Penn State Basketball Preview - Part II


Earlier this week we talked about what Penn State has to replace this year. We'll get into the new faces Ed DeChellis will ask to fill those minutes. But first, let's talk about what Penn State has coming back this year.

22 - Andrew Jones III (6-10, 245)


FG 3PT FT Rebounds Misc
G M M A Pct M A Pct M A Pct Off Def Tot Ast TO Stl Blk PF PPG
2008 - Andrew Jones III 38 25.8 2.3 4.0 57.9 0.0 0.0 0.0 1.6 2.2 69.4 2.2 3.6 5.8 0.4 1.1 0.5 0.3 2.4 6.2

The evolution of Andrew Jones was a fun thing to watch last year. He started out with a rather insignificant stat line for a starter only managing five or six points and three or four rebounds per game. But by the time the NIT came around he was a dominating force on the hardwood. During the tournament he averaged 10 points and 8.2 rebounds per game. Here is what I had to say after the Indiana game.

 

Andrew Jones has become a really solid player. He had a couple of boneheaded turnovers, but for the most part when he gets the ball in the low post good things happen. He finished the night 4-for-4 from the field, and get this: over his last eight games Jones has shot 21-of-27 (77%) from the field. He has shown a nice mid-range jumper to go along with the baby hook he's developing. And when an outside shooter pops open he's good at getting them the ball. I'm starting to think he may turn into a significant scoring threat next season when he gets some of Cornley's touches.

Penn State will look to Jones and his 6'10" 245 lb frame to provide a big presence in the paint this year.

15 - David "D.J." Jackson (6-7, 210)


FG 3PT FT Rebounds Misc
G M M A Pct M A Pct M A Pct Off Def Tot Ast TO Stl Blk PF PPG
2008 - David Jackson 38 20.8 1.5 3.5 42.9 0.2 1.0 20.5 1.3 1.6 79.0 1.3 1.8 3.1 0.6 1.1 0.5 0.2 1.9 4.5


He was expected to be a major contributor last season, but David Jackson suffered through one of the most horrendous sophomore slumps this blogger has ever seen. Here is just one example of a review of one of his performances.

 

I hate to keep harping on the kid, but David Jackson is a complete liability. He only saw six minutes of play last night to close out the first half. He was completely ineffective against covering his man through the screen and Michigan State went on a 15-2 run during that stretch to close out the half. He had one scoring chance where he was standing all alone under the basket, and he traveled. Like I said, I really hate to talk down on college kids, but he shouldn't see the floor until garbage time for the rest of the season. And he better hit the gym and training table hard this summer. He looks scrawny against his competition and needs to put on 25 or 30 pounds.

That was after the Michigan game. I'm usually not one to rag on kids like that, but there was no other way to describe Jackson's performance. Every time he got the ball it ended in disaster. Passes were going right through his hands. He would get the ball all alone under the basket and travel. He looked completely lost on defense. He was nothing short of a liability to the team, and Ed eventually had no choice but to remove him from the starting lineup.

But, this story has a happy ending. Something clicked and Jackson managed to score in double figures in four of his last seven games of the season. I'm hoping he put on a few pounds in the weight room this summer and he can ride that momentum from the end of the season into this fall.

25 - Jeff Brooks (6-8, 200)


FG 3PT FT Rebounds Misc
G M M A Pct M A Pct M A Pct Off Def Tot Ast TO Stl Blk PF PPG
2008 - Jeff Brooks 37 16.2 1.3 3.6 36.6 0.3 1.1 25.6 0.4 0.8 50.0 1.1 2.0 3.1 0.8 0.8 0.3 0.3 1.6 3.3

Jeff Brooks has been an enigma his first two years at Penn State. He came from Kentucky full of athleticism and promise, but he has yet to live up to the hype. As a freshman he looked completely lost on the floor. As a sophomore, he didn't look lost, but he didn't play with confidence or control. He would often pull down an impressive rebound on the defensive end only to dribble down the court and bounce it off his foot out of bounds. If he can put it all together and average seven or eight points and six or seven rebounds it will be a tremendous improvement.

