Alyssa Baron, the second-leading scorer in Penn women’s basketball history with 1,806 career points, starred for the Quakers from 2010-11 to 2013-14. She was a two-time First Team All-Ivy selection, a four-time First Team All-Big 5 pick, and the 2013-14 Ivy League Player of the Year.
In February of her junior year, she spoke with the Penn Current about perfecting her game and helping to turn around the women’s basketball program.
TEAM PLAYER: Sports are in Alyssa Baron’s blood. Before the Miami, Fla. native committed to basketball, she also played tennis and soccer. Now a junior in the College, Baron is a 5’10” guard on Penn’s women’s basketball team, and is a key reason the team made a run at the Ivy conference title and will be headed to the postseason. The Quakers take on Howard University in the first round of the Women's Basketball Invitational (WBI) on Thursday, March 21 at 7 p.m. at The Palestra. The team finished the season with a 16-12 record (9-5 in Ivy League play) and third place in the Ivy standings, which is the Quakers' best record and Ivy finish since the 2003-04 championship season. “We have our goal set for postseason play this year, which would be a first in a long time for Penn," Baron says.
RECORD BREAKER: Baron led the team in scoring for the third straight year with 14.2 points per game (fourth best in the league), as well as assists (3.9 per game), steals (2.0), and rebounds (6.3). Baron has also been the two-time Ivy League scoring champion, and the first freshman in Ivy League history to lead the league in scoring. Most recently, Baron was a unanimous first-team All-Ivy selection, after getting an honorable mention her freshman year, and earning second-team status last season. Despite her considerable success, Baron says she doesn’t think about these statistics when she gets on the court. “Usually I’m in the zone, either in practice, whatever we’re working on that day, or in the game. [With] the adrenaline pumping, you’re just trying to win the game.”
IT’S A FAMILY THING: Baron has two older siblings—a brother who played a year of basketball at Brandeis and a sister who played tennis at Michigan State. In addition, Baron’s grandfather played basketball at University of Vermont, and her mom played at Tufts. “It was kind of different when [my mom] played,” Baron says. “She always laughs about it because she says, ‘I played center when I was in college and I’m 5’ 8”.’ It was such a different time.”
HER BIGGEST FANS: Baron’s parents routinely fly up from Miami to support their daughter and the team at most home games and make it to a few away games, too. In late January, when the University of Miami men’s team was scheduled to play a sold-out game against Duke, Baron’s parents gave up their season tickets to instead watch the Quakers’ game against Temple. “They’re dedicated fans,” she says.
ON-AIR: A communications major with a focus on communication and behavior, Baron hopes to work in sports broadcasting after Penn (her goal is a job with ESPN). This summer, she hopes to do an internship with Comcast SportsNet. In addition, she’ll be playing for the U.S. National team in the Maccabiah Games in Israel during the month of July.
ALWAYS IMPROVING: Even though she’s had success and acknowledges her strengths on the court, Baron knows there’s always room to get better at the game. “I’m far away from perfecting any part of my game, I would say. Definitely I would say my strengths are on the offensive end, whether it’s getting my teammates open for shots, or getting to the basket and finishing there,” Baron says. “Since my freshman year, I’ve definitely improved a lot on the defensive end. … I’m able to get a couple steals a game, which always helps when you bring up the defensive intensity.”