Throughout the land, New Year's resolutions are being made... and who knows, some might even be kept. At Above the Net, we decided to ask a couple members of the men's volleyball team what they're thinking of improving on in 2010. Here's what they said:
Like many Americans, assistant coach Jay Hosack looks at the new year as an opportunity to start fresh, and get back into shape. "Now that I am settled here in Pennsylvania, I want to eat more healthy and get back into a training routine," he said.
Ryan Wolf, however, is making his resolution more of a goal. It's one he can share with his teammates, too. "I want to win a National Championship," the sophomore outside hitter said.
Wolf and the rest of the Nittany Lions will begin working on that a week from today, when they open their season against No. 1 USC. For now, we wish all a happy and healthy new year, and hope that everyone's resolutions come true.
The Lady Lions should be happy being down only four points at halftime because it could be a lot worse.
Aside from Tyra Grant and her 15 points, Penn State is having a tough time getting to the basket and getting quality shots.
If it were not for eight misses from the foul line for Illinois, this game could be on the verge of getting out of hand.
Instead, the Lady Lions find themselves within two scores despite playing a sub-par first half.
The Lions are outshooting the Illini, but have 15 turnovers compared to just eight for Illinois. Penn State is also getting outrebounded 24-22 and has allowed Illinois to grab 10 offensive rebounds. Those o-boards have led to 11 second chance points for Illinois.
The only other Penn State player to make significant contributions on the offensive end is freshman point guard Alex Bentley. Bentley is 3-for-3 from the field for six points and has dished out two assists. The freshman saw limited action in the first half thanks to five turnovers.
This game is far from over, but the Lions need to make a few adjustments if they want to come away with a victory.
Grant needs to stay hot, but she needs help. If Bentley can control the turnovers, then she will stay on the floor and be that added offensive weapon that Penn State is searching for right now.
Freshman center Nikki Greene saw just nine minutes on the floor thanks to two early fouls. Greene needs to be more disciplined and stay on the floor. If the Lions can get Greene more touches, that will take some of the pressure off of Grant and Bentley.
Most important, the Lions need to hold onto the ball. We'll see if they can.
Well as we approach the start of a new decade it's time to look back on some of the plays that made the last decade great. What better way to do that than to look back at some rim-rattling, soul-crushing, crowd-enthralling dunks? Now there were certain criteria we looked at when we put together this list.
First off, this had to be an regular game dunk, no All Star Games. Second, no alley-oops. This is an individual play, no teamwork allowed. Let the dunking commence!
10. LeBron James Shames the Pistons:
Sigh....This comes from 2007 as LeBron put the Cavs on his back (not only in this game, but in the series) as he went to his first Finals. Both men's basketball writer Andrew Robinson and I both agreed that if we wanted, we could have had a Top 10 LeBron list and a Top 10 overall list. Either way, Rasheed Wallace gets his pride taken away (I guess that's why he's fat and playing uninspired right now) with extreme force.
9. Kobe Bryant Welcomes Dwight Howard to the NBA:
Owned. Not only does Kobe throw it on D12, he goes alll up on him to do it. You know he had to hear about it from his teammates and I'm sure from time-to-time still gets mocked for it. You should Dwight, you should. Ouch that had to hurt.
8. Vince Carter Pummels Alonzo Mourning:
Now you can't have a decade retrospective without one of the greatest dunkers of the decade and man was this a beauty. Raw speed and power and just no regard for the defender. 'Zo liked to get dunked on a lot in his career and this had to be one of the worst. Just wow.
7. LeBron James Has No Regard for the Celtics:
This man is not human. He's too big, he's too strong, he's unstoppable. It's like guarding a freight train, and Kevin Garnett got run right over by it, not to mention put on posters around the country thanks to one of the best plays from one of the best playoff series in a long time.
6. Kobe Bryant Wows The MSG Crowd:
Now with the way the Knicks have played towards the tail end of this decade, the words "wow the MSG crowd" aren't heard a lot in reference to the Knicks. Usually their fans are just angry, bitter shells of themselves, sitting sullenly in their seats poking pins into Isiah Thomas voodoo dolls. I'm sorry guys, but he's gone and you still can't get your revenge on him. Either way, Kobe with an amazing effort here and an amazing call by Kevin Harlan.
5. Move Damon Jones, Get Out The Way:
Now that one is going to sting for a while. Why Damon Jones thought that he could jump into LeBron's way and be able to not only survive the collision unscathed, but to stop him, was beyond me. He tried his best, and was then was not only embarrassed on national TV, but then poked fun at by Shaq after the fact.
4. Baron Davis Is Not Afraid of Heights:
I'd like to go on the record saying that Golden State's crowd from that playoff run in 2007 was by far the best crowd I've seen at any pro sporting event in a long time. All of those games were amazing to watch, not just for the team which was so fun to watch, but the crowd that was so emotional. They get way off their seats for this thunderous slam against Utah on the Conference Semifinals.
