PHILADELPHIA - A wild ride continues for the University of Pennsylvania women's basketball team. The last five times the Quakers have taken the floor they played in the de facto Ivy League championship game at Princeton, led fifth-seeded Texas in the second half of an NCAA Tournament game in College Park, Md., and then played three international opponents on Italian soil.The journey continues as the Quakers open the 2014-15 season on the road against one of the top five teams in the nation and the sport’s most storied program. Tip off against No. 4 Tennessee is set for 7 p.m. on Friday and can be seen on SEC Network Online.
Catching the Game
Fans can watch the game online for free at ESPN3.com as part of the SEC Network or on your mobile device with the WatchESPN app. Live stats can be found at UTsports.com and live twitter updates (@PennWBB) are also available throughout the contest. A complete recap and box score can then be found at PennAthletics.com shortly after the conclusion of the game.
In the Series vs. Tennessee
This will be the first meeting between these two programs. The Quakers are 0-1 all-time against SEC teams, falling to Florida, 80-49, at the 1993 Lady Gator Classic.
Under Mike McLaughlin, Penn is 2-3 in season openers and has lost its last two, falling to St. Francis Brooklyn, 56-51, at The Palestra to start off last season and dropping the 2012-13 opener at Norfolk State, 60-51. Penn’s last season-opening victory came in overtime, 70-61, over St. Francis Brooklyn on Nov. 13, 2011.
Against the Top 25
Penn is looking for its first-ever win over a ranked opponent. The last two times the Quakers have gone up against a Top 25 team, it has been against Notre Dame, including a 76-54 loss at The Palestra last season. The Fighting Irish were No. 5 at the time. The fourth-ranked Lady Vols will be the second-highest ranked opponent the Red and Blue have ever faced as Notre Dame was No. 3 when the Quakers fell 69-38 at the Joyce Center on Dec. 2, 2011.
Power Six History
Penn has traditionally played a challenging non-conference schedule since Mike McLaughlin took the helm in 2009-10. In fact, this will be the third top 5 opponent the Quakers have played in the last four seasons (#3 Notre Dame in 2011-12 and #5 Notre Dame last season). Among the non-league foes, Penn has scheduled its share of teams from the power six conferences. Last year, the Quakers earned their first-ever win over an ACC opponent with a dramatic 67-66 win at Miami (Fla)—Katy Allen scored the winning basket with 5.6 seconds remaining. Other power conference opponents in McLaughlin’s tenure include Northwestern, Iowa State, Virginia (twice, including a three-point loss at The Palestra in 2012-13 and nine-point loss in Charlottesville in 2010-11), as well as the annual Big 5 matchup with Villanova.
Tough Non-Conference Slate
This season the Quakers will face one of the toughest non-league slates in recent memory. In addition to Friday’s opener at No. 4 Tennessee, the Quakers will host all four Big 5 rivals (Villanova, Temple, Saint Joseph’s and La Salle) and walk up the road for this year’s Battle for 33rd Street at Drexel. The Red and Blue are also set to play New Hampshire, who finished 19-12 last season, and Hampton (28-5), who lost in the first round of the NCAA Tournament to Michigan State, while also taking a trip to Annapolis to take on Navy, who finished 24-8 last year and reached the WNIT. Four of Penn’s first six opponents won at least 19 games last and, in all, Penn will play nine games against teams that played in the postseason last year.
Leading the Way
Four seniors take the helm as captains for the Quakers this season as Katy Allen, Renee Busch, Kara Bonenberger, and Kathleen Roche were officially announced as team captains on Nov. 4. Allen, who has started 61 games in her career, picked up Ivy League Player of the Week honors last December before missing the last six games of the seaosn due to injury. Roche started all 29 games last year and put up career highs in points, rebounds, and three-pointers in a single game. Busch logged multiple three-pointers in seven games and led the team with a .406 shooting percentage from beyond the arc last season. And Bonenberger comes off of a season where she won All-Ivy and All-Big 5 honors, finishing third in the Ivy League in field goal percentage (.522), fourth in rebounding (6.5), sixth in blocks (25), and 10th in free throw percentage (.706).
Magic Number: 60
The statistic that may most indicate a Penn win or loss? 60 points. Since head coach Mike McLaughlin took over at Penn, the Quakers are 47-9 (.839) when they score 60 points, including 20-1 last season (only loss was to Texas in NCAA Tournament, 79-61). In comparison, the Quakers are just 19-69 (.216) when they’ve scored less than 60 points under Coach McLaughlin. The trend continues defensively. Over the last five seasons, the Red and Blue are 13-47 (.217) when allowing more than 60 points. But when holding opponents under that number, the Quakers hold a healthy winning record of 53-31 (.631).
