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Basketball, Basketball, and YES, More Basketball

What is up with all the Penn State basketball coverage lately? The Centre Daily Times is giving us more basketball coverage than we're used to seeing in February. Last week they ran an article on Geary Claxton all about the effort he's going through to improve in the offseason.

Last month, Claxton spent five days at LeBron James' youth camp in Akron, Ohio, where he and about a dozen other elite college players worked out with an NBA trainer and played pickup games in the evenings (Claxton guarded James during one of the two games the Cavaliers' star played in).

The next day, he was en route to Orlando, Fla., for more intensive sessions at Vince Carter's camp.

"A lot of footwork stuff," he said. "Creating space, basically, because that's what the NBA is mostly about -- one-on-one and creating your own shot."

The strengths of Claxton's college game -- slashing to the basket, finishing in traffic and running the floor -- are all mandatory requirements in the NBA. His ticket to the league is improving his perimeter skills, his main focus during both camps.

"I was hitting my jump shots," Claxton said. "I know the biggest thing for me is just staying consistent with my shooting and maybe handling the ball more."

Personally, I'll just be happy if Claxton can learn to be patient and trust his teammates more. Almost every game you could see a point where Penn State was approaching a double digit deficit and Claxton would start to push things by driving into a crowded lane and throwing up a shot with three hands in his face. He needs to stop taking it all on himself and just pass the ball.

The article also goes on to talk about Claxton's difficult situation as a "tweener", a player that could play guard or forward. Due to the lack of depth in the front court Penn State has been forced to use Claxton almost exclusively in the three or four. I honestly hadn't even thought of him as a two guard. If redshirt freshman David Jackson, true freshman Jeff Brooks, and juco transfer Skyler King can provide some decent minutes we may get to see Geary play a bit of the two this year. This could produce some matchups that favor the Lions.

Speaking of King, the CDT ran another article last week featuring the juco transfer. From the sound of things King is a very versatile player.

A 6-foot-6, 200-pound transfer from Tyler Junior College in El Paso, Texas, fits the on-paper mold of the player DeChellis needs to finally get his deliberate Nittany Lions up and down the floor -- a long, athletic, versatile type who likes to get out in transition and who can play a little defense.

More importantly, he will go where he is needed. King has spent the past six seasons -- four at El Paso's Andress High and two at Tyler -- playing four different positions.

"I don't even know how to describe it," he said. "I played the post but you did what you wanted to do in the offense (in high school). I never really had a specific spot, except they never let me play the point."

The article talks a lot about him being a slasher and defender. This is good since scoring and defense are two things we need. My question is can he rebound? Brandon Hassell can't and we need more bodies in the paint pulling in the rebounds. We can't keep depending on Claxton and Cornley to get double-doubles every night and hope 6'3" guard Danny Morrisey can pull in seven rebounds off the bench. Somebody has to step up and contribute on the boards and nothing in the article leads me to believe King is that guy.

I'm trying to keep a positive but realistic attitude this year. Last year I feel like I got duped into thinking the team was going to be good. We read all about lofty expectations and I got swept into the hype. Not this year. This year I'm reading these articles with a skeptical eye. I hope the team does well, but I'll believe it when I see it.