3. D-Wade With Extreme Prejudice:
This will likely be the dunk of 2009-10's season but this is also one of the best dunks I've ever seen. The best part is Varejao being sent tumbling into the base of the net. Shame factor is key in ranking dunks, and I can only imagine his shame as he's laying on his back looking up at the lights as the crowd cheers and everyone watches the replay of him being thrown down on and knocked out of the way like a rag doll. That's gotta hurt.
2. Tracy McGrady Destroys Shawn Bradley:
This was from the times when T-Mac wasn't actually hurt (I know, I'm shocked these times exist as well). You don't see the kind of raw emotion like that from McGrady and that's probably what made this dunk so amazing, not to mention another great call from Kevin Harlon. Man that dunk has gotta hurt your soul.
1. Vince Carter Will Jump Over You:
Was there a doubt? When you literally leap over your defender to dunk it, that's just a feat that will never be topped. Was it against a scrub in the Olympics? Yes. Does that really matter? Nope. He jumped over the guy and threw it down hard. That, my friends, is impressive and it is the top dunk of the decade.
Now in putting together this list, we did have some that didn't make the cut. Here's our top three from that list.
Amare Stoudemire on Josh Smith
Kobe Bryant on Yao Ming
Vince Carter on Tim Duncan
Also, for more dunks, check out this great 10 minute video of a ton of dunks from the past 10 years. There are alleyoops in there as well, so enjoy those. But until next time, this is Tom Kinslow saying we'll see you in 2010!
What he's done so far: Established himself as a solid No. 1 goaltender. Entering the season, Teddy Hume and fellow junior John Jay seemed to be pushing each other to get better and try to grab the starting spot. Hume had to be considered the favorite, though, after playing in 19 games last year and posting a 15-2-0 record compared to Jay's 2-0-0 record in his three appearances. After a sloppy start in the season opener against Towson, Hume sat the following night while Jay assumed the goaltending duties. Since then, however, Hume has become a wall in net most nights, which has led to his current 15-2-1 record , including a shutout. Hume has raised his save percentage from last year while lowering his goals against average. He even managed to record an assist in a game against Delaware -- the first point of his career.
What they'll need from him: Hume will be the first to tell you it's consistency. He has said all year that a solid showing in a Friday night game means nothing if he doesn't follow it up with a solid performance Saturday, and that will be even more important come nationals. With the national tournament being single-elimination, a bad start in net could cost the team any chance at a title. Hume seemed to be in a groove before the semester break, stopping more than 30 shots in three straight games including a Dec. 5 shutout against Delaware. With two games against Ohio looming on Jan. 15 and 16, it shouldn't take long to see if Hume is going to pick up where he left off before the break or if all this time off will affect his play. With the way the Icers can put up goals, they just need Hume to give them a chance to win every night -- but another shutout here and there wouldn't hurt either.
With the decade coming to an end, many people are looking back at the most memorable people and events of the past 10 years. Penn State coach Cael Sanderson was included in one of these lists on SI.com.
Well, those 'Mazin Mets are at it again, spending lucrative amounts of cash and trying not to be "the other New York team." They gave outfielder Jason Bay a four year, $66 million deal with a vesting option to make it five years, $80 million. It's a big deal for a good outfielder like Bay. However, is he worth $16 mil annually? According to Fan Graph's salary prediction, Bay was worth $15.7 million last year and $13 million before. Yeah, there's fault with that projection, but it shows he's good enough to get this kind of money, though it's a little above market. Bill James, however, predicts Bay to regress a little. He has Bay posting an .878 OPS next season, down from his .921 OPS this season. And Bay is not a very good defender, posting a negative UZR nearly every season of his career. Still, the Mets needed a power hitter in the middle of their order and they got one. Too bad they had him eight years ago and traded him for Steve Reed. Ouch.
Some other things important and not so important:
- Raiders kicker Sebastian Janikowski nailed a 61-yard field goal Sunday. I wonder if he and head coach Tom Cable celebrated by punching out a referee and a nice, young lady sitting in the front row.
- Lou Holtz makes me laugh. The senile former coach tried defending Mike Leach on the ESPN yesterday, spitting all over the camera in the process. I'm pretty sure Mark May went and smashed his head against a wall for having to listen to that. I know I did.
- This is the last musings I'll have of the year. 2009 was fun wasn't it? Well, I'll wish you all a happy new year, and I hope you guys keep reading my posts next year, barring any apocalyptic events.
Video of the week: During the Pats game, a fan decided to act like Randy Moss and got himself on the Jumbo Tron. Randy Moss approved. Pretty funny, I apologize for the embedding disabled.
It's been quite the decade for Penn State sports. Fifteen NCAA national championships (not to mention four straight titles for the ACHA Icers), 36 Big Ten regular-season and tournament championships (not including the 20 combined EIVA regular-season and conference titles by the men's volleyball team), a National Invitational Tournament crown and three bowl wins, just to name a few.
