When Talor Battle and Taran Buie are on the court together at practice, senior forward D.J. Jackson said there’s one of two things that can happen — it all depends on what color jerseys they’re wearing.
If Battle and Buie are on opposite teams, they go at each other hard. Paired together, though, the duo has unmistakable chemistry. Jackson said it’s like they always know where the other one is going to be.
It’s a special relationship, and there’s only one way Jackson can justify it.
“It’s because they are brothers,” Jackson said of the two guards on the Nittany Lions basketball team.
Technically, Battle and Buie are half-brothers, but the pair grew up in the same household and played one season together at Bishop Maginn High School in Albany, N.Y.
Battle, a senior co-captain, describes his freshman brother as his best friend.
Now, the two are reunited for one season together at Penn State. And the Lions are hoping their chemistry — that indescribable brotherly bond — will play an integral role in the team’s success.
If preseason practices are any indication, it certainly will.
Senior Steve Kirkpatrick said there are certain things he’s noticed in the gym that indicate the two are going to excel on the court this season.
“[Battle] has no fear of saying some things to Taran that other people couldn’t say to him out of brotherly love,” Kirkpatrick said. “It’s a great dynamic. It’s two great players and obviously Talor has had a great career. But Taran will, as well.”
Battle said he and Buie have that chemistry because their relationship goes beyond just bloodlines.
“He’s my best friend,” Battle said. “Most of the times, he just smiles. Whenever I need a laugh, I know I can look at him. Just his smile can make me laugh. That’s the promising thing about us.”
But Battle has been more than just a brother, friend and teammate to Buie.
After Buie flirted with trouble this summer — receiving two citations in the span of a month — there was one person who was harder on him than anyone else.
It wasn’t his coach. It wasn’t his mother.
It was Battle.
“He’s my biggest fan and my biggest critic,” said Buie, a four-star high school prospect who highlighted Penn State’s 2010 recruiting class. “He came down on me extra hard…just because he’s part of the team so I’m embarrassing him as well as the rest of our team and our family.”
Now, Buie said he’s re-focused. And coach Ed DeChellis is excited about the promise of Battle and Buie becoming a potent one-two offensive tandem for the Lions this season.
Beyond their on-court synergy, though, DeChellis is looking forward to seeing Buie develop individually as a player.
The coach thinks Buie’s style of play could be similar to that of Battle’s, a two-time All-Big Ten selection.
Battle, who has led Penn State in scoring in all of his three seasons, has been known to take clutch shots throughout his college career. Most notably, he banked a game-tying 3-pointer at the buzzer in the Lions’ first round National Invitational Tournament game against George Mason in 2009, which sent the contest — an eventual Penn State win — into overtime.
DeChellis said Buie might have some heroics in him, too — once he adjusts to the college game.
“[Buie] has the ability to do that,” DeChellis said. “Let’s wait and see what happens when the game is on the line and everyone is there. Then we’ll see who wants to take the shot. I know No. 12 does. Hopefully, Taran will get to the point where he is one of those guys, too.”