Posts filed under ‘Lady Lion basketball’
School bullying remains a challenge in communities around the country, and the problem is pervasive enough that its victims are sometimes kids no one would suspect. Even a poised, intelligent star athlete can sometimes find herself a target, as Gizelle Studevent can attest.
A senior guard on the ninth-ranked Lady Lion basketball team, Studevent is the woman behind Penn State Athletes Take Action, an anti-bullying initiative through which she and other student athletes speak to local middle-schoolers. According to this ESPN piece, the idea grew from an independent study project into a practical way to raise awareness and empathy among kids most likely to be engaged in bullying—on one side or the other. For Studevent, it’s personal: she was targeted by her own teammates as a high schooler in Southern California. Now, she’s doing what she can to help others avoid that pain.
Ryan Jones, senior editor
Coquese Washington held a press conference Monday afternoon. It came on short notice and without a stated purpose, but after reports last week that Washington had interviewed for the vacant head coach position at Michigan, it seemed obvious she was going to clarify her job status. Given that there were no rumors trickling out of Ann Arbor—and that it would be a joint press conference with Penn State acting athletic director Dave Joyner—the local media consensus was that Washington was staying put.
We guessed right on that. What none of us predicted was the emotion with which she explained her decision.
In 20 minutes at the Bryce Jordan Center media room, Washington repeatedly used words like family, community, and values. She invoked patriotism, Susan B. Anthony, and Dr. Martin Luther King. She re-confirmed her commitment to Penn State in dramatic and emphatic fashion.
Fresh off her fifth season as coach of the Lady Lions, with a Big Ten championship and NCAA Sweet 16 run recently added to her resume, Washington has confirmed the high expectations that came with her hiring. Her success understandably meant other big-time programs might try to pry her away, and while Michigan hasn’t traditionally been very strong in women’s basketball, the Wolverines’ overall athletic success—and the fact that Washington is a Michigan native—meant folks were taking this seriously.
Ultimately, Washington told reporters, we had nothing to worry about. And while she and Joyner acknowledged (without getting specific) that the coach’s contract would reflect her status was one of the most respected young coaches in the nation, Washington said money wasn’t the issue. She said much of what you might expect her to say, about how Penn State felt like home, about her loyalty to her players and staff. But she also made an indirect reference to the fallout from the Sandusky scandal, and when I asked her to clarify—if she didn’t want to be seen as running out on the university in a time of crisis— Washington’s reply was intense.
Speaking of how she’d seen Penn Staters rally in the wake of the scandal, Washington said:
…I see a university that is going to elevate itself because we’re willing to look at ourselves, examine ourselves, at a time, maybe not our best time, but we’re willing to say, “Is this the best that we can do for Penn State alums? Is this the best that we can do academically? Is this the best we can do for the community that supports us so well? Is this the best that we can do for higher education in the country?” That inspired me. That inspired me to be here and to stay here and to make myself and this program the best that it can be because we’re around people who take that challenge head on and we’re going to be better because of it. So, to answer your question, absolutely it was a consideration. Absolutely.
You can read the entire press conference transcript here. And you can count on Coquese Washington being around for a while.
Ryan Jones, senior editor
Coquese Washington could barely sit still.
The Lady Lion head coach—along with her team and about 75 fans and friends—sat patiently in the Bryce Jordan Center’s Founder’s Room on Monday evening, eyes glued to several televisions airing the NCAA women’s tournament selection show. But Washington, recently named Big Ten Coach of the Year, couldn’t contain her nerves. Just five minutes into the show, the coach got up to fetch a glass of water. About five minutes later, Washington got up again.
“I can’t take this,” she said to an assistant coach with a laugh.
Finally, as the ESPN analysts unveiled the Kingston, R.I., region of the bracket, Washington could breathe a sigh of relief. The Lady Lions are going dancing. Here’s video of the team’s reaction, including a quick interview with junior point guard Alex Bentley:
Penn State earned a No. 4 seed and will open against No. 13 UTEP Sunday night in Baton Rouge. The Lady Lions’ region is stacked, featuring No. 1 seed UConn—which has won six NCAA titles in the last 12 years—and a potential second-round matchup with No. 5 LSU in the Tigers’ backyard. The Lady Lions don’t seem fazed. Everyone seemed to share the same sentiment: Excitement for what’s to come.
“One of the most fun parts of being a college basketball player is Selection Monday,” Washington said. “And seeing your name come across that screen, it doesn’t matter who you play, where you play, you’re in and it’s exciting to be a part of it.”
Emily Kaplan, intern
Both Penn State basketball teams earned nice wins Wednesday night as part of the annual Big Ten/ACC Challenge. The Lady Lions, ranked 15th or 16th depending on which poll you go by, dominated No. 13/14 North Carolina in a 103-84 win at the Bryce Jordan Center. A school-record 14 three-pointers contributed greatly to the outcome. The men were a bit more subtle in pulling off a 62-54 road win over Boston College. Great results for both teams.
Unrelated, but a story worth sharing: Kerry Collins ’94 Lib is the focus of a lengthy profile in Thursday’s New York Times. It’s a great story on the former Nittany Lion quarterback, who retired for good last month after a final, frustrating season with the Indianapolis Colts. He’s focused now on his family and a burgeoning career as a country music songwriter.
Ryan Jones, senior editor
The university’s announcement of a search committee to help choose the next head football coach has added fuel to the speculative fire for those trying to predict who that coach might be. Of course it’s all just that—speculation—but there are some educated opinions on the matter, including those at Blue White Illustrated and the Patriot News. Just who that coach will be, and whether he’ll be hired before the Nittany Lions play (as expected) in a bowl game, remains to be seen.