How can we put into perspective the kind of 10 years Penn State has seen? By making a list! Here are the top-20 Penn State sports moments of the aughts, in chronological order. If I missed any, please, feel free to let me know. Maybe I can make another list of the moments I missed.
March 27, 2000: NCAA women's basketball tournament
Penn State 86, Louisiana Tech 65
The top-seeded Lady Bulldogs and second-seeded Lady Lions were supposed to play a close game, but Rene Portland's squad ran away with it, clinching a berth in the Final Four as a result. Penn State got three double-doubles and nearly got a fourth from top-scorer Lisa Shepherd, who recorded 25 points and nine rebounds.
March 18, 2001: NCAA men's basketball tournament
Penn State 82, North Carolina 74
The second-round upset propelled the Nittany Lions into the Sweet 16, where they lost to Pepe Sanchez's Temple Owls. Penn State was led by Titus Ivory and Joe Crispin's 21 points apiece, and withstood a 21-point showing by then-basketball star Julius Peppers and a double-double by future-pro Brendan Haywood.
Nov. 23, 2002: NCAA field hockey tournament
Penn State 3, Old Dominion 2
Behind two goals 93 seconds apart, the Lions advanced to the national championship game. Timarie Legel scored the game-winner, her second on the day. Earlier in the season, Penn State knocked off the No. 1 Monarchs also by the score of 3-2.
Nov. 30, 2002: NCAA women's soccer tournament
Penn State 2, Connecticut 1
Leigh Hamilton scored her first career goal in the 87th minute of this game, held in Storrs, Conn. The fourth-seeded Huskies saw the Lions advance to their second College Cup (Penn State would make their third in 2005).
April 8, 2005: NCAA men's gymnastics championship
Luis Vargas wins all-around championship
The senior had won the title the previous year, but this time he did it with a torn ligament in his thumb. If you've ever seen a gymnastics meet, you know how difficult that injury is. Somehow Vargas pulled it off, becoming the first person to win back-to-back all-around championships since 2000-01 and the first Nittany Lion to do it since 1966-67.
Oct. 25, 2005: Beaver Stadium
Penn State 17, Ohio State 10
There's a blown-up photograph overlooking the stairs in the Daily Collegian office. It shows Buckeye quarterback Troy Smith standing on his head after a monstrous hit from Tamba Hali and the football bouncing away just before the Lions picked it up. That sums up Penn State's dominant performance in 2005, a game that officially marked the return of Joe Paterno and the Penn State football team. That Smith fumble was one of five sacks Penn State tallied on the night.
Nov. 13, 2005: Big Ten men's soccer championship
Penn State 1, Indiana 0
The Hoosiers were No. 2 in the country, but this season Penn State had their number. The Nittany Lions beat the two-time defending national champions earlier in the season, making it the first time Penn State won both the outright regular season and tournament championship in the same year. Jason Yeisley kicked home the only goal in the title match in the 86th minute.
Jan. 3, 2006: Orange Bowl
Penn State 26, Florida State 23 (3 OT)
Capping off Joe Paterno's comeback season took quite some time. After the Seminoles missed a field goal in the third overtime (sound familiar?), Kevin Kelly, who missed two previous attempts, nailed a 29-yarder to win it for the Nittany Lions. Not to be forgotten are Austin Scott's two touchdown runs, Michael Robinson's impressive finale and tight end Ethan Kilmer's ridiculous touchdown catch at the end of the first half.
April 13, 2007: NCAA men's gymnastics championship
Penn State 221.000, Oklahoma 220.200
It doesn't get much closer than this. Penn State beat the Sooners, who had won the previous two titles, by the slimmest of margins, claiming its NCAA-record 12th championship in the process.
Nov. 11, 2007: NCAA field hockey tournament
Penn State 1, Maryland 0
Maryland was the two-time defending national champion. Someone forgot to tell the Lions, who became the first Big Ten team since 2004 to make the final four. Penn State was outshot 14-6, but Britney Long's goal in the 22nd minute and Jen Beaumont's nine saves did the job for the Lions. Penn State would make it to the national championship match before falling to North Carolina.
Dec. 15, 2007: Women's volleyball national championship
Penn State 3, Stanford 2
At the time, it was just Penn State's second national title and its first since 1999. The Lions lost to the Cardinal in the Yale Classic on Sept. 15 that year. They still haven't lost another match. Megan Hodge tallied 26 kills and Alisha Glass dished out 65 assists in the title match.
March 15, 2008: Men's volleyball regular season
Penn State 3, Long Beach State 2
The East Coast Nittany Lions always head west over Spring Break to take on the dominant West Coast teams, but never before had the trip meant this much. Penn State was coming off its first loss of the season at George Mason and looked to prove itself as a title contender. All that happened was a five-set slugfest between Penn State's Matt Anderson and Ryan Sweitzer and Long Beach's Dean Bittner and Paul Lotman. In the end, the Lions outlasted the hosts and wouldn't lose the rest of the season.
