Penn State Lady Lions Progress Report
Alex Bentley, G
We haven’t hit the meat of the Lady Lions’ schedule yet so it’s still a little early for me to be worried about this veteran leader. And while she has plenty of time to turn this around (and I trust that she will), I have to grade her performance on what I have seen thus far, not what I anticipate moving forward. Through the first 10 games this season, Bentley is averaging 12.6 PPG on just 40% shooting from the field (including a miserable 5-27 from 3pt range). Yes, that is good for second on the team, but even Alex would tell you that she has not shot the ball well at all and will have to play better if this team wants to make a serious run in March. Saving her from a worse grade is her tenacious defense, averaging almost 4 steals per game to this point in the season.
Maggie Lucas, G
Another year, another hot start for Lucas. Her junior campaign has yet again been highlighted by her sharp shooting. Lucas is currently sporting a 22.1 PPG mark to lead the team in scoring and is shooting 55% from the 3 point arc. Another key for this team has been Lucas’ durability, as she has been able to eat up 34 minutes a game so far for head coach Coquese Washington. Doing so has allowed the Lady Lions to hide their lack of depth in the backcourt. The only thing keeping Lucas from a perfect grade is her .77 assist/turnover ratio (a number you’d usually prefer to see hovering around 2.5-3).
Mia Nickson, F
Nickson has crashed the boards effectively for this bunch and leads the team in rebounding, hauling in almost 7 per game. Because of her effectiveness on the glass, Nickson has seen her role increase on this team and is currently enjoy 28 minutes of action every night, good for third behind Lucas and Bentley. Nickson has certainly done her part in her final season in a Lady Lion uniform.
Ariel Edwards, F
It is important to understand that the grades I am giving out to each player take into account expectations relative to each individual athlete. Because of this, I am rating Ariel Edwards rather generously because I did not expect this production from her. Coming in to the year, I doubted that she would start many games let alone be the third leading scorer on this squad. As one of Penn State’s role players, she has done a nice job of stabilizing the offense with exceptional rates of 50% FG shooting and 40% 3 point shooting.
Nikki Greene, C/F
Like I just stressed in my assessment of Nickson, Nikki Greene will be graded relative to her preseason expectations, and that is why despite having numbers similar to those of Nickson, she has a lot of work to do if she wants a better grade. Coming into the year, Nikki Greene was Penn State’s undisputed best frontcourt player and was expected to take her game to the next level in terms of dominating the paint. So far this season, her numbers have been underwhelming; she is averaging about 8 PPG and 8RPG in 21 minutes of action. Going forward, she will need to cut down on her personal fouls if she wants to stay out of foul trouble and remain on the floor to give the boost to this club she is capable of providing.
Just looking at the numbers (8-2 record, average margin of victory of 16 points), you would think this has been a largely successful start to the season. Many people will point to the fact that Penn State only has two more ranked opponents on their schedule and could very well end the season with only two losses and a number one seed in the NCAA tournament. But with a loss at Miami and a thrashing at the hands of the University of Connecticut, it is apparent to me that this team has much work to do if they want to end the year in the final four. That is not to say that they cannot improve, and I think they will once Alex Bentley and Nikki Greene get their acts together, but until then, there is much work to be done.