What Did We Do To Deserve This?


Suppose I told you before the game that Penn State was going to take the No. 19 ranked Wisconsin Badgersinto overtime on the road. Considering that the Nittany Lions had looked awful in their last two games against Indiana and Iowa and didn't look like they belonged on the same court with these same Badgers a few weeks ago in the Jordan Center, I would call that progress. But since Penn State carried a 13 point lead with ten minutes to go in the game, you can chalk it up as another colossal collapse by this young Nittany Lion squad.

The Good

Penn State came out with a lot of intensity and played like they wanted to win for a change. They jumped out early and led by double digits for three quarters of regulation. Jumping out quick is half the equation. The other half is playing equally well in the second half.

Andrew Ott is doing everything he can to solidify himself in the starting lineup. Overall he played a good game with six points and three rebounds in 28 minutes, and he mostly played some pretty solid inside defense.

Chris Babb had some key shots and scored 16 points. He's been playing with a sore finger he dislocated a week ago. Welcome to the Big Ten, son, where playing hurt is a way of life.

Penn State outrebounded Wisconsin 33-23. They have outrebounded every opponent in Big Ten play thus far. A truly astonishing statistic for an 0-7 team.

The Bad

Where was Jeff Brooks? Nine minutes? He didn't have any turnovers, and he pulled down four rebounds. It's pretty disappointing that three years into the system, in a huge game like this, and he hardly made any impact at all.

Where was Tim Frazier? The boxscore I'm looking at says he started and only played three minutes. I remember a nice assist he had to Battle in the first half and that was it. Either he's nursing an injury or Ed has decided to cut back his minutes until he cuts back the turnovers. Frazier had one turnover in his three minutes.

Where was Andrew Jones? The redshirt junior played just 16 minutes. No points, two missed foul shots, one rebound, and two turnovers. His lousy play is a large reason why this team is struggling so much. We were counting on him to average ten points and eight or nine rebounds per game.

The Ugly

Turnovers. Turnovers absolutely kill this team. Penn State rebounded better (33-23) and shot the ball better (51.8% to 43.3%) than Wisconsin, but they lost the game because they turned the ball over 18 times to just 5 times for Wisconsin. Give your opponent an extra 13 possessions per game isn't going to serve you well.

The Nitts got killed 19-11 in overtime. They were completely gassed. If I'm critical of Ed on one thing in this game, it's the fact that Jackson, Battle, and Babb played over 40 minutes while Edwards played 37. Ott and Jones split their time. Other than that Ed did not use the bench at all. Frazier had three minutes, Woodyard had four, and Brooks had nine. The players Ed wanted to go with had nothing left at the end. That said, Bo Ryan played five guys for more than 36 minutes. So they were probably tired too. But they had the home crowd to push them at the end. We didn't.

Commentary On the Last Play of Regulation

There was a lot of discussion in the open thread about the last play of regulation. To set the scene for those who missed it, Wisconsin is on a furious run to come back late. Jordan Taylor scored a bucket to tie the game at 60 with 0:26 to go. The crowd is going nuts. Penn State inbounds the ball and Talor Battle brings it up to half court and looks at the bench. Everyone expects Ed to call a timeout and draw up a play, but he didn't. Penn State spread the floor. Battle let the clock wind down to five seconds, and then he cross dribble faked and threw up a three point shot from the top of the key that missed badly. Calls for Ed's head erupt in the comments.

But I think it was a good call by Ed. His best player had the ball in his hands with the shot clock turned off. If Ed calls a timeout, Bo Ryan tells his guys "Don't let Talor Battle get the ball." So who takes our last shot? Jackson? Edwards? Babb? Ott? I think Ed was sharp to recognize this and let the play go. Let your best player, who has a flare for the dramatic and has won you numerous games in the last second, take his man one-on-one. If it works, we're all calling Ed a genius. Unfortunately, it didn't work, and now Ed looks like an idiot. Such is life as a basketball coach.

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