May 3, 2008: Men's volleyball national championship
Penn State 3, Pepperdine 1
Mark Pavlik's Lions won their second-ever national title off a dominating performance by senior setter Luke Murray. Murray not only dished out 63 assists, he also notched 12 digs and 11 blocks for his first-career triple-double. Penn State hit .409 and outblocked Pepperdine 19-10.5, with player of the year Matt Anderson tallying 29 kills.
Oct. 25, 2008: Ohio Stadium
Penn State 13, Ohio State 6
The win was huge for the then-undefeated Lions, but it was even bigger for the fans, who saw former-Pennsylvania high school standout Terrelle Pryor fumble away the game on a Mark Rubin hit in the fourth quarter. Pat Devlin replaced Daryll Clark after the starter received a concussion, running in the game's only touchdown. The victory caused an infamous riot in downtown State College and the creation of numerous Pryor-related T-shirts.
Dec. 8, 2008: Women's volleyball national semifinal
Penn State 3, Nebraska 2
This was Penn State's greatest season, and these two sets were the only ones the team lost all year. Russ Rose's Lions rallied back after dropping Sets 3 and 4 to advance to another national championship match (which they swept). Nicole Fawcett and Megan Hodge led the way for Penn State, notching 24 and 23 kills, respectively.
Feb. 1, 2009: Men's basketball regular season
Penn State 72, Michigan State 68
The Lions had shocked the Spartans in Happy Valley the season before, but even more impressive was this win at the Breslin Center. It was Penn State's first win in 17 trips to Tom Izzo's palace, and the No. 9 Spartans had no answer for Talor Battle, who notched 29 points on 11-for-19 shooting.
April 2, 2009: NIT Championship
Penn State 69, Baylor 63
For the first time since 1991, the men's basketball team claimed a postseason championship. Albeit, it wasn't the tournament, but considering the program's history, a title is a title. Senior Jemelle Cornley put up 18 points and seven rebounds with a partially separated shoulder, winning NIT MVP in the process.
April 17, 2009
Cael Sanderson becomes wrestling coach
It's the only off-field moment on the list, but boy was it a moment. Sanderson brought to State College his 159-0 record as a collegiate record, his gold medal at the 2004 Olympics and three straight Big 12 championships from his time as coach at Iowa State. All 30 of his Cyclone wrestlers qualified for nationals. So far Penn State is 5-1-1 in dual meets under Sanderson, with the only loss coming in the season opener to Lehigh.
Nov. 8, 2009: Women's soccer regular season
Penn State 2, Michigan 0
How fitting the Lions set a record held by a Michigan team against the Wolverines themselves. The shutout win clinched Penn State's 12th-consecutive Big Ten title, the most since the Michigan swimming and diving team did the same from 1987 to '98. The Lions also won their ninth-straight game with this win, extending it to 10 games before bowing out in the NCAA tournament.
Dec. 19, 2009: Women's volleyball national championship
Penn State 3, Texas 2
The Nittany Lions' third-straight national title didn't come easy. Behind a dominant performance by Destinee Hooker -- who tallied a career-high 34 kills on .316 hitting on her way to tournament MVP -- the Longhorns took the first two sets against Russ Rose's squad. It was the first time since Penn State's streak started that the team fell that far behind. But energy from freshman Darcy Dorton and libero Alyssa D'Errico helped fuel the Lions' comeback, and player of the year Megan Hodge turned her game around to clinch the Lions' 102nd win in a row.
With heavyweight Cameron Wade returning from his ankle sprain to compete at Lock Haven on Sunday, there is no better time to evaluate his season so far.
Wade's take on improvements needed:
"I'm off to a decent start. I have three losses so I'm doing some things wrong. Definitely, a lot of things I can improve on. Escaping from bombs has been a big thing I need to do. I need to get that down. I need to push in the action the whole match and really wear my opponent... it's going to be the key for my success this season - keep an offensive on my feet, not getting sloppy on top and sticking to the game plan that coach Cael preaches every day.
Mental aspects of injury:
"It's frustrating for sure, but there are always obstacles that are going to come your way; you have to overcome them. You have to find a way to overcome them. Once you finally overcome them, then you're going to be a stronger person because of it."
With Monday marking the continuation of the conference season after a three-week layoff, here's a breakdown of each game. Quick recap: there was an upset, an overtime thriller and a Northwestern win. Yes, you read it right. There was indeed a Northwestern win.
Minnesota vs. Purdue
Neither team possesses a real scoring threat, so this was more of a defensive-minded match up. While the Golden Gophers (8-5, 1-1) out rebounded the Boilermakers 41-33, Minnesota could not win the turnover battle. The Gophers committed 22 turnovers, but neither team looked too impressive. Because the Boilermakers (6-6, 1-1) made just 12 of their 21 free throws it left the door open for the Gophers to get back into the game, but equally horrific free throws allowed Purdue to escape with the win.
