Battle returning, other news

May 13, 2010

Here’s a few offseason updates.

-Talor Battle withdrew from the NBA Draft to apparently the surprise of some people. This is old news, but it’s just a little bit big for PSU. I don’t know how many people thought he would leave, but I personally was never concerned. Talor’s a smart guy. I’m happy he was finally able to get a pre-draft workout with the Trailblazers just before the deadline. He reportedly made 36 of 50 NBA threes. But in reality, Talor’s chances to get drafted and stick in the pros were pretty slim this year. I will say right now, though, I do expect Talor Battle to hear his name called in the 2011 NBA draft. Just a hunch.

-On the recruiting front, Penn State has been busy looking to fill their 2 remaining scholarships for the 2010 class with some big men. It’s been reported that the staff is not planning to hold the open 2 ‘ships for the 2011 class, unless they presumably strikeout on their targets. A couple kids who have been on visits recently have committed elsewhere. 6’7″ F Andre Roberson from Texas chose Colorado over PSU. 6’7″ F Colton Christian from Hargrave Military Academy by way of Bellevue, WA, committed to Michigan over Cal and PSU. Previous targets who have also gone elsewhere: Dwight McCombs (Central Florida), Andre Clark (TCU), and Eric McKnight (Iowa State). However, while PSU has struck out with these guys, all hope is not lost. It seems very possible that 6’8″ F Jonathan Graham from Baltimore could end up at Penn State. He reportedly was seen on campus two weeks ago and presumably will make his decision by May 19th, the end of the spring signing period. It was found out today by Nate Bauer at BWI that Graham is visiting today. There’ll be more on Graham when his decision is public (especially if it’s PSU).

-A couple of scheduling tidbits. The Big Ten/ACC Challenge was released today. PSU fans have been complaining forever that the Nittany Lions play the same teams in this challenge. At the beginning, it was Clemson year after year. But the last 4 seasons have brought Georgia Tech (2x), Virginia Tech, and Virginia. What I believe to be the root of PSU’s complaints is the fact that they just really want to play Maryland once and were never given the opportunity. Well, lo and behold, the Terrapins will be traveling to State College on December 1st (on Wednesday, wonder how the staff feels about the 76 Classic withdrawal now?). It’s a very exciting matchup between quiet rivals who really don’t play each other in either revenue sport for no apparent reason. Well I’m sure there’s some bullshit money excuse, but it’s nice that ESPN has set up this gig. Maryland was co-ACC champs last season, but they lost do-everything PG Greivis Vasquez and their other 2 leading scorers. They obviously are a traditionally strong opponent, but it’s probably looking like a ‘down year’ for the turtle next season, or at least by their standards. But that means it could be a very winnable game for the Nittany Lions.

-Also, it was discovered that Fairfield will be traveling to the BJC next year as well (although the source has since rescinded the leaked opponents on Fairfield’s schedule). I don’t know too much about the MAAC, but it’s very possible the Stags will be preseason favorites to win the conference. They finished 2nd in 2009-2010, runners-up to the dominant Siena Saints. Here’s a nice prospective overview of the Stags from USAToday of all sources. These are the types of games the Nittany Lions need to schedule for the sake of their RPI and SOS. Fairfield will easily be a top 200 team, possibly top 100. They don’t pack the name recognition to sell out the BJC, but they are eons better than any America East squad.

That brings the 2010 schedule to this so far:

  • vs. Maryland
  • @ Ole Miss
  • @ Virginia Tech
  • vs. Fairfield
  • vs. Delaware State
  • vs. Lehigh

Hopefully the remainder of the schedule is strong. I don’t believe this was posted on the blog but Cornell was going to travel to Penn State for a game. That, however, has been dropped, which is a smart move on PSU’s end because there is no way the Big Red is going to contend next year. Their run this year was marvelous, but that program is now in serious rebuild mode after the mass exodus. Highly unlikely they’re above 250 or so next season. Also, it was also reported by a fan that Kanaskie said at a public function we were in negotiations with Kansas to play a home-and-home series in Kansas City and Hershey. It is unknown whether that has fallen through or if those negotiations are still ongoing.

