he wanted to support his
fellow teammates. On Saturday morning, he did not need to be at the arena, but
he was the first to greet fellow senior James English as he came off the mat
after his critical win in the seventh-place match at 149 pounds.
Thanks to another dominant performance, Taylor finished off his collegiate
career with a victory in the final match of the national tournament, an individual
national title and a team title.
Taylor and Ruth played a paramount role in Penn State's fourth-straight title,
but the Nittany Lions will remain atop the NCAA wrestling mountain because of a
hard-fought team effort in the 2014 NCAA Championships.
Fencing: March 23,
2014 - Nittany Lions Clinch 13th NCAA Title
No program in Penn State's illustrious sports history has won more national
titles than the fencing team. Under the direction of interim head coach Wes
Glon, Penn State mounted a furious charge on the final day of the NCAA
Championships in Columbus to clinch its 13th national championship.
As a team, Penn State finished the competition with 180 bout victories,
toppling Princeton in second-place (159 victories), and St. John's in third
Individually, sophomore Kaito Streets claimed the 2014 men's
saber NCAA title. Streets became the 13th individual champion for the Nittany
Lions in program history.
In the team race, the Nittany Lions were neck and neck with
Princeton throughout much of the competition. The Lions began pulling away from
the Tigers on day three of the competition. Penn State clinched the program's
third title in the past six seasons on day four.
Streets held the number one spot in the men's saber event
heading into the final competition. He knocked off Ferenc Valkai from St.
John's to become an individual champion.
Glon has been with
the Nittany Lions for 29 seasons, and he has seen all 13 national titles. But
the 2014 crown marked his first as the leader of the program.
GoPSUsports.com's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony
York Photo Gallery | Hershey Photo Gallery
Coaches Caravan Registration
HERSHEY, Pa. - The 2014
Penn State Coaches Caravan hit the road on Tuesday with a pair of sold out
stops in York and Hershey to kick off the first full week of events.
The Penn State themed Fullington Trailways bus pulled out of the Bryce Jordan
Center parking lot at 8:15 a.m. en route to the Penn State York campus. Take a look through highlights from the first
two stops of a six-event week on the Coaches Caravan.
Stop No. 2 - York (Penn State York)
Head coaches James Franklin, Erica Walsh, Bob Warming and Coquese Washington
headlined the first stop of the road tour on Tuesday. After a media session, the coaches took the
stage for a lunch program before a sold out crowd of more than 225 enthusiastic
Penn State fans on the University's York campus.
Walsh, who will enter her eighth season as head coach of the women's soccer
team in the fall, opened the panel of speakers.
"It's amazing to see so many people wearing Blue and White," Walsh said.
Walsh proceeded to take the fans through a vivid story of what a recruiting
trip is like for a prospective student-athlete.
The leader of Penn State Women's Soccer guided the crowd through a
recruiting visit weekend with every minute detail of what a trip to the campus
is like. From the academic buildings the
soccer program takes recruits inside to a gameday experience in Beaver Stadium,
Walsh painted a remarkable picture of what campus would look like for the first
time as a 17-year-old prospective student-athlete.
"That is one example of many," Walsh said at the end of her speech. "That (camaraderie on campus) is why we have
won more national titles than anyone (tied with USC) since 2007."
Nittany Lion men's soccer coach Bob Warming addressed the crowd after Walsh. Warming opened his speech by introducing Bob
Little, a member of Penn State men's soccer's 1954 national championship team,
who was in the York crowd on Tuesday afternoon.
Warming went on to joke with the attendees that he was thrilled to see a
capacity crowd so excited to see Penn State's two soccer coaches.
"We know all of you came here to see Erica and I since soccer is the most
popular sport in the world," Warming said with a laugh.
Lady Lion basketball head coach Coquese Washington kicked of the first of her
two stops on the Caravan with a direct message to the loyal supporters in York.
"The fans, the alums, with how much all of you support us, it trickles down,"
Washington said. "The student-athletes
have such an unbelievable experience.
And your support is what lets provide that for them...You are part of our
Franklin stepped to the microphone as the featured speaker of the afternoon. He first joked with the crowd that after
listening to Coach Walsh's description of campus that he needs to get out of
his office more and see the sights of what University Park has to offer. After all, he has been living inside his
office for more than month.
The new leader of Penn State Football provided an update on the team, coaching
staff and recruiting as he talked about the direction of the program. He told the crowd that he met each player on
the roster for 20-25 minutes individually before the spring semester
ended. The student-athletes will return
to campus for the first of two summer academic sessions on May 18.
