Penn State Women's Basketball | Washington: Nikki Greene Quietly Becoming One of the Best Interior Players in Lady Lions History
The No. 8 Penn State women’s basketball team is set to continue its busy week with a road trip to Indiana to take on the Hoosiers at 6:30 p.m. Thursday.
Penn State coach Coquese Washington expects the Hoosiers to come out with energy, focus and a lot of “scheming” from its coach, Curt Miller.
Playing with confidence has been a key component for the Lady Lions so far this season, along with the ability to get after the ball on defense. Senior center Nikki Greene has helped the team close out games this season with her keen eye for snatching rebounds.
“I think one of the reasons we are able to close out games is because Nikki Greene is on the floor," Washington said. "She’s such a defensive presence for us and she’s a great rebounder and she helps us finish out possessions. I think that is a testament to her maturity and her growth.”
Greene became the sixth player in Penn State history to grab 900 career rebounds, pulling down nine in a 69-61 victory against Purdue on Monday.
With a variety of people who make big plays on the offensive end, such as senior guard Alex Bentley and junior guard Maggie Lucas, the defensive end of the floor is able to get back quickly and play with consistency and confidence, Washington said.
There is a lot of basketball left for the Lady Lions and records that were shattered earlier in the season continue to grow. Greene is only the second Lady Lion in school history with 1,000 points, 900 rebounds and 100 blocks, joining Andrea Garner.
“Nikki has quietly had a very impressive career and one of the best careers of any post player in Penn State history," Washington said. "When you talk about how she needs one more block to be the only player in Penn State history to have 1,000 points, 900 rebounds, and 200 blocks, when you think about that and all of the great players that have played here, even post players who have played here, she’s the only one to be able to do that.”
Coming in as a freshman, Washington said, Greene was thrown into the game, learning how to play at the collegiate level on the fly. According to Washington, she has developed more poise and patience on the offensive end of the court.
Greene maintains focus, stays healthy and exemplifies a strong work ethic to lead the team. As a leader, Greene has become more aware of what her role is. She spreads her confidence to other post players and helps them understand what they are supposed to be doing during practice and during games.
The Lady Lions return to the Bryce Jordan Center on Sunday to take on Michigan State at 2 p.m.
Washington is expecting a turnout much like Monday’s game against Purdue. The fans bring “added energy,” which drives the team to perform at a higher level. The Spartans are 18-4 and 6-3 in Big Ten play. Though Michigan State has suffered a lot of injuries from key players, the Lady Lions predict the Spartans will be a tough matchup.
“It is going to be a fantastic basketball game as they have had a good season, despite a lot of injuries," Washington said. "The kids that are suiting up for them are playing hard, they're winning games and they’re going to be an NCAA Tournament team. It’s going to be a fantastic game and I’m fully anticipating another good student crowd and another 6-to-7,000 people filling up the BJC.”