Coaching StaffCoquese Washington, who helped lead Notre Dame to the 2001 NCAA Championship, was introduced as the fifth head coach of the Penn State women's basketball program on April 23, 2007. Washington is the first female African-American head coach in Penn State history.
Washington returned the Lady Lions to Big Ten prominence in her fifth season as she guided Penn State to the Big Ten regular-season title with a 13-3 record in conference play. Additionally, the Lady Lions advanced to the NCAA Tournament Sweet Sixteen with wins over UTEP and LSU en route to a 26-7 overall record. The Lady Lions posted back-to-back 20-win seasons for the first time since 2002-03 and 2003-04. It was also the first Big Ten crown and Sweet Sixteen berth for the Lady Lions since 2003-04. The Lady Lions were ranked throughout the season and finished ninth in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches' Poll and 11th in the Associated Press Top 25.
For her efforts in rebuilding the Penn State program, Washington was honored as the Big Ten Coach of the Year and the WBCA Region 6 Coach of the Year, making her a finalist for WBCA National Coach of the Year. The accolades were not just limited to Washington; all five Lady Lion starters earned All-Big Ten recognition, including first team bids for Alex Bentley and Maggie Lucas. Both Bentley and Lucas also garnered honorable mention All-America honors from the WBCA and Associated Press, respectively. Bentley became the 33rd player in school history to reach the 1,000-point plateau and just the 15th junior to reach the milestone. Lucas also joined the 1,000-point club in 2011-12, becoming just the third sophomore in program history to accomplish the feat. Lucas tallied 642 points in her sophomore campaign, joining Kelly Mazzante, Suzie McConnell and Susan Robinson as the only players in school history to reach the 600-point mark in a season. On the recruiting trail, the Lady Lions' 2012 class earned a Top 20 class from Dan Olson's Collegiate Girls Basketball Report. The class includes transfer Dara Taylor, who sat out the 2011-12 season due to NCAA transfer rules, and McDonald's High School All-American Candice Agee from California. The addition of Taylor, who was a 2009 McDonald's All-American, and Agee gives the Lady Lions three McDonald's All-Americans on the roster heading into the 2012-13 campaign, joining 2010 honoree Lucas. Additionally, Agee earned a gold medal with the USA Basketball U18 National Team Trials at the 2012 FIBA Americas Championship in August.
In her fifth season, Damon played an active role in the growth of Ariel Edwards who was a solid reserve for the Lady Lions in her freshman season to a part-time starter as a sophomore. Edwards increased her scoring output by 141.4% (7.0-2.9) and rebounding average by 126.3% (4.3-1.9). Edwards also nabbed a career-high 22 steals and dished out a personal-best 32 assists.
Maren Walseth is in her sixth season at her alma mater where she is primarily responsible for coaching the post players. In addition to her duties as the post coach, Walseth concentrates on special situations for the Lady Lions, while also playing a significant role in the team's recruiting and opponent scouting efforts. She is also the team liaison for academic advising.
Walseth's influence on center Nikki Greene became evident in 2010-11 and 2011-12 as Greene grew into an all-conference performer in her sophomore season. She tallied a career-best 75 rejections, which is sixth on the Penn State single-season list, and became the seventh player in school history with 100 blocks.
Fred Chmiel joined the Lady Lion coaching staff in May 2010. His primary responsibility is working with the guards. He also serves as the team's defensive coordinator, takes a lead role in opponent scouting and assists in all recruiting efforts. Chmiel played a pivotal role in helping backcourt mates Alex Bentley and Maggie Lucas develop into first team All-Big Ten and All-America performers.
Bentley garnered first team All-Big Ten honors for the second-straight season and also took home honorable mention WBCA All-America accolades after finishing 11th in the Big Ten in scoring with a 14.1 average. Additionally, she was named to Big Ten All-Defensive team. Lucas earned first team All-Big Ten and honorable mention Associated Press All-America honors. She finished third in the conference in scoring at a 19.5 per game clip and was just the fourth different Lady Lion to score more than 600 points in a season with 642 tallies on the year.