"I've been blown away by these kids since I've been here," Franklin said. "They are an amazing group of young men."
In addition to winning football games on the field, Franklin wants to achieve
new heights in all phases of the program, including highs in team GPA,
graduation rates and activity in the community.
"We came to Penn State to make a positive impact in the community," Franklin
Stop No. 3 - Hershey (Hershey Lodge)
evening event inside the Hershey Lodge was all about the fans. Central Pennsylvania is filled with members
of Nittany Nation, and the sold out crowd in Hershey gave the four head coaches
a warm welcome to cap off a great first day on the road.
More than 750 Penn State fans filled the ballroom inside Hershey Lodge with
great energy and enthusiasm. The Penn
State coaches all talked about how important the fan support is for the success
of the sports programs in Happy Valley.
"What you guys can embrace is that we are truly a family of coaches and take
the responsibility of representing you very seriously," said Washington.
The fan support, coupled with the strong relationships between the head coaches
on campus, is what makes Penn State such a unique place.
"I'm around such successful people who are at the top of their craft," Warming
Coach Franklin opened his evening speech by apologizing in advance that if the
phone rang during the event, he was going to walk off the stage and take the
call. True to his word, Franklin stood
up and walked to his right, off the stage while answering a phone call during
the Q&A portion of the show.
Mid-way through the call, he turned to the crowd and led a rousing "We Are!"
chant before getting back on the phone and returning to his seat on stage.
The overwhelming excitement from the fans in Hershey about the direction Penn
State's teams are headed made it a great evening event. The coaches are proud to represent the
University, and the fans are proud to support the teams.
"I can't begin to tell you what it's been like to come back home and be your
football coach," Franklin said.
The Caravan rolls south to Baltimore and Washington, D.C., on Wednesday.
Coaches Caravan Miles Traveled:
Day 1 - 165 miles
GoPSUsports.com's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony
By Tyler Feldman, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
PARK, Pa. - With 15 Lady Lions reaching the WNBA since 1997 - four in the past
two seasons - it is clear that Penn State's women's basketball program, led by
head coach Coquese Washington, has become a developmental pit stop for players
with professional aspirations.
year it was seniors Alex Bentley and Nikki Greene who were drafted into the
WNBA. This year, senior guard Maggie Lucas was selected by the Phoenix Mercury
with the 21st overall pick in the 2014 WNBA Draft, and senior guard/forward
Ariel Edwards signed a free agent contract with the Tulsa Shock.
want to see them grow. You want to see them mature. You want to see them
develop," said Washington. "By the time they're seniors they're already itching
to get out the door because they're ready for new challenges...It's really
gratifying to know that they're ready for the next phase."
Lucas and Edwards, each has taken a unique path to reaching identical dreams:
call her "Machine Gun" Maggie for her quick and accurate jumper. The senior
guard, who finished her career second on the Penn State scoring charts with
2,510 points, traveled back home to Philadelphia to experience the draft with
her family and closest friends.
her name was called by the Phoenix Mercury with the 21st pick in the
draft, Lucas and those with her were finally able to take a deep sigh of
"It was a great moment to hear my
name called in the WNBA draft," said Lucas. "It's been something I've been
dreaming about my whole life. I'm super excited, but I have a lot more work to
do. I have to go out there [Phoenix] for training camp and there's still a lot of
work ahead of me, but I'm very excited at this moment."
her senior campaign, Lucas finished second in the Big Ten in scoring at 21.0
points per game. The star guard also shot an incredible 94.9 percent from the charity
stripe, good enough for second in all of NCAA Division I women's basketball and
the second highest free throw percentage in school history.
four years donning the blue and white, Lucas achieved the Big Ten and Penn
State record with 365 career three-pointers. Moreover, Lucas is the lone player in Penn
State history to accumulate 2,000 points, 500 rebounds, 250 assists and 200
"It's going to be hard to leave this
place," said Lucas. "I'm going to miss it a lot."
The versatile Edwards really came into her own during her senior campaign,
achieving personal bests in nearly every statistical category, while also becoming
the 36th player in Penn State history to become a member of the 1,000-point
her name not being called during the 2014 WNBA Draft, on Tuesday Edwards signed
a free agent contract with the Tulsa Shock.
"I was extremely excited," said
Edwards. "I was at the point where I wasn't sure if I was going to get a call
at all, and I was thinking more towards playing overseas. Then I got that call,
and I was really, really excited because it has been a dream of mine since I
was a little girl."
