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Lady Lions Ready for Akron

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By ANNA PITINGOLO, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - With the season in full swing, the Lady Lions are getting used to all that it comes with. And right now, that means playing multiple games in a row with a quick turnaround between each.

Penn State will be back in the Bryce Jordan Center on Wednesday to take on the Akron Zips for their third game in six days. With such a short rest period between games, head coach Coquese Washington was happy that her team was able to keep up their performance throughout the weekend, and she hopes that continues. 

"I liked the way we bounced back. With the quick turnaround, there's not a lot of time to get in the gym and really get after it from a physical standpoint," Washington said. "So really just focusing in and talking through some things and having more of a 'mental' practice and then just being able to make those adjustments without really going through a lot on the court, I was pleased [last weekend]." 

Despite the fast shift from game to game, the Lady Lions were able to follow up Friday's loss at Drexel with a 56-point pounding of Saint Peter's on Sunday. Now, with such a dominant win fresh in their minds, Washington keeps her team focused by continuing to work on their game plan. 

"We talk about the areas that we did well in but we also talk about some areas of growth that we have to have," Washington said. "So that's always our focus, it's 'how can we get better, what areas of the game do we need to smooth out and make sure we're paying attention to.' I think when we have that kind of focus, that it's not hard at all to get back in the gym and work on getting better for the next game." 

Redshirt freshman Amari Carter is on the same page as her coach and she and her teammates have already put the weekend games behind them as they turn their attention to the Zips.

"It's like every other game. That was a game on Sunday so now we have to focus on Wednesday," Carter said. "We can't keep dwelling on the past, just like we couldn't dwell on the loss from Friday on Sunday. So we just try to keep moving forward and work on progressing." 

After watching film from the weekend matchups, Washington saw a lot of positives from her team. But with it still being so early in the season, she knows that this team has so much potential that it's still trying to reach.

"There's certainly some room for growth. I'd like us to be a little bit more attuned to executing all the fine details defensively," Washington said. "I thought there were a couple possessions where there's a little bit of slippage from what we talked about doing and planned to do going into the game, so I'd like to see that be a little bit better." 

Guard Lindsey Spann is looking at perfecting the details of the team's defensive play going forward. And with Akron having success behind the arc so far this season, Spann is hoping the Lady Lions can improve their execution.

"We just definitely need to stay focused on defense the entire game, and not really take those mental lapses but just stay focused on defense and communicate and do the things we've been practicing," said the redshirt junior. 

Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. on Wednesday and all the action can be heard on the Penn State Radio Network.

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By ANNA PITINGOLO, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Led by redshirt junior Lindsey Spann's career-high 31 points, Penn State won its home opener on Sunday, 106-50 over Saint Peter's in a game that saw five Lady Lions reach double-digits in scoring.

After dropping the first game of the season to Drexel on Friday, the Lady Lions (1-1) came out with renewed energy, dropping 39 points in the first quarter. Head coach Coquese Washington was happy with how her team performed early. 

"It's fun and a little less stressful when you know that you can come out and put points on the board. One of the things we want to be doing is being aggressive and attacking," Washington said. "I think that our depth, when you add some of the players to the team that we have this year in terms of bringing Sierra Moore back, having Amari Carter on the floor, adding Jaida Travascio-Green and adding Siyeh Frazier, it gives us a few more options that we are able to stay fresh, sub in and keep the tempo going the way we want it to go."

Prior to the season, Washington wanted her team to play at a faster pace, and that was evident against Saint Peter's. The Lady Lions were able to move the ball up and down the court quickly, often getting to the basket before the Peacocks could transition.

"I just think as a team we had a lot more energy and were really focused," Spann said. "We played with a lot of intensity. We fed off of that and didn't let our opponents effect what we were doing. We were able to control the tempo of the game."

Spann went off for her second career 30-point game after being held to just four points against Drexel. After taking time to regroup and refocus between games, she started out fast, scoring 20 of her points in the first half, and never looked back. Spann also led the team with six steals in the game. 

