As you all probably know by now, tonight is a big night for the men's basketball team as they will face their toughest opponent to date. The #7 ranked Michigan State Spartans. Things worked out pretty well last year.
But this year it's a different story. This is a Spartan team that is much more mature and focused than that group a year ago. They have impressive wins at Texas and against defending national champion Kansas.
In order for Penn State to compete they will need complete games from Jamelle Cornley, Stanley Pringle, and Talor Battle. Then they will need someone else to step up and help out on top of that. Last year it was usually David Jackson, but this year DJ is really struggling.
Jackson, a 6-foot-5, 205-pound redshirt sophomore, has never been a stat-sheet filler. When at his best, he excels at the little things — setting or fighting through screens, making the extra pass, coming up with loose balls or knocking down clutch free throws. As the season has gone on, however, he has seemed to fade into the background.
Jackson scored at least seven points in each of Penn State’s first seven games, averaging 4.4 rebounds and 1.4 assists per game, before his production slowly began to drop. He averaged 3.6 points over the team’s final six non-conference games. And in a total of 53 minutes in the team’s first four Big Ten games, Jackson has eight personal fouls and three total points. At times, even catching the ball has been a struggle.
"It’s just got to come to me," Jackson said Monday. "I’m gonna be patient, keep being aggressive, keep taking my opportunities. It’s going to go right for me. It’s just a matter of me staying confident in myself and just going out and playing like I know I can."
Of late Jackson has lost his starting job to Jeff Brooks, but if I'm Talor Battle I would look to feed Jackson some easy buckets to boost his confidence. The team desperately needs him to pitch in seven or eight points and five or six rebounds per game if they are going anywhere the rest of the season.
Finally, there has been a lot of talk about Penn State's lousy attendance following the upset of Purdue last week.
(Penn State is) also very poor in terms of fans. The Purdue-Penn State game last week was an embarrassment for a Big Ten home crowd even if there were no students on campus.
There has been quite a spirited debate in the fanposts regarding this topic. Reasons given for the poor attendance include classes were out of session, lousy seats for people who buy a ticket the day of the game, and even the awful food sold at the concession stands (by yours truly). Another major factor sited for the poor attendance last week was the weather. Bitter cold and a significant snow storm hit State College that evening deterring people who may have traveled to the game and maybe convinced others who live in town to hibernate and watch the game on the Big Ten Network. So how does the weather look tonight?