Minnesota 75 PSU 70

January 2, 2010


Going into the game, I really believed PSU didn’t have a chance. But the Nittany Lions showed some toughness on the road and lost a hard-fought game to a supposedly much better team.

It didn’t look like it was going to be that way at the start. PSU looked dreadful in the first 10 minutes or so of the game as Minnesota raced out to a 21-10 lead. The offense was sputtering and Minnesota was getting further and further ahead. Stephen Bardo, the ESPN color guy, pointed to the foul on a Chris Babb 3-pointer as the turning point for PSU. Talor Battle hit a 3 on the next possession and PSU cut the lead to 5, but what seemed to be forgotten was Minnesota then extended their lead back to 10 at 26-16. I thought Tim Frazier was a huge key to why PSU stayed in the game in the first half. He came in and had 3 pretty assists that set up easy baskets in the half-court offense, something PSU wasn’t able to get before (except for a few long range jumpers from Battle). They went into halftime down only 7, a moral victory considering their play.

But a different PSU team came to play in the 2nd half. The Nittany Lions came out roaring to start the second half, as they hit their first 7 field goals. In the first 7 minutes, PSU outscored the Gophers 17-5 as they jumped out to a 44-39 lead. Talor Battle only contributed 2 of the 17 points. The damage was done mostly by Drew Jones and Jeff Brooks, who were getting great looks inside and finishing. It was exciting and encouraging to watch.

Minnesota weathered the early storm to the half as Hoffarber and Westbrook really started to get going, but PSU wouldn’t go away. Frazier hit a pretty 8 foot floater on a fast break and Battle then hit one of his patented 30-footers. The score was in PSU’s favor at 53-50 with 9 minutes left, when the turnovers came at all the wrong times. Minnesota stepped up the pressure and the Lions weren’t able to handle it, whether it was fatigue, inexperience, or inability to hang onto the rock. They turned it over on 4 straight possessions.

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G-W/American Recaps

December 26, 2009

Happy Holidays everyone! I’m sorry your Christmas wasn’t as special as I’m sure you’ve been waiting for these recaps…

Penn State 104 Gardner-Webb 57


This game wasn’t a contest, obviously. While PSU was resting all week and taking care of finals, G-W was out and about getting killed by Duke and James Madison. On the ESPNU broadcast, they claimed G-W was also fighting the flu bug (despite playing 15 total guys in the game?). They didn’t have the legs to play with the Nits as 4 of G-W’s starters played less than 20 minutes. The Bulldogs never stood a chance, and PSU jumped out to a 30-4 lead.

This was another annual pre-Christmas snoozer that meant nothing. Credit to the Lions, though, for coming out in front of 500 fans and taking care of business. If the Lions can take anything away from this game, its that they remembered how to shoot jumpers. They hit 12 of 26 3PA for 46%, while 4 players hit 2 or more. The bench got some run, as well, as no one logged over 30 minutes but 10 guys logged at least 10 minutes.

NCAA Basketball

Battle scored 21 points on 13 shots in 24 minutes. Tim Frazier had one of his best games with 18 points, 7 assists, and 5 rebounds. Chris Babb went 5-6 from the field for 12 points (much better than his 35% FG%). Even Andrew Ott had a career-high 12 in 14 minutes (he went 8-9 from the foul line!). So pretty much everyone got in on the action as the Nittany Lions posted their best offensive efficiency on the season (1.4 PPP) and scored over 100 for the first time since December 2006 when they beat VMI 129-111.

Penn State 76 American 57


I thought PSU might struggle with this game, despite the inferior opponent. It was the last game before the players could go home for the first time in 6 months or so (the players apparently already had their bags packed and some literally went home immediately after the game), and they had just played a game on Saturday night. However, American actually had just lost a game 22 hours earlier to UMBC at home (a game that was postponed a day b/c of the Nor’easter last week). American was just as tired, if not moreso, than G-W two days before.

American came out strong as Vlad Moldoveanu scored 11 of American’s first 13 points. Vlad, a recently eligible George Mason transfer, scored 26 points in American’s upset of Depaul. The game was tight in the first half, until PSU opened up a comfortable 11 point lead with a minute left. But they let American creep back in it and the halftime score was 36-30.