"I was just focusing on the things we talked about coming into this game. We wanted to play a fast, up-tempo game," Spann said. "I just got out there and transitioned and my teammates found me so I was able to score a lot off of the passes."

Moore, Kaliyah Mitchell, Teniya Page and Peyton Whitted also reached double figures in the game. The five combined to score more than half of Penn State's points, helping the Lady Lions to reach 100 points for the first time since 2013.

Penn State held the Peacocks (0-1) to just four made 3-pointers, which was a significant decrease from the 11 they allowed on Friday night. Washington said her team was able to make the adjustments it needed to after such a short turnaround between games. 

"We had a little bit more energy on the defensive end and we had a lot more communication on the defensive end. In our game against Drexel we just had some miscommunications that led to some wide-open 3-pointers and Drexel is a team that will make you pay [for that]," Washington said. "It was good to have a game like this with a quick turnaround. Yesterday we didn't have a physical practice, it was more of a mental practice and to see them be able to transfer what we talked about to game day, I was very pleased." 

The win marks the 900th in Lady Lion program history, making them just the 16th Division I program to reach that mark. Spann is appreciative to be part of such a "dominant program" and Washington agrees. 

"It is humbling to be part of such a tremendous legacy," Washington said, "When you think about all of the coaches that have come before me and what they have done for this program and for women's sports at both Penn State and nationally, I am just thrilled that I can do my part to add to that legacy."

The Lady Lions are back in action at the Bryce Jordan Center on Wednesday when they host the Akron Zips. Tip is set for 7 p.m.

By Ryan Berti, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Practice: it's something that's not necessarily enjoyable, but in order for a team's performance on the court and its outcomes to be enjoyable, it's something that is necessary.

 

Allen Iverson might disagree on this topic, but it's something that is generally accepted to be essential and directly related to individuals and team-oriented success. Without any game plan or preparation, college basketball turns into nothing more than a glorified intramural game.

 

Lady Lions Head coach Coquese Washington understands practice's importance, but also knows it isn't on the top of everyone's list of favorite things.

 

"Let's face it, people get in sports for game day, they don't get into sports because of practice," Washington said.

 

But that's exactly why the women's basketball team heads into this weekend with a vibrant level of eagerness and elation; after months and months of practice and preparation, it's finally time for a real game.

 

On Friday night at 7:00 p.m., Penn State heads to Drexel to take on the Dragons for the first game of the 2016-2017 regular season. With a new season comes a new energy at its inception, as the team gets ready to get back out on the hardwood and play.  With that said, that energy does not just show up on game day, as it has been embodied by the players during this week's practices.

 

"There's a different level of enthusiasm and there's a different level of excitement when you start game week and are getting ready to play games," Washington said after quoting Muhammad Ali and how his mind prepared him for a big fight through training. "Practice Sunday was a lot more enthusiasm, a lot louder."

 

But the level of exuberance does not just stop there at the student-athletes, Washington says, it expands all the way to the coaches too.

 

"From the coaches' standpoint we get excited too. We like that challenge of game day, so it certainly has a different feeling in the gym this week in a good way," Washington said.

 

Senior guard Lindsey Spann has been one helping foster the team's uptick in positive attitude towards getting the team prepared to get the job done against the Drexel.

 

"A lot of people are amped up [and] excited," Spann said while maintaining the importance of staying focused. "Drexel, Drexel, Drexel; we're not really looking past Drexel. We're focused on the first game, that's the goal, that's the mindset, so we're energized and that's where we've been putting most of our focus to."

 

As an upperclassman and team leader, Spann recognizes the boost this type of mentality can have heading into the first week of the season for the underclassmen, especially the freshmen.

 

Washington agreed and said that the freshmen's nerves usually hit them on game day. However, she said if freshman Jaida Travascio-Green is able to just play through the nerves like she did in the exhibition last month against Bloomsburg then it should not be an issue. Fellow freshman Siyeh Frazier might also find playing time on Friday as she aims to return back from injury.

