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Oct. 15, 2012
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#54 Nikki Greene
Q: How have you improved on last year?
A: I feel like I have improved on shooting, expanding my game and facing-up a player at the free throw line. Defensively, I am starting to incorporate primary defense, improve my free throw percentage and continue to demand for the ball.
Q: How about as a team?
A: I think the team has improved by size by adding Candice to the roster. Size is definitely a big factor. We have also improved on shooting of course and speed of the game. Coquese has definitely incorporated speed.
Q: Are you looking forward to getting started?
A: Of course, I am looking forward to the season. I am looking for good competition from the South, West Coast and the North.
Q: What do you think will be the biggest challenge for the team?
A: As a team we must go 100 percent at all times. We won our conference, so everyone is after us but we just need to continue to keep our poise in every game we go into. If we stick to the game plan, we will have a great outcome.
Q: You guys have a tougher non-conference this year. You saw what Connecticut had last year. What will this present for the team looking ahead?
A: I think that the schedule that the coaches set up will help us in our preseason, during conference play and postseason. I know that A&M is really good, along with UConn too. So no matter the outcome, win, lose, we can look back and correct whatever mistakes that we did do as well as continue on with what we did well. It will give us a great opportunity to improve for the postseason.
Q: We know you had a bit of foul trouble in games. How will you improve on that this season?
A: For me personally, it will be keeping my composure. When I went into foul trouble, a lot of stuff was more of me not keeping my composure. I'm just going to play through everything that goes on in the game.
Q: What has the experience as a Lady Lion been like?
A: It has been great. From the trip to Europe we learned that we got better chemistry wise. We know exactly what everyone wants and how each other plays. It is great to have veterans as we don't have to reteach everything because if we had to reteach everything then it would set us back.
Q: Since you guys won the Big Ten title, do you enjoy being the team that everyone is hunting?
A: Our team likes a hard challenge. We like that. We think we can take on the challenge and get better. We can show everyone that we are Penn State and we have high standards here.
Q: What can you expect from the new players Dara and Candice?
A: Candice has a nice post presence. She has a nice finish around the rim. From Dara you will see speed and a lot of assists. She feeds into the post, penetrates and breaks down the defense. She does a really great job of doing that.
#33 Maggie Lucas
Q: Talk about the culture of the Europe trip. Have you ever been to Europe before? What was your favorite thing that you did in Europe?
A: I've been once, I went to Germany when I was younger. It was unbelievable. Just to go with my teammates on a once-in-a-lifetime trip. My mom came, both of my grandmothers came. Experiencing that with them was pretty cool. I went boat tubing when we went to Niece on the beach. That was amazing.
Q: What do you feel you've improved most in your game this offseason?
A: I continued to work on adding more combo moves. Last year, I brought more than just the three-ball. I continue to work on that, continue to hone those skills. Fred(Chmiel) and I work on my ball handling. There were days that I was in the gym and didn't shoot the ball. I was doing ball handling drills and passing drills. I'm trying to become a more complete player.
Q: How many days did you have like that where you didn't shoot at all?
A: A couple here and there. There was one day when we couldn't get in the gym because something was going on. We had an individual workout scheduled and we set up some cones and did some ball handling. We did about 45 minutes of just all ball handling.
Q: Was that one of the days that stuck out to you from the summer?
A: Yeah, definitely. I didn't think I could have so much fun in the gym without even shooting it.
Q: What does it feel like with the expectations you have this year, being a top ten team coming in? Does that change how you approach things?
A: It's no different. We have our own expectations for the team, we don't let anyone else set what our expectations are going to be. Right now, we just want to get better day-to-day and be playing our best basketball at the end of March.
Q: Is it a different feeling being the hunted more than the hunter this year?
A: I think we were the hunted a little more last year, so this team has experience with that. We were top of the Big Ten last year. This is a whole different year, but we just try to go in and play our style of basketball and set the pace.
Q: How does Candice(Agee) fit in and what does she bring for you guys?
A: She fits in really well. She's unbelievable around the basket. She has a great touch and she loves the game. We're just excited to have her.
Q: Does it feel like the season's finally getting here?
A: Yeah, definitely. We're in the gym a ton, we're getting drilled constantly with what the game plan is this year. It definitely makes you feel that the season's on the way, but we still have a lot of work to do.
Q: How did the Europe trip help you guys? Does it give you an advantage coming into the season having played together over the summer?
A: Yeah, it helped us get into basketball mode a lot earlier and start thinking about what we're going to do this year.
Q: What advantage does it give you guys that you have a lot of playing experience returning and you didn't have a lot of turnover from last year?
A: That gives us a great advantage. We have that experience and that's a big strength of ours. Other teams are going to be younger, so that's a strength for us.