Iowa vs. Penn State
Penn State 77 (OT)
This game had all kinds of excitement. A crucial rebound, several meaningful trips to the free throw line and a last second block were all key factors in the game. The Lions (9-3, 1-1) have come to expect close games with the Hawkeyes (7-6, 0-2) and after needing three overtimes to settle the one game last year, this one called for extra play as well. Both teams experienced scoring spurts during the back and forth game, but ultimately it came down to getting hot at the right time. Senior Tyra Grant gave the Lions 11 of her game high 28 points during the extra session, and her 14 trips to the charity stripe helped the Lions secure the win.
Northwestern vs. Michigan
It's still way too early for too much excitement, but the Wildcats (11-2, 2-0) are on a roll. For the first time this decade Northwestern has double digit wins, and the Wildcats are sitting atop the conference alongside Ohio State. Northwestern had a balanced scoring attack with three players in double digits and though Veronica Hicks chipped in 23 points for the Wolverines (9-3, 1-1), Northwestern was too hot to be stopped. The Wildcats are now just one win shy of tying last year's season total of three conference victories.
Michigan State vs. Wisconsin
No. 16 Michigan State 54
This was by far the biggest surprise of the week. Michigan State (9-4, 0-2) is coming off a trip to the NCAA Tournament and the Badgers (11-2, 1-1) are a young, hungry team. With three juniors in the starting lineup, Wisconsin and star Alyssa Karel are proving that the Badgers a serious contender. Perhaps more surprising than the Wisconsin offense, which by no means the best it's been in previous weeks, was its defense. Holding Allyssa DeHaan to nine points is no easy feat. The 6-foot-9 center is among the best players in the conference, and she only got off eight shots and did not record a block. The Badgers forced the Spartans to turn the ball over 26 times en route to the upset victory.
Ohio State vs. Illinois
No. 6 Ohio State 76
The Buckeyes (14-1, 2-0) are continuing to defend their Big Ten championship crown and Jantel Lavender is proving why she's the best player in the conference. Lavender's 31 points were the most among any player in the conference this week, and she even added eight rebounds. The Buckeyes have so much talent with Samantha Prahalis and Taylor Hill helping out on the offensive side, but there's still room for improvement. Shooting 54 percent from the free throw line could hurt the Buckeyes during their quest to become the top program in the nation. For Illinois (8-3, 0-1), Jenna Smith and Lacey Simpson need more help. The two players combined for nearly half the team's points and half its rebounds. It's going to take more than two stellar players to slow down Ohio State.
Be sure to check Washington's Post throughout the season as we'll keep you updated on the Lady Lions and how they fit into the conference.
Penn State is the only EIVA team to appear in the rankings, though St. Francis (Pa.) received seven votes.
Topping the AVCA's preseason list is USC, who the Lions will face Jan. 7 at the Outrigger Invitational in Honolulu. Penn State will also play Hawaii (No. 12) and Ohio State (No. 10) in the season-opening tournament.
Penn State's 2010 out of conference slate also features a trip to No. 2 and defending NCAA Champions UC Irvine on March 10 as well as visits to No. 7 Long Beach State and No. 9 Cal State Northridge.
Everyone in the sports world is making a list of the best of the '00s, and MAKE PLAYS is no exception. Esteemed sports chief Dave Miniaci assembled a list of the 10 most influential sports figures of the decade and has listed them below.
A big thing to remember: These are not the best players of the Aughts (or whatever we as a society are calling this decade). Some of the people that impacted the sports world the most these last 10 years have never so much as taken a snap or even jumped in their entire lives. No, what follows are the people in the sports sphere that have impacted the way sports are viewed, for better or for worse.
With that said, we know turn it over to Mr. Miniaci for the top 10 sports figures of the '00s.
10. Sidney Crosby, center, Pittsburgh Penguins
Like it or not, he helped bring the NHL back to life. Comparisons to Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux followed him to the draft and into the NHL, where he proved his own. He's the face of the league and is one of the better players in the game today.
9. Kobe Bryant, guard, Los Angeles Lakers
He's won NBA championships and been one of the most recognizable athletes in the country since he reached his prime. He took the torch from Michael Jordan as the face of the NBA and carried it through much of this decade and is soon to be handing it over to the person at No. 4.
8. Tom Brady, quarterback, New England Patriots
He went from low draft pick out of Michigan to one of the best quarterbacks of our generation. He's charismatic, a star on and off the field and led the Patriots to three Super Bowl titles.
6 (tie).Bill James, baseball statistician/ Billy Beane, general manager, Oakland A's
In the past decade, MLB has been introduced to sabermetrics, a new way of statistically analyzing the game. Bill James wrote the books and laid the foundation. Sure he'd been writing for decades, but the 2000s were when his work came to prominence. And Beane, the A's GM, started it all by using different ways to evaluate talent and popularized stats like on-base percentage and was the focus of Michael Lewis' book "Moneyball." Now, the game has changed more than ever with various MLB teams employing their own sabermetricians.