 

Coach Washington hopes heading into the matchup that her team is able to match their heightened spirits with a heightened tempo, which is something she has been speaking of the entire offseason. In her weekly press conference, Washington said that the tempo is not quite up to the desired speed yet, but she hopes it will be able to get back up to the appropriate level come Friday during the game.

 

 

Against a team like Drexel that can shoot from deep with efficiency, create solid ball movement and boast quality players like veteran point guard Meghan Creighton and All-CAA regular Sarah Curran, it's imperative Penn State finds a way to bring their energy and convert it into their defensive presence around the perimeter and keep up their desired up-tempo transition game.

 

With the team's energy reaching a high, the Nittany Lions aim to use it on the court against their competition as a way to execute their game plan and come out victorious. But in the end, the level of excitement really just is a product of what makes sports as great as they are: the love of playing the game.

 

"I'm just excited to play basketball again," Spann said.

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By Ryan Berti, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Many student-athletes dream of getting to the next level once their collegiate careers come to an end and while only about one percent of all NCAA women's basketball players end up being drafted into the WNBA, the Penn State coaching staff claims three members who have enjoyed professional basketball careers.

                                                                                      

Head coach Coquese Washington and assistant coaches Itoro Coleman and Tamika Jeter all boast WNBA service on their resumes, making the Lady Lions coaching staff one of the only two programs in the country with as many coaches with WNBA experience.

 

Between the three, they combined for 14 seasons in the Association and have tutored 10 student-athletes that followed their path into professional basketball. With the staff's rare combination of personally playing know-how and teaching student-athletes the skills needed, the staff has the personal knowledge of what it takes to continue one's basketball career beyond college.

 

Before Washington entered the coaching realm and eventually took the helm of Penn State's program in 2007, she was a law student at Notre Dame who simultaneously played in the ABL. After one season with the ABL's Portland Power, she joined the WNBA in 1998 with the New York Liberty.

 

After two team changes, six seasons and one WNBA title with the Houston Comets in 2000, Washington retired from playing and moved into coaching. Washington wasn't only a standout on the court, as she would use her law degree to become the founding President of the WNBA Players Association in 1999 as she helped lead the charge in the negotiation of the Association's first two collective bargaining agreements.

Looking back on her career, Washington was nothing but smiles as she mentioned a number of great coaches and players she was able to share the floor with.

 

"It was incredible. It was so much fun being able to play with some of the best players in the world and playing alongside hall of famers," Washington said.

 

Assistant Coach Itoro Coleman took the path less traveled to begin her professional career. Going undrafted as an All-American out of Clemson, Coleman found her way into training camps without a guaranteed spot on a regular season roster and often times had to grind it out and trust that things would fall in her favor.

 

She spent two seasons in the league, 2001 with Indiana and 2003 in Houston, and also saw a host of success in international competition with Team USA and the Nigerian national team.

 

When reflecting on her career, Coleman not only mentioned the elite talent she competed with each night on the court, but she also talked about how different the college game was from the professional level.

"The level of talent that is on the floor [in the WNBA] at the same time was very different from college," Coleman said. "In college you can strategize against different team's best players, but when you get to the pros, everybody is great. Just being able to play with a lot of really good athletes was pretty amazing."

 

The newest addition to the coaching staff, Tamika Jeter, had a solid professional career that started when she was selected No. 6 overall in the 2002 WNBA Draft by the Minnesota Lynx following her time at the University of Connecticut which featured two national championships.

 

The former Tamika Williams would go on the rack up over 1,400 points, 1,100 rebounds, 220 assists and 180 steals during her seven seasons in the WNBA, earning the Dawn Staley Community Leadership Award in her final season. Williams continues to hold the No. 1 spot for single season field goal percentage, posting a .668 field goal percentage in 2003.

 

Amongst overall exposure to the world at large and several traveling opportunities, she expresses that being able to play against the best of the best night in and night out was her favorite part.

