Coach McLaughlin at Ivy Media Teleconference

Complete Audio

PHILADELPHIA - At the midseason Ivy League women's basketball teleconference on Thursday morning, University of Pennsylvania head coach Mike McLaughlin answered questions about the current state of the program. The Quakers (8-4) have already set a school record this season with eight straight non-conference wins.

Opening Statement:
“I’m happy with where we are. We’ve progressed greatly and played very good competition. We’ve been involved in close games and had success in them. We have a really competitive group and they want to be good at whatever they do. It makes practice exciting and the culture really fun to be around. I’m really proud of our group. The lessons we’ve learned are part of basketball, and as our players are learning, are part of life. The work ethic is really good and the camaraderie is great.”

On Keiera Ray and easing her back into the lineup
“[Keiera] is extremely important. When she’ll back be to 100 percent is yet to be determined but she’s worked really hard coming off her knee injury. She’s a great competitor and she wants to be out there more but she’s not quite ready yet. She’s progressing every day and hopefully once we get into Ivy League play she’ll be much further along than she is today. She needs to stay patient and we need to stay patient with her, but a competitor wants to be out there and I think in the next 2-3 weeks she’ll be much further along.”

On Meghan McCullough’s role:
“I think all coaches need a player similar to Meghan. She’s someone you can trust and you know will give you everything she can that day. She’s someone on the court that doesn’t have tremendous numbers and she doesn’t shoot at a high percentage but she doesn’t turn the ball over. She’s a true point guard and we can change defenses with her without any problem. She can make in-game adjustments. She’s a winner, she’s a competitor and she’s so selfless. She’s beloved by her teammates which has a lot of value in a leadership position. She’s off to a great start and I think she’s getting stronger and faster off her knee injury. We suffer a lot of knee injuries in this sport and I think it’s a sign that if they work hard and they’re determined they can get back at an even higher level.”

On Alyssa Baron’s season thus far:
“She’s always important to us. She’s really developed a full game. She came into a struggling program where we really just needed somebody to score, but now she has pieces around her and she is a selfless player. She shoots the ball more than anyone on our team but that’s just because she has the skillset to be able to do it. She’s a very competitive player and she’s improving. She stays on the court longer than anyone and she’s a key to what we do. Our season is going to go through Alyssa as the past few have and hopefully with a little more help around her we won’t need 20 points every night from her to stay competitive with other teams.”

On the biggest change during the MacLaughlin Era at Penn:
“I think building a culture takes time and patience but you have to trust the way you’re doing it. It takes the players buying in to that culture and the recruiting process needs to fit what we need to do. We have the right kids in the program and they’re kids that want to be student-athletes here at Penn. I like the direction we’re going in and we have quality student-athletes. We have kids here that love to compete and that’s a really good sign for us.”

On the roster gelling together so quickly with a mixture of veteran and younger players:
“This is the first time that we have balance. We have some upperclassmen that are showing the younger kids how it’s done. We have really strong leadership at the top that can show our younger players what every day is going to be like and help them adapt to the college life and basketball life. We struggled our first time out against a really good Princeton team. They totally outplayed us but we got back out on the court and our upperclassmen know we need to treat each game as importantly as we do a Princeton game. I hope our freshmen and sophomores see that and we can be better our next time around. I give our juniors and seniors the credit for explaining that. Our coaching staff of course does the same, but it’s good to hear it from your peers and it’s a good starting point for our team.”