We're going all over the place with this Nitt Picks today, so hang on tight.
First up, let's get the basketball stuff out of the way. Fox Sports takes an offseason look at the Big Ten and leaks some tidbits on Penn State's out of conference schedule.
Penn State – The Nittany Lions will play in the Charleston Classic and also have non-conference games at Virginia on Nov. 30 in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, on the road against Temple and at home against Virginia Tech.
The reaction from Penn State basketball blogs 20,000+ and Crispin and Cream is generally positive.
Moving to football, the Examiner thinks Penn State will have the best running backs in the Big Ten this year.
Penn State (Grade: A)
With Evan Royster returning to the Penn State backfield after a dazzling 2008 season, the Nittany Lions are the obvious choice to field the best running back unit. Royster’s quick and elusive running style propelled him to 1,236 yards and 12 TDs on 191 carries a year ago, and those numbers should increase in 2009 as he takes on a more featured role in the Penn State offense. Defenses will likely key in on Royster because of his big play potential, yet his sheer athleticism will enable him to stockpile yards even with 7 and 8 defenders in the box.
Sophomore Stephfon Green enters the season as the premier backup running back in the conference, after his freshman campaign consisted of 578 yards and 4 TDs on 105 carries. Green is also a threat in the passing game, as he snagged 15 passes for 268 yards (17.9 YPC) and a touchdown last season. With Penn State’s top receivers gone to graduation, expect the Nittany Lions to rely on Royster and Green to fill the void.
So Yay and all that.
Penn State may get a big commitment in the coming days from Virginia defensive lineman Evan Hailes.
"I have a top five," Hailes said. "It's Penn State, Virginia Tech, Tennessee, North Carolina State and LSU. I've visited Virginia Tech and Tennessee so far. I visit Penn State this Friday.
"After I visit Penn State I'll make my decision. I'll decide at the end of this week or beginning of next week."
It's usually a good sign when a kid says he's going to make a decision soon and he has one more visit to go. It probably means he knows what he wants to do and he wants to make one more visit to confirm it. And the fact that Penn State will get the last word in really helps.
Hailes is a four star recruit with an impressive offer list that includes Michigan, LSU, Virginia Tech, Tennessee, West Virginia, Clemson, and Cal among others.
Let's move on to volleyball now, where it's not only football and basketball that have problems putting together a good non-conference schedule.
"I tried very hard to get a number of people to play, talked to a number of teams in the top 10, and there were some people that didn’t want to play us home or away," head coach Russ Rose said. "And there were some that didn’t want to come and play us. Scheduling is not as easy as maybe people think it is."
I suggest you read the entire article. It's a fascinating read on how difficult it is to get marquee volleyball teams from the midwest and west coast to travel east to play in Rec Hall.
In Scores of Other Games
- Varisty Blue has an interesting preview of Illinois.
- Our Honor Defend has a Wisconsin preview.
- Adam Rittenberg has a great article on the Evolution of Navorro Bowman.
- Some whiney brat on Bleacher Report brags about not ordering student tickets for his senior year. His reason: He's getting too old for it. For his sake I hope this was a satire piece.