5. Alex Rodriguez, third baseman, New York Yankees
He's arguably the greatest player in the game today. Albert Pujols may be the only one better, but what sets the two apart is Rodriguez's name. He plays in New York. He has numerous endorsement deals. He's always in the news. And he is immediately recognizable. He's a player you see Little League World Series kids name as their favorite baseball player.
4. LeBron James, forward, Cleveland Cavaliers
He's the king, and I'm not talkin' Elvis. James keeps the NBA afloat and has reached the potential people predicted of him when he was a top high school baller. He is the face of the NBA and one of the most marketable athletes in the world.
3. Scott Boras, agent
He doesn't play baseball, but he owns it. The Avenging Agent has gotten his clients lucrative contracts, most notably Alex Rodriguez's $252 million deal from the Rangers. Even the casual fan knows who Boras is and certain teams refuse to negotiate with his clients. Some teams even fear top college players signing him to be their agent. Boras has certainly left a mark, or dollar sign, on the game.
2. Peyton Manning, quarterback, Indianapolis Colts
He's arguably the greatest QB of all time, let alone our generation. Even putting aside his achievements on the gridiron, he's in numerous commercials and has been on Saturday Night Live. If that's not a big deal, I don't know what is.
1. Tiger Woods, golfer
No one can deny what Woods has done for the sport of golf. Though his insane reign over the sport started in the late '90s, he blazed through this decade as a star. He's not only the face of golf, but one of the most recognizable athletes in the world. All controversies aside, Woods is easily the most dominant sports figure of the last 10 years.
What he's done so far: Marek Polidor has already surpassed the numbers he put up last year in just about every statistical category. At the halfway point this season, he already has more goals, assists and even penalty minutes than he did all of last year. After posting 11 goals and 11 assists in 2008-09, Polidor has become a force offensively this season, scoring 12 goals and setting up 16 more through the first 21 games. Polidor, who played in 30 games last year, has put those numbers up in just 20 games this year. Not to mention Polidor has contributed to the team's power play this year, scoring three times with a man advantage so far.
What they'll need from him: Making the little plays. Polidor has already shown he has improved his game offensively from last year and that he can still deliver a big hit and contribute defensively. Already having a career high 28-point season, Polidor seems to be a consistent offensive threat for Penn State. Assuming that consistency carries into the second half, all the Icers can hope for is that Polidor sets up the game-winner or makes that game-changing hit in a few games down the stretch. Also, after recording just 37 penalty minutes in 30 games last year, Polidor's 57 penalty minutes in his first 20 games this year certainly raises some eyebrows. Then again, the penalty box had a revolving door on it at the beginning of the season for the Icers, and they seem to be gaining control of that problem, as a team. Polidor is a big reason why the team is off to an 18-2-1 start, and if the team is to make a run at the title, Polidor will likely be a big reason for that, as well.
Anyone who has watched Greene play this season knows that she has a lot of potential, but she is still a raw talent. She is still making adjustments to the college game and still trying to figure out how to be as successful in college as she was in high school where she led her team to a 35-2 record and a district championship.
For the season, Greene is averaging almost seven points and six rebounds per game. She has also committed 45 fouls in 12 games and fouled out twice.
Fouls are going to come for a player that is accustomed to being the tallest player on the court, but Greene is making the adjustment and is starting to realize that she doesn't have to block every shot. She is currently sixth in the Big Ten with 1.92 blocks per game but is becoming equally as effective at simply altering shots.
When Greene stands tall and extends her arms to their highest point, she is a tough obstacle for even the most prolific scorers in the conference to contend with.
Defensively, the freshman has been sound. To go along with her blocks, Greene has also amassed 28 defensive rebounds.
But as Greene continues to develop, her impact will start to be felt more on the offensive end. She is already second in the conference with 3.42 offensive rebounds per game, and it seems she is starting to develop a better touch around the basket.
Despite going just 2-for-7 from the field against Iowa, Greene's first bucket was a demonstration of what could lay ahead for the young center. Early in the first half, Greene took a pass in the low post with her back to the basket. She pivoted, faced up to the basket and put down a floater with her right hand for two points.
Later in the game, Greene was left completely open under the basket and she could be seen and heard emphatically calling for the ball in the post.
Greene seems to be getting more confident and is becoming more vocal on the court. However, the road for the young center only gets tougher from here. As Big Ten play gets into full swing, Greene will be up against some of the top post players in the country.
But early indications show that Greene is aware that she still has a lot of learning to do and is willing to put the work in to do it.
As for the dunking, it will come. For now, Greene seems to have her priorities in check and is working hard to develop into a force in the post.
I must admit, I'm having a hard time evaluating Penn State's play against Iowa at the half as the Lady Lions lead 36-31. Yes, they are winning. Yes, they have led since the first minute of the game. And yes, somehow the Lady Lions controlled most of the first half without leading scorer Tyra Grant scoring once in the first 15 minutes. Nevertheless, the Lady Lions should be dominating this game.
