For the IUP women's basketball team, the 2013-14 season is only five games old, but even in that brief period, one player has had a major impact -- not only on the team, but also nationally.
Crimson Hawks junior guard Lindsay Stamp has emerged as one of the top scorers in Division II, averaging a team-high 23.4 points per game that puts her among the top 15 players in Division II.
Stamp's strong start has come after a solid sophomore season in which she averaged 11 points per game to rank second on the team.
This season, however, has been markedly better.
The scoring surge has been a product of multiple factors -- from the coaching staff to her responsibilities --and the progress has been hard to ignore.
"I came into a bigger role this year than I had last year," Stamp said.
"There's a different coach, a different offense and we're playing a different style of basketball than we did last season. I think that's had something to do with it."
In each of the Crimson Hawks' first five games this season, Stamp has scored at least 20 points, a run highlighted by a career-high 35 points on 13-of-19 shooting in a 97-62 victory Nov. 20 against Pitt-Johnstown.
Led by Stamp, IUP is off to a 5-0 start with each victory by more than 10 points.
The Crimson Hawks are in their first season under head coach Tom McConnell, who replaced Jeff Dow. In McConnell's fast-paced offense that is predicated on players taking a quality shot in the first six seconds of a possession, Stamp has thrived.
"It's been a really fun transition," she said. "We're getting up and down the court quickly, we have more people scoring, we have more people contributing, we're getting a lot more shots up. It's definitely a more fun atmosphere and a better tempo for us as a team."
Though Slippery Rock's football season ended with a loss against Winston-Salem State in the first round of the NCAA Division II playoffs, some of the team's players earned historical distinction.
Senior wide receiver John Schademan, a Bethel Park High School graduate, set the school's single-season record for receiving yards (1,484) and touchdown receptions (15).
Despite playing at Colgate his freshman season, he finished with 2,245 yards for the third most in Slippery Rock history.
Quarterback Nigel Barksdale broke school single-season records for passing yards (3,736) and touchdowns (30).
Local Dukes honored
Though Duquesne was unable to advance to the NCAA Division I-AA playoffs with a 7-4 record, a few of the Dukes' WPIAL products received postseason recognition.
Chartiers Valley graduate Christian Kuntz made the all-Northeast Conference first team after finishing the season with a team-high 74 tackles. Linebacker Dorian Bell (Gateway) and quarterback Dillon Buechel (Montour) made the second team.
Colonials shoot up in rankings
Aided by a 12-3-1 start, the Robert Morris women's hockey team has managed to accomplish a feat never before achieved in program history. The Colonials are ranked No. 10 in the most recent USCHO Division I poll, the first time they have made it into the top 10 of the poll. Robert Morris has lost just one of its past 12 games.
Craig Meyer: firstname.lastname@example.org and Twitter @CraigMeyerPG.