Many might not want to look back on a 12-20 season with many blowout losses, but before we close the book on the 2011-2012 hoops season, here's a look at some of the highs and lows from year one of the Pat Chambers Era.
The Kentucky Massacre
The result of this game was inevitable, but that didn't make it any less demoralizing. The young Lions were overwhelmed by the eventual national champions for the full 40 minutes. Penn State found themselves down 32 at halftime (47-15). Who could forget Jon Graham getting stuffed by the rim right before the end of the first half? The Lions went on to lose by nearly 40, while Kentucky's two surefire lottery picks (Davis and Kidd-Gilchrist) combined for just 12 points and 9 rebounds. Obviously they weren't needed.
Even with some other blowout losses, the non-conference season had been fairly productive up until this game. Unfortunately, the Lions weren't able to avoid their annual WTF loss when they dropped an ugly contest against Lafayette. The Leopards ended up finishing just 5th in the Patriot League at 7-7. Tim Frazier and Matt Glover combined to go 0-18 from the field. Fun times in the Jordan Center that night.
Easily the best win of the year, the Nittany Lions completely trounced Purdue in the Jordan Center by 20. It was completely out of the blue considering PSU's struggles against the Boilers in recent memory. The Lions were coming off an 0-2 start and didn't have Cam Woodyard. But Billy Oliver made it rain seven times from deep and Matt Glover did his best Chris Kramer impersonation. Great game to see in person. It's a shame the #BOBsled hiring that night overshadowed this performance
At the end of the day, the South Florida wins looks better on paper than this one, but this was a bigger deal at the time. The Illini were ranked and in first place in the Big Ten after a 4-1 start. The game was on ESPN2 and PSU was showcasing their new gray alternate uniforms. The Lions had lost 3 in a row and had a brutal 5-game stretch on the horizon. Thankfully Frazier hit the game-winning floater that avoided a potential 9-game losing streak and gave the program some great exposure on national TV. Props to Jermaine Marshall for a game-winning block on the last possession. I can't recall the last time PSU won a game on a defensive stop.
The recruiting gains by Chambers and his staff over the past year have been astounding. But Austin seems to be the crown jewel as the first true, highly respected Philadelphia high school player who spurned the prestigious Big East for Penn State. He reportedly chose PSU over Syracuse, Villanova, Pittsburgh and others. Getting a Top100 commit from the city of Philadelphia this early in the process has given PSU great momentum on the recruiting trail heading into a big summer.
This sucked. Regardless of your feelings on his basketball ability or the potential opening scholarship, you hated to see a great kid being forced to walk away from a dream. His concussion history was always a concern his entire career, and it's a shame he never got the chance to fully overcome it. The emotional press conference announcing hid decision showed how much Billy meant to this team as a leader and a teammate.
While these decisions might turn out for the best all around, it bugs me to see other players succeed at other colleges. With Lewis and Glover leaving, it also leaves the backcourt pretty thin for next year and puts pressure on the staff to find quality prospects in the spring signing period. They won't set the program back a few years, but it still sucks to see guys you were hoping to root for leave the university.