They've shot the ball pretty well and they've stayed out of serious foul trouble but the game has remained close because of missed opportunities. Iowa, a team that relies heavily on the long ball, hasn't seen its shot fall. Early in the game, Iowa nailed a couple three point shots in a row but since then the Hawkeyes have been throwing up bricks. And with the Lady Lions grabbing a decent amount of the rebounds, they haven't been able to convert on the offensive end. Errant passes and ball handling miscues have doomed Penn State throughout the first half and coach Coquese Washington is lucky Iowa hasn't gotten in rhythm shooting the ball yet.
Alex Bentley has led the charge for Penn State and Grant found her groove late in the half for 10 points, including a clutch three-point shot to extend PSU's lead to five in the waning seconds of the first. Defensive specialist Renee Womack has played a lot of minutes and has helped limit the Iowa defense but, sooner or later, Iowa's players will hit two or three long balls in a row to take the lead. If Marisa Wolfe can cut down on the turnovers down low and Penn State can buckle down, the Lady Lions can pick up a big win against a tough Iowa team. Last year's Penn State-Iowa showdowns were instant classics, one a triple-overtime thriller and the other a 20-point meltdown. However, neither game ended with a Lady Lions victory. Let's see how this one ends.
In short, the Hawkeyes have beat all the teams they should have beat this season. All of Iowa's seven wins have come against teams from mid-major conferences, but most of them have come in deciding fashion. Only two of Iowa's wins have come by less than 10 points, the closest being a 72-69 win over Columbia in the Nugget Classic in Reno, Nv.
2.) Who They Lost To
The Hawkeyes have lost five games this season, but mostly to quality opponents. Iowa fell to Kansas early in the season and dropped another two games later to West Virginia in the opening game of the Nugget Classic. Iowa also dropped its Big Ten opener at home to Michigan, a three point loss in which Iowa outscored the Wolverines by 11 points in the second half. Iowa also has losses to Boston College and Iowa State.
3.) Key Impact Player
Iowa is a very young team with five freshmen and four sophomores on its roster. The leading scorer on the team is one of the two juniors, guard Kachine Alexander. The 5-foot-9 Alexander missed a month in the beginning of the season with a stress fracture in her leg. After her surgery, the guard has come back strong, averaging 16 points per game. She adds a welcome complement to sophomore guard Kamille Wahlin who is second on the team with just over 15 points per game.
4.) Against the Lady Lions Last Year
The Hawkeyes swept the Lady Lions last season. Iowa received a 26 point effort from Alexander in a thriller 97-89 triple-overtime victory in Iowa City. Just two weeks later, the Hawkeyes came into the BJC and left with a six point win. Tyra Grant dropped 26 points for the Lions, but no other managed to reach double digits in the loss.
5.) Overall Thoughts
Right now, Iowa currently sits second from the bottom in the Big Ten. Being such a young team, the Hawkeyes could very well end the season in that position. The backcourt combo of Alexander and Wahlin could be dangerous, though. Much like the Lady Lions, if the young Hawkeyes can start clicking, then they can make some waves in a Big Ten conference that looks to be a crap shoot behind Ohio State.
Despite having eight wins, the Gophers have not beaten a ranked team and have only defeated one opponent who was receiving votes in the AP poll. Minnesota disposed of TCU back in November in a tournament in the Bahamas. The only other win of note, and perhaps Minnesota's most important, came against the Nittany Lions on Dec. 6. Minnesota took advantage of a slow start by Penn State and went on to a 10-point victory.
2.) Who They Lost To
Minnesota has played some quality competition so far this year. Three of the Gophers' four losses came against teams that are currently ranked or receiving votes in the AP poll. Minnesota dropped a game to then-No. 9 Xavier in that same tournament in the Bahamas and followed that loss with a loss to Maryland in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge. Three games later, the Gophers lost at home to Iowa State by 17 points.
3.) Key Impact Player
Despite being a team with five seniors, Minnesota's most potent scoring threat is sophomore guard Kiara Buford. The 5-foot-11 guard leads the team with 14.3 points per game and is also a pretty good rebounder, averaging just more than four per game. Three times this season, Buford has gone for over twenty points, including 24 in the loss to Iowa State.
4.) Against the Lady Lions Last Season
The Gophers managed to win both games against the Lady Lions last season. On New Year's Day last year, Penn State traveled to Minneapolis and took a 14-point thumping at the hands of the Gophers. Minnesota held Penn State to just a 32.3 shooting percentage and Buford scored 11 points in just 13 minutes played. When the scene shifted to Happy Valley on Feb. 5, Penn State put up a better effort but still managed to lose by two. The Lions got a 21 point effort from Tyra Grant and shot a much better 42.4 percent, but Minnesota once again outshot and outrebounded the Lions.
