It feels like Taran Buie has been at Penn State much longer than his class standing would suggest. It was April 2009 when he committed to coach Ed DeChellis as a high school junior following months of a high profile recruitment process. Earlier this year, Buie was chucking the rock only a few blocks from the Bryce Jordan Center at State College High School after his mother decided to move the family from Albany, N.Y. to Boalsburg. Now, only after all that, is Buie finally out in front of the fans in a Penn State uniform.
Unfortunately, the saga has been a disappointment thus far.
On the court, Buie has looked like little more than an average freshman and not the savior of the program many hailed him to be. So far, he's averaged only 5.8 points, two rebounds and less than an assist per game while failing to supplant Tim Frazier in the starting back court. Not bad, but not very encouraging, either. What's worse is that despite owning only a 25% shooting percentage from beyond the arc and a reputation for not being a particularly good shooter, Buie continues to force shots from the outside rather than playing to his strengths off the dribble.
In 2010-2011, Buie has made 25-72 shot attempts for 34.7%. Take away his 7-28 performance from the perimeter, though, and his percentage jumps to 38.2%. That's a double digit spread between interior and exterior proficiency. You'd think, looking at those numbers, Buie would try to attack the basket more often, but that hasn't been the case. It looks like he's trying to play H-O-R-S-E with his brother Talor Battle sometimes, and that's a contest he's going to lose almost every single time.
But where Buie has been mildly disappointing on the court, he's been grossly out of line off of it. He was suspended indefinitely before the Indiana game for violation of team rules on the heels of disorderly conduct and underage drinking citations over the summer. That's three incidents in less than six months. If Buie played football, he'd be so far in Joe Paterno's dog house he wouldn't be able to see the light beyond Brandon Ware. Positively unacceptable behavior from a player being groomed to represent the program for years to come.
Many have speculated that Buie might leave Penn State after a year of playing with his brother. While there's been nothing stated publicly that might indicate that those are actually his intentions, his actions suggest he doesn't care very much about his team. Even worse for him, they suggest he doesn't care period. If he thinks big time programs will be interested in him after what's shaping up to be a pretty uninspiring season on the court and irresponsible year off of it, he's got another thing coming. Conduct like this might not matter if your name is Kevin Durant or Derrick Rose, but Buie's isn't. He's an average college freshman right now. Someone needs to give him a reality check.
Which brings me to Ed DeChellis. He's taken a beating in the last year and a half, especially since Penn State's loss to Maine last week. Give him credit, though. It took a lot of stones to remove Buie from an already scarily thin Penn State bench. In Buie's absence, the bench contributed exactly four points in the Nittany Lions' win over Indiana on Monday as Penn State barely slipped by in Bloomington. Given the fire he's under, it would have been easy for DeChellis to overlook a team violation like this without anyone ever knowing about it. Instead, he acted on time tested Penn State principles and sent Buie a message by leaving him in State College for a crucial road game.
Hopefully he got it, because if he doesn't start acting like a college athlete should soon, he could turn into a real bust.