PHILADELPHIA - For the first time in a decade, the University of Pennsylvania women's basketball team opens the season as defending Ivy League champions. Here's a glimpse into the Quakers since the season-ending loss to fifth-seeded Texas in the NCAA Tournament on March 23, and a preview of the upcoming 2014-15 campaign.
The Quakers, who held a second-half lead against the Longhorns in the NCAA Tournament game, returns 10 letterwinners from last year's Ivy League championship team. Penn's 22 wins last season matched the highest total in program history and the 12 Ivy victories tied the program’s second-highest total.
The Quakers lost two starters from that squad, including the program's second all-time leading scorer and reigning Ivy League Player of the Year (Alyssa Baron), but return the reigningIvy League Rookie of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year,Sydney Stipanovich,and second-team All-Ivy recipientKara Bonenberger.In addition, reigning Big 5 Coach of the Year, Mike McLaughlin, brought in fourincoming freshmen --Beth Brzozowski, Michelle Nwokedi, Anna Ross and Lauren Whitlatch-- to join the Quakers in 2014-15.
"We are really proud of this class," McLaughlin said when he officially announced the incoming freshmen class. "We always strive to bring in athletes who are equally motivated on the court and in the classroom, and we are adding four players with strong character who will be a good addition to our team, our University and our community. We can't wait to spend the next four years with them."
The Quakers spent August 11-21 in Italy and played three foreign opponents -- defeating two Italian opponents and falling to a German pro team. The tripincluded stops in Milan, Lake Como, Switzerland, Venice, Rome and Florence, and outsideof competition, the Quakers had guided tours of Lake Como, St. Marc's Basilica, the Grand Canal into Venice, Accademia Gallery (Michelangelo's David), Leaning Tower of Pisa, Colosseum, Roman Forum and the Vatican, among others.
Preseason practice began on Oct. 8 and seniorsRenee Busch,Kara Bonenberger,Katy AllenandKathleen Rochewere officially announced as team captains. The quartet will guide the Quakers through one ofthe most challenging non-league schedules in program history. It starts on Friday in Knoxville against No. 4 Tennessee. The two teams tip off at 7 p.m. The game will be streamed on SEC Network+.