That’s all for now.

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PSU withdraws from 76 Classic

April 13, 2010

What had been rumored for a while finally came officially true yesterday. Penn State has pulled out of the 76 Classic. While this is disappointing news, Brian Siegrist, the SID, did offer an explanation on twitter. The full statement from his twitter paraphrased below:

Ah, the blogosphere. Contrary to recent posts, PSU’s decision not to play in the 76 Classic had nothing to do with last season’s record, nor was it decided by the tournament organizers. PSU elected not to play in the tournament back in December and notified 76 organizers then. It just took them this long to update their website. PSU is taking a lesson from Minnesota, which played in last year’s 76 and went 1-3 while playing four games in six days and crossing 5,000 miles, including going straight from Classic to ACC Challenge at Miami. The Lions decided against the 3 games in Anaheim, the last of which could be Sunday evening, and then return for a possible ACC game on Monday or Tuesday in State College.


You can read a full in-depth response from Brian over at BSD, as Mike took the initiative to find out what the rational was. And to me, it makes perfect sense. I would rather not have our schedule hang in the hands of ESPN. If you haven’t noticed, they don’t give a fuck about anything other than themselves and their money. Case in point: the 2009 flex game (against Illinois) at the end of the schedule left us with a 9PM tip home tip on Thursday and a 2PM tip on the road @ Iowa just 36 hours or so later. Did we really need to play at 9 PM on Thursday night? Yes, because ESPN said so. Did the late game Thursday have a jetlag effect on the players in Iowa City? You betcha.

Everyone is acting like we are giving up on ‘tough’ competition, but when you actually look at the 76 classic field, you’ll realize it’s really not what they crack it up to be. Depaul and Cal-Northridge are garbage. Tulsa, Oklahoma State, and Stanford are all losing their best players. The only teams sure to be solid are UNLV and VT, and we’re already scheduled to play the latter anyway.

In fact, I’d even argue there are better squads in the pool of schools who have yet to be linked to an exempt tournament (check out bloggingthebracket’s compilation thus far). Penn State made this decision back in December, so I’d say there’s still a great chance we’ve landed in another exempt tournament. Even if we didn’t, though, who really cares? There are so many of these tourneys these days that the ‘exposure’ gained is minimal at best. PSU is not going to be in one of the premiere fields, so we’re not going to be on television (example: 2009 Charleston Classic).

This would only be a disappointing move if the rest of schedule to replace the 76 Classic were Bryant University, NJIT, and Fordham.  Since we don’t know that as of now, there is no reason to be upset over this (unless you had already made plans to attend). No judgments can possibly be made about the schedule until it is released . Unless, of course, you hate Ed DeChellis and are praying the program fails, despite your empty blanket statements such as: ‘he’s a nice guy’ or ‘a good ambassador to the university’. There’s plenty of reason to be skeptical about the schedule (see the last 7 compiled), but let the guy at least attempt to do his job before you criticize.


Breaking Down the Schedule

November 9, 2009

PSU’s schedule last year kept them out of the NCAA tournament . Many people like to point out the double-OT loss on the road to Iowa. If we won that game, we would have been in. That is true. However, 10-8 in the strong conference should have been worthy of a bid last season. The putrid non-conference schedule kept us out. I guarantee if you asked anyone on the committee, that is what they would’ve said. So, let’s check out how this year’s schedule is looking. The difficulty rating is 1-10 with 10 being the toughest. Will this schedule offer us the opportunity to make the NCAAs with a good conference season?

11/13 – Pennsylvania

This is a return game from a home-and-home series signed last year. UPenn’s recent dominance of the Ivy League is now an afterthought, with the emergence of Cornell’s program. They struggled last year, finishing 10-18 (6-8 in the Ivy) with an RPI of 259. We beat them 85-73 in a game that was worse than the score indicated. They lost 4 players from their 8 man rotation last year, so they have some holes to fill. They are picked to finish 3rd in the Ivy League.

