UNIVERSITY PARK - Fresh off a Big Ten regular-season title and a trip to the Sweet 16 last season, Penn State isn't getting too far ahead of itself just yet.
The Lions return four starters from last year's squad that finished 26-7, including All-Big Ten first-team selections Alex Bentley and Maggie Lucas, as well as Big Ten honorable mention choices Nikki Greene and Mia Nickson.
Coach Coquese Washington enters her sixth season at the helm.
Washington, a Flint, Mich. Native, interviewed for the job at Michigan in April, but reaffirmed her dedication to the Lions by signing a five-year contract extension in September worth about $3.5 million. Washington was absent from the Lions media day on Monday due to a family emergency, but assistant coach Kia Damon said the team isn't approaching this season any differently considering last year's success.
"We'll continue to get everyone's best shot," Damon said. "We need to be prepared for it and to be able to give them our best shot."
When asked what she hopes the Lions can achieve this season, Bentley took the generic approach.
"My expectations are to basically just achieve our team goals," said the point guard, who averaged 14.1 points per game last season. "I'm going to be happy with us getting better every day. Whatever it takes."
Bentley is one of five seniors on a roster that features just one freshman - 6-foot-6 center Candice Agee, a McDonald's High School All-American last season. Penn State also adds junior guard Dara Taylor, who transferred after two seasons at Maryland and was forced to sit out last season due to NCAA rules.
"I see myself as a leader of this team," Bentley said. "(Coach) always tells me the team goes as I go, and I truly do believe that. I feel like my teammates are very good at following my lead and listening."
Penn State opens its schedule Nov. 11 at home against Howard, and will be tested early with trips to Texas A&M and Connecticut before beginning Big Ten play in January.
As for now - as Bentley noted - the Lions are on the same page and focusing on their own abilities.
"We have our own expectations for the team," she said. "We don't let anybody set expectations for us. Right now, we just want to get better day to day and be playing our best basketball in March."