Vlad and the rest of the Eagles were out of gas in the second half, as PSU busted the game open. The score was 66-38 with 7 minutes left (PSU going on a 30-8 run). For the second time in 3 days, the Lions were beating down on an over-matched opponent at home.

College Basketball

The stars of the game for the Lions were Chris Babb and Bill Edwards, who started the 2nd half and broke the game open. Frazier and Brooks, who had been struggling, were benched. Babb continued his hot shooting (5-7 from the field) for 13 points to go along with 6 boards. Edwards scored 12 points on 5 shots with 5 rebounds. Battle had 16 points on 9 shots and 7 assists. Andrew Jones had 9 points, but had just as many shots as turnovers.

All in all, neither of these games offered any stiff competition to get PSU ready for the Big Ten season. More to come on the Real Season before PSU’s game @ the Barn on Tuesday.

VT 66 PSU 64

December 14, 2009

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).
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Temple 45 PSU 42

December 8, 2009


It’s been 3 days since this game and I still don’t what to think about it. Was it a bad loss? I have yet to come up with an answer to that question. I don’t even know where to start with this game…

Despite the painfully slow paced game (only 53 possessions), the first half flew by. The main reason for the short first half was because of a strange stretch that led to 9 consecutive minutes of gameplay. From the under-16 media TO (that happened at 15:17) until 6:43, there was just 1 stoppage in play (at 12:52 because of rebound that went out of bounds). This stretch might seem impossible to most, but it really just epitomized how the game was played. Neither team was aggressive on offense and the contest turned into a jumpshooting match.

NCAA Basketball Stats

PSU didn’t shoot too well, but they sure shot better than Temple. Turnovers were a big problem in such a low possession game, none bigger than Bill Edwards’ offensive foul with under 20 seconds left. Rebounding was also a big issue. Penn State played great defense for the second game in a row, but towards the end of the game, they just couldn’t finish off possessions by protecting the defensive glass. It was just a little irritating.

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PSU 69 Virginia 66

December 1, 2009

If you missed last night’s game, you can watch the highlights below:


Talor Battle, with his fresh high-top fade, looked a lot like the Fresh Prince in last night’s second half. The Bubby smile returned for the first time this season, and it was just a joy to watch as always. Talor dropped a career-high 32 points, 28 of which came in the 2nd period when he put PSU (and the Big Ten) on his shoulders and took over the game. His performance brought on the first reference to the new blog title, so I was pretty happy about that. PSU survived a pretty wild last 3 minutes complete with banked threes, absurd officiating, and missed free throws, to hang on for a much needed 69-66 road victory. Penn St came up big in the Challenge for the third year in a row, which is a first in the 11 year history of the challenge. Go us.

NCAA Basketball Stats

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PSU 87 Sacred Heart 75

November 28, 2009

There’s no place like the Bryce Jordan Center for the Nittany Lions. After an atrocious trip to Charleston where Penn State was a frigid 38.1% eFG% from the field in 3 games, the Lions carved up Sacred Heart’s defense for 87 points in a 68 possession game. They shot a blistering 70.2% eFG% from the floor, getting whatever they wanted from inside. That’s right, PSU looked like they had a plan of attack on offense and they were dominant on the offensive end.

Tempo-free numbers:

Teams Poss Efficiency eFG% OReb% FTRate TO%
PSU 68.0 127.9 70.2% 10.5% 53.2% 16.2%
SH 68.0 110.3 60.2% 32.1% 10.2% 25.0%

Those rebounding numbers are awful, especially when you consider the level of competition. But when you take into account the fact that PSU only missed 17 shots all game, it’s not that big of a deal that they only pulled down 2 offensive rebounds. Plus, they put up their best offensive efficiency of the year so far. It was an encouraging performance for a team that looked so anemic on offense in Charleston. Keep in mind, though, Xavier put up 136.4 efficiency and 105 points against the Pioneers just 4 days earlier, so the competition was not good.