Q: What's it like playing with Dara?
A: It's awesome. She pushes the ball so fast. I've been playing with her since I was ten years old. I'm a little bit more used to it, I think, just her speed is second to none. It's ridiculous and her passing ability; she sees things that I haven't seen anyone else see.
#24 Mia Nickson
Q: Obviously Dara's quickness and Candice's size are factors this year. Losing Zhaque Gray and Renee Womack, how are those two going to help you guys coming in?
A: Those are great people to come in and help. Dara's quickness is going to be great. She's going to pressure the ball and speed the game up. Candice's size and athleticism is amazing, especially as a freshman. She's only going to get better with time. It's definitely going to help us.
Q: Can you talk about how hungry Dara is to come out and play? You share having to sit out due to transfer rules. What do you see out of her being more of a mentor on the sidelines last year to being a player this year?
A: I think she's just really excited to get on the floor. On the first day of practice, I texted her `hey welcome back'. It's been a while for her and I know how it is to be out and then come back. She's ready, she's studied the game. When she was off, she never missed a beat. I'm excited to see her.
Q: What are your personal expectations for the team this year?
A: Just to be better. We want to continue to get better on the little things, fundamentals, things like that.
Q: With Candice coming in, what does she do for you guys down low? Talia and Tori helped you, but now the addition of another big body.
A: She's going to be great. We're very similar, she's just taller; her ball handling, how she goes up for boards, rebounding. She pretty much dominates the paint, which is great, especially as a freshman. Some people are a little timid, but not Candace, she's just ready to go and do work.
Q: Rebounding hurt you guys a few times last year. How important is rebounding going to be, especially with Candace being able to help down low?
A: Rebounding is always a key. You always want to get the ball, get more possessions, things like that. She's definitely going to help with that, especially with her size and ability to get the ball. It's going to be really good to have her.
Q: You're part of a very strong senior class. What's the urgency for this team to take it a step further this year?
A: This is our last go around, so we just want to work better, do better things than we did last year. We just have things that we want to continue to get better at, like fundamentals. It's really important for us to leave better than where we started at when we came in.
Q: You were a very fast-paced tempo team last year? How are your trying to improve that this year? What things are to trying to improve upon most as a team?
A: Just continue to get faster, get quicker. The game's always changing, so you have to adapt to the game.
Q: Do you feel that you guys are in a pretty good position this year with the players and experience coming back from last year?
A: I think we have a lot of experience this year, only one freshman. Everyone is pretty experienced and older, which is always a benefit wherever you are. Those experiences are going to help us do more, learn more about the game. It's definitely beneficial.
Q: Is there one game or experience that stands out from last year that you really look at and take coming into this year?
A: I think most of the games, especially the conference games. The Big Ten conference is one of the most competitive conferences in the nation. Just going through that schedule, remembering those games, any game was up for grabs. At the end of the season, we were able to push through. At the start of the season, everyone was even keel. It's just one of those things that you're have to take in and learn that you have to give 100 percent no matter who you're playing.
Q: You have some tough games on the non-conference schedule. Is that something that you look forward to?
A: We're excited. I think all of the opponents that we play are going to help us get better. We just take those games one game at a time. We're just really excited to play.
#1 Candice Agee
Q: How did working with Team USA go for you? How did it help you transition into college?
A: It was a little bit of a confidence booster. I came back and felt really good. I knew we had work to do here. It got me a little more in shape with all the running. Overseas basketball is a lot different, so I got to be exposed to a whole new style of play. My teammates went to Europe as well, so we all got the same experience. I wasn't really behind when I got back.
Q: Freshman conditioning can be an interesting wake-up for some players. How have you found it so far?
A: We have a really good trainer. Brad (Pantall) is amazing, but it is probably the hardest part. Some days, I'm like `this is the warmup?' and he says `we haven't even started yet'. It's something else.
Q: How have things fit together with your teammates thus far? Have you picked up the terminology?
A: I've always been a pretty fast learner. I've built relationships over the years with the team, since my junior year. I wasn't meeting strangers when I came. That was really good for me. If I had to jump in blindly, it would've gone a lot different for me.
Q: How have you found playing with these teammates so far?
A: It's exciting. It's a lot different to watch them play than play with them. I find myself having to keep up and usually I'm the one that's learning. It's a very nice change.
Q: Do you like the style of play?
A: I love it so much. It's actually making me a lot faster. I wasn't as fast two months ago as I am now. I actually find myself running up and down the court and I'm right there instead of being a couple paces behind. I love that I'm watching myself get better every day.
#20 Alex Bentley
Q: How was the trip overseas?
A: It was great for team chemistry and it did a lot for us. We did a great job over there. We all love each other and hanging out.
