PHILADELPHIA - For the first time since 2005, the University of Pennsylvania women's basketball team will play in the Pacific time zone. With the 2011-12 schedule taking shape, the Quakers have officially agreed to participate in the San Diego Surf 'N Slam Classic at San Diego State's Viejas Arena. The Quakers will take on UNC-Greensboro on Dec. 29 and then play the host Aztecs on Dec. 30.
"We're really excited for this trip and to play some quality competition," head coach Mike McLaughlin said of the tournament. "I'm really happy for our players. We have a few from California and traveling to the West Coast gives them the opportunity to play closer to home. And I think a trip like this is a great way to bring the group closer together as a whole."
While this will be Penn's first-ever meeting with either school, it is not the first time the Quakers have faced teams from these conferences. Penn is 1-4 against Mountain West opponents, San Diego State's conference, with their sole win against Air Force in 2000-01 - the last time Penn played an MWC opponent. Recent years have seen Penn face off with UNC-Greensboro's Southern Conference foes on several occasions, highlighted by a season-opening victory over Elon in 2007-08, 56-54. Penn is 3-3 in six meetings with Southern foes, and 3-0 in the last three contests against Davidson, Charleston, and Elon.
The last time the Quakers traveled to the West Coast was in the 2005-06 season for the Washington State Husky Classic in Seattle, Wash. The Red and Blue faced off with Rice and San Diego on consecutive days, dropping both games. Jennifer Fleischer contributed 23 points and added 18 total rebounds during the trip.
In the 2010 San Diego Surf 'N Slam Classic, SDSU defeated Texas-San Antonio, 72-52, and Texas A&M smothered the Drexel Dragons, 74-45, to reach the championship game. In that game, the Aztecs couldn't overcome Danielle Adams and the eventual NCAA Champion Aggies, falling 96-52.
Led by senior center Paris Johnson's 14.1 points and 7.7 rebounds per game, the Aztecs finished the 2010-11 season at 12-17, with a 6-10 conference record. For 2011-12, the Aztecs return two starters, Courtney Clements and Sajoyia Griffin, and three key reserves.
In 2010-11, the UNC-Greensboro Spartans went 13-16 with a 10-10 conference record. Senior guards Monique Floyd and Amanda Leigh averaged a combined 24.2 points per game to lead the Spartans. They return two starters - guard Dayshaun Richbow and forward Janae' Stevenson, coming off a freshman campaign where she lead the team in rebounding and blocks, and finished third in scoring.
Penn set a program record last year with the biggest single-season turnaround in its history. The Quakers finished 11-17 overall in 2010-11 and 5-9 in Ivy play. Alyssa Baron was named Ivy League Rookie of the Year as she led the Ivies in scoring (16.6 points per game), the first time a freshman has completed such a feat. The Red and Blue lost three seniors from the Class of 2011 - two of which were consistent starters - but have added six newcomers in Coach McLaughlin's second recruiting class.
The full 2011-12 women's basketball schedule will be released in early September.