Last year’s senior co-captain and the school’s second all-time leading scorer, Alyssa Baron, started every game of her career—a school record 116. That means the Quakers will tip off without Baron on the floor for the first time since March 9, 2010—a span of 1,711 days; or four years, eight months, and five days.
Penn is 22-5 in its last 27 games ... Penn has won seven of the last eight on the road ... The Quakers were 16-0 last year (and 34-1 over the last three seasons) when shooting better than 40 percent ... The Red and Blue have won 14 of the last 15 games when their free throw percentage is better than 70 percent ... Penn has won 27 of the last 28 games when outrebounding its opponent ... Penn reached 70 points in 10 games last year (reached that number a combined nine times during Coach McLaughlin’s first four seasons) and is 18-1 under Coach McLaughlin when scoring more than 70 points—only loss in double overtime, 88-84, at Harvard in 2011 ... At least two Quakers scored in double figures in all but two games last year ... Sydney Stipanovich’s 10 double-doubles last season were the most in a season at Penn since Jennifer Fleischer in 2004-05.
Penn’s No. 12 seed was the highest in program history. The Quakers led by as many as 15, 32-17, late in the first half and held a 38-31 lead over fifth-seeded Texas at the half. In two previous trips to the NCAA Tournament, the Quakers were a No. 15 seed and lost to the host school in the first round on each occasion. In 2001, the Red and Blue fell to Texas Tech, 100-57, in Lubbock, Texas. Three years later, the Quakers lost to second-seeded UConn, 91-55, in Bridgeport, Conn.
Tennessee Tournament Tidbits
Tennessee was the top seed in Penn’s region during last year’s NCAA Tournament. The Lady Vols (29-6, 13-3 SEC) are the only program to appear in all 33 NCAA Tournaments and advanced to the Sweet 16 for the 32nd time before falling to eventual Final Four participant Maryland.
McLaughlin’s Magic Touch
Behind the fastest coach to win 400 games in women’s basketball history (at any level), the Quakers have improved their record in each season under head coach Mike McLaughlin. After a 2-26 campaign in his first year along The Palestra sidelines, Penn has won 11, 13, 18 and 22 games in succession during his next four years. Each of McLaughlin’s recruiting classes have produced the Big 5 Rookie of the Year. His first recruiting class graduated in May.
When in Rome - Italy Travel Log
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.
The New Big 5
This season, Penn welcomes five new players to the roster, with Beth Brzozowski, Michelle Nwokedi, Anna Ross and Lauren Whitlatch from the Class of 2018 and junior Kasey Chambers, who transfered from Monmouth. Each of Coach McLaughlin’s first four recruiting classes at Penn has brought in the winner of the Big 5 Rookie of the Year award. The Class of 2018 features one of the nation’s top 100 recruits (Nwokedi), two McDonalds All-America nominees (Nwokedi, Whitlatch), a three-time state champion (Brzozowski) and a five-year varsity standout (Ross). All four were 1,000-point scorers in high school and all four were all-state honorees. Chambers, who averaged 4.7 points per game and 2.1 assists, will be required to sit out the 2014-2015 per NCAA rules, but will retain two years of eligibility.
For the first time since 2000-01, Penn found itself atop the Ivy League preseason poll, tied with Princeton in the first-ever, first-place tie since the inception of the poll in 1999-2000
A Penn Win Would...
... be the first win over an SEC opponent in program history.
... mark the program’s first-ever victory over a Top 25 opponent.
... make the Quakers 1-0 for the first time since 2011-12.
A Penn Loss Would...
... make the Quakers 0-2 all-time against the SEC.
... make the Quakers 0-1 for the third straight season.
... be less good than a win.
Last Time Out
Penn won 12 of its final 13 Ivy League games to claim its first Ivy title and NCAA Tournament berth since 2003-04. The Quakers tied a school record with 22 wins and earned the highest NCAA Tournament seed in program history at No. 12 where they faced fifth-seeded Texas in College Park, Md. The Red and Blue led by as many as 15 and led by seven at the half before falling 79-61.
A celebration. The program, Athletic Department and University will commemorate the 2013-14 Ivy League championship team with a banner unveiling ceremony prior to the start of the home opener against Big 5 rival La Salle on Nov. 19. A pregame reception with light refreshments will be open to the public from 5:15-6 p.m. in the Assembly Room in Hutchinson Gymnasium. It will feature an appearance from the team, including several returning graduates from the title team, a few words from Coach McLaughlin and members of the administration as well as a 2013-14 highlight video. Prior to the game, the Penn Sports Network will broadcast a 30-minute pregame show on ILDN.tv which will include interviews with the returning graduates, the highlight video and a live showing of the banner unveiling. The first 200 fans at the reception/game will receive a free 2014 Ivy League championship Penn rally towel.