Q: This senior class came in as Coach Coquese's first big class. What does it mean to play through all that and the success that you have had?
A: It started day one when she recruited us. She had a plan for us, and she came through, and so did we. Its working out pretty great.
Q: Hard to believe it is your senior year?
A: Yes, definitely bittersweet. I am ready for the next level, but obviously love my school, my teammates, and the coaching staff. I think it is going to continue to be bittersweet up until the end.
Q: Did you work on anything in particular in the offseason?
A: I focused on my posts, easy looks and easy touches. I want to keep building on that work and keep getting stronger.
Q: Is that something that Coquese told you to work on?
A: Of course, Coach and I talk everyday about the things that I am doing well at and the things that I am not working well at.
Q: How's the team chemistry, considering you only lost one starter from last season? Do you feel you guys are on the same page more this year?
A: Definitely, that comes with experience. Our sophomore, Tori Waldner, has a year under her belt. The juniors all have two years under her belt. Going into this season, we have a lot of experience and are looking to do great things.
Q: What do you guys think you are capable of this year?
A: We are capable of doing a lot of things. We have our goals set and are training to get better every day.
Q: With Maggie, she was talking about adding some things into her repotare. How can that help you?
A: I love playing with Maggie. She is skilled at everything. She can take you on the dribble and take you with the pull up. She is just dangerous. There is nothing missing from her game. She is always in the gym and such a hard worker. That's why I love that kid.
Q: You have a pretty tough out of conference schedule this year. How pumped are you for these games?
A: I am so excited. When Coach was recruiting us, she told us if we handle all of our hard work that she would set up some competitive games and that what she has done. We love it and are ready to be challenged.
Q: Have you have a chance to reflect on your role on the team? Or is that something you think will come later in the season?
A: I see myself as a leader of this team. Coach always says the team goes as I go, and I truly believe that. I feel that my teammates are very skilled at following my lead.
Q: How are the new additions fitting in?
A: Candace is huge. She is the biggest girl on the team and it is going to be fun watching that girl pound in the paint. Dara, that girl is obviously quick. She moves fast and is quicker than me. It is going to be fun getting up and down the court with her.
# 2 Dara Taylor
Q: How are practices going for you this year as a point guard?
A: With Coach being a very talented point guard herself, she demands a lot from her point guards. So, it's a big plate and a lot of handle. But with her teaching you every step of the way, it is easy to follow in her footsteps. It's a constant conversation of what she wants from you and what she expects from you.
Q: What has Coach Coquese taught you?
A: You can always learn, especially from someone with her intelligence. The way she sees the game, I am learning everyday from both a defensive and offensive perspective. She especially taught me about tempo and pace of the game.
Q: To fit with the tempo and pace of the game, some people would call you lightning. Has Coach talked to you about backing off that speed?
A: She has told me that if I go a little less than lightning, I am still pretty much faster than everybody. So, she pretty much wants me to be a little more unpredictable for the defense and to use my speed at the most opportune moments.
Q: What is it like to be a heavy favorite coming into the season?
A: It is definitely there to push you, but we are going to work hard regardless. I personally don't think we think about it too much. I am just focused on us as a team.
Q: What have you been doing during the preseason to adjust your game?
A: Pretty much getting completely used to the game. I ran through it a lot last year, but I didn't play in any games last year. So, I am getting back to being used to the speed and conditioning everyday.
Q: Did the overseas trip help with that?
A: It was very exciting to get the chance to play a live game, against people besides ourselves.
#25 Gizelle Studevent
Q: How do you feel about playing with Maggie?
A: I love playing with Maggie because she is an unselfish player and always cheering her teammates on. She is always positive trying to make us all better.
Q: Your Coach was saying that Maggie is a little more vocal this year, being her junior year. Have you seen that?
A: Oh, definitely. It is so important to be able to communicate with your teammates, and she has done that a lot.
Q: Is being vocal something that Coach harped on for Maggie to improve?
A: Yeah, Coach wants us all to be more vocal and communicate with each other.
Q: How is Maggie's shooting?
A: Maggie is the best shooter I have ever seen, and continues to get better every year.
Q: You appear to be quite the philosopher on twitter. What type of outlet is it to throw that stuff out there?
A: I think I get it a lot from class considering they are all critical thinking, and deal with a lot of issues going on. I love stuff like that.
Q: As much pressure as you are under, playing basketball, does it feel good to have that outlet?
A: I think it does. I think people talk too much about reality shows, in my opinion, so I want to remember the bigger issues. Here and now, I will write something, but once the season starts, my focus is basketball.
#44 Tori Waldner
Q: Anything you worked on in the offseason, in particular?
A: No, nothing in particular. Just general stuff that I want to continue from last year. Being strong in the post is definitely important this year.
Q: How was the European trip?
