Penn State Advances to NIT Third Round


Final - 3.19.2009 1 2 Total
Rhode Island Rams 29 43 72
Penn St. Nittany Lions 42 41 83

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On a night when Penn State was playing without their gutsy senior forward Jamelle Cornley, the Nittany Lions rallied with a total team effort to avenge the earlier season loss to the Rhode Island Rams. I didn't get to see the game, so all observations are just coming from the boxscore and game reviews I've read.

 

The Good

Andrew Jones stepped up big time with a double-double scoring 14 points and 10 rebounds. I've noticed the trend all season long that when he gets the ball in the post good things tend to happen. He's developed a nice baby hook shot and he's good at kicking the ball out when a shooter pops open. I'm particularly encouraged by the ten rebounds. He's bulked up nicely the past two seasons and if he can learn to throw that weight around he can do some serious damage for us next year. But he has to learn to pick his spots better. Last night he fouled out of the game.

Stanley Pringle had the hot hand scoring 19 points in the game.

Chris Babb has really come on in the past month. Last night he scored 13 points in 20 minutes. I've really been impressed with his tenacity on defense all season long and last night he had another steal. He's going to be a nice compliment to Talor Battle next season.

The Jackson/Brooks platoon netted 13 points, 9 rebounds, 5 assists, and 3 steals. That is just awesome production from these two guys.

As a team the Nittany Lions shot 87.1% from the free throw line hitting 27-of-31 shots.  Where was that all season? The precision shooting was what won the game as Penn State didn't score a field goal in the final 8:53.

Penn State out rebounded Rhode Island 37-26.

The Bad

Talor Battle sat out the final three minutes after reaggravating a hip pointer that has been bothering him all season. Ed seems to think he'll be good to go by Wednesday, but he's not going to practice between now and then.

Though the production from the younger players is encouraging, Penn State still needed 19 points from Stanley Pringle to win the game. That's production they won't have next year. But I'm feeling much better about this with Babb coming on late in the season.

The Ugly

Penn State failed to score a field goal after Stanley Pringle hit a jumper with 8:53 left in the game. Fortunately they got it done from the free throw line scoring their final 17 points from the charity stripe.

Final Thoughts

It's amazing to see this team really can score when they get away from the suffocating defenses and possession offenses of the Big Ten. The contributions of the younger players were particularly encouraging in this game. A few months ago I was really sweating over how we were going to survive next year without Cornley and Pringle. But now I feel Battle, Jackson, Jones, Brooks, and Babb in the starting lineup along with Woodyard, Frazier, Marshall, Ott, Oliver, and Borovnjak coming off the bench will give us a nice nucleus to be competitive.

Penn State will have to await tonight's game against Florida and Miami to determine their next opponent. If Florida wins, the Nittany Lions will travel to Gainesville next Wednesday. If Miami wins, they will host the Hurricanes in the Jordan Center.

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