PHILADELPHIA - In less than two months, the University of Pennsylvania women’s basketball team will tip off its 2009-10 campaign at city rival and 2009 NCAA Tournament participant Drexel. The schedule won’t get much easier from there, with Penn playing six games against teams that qualified for the 2009 NCAA Tournament as well as teams from the BIG EAST, Big Ten and Atlantic 10.
“We will certainly be challenged right from the beginning,” first-year head coach Mike McLaughlin said of his team’s schedule. “We’ll be playing some top teams, but to be a good team within our league you have to play the best outside of the conference. The high level of competition will be best in preparing us for the Ivy League.”
After Drexel (11/15), Penn will play at Big 5 opponent Villanova on Nov. 18 at 7 p.m. The Quakers then come home to The Palestra for their first home game of the season against Duquesne on Nov. 21 at 3:30 p.m.
Following Thanksgiving, Penn will leave the state of Pennsylvania for the first time. The team will travel to Chicago to participate in the 26th annual Mildred and Roger L. White Invitational Tournament hosted by Northwestern University. The Red and Blue’s first opponent will be Iowa State at 3 p.m. on Nov. 27. The Cyclones advanced to the Elite 8 in the 2009 NCAA tournament before falling to Stanford. Then it’s on to play host Northwestern at 4 p.m. on Nov. 28.
The rest of the non-conference schedule features home games against Lafayette (12/2), Rider (12/12), Mount St. Mary’s (12/29), St. Francis (12/31) and Lehigh (1/5). Road contests include a trip to Annapolis, Md., to take on Navy (12/6) and games at La Salle (1/2), Saint Joseph’s (1/13) and Temple (1/23) in Philadelphia.
The Ivy League slate begins at The Palestra against Princeton on Jan. 9. The Quakers will remain in Philadelphia for their next four Ivy League games, as well, against Yale (1/29), Brown (1/30), Dartmouth (2/5) and Harvard (2/6).
Penn’s first Ivy road game will be at Cornell on Feb. 12. The Big Red finished in a three-way tie with Penn and Columbia for fourth place in the Ivy League last year. The Quakers then play three more road games, at Columbia (2/13), Brown (2/19) and Yale (2/20), before coming back to The Palestra to host Columbia (2/26) and Cornell (2/27). Penn swept the latter two teams at The Palestra last season.
The regular season closes with a three-game road stretch. Penn travels to Harvard on March 5 and Dartmouth on March 6 and then it's on to to Princeton for the finale on March 9.
Penn returns three starters and seven of the 11 letterwinners from last year’s squad that finished 6-8 in the Ivy League.