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Penn State Basketball Update

What is this? Penn State basketball in July? Yeah I know. Usually we go through a whole football season and pick up the basketball team some time in mid January. But the Centre Daily Times ran an article over the weekend talking about the basketball team. Summer session is just starting up so incoming freshmen and junior college players are just starting to arrive on campus now. Junior college transfer Stanley Pringle is getting some rave reviews from Jamelle Cornley.

"He's probably the quickest guard I've played with since Drew Lavender," said Penn State forward Jamelle Cornley, referring to his former teammate at Columbus' Brookhaven High. "I would put him up there with Lavender. Lightning quick. And when he goes, he goes hard."

Lavender, now a senior point guard at Xavier, stands just 5-foot-7 but has the speed and the handle to go essentially wherever he wants with the basketball -- qualities the Nittany Lions haven't had at the point for some time. They're hoping that changes this season.

Now last year I fell into the trap of buying into all the preseason optimism we read about in the media and I was terribly disappointed. This year I'm taking a wait and see approach. But if what Cornley says is true Pringle is already an upgrade over Ben Luber. Penn State desperately needed someone who could break down a press by themself and penetrate the lane last year. If Pringle can do those things it will be a tremendous help.

Pringle should also improve the perimeter defense.

If the Nittany Lions, as coach Ed DeChellis hopes to do this with a deeper, presumably more athletic roster, are able to play more man-to-man and pressure defense this fall, Pringle will feel right at home. Full-court man-to-man was a staple for coach Dwight Robinson at Landstown, and Pringle also played man-to-man at PHCC.

"That was (Robinson's) thing -- you can't play defense, you can't play for him," Pringle said. "I learned that quick."

Halleluiah! Somebody who values defense! And the Angels rejoiced! Is this contagious? If so I would infiltrate the training table and see to it those forks didn't get washed for a month. Penn State got killed on defense last year because Luber, Walker, and Morrissey couldn't guard anyone forcing us to sit back in zone defense and get killed from behind the arc. Hopefully Pringle and Battle will give them the athletism they need to play a little man-to-man defense and pressure the ball.

Now I'm not all "We're going to the dance, baby!" just yet. We're still lacking a legitimate big man to play some tough defense in the lane. This was our biggest weakness last year. We need a guy that can block four shots and pull down 12 rebounds a game. Brandon Hassell is not that guy. Even still, the additions of Pringle, Battle, and Jeff Brooks will definitely improve our chances this year.