Penn College Women's Basketball Team Searching for 'Gold'

Published 11.09.2005


Returning a nucleus that includes his top three scorers from a year ago is enough to make Pennsylvania College of Technology women's basketball coach Ron Kodish happy. But it is the new additions that really put a smile on his face and have him talking about "going for the gold."

Penn College opens its season at 6 p.m. Monday hosting Northampton Community College at Bardo Gymnasium on West Third Street. The team begins play in the new Penn State University Athletic Conference on Wednesday at Penn State Mont Alto.

Last year, when Kodish returned as coach after being away for five seasons, the Lady Wildcats rebounded from a 2-22 campaign by going 18-9 and reaching the playoffs in both of the leagues in which they competed.

This year, with a solid 12-player roster that includes returning starters Katlyn Stupar, a 5-foot-11 sophomore forward from State College who averaged just under 31 points per game; Brittany Blessard, 5-4 sophomore guard from Bucktail who averaged 21.2 points per game after joining the team at midseason, and Natali Plavi, 5-3 sophomore guard from Elderton who contributed 12.3 points per game, Kodish looks for his team to make even bigger strides.

"We certainly have three players coming back who really want to win this thing.... We've got players who are serious about playing and winning basketball games. Their attitudes are different than last year and our commitment is a little bit deeper toward team goals," Kodish said.

Joining them are juniors Amy Fassett (5-3 guard from Athens, a transfer from Broome County, N.Y., Community College) and Rose Crowell (5-10 center from Temple Hills, Md., who played at Penn College during the 1998-99 season), and freshmen Brittney Wertman (5-10 forward from Danville), Lindsey Mays (5-9 forward from Blossburg North Penn), Alyssa Kramer (5-7 guard from Northeast Bradford), Erin Mahoney (5-6 guard from Conneaut Valley), Renee Angstadt (5-7 forward from Perkiomen Valley), Megan Renwick (5-8 forward-center from Butler) and Samantha Callender (5-8 forward from Bishop Laughlin, Bronx, N.Y.).

"It's nice to look at a roster with that depth, with several players at each position," Kodish said.

"Last year, I was famous for saying, 'We were often outnumbered but never outplayed.' Hopefully, this year, I'll be able to say, 'We weren't outnumbered and we still weren't outplayed,' and really try to fulfill our team goal of getting to Bryce Jordan Center in March.

"Last year, we showed ourselves that we could compete on a playoff level. This year, we've got the numbers that we should not only be able to make the playoffs, but get there and compete, so we might as well go for the gold," Kodish continued.

"The goal for the team is to step on the court at Bryce Jordan Center in March and play for a championship for the conference," he said. "I think everybody has bought into that as a goal.

"It will be difficult, maybe, to win as many games as last year, but it may be difficult for many teams to win as many as they did last year because of better balance. Ultimately, wins and losses aside, the goal is to be at Bryce Jordan playing and winning a championship in March," the coach added.

More offensive balance could be a key to reaching that goal, and the fifth-year coach thinks that his team will have that.

"Just by having two other players (Blessard and Plavi) returning with her (Stupar) that are capable of putting points on the board, and then bringing in players that have real good skills, I don't think Katlyn is going to be required to score as much this year. I don't think the weight of the offense will be resting on her shoulders," Kodish said.

"It will be much more difficult to defend us because we have more options available to us. Also, we're going to have more players who will have a higher intensity level throughout a 40-minute game,"he said.

The Wildcats will use multiple offenses. Defensively, Penn College will look to put pressure on its opponents, primarily with a man-to-man but also using zone presses.

"I can't discount a lot of playing time for most of these players, simply because of the way we want to play up-tempo, pressure type of defense and offense. Players will have to be in shape, and they're going to have to realize that they're not going to be able to go 40 minutes with that intensity and we've got to be able to have everybody ready to step in and take some time on the floor."

Penn College also is beefing up its schedule, taking on established NCAA Division III varsity opponents like Susquehanna, Marywood, College Misericordia, Alfred (N.Y.), Elmira (N.Y.), Centenary and Keystone College.

"We've got 26 games and there's not a whole lot of letup from beginning to end, so it should be a challenging season," Kodish said.

"I hope it's something I hope that high school players look at and say, Penn College not only went to four years (of eligibility), it has a nice schedule. We want to use that to attract players throughout the years here,"he said.