 

"The best thing about the WNBA is playing against the best players in the world every night, so you know you're playing at the top level against the best players that you can ever play against for however many years you play," Jeter said.

 

Each coach was able to accomplish their dream of playing in the WNBA, but the sheer enjoyment of their achievements is not the only thing they are able to take away. All of them agreed there are valuable lessons come from being a professional athlete, and they carry those lessons into coaching.

 

"The knowledge that we gained and that we're able to bring back to our team and help them develop their games and prepare them to play at the next level is huge," Washington said. "We know from first-hand experience having been there ourselves, so I definitely think it's a tremendous benefit for our players."

 

Jeter says she pieced together more and more knowledge as her playing career went and she was able to use each one-on-one matchup as a learning experience.

 

"You get exposed to all these different players and [styles of play]," Jeter said, " and I used to love studying Tina Thompson and Lauren Jackson. I could just literally just watch and take notes on things that I would like that they would do. That really helped me to be successful."

 

Having gone down a different road than most to reach the WNBA, Coleman took her experience and uses it as a teaching point for her student-athletes who aspire to reach the same heights.

 

"I want my players to be the best possible players you can be and let the cards lay," Coleman said. "Sometimes you might not understand why a coach is making a decision, but that's not in your control. You control the things that you control and then you can be happy about the type of product you put out there."

 

With the vast amounts of playing time at the biggest stage of women's basketball, and with proof they can also get student-athletes there, the Lady Lions coaching staff is unique in the depth of knowledge they bring to the game night in and night out.

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By Ryan Berti, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - After seven months of hard-work in the weight room and scores of hours of practice against each other, the Lady Lions finally had a chance to once again step out onto the hardwood and test their skills against another team, while also giving fans a taste of what's to come.

 

Penn State took down the Bloomsburg Huskies 85-41 Sunday afternoon at the Bryce Jordan Center in the one-and-only exhibition for the Lions before the start of the regular season. In the victory, they were able to get valuable playing time against opposing players and showcase what they have been working on since last year.

 

Throughout the offseason, the Lady Lions have spoken about the team's newfound speed and preached its importance moving forward. The up-tempo style was executed often and early on in contest as Penn State started off the game going full-throttle.

 

The first five baskets of the game from the field by the Lions all came off of quick transitions from the team turning hard-pressing defense into an aggressive offensive attack. Those five scores were tallied in just 27 combined seconds, going from one end of the floor to the other, averaging just 5.4 seconds per possession.

 

The team's speed was shown in flashes throughout the game, ultimately fueling the Penn State offense to 22 fast break points, but coach Coquese Washington said after the game that the team has some work to do to get up to the optimal speed.

 

"I didn't think we played as fast as I'd like," Washington said. "I think we played faster than we have in the past, but I think in terms of looking at our ability to push the basketball, I think we can [play faster]."

 

During the game's early stages, the Penn State defense had their way with the Huskies. In the first four minutes of play, Penn State forced four steals and held Bloomsburg scoreless. A Ciara Forde layup with 5:58 remaining in the first gave the visitors their first points on the board, but Bloomsburg struggled to find much rhythm on the offensive end, ending the game shooting just 30 percent. 

One of the newest members of the Lady Lions, Jaida Travascio-Green, got to make her first appearance in the Blue and White, and she could not have gotten off to a better start. A few minutes into the second quarter, the freshman took her first shot as a Penn Stater and drilled a three-pointer. Then at the quarter's halfway mark, she hit another from behind the arc, this time stepping back and shooting it with a defender right in her face. Immediately after on the ensuing Bloomsburg possession, Travascio-Green added a steal to her stat sheet as she snatched an off-target inside pass and helped lead the offense the other way.

 

She finished the day with nine points after going 3-5 from deep while also contributing on the defensive end with a block and two steals.


