Time to Deliver

If you don’t love this time of year, you must be one of those hooligans who proclaims the superiority of college football and their ‘meaningful’ regular season as a means to keep the wonderful bowl system we all love. Thank God for college basketball and its postseason. WIth how brilliantly it all works out and how much of a joy it is to watch, you’d think basketball were geniuses. Nope, football is just that moronic. But enough of that.

There’s no doubt in anyone’s mind that PSU is not the worst basketball team in the conference right now at the end of the season (when it’s most important). However, the standings say so and PSU gets the 11-seed in the Big Ten tournament. But what’s exciting is, everybody gets new life. PSU has the opportunity to build on their inspired play of late and make up for this disaster of a season.

The first step is today against 6-seed Minnesota, who’s NCAA at-large hopes hinges on a good performance the next few days. It’s been a disappointing season for the Gophers, too, relative to expectations. I don’t hesitate in saying this could very well be Tubby’s worst coaching job I’ve seen. Al Nolen’s academic suspension certainly didn’t help. But this team is way too talented to lay eggs in March against weaker teams, especially considering their bubble hopes.

PSU played Minnesota tough the first two meetings, but lost both of them. There really was no consistent correlation between the two games. We have not had much success against Minnesota in recent years, but there’s no doubt in my mind that PSU can win this game. However, I think much of the outcome of this game depends on Minnesota’s effort level. They present matchup problems that PSU can’t handle.

Keys for PSU:

  • Handle the Gophers press, when they do, and limit TOs. 25% TO rate killed the Lions in the first meeting.
  • Keep rebounding the basketball. It didn’t hurt PSU in the first two meetings, but if Minnesota outrebounds PSU, I believe that will signify Golden Gopher dominance down low with their size.
  • Out shoot the Gophers from 3. Hoffarber is still hitting 48% of his threes. Babb and Battle have to produce more than Hoff and Westbrook, IMO.
  • Continued Jeff Brooks’ aggressiveness. Jeff’s unstoppable when he plays within himself and with confidence. But the ticking time bomb that is his mind can always backfire on him.
  • Get some valuable bench production. If PSU is going to do anything in this tournament, the bench has to show up with 10 minutes of production, not 5 minutes of liability. Frazier, Edwards, Ott, and even Woodyard and Borovnjak need to be ready to play this weekend.

Now, yes, we know about the universal rule in tournament play, but if PSU pulls out a W today, I really like how their end of the bracket is set up for the Lions to get on a little bit of a roll and make some noise. Wisconsin and Ohio State, who we haven’t beaten since 2003, are on the opposite side. PSU wouldn’t face either until the finals. Up next for PSU would be a Michigan State team, without Chris Allen.  Then would be the Hummel-less Boilers again (unless our favorite whipping boy, Northwestern, could pull out some magic themselves).  Obviously both teams are still gonna be tough, but they aren’t hopeless.

We’ll see. Hopefully we’re in for some exciting basketball (that lasts longer than a day). If this season has taught Nittany Lions fans anything, it’s we have the players to compete in this league. The first step is the Golden Gophers (tentative 7:30 tip, Big Ten Network). It’s time for the Lions to deliver on this season. It’s their last chance.

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3 Responses to Time to Deliver

  1. TonyLion says:

    WARNING! WARNING!
    DANGER WILL ROBINSON!

    Before everybody get’s their hopes up – don’t do it mon!

    Back to reality. We’ve lost twice to this team already. #11 seeds typically get bounced in the first roound.

    Yes, I’ll be thrilled if we win. But don’t be surprised if we lose – Avoid the heartbreak and heartache.

  2. TonyLion says:

    The day after.
    I’m so glad it’s finally over.
    What a horrible season!

    We should have known back in Charleston what to expect. Losses to Wilmington and Tulane, unexplicable at the time, were sure signs of an impending disaster. Did we really believe Andrew Jones would be anything more than another Brandon Hassell? Did we really expect Jeff Brooks to be anything more than – well – Jeff Brooks as a freshman and a sophmore?

    The only Junior other than Battle with any consistancy was DJ Jackson, and it took him most of the season to get used to playing without Jamelle Cornley.

    Well guess what, they’re all coming back next year. But the neucleus of the team will have to change. Battle, Jackson and Babb have proven themselves as solid starters. Brooks and Jones had to be benched halfway through the season; that says it all. I think they should stay there awhile. Here’s hoping Taran Buie can make an immediate impact. We’ll just have to wait and see whether Edwards and Frazier show any improvement from year one to year two. That’s a six man rotation without any big inside. Marshall and Woodyard will have to fill out the remainder of the bench assuming Ott and Oliver depart.

    The first thing that pops into mind is we can expect little bench scoring next year. Most of the points are going to come from the neucleus and maybe Buie. The perimeter defense should be better (outside shooters killed PSU this year) but the defensive rebounding will suffer. The only good thing about Brooks and Jones is their work on the defensive boards. But I think Battle lead the team in that stat too, so who knows?

    The only thing I look forward to in 2011 is seeing the brothers Battle and Buie on the court together. Other than that my expectations are quite low right now. The overall talent level is just not giving me any comfortable feelings. You can always hope for individual player improvement, but we’ve been burned so many times already, I’ve gotten used to it.

  3. Eric says:

    Good post. I’ll address my thoughts about next year in later posts coming in the near future

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