The defense was very disappointing, especially in the second half. Sacred Heart hit 8 of their first 11 threes of the second period. They didn’t really do anything special, either. They obviously were a POT team and shot a bunch of threes. There were a lot of ball screens and dribbled weaves that PSU strategized to switch off. But they couldn’t close on SH’s three shooters and they were burned repeatedly. DeChellis sounded frustrated on the postgame radio show. This game wouldn’t have been a contest if the defense showed up. SH did hit a couple of ridiculous shots, but it shouldn’t have become a 62-61 game in the 2nd half.

Player Bullets

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Wrapping up the Charleston Classic

November 24, 2009

Another exempt tournament, another disaster. The Nittany Lions went to Charleston last week looking to pass their first test of real competition. Instead, they were greatly exposed and left looking for answers…

Game 1: UNC-Wilmington 80 Penn State 69

Check this out. Penn State had only 5 turnovers (7.6% TO%), while grabbing 9 steals and forcing 15 (22.7% TO%) on defense. They grabbed 17 offensive rebounds (37% OReb%), while corralling 80% of the available defensive rebounds. The Nittany Lions hit 22 of 27 from the foul line as a team (a very uncharacteristic 81.5%), while putting up 18 more shots than UNCW.

All of those stats are nice and pretty but the game of basketball is about putting the ball through the hoop. Penn State didn’t do that (a theme for this classic) while making it significantly easier for their opponents.

Teams FGM FGA FG% 3PM 3PA 3P% eFG% Efficiency
UNC-W 27 47 57.4% 10 16 62.5% 68.1% 121.2
PSU 21 65 32.3% 5 21 23.8% 36.2% 104.5

The numbers speak for themselves. Give credit to UNC-Wilmington for making that many shots, but plenty of them were great looks.

This was a pretty frustrating game. Penn State was sluggish throughout the first half and found themselves down 10, 31-21 with 7:00 minutes to go. They made a nice run to cut it down to 33-29 with under 3 minutes to go in the half, but David Jackson got abused inside on defense by 6-8 freshman, Will Ohuaregbe, for a hoop and a foul. After a Battle missed shot on the following possession, UNCW came down the floor and drained an open 3. After working hard for five minutes to cut into the lead, PSU immediately found themselves down 9 again, 38-29. They went to the half at 40-31 with all the momentum on the Seahawks’ side.

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PSU 80 RMU 61

November 17, 2009

We know there are going to be nights where Talor Battle can’t score 20+ points. But PSU showed last night that they could score just fine without Talor being the one to put it through the hoop. After a sluggish first half, PSU came out and blew the game wide open with a 29-6 run in the first 10 minutes of the second half.

At halftime, I was concerned despite a one point lead (thanks to Battle’s buzzer-beating layup). The Colonials were clearly more active, outhustling the Lions on more than a few occasions. They collected 7 offensive rebounds in the first half (41.1% OReb%), including a monster tip jam from reserve Lijah Thompson. PSU was in a dogfight and there was no evidence that anything would change in the second half. Battle was frustrated and he had played the whole first half. So much for my hopes of him getting rest…

But the Lions came out much more focused and energetic in the second half – props to the coaching staff. Robert Morris didn’t know what hit them. Chris Babb was the main contributor in the run. After sitting with 2 fouls again for much of the first half, Babb spotted up for 4 threes in 5 minutes, 2 of them coming in transition. These streaks by Babb are what we know he is capable of. He can score a lot in a hurry, especially with his high release point that makes his jumpshot practically indefensible.

The hot start to the 2nd half really deflated the Colonials, and DeChellis was able to empty the bench. Battle was given 12 minutes of needed rest before the 3 game stretch in 4 days in South Carolina.

Some tempo-free analysis:

Teams Poss Efficiency eFG% OReb% FTRate TO%
PSU 64.0 125.0 63.0% 39.3% 33.3% 21.9%
RMU 64.0 95.3 40.3% 34.1% 27.4% 12.5%

Penn State was lights out again from the floor, hitting 28-54 from the field (12-26 from deep). The Lions were also much more active on the offensive glass, as I expected. The defensive rebounding improved in the second half to overcome the atrocious 41.1% RMU posted in the first half. The defense, though, continues to have the awesome ability of not being able to force turnovers. The Colonials were credited with 9 turnovers in the game and about 3 of them were completely unforced passes out of bounds.

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