Coquese Washington kept composed when the question about her future came.
Was she concerned at all about her position as the head coach of the Lady Lions? Was she expecting any staff changes, and, after 18 wins in two seasons (and 43 losses alongside a 9-27 conference record) did she feel any pressure?
“I don’t feel any pressure at all,” she said. “I want to win. I’m competitive. I don’t like to lose at all.
“I played ‘Trouble’ with my daughter the other night, and I smashed her. It wasn’t even close. I want to win. My focus has always been on this program and not on me. I’m not an administrator, don’t want to be an administrator. I don’t try to referee when I’m coaching. … I do my job. I’m competitive, and my focus is on my team and on the players.”
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I don’t feel any pressure at all. I want to win. I’m competitive. I don’t like to lose at all.
Penn State head coach Coquese Washington on job security
Along with her team, which will graduate just two players (Candice Agee and the team’s No. 2 scorer Brianna Banks), Washington keeps her mind on the positives of the season — one in which she said she saw a great deal of growth.
“I would say I like the way we finished. There was a lot of growth with the team over the course of the season, you know, we dealt with a lot of adversity,” she said. “I liked the way we finished the season overall. The last 10, 12 games of the season I thought we really started to come together and probably play our best basketball.”
That came despite losing two players to injury before the year started — veteran Sierra Moore and Keke Sevillian, who was hurt just after the season began.
“I think one of the things I learned (this year) out of necessity was flexibility,” said Washington. “With the injuries and things that we had, you kind of go into the season thinking ‘This is the team we have, and this is how certain people are going to play,’ but out of necessity we had to move certain people to certain roles.”
Washington said the team started to develop its identity the last quarter of the season — especially when expectations shifted along with injuries — and redshirt sophomore point guard Lindsey Spann, who has remained one of the team’s top players over the last two seasons, voiced her agreement.
“We really wanted to be kind of an upbeat, fast-paced team and run in transition, things like that,” she said. “We wanted to get up and down and play fast, and just be in attacking mode as a team.
“Later on in the season, I think we did a good job defensively of stopping teams in the backcourt and really keeping teams under their averages, which is something that we focused on. Realizing we can do that, we (now) see that we can be a defensive team as well.”
One of the brightest spots on Penn State’s roster next season is Teniya Page, the freshman point guard who played the most minutes on the team and among the most of any Big Ten player — and average of 37.6 per game.
“I thought Teniya’s development and her performance as a freshman was spectacular,” said Washington. Page finished with a team-high 15.3 points per game and 131 total assists. She shot 41 percent from the field and 40 percent from 3-point range, also a team-high.
Page was admittedly exhausted and a little frustrated with the Lady Lions’ season, but offered the perspective that she can see the team’s potential for upcoming years, as well as in herself.
“As the season went on, we got better as a team, a lot of people came together,” she said. “I obviously didn’t picture my first season being this way, it’s definitely a learning experience. ... There is always room for improvement, but the fact that we have such a young team (we’re going to technically be ‘young’ since we have a lot of sophomores and freshmen), so I don’t see how you could say you ‘can’t’ see potential there.”