It's relatively safe to say that most Penn State fans don't frequent SLAM Online with much frequency, at least not for Penn State basketball news. On the heels of the Nittany Lions' recent wins over then No. 19 Michigan State and No. 16 Illinois, though, the basketball world is now looking toward Happy Valley like a confused Labrador, including in a SLAM in a piece you might be interested in.
I sincerely hope there is no one dumb enough to believe these two wins make Penn State a conference contender (upcoming contests at Ohio State and Purdue should bring this team crashing back down to earth), but the squad isn’t even close to consideration as an NCAA bubble team either at this point.
Aside from Battle, there is little reliable offensive firepower, and the team’s lack of depth (four starters average at least 30 minutes per game and the other averages 27) will catch up with it eventually. So, despite its recent success, Penn State is still a bottom-half Big Ten team… they simply don’t have the horses to keep up with the five or six ranked teams in the conference for an entire season.
If SLAM wants to knock Penn State for its depth, that's fine. The team is only seven, maybe eight deep at the moment with Taran Buie still suspended. The rest of the criticism is pretty off base.
Penn State is No. 52 in the RPI and that will likely continue to rise, even if the Lions both of their next two games to No. 2 Ohio State and No. 8 Purdue. It also has the No. 11 strength of schedule in the country. At 10-6, the team is probably still a little behind the eight ball record wise, but if we're going to peg 18 wins as the requisite for tournament consideration, it'll only take an 8-5 record the rest of the way to get there. Penn State has eight games remaining against teams with worse conference records at the moment, completely forgetting matchups with Illinois and Michigan State teams the Lions just beat.
Compared to the NIT Championship season of 2008-2009, when Penn State just missed out on the tournament, the Lions' vitals are very, very strong at this point. Considering that and considering the NCAA Tournament will be expanding this year, to write Penn State not only off the bubble but having a chance to make a run at it is silly.
SLAM has also apparently failed to do any research of the Nittany Lions' offense. Jeff Brooks at 13.3 points per game and David Jackson at 10.6 have been very reliable offensive options while they've been on the floor. When either of them run into foul trouble, then the Lions are in trouble offensively, but when they're out there, both guys are a threat to score at any spot on the court. This might be Talor Battle's team, but he's not the only horse in the race for Penn State by a long shot.Northwestern and Pat Fitzgerald
Pat Fitzgerald's name is getting play in all the right circles as a contender to replace Joe Paterno when he leaves the football program, but Northwestern looks like it will do its best to keep him in Evanston according to Adam Rittenberg of ESPN.com.
Northwestern officials had concern about Notre Dame pursuing Fitzgerald for its vacancy last year. And according to league sources, Penn State has serious interest in Fitzgerald as a candidate to replace Joe Paterno when the time comes."To show their commitment, Phillips and Schapiro asked Fitzgerald about his priorities. According to sources, topics included beefing up the recruiting budget, boosting the salary pool for assistant coaches and relaxing an NU rule that limits official recruiting visits to prospects who have either been admitted or on track to be admitted to school. ... The result of those discussions -- and the pending extension -- give Phillips the hope and belief that Fitzgerald will become NU's Paterno."
Greenstein reports that the Michigan situation caused Northwestern athletic director Jim Phillips to ask Fitzgerald to shorten a recruiting trip and return to Evanston. Fitzgerald met with Phillips and university president Morton Schapiro last Thursday.
Rittenberg also points out in his piece that Michigan was likely prepared to offer Fitzgerald $3 million before hiring Brady Hoke once Fitzgerald turned them down.
Fitz is an easy guy to like if you're a Penn State fan, but this is one of the reasons talking about potential replacements at this stage of the game is a fruitless endeavor. Circumstances change so quickly in college sports that what might have seemed obvious only a year earlier becomes silly in the moment.
Tapin' at the Mez
Former Penn State football player turned rapper Maserati Mo found no need to jet to New York or Los Angeles to shoot his latest music video — he did it right here in State College.
His "White and Blue REMIX" video was shot Wednesday night at Mezzanine, 420 E. College Ave., with the help of student dancers and production companies and will feature a slew of current Penn State and Philadelphia Eagles football players.
The song is a remix of Pittsburgh rapper Wiz Khalifa’s song "Black and Yellow," which recently gained popularity far outside of state lines.
Derek Moye, Justin Brown, Mike Wallace and former Pitt running back LeSean McCoy were all involved in the taping as well.
If you've been tuned into the pop music scene at all in the last year, this kind of thing really shouldn't surprise you. Between Jay-Z's "Empire State of Mind," Katy Perry's "California Gurls," and Wiz's "Black and Yellow," songs offering regional identification are all the rage right now and you can bet students on campus will eat this thing up. Here's the song. (h/t psuwxman)
In Scores Of Other Games