|Brandon Hassell demonstrates the "stay-on-the-ground" rebounding technique|
I was fortunate (or unfortunate) to see this game in person. Believe it or not, this is the first game I've seen all year. I think I have a much better feel for the problems with the team now. And let me tell you, we need a lot of work.
The Lions kept this one pretty close in the first half. They went to the locker room down by five, but they came out on a little run and closed it to one point right away. The dagger happened around 13:00 to play. Landry had a layup, and then Luber turned the ball over bringing it up the court and Marcus Green took it down for a dunk. Trailing the play, Milos Bogetic committed a foul away from the ball giving the ball right back to Purdue. Teague drained a three to cap off an instant 7-0 run that put the Lions down 42-34. They never recovered from there.
Impressions from the Game
Brandon Hassell needs to be benched. I could play better defense than him. Carl Landry absolutely abused him scoring 26 points without taking a single free throw. I watched Hassell all day get forced out of the lane. He was actually avoiding contact. He gave Landry all kinds of room and Landry used it. Hassell didn't commit a single foul all game. Perhaps he read my comment a few days ago about him always being in foul trouble and was concious about staying out of it. He played like a guy with four fouls on him. In the second half the switched him out of the center of the 2-3 zone and put Cornley there. Cornley was much more physical and contained him pretty well, but by that point the damage was done.
Hassell was also pathetic on the boards. He mostly stood around the perimeter on offense. A few times he would take a 15 foot jumper and start running back on defense rather than following his shot. He never crashed the boards. He ended up with two rebounds for the game. I hate to criticize 20 year old kids so hard, but he's pretty bad. Maybe he's just lacking confidence.
Milos played better defense, but the kid is a turnover machine. There were three or four plays he just passed it right to a Boilermaker.
Ben Luber played well with 14 points, but he gave a lot of points back with his seven turnovers. Several times he tried forcing the ball into Cornley or Claxton when they weren't open. Other times he just dribbled it off his foot.
Claxton is a great player. He's the only person on the team capable of beating his man off the dribble and getting to the lane. The problem with him is the defense collapses on him and he refuses to kick it out to someone with an open shot. He insists on taking the shot with three pairs of hands in his face. Amazingly, he's still able to score doing this, but the team would be better off if he used his skill to get his teammates open.
On one disappointing play, Danny Morrissey dove for a ball going out of bounds. It was great hustle, but after getting up and peeling his skin off the court, he was promptly taken out of the game and put on the bench. I thought that sent the wrong message.
Some Other Non-Basketball Observations
The student section was pathetic. I know it's noon on a Saturday, but come on. They only have maybe a thousand seats dedicated to the student section. Are you telling me out of the 30-some-thousand undergraduate students at Penn State, there aren't 1000 willing to come out and support the team? The ones that were there were not very enthused. They needed a big play like a dunk or three pointer to get into it. Once Purdue scored they went back to being quiet.
The Blue Band was not impressive. They basically play the same songs they play at the football games...except indoors on a much smaller scale. Their best songs were the school specific fight songs. When they tried to play pop tunes I was not impressed.
The food was terrible. I got a cheeseburger that tasted like it was steam cooked and put under a heat lamp for hours. The cheese for the nachos was blah. My wife described it as "the most disgusting gelatinous goo with no flavor ever." That's right. Ever. The Pepsi was watered down and flat. I didn't try the pizza, but it looked pretty nasty. My wife said her hotdog was tough and hard to chew and the bun was stale. If you're going to put a lousy product on the court, how about making the food worth while. If that were the case maybe more people would come out just to get a decent meal.
The stands behind the baseline were pretty full, but the good seats owned by the season ticket holders were maybe half full. If I were the athletic director, I would set up a 1-800 number where season ticket holders had to call in the day before the game to confirm they were going. Failing to do so would result in your tickets being resold at the ticket window the day of the game. There's no reason why the best seats should go unused while people like me who drove three hours to see the game have to sit in crappy corner seats.
The girls on the Nittany Lion Dance Team were fat and not very good. It's shallow, but being good looking should be an essential criteria for being on the dance team. If your ass doesn't look good in hot pants, perhaps you should join the Blue Band to get free admission to the games.
The halftime show featured some Russian couple doing acrobatic tricks and juggling. They were jumping rope and bouncing balls on their head. I'll admit it was impressive to watch and I couldn't do any of it, but that's because I choose not to spend eight hours a day practicing acrobatics and juggling. I prefer to do more productive things like blog and surf the internets. The show was lame. I would prefer they just play some good music and maybe show something entertaining on the big screen.