Nitt Picks Throws a Lot At You

After a dominating win over a Michigan team that is struggling of late despite wins over Duke and UCLA earlier in the season, many people are starting to talk about Penn State's chances of making the NCAA tournament. Some guy from the Bleacher Report likes our chances.

While there is certainly a long way to go, I have to say I like their chances.  At the beginning of the season, I think everyone involved with the PSU program would take their results up to this point in a heartbeat.

While yes, I'm pleased with the 15-5 record at this point, I'm not convinced our chances are yet "good." The much more knowledgeable Penn State basketball blog, Crispin and Cream, isn't shopping for dresses yet either.

Frankly, I don’t know too much about this PSU team yet. I know we have 2 first team all-conference candidates, but as far as team success? I know we can’t shoot foul shots. I know PSU barely beat a 9-9 Georgia Tech team on the road by 2 (they’re now 0-5 in the ACC). I know PSU beat a UM team that has looked a lot more like the team that barely beat Savannah State than the team that beat UCLA and Duke. I know PSU barely beat a Purdue squad who not only was struggling at the time, but was also without their two best players. Like David Jones says, sometimes the game outcomes result from when you played and not who you played.

Saturday we play Iowa which is a huge game for us. So you can imagine I was happy to see an article headline that read Iowa's Tate Likely Out Against Penn State. It's always nice to know your opponent is short handed when you play them. But then I read the article and saw this part.

David Palmer has stepped up in Tate's absence. The reserve forward is averaging 20 points and 7.5 since being inserted into starting lineup two games ago.

Ugh. That's better than the 7.3 points and 6.4 rebounds Cyrus Tate was doing. So maybe we're not so much catching a break here.

But one thing I've noticed as the season has progressed is the Andrews, Jones and Ott, have been getting steadily better in each game. Maybe assistant coach Lewis Preston is starting to have an impact.

Preston, who played at Virginia Military Institute in the early 1990s and still holds the Keydets’ career blocked shots record (202), has brought a physical and hands-on approach to his sessions with Penn State’s big men.

“It’s been fun,” said Jones, a 6-foot-9, 245-pound redshirt sophomore from Philadelphia. “He’s been working with me on a multitude of things — rebounding position, posting up, post moves, always trying to have my hands ready for passes or rebounds.”

Catching Battle’s no-look passes and staying out of foul trouble remain adventures for Jones, but his high-energy presence at both ends of the floor is beginning to yield results.

Through 20 games, he needs just seven rebounds to reach his 31-game total of last season (116). He leads the team and is third in the Big Ten with 44 offensive rebounds (eighth in offensive boards per game) and is 13th in the Big Ten in overall rebounding.

The play of Jones and Ott to counter the guard attack of Battle and Pringle are going to be huge down the stretch of this season.

Are You Kidding Me?

I saw this quote in an article about Purdue and it made me chuckle.

"We know we have to go inside early," Jackson said. "If we let the crowd get into it, it would be a battle just like it was at Northwestern and Penn State."

If you recall, classes were out of session and there was a terrible ice storm the night Purdue visited the Jordan Center. I guess those 500 senior citizens in attendance were pretty rowdy.

Let's Talk Some Football

It was really odd how silent Maurice Evans was all through the process of making the decision to enter the NFL draft. The supposed deadline passed last week and there was still confusion about his decision. This week the Sentinel caught up with him and helped shed some light on his thought process. In it he specifically discusses the marijuana incident.

Evans said that if he receives an invite to the NFL Combine in Indianapolis this spring he will attend and knows he must be honest with those who will interview him at the combine about his off-field situation.

“If I’m not invited it’s not a big deal. We still have pro day at Penn State (March 18). It gives me more time to improve, get bigger and faster. It would be a plus to get accepted to the combine,” Evans said.

“There was no sour relationship between me and coach Paterno. I was never mad at him for the decision he made. The decision for me leaving early was just something I was comfortable with. Like I said before I think I’m ready to compete.”

Derrick Williams seems to be putting things together after a shaky start to practice at the Senior Bowl. I love this quote.

"I'm driven by greatness."

That pretty much sums up his career at Penn State. I don't think I ever witnessed a player give more effort and devote every minute of every day to being great as much as Derrick Williams did. I hope he does well in the NFL.

In Scores of Other Games

Tomahawk Nation shares some interesting rumors about Bobby Bowden's tenuous situation at Florida State...Dr. Saturday plots a google map of the Rivals Top 100 for this year which kind of ties into our discussion on star rankings...Several Penn State football players are training for the NFL draft locally...Members of the football team will be at the basketball game Saturday to sign autographs...The Lady Lions came back from 17 points down to beat Wisconsin in overtime...And Penn State won the Lambert Meadowlands Trophy which used to be a big deal. It's the 27th time Penn State has been crowned Beast of the East. If we were Pitt this would be worthy of hanging a banner in the stadium.

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