A: It was awesome. The Colosseum was incredible, considering the amount of activity they had there. It was amazing. The games were also fun. It was a great experience because you get a head start on playing before any of the other teams. The ability to practice is just awesome.
Q: What is it like being such a heavy favorite going into the season?
A: Coach keeps telling us we are the hunted. We are at the top of one of the top conferences. She knows that, we know that and a lot of the other teams know that. If those schools want to be a top team, they know they have to beat us first. That's why were are going to keep working hard.
Q: The football team cannot play in a bowl game due to the sanctions. Since you guys have a great chance at making into the postseason, do you feel more pressure?
A: I think as a part of the university it does. But we want to keep our focus on not putting pressure on ourselves. We want to win for our team and to just continue to get better and improve.
Q: Can you talk about Maggie's work ethic?
A: She is leader. She is always the first one in and the last one out, whether it may be in the gym or in the weight room.
#23 Ariel Edwards
Q: Coming back this season, you guys now have depth and experience. How will the team use that to progress this season?
A: It will allow us to be aggressive on both ends of court. No one feels like they have to save themselves as we always have a sub that will be ready to play. It will be exciting way to play. We won't be afraid that we won't have a sub or a break.
Q: Kia said that she wants you personally to be a stat sheet stuffer. Last year, we saw you come off the bench and start games. So what are your personal expectations for yourself this season?
A: I do not really have any expectations for myself besides for getting better every day. I think that is what every player kind of focuses on, trying to get better and doing things differently that they did wrong.
Q: How important is rebounding this season? It hurt you guys last year especially against Michigan State both times.
A: It will be huge. After we lost Julia Trogle a couple of seasons ago, she was a big rebounding loss for us. When we lost her, we took a hit in that department. So they kind of want me to step up and fill that spot that she left. Our guards will to have to rebound a lot more, but our posts do a great job of rebounding.
Q: You guys are going to Miami, UConn, and Texas A&M. What are the non-conference games going to do to help you prepare for the future?
A: If you want to be the best, you have to play against those who are considered to be the best. They all are great programs, and they will each test us in different ways. It will help us get the experience that we need and achieve big things this year.
Q: Is there a way this team can be better than last year?
A: That is kind of a hard question because we don't base our future seasons off of last season. It is a new team. We lost people and brought new people in so we just want to get better every time we practice and play.
#40 Marisa Wolfe
Q: How do you think this team this year can improve on what you did last year?
A: I think a lot of it is experience. Just being around and in the atmosphere that we were in, making it to the Sweet Sixteen. We kind of understand that now and have more of a sense of what it feels like that it is not so new, it doesn't surprise us. It is a feeling we are going to be used to having.
Q: Do you have any personal goals this season? What are you looking forward to doing?
I'm looking forward to contributing in any way I can to the team and to be successful.
Q: Do you feel any pressure being the team won its conference last season?
A: It is not so much pressure. It is more of we have the target on our back now. We are not so much the chasing team. They are chasing us. We need to play to our standards every game to kind of stay where we need and want to be.
Q: What mental and physical preparations is the team making as a whole to prepare for the upcoming season?
A: We always work as hard as we can all the time. That is how you get better. You have to push yourself and work as hard as you can and every time we do that it helps us stay at the level we need to stay at.
Q: You are a senior now. When you look back at the team freshman year, how do you feel about how far you guys have come?
It is a great feeling. Especially coming in the year that we had our freshman year it was not the greatest year. Being able to look back and say I helped get the program back to where it was is such a great feeling.
#5 Talia East
Q: What are your personal goals for this year?
A: I think my personal goals are just to get a lot better than last year. I think when the team throws me the ball, my field goal percentage should go up. I've been working on that a lot this summer. I think I can rebound more and become a little better defender for the team.
Q: What are the team goals for this year?
A: I think our team goals are just to get better than we were last year. It's a new year, last year doesn't count any more. I think we just want to have a good run going into March.
Q: With a lot of seniors on the team, does that raise expectations about what you want to do this year?
A: Our goals are our goals, but we definitely do have a lot of seniors and we want to send them off on a good note. They've been a big reason that this program has changed if you look from their freshman year to their senior year. I think we definitely want to send them off on a good note in March.
Q: Talk about the Europe trip experience. How did it help the team? What was the best part?
A: The best part of Europe was definitely the ten days of practice that we got. We got to come together as a team, get some hours with the coaches. We got to put in an offense or two. And definitely just get the flow of things. It was a good trip.
Q: What does Candice bring to the mix?
A: Definitely another huge body, she's 6-6. I think she's going to be great. By the time Candice is a senior, she'll be one of the best in the country. She has the potential to be phenomenal and she's learning every day, improving every day. I think she's going to be a great addition to the team.