After finishing the 2021-22 season in seven games under 0.500, Penn State is entering this season with plenty of things to improve.
Coach Caroline Keijer’s squad ranked in the bottom half of the Big Ten in terms of total points scored and total points allowed last season.
The team struggled hard on the defensive side of the ball last year, allowing it to hold its worst 74.9 points per game.
One of the ways the Nittany Lions could improve in the face of last season’s defensive problems is to secure rebounds and not allow opponents to second-chance points.
The team ranked last in the Big Ten last season in opponent’s rebounds and rebounding margin, indicating its incompetence in finishing off its defensive property.
The ability to bounce isn’t as much about actual skill as it is about the effort the players put in.
Returning players like Anna Camden and Liani Kapinos, among others, certainly have the potential to bounce back, but they must set an example from day one to motivate their teammates to smash the boards hard – if they want their season to be successful.
On the offensive side of the ball, Lady Lions have struggled all season with a three-point shot. The team shot just over 30% behind the arc last year, a number that must be increased to compete with other Big Ten offenses.
Possessing the ability to drop deep shots is essential to any attack in the modern era, and Pennsylvania not only had difficulties creating them, but also struggled to defend them.
Seven of the 14 Big Ten teams, including the Lady Lions, fired more than 600 three-pointers last season, indicating the importance of the three-ball in offensive tactics.
Another key component of a successful attack is the ability to move the ball effectively.
This was another area where Blue and White struggled, as they finished the year with a marginal four-assist deficit for their opponents last season.
Marisa McKenna was the only Nitani Lion to have more than one assist last season.
Taking on this role as the main ball distributor was a big deal for Marissa and the team, but it’s really clear that her teammates in the backcourt couldn’t provide passes at a similar rate.
Just like the idea of rebounding, passes come with discipline and selflessness, which is what the team definitely needs to emphasize this season.
Marisa also led the team in points per game last season, more than double the second-place finisher at Cabinos. The lack of ball distribution is very evident in this statistic, with the team relying on Marisa for nearly a third of their points.
East Carolina transfer deal Tanya Thompson is very capable of narrowing that margin between Marisa and her peers.
Thompson scored more than 1,000 points during her three-year career with the Pirates, led her conference in field goals scored last season while also being named the AAC’s Most Improved Player and earning an all-conference first-team honor in 2021-22.
Besides some interesting transfers, it seems that the hope of improvement on both the offensive and defensive fronts is more likely with some changes in the technical staff.
Lady Lions has announced the appointment of three new members of the coaching staff over the holiday season, including former Georgetown coach and Auburn Terry Williams.
Williams’ coaching style indicates the importance of 3-point field goals and her forcing turnovers, as her Auburn team ranked third nationwide in steals per game during her first season.
She also helped the Tigers set a record for a one season program of 3-pointers in 2018-19.
With the help of Williams, returning veterans and talented transfers, the Lady Lions have a great opportunity to right the wrongs of last season.
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Penn State did not include a single freshman last season.