  • Difficulty Rating: 2
  • Predicted RPI range: 220-270

11/16Robert Morris

A solid addition to the schedule. Robert Morris had a phenomenal year last year, winning the NEC bid to the Tournament. They finished 24-11 (15-3 in conference) with an RPI of 109. They do lose their best player, Jeremy Chappell, but the consensus is there’s enough talent and experience returning to contend for the league title again. They have been picked to finish 3rd.

  • Difficulty Rating: 4
  • Predicted RPI range: 150-200

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09-10 Non-Con released

July 7, 2009

Man, who knew going out after a day’s work on Monday would allow me to miss the highlight basketball announcement of the summer: the 2009-2010 Non-Conference schedule, ladies and gentlemen.

First thought: DeChellis finally got the message and he wants us all to know it.  I asked who knew because this is by far the earliest the schedule’s been released in recent memory. It generally dropped along with the conference schedule in August or September. It was released ‘early’ last year at the end of July.

Don’t you love the PR spins in the official release?

Penn State’s nine guaranteed non-conference opponents will bring an average RPI of 134, based on RPIs at the end of 2008-09 campaign, into the 2009-10 season. That is better than 80 RPI points lower than the average of last seasons 13 non-conference opponents entering the season.

“We consulted several people in the conference and nationally to make sure we were making the right decisions in regards to effecting our RPI and tournament resume should we be able to put ourselves in that position at the end of the season.”

After 6 seasons, DeChellis was finally forced to solve the RPI puzzle to scheduling after getting beaten to death with the topic in March. At least the lesson has been learned. My only gripe is there is an absence of an ‘elite’ team. Va Tech with Delaney and Allen returning will be pretty good. South Carolina will be talented if we meet them in the CC. But it would’ve been nice to have a sure top 25 opponent that could help our young team prepare for what looks to be a rugged Big Ten, next season.

Here’s the schedule (with 08-09 RPI #’s):

11/13/09 – Penn (258)
11/16/09 – Robert Morris (109)
11/19,20,22/09 @ Charleston Classic – (Miami 65, South Carolina 57, South Florida 190, Davidson 69, Tulane 188, LaSalle 112, UNC Wilmington 277)
11/25/09 – Sacred Heart (182)
11/30/09 – @ Virginia (114)
12/05/09 – @ Temple (30)
12/08/09 – Maryland Baltimore County (163)
12/12/09 – Virginia Tech (61)
12/19/09 – Gardner-Webb (218)
12/21/09 – American (73)

I will have more on why this schedule, despite the absence of big name schools, will be loaded with RPI juice. I might not have to if David Jones’ article covers the job. I look forward to reading his relief and joy about this year’s slate after following 5 straight embarrassing schedules.

Our OOC resume will be much more appealing come next March. At the very least, it won’t prevent us from making the Dance. Unless, of course, we lose a lot of these games – which is how it should be.


Add Robert Morris

July 3, 2009

According to the Beaver County Times

The defending Northeast Conference champions will open their 2009-10 campaign on Nov. 12 at Syracuse in a rematch of a 2008 NIT first round game. They then travel to State College to face defending NIT champion Penn State, coached by Center Township native Ed DeChellis.

This is just another encouraging sign that the guys have finally learned how to put together a competent schedule. Robert Morris has won 50 games the last 2 years under Mike Rice, Jr. (a former #1 assistant of Jamie Dixon’s).  They made the NCAA tournament this season for the first time since 1992. They haven’t had a sub-.500 record in the Northeast Conference in 6 years. If you read this report, coach Rice is practically giddy about what his program can accomplish next season, even with the graduation of NEC POY Jeremy Chappell.

“You’ll just have to wait and see what we accomplish next year,” he said early this week, a few days after the Colonials lost to Michigan State, 77-62, in a first-round NCAA tournament game. “I think we have all the makings of a very, very good team. It probably will fit my style — the way I want to coach and the way I want to attack — better than (either of his first two RMU teams). With the freshmen, there will be some lumps early, but I think we’ll have a deeper, more athletic, more aggressive team than what we had the last two years.”

This leaves just 3 remaining unknown games on next year’s non-con.


