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Nov. 9, 2012
By Mike Esse, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Her coach called her the "mayor" of Penn State. She worries about being late to practice because she makes it a point to stop and talk to everyone she sees while walking through campus. Talia East is not only a very skilled basketball player on the pre-season Big Ten favorite Penn State Lady Lions, but she also knows everyone, literally.
"Talia is the mayor of Penn State," said head coach Coquese Washington. "If you go with her 10 minutes across campus, she knows everybody. That is not an exaggeration."
Her personality is infectious. As soon as she walks in a room, her presence is felt and it is almost certain that there will never be a dull moment with the Philadelphia native around.
"Any time you get in a room with her you are going to laugh," said true freshman Candice Agee. "There is no way you aren't going to laugh. You could be a grouch and you are still going to laugh."
Being a broadcast journalism major, talking is part of her every day life. Communication defines how social she is with whomever she meets and now, as a junior, she has grown used to the college lifestyle, making her charm come naturally.
Why does East go to such lengths to be social and talkative with those around her? It is simple. The more social she is off the court, the more social she becomes on the court.
"It is definitely important to be social and to get to know your teammates," said East. "That relationship you build with your teammates off the court is going to translate on the court."
East plays an important role as one of the numerous skilled players Washington can bring off the bench in 2012. Standing at 6-3, she can dominate inside the paint, as well as incorporating intensity on the defensive side of the ball.
"She brings some toughness," said Washington. "She is not afraid to give that hard foul and she is going to get in there and rough it up with other teams."
In 2011-12, East was third on the team in rebounds, averaging 5.2 per game and was second on the team in blocks by tallying 34 on the year.
East knows her role on the court is simple. Play defense and rebound. That role as expanded over the years with continuous practice in the paint and getting easy put backs and has been a transition she has seen improve drastically since her first year on campus.
"I focus on getting rebounds, defense and finishing when I'm open," said East. "We do a lot of rebound drills during practice and work on securing the ball and going back up strong.
"It has definitely gotten a lot easier," said East. "I get yelled at a little less so I'll take it."
As East has matured on and off the court, she has transitioned into a leadership role, especially this year with Agee, a McDonald's High School All-American from a year ago. Agee called East an older version of herself, something East appreciates.
"That's my girl," said East. "I love Candice. She is easy to talk to and definitely willing to listen and to learn."
Agee and East have bonded over the past few months together, but Agee knows that as long as East is around, the mayor is in town.
"If we walked past five people on campus, three people would know her. Seriously," Agee said.
East and the Lady Lions open their 2012 campaign at home at the Bryce Jordan Center on Sunday at 2 p.m. against Howard.