Great players earn their greatness from making plays when it's all on the line. Talor Battle may not hit the Penn State scoring title, and he might not end up playing in the NBA, but you'd be hard pressed to find a Penn State basketball player who has made more shots when it really mattered.
Tonight was no different. Battle who was 0-7 from three, jacked up a shot from well beyond the arc and sank it with 1.7 seconds left, sending a crowd of students into a frenzy, waking up the 15 or so non-students, and causing several people to uncontrollably call for DeChellis' head, assuming that the excitement they had missed was related to another loss.
Not to "Sixth Sense" you and start with the punch-line, we'll start from the beginning.
Going into the game Penn State knew that it was going to play 3 guards with Billy Oliver and David Jackson on the bench. DeChellis opted to go with Cam Woodyard 's size over Tre Bowman's speed giving the junior his first starting nod of the season. From the outset PennState controlled the pace of play as well as glass which gave them a 9 point edge headed into halftime, 31-22.
Even with Penn State's 2-1 rebounding advantage Mount Saint Mary's was able to keep the game close due to sloppy turnovers by Penn State and an ugly three-pointer turned bank shot. Going into halftime it was clear that Penn State was a better team, they were just a few halftime adjustment's from an easy win. I feel like I've said that before.
The second half opened on a 14-4 Mount Saint Mary's run where Penn State went cold shooting and Mount Saint Mary's went from God awful shooting to less-shooting. Mount Saint Mary's eventually "cooled off" as the half wore on but Penn State only traded baskets for the rest of the half rather than taking over the game. If you're wondering how the game ended check the top of the post.
Good, Bad, Ugly after the jump. Need to go now? Here's all you really need to know: If Anthony Morelli was a basketball game, he would have been this one. Some good, a lot of "what?" and a fair share of "are you kidding me?"
- Cam Woodyard:While nobody had a particularly outstanding stat line, Woodyard went 3 of 4 from the field and played solid defense throughout the contest. Woodyard put in 27 solid minutes of play which is a far cry from his poor shooting, and poor defensive performance of almost all of last season. If Woodyard can average 8-10 quality minutes a game that could go a long way in Big Ten play. Tonight was a good first step towards that.
- Jeff Brooks: This shouldn't come as a surprise, but Brooks has really found his game. Even while struggling from the field Brooks attacked the basket and pulled down 10 boards for his first careerdouble-double. Brook's shooting will obviously need to be more consistentthan it was tonight, but any doubts that Brooks' early season performance was a fluke should be silenced until further notice.
- Taran Buie:Buie played a very solid game in 16 minutes of play picking up 10 points, a few of them in a key juncture of the game. While Penn State seemed to lack energy in the second half, Buie showed a veteran mentality looking to lead the team while he was playing, making several big plays including a diving steal while Penn State was down 1. Taran has struggled to find his game, but in his defense, a lot of his hype has been somewhat unfounded. Not to suggest that it was undeserved, but rather outside of his ranking very few people had ever seen him play in person. Buie is a raw talent player who needs coaching to mold him into a good player, rather than a one-and-done type that will score 30+ in his first college game. Once he understands that he is more effective attacking the basket he will be a much greater asset to the team. That was something that he seemed to understand tonight.
- Coaching: You could really make this an ugly, but either way Penn State plays down to their opponent. There wasn't any question which team should have won this game, but Penn State's lack of energy and intensity could have cost them the game. Penn State is generally a second half team but came out flat giving Mount Saint Mary's just enough of a foot hold to make an otherwise one sided contest a game.
- Tim Frazier: Normally I'm a big fan of Frazier's ability to run the offense. He leads the team in assists and has done a pretty good job getting everybody involved. That being said he needs to contribute on the scoring end of things. Frazier is too fast and too athletic to not be averaging 8 or more points a game for the amount of time he logs each game.
- Turnovers: If Penn State is going to have an succes on the Big Ten level they need to hang onto the ball. 15 turnovers is just too many to expect to win, and a good 75% of the reason why Mount Saint Mary's was even in the game. It's as simple as that. You can't win the game when you don't have the ball.
- Coaching (again) : Because you shouldn't ever be losing to Mount Saint Mary's in the second half.
In summary: If Anthony Morelli was a basketball game, he would have been this one. Some good, a lot of "what?" and a fair share of "are you kidding me?"