"I'm excited by the way all of our underclassmen have been playing," Peyton Whitted said on the play of the squad's younger players. "If you saw Jaida playing, you didn't see that she's a freshman, she's not playing like one. They're doing a great job"

While the guard had herself a solid first time playing against college competition, the stars of the day came from the veterans in sophomore guard Teniya Page and senior forward Peyton Whitted.

The former put up a superb team-high 19 points on 57 percent shooting along with nine assists to fill up the box score, meanwhile the latter scored one point less but at an efficient 75 percent clip while also garnering eight total rebounds.

 

Whitted had an especially strong start to the second half by registering the first four baskets for the Lions in the first three minutes of the third quarter. She was a menace inside the paint and was the catalyst that allowed Penn State to outscore Bloomsburg in the paint 50-16.

 

Many positives came from the victory, but coach Washington knows there is no glory in being complacent and also saw many areas of the game; like pace, communication and offensive execution; that can be improved on in the coming weeks before the regular season's inception.

 

"There were a lot of positives and a lot of things that the kids can take away from [this game]," Washington said. "As coaches we often say you learn a lot from a loss, but I think there are a lot of things that we can learn positively in terms of areas of growth out of a win. We'll watch the film and point out some areas we can continue to get better at and we'll go from there."

 

The season sits now 12 days away for the Lady Lions as they open the year on the road at Drexel. That game takes place Friday, November 11 at 7 p.m.

 

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By ANNA PITINGOLO, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Lady Lions will hit the court this weekend for the first time this season in an exhibition game against Bloomsburg. They return to the Bryce Jordan Center on Sunday for a 2 p.m. tip. 

After finishing last year with a 12-19 record, the Lady Lions are looking to improve upon on that, and head coach Coquese Washington is looking at the freshman to make an immediate impact. 

"I've been really impressed with our freshman so far. They picked up things really, really quickly," Washington said. "They've acclimated themselves very quickly and when I look at the two of them, including [transfer] De'Janae Boykin who hasn't played college basketball and [redshirt sophomore] Amari Carter who really hasn't either, I think our young guards will be a big impact on the floor." 

It's those same freshmen that have surprised Washington since practice started. Since their arrival on campus, they've worked to be as prepared as possible for their collegiate debut.

"Our freshman have really surprised me in the way that they have almost seamlessly fit into what we're doing and the way that they play off of the returning members and the kids who know what they're doing," Washington said. "They've done that so well that it's given us a little bit more depth at this point of the season, which I'm happy to see." 

With a successful offseason under their belt, Washington is ready to see the work put in at those practices translate over into on court success this weekend. 

"The exhibition game gives us a chance to see that in a game environment and live action, it gives us a chance to kind of start to look at substitution patterns and things of that nature, those are the things were looking at and what lineups go well together in a game atmosphere," Washington said. 

Senior Peyton Whitted is also looking for the team to show off its new speed after spending a good chunk of the offseason focusing on it.

"I've definitely seen a different pace on our team. We brought in a lot of guards this year so we're definitely up and down a lot more than we were last year," Whitted said. "Our post guards are running down quicker than we have in the past few years. And we're just scoring a lot of points and that's what's awesome about how fast we've been playing."

Preparation for an exhibition game is no different from a regular season game, but with tape available only from last season, it can be tricky. 

"We want to try to be as prepared as possible. The tough thing about an exhibition game is you don't have as much film to scout so you're going off of what they did last year, so there's always going to be some surprises," Washington said. "But that's actually a good thing because it prepares us for later in the season when teams have time to prepare and they put in new things, so from that standpoint, it's a great opportunity for us [practice how to] make the adjustments during the game as we go along."

Washington has yet to settle on a staring five for the season, but she has an idea of who she's going to start on Sunday.  But this exhibition game could change that lineup heading into the start of the season in a few weeks. 

"It's still a little early, I kind of have an idea, but we'll probably go with the kids who have played a lot of minutes for us," Washington said. "But this exhibition game will give us a chance to solidify things as we move to the start of the season."