During her senior season, Edwards
had her most prolific year on the hardwood. She averaged 15.7 points per game
en route to a first team All-Big Ten selection.
Edwards has the ability to score
anywhere on the court, inside or on the perimeter. Scoring aside, she was also
a force on the boards, averaging 5.7 rebounds per game. Such a versatile
presence has the Tulsa Shock excited about her signing.
"Ariel has had a great career
at Penn State and I look forward to seeing her in camp," said Fred
Williams, head coach of the Tulsa Shock. "Ariel had a terrific senior year
at Penn State. She's a powerful presence in the post and can help us in our
Building 'Elite' Program
arriving in Happy Valley back in 2007, Washington has turned the Penn State
women's basketball program into a national contender.
building and player development speak volumes as to why Washington and her
players have been able to achieve so much success both on and off the court.
"Coquese takes great individual
players and puts them together to make a great team," said Edwards. "It speaks
to the fact that she is great at developing players."
Washington, this past year's senior class is one to remember, not just because
two reached the WNBA, but because of their impact on the future of the program.
"Their [the senior class] impact on the
underclassmen is undeniable," said Washington. "They showed them the way. They
showed them what it takes and how hard you have to work to be a great team. Their
impact on our recent history was helping us elevate a program that was
invisible nationally just prior to their arrival into one of the nation's
elite. That's a pretty cool legacy to have left."
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Head coach Coquese
Washington and the Lady Lion players met the media on Wednesday to review the
2013-'14 season. Penn State won its
third-straight Big Ten title and advanced to the Sweet 16 for the second time
in the past three seasons. Take a look.
PALO ALTO, Calif. - Head
into the locker room following Penn State's setback to Stanford in the NCAA
Regional Semifinals on Sunday afternoon.
The Lady Lions finish the 2013-'14 season with a 24-8 mark. Watch
postgame remarks from seniors Talia East and Maggie Lucas.
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -
Welcome to live in-game coverage on GoPSUsports.com for the No. 14/15 Penn
State women's basketball NCAA Sweet 16 contest at No. 6/5 Stanford on Sunday,
March 30 inside Maples Pavilion.
BLOG: What to
Watch | BLOG:
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PARK, Pa. - The Penn State women's basketball team will make their 13th
appearance in the Sweet 16 today against No. 2 seed Stanford inside Maples
Pavilion. The Lady Lions are 4-8 all-time in Regional Semifinals and are making
their first appearance in the round of 16 since 2012.
Confidence at a High for Lady Lions Freshmen
What To Watch - Penn State
Leading at the Line: Penn
State enters today's contest shooting 77.5 percent from the free throw stripe
this season. That shooting clip is just off the school record pace of 78.2
percent set by the 2003-04 squad. The Lady Lions have made 581 of 750 free
throws and seven players are shooting better than .730 on the season. Lucas is
hitting 94.9 percent (185-of-195) from the charity stripe and Ariel Edwards is
connecting on 81.6 percent (111-of-136) on the year.
Not So Sweet 16: Penn State has
played in 12 previous Sweet 16 games and own a 4-8 mark in those games. The
last time Penn State advanced to the sweetest of games, they fell to No. 1 seed
UConn, 77-59, in Kingston, R.I. during the 2012 NCAA Tournament. This will mark
the Lady Lions second trip to the Sweet 16 under Coquese Washington. Penn State
last won in the Regional Semifinal round in 2004, defeating Notre Dame, 55-49.
Yelling Timber: Penn State will look
to defeat Stanford in the NCAA Tournament for the second time this academic
year. The Lady Lions will look to duplicate the effort of the women's
volleyball team. The Cardinal and Lady Lions have met twice before, with both
teams claiming a win. Stanford won the last meeting between the two schools in
2001 (90-68), while Penn State won the initial meeting in 1984 (73-63). Both
previous meetings came on neutral floors.
To Watch - Stanford
Redemption In Nashville: Stanford
has advanced to the Final Four five straight times entering last season, but
were unable to make it six in a row as they fell to No. 4 seed Georgia in the
Spokane Regional Semifinals. The loss in the Sweet 16 was their earliest exit
since the 2006-07 season when they bowed out in the second round. They are
making their 21st appearance in the Sweet 16 and own a record of 16-4 in their
previous 20 appearances.
