It's still too early in the season to start judging the state of the program, but a loss like this certainly makes you question some things. Northwestern, without star Drew Crawford is, by all accounts, a team that should be "beatable," especially considering the game was in State College. In the Big Ten, road games are as treacherous as they come.
But the Wildcats maneuvered the hazard and then some, embarrassing the Nittany Lions 70-54 in the BJC. Bill Carmody's club featured four scorers in double digits, and was led by Dave Sobolewski's 18 points. D.J. Newbill led the way for the Lions with 20 points, on just 6-19 shooting. Penn State allowed yet another team to play the three-point lottery, a strategy that hasn't paid off very often and certainly not tonight, as Northwestern shot 41% (9-22) from beyond the arc. Against a team that turns the ball over as infrequently as NW does, it's tough to win a game when your opponent takes advantage of the majority of its possessions.
The bigger issue, the issue that will haunt Penn State the rest of the season if it isn't corrected, is the offense. It's not even one specific facet of the offense: the sets looked choppy, the screens were sloppy, and worst of all, the shots didn't droppy. The effort was there, as always, but nothing clicked until it was too late and Northwestern had the game well in hand.
Pat Chambers was understandably upset in the post-game presser--and you would be too if your team shot 31% from the field and 3-15 from three. The Nits got to the line 18 times, a big improvement over their first two conference games, but too many free throws came with the game already out of reach. Penn State rebounded well--albeit not well enough to live up to their reputation as one of the top rebounding teams in the nation--but rebounds alone don't win games.
This was a difficult one to swallow for sure, but Penn State won't have too much time to sit and digest this one. The Lions travel to West Lafayette to face Purdue on Sunday, and even though the Boilers are having a down season (they'll come in just 7-8), Mackey Arena is still a difficult venue for any team to visit --just ask Illinois.
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