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By Ryan Berti, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Hall of Fame coach Bob Knight once said that "Good basketball always starts with good defense." This holds true today in the realm of collegiate women's basketball when five of the nation's top 10 ranked teams also ranked in the top 20 of field-goal percentage defense last season and another two teams ranked inside the top 50.

 

If teams want to beat the best, they need to have players who can lock down opposing attackers in order to force turnovers and give their offense more opportunities to get points on the board. As the Penn State Lady Lions aspire to get their program to the next level, they bring aboard a freshman in Siyeh Frazier who looks to provide a spark on the defensive side of the ball.

 

Frazier hails from the motor city of Detroit, Mich. where she attended Renaissance High School. In her four years with the Renaissance, Frazier was a four-year letter winner and put up big numbers on the court. In her high school career, she tallied over 1,200 points, 300 steals and 200 assists, all the while maintaining a 3.2 GPA. As a captain, Frazier embodied her leadership role and made sure she was vocal in her efforts to help make the team better through both direction and support.

 

She capped it all off with an incredibly impressive senior season that saw her average 20.5 points, 5.7 rebounds and 4.5 steals per game. Her incredible play in her final season of high school made her a well-deserving finalist for the title of Michigan Miss Basketball as well as a First Team All-State selection in both her junior and senior years.

 

ESPN ranked her as the No. 22 prospect at her respective position of guard in the 2016 recruiting class. The sports media outlet evaluated her from her participation in the 2015 Nike Midwest Showdown and touted her as an "athletic off-guard with quick 1st-step attack" who also is "physical" on the drive and on defense.

 

It was almost a full year ago when Frazier announced her commitment to Penn State amongst her peers at her high school. Amongst her many reasons for deciding to make the trip all the way to Happy Valley, the guard said the coaches were a big reason why she decided to wear the Blue and White.

 

"One thing that made me really want to come here was the coaching staff. They're amazing, especially coach [Coquese Washington], she cares more about us than actually playing."

 

Coach Washington was struck by Frazier's level of overall athletic ability coming out of high school and saw her as a player who could make a lasting impact for the Lady Lions. She announced at media day that she expects an immediate impact from both Frazier and fellow freshman Jaida Travascio-Green. Frazier says that coach expects her to play hard, play good defense and do her best all the time.

 

"Siyeh Frazier is an incredible athlete, she's a defensive dynamo," Washington said on what made her want to bring Frazier into the program. "She really gets after it on the defensive end of the floor and is able to get to the basket and be explosive in that respect."

 

The freshman now is in the process of taking her talents and transitioning them into the college game. The next level can sometimes be demanding for new players since it demands a lot more from the student-athletes than at the high school level where athleticism is often enough for athletic players to get by.

 

Frazier says her transition, while challenging, has been rather smooth. Not only has she had a solid level of support from her teammates and coaching staff, but for the first time over the summer, the program was able to hold full-length practices. Coach Washington says she believes the practices were able to help the freshmen like Frazier out the most as a way to ease into this next level.

 

"They got to kind of get thrown into the fire in terms of understanding how much information it is on the college level," Washington said. "How many plays we have, thinking about all the defenses, all the out-of-bounds plays; so being able for them to be able to have that experience in the summer just made it easier for them to transition to the college game."

 

Being able to comfortably adapt to her new environment has given the freshman the ability to focus on what she does best, and that's leaving it all out on the floor.


When asked what she expects to contribute to the team this season, her response was, "
Bringing energy, playing hard and doing anything they need me to do."

Last year in an interview with MLive.com, the then-senior said she finds her game to also be very "versatile" and even "clutch."

 

"I'm able to adjust very well, play through a lot of adversities and do things when it's needed," Frazier said.

 

Next Friday will mark the official start to the season for Frazier and the Penn State, where she will look to pick up where she left off at Renaissance by leaving an impression out on the hardwood, all the while beginning a new chapter in her young career as one of the newest members of the Lady Lions.

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By Anna Pitingolo, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - With the start of a new season approaching, the Lady Lions have many familiar faces coming back for the 2016-17 season. Among those faces are new ones, too, with two freshmen added to the roster.

