Penn State lost to Nebraska on Tuesday night in a game that will go down in history as... just kidding. We’ll try to forget about this one as soon as we can, but it’ll still be in the BSD archives in case 20 years from now someone wants to go back and discover what Penn State basketball was like before it became the “Duke of the North.”
After two straight conference wins, getting crushed in Lincoln was a humbling experience, but hopefully our young Lions learned something along the way. I know our team of basketball writers did! Here’s what the scribes had to say about the latest outing.
Ban all road games in Lincoln.
Watching the game I was thinking that we are seeing both the future of PSU hoops, and the dreadful past, on the court at the same time. Shep/Banks/Moore all embody what our program hung its hat on for the past decade or so. We have a capable leader, but when he is cold, we have no chance in Shep Garner. In the past it was live or die with the one leader but now we have a few underclassmen who are picking up the slack when our one-man show is struggling. We have a guy who can score 20 but can also completely disappear, playing very little defense along the way in Payton Banks. And Julian Moore. Watching him play is the same as all of our recent big men. He's barely productive. I give him credit, because individually he has progressed this season to the point where he can play minutes, but he's everything we've had recently in a big man. He fouls late while his man is surely going to score, taking a needless foul and giving the opponent an additional point. He scores on one end then gives up two layups on the other end.
And at the same time, the freshmen and Josh Reaves are playing like complete players. They are young. Their games are still filling in the holes. But they are not the type of players that will continue to make the same mistakes that we have seen over the years. Their games are resilient and they are able to get high-percentage shots when the team needs them. The fact that there are three freshman that can score ten points on a given night and impact the game is a glaring change from the recent past. In the box score the results sometimes resemble what we have seen for the past fifteen years from the team, but the way it is happening is much different. The younger players are beginning to take control of the team at this point in the season and this is just the beginning of their four-year tenure. The future is bright, but the present contains the ups and downs that we should expect out of a transitioning program.
It was unreasonable to expect this team to win two road games in a row, and for some reason, every time they play at Nebraska, bad things happen. Now, the Huskers have been playing everyone close this season, and it was a matter of time before they broke out against some team. It so happens that team was Penn State. Move on, find a way to win two more, have a big showing in the Big Ten Tournament, call it a day.
‘Member when Penn State used to play defense? That was my reaction after the first half in which the Lions allowed 45 points to a Nebraska squad that is not exactly a national juggernaut. The Huskers “only” scored 37 points in the second half, but they didn’t even need that many, as Penn State didn’t shoot well enough to make this a competitive game. The funny thing is that normally we incomplete teams like this one struggle when the young players let down the upperclassmen. This Nittany Lion team is the opposite. It’s been freshman Tony Carr who has been the steady hand at point guard, scoring in double figures for the seventh straight game and doing all he can to keep Penn State in the game. On the other end of the spectrum, it’s been the experienced Shep Garner befuddling us with his inconsistent play.
It would make more sense if the juniors were playing better than the freshmen, but at least this way we can look towards the future and imagine that things will be different when Carr and his young teammates are juniors and seniors. Winning a second straight Big Ten road game against an underrated Nebraska team might have been too much to ask, but maybe next year it won’t be.