Apparently some kids inquired to my professor about ending class early to go to the basketball game yesterday. I was shocked and embarrassed that I wasn’t the one doing the inquiring. I honestly just thought it was a clever ploy by my classmates to get out early (and probably celebrate St. Patty’s), but still. My class ended at 7:50. However, I still decided not to go. I was on the west side of campus, didn’t feel like bringing my backpack to the BJC, and my friends I go to games with had not saved me a seat. Also, I really wanted to go back to my childhood and listen to the PSU radio broadcast. I live off-campus so I don’t get ESPNU and the justin.tv stream was incredibly choppy. So while I regrettably missed another ‘talor-made’ moment, I sure enjoyed the hell out of the radio broadcast.
I actually listened to quite a few PSU NIT games on the radio back in my childhood (mostly the 2000 NIT run). I don’t think I’ve really realized how spoiled I am these days with the BTN and being a student here now. I would be lucky to see maybe 4 or 5 PSU games on TV back in the last 90s. There’s actually quite a few PSU hoops moments back then I remember vividly, despite not seeing one second of the game. I owe that to Steve Jones. Before he was ever the football play-by-play man, he gave me Joe Crispin’s career. So yeah, I was content with listening to Steve Jones and Dick Jerardi again. Those guys are unbeatable. Steve brings all the excitement and does an incredible job describing the action. Jerardi gives the unbiased view of officals’ calls or Ed’s coaching decisions. They’re simply the best.
Anyway, the GMU game. First off, I really, really, really, really hope I haven’t seen the last of Jamelle Cornley in a Penn State uniform. He dislocated his left shoulder for the third time this season. Apparently this dislocation has been the worst of them all. He did it on the first possession coming out of the half. PSU played the entire 2nd half and overtime without Jamelle. He finished with just 2 points on 1-5 shooting from the field.
Now I don’t believe I’ve expressed this thought on my blog. PSU has big holes and production to replace next year with Pringle, Morrissey, and Cornley graduating. No one knows where the replacements are going to come from. But for all the great Jamelle Cornley has done for this team, him leaving I think will be perhaps the best thing for David Jackson and especially Jeff Brooks. Brooks is so fragile mentally that whenever he makes a mistake, he gets so down on himself that he just becomes a liability. Cornley’s a very vocal leader as well, so whenever Brooks make a mistake, Melle’s right there in his ear. But it’s seemed whenever Jamelle’s not in the lineup, Brooks excels. He did at the end of last year and he did again last night. Career-high 13 points with 5 boards and 2 assists. A lot of people criticize Brooks for taking too many jumpers. I don’t know how I really feel about that. Brooks went through a big growth spurt late in his HS career. He was always a SG until he suddenly found himself 6′-8″ tall. So he still hasn’t adjusted to toughening up and playing inside. While I know how flat Brooks’ shots are, he has hit some big ones this season (most notably the 3 that started the comeback against NW). If he’s wide open, I think he should take it. However, if his shot is still this flat next year, I will be outraged.
Chris Babb played well, scoring a career high 11 points (4-6 from the field), 4 rebounds, 2 steals, and an assist in 27 minutes. He’s going to be a big scorer next year. David Jackson didn’t do much on the statsheet (4 point and 4 boards), but his 4 points were huge in the second half. Why were they huge? The Big 3 put up the big 2 points for 19 minutes and 57 seconds of the second half. PSU scored 24 points as a team in the half before the shot from Battle. All but two of those points were scored by players not named Battle, Pringle, or Cornley. That’s very encouraging. While 27 points in a half is nothing to be proud of, I wouldn’t have thought we’d come close to scoring 20 with only 5 points from the Big 3.
I know the NIT has its critics and it certainly lacks in exposure, but this tournament is going to pay dividends for this program. It’s the stepping stone for any program like us that’s trying to transition into a winning one. I’m not going to do the research, but I highly doubt any team (other than UM) that got an at-large bid this season didn’t play in ANY postseason tournament last season. A losing season to an NCAA berth is a pretty rare feat.
I don’t think there’s any more doubt whether these guys want to play in this tournament or not. Next up, the damn Rhode Island Rams, who were a big reason why we aren’t in the NCAA tournament, on Thursday at 7. There’ll be a KYE (it’ll probably be the exact same one from November) up for the game tomorrow. The game will be on Fox Sports Net Pittsburgh. If you don’t get FSN, just listen to the radio broadcast if you can’t make it out to the game. Maybe you’ll get to hear another post-game interview with Talor Battle. I finally got to hear my first one yesterday. This is the basic context of what Battle said (before Steve could even ask him a question):
Let me tell you how it went. I played well the first half and then the second half I go like 19 min. and 57 seconds without a field goal (Steve then points out he went 0-7). Then I told my teamates in the last timeout that I would make it up to them. I kept thinking about the Illini game and how you Steve told me I’m the best player in the Big Ten when it’s under 4 minutes (Steve I don’t think bought this part of the story but Talor insisted it was true). I went down the court and I could feel Smith breathing on me. At the 3 point line, I got my body into him and forced some seperation. I went up, but my body was sideways and when I got the shot off I knew that it was a good shot. It would either go in or go in-and-out and thankfully it went down. Man, it was cash.
Getting to hear this amazing interview makes up for missing the game to me. Talor Battle, what a guy.