However, there is one more face in the crowd that fans may not recognize, but she's been on campus getting ready for her blue and white debut since January. 

De'Janae Boykin arrived in Happy Valley at the beginning of 2016 when she transferred from Connecticut. She didn't play during her freshman year due to an injury, but since transferring to Penn State she's been able to get back to 100 percent.

Having transferred in the middle of the season, Boykin has been able to integrate herself into the team fabric over the last year. She's been able to workout with the team and get acclimated to the program.

"I just think being here since January has brought me closer to the girls," Boykin said. "I know last year the team was kind of different and being a part of this year's team is very new and very different.I'm excited to fully be a part of the team this year." 

When Boykin, from Springdale, Md., was looking for potential landing spots once she decided to transfer, it was Penn State's head coach Coquese Washington who caught her eye.

"Coach Washington and the entire coaching staff really sold this place to me," Boykin said. "And Penn State is actually closer to home for me, it's only three hours away and it's family oriented. So with all that, I knew I wanted to play here."

Boykin boasts an impressive resume thus far in her career. She was a McDonald's High School All-American in 2015 and has won three international gold medals with USA Basketball since 2013, including one at the 2014 Youth Olympic Games. Boykin also was a participant in the inaugural Jordan Brand Classic. 

Having missed last season, Boykin is eager to get on the court with her new team. But while she can practice with no restrictions, Boykin won't be able to see any playing time until the spring semester. 

"I'm excited to play with this group of girls," Boykin said. "I'm excited for myself because [last year] was my second year out [due to injury], so I finally get to play this year. I'm just looking forward to being on the court again."

Boykin and the Lady Lions will continue practicing the next week, before Boykin's teammates will take on Bloomsburg in an exhibition game at the Bryce Jordan Center October 30th, and then officially open the regular season at Drexel on Friday, November 11th.

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By: Ryan Berti, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Nearly 600 miles separates the campus of Penn State from Lisle, Illinois, a small village about an hour outside of Chicago, but while a distance that vast may be the intimidating for some to handle, freshman guard Jaida Travascio-Green has the length to cover it.

The 6-foot-2 wing player is flush with talent and has found herself in University Park after a storied career in high school. She racked up over 1,500 points, 500 rebounds and close to 200 steals in her time at Downers Grove North High School, as she earned All-State honors in both her junior and senior seasons.

But Travascio-Green didn't just dominate the competition on the court. She took her talents to the high jump in her time with the school's track and field team her junior and senior seasons. Her athleticism allowed her to leap to the top of the state's ranks, finishing third in the state her junior year before taking home the crown at the 2016 IHSA State Championships as a senior.

With her copious amounts of success at the high school level, the now-freshman was ranked No. 20 in the nation at her position in the 2016 recruiting class. Head coach Coquese Washington saw her as someone who could immediately contribute to the team and recruited her from the Prairie State.

"Jaida is a fantastic three-point shooter, and she's a shooter with size," Washington said. "At 6-foot-2, she has the ability to see over people, to shoot over people and to knock down shots."

Last November, Travascio-Green and fellow freshman Siyeh Frazier signed their letters of intent and committed to Penn State. Travascio-Green said she was thrilled to commit to a Big Ten school but the biggest appeal came not from what she could achieve on-the-court, but in the classroom behind coach Washington's dedication to academics.

"Something I loved about Penn State is Coquese was really big on academics before athletics, which you didn't see a lot of places," she said.

Being so far away from home, she says her transition into the life of a college student-athlete has not been the simplest route, but it has been easier than expected. With help from teammates to get rides and to be shown around, Adding she and Frazier have become acclimated to the way of things both in practice and on campus.

The wing has also not found it hard to make immediate connections with her fellow Lady Lions as the upperclassmen are helping ease her into college sports.

