In its first live-action test this season, Penn State showed signs of rust.
An exhibition victory against Division II Kutztown 64-44 allowed a peek at the current state of the Lady Lions under first-year coach Carolyn Kieger.
With a 15-turnover first half and 26 total, the Lady Lions struggled to keep the ball under control while in possession. The Lions also shot a mere 34.9 percent from the field.
Kieger knew the lack of intensity had nothing to do with the fact that this game doesn’t count.
“I think it was more so nerves of the first game,” Kieger said.
The team, after all, is handling a complete overhaul of last year’s coaching staff and is only seven months into a totally new system.
“They’re learning a new offense, a new defense, everything is new for them right now,” Kieger said.
Of the Lady Lions’ 64 total points, only 16 came off second chances and Kieger was honest about her team’s lack of ways to score.
“We were pretty much one and done tonight,” Kieger said. “If we didn’t score off our first action we either passed it to the other team or took a bad shot.”
Learning a new offense, especially one that is fast and up-tempo, can take some time. Any fast-paced style is going to put an emphasis on ball security, something the Lions struggled with.
It is only the first contest for the Lady Lions, so there isn’t any sign for longtime concern just yet.
Kieger knows the type of intensity and tenacity she expects from her players isn’t something that is installed and grasped right away.
“That’s something that’s going to take time,” Kieger said.
Luckily for the Lady Lions, this offense should be one to reckon with if they can clean up their play. Junior guard Kamaria McDaniel posted a double-double with 25 points and 10 rebounds.
McDaniel made her case to be the team’s go-to scorer against Kutztown, but Kieger is already looking ahead at her potential for this season.
“The next step is teaching her the game,” Kieger said. “I think you’re going to see her really flourish with this style and tempo.”
With that double-double came six turnovers.
Kieger pointed to McDaniel’s accountability in her stating she needs to make better decisions as something she “love[s] about her.”
McDaniel averaged 9.7 points per game last season is poised to be a key part of the offense again in 2019.
What kind of team the 2019-2020 Lady Lions will be is yet to be seen for sure. The team is returning three of its top five scorers from last year’s campaign along with picking up six freshmen.
The Lady Lions travel to Towson on Tuesday for their regular-season opener and look to improve on last year’s record of 12-18.
Kieger wants to continue to grow as a better team first, but she sees where things are headed and says it will be something for fans to look forward to this season.
“Tell your friends because it’s going to be a fun ride,” Kieger said.