Topping the Charts: Chiney Ogwumike has
posted 24 double-doubles this season and been the leading scorer for the
Cardinal 32 times. She currently owns the Stanford single season scoring record
with 902 points this season and is the career scoring (2,673) and rebounding (1,532)
leader for the Cardinal. The senior is also the only player in Stanford history
to average a double-double for her career, pulling down 10.8 rebounds and
scoring 18.8 points per game in her career.
Texas Two Step: Stanford's three
leading scorers this season all hail from the state of Texas. Ogwumike (26.6
ppg) is from Cypress, junior Amber Orrange (9.8 ppg) prepped in Houston and
Lili Thompson (8.1 ppg) is a native of Mansfield. Overall, the Cardinal has
four players on their roster that hail from the Lone Star State, which is
bested only by their six players from California. Four of their five starters
are from outside the borders of The Golden State, with the trio of Texans and
Ohio native Mikaela Ruef joining Sara James (El Dorado Hills, Calif.) in the
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - When you arrive on a college campus as a freshman there
are a lot of things that you have to adjust to: new classes, being on your own
for the first time, and interacting with a new, diverse group of people. There's
a learning curve and it was no different for the Penn State women's basketball
The group of six rookies arrived on campus in late August and began preparing
for college life and college basketball. They've come a long way since that day
and will suit up for a Sweet 16 matchup today in Palo Alto, Calif. against the
No. 2-seeded Stanford Cardinal.
Even though the senior class accounts for a large chunk of the scoring and
rebounding numbers, this group has made an impact in 2013-14. That impact has
grown as the season's progressed and head coach Coquese Washington has noticed.
"Our freshmen have certainly improved over the course of the season," said
Washington. "They're learning what their roles are and learning how to perform
those roles night in and night out. Certainly, I think Peyton Whitted and
Kaliyah Mitchell have really embraced being impact players off the bench."
Coming out of high school, all of them were ranked among the top prospects in
the country and were the top players on their high school teams, which helped
Penn State bring in the No. 6 recruiting class in the country.
Making the transition from the high school standout to the college game is tough
enough, but cracking the starting five in a program that was led by a core
group of seniors makes it a little tougher.
"Transitioning from high school to college was difficult," said Whitted. "The
competition is better and the game is faster. In college, you have to take in a
lot more information and learn a new system, but I feel like now we have all
made a complete transition and we are starting to really fill our roles and
know what we need to do."
Those roles Whitted alluded to have really taken shape over the last 19 games.
Mitchell and Whitted have both been key contributors off the bench for the Lady
Lions, appearing in 31 and 30 games, respectively, and their growing confidence
has led to more minutes for the duo.
Since Big Ten play started, Mitchell and Whitted have seen an increase in court
time and that has helped alleviate some of the minutes that those four seniors
had logged earlier in the season.
Mitchell played 16.9 minutes per game in the non-conference schedule and is
averaging 17.3 since Big Ten play started, including 21.7 minutes a game in the
postseason. For Whitted, it was 9.8 minutes in the non-conference and that grew
to 11.6 minutes during the Big Ten slate and 12.3 minutes in the postseason.
"I think getting our
confidence level up has been huge," said Mitchell. "As the games have passed,
we continue to see that we can [contribute] in a lot of ways. We [the freshmen]
have improved on our communication and that has helped us contribute more.
Every game we get more comfortable with the game plan and understand what we
have to do to help this team win."
Mitchell was big for the Nittany Lions in their second round win over Florida.
She logged a season-high 25 minutes and contributed eight points, seven
rebounds, two assists and four steals.
It was Whitted that stood out in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament vs.
Wichita State. She played 22 minutes - her second highest total of the season -
and scored four points on two-of-three shooting and grabbed five rebounds,
including three on the offensive glass.
The freshmen are now more assertive and consistent with their game and that has
helped them weave into the fabric of a veteran team.
"I think their
confidence and aggressiveness have grown tremendously," said assistant coach
Fred Chmiel. "They've done a good job of learning the system and they are
starting to get more comfortable with what is happening on the court.
"They've also done a great job of learning to play with their teammates. Those
four seniors have played together for a long time and now you throw a big group
of freshen into mix and it takes time for them to build chemistry, but they've grown
into a good cohesive unit now."
With more confidence comes more playing time and that leads to a better
understanding of how one another will react on the court. Now this team of
experience and youth will take to the court and look to advance to the Elite 8
with a win over the Cardinal.
However it ends up today in Maples Pavilion, this group of freshmen can only
benefit from this appearance in the Sweet 16 and it can only help them as they
move forward in their careers.