"I call [Sierra Moore] the grandma of the team because she's the oldest, and then Kaliyah [Mitchell] is always very supportive," Travascio-Green said about a few of her more experienced teammates. "All the upperclassmen make sure I'm okay, especially since I'm a freshman."

As she has been able to smoothly settle into college life, she has been able to turn her attention towards the floor and what she can bring to her team.  ESPN evaluated her as a high school student-athlete at the 2014 Nike Nationals, and described her as a "long and agile perimeter threat" with "off-the-charts potential."

Travascio-Green agrees that her outside shot is one of her best skills and she hopes it can help bring another layer to the team.

"I think that stretching the defense would really help with a lot of the girls being able to drive, like Lindsey [Spann] and Teniya [Page], really being able to get in and the defenses cannot sag as much," she said.

Coach Washington stressed the amount of confidence she has in her freshmen at media day by saying she expects both Travascio-Green and Frazier to be "impact players" on the team this year.

Jumping into the mix of things straightway for freshmen in college sports tends to be an exception rather than the rule at most programs across the nation, but while Travascio-Green has some expectations of her right out of the gate, the competitor in her is ready for the challenge and cannot wait to get into the action come November.

"I've thought about playing basketball ever since I was younger so to be here is pretty exciting," she said. ""I'm just ready to get started."


By Anna Pitingolo, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Head coach Coquese Washington and the 2016-2017 team met with the media on Tuesday for their annual media day at the Bryce Jordan Center.

MORE LINKS: Coquese Washington Transcript | Player Transcripts | Photo Gallery

The Lady Lions are coming off a 16-16 (7-11 Big Ten) season, and looking to improve on that this upcoming year.  The team returns to All-Big Ten selections in guards Teniya Page and Lindsey Spann.  Page earned Second Team All-Big Ten and was a unanimous All-Freshman Team selection, while Span earned honorable mention All-Big Ten accolades.

Check out more sights and sounds from Media Day below:

Replacing Banks' production
Brianna Banks may have only played one season in blue and white, but she played an important role on the court. Banks averaged 13.4 points last year and boasted a .380 field goal percentage. Now that she's graduated, Washington isn't looking for just one player to fill in her role.

 "I think we'll replace her production with some of the new faces," Washington said. "I think Amari Carter is somebody who can put some points on the board for us.  I think our two freshmen have shown promise early in practice and I'd like to get a little bit more out of our post kids, have them be a little bit more impactful. So we're not looking for one person to replace Bri Banks."

Moore and Carter return from injury
Both Sierra Moore and Carter missed last season due to knee injuries that they sustained before the season had started. Now they are healthy and ready to return to the court, and their teammates are happy to have them back.

 "It's been very exciting to get back and work with them," said senior Peyton Whitted. "They're really competitive players and they're going to help us a lot in a lot of areas. Amari's really aggressive at scoring and Sierra can do it all, she's a rebounder, she's a defensive player, she's just competitive and she just wants to win. So they are two key components to our team that are going to make us really strong this year." 

Freshmen ready to make an impact
With the addition of true freshmen Siyeh Frazier and Jaida Travascio-Green, and redshirt sophomore transfer De'Janae Boykin, Washington is looking for them to make an immediate impact. Boykin isn't eligible to start playing until the spring semester but Frazier and Travascio-Green are ready for the whatever is thrown at them.

 "I feel like as far as doing what Coach needs me to do, I'm very competitive so whatever she needs me to do, I feel like I'm ready," Frazier said. "Of course I'm probably not starting ready or game ready right now, but I feel like I can do whatever she needs me to do." 

Tamika Williams-Jeter added to staff
In the offseason, Washington added Tamika Williams-Jeter to her coaching staff as an assistant to replace Kia Damon, who left the program to coach at University of Cincinnati.

 "It's been a positive having Tamika on staff," Washington said. "She brings a lot of energy and knowledge, she's a fantastic teacher, she's really bonded well and built great relationships with our post players very quickly and I think it's allowed our staff to have tremendous chemistry at this point in the season."

@GOPSUSPORTS

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