By ANNA PITINGOLO,
GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - After a grueling five weeks that saw them traveling multiple times across the Midwest, the Lady Lions are back in State College and ready to hit the refresh button.
With recent trips to Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois and Nebraska, the return to Happy Valley garnered the team a well deserved day off to help them rejuvenate before they face Rutgers on Sunday at 2:00 p.m.
"It was more than clearing their heads, [they were] resting their bodies," head coach Coquese Washington said. "I think the double-overtime game [against Purdue] coupled with the trip to Nebraska...was tiring. So they definitely needed the day off to get their bodies rested and to get ready for Rutgers on Sunday."
Playing two to three games a week can be tiring, so Washington gave the Lady Lions Wednesday off, and then had them just watch film on Thursday. Washington is focusing on her team's energy, which has been up and down throughout games.
"Hopefully getting a couple days rest will help with [getting a good balance of energy throughout the game]," Washington said. "I thought we played with pretty good energy for the most part against Purdue, and I think with our shortened bench we just ran out of gas against Nebraska in some respects. I think the timing of this game and being able to have a couple of days off to rest and rejuvenate will help us to have energy the full four quarters."
With injuries and exhaustion plaguing the team, senior Brianna Banks is happy that the break came when it did.
"Since we're not really heavy in depth on the team, we're kind of exhausted a little bit, [our] legs and stuff, so we're trying to use this 'bye-week' to try and get our legs back and get everybody back healthy so we can have a full team ready to go for Rutgers," Banks said.
The matchup against Rutgers will be the third time that the teams have faced off in the Big Ten since the Scarlet Knights joined the conference last year. Rutgers was able to walk away with a victory in both games last season.
Despite the newness of the conference series between the two teams, Washington enjoys the natural rivalry that comes with it.
"I definitely think there's some schools that you have some natural rivalries with, in particular due to proximity and I certainly thing that's one of the pluses of having both Rutgers and Maryland join our conference," Washington said. "We've got two schools on the East Coast that we can build rivalries with and I think both of those schools provide us with that opportunity because of proximity."
Being back at the BJC after a road trip is exciting for the team, especially given the support they receive from the hometown fans. Playing in opposing environments can be taxing on a team, so to be playing back in Happy Valley is a welcome change.
"Our kids love playing in front of our crowd," Washington said. "They're passionate, they're energetic and they certainly are that sixth man for us and give us that shot that we need during different stretches of the game. [The team is] excited to be back home for at least one game and be back in the friendly confines of the BJC."