There’s less intrigue in most other areas of the Penn State sports world. Among the things we know:
—Devon Still is the Big Ten’s best lineman. It was obvious to anyone who watched the Nittany Lions play this season, and on Monday the league made it official. Here’s the senior defensive tackle (and probable first-round NFL draft pick next year) talking about his success:
—The women’s volleyball team is back in the NCAA tournament. The four-time defending national champs had a “down” year by their recent standards, finishing the regular season 23-7 and earning the No. 8 seed for the NCAAs. In spite of all that, something tells us they won’t be overlooked. The Lions open the tournament against Liberty University; that match is set for 7:30 p.m. Friday at Rec Hall.
—Hoops season is in full swing.The No. 15 Lady Lions look to improve on a 5-1 start Wednesday night when they host North Carolina at the Jordan Center; also on Wednesday, the Nittany Lions (5-2) travel to Boston College. Both games are part of the annual Big Ten-ACC Challenge.
Ryan Jones, senior editor
It wasn’t like I remembered, back when I was an undergrad and they played actual basketball games in Rec Hall. But walking into the old gym Wednesday night for Penn State’s Hoops Madness event, I still felt something like nostalgia.
It felt pretty good.
Hoops Madness worked on a couple of levels, reminding old guys like me what a great building Rec Hall was (and might still be, someday…) for basketball, while hyping up students for the upcoming Nittany and Lady Lions seasons. Not much is expected of the men this season, but there’s plenty of excitement about new head coach Patrick Chambers and his high-energy style. The women, meanwhile, enter the 2011-12 season as favorites for the Big Ten title.
On Wednesday, the teams came together in front of a few thousand fans in Rec Hall, (more…)
Tim Frazier was looking for an example that would fully convey his new coach’s intensity. He wasn’t lacking for options.
“Coach is pure energy, all the time,” Frazier said Tuesday. “Even in free throw drills.”
That assessment certainly jibes with everything we’ve seen and heard from Patrick Chambers in the five months since he was named head coach of the Penn State men’s basketball program. Whether with fans, the media, or his players, Chambers seemingly is always intense—intensely positive about the program’s potential, and intensely focused on how he plans to maximize it.
Chambers and his players met the press Tuesday at the team’s preseason media day, where they explained how intensity and optimism might translate into wins.
Penn State comes into the 2011-12 season without four starters—and the overwhelming majority of its points, rebounds, and assists—from a team that last year reached the NCAA tournament. Outside consensus is that the Nittany Lions won’t be able to overcome those graduation losses—they’re a popular pick to finish dead last in the now-12-team Big 10. Frazier, a junior guard, is the only returning starter, and he knows his days as a supporting player are over.
“I don’t want to put it all on Tim Frazier,” Chambers said. “But (more…)
When last we saw them, Coquese Washington and the members of the Lady Lion basketball team were in tears. This was in March, when Penn State lost in heartbreaking fashion to DePaul in the second round of the NCAA tournament. The coach and her players have had half a year to try to forget the pain of blowing a huge second-half lead that night. Some of them have chosen to do the opposite.
“I think this team, Alex and Maggie in particular, won’t forget it,” Washington said Thursday during the Lady Lions’ preseason media day. “They won’t let it go. They hate to lose, and particularly hate to lose in the way that we did. So I don’t need to beat them over the head with it. It lives with them. It lived with them all summer.”
“Alex and Maggie” are junior point guard Alex Bentley and sophomore sharp-shooter Maggie Lucas. They are two of the biggest reasons the Lady Lions made that NCAA appearance—the program’s first in six years—and arguably the best players on a team that enters 2011-12 ranked in the top 20 nationally by Athlon and The Sporting News. What’s not arguable is that Bentley and Lucas suffered their lowest moments as college players in that season-ending loss last March.
Bentley, who enters her junior season as (more…)
When David and Matt Pencek began attending Penn State football games, they didn’t care who was playing. As long as there were guys in blue and white with no names on their jerseys, yummy food at the tailgate, and music from the Blue Band, they were cool. That said, David was 6, and Matt only a few years older.
Said David, “We saw the Colgates, the Akrons …”
They’re still a little bitter that they were left with their grandparents for the classic 1982 Nebraska game, but they didn’t allow that slight to sour them on Penn State football—or the university. And now David ’94 and Matt ’91 have teamed to write The Great Book of Penn State Sports Lists, which they call “the book that will settle all those debates about Penn State sports … or is it (more…)
Coquese Washington and Julia Trogele walked in with sniffles and moist, red eyes. Nikki Greene just looked dazed. The coach and two players who represented the Lady Lion basketball team in front of the media late Monday had different ways of showing it, but the pain was evident on the faces of all three.
Their season was over. The end had come swift and cruel.
Penn State lost to DePaul Monday in the second round of the NCAA tournament, falling 75-73. The final points came on a pair of DePaul free throws with 4.9 seconds left, turning a tie game into a deficit the Lady Lions simply ran out of time to erase. That they led for nearly 39 of the game’s 40 minutes only magnified the sting.
Afterward, they fulfilled their obligation and met the press, Trogele, a senior captain, talking willingly while Greene, a soft-spoken sophomore who appeared overwhelmed by the moment, sat silently next to her. I only covered the Lady Lions twice this season—the first time being a regular-season loss to Michigan State—so I didn’t have a great sense of what makes these players and coaches tick.
On Monday, I saw enough to come away thoroughly impressed.
It was Trogele, a versatile starting forward, (more…)