The past four years have been pretty frustrating for a Penn State basketball fan. Oh heck, who am I kidding? The past four decades have pretty much sucked. But the past four years have been particularly painful for me. I blame the Big Ten Network which has allowed me to engage and follow the team like never before.
There have been some highs. There have been some lows. There have been nights where I jumped up and down like a little kid after a big win. There have been nights where I turned the game off in disgust midway through the second half. Some days I was so mad I promised myself I was done getting jerked around by Penn State basketball.
But yet there was always one thing that brought me back. That thing, was Talor Battle.
It sounds so cliche to say Talor Battle is one of those players that only comes around once in a lifetime, but it's true. He's one of only three players in NCAA history to score 2000 points, pull down 600 rebounds, and dish out 500 assists. He is one of those players that wants the ball in his hands when the game is on the line, and he's one of the few players that can deliver more often than not in that situation. He's a small guy that isn't afraid to get in the paint and mix it up with guys that have seven or eight inches on him. He bangs around and gets banged around, and yet he still plays more minutes than anyone in the country.
Even when Penn State has found themselves in the filthiest gutter of Rock Bottomville, we still tuned in to watch Talor Battle, because you never knew what he was going to do. Maybe he would hit a shot from half court with the shot clock winding down. Maybe he would hang in the lane and throw up a prayer shot that somehow went in. Maybe he would go on a tear leading a double-digit comeback late in the game. Or maybe he would hit a game winning shot over a ranked opponent to salvage the hope of a season one more game.
But it isn't just his ability to make a ball go in a hoop that compels us to watch him. It's the way he carries himself. Confident in his ability, but never arrogant. He plays the game as hard as he can, and he does it with that signature smile on his face. You know you have a special player when you see fans from other Big Ten schools expressing their appreciation for him.
It's a shame that his Penn State career is almost over and he will likely never play in the NCAA tournament. The NCAA tournament was built for guys like Talor Battle, and it's a damn shame if he never gets a shot. But such is life for Penn State basketball, where success is measured game-to-game, and small victories have to be cherished by a fanbase that has nothing else.
Talor Battle said he would give back every one of those 2000 points to play one game in the NCAA tournament. It's a shame he'll probably never realize the dream he's had since he has been a boy. He's a great player, and Penn State basketball will probably never see another one like him. He deserves all of the individual accolades he gets, so congratulations to Talor Battle for being named first team All-Big Ten.