PHILADELPHIAWomen’s basketball season at the University of Pennsylvania will officially be underway Friday when Penn travels to Lehigh University for its 2008-09 season opener. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. at Stabler Arena in Bethlehem, Pa.
Under head coach Pat Knapp, now in his fifth season with Penn, the Quakers boast a deep and battle-tested team that returns every reserve and all but one starter from last year. Four of the top five scorers are back and will be counted on to anchor the offense, which proved dangerous at times during the trials of a season ago.
Lehigh returns nearly its entire squad for the 2007-08 team that won 18 games, including a team-record 10 road wins. The two teams met last season with the Mountain Hawks escaping with a 53-49 victory over the Quakers. In that game, senior Kelly Scott led Penn with 15 points as the Quakers led late into the second half.
Penn forward Carrie Biemer will be expected to shoulder increased responsibility as the first option on offense, as the senior earned team MVP honors and a spot on the All-Big 5 and All-Ivy second team last year. Biemer averaged 13.9 points and 4.1 rebounds per game in 2007-08, and should come closeif not exceedthose numbers in her last year with the Red and Blue.
Meanwhile, a trio of guards look to complement Biemer’s inside presence with some sharpshooting of their own. Sophomore Kim Adams proved a revelation off the bench last year for Knapp’s squad, averaging 9.0 points per game despite starting only three games. Scott and junior Sarah Bucar also chipped in with their contributions of 8.9 and 7.2 points per game, respectively.
On the defensive side, senior guard Anca Popovici returns to anchor a steadily improving unit. Popovici, the only player who started every game in each of the last two seasons for the Quakers, also posted averages of 4.6 points, 3.7 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game. Forward Katarina Lackner is the leading shot-blocker for the Red and Blue, whose 26 blocks comprised 40 percent of the team total despite only playing the ninth-most minutes per game on the team.
Penn’s home opener is less than a week away. The Quakers host Big 5 rival Villanova on Wed., Nov. 19 at 7 p.m.