 

10 - Chris Babb (6-5, 215)


FG 3PT FT Rebounds Misc
G M M A Pct M A Pct M A Pct Off Def Tot Ast TO Stl Blk PF PPG
2008 - Chris Babb 32 10.1 0.9 2.6 33.7 0.7 2.0 34.9 0.4 0.7 61.9 0.4 0.7 1.1 0.5 0.5 0.3 0.1 0.3 2.8


Babb was one of two true freshmen to see the court in 2008-2009. He's a tenacious defender with a pretty jump shot. Ed played him sparingly in the early part of the season and it was readily apparent he was only a freshman. His minutes diminished significantly during the thick of the Big Ten season, but toward the end an ankle injury to Stanley Pringle and the fatigue of the Big Ten season wearing on Talor Battle forced Ed to put him on the court. By the end of the year he was providing solid minutes and scored double digits against George Mason and Rhode Island in the NIT. This year Babb will most likely be starting in the backcourt along with Talor Battle.

 

24 - Cammeron Woodyard (6-5, 210)


FG 3PT FT Rebounds Misc
G M M A Pct M A Pct M A Pct Off Def Tot Ast TO Stl Blk PF PPG
2008 - Cammeron Woodyard 24 6.7 0.8 1.7 43.9 0.5 1.1 44.4 0.2 0.3 66.7 0.2 0.7 0.9 0.3 0.4 0.2 0.0 0.3 2.2

One thing Cammeron Woodyard did not lack when he stepped foot on the floor as a true freshman was confidence. He proved early on he was not timid about putting up a shot from anywhere on the court. Unfortunately, this can often come across as being a player who "doesn't play in the system". As the season wore on, Woodyard's minutes dwindled and dwindled to the point he didn't even see the court during the NIT.

 

This year I think Ed will experiment with Woodyard by plugging his big body in the two, three, and maybe even the four position. The hope will be to create a mismatch somewhere with his size against smaller guards and swingmen. The hope will be for him to be a solid player off the bench averaging maybe eight minutes, four points, and two or three rebounds per game.

54 - Andrew Ott (6-10, 240)


FG 3PT FT Rebounds Misc
G M M A Pct M A Pct M A Pct Off Def Tot Ast TO Stl Blk PF PPG
2008 - Andrew Ott 25 7.0 0.5 1.0 48.0 0.0 0.1 0.0 0.4 0.9 50.0 0.6 1.0 1.6 0.1 0.4 0.2 0.4 1.0 1.4


When Ott joined the floor after sitting out the first month of the season due to transfer rules, the hope was that he could just provide five or ten solid minutes per night to give Andrew Jones a break in the middle. I don't think Ed really expected him to do a lot of scoring. If he could just play good defense and pull down some rebounds everyone would have been thrilled with that.

 

But Ott was somewhat of a disappointment. As expected, he wasn't really a scoring threat. But his defense wasn't much to speak of either. He was a big man who didn't pull down rebounds, and wasn't blocking many shots. And so his minutes dwindled as the season progressed.

This year Penn State will hope he has improved over the summer. Ott will be counted on to provide a solid five or ten minutes per game to give Andrew Jones and occasional rest.

#12 - Talor Battle (6-0, 170)


FG 3PT FT Rebounds Misc
G M M A Pct M A Pct M A Pct Off Def Tot Ast TO Stl Blk PF PPG
2008 - Talor Battle 38 37.4 5.2 13.0 40.2 2.4 7.1 33.9 3.9 5.5 70.0 0.9 4.4 5.3 5.0 2.4 1.2 0.1 2.1 16.7


You may remember Talor Battle from such movies as...

Talor Battle Scores the Game Winning Basket PSU Bests Illinois (via pickletoon)


I don't have to tell you how good Talor Battle is. You already know that. And you probably already know that he is the unquestioned leader of this team. He will be asked to mentor the younger players while running the offense to get the ball in the hands of guys that can score.

The question for Talor Battle will be how well he can hold up. Last year he started off on a tear and he peaked during the amazing upset of Michigan State in East Lansing when he scored 29 points. After that it was obvious the wear and tear of playing 40 minutes per game through the tough Big Ten schedule was starting to get to him. He lost some of his zip. The jump shots stopped falling, and he struggled to score. This year, Penn State will need some of the new faces to reduce his minutes. If Ed doesn't feel comfortable in any of his freshman guards by the time conference play starts, it's going to be a long season for Talor Battle. 

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