If Nikki Greene has an opening, she's going to dunk.
In fact, she can't wait to do it.
"She talks about it all the time," Lady Lions' coach Coquese Washing-ton said. "She wants to be the first Lady Lion to dunk it."
But Greene is more than just a dunker, she's an athlete that is poised to make an impact in her first year at Penn State.
Washington said the 6-foot-4 freshman's athleticism is on display everyday in practice. When the guards throw passes into the low block that look destined for the seats, Greene comes out of nowhere to snatch the pass and put the shot up.
It's also on display when senior guard Tyra Grant is streaking down the floor for a lay-up and Greene sprints end-to-end to cut off the speedy guard's attempt.
That particular play was Grant's formal introduction to Greene.
"Really the introduction was to the back of the hoop," Grant said laughing.
"She collided with me when I went up for the lay-up. She just didn't stop, and I just kinda kept going into the back of the hoop."
Grant added that she made the shot.
But the play is a demonstration of the kind of athleticism that Greene developed as a four-sport athlete in high school.
At Diboll High School in Diboll, Texas, Greene excelled in basketball. She was also a star on the school's volleyball, track and powerlifting teams. While Greene said running track and powerlifting helped her with strength and conditioning, it was volleyball that helped her develop skills needed to be a stronger basketball player.
Greene said playing volleyball aided her in her shot blocking ability and her timing on the ball.
Her multi-sport background has Greene's teammates excited at the prospect of having a versatile player in the low post.
"That's a big girl," Grant said. "She's very long and as far as defense, that's a good combination for a shot blocker. She's very mobile, so it helps her on the offensive end, being able to move around defenders and run on the fast break."
The excitement surrounding Greene has many on the Lady Lions reminiscing about a former player, one that provided a presence down low and was a stand out player in her career at Penn State -- Amanda Brown.
While the rest of the Big Ten has had taller players that have been dominant down low, the Lady Lions have been missing that component since Brown's departure in 2007. During her senior season, Brown accumulated 14 double-doubles and became the first Lady Lion to lead the Big Ten in rebounding with 10.2 per game.
She was just the second Lady Lion to score 1,000 points while bringing down 800 rebounds and blocking 150 shots. Her stellar play during her senior year led to Brown being drafted 38th overall in the WNBA Draft by the Los Angeles Sparks.
While comparisons to Brown are certainly premature, Greene has the kind of upside that has Washington excited to see her finally get on the court.
"We can do a lot of things with her strength and athleticism that we haven't been able to do in the past," Washington said. "My challenge is not to expect too much too soon because I can see her potential, and I can see how good she's gonna be."
The coach expects Greene to have some ups and downs in her first season as a Lady Lion. She expects the young center to have games where she has difficulty shooting. There are going to be games when Greene gets into foul trouble and games when she tries to block every shot that's put up.
But those are things that are expected of all freshmen. Especially freshmen that are going to play in a conference that has the caliber of post players that the Big Ten has.
The consensus top-two teams in the conference, Ohio State and Michigan State, both have centers that are at least as tall or taller than Greene.
The freshman will have the difficult task of matching up on the Buckeyes Jantel Lavender, regarded by many as the best player in the conference, and the Spartans Alyssa DeHaan, who is the tallest player in Michigan State history at 6-foot-9.
Greene has all of the athletic tools to become a dominant post player in the Big Ten, but the coach feels she needs to overcome one obstacle that has been evident so far early on.
"She doesn't talk," Washington said. "She just doesn't talk. She's quiet, but she's competitive."
Washington said often times in practice, Greene will want to call for the ball in the post, but rather than use her voice, she will just throw her hand up and hope for the ball. When she wants to screen for a teammate, you can see it in her face, but she won't speak up and call for the pick.
Still, Washington feels the communication will come as Greene gets more comfortable with her teammates and the offense. For the time being, she can do the talking with her athleticism.
Her teammates are eager to see Greene dunk in a game. They have seen it in practice, but an in-game dunk could do a lot more than just change the flow of the game, it can change the way that outsiders view the Lady Lions.
"It's impressive," Janessa Wolff said. "Most people when they think of girls dunking, they think of Candace Parker. If people can think that way about our team, we'll get more fan support."
Parker became famous during her college career for dunking while playing for Tennessee. Washington sees the same kind of explosiveness in Greene that many saw in Parker.
The coach said she would even be OK with Greene dunking in warm-ups, despite the fact that doing so results in a technical foul.
"I told her I'll take the technical," Washington said. "Go ahead and dunk it, get the crowd hyped up in the beginning. We'll spot them two points and lock down on defense, we'll be fine."
The coach was quick to back that up by saying the team will not be taking a technical every game.
Greene said that while in high school, her opponents were not always happy to see her dunk. At times, it even became a little dangerous.
"I got a couple of rough fouls going up because coaches don't want me to make them look bad or whatever, but there are some teams that were okay with it," Greene said.
When Greene will dunk has yet to be determined. And if it will in fact change the game is still unknown. But Washington knows that Greene will bring a new dynamic to the offense and an excitement about this team that has been missing in recent years.
"She's got that kind of presence about her," the coach said. "When you watch her play, she's so sleek and smooth, but explosive. She's just fun to watch."