It’s a busy time right now as a student at the end of the semester. I really hope you haven’t been waiting for a UMBC recap, because there’s just no point. PSU won the ugly, essentially meaningless game. The only highlight was Brooks’ being SC’s #1 play of the day. I didn’t get time to put up a VT preview, but coming into the game, I was worried about PSU’s ability to contain Jeff Allen and rebounding. I really thought this was a game PSU would win at home.
In such a close game, every possession, missed shot, or mistake is magnified and can be pointed to as the difference in the game. These frustrating losses tend to allow fans to just focus on the negatives and not the positives, which then leads to arguments over which mistake was bigger and cost the team the game. It gets pretty pointless after a while, but here’s a quick list of what I believe were the most important factors to why PSU lost.
- Shooting – 39.2% eFG% at home isn’t going to get it done.
- Inconsistent Frontcourt – Brooks, thought to be the most consistent so far, didn’t show up.
- Dumb fouls – Frazier, Jones, Ott, and Babb with crucial fouls down the stretch
- Talor Battle missed 7 foul shots
Each of those four factors contributed significantly to the outcome of the game. If we could eliminate just one of those four factors, I bet PSU wins the game. But the bottom line is PSU played a comparable bottom-tier BCS school at home and lost, despite the fact that Talor Battle was unstoppable and scored a career-high 32 points with 0 turnovers. That is the most troubling issue to me because it doesn’t bode well at ALL for the Big Ten season (that is a mere 2 weeks away).
Looking at the Four Factors, PSU just couldn’t shoot the ball well enough to win. Talor had 12 field goals while the rest of the team had 10 combined. That is not a winning formula. Obviously Battle took more than a fair share of shots (26 FGA), but it’s not like the other guys didn’t have chances (39 FGA for the rest of the team). The only player excluded from ‘the rest of the guys’ category would be David Jackson, who had a solid 12 point, 7 rebound performance (4-8 from the field). The rest of the guys were a glorious 6-31 (19.4%). Someone on this team desperately needs to step up and bring it every night.
Defensively, I thought PSU played OK. Not as great as they have been, but the competition was tougher. PSU switched in some 2-3 zone after struggling a bit to match up with VT’s athleticism inside. Malcolm Delaney was on fire for VT and nearly matched Battle’s output (27 points on 20 shots). Delaney is off to a great start to the year averaging 21 PPG and scored 32 on Temple’s tough defense. I felt like PSU made Delaney earn his buckets, so you just have to live with his production. Jeff Allen posted a double-double (12 and 10), but I didn’t think he was nearly as dominating as he was against PSU as a freshman. The biggest problem defensively were fouls. The Lions didn’t give up a FG to Va Tech the last 8 minutes of the game, but there were too many dumb fouls down the stretch that allowed VT to score their last 10 points of the game from the charity stripe. Tim Frazier had 4 fouls himself, neither of them were necessary. He picked up his first three fouls on breakaways for VT, compounding PSU’s problems. The worst committed by Tim, though, had to be his overaggressive reach on Malcolm Delaney (80% FT shooter) 30 feet from the hoop with 9 on the shot clock. It came at the worst possible time as PSU was trying to get a stop and a chance to tie the game with under 30 seconds left. If Frazier didn’t commit any of his needless fouls, VT scores 3 less points. He IS a true freshmen and these were obviously freshmen mistakes, but how long is that excuse valid? These kind of fouls, especially the last one, prevent teams from winning.
Other dumb fouls:
- Chris Babb’s momentum-shifting intentional foul on another VT breakaway. This could be attributed as the key moment of the game. The breakaway was the result of Andrew Jones’ gimme layup being blocked from behind by a VT help-defender. PSU had just regained the lead at 59-58 until this play.
- Andrew Jones picking up 5 fouls in the 2nd half. Some of them were unlucky calls, but still. Having to play Andrew Ott at crunchtime is not something DeChellis would like to have to do.
- Andrew Ott’s tackling of Dorenzo Hudson on a missed foul shot by Battle. Gave VT two free points with under 2 minutes to play. Ya gotta know when and when not to go after some loose balls.
- Talor Battle – 32 points, 9 rebounds, 3 assists, and no turnovers. But everyone has been focusing on his 7 missed foul shots and his missed layup at the buzzer. The guy played his heart out again, after coming back from turning his ankle just 7 minutes into the game. When Battle came back in after the injury, I claimed to my friends he wouldn’t come out. He actually did, but on his own accord, for about a minute or two before the under 8 media TO in the 2nd half. Phenomenal game from Talor, and I’m not too concerned about the foul shots. His form is atrocious, but it always has been. With how hard he plays combined with the hitch in his form (he doesn’t even use his legs), I always expect his foul shots to come up short. They did for the first time all year last night.
- David Jackson – 12 points, 7 rebounds. Played well defensively as well. Good game from DJ.
- Andrew Jones – I thought Drew played better than he has. He was more aggressive, but this team still needs more. He didn’t finish on a couple of decent post moves, and him fouling out in the second half was a big blow. He actually got to the foul line 6 times and converted on 5 of them. Finished with 7 points, 4 rebounds, and 2 blocks.
- Jeff Brooks – Worst game by Brooks on the year. Looked like last year’s Brooks as his body language showed him getting down on himself. The only play he made was a nice alley-oop from Woodyard in the first half, but it could have been a result of Brooks taking forever to get back on D. He got abused on defense and didn’t make any shots he took. 2 points and 1 rebound in 22 minutes. He was benched down the stretch in favor of Andrew Ott…..not good.
- Chris Babb – How long is this guy going to have the greenlight? I don’t know if he’s just lost confidence, but Chris continues to put up bricks from behind the arc. He’s now under 30% for the year from 3. He HAS to be able to knock down the open 3 with consistency. Also, not the best time to test your ability to penetrate and shoot with under a minute left in the game. Nice to see him try, but it was just at the worst possible time. He made a fair share of good plays on defense, but he also let Delaney split a double team to get the rock towards the end of the game. His intentional foul wasn’t too smart, either.
- Tim Frazier – Continues to struggle. I don’t know if he’s still trying to find his niche, but he needs to become more involved in the motion offense. Missed a few open floaters in the lane and committed bad fouls at the wrong times. He’s got a long ways to go, but you can live with it from the true freshman. But will he remain a starter?
- Bill Edwards – Bill didn’t play as well. I would have liked to see him get some more minutes, especially down the stretch. Also, I would’ve loved to see him post up more. He’s shown he can get buckets inside, but when he was in, he floated around the perimeter.
- Andrew Ott – He played about as well as anybody could have expected, but he is what he is. A slow-footed backup that really can only contribute 8-10 minutes MAX a game. Jones foul troubles and Brooks awful play let Ott play 16 minutes. He scored 3 points and grabbed 6 boards, but he committed a dumb foul and couldn’t guard Allen one-on-one.
- Cammeron Woodyard – Cam continues to log minutes and not affect the game at all. It’s almost like he’s not even on the court. He missed 2 shots, assisted on Brooks’ alley oop, and committed a turnover in 9 minutes.
It’s finals week, so the Lions don’t take the floor until Saturday night against Gardner-Webb. But this loss has a lot of PSU fans worried about the Big Ten season, including myself.