MIDDLETOWN, Pa. - The Penn State Harrisburg women's basketball team is gearing up for the start of the 2010-11 season with a new motivation in mind. Penn State Harrisburg was formally accepted as an active NCAA Division III member on September 1, 2010 giving all Penn State Harrisburg athletic teams the opportunity to qualify for the NCAA tournament. "Our team's motivation has definitely increased in practice. Our intensity and determination to improve and compete on a daily basis is partially due to the opportunities provided by NCAA membership," commented third year head coach Ross Patrick.
The 2009-2010 season was a rebuilding year for the Lady Lions as their roster was purely freshman and sophomores, many of which were plagued with injuries throughout the year. "In the midst of those challenges we were very competitive in the majority of our games. I believe our greatest accomplishment was learning to trust each other and never give up," said Coach Patrick. The Lady Lions achieved their first ever program win in the 2009-10 conference playoffs as they defeated Penn State Abington in the NEAC semifinals but eventually fell to Keuka College in the quarterfinals.
Coach Patrick and the Lady Lions have high hopes for this season and with the talented group of returners and promising freshman there is a reason for their optimism. Dorthea Dixon (Middletown, PA/Middletown) returns as a team leader and the "speedster" of the team. Dixon, a 2009-10 NEAC 3rd Team All-Conference selection, led her team in field goal percentage, assists and steals and placed 4th in the conference in steals and 12th in assists last season. Coach Patrick says, "We will look to her to continue to set the tone of the team. We are expecting her game to take a step forward this season."
Stephanie Yetter (Thompsontown, PA/East Juniata) and Alyssa Sterling (Coatsville, PA/Coatsville) join Dixon as the trio will lead the Lady Lions as the team captains. Yetter averaged a solid 11.6 points and 6.7 rebounds last season but is looking to improve her numbers in all categories in her sophomore season. "Steph used her freshman year to convert from a very successful high school post player into a formidable scoring threat at the guard position. She matured as a guard throughout the year and we are looking for her to take another step forward in her development this season." Sterling's freshman campaign was plagued by injuries but this season she returns healthy and ready to lead her team with her shooting ability and positive encouragement.
Also returning this season is Daril Foose (Altoona, PA/Altoona) who Coach Patrick describes as a "gutsy player who is not afraid of pain or competition on the basketball court". Foose brings a fire and defensive shot blocking presence to the team that will be vital in the Lady Lions defensive efforts.
Veterans Nicola Zangrari (Etters, PA/Red Land), Brittany Adams (Dillsburg, PA/Northern York) and Caitlyn Ruggiero (Bangor, PA/Bangor) bring back their familiarity with the program and a strong court presence. Zangari a strong, hardworking forward is an offensive threat and has the ability to score inside the paint and on the perimeter. Adams' high energy and high effort performances are motivation for her teammates. "Brittney plays with the aggression that coaches absolutely love." Ruggiero is often described as a "student of the game" and, many times, sees the court through the coach's lens. Last season she suffered a difficult injury but returns healthy and ready to play this season.
A supporting cast of fresh faces will help propel the Lady Lion program to new levels. Amanda Moyer (Carlisle, PA/Cumberland Valley), Shahara Jonson (Harrisburg, PA/Harrisburg), Miranda Zeanchock (Carrolltown, PA/Cambria Heights), Brittani Guerre (Tobyhanna, PA/Pocono Mountain), Leah Wilhelm (Annville, PA/Northern Lebanon), Tyffany Hicks (Elkton, MD/Elkton), Alisha House (Crownpoint, NM/Thoreau HS) and Marisol Recio (Lancaster, PA/Hempfield) all come from successful high school programs bringing a diverse set of skills and abilities. Coach Patrick will look for all of the newcomers to be immediate contributors to the team on and off the court.
With a full and talented roster, Coach Patrick knows that this season could be the program's best yet. "We have a wonderful opportunity this year with the depth and talent that exists at each position. I sincerely believe that if we play to the level we are capable of we will put ourselves in a very good position at the end of the season." NEAC conference opponents eat up 22 games of the season leaving little room for non-conference opponents but this season the Lady Lions will participate in the York College Tip-Off Tournament facing the College of New Jersey on Saturday, November 20th at 8:00 PM and either Rosemont College or York College on Sunday. Their NEAC contests will begin on November 30th as they host College of St. Elizabeth at 7:00 PM.