This morning began like any other for your humble BSD editor. I staggered out of bed, went through my morning routine and stumbled onto the Twitters for a couple of minutes before heading off to class. During that last step, I was greeted by this.
For context, last night No. 5 Pitt beat No. 3 Syracuse at the Petersen Events Center. Apparently, a "Penn State sucks" cheer rang out during Zombie Nation and new football coach Todd Graham joined in.
Now, before we all haul off into the trite "48-14" and "Yellow Out" come backs, let's just call the Oakland Zoo what it is: one of the best home court advantages in college basketball. Pitt is 132-11 overall and now 9-0 against top-five teams at the Pete. The fans there are pretty crazed and pretty great by college basketball standards, so give credit where credit is due.
But, c'mon, Zoo. If this is true and not just some dude making it up on Twitter, it's beneath you and reeks of insecurity. You attend one of the finest public institutions in the state, boast a basketball program that's the envy of many and employ a coach who might turn out to be the next Bob Knight without the attitude problem. You were in the process of taking down a top-five team and actual conference rival in your building. Chanting "Penn State sucks" in the middle of a game that has absolutely nothing to do with it makes you sound envious and suggests you subconsciously (or consciously, who knows?) feel inadequate in comparison. It's weak. This isn't the first time it has happened, either. I witnessed it first hand following the UCONN-Pitt game at Heinz Field last year, too.
You reacted to West Virginia fans classlessly mocking Jamie Dixon for the passing of his sister and throwing things at your players last season by carrying yourselves respectfully when the Mountaineers came to Pittsburgh a few weeks later. Why do this? Trust me, when Penn State fans were storming the floor after beating Michigan State and Illinois last week, Pitt was the last thing on their mind, as it is most days. They just cheered for their team. If you're one of the best basketball student sections in the country, as you claim to be, take that cue from Nittany Nation.
Getting Better Late
The Daily Collegian's Alex Angert wrote this morning about Penn State's improvement in close games this season, and what the players are saying about it.
"Basically, it’s just a whole different mentality," Jackson said. "I think we are closer as a team which really helps. We trust each other down the stretch. It’s just having that mentality that we can win those games and making it happen by making plays."
"Our basketball IQ as a team has been better," senior Jeff Brooks said. "We’re eliminating those stupid mistakes and making the plays we are supposed to. We are being strong along the basket and the perimeter."
Penn State is 4-1 so far in 2010-2011 in games decided by six or fewer after posting a 4-11 record in similar occasions in 2009-2010, so there is some improvement. Unfortunately for the Nittany Lions, they have suffered a lot more blowout losses this year to leave them at 10-7 and barely hanging on to the NCAA Tournament bubble.They've also been pretty lousy on the road, winning only at Indiana to open Big Ten play this season. Penn State is definitely improving in some areas, but Ed DeChellis and his players have a lot of work to do if they're going to make a run at the dance.
Redd About To Break Out?
Rivals released its Big Ten season-in-review today and names running back Silas Redd "next season's breakout offensive player."
Redd impressed as a true freshman this season, running 77 times for 437 yards and two scores. The strong, tough and fast Redd will be the feature back with Evan Royster having graduated as the school's leading career rusher.
As exciting as Redd's runs were this season, however, it's important to keep in mind that the offensive line must block for him to be at his most effective. Evan Royster's first couple of seasons on the scene at Penn State were aided greatly by stellar offensive line play, but his production fell off as a junior and senior as the line was less effective. To get the most out of Redd's ability, Penn State needs to get it together on the line in front of him.
In Scores Of Other Games
- Maggie Lucas wins her record extending sixth Big Ten Freshman of the Week award. [GoPSUSports.com]
- Joe Sunder was named EIVA Player of the Week after a big weekend in Hawai'i, including 33 kills in a match against the Rainbow Warriors or whatever they're calling themselves now. [GoPSUSports.com]
- A Rivals Roundtable discusses coaching hot seats in 2011. [Rivals.com]