And yes, that's as bad as it sounds, too.
Thanks to continued shoddy perimeter defense and foul trouble plaguing one of the team's few scorers, the Nittany Lions dropped their final non-conference game of the season to the Black Bears 74-64 at the Bryce Jordan Center, and head into Big Ten play 7-4.
Talor Battle and David Jackson carried the offense, contributing 26 and 18 points respectively, but that was really it. Jermaine Marshall was next in line with six points and no other Nittany Lion had more than four. Jeff Brooks, saddled once again with foul trouble, scored only two points.
Maine was 5-5 entering this game and came to Happy Valley by way of the America East Conference. Its record included losses to Quinnipiac, Brown and Delaware State, yet Penn State found a way to lose.
And so, conference play begins with Penn State on a two game losing streak and staring down the barrel at possibly its toughest Big Ten schedule in a decade. Excellent.
- Talor Battle
- David Jackson has bounced back nicely since going down with a neck injury against Duquesne. In his two games since returning, he's averaged 15 points and, with Brooks struggling, has re-emerged as Talor Battle's No. 2 option.
- Jeff Brooks has made tremendous strides this season. He's played hard and shown an aggressiveness we've only seen flashes of from him in the past. He's blocking shots at a nice pace and has bumped his rebound average up significantly, too. Unfortunately, Penn State doesn't have the depth to survive when his aggressiveness puts him on the bench. In three of Penn State's four losses, Brooks has run into foul trouble and the team has imploded without him. I hate to say this, but I think Jeff needs to tone it down a bit. Penn State needs him on the floor, and if that means blocking less shots and conceding a few extra rebounds, maybe that's what he needs to do. That goes against the most basic basketball logic out there, but so does Penn State's total lack of depth behind him at forward.
- Andrew Jones scored four points and grabbed three boards with Brooks off the floor. This was his chance to step up and stabilize, and he couldn't do it.
- Penn State gave up 11-19 or 57% shooting on Tuesday to a team hitting at 35% from deep for the season. After opening with some strong perimeter defense against teams way better than Maine, Penn State has gotten not only worse at guarding the arc, but terribly, terribly worse. Take away the three point shooting, and this team isn't half bad at guarding the basket considering how undersized it is, but conceding north of 30 points from deep with regularity will get you blown out of the gym almost every time. If Penn State doesn't learn that soon, its not even going to be remotely close in conference play.
- In place of Jeff Brooks, Billy Oliver finished with four fouls, three points and two rebounds. He's not suited for the role he's in as the first forward off the bench in this time. Neither is anyone else on the team, really, which is the scariest part. This team has absolutely no depth behind the starting five and possibly Taran Buie. Eight years into the Ed DeChellis era, that's unacceptable.
- This is a terrible loss. It's the kind of loss that could send things into a tail spin. If you thought last year was rough, well, you might want to buckle up.