Sunday, January 6, 2008

Jump on the PSU basketball bandwagon before it's too late!

Today the Penn State Nittany Lion basketball team (yes, such a thing exists) beat Illinois 68-64 in Champaign to improve to 2-0 in the Big Ten, both wins coming on the road. To put this in perspective, prior to this season PSU had just 3 conference road wins in the tenure of coach Ed DeChellis. It appears that all the talent they have is finally meshing into a decent team. The reasons? First, better guard play. The young point guard tandem of Taylor Battle and Stanley Pringle is an astronomical improvement over the past 4 years of Ben Luber. Geary Claxton and Jemelle Cormley have always been beasts, but now it appears they have a little help to get them the ball. Second, more athleticism down low. Jemelle Cormley has been around for a while and always been good, but there's no more awkward tall guys around him like Jan Jagla or Milos Bogetic. Starting center Andrew Jones and sixth man DJ Jackson have helped make our frontline more formidable for Big Ten competition. Third, better attitude. I'm not sure why, but this team is playing like they believe they are going to win, which has never been present before. In today's game, PSU outrebounded the Illini 45-22, including 20 (TWENTY!) offensive boards! That is unheard of from a Penn State team.

Still, it may be a bit early to start making March Madness reservations as we have yet to face the cream of the Big Ten. They've only beaten Northwestern, who is Northwestern; and Illinois, who is a far cry from the Final Four team of a few years ago. This Illini team is probably NIT bound at best. But still, in two games the basketball team already has more conference road wins than the football team did this year, so that is cause for optimism. We'll know a lot more about this team after the next 3 games: home against improved Minnesota, home against #24 Wisconsin, and at #12 Indiana.

My prediction for the Lions? I think they could easily be in the 5th-7th place range in the Big Ten, and make the NIT field, and maybe even win a game or two this time. This is a big step for a team that has been the perennial Big Ten doormat over the past 4-5 years.


E said...

perhaps the OT win against a decent Seton Hall team was the turning point? 7-game win streak since then.

i definitely want to go to the minn and perhaps wisc games coming up

TAS said...

7 games sounds great until you consider they were against the likes of Denver, Colgate, Lehigh, and Northwestern.

Don't get me wrong, I'm all for PSU basketball and hope they do well -- but with Eddie DeChellis one can't help but be cautiously optimistic at best. Can't wait to see what comes of our play at home next week.

JJ said...

We should do an SFH field trip to the next two home games.

Unknown said...

We should do an SFH field trip for the next two home games.