Coming into the 2018-19 season, Penn coach Mike McLaughlin knew what he had in sophomore center Eleah Parker.
The 2017-18 Ivy League rookie of the year is the kind of player who can anchor a program.
Senior guard Ashley Russell was also a mature player who could be relied on.
After that, however, it was a team of question marks -- one whose success was going to be dependent on players rising up to perform in bigger roles and other players then filling those vacated spots.
It’s a thing that only a stable program can pull off.
Going into their game Wednesday against Temple, the Quakers are 9-3. They opened Ivy League competition with a win at Princeton -- the reigning conference champion that had beaten Penn three times last season. It has been a team effort and not a two-player show.
“We probably had four or five kids that had played some level of role,” McLaughlin said. “Eleah is obviously the most recognizable and Ashley Russell played a ton.
“Other than that, everyone else had only played small roles, being a starter for six to 12 to 14 minute based on the game. Going into this year, it was honestly: What are we going to get?”
As expected, the 6-foot-4 Parker (14.3 ppg., 8.9 rpg., 41 blocks) and Russell (9.7 ppg., 7.1 rpg. 4.1 apg.) lead the way, but after that, it is a group of players putting up career-high minutes and career-high numbers.
After no starts through her first three seasons, senior forward Princess Aghayere has started all 12 games this season and increased her minutes to 10 more a game. Her season-high in points had been 134. Now, she already has 113 through the first 12 games.
Junior guard Phoebe Sterba has played 322 minutes through 12 games after totaling 461 in her first two seasons. She has responded by more than doubling her point, rebound and assist averages. Sterba was named Ivy League and Big 5 player of the week earlier this month.
Junior Kendall Grasela has moved into the starting lineup and played more minutes than she had totaled before this season.
Sophomores Michae Jones, Tori Crawford and Katie Kinum are all regular contributors in the rotation.
“It’s a big jump for someone to go from 11 minutes to 25 minutes or four minutes to 12,” McLaughlin said. “I think they’ve answered their opportunities.