This is part two of a series looking at what went wrong in the 2006/2007 Penn State Men's Basketball season. We'll be looking at several topics over the next few days. Last week we looked at injuries. Today we'll concentrate on the ineffective big men.
Brandon Hassell was the starter most of the season and Milos Bogetic saw a lot of playing time. Hassell is 6'11" 230 lbs and Bogetic is 6'10" and 255 lbs. On rare occassions the 6'10" Joonas Suotamo would get in for a few minutes, but mostly it was Hassell and Bogetic splitting the minutes.
Hassell can't score. He has no post moves and can't hit the medium jumper. As far as I can tell all he can do is dunk a basketball as long as you give it to him in a position where he doesn't have to dribble. Hassell averaged 5.6 points per game which is up from the 1.7 he scored last year, but his minutes doubled from last year as well. His highest scoring game was 20 points against VMI, but even the equipment manager scored 10 points in that 129-111 scorefest. He managed to have a few good games early in the season where he scored in double digits against some mid-major bottom feeders, but after Big Ten play started he only had one double digit scoring game after that.
Milos wasn't much better averaging 4.1 ppg. The telling stat for him is that nearly half of his field goals attempts came from behind the arc where he shot a blistering 24%. Like Hassell, he has no post up moves to speak of and can't create anything for himself off the dribble.
But hey. Being big has its advantages sometimes. You don't have to score in order to be an effective big man. If that were the case, Dikembe Mutombo wouldn't have had much of a career in the NBA. Big men contribute more effectively through defense and rebounding. Hassell and Bogetic could do neither.
Hassell, who again is 6'11" tall, only pulled in 4.3 RPG. Bogetic, who again is 6'10" tall, only pulled down 2.9 RPG. These are pathetic numbers for big guys. Neither guy had a double digit rebounding game all year. Like their scoring numbers, their rebounding stats, which are pathetic enough, were greatly padded by their out of conference schedule.
Interior defense was a glaring problem for the Lions all season. In the few games I saw, Illinois and Purdue raped and pillaged Penn State in the paint. Hassell frequently got bumped right out of the way and often took his eye off his man allowing the middle to be exposed for wide open layups. Milos is still learning how to bang around inside. In Europe you can't breathe on a man without drawing a foul. Here it's a different game, but I would say at this point Milos is a better defender than Hassell despite the glaring difference in athleticism. These two combined for only 21 blocks on the season, with Milos getting 15 of them.
Much is being made of the freshmen coming in next year, but none of them stand taller than 6'8". If Penn State doesn't start playing tougher defense and rebound like Charles Barkley in the five position, they will not be able to stop anyone with a halfway decent center and we could be in for another disappointing season.