The chemistry between Dara Taylor and Maggie Lucas is obvious.
The pair played eight years together in the AAU ranks, but they have never played a collegiate game together.
Though Taylor has never played a game in blue and white, she joins the Penn State women’s basketball team as a veteran. She redshirted last season after transferring from Maryland, but the junior is ready to go for the Lions this season.
“I am so excited to play. Sitting out last year, especially during home games when I’m sitting on the sidelines and I can see things I want to do, but not being able to do them is really difficult,” Taylor said. “So I am just excited to be out there with my teammates because I have seen them work hard and I’m excited for the season.”
With the addition of Taylor as a true point guard, Lucas will transition to her traditional role as a shooting guard after being the backup point behind Alex Bentley last season.
“It is going to help out tremendously [having Dara]. Last year I was the backup point and lets be honest, I’m not known for my speed,” Lucas said. “So to have Dara as our point guard, Alex and her are both so quick and just so controlling of the game and that just adds a whole new dimension to our team’s game.”
Lucas scored 19.5 points per game last season alternating between point guard and shooting guard, but said that the work at point guard has given her the threat of quick ball handling in tight spaces.
“People are going to guard me a little differently, just because I’ve shown that I can go off the dribble, so I just have to read defenses,” Lucas said.
Last season Lucas made it a point to take 100,000 shots in the offseason, but unlike last year, she did not want to put out a goal.
It will be hard to top the season Lucas had last year after leading the team with an .886 free throw percentage. She was also second on the team in assists with 91, trailing only Bentley. She said she added more to her offensive game with more combo moves, better footwork and a lot of ball handling.
“Maggie is a kid who loves to get better and loves to be challenged,” assistant coach Kia Damon said. “From a skill standpoint, she has continued to enhance her attack to the basket, she has some combination finishes around the rim that she has added to her game.”
Damon also said Lucas has taken on a more active leadership role where she will be more vocal on the court and help everybody know where she needs to be.
“Maggie always has a few tricks in the bag. I don’t want to give them all away, but you know she has really done a great job in the offseason,” Damon said.