It started off rocky, but the Penn State men's basketball team rallied to beat the Wildcats of New Hampshire in comfortable fashion on Sunday afternoon. Let's take a look at the good, the bad, and the ugly.
On a day when the outside shooters were having trouble getting open and making shots, Penn State was able to pound the ball inside to Cornley and get points. This had been lacking in the first three games and was starting to become a concern for me. But the team showed versatility to adapt to what the defense is doing and attack them from another angle.
The added benefit to getting the ball inside to Cornley was the opportunities it opened up for other players. New Hampshire was collapsing on Cornley with double and even triple teams to try to stop him. This opened up opportunities for Jackson and Jones to get some easy buckets but cutting to the basket and grabbing some offensive rebounds.
I'm worried about boring my audience by gushing about Talor Battle every week, but there is no denying the guy is a stud. It's no surprise that Penn State was struggling during the first ten minutes of the game when he hadn't even attempted a shot. But he got things going with a free throw and followed it up with a nice running jump shot that kissed off the glass with the shot clock winding down and it was on from there. He finished with 24 points on 9-of-11 shooting. He also pulled in eight rebounds, two steals, and three assists with no turnovers.
It was good to see Jeff Brooks play 11 minutes on his tender ankle. He managed to score four points, but also committed two fouls.
The slow start had me a little concerned. It was obvious they were trying to pound the ball inside to Cornley, and in the early going it wasn't working too great. There were a lot of silly turnovers from some careless passes inside the paint. The outside shooters weren't passing very well to get open. And the defense was pretty poor allowing New Hampshire to get some open looks from behind the arc.
Andrew Jones is 6'10" tall. He needs to play like it. Listen up, big fella. When you get that ball with a clear shot at the basket, dunk that thing. Collect your feet and pound it home. Don't go for those week layups that the little guys can poke away. Especially when they know they can wrap you up and foul you and you'll probably miss at least one of the free throws. He missed at least two shots that should have been easy dunks.
Danny Morrissey had an awful night. 0-for-4 from the field, 0-for-2 from the arc, and 0-for-1 from the free throw line. On top of that he turned the ball over, played some horrible defense, and committed stupid fouls. He'll have his days where he comes off the bench and nails six three pointers in a row, but then he'll have days like yesterday where he can't do anything right.
Chris Babb still looks clueless out there.
Good Lord the announcers were terrible. The play-by-play man wasn't bad, but Spencer Tollackson was just awful as a color analyst. Beside the fact he has a face that belongs nowhere near a camera, his commentary was filled with cliches and master of the obvious statements. I was waiting for him to let loose with a "Boom goes the dynamite." They let him try his hand at the teleprompter a little bit and it was a complete disaster. He took so long to illustrate a play they had to mercifully cut him short to go back to live action. The best part was the story he relayed about being completely surprised about all the celebrations going on in State College the night before when he was trying to drive down College Avenue to get to his hotel. Apparently Penn State was pretty excited about winning the Big Ten championship in football. Who knew?
Somebody back in the truck should have arranged some "technical difficulties" and muted his microphone. It was that painful to listen to.
Penn State leaves the friendly confines of the Bryce Jordan Center to take their act on the road for the first time this season. The next four games will all be on the road against much better competition than we've seen so far. Then we come home for a matchup against the always tough Temple in a game in which I always call "The Owls' Revenge" for the beating we always give them in football.
Next 6 Games
|@ Penn||Tue 11/25||7:30 PM EST|
|Rhode Island ( @ Philly Classic)||Fri 11/28||6:30 PM EST|
|@ Philly Classic (Team TBA)||Sat 11/29||TBA|
|@ Georgia Tech||Wed 12/03||7:30 PM EST|
|Temple||Sat 12/06||6:00 PM EST|
|Army||Wed 12/10||7:00 PM EST|
Last 5 Games
|New Hampshire||Sun 11/23||W 70 - 50|
|Hartford||Thu 11/20||W 89 - 64|
|NJIT||Mon 11/17||W 74 - 47|
|William & Mary||Fri 11/14||W 65 - 51|
These next five games will be huge for this season. If we can come away with three or four wins it will boost our confidence tremendously and springboard us into the Big Ten schedule. Lose four or five of them and the dream of making the NCAA tournament this year is on life support. We'll find ourselves frantically trying to regroup before the conference schedule starts.