Behind Enemy Lines: Temple’s Tonya Cardoza

Courtesy of atlantic10.com

—Courtesy of atlantic10.com

Penn will play its final Big 5 opponent in its last non-conference game of the season against Temple on Wednesday. Penn (7-7, 0-1 Ivy) will be looking for its first win against Temple (7-10) since 2003. For this edition of Behind Enemy Lines, I spoke with Owls' head coach Tonya Cardoza about notching her 100th win in less than five years and the youth of her 2012-2013 squad.

This season, you reached a landmark, you got your 100th win. What does that mean to you?

Cardoza: It means a lot. Obviously every game that you go into you want to win and the fact that I’ve been able to do it in four and a half years, it’s just a credit to the kids that I’ve coached and the staff that I’ve had surrounding me. It feels good to get that out of the way. The last month or so, knowing that we were so close, it was finally good to  get that one win. It means a lot because it’s a milestone a lot of people are not able to reach and the fact that I’ve been able to do it, like I said, in four and a half years I’m happy with that.

You’ve obviously had a very successful couple of seasons at Temple and I know this season is a little different. You have a very young team. It’s the second most inexperienced in Division I. How has that affected your level of play and goals for the season?

Cardoza: Obviously our goals have to change and as we came into the season our expectation was to still do the same things we’ve done in the past and we haven’t been able to do that. We haven’t reached the same level of success up to this point but everyday, we are young, and everyday we have to get better because we’re also building for the future. We haven’t had a lot of wins but everyday in practice we’re trying to get better with the hopes that it carries over down the stretch and that we’re able to make a run for it.

But it’s been something different, something that obviously none of us have been used to because we haven’t lost many games here so we’re not going to be accustomed to losing as well. We know that we are young, and we do have a lot of inexperience but sometimes it’s not about inexperience it’s just about what effort you give and I think there’s sometimes that we’ve lost games this year, not because we were young, just because we didn’t do little things.

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W. Hoops Lands Long Island Forward

The New York Post has reported that Sade Gibbons, a rising senior at Long Island Lutheran High School, has verbally committed to play women’s basketball at Penn.

The 6-foot-1 forward chose Penn over Delaware, Davidson, Fairfield and Manhattan.

Gibbons helped the Crusaders win a state Federation Class B title two years ago and reach the finals last season. Gibbons played in 20 of the 23 games for LuHi last season.

Gibbons will be an interesting addition to the Quakers. The Post reports that though she is naturally right-handed, she goes to the hoop as a lefty.

After a 13-15 season last year, the strength of Penn's past two recruiting classes has been one of the hallmarks of coach Mike McLaughlin's tenure thus far. Gibbons will now be an addition to that legacy.

Jess Knapp could return this weekend

Penn women's basketball senior captain Jess Knapp could return to the floor as soon as tonight. Knapp, who has been sidelined since an early exit during the Dec. 30 game against San Diego State, would be returning despite her torn ACL and MCL, neither of which has yet to heal. She has been practicing with a brace all week. If she does take the floor, how much playing time she will get is unclear.

What is clear is the team's recent struggles. Without its senior star, the team has lost six straight, though two losses came against teams with Top 25 votes — San Diego State and Princeton. Here is a more in-depth glance at the team's declining numbers in the past six games (published in the print version on Jan. 23):

More on ‘The Mighty Macs’

(themightymacs.com)

Here's some more interesting tidbits on The Mighty Macs — the film made by Penn alums Tim Chambers and Vince Curran about the Immaculata University Mighty Macs' 1972 women's basketball team, which was the first to claim a national title in women's hoops:

  • Three-time First Team All-American Theresa Shank Grentz led the Mighty Macs to three straight national titles in 1972, 1973 and 1974. Sports Illustrated called her "the Bill Walton of women's basketball." Following her playing career, Grentz went on to a successful coaching career at St. Joe's, Rutgers and Illinois — compiling a 671-309 record from 1974-2007. She was inducted into the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame in 2001.
  • Katie Hayek, who plays the part of Grentz in the film (though the character was renamed Trish Sharkey for the movie), was diagnosed with cancer on the same day she was cast for the role. Chambers elected to not to cast a new actress for the part, but he instead worked with Hayek and rearranged the shooting schedule to keep her. Said Chambers: "It was just one of those things where you just go with your gut ... She’s phenomenal in the movie. It was unconventional, but in the end, we felt like she was the right person and I’m glad we did what we did."
  • In March 2008, ESPN did a segment on the team for SportsCenter
  • In his review of the movie, Roger Ebert called the film "good-hearted and pleasant" and said it "has an innocence that today's movies have almost lost."
  • See the trailer here at the movie's official website

Half-court shot from South Bend

It seems like The Buzz has jumped on the Women's Hoops bandwagon. And for good reason -- the Quakers are off to their best start (4-1) in program history. Coach Mike McLaughlin's crew has been in South Bend, Ind. since yesterday afternoon in preparation for tonight's game against national runners-up Notre Dame. The Fighting Irish are undoubtedly the biggest test this team has faced in years, but if this video is any measure, the Red and Blue are ready to put up a fight tonight.

In a quick video tweeted from @PennWomensBball, sophomore Megan McCullough sinks a half-court shot during Penn's shootaround this afternoon. Apparently the players go up against the coaches after shootarounds -- the players lead the season, 2-0-1.

Follow @PennWomensBball tonight on Twitter for game updates.