Virginia Tech confirmed

June 23, 2009

Jeff Goodman is hooking us up with all sorts of scheduling updates.

Penn State – The Nittany Lions will play in the Charleston Classic and also have non-conference games at Virginia on Nov. 30 in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, on the road against Temple and at home against Virginia Tech.

So we did finalize a home-and-home deal with Virginia Tech. They’ll be the ‘marquee’ home contest this season. More to come later, but I’m pretty satisfied with this tougher schedule so far.


Gardner Webb on 09-10 Schedule

June 20, 2009

Thanks to Jeff Goodman’s Blog on FoxSports.com.

Gardner Webb – Three kids left the program: Nate Blank (University of Indianapolis), Dillon Boggs and Roy Hinson II (Landry University). Rick Scruggs’ team will play non-conference games against North Carolina, Texas, Penn State, and Charlotte.

I think it’s safe to assume that this is a guarantee home game.

Gardner-Webb is coming off their first season in the Big South Conference. The Bulldogs have actually only been a D-1 program for 9 years. Coach Rick Scruggs has held his position for the last 14 seasons, so he has been the primary leader of Gardner-Webb’s growth as a program. After two seasons as an Independent, G-W spent 6 seasons as a member of the Atlantic Sun conference until they joined the Big South. Scruggs turned his program from a 5 game winner to an 18 game winner in the A-Sun, but it seems like he hasn’t been able to get the Bulldogs over the hump the last 5 years.

Season Conference Record RPI
08-09 Big South 13-17 (9-9) 218
07-08 Atlantic Sun 16-16 (9-7) 200
06-07 Atlantic Sun 9-21 (7-11) 265
05-06 Atlantic Sun 17-12 (13-6) 157
04-05 Atlantic Sun 18-12 (12-7) 156

The Bulldogs’ recent history shows they really shouldn’t be an RPI plague next season. With numerous departures throughout the Big South (the Holmes twins at VMI, Seth Curry left Liberty, etc.), G-W appears on paper to be in position to contend in the league once again. They lose two key seniors from last year’s squad along with Blank, who was a major contributor. But they return 6 of their core 9 man rotation last season, while adding 6 players in their incoming recruiting class (3 JuCos and 3 prep players). The other two transfers mentioned by Goodman did not play much at all last season.

Obviously Gardner-Webb will not appeal to the casual PSU fan base, but I think this is a pretty good team to schedule as a guarantee game. They most likely won’t bolster PSU’s tourney resume next season, but if they finish with an RPI around 200 like their past history has shown, they won’t hurt us. It also doesn’t hurt that they’re playing UNC and Texas, as well.  Yes this is nit-picking, but inheriting Texas’ and UNC’s records in our Opponents’ Opponents’ winning % is a good thing, regardless of how miniscule the overall effect is.

It also should be noted that Gardner-Webb could very well surprise us. This past season, they lost @ Virginia Tech by only 3 points in their season-opener and @ Oklahoma by just 4 points a week later. Two seasons ago, they went into Rupp Arena and beat Kentucky in November.  So they’ve played surprisingly well in the first weeks of the last 2 seasons. Hopefully this game is scheduled in December.

With the Charleston Classic providing us 3 games, PSU’s non-conference schedule will total 12 contests.  As of right now, 7 games have been announced with 4 concrete opponents (@ Temple, @ Virginia, UPenn, Gardner-Webb). That leaves 5 remaining games (I would bet right now they’ll all be at home). My gut feeling after reading some quotes from DeChellis in May tells me that the negotiations with Va Tech on a Home-and-Home were finalized, and they will be our marquee home opponent this season (this hasn’t been announced).  If that is the case, I really like how our schedule is shaping up. The Charleston Classic is comprised of competitive teams that could beef up our resume (especially South Carolina with Downey returning). We have two good road contests with Temple and Virginia, both winnable games.  If Va Tech is indeed scheduled and we don’t shoot ourselves in the foot with the remaining home games, I really think our schedule could be top 100 in terms of SOS. At the very least, it will be much improved over last year’s travesty and it will probably be DeChellis’ toughest in his 7 years here.