Bentley Tabbed Big Ten Preseason Player of the Year
Oct. 27, 2011
CHICAGO - With 10 returning letterwinners from a team that posted a second place regular-season finish and a runner-up effort in the Big Ten Tournament, the Penn State Lady Lions were selected to finish first in the Big Ten Conference in a vote of the league's coaches and media. Additionally, Penn State junior point guard Alex Bentley (Indianapolis, Ind.) was selected as the conference's Preseason Player of the Year by both the coaches and the media.
Bentley, who shares the coaches' Preseason Player of the Year with Ohio State's Samantha Prahalis, became the 11th different Lady Lion to garner All-Big Ten first team honors last season after finishing in the Top 15 in the Big Ten in scoring (12th/14.4), assists (2nd/5.0), field goal percentage (14th/.446), free throw percentage (11th/.798) and assist-to-turnover ratio (4th/1.7). Bentley was named to the Big Ten All-Tournament team after averaging 15.3 points, 3.3 assists and 3.0 steals in three tourney contests. Additionally, the Indianapolis native registered seven 20-point games, including a pair of 20-point performances in the NCAA Tournament.
The Indianapolis native is on the preseason watch lists for the Wade Trophy and Wooden Awards for National Player of the Year. Bentley, who participated in USA Basketball World University Games trials in Colorado this summer, is 14th in school history with 299 career assists. Her 174 helpers last year are 17th on Penn State's single-season charts.
The Lady Lions return a solid base from last year's NCAA Tournament team. In addition to Bentley, Penn State returns starters Nikki Greene (Diboll, Texas), Mia Nickson (Ashburn, Va.) and Zhaque Gray (Chicago, Ill.).
Greene became one of the top shot-blocking forces in the conference en route to Big Ten All-Defensive Team honors. She tallied a career-best 75 rejections, which is sixth on the Penn State single-season list, and is the seventh player in school history with 100 blocks. The All-Big Ten honorable mention choice also accounted for 7.8 rebounds per game to rank sixth in the Big Ten.
Nickson tallied 10.5 points and 6.7 rebounds per game in 27 starts for the Lions. She was ninth in the Big Ten in rebounding and 14th in free throw percentage (.795). Gray made a marked improvement between her sophomore and junior years as she improved on her three-point shooting by 11% (.303 to .414) and her field goal shooting by 8.5% (.338 to .423). With a 9.5 scoring average, the Chicago native also nearly doubled her scoring output to finish fourth on the team.
Additionally, Penn State returns 2011 Big Ten Freshman of the Year and 2011 Big Ten Sixth Player of the Year Maggie Lucas (Narberth, Pa.). She etched her name into the Penn State and Big Ten record books in her outstanding rookie campaign as she broke the Big Ten and Penn State single-season record for three-pointers (112). Additionally, Lucas broke Kelly Mazzante's Penn State freshman season scoring record with 552 tallies.
The Lady Lions, who will face Bloomsburg in an exhibition on Sat., Nov. 5, open their season with the Lady Lion Classic on Fri., Nov. 11 and Sun., Nov. 13 at the Bryce Jordan Center. Penn State faces Washington State in the tourney opener at 6 p.m. Friday, while Middle Tennessee State takes on UNC-Wilmington at 8 p.m. Lady Lion Basketball season tickets are available by calling 814-867-2557. Season tickets are $117 for adults, $52 for youth and $91 for seniors. Single game tickets go on sale Tuesday, Oct. 11. PNC Flex Books are available again this year for $99. The Flex Book gives fans 12 vouchers, including one for the Coaches vs. Cancer game and one for the Pink Zone game, that can be redeemed for Nittany Lion and Lady Lion Basketball tickets in any combination.
The 2012 WBCA Pink Zone at Penn State will take place on Sunday, Feb. 26 as the Lady Lions take on Minnesota in the Bryce Jordan Center. Last year, the Lady Lions donated nearly $200,000 for breast cancer causes. This year's fundraising efforts will benefit the Mount Nittany Medical Center, Penn State Hershey Cancer Institute, Pennsylvania Breast Cancer Coalition, the Kay Yow Cancer Fund, J.C. Blair Memorial Hospital and Lewistown Hospital. For more information on the Pink Zone at Penn State, visit the official Pink Zone website at www.gopsusports.com/pinkzone. The WBCA Pink Zone at Penn State is also on Facebook at www.facebook.com/pinkzoneatpennstate.
The Lady Lions are on Twitter. Follow sports information contact Kris Petersen (@ladylionsid) and the Lady Lions and coaches (@pennstatewbb) to get the inside scoop. The Lady Lions are also on Facebook at www.facebook.com/pennstateladylions.
2011 Preseason All-Big Ten Teams and Preseason Polls
Preseason Coaches' Poll
Preseason Coaches Team
Coaches' Preseason Players of the Year
Preseason Media Poll
Preseason Media Team
Media's Preseason Player of the Year