Ivy Midseason Teleconference (audio)
PHILADELPHIA - At the midseason Ivy League women's basketball teleconference Thursday morning, University of Pennsylvania head coach Mike McLaughlin answered questions about the current state of the program.
"Right now we're 7-5. We stumbled a little bit the last couple times. We played a really good Princeton team to open the Ivy League slate and we struggled last night in the game against NJIT, but we are doing well. We are playing a lot of young players who are adopting to the college game. Like every team we were hit with a few injuries that are causing us to change some things around, but hopefully we will bounce back from that.
"We are a young team that is learning. They are an extremely competitive group that wants to be good. The work ethic has been great from the first day they came on to campus. I'm delighted with their progress. Like any team we are going to go through the ups and downs throughout the year. But I think we're on progress to compete. I think that's our goal right now is to go out there and be able to compete and give ourselves chances to win games."
On the play of Alyssa Baron:
"She has been tremendous for us. She obviously had a great first year. But I think she is a better player this year. She is in great shape. She is physically a lot stronger than she was. She is becoming more of a leader on the court. She is a better defender than she was a year ago. Alyssa is going to continue to improve. She really wants to play everyday. She loves the game of basketball. She is very unselfish. I know she leads our team in scoring and shooting the ball, but she is really unselfish. And she is really making the players around her better. So I'm proud of Alyssa. I'm proud of the summer she had and the commitment she made to Penn ever since she has been here. I really think she will be the focal point of our program for the next several years. I'm very proud of where she is at today."
On the impressive start to Kara Bonenberger's career:
"I think she needed an opportunity. I think she saw Penn (as a chance) to come in and play. We needed help in that position and its a good fit for Kara. Her family is 60 miles from our campus which was important in her decision. She has done a really good job. She is progressing. We moved her from the four position to the five position. She can score around the basket and gives us a prescence inside. She has a good 15 to 16-foot jump shot which has opened up the game for her. She has a good work ethic, too. I do think she is going to continue to improve. She is off to a really good start for us. She is playing a lot of minutes. Like a lot of young kids that we are playing, and all the coaches have to play at this point, there are peaks and valleys that she goes through during a game so being consistent is something we are trying to instill in her. But she is going to continue to improve throughout the season."
On the importance of playing well leading into the Ivy season:
"It's very important. This is a difficult portion of our schedule. We had San Diego State. Then we had Princeton. We lose last night and we have three pretty talented Big 5 schools coming up before we finish the non-league schedule. So I think it's important that we clean up some of the things we are doing on the offensive end and get some of the younger kids more playing time, more experience, so when we do start on January 27 that we feel confident. Right now, with a lot of young players - and one of our senior leaders unfortunately down with an injury, so we lost some of that on-the-court leadership - I think it will give us three more games to give them on-the-court experience and hopefully their leadership will improve as we go on."
On what he expected from the Ivy League when he was hired at Penn:
"This is what I expected and the league is getting stronger. Even in my small sample size - in three years - the players that are coming into our league is tremendous for our league. Its great nationally that everyone see how strong the Ivy League is. Our league has faired really well in the non-league. We are playing really good teams - all eight of us - and competing. I think its a great sign for the future of this league. I'm just proud to be a part of it. Its a special league and I'm really just honored to be in the league. There are so many great coaches in the league that have been around for so many years that I just think the standard here is very high. The reputation of our league is special and, like I said, I'm very proud to be a part of it."
On who needs to step up entering Ivy play:
"We have Renee Busch, another freshman, that has done a good job. She is a solid defender that can shoot the three. I'm looking for her to get better. Our point guard play - we are playing a sophomore and a freshman - I think those two, who have seen a lot of court time right now, we need both of them to be a little bit more consistent and a little bit more of a scoring mentality would help us. I think those three, I would say. And Katy Allen, another freshman that is playing a lot right now because we have an injury to one of our seniors. So I think its going to have to be a collective team effort for us. We have struggled a little bit lately in scoring the ball so we are going to have to ask quite a few players to step up."