5.) Overall Thoughts
It looks as if Minnesota can be a dangerous team in the Big Ten, but to do so it will have to continue its scrappy style of play. The Gophers are fifth in the league in points per game with 69.8, but are second in scoring margin thanks to some feisty defense. That defense was on display earlier this season against Penn State, when the Gophers forced the Lions into 11 first-half turnovers. For Minnesota to be successful in the Big Ten, they need to keep up the intensity on the defensive end and maintain its conference leading +5.58 turnover margin.
At 10-2, Northwestern finds itself in a very unusual position towards the top of the Big Ten standings after nonconference play. For the first time this decade the Wildcats have hit double digit wins and the team still has two months left to play. Here's how NU got to where it is midway through the season.
1. Who they beat
While the Wildcats have put up an impressive win total thus far, there is only one victory that really stands out. Against then-No. 21 DePaul, Northwestern pulled off the upset in what was a shocking win considering the recent struggles of the NU program. While DePaul's leading scorer was injured halfway through the game, it was still an impressive victory for the Wildcats. On top of the DePaul win, Northwestern has also beaten teams like Arkansas, Kansas State and Purdue. While those weren't that high quality of wins, they were still games that Northwestern would have likely lost to in the past.
2. Who they lost to
In year's past, this list would be a lot longer. However, so far this season the list is limited to only Clemson and Charleston. Unfortunately for Northwestern, the team could easily be undefeated right now. Both losses were against teams that the Wildcats could have beaten and both games were close with NU losing by a combined five points in the losses.
3. Key impact player
Northwestern's key to success this season has been the play of center Amy Jaeschke. The junior has averaged 16.5 points and 7.7 rebounds per game so far this season along with four blocks a night. She has given the Wildcats a dominant presence down low in the post, which will be pivotal against the other physical teams in the Big Ten. She comes in at six-foot-five and will give Nikki Greene a tough matchup when the Lady Lions face the Wildcats.
4. Against Penn State last year
In the teams only game last year, the second-to-last of the season, the Lady Lions trounced the Wildcats 65-50. Tyra Grant led the charge with 23 points as Penn State scored 46 points in the second half after a slow start. Jaeschke had her way down low for Northwestern scoring 18 points but other than her and Kristin Cartwright, no one scored more than five points for the Wildcats. It was senior night at the BJC when Northwestern came to town to give the Lady Lions extra incentive to play hard but this season should be different with NU greatly improved. PSU will get an early look at the Wildcats with the Lady Lions traveling to Evanston at the end of the week.
5. Overall thoughts
This Northwestern team is a lot different than last years....I think. It's hard to tell through nonconference play if this team is for real or not, but they are definitely improved having won 10 games. Big 10 season will be able to tell if this team is a contender or a pretender; however, the Lady Lions will be playing the Wildcats before we know which they are. For Penn State to become a player in the Big Ten, this game is a must-win since games against teams like Ohio State and Michigan State won't be easy. Nevertheless, Northwestern is out to prove it is a different team than in year's past and if its win total is any indication than it is.
What he's done so far: After a somewhat slow start the first two weekends of the season, Tim O'Brien has picked up the pace and become the scoring threat the Icers need him to be. Now, he leads the team with 13 goals and is second on the team with 27 points overall. O'Brien has stayed healthy this year, playing in all 21 of the team's games. He played in 39 games two years ago and 40 last year, so staying on the ice hasn't been a problem for O'Brien during his career at Penn State. Coming off back-to-back 50-point seasons, O'Brien has positioned himself to make another run at posting 50 points this year and is well on pace for his third straight 20-goal season.
What they'll need from him: Consistency. Through the first four games of the season, O'Brien had just one goal. Since then, he has scored 12 goals in 17 games. He seems to be a consistent threat every weekend now, and that's what the Icers will need him to be from now until the end of nationals. O'Brien seems to always position himself in the right place at the right time and is ready to put home any loose puck around the net. Penn State will need him to keep scoring those goals and maybe create a few of his own if they are going to make a run at the national title. Although a number of other scoring threats have emerged this year, Penn State still needs O'Brien to be a constant threat to put the puck in the net.
The Badgers (10-2, 0-1) are making a quick turnaround after many struggles last season. They may be one of the biggest surprises in the conference this year. Here's a closer look at what Wisconsin did during nonconference play.
1. Who They Beat
Ten wins from the nonconference season is huge for the Badgers. While none of the victories came against ranked teams, Wisconsin needed to win some games to build confidence heading into conference play, and they did just that. North Dakota, Milwaukee, Cleveland State and Portland State are the types of games this team should win and they did. There's something to be said for a team that consistently wins games against inferior opponents, and the Badgers didn't do that last year. They only have one loss at home at the Kohl Center and are riding a three-game winning streak.
2. Who They Lost To
Falling to No. 22 Green Bay and No. 6 Ohio State shows this program isn't yet capable of beating elite teams, but it is very close. The loss to a very talented Phoenix was by two points, and the loss to the Buckeyes was by 15 points. Keeping pace with an undefeated Green Bay team shows the Badgers will be a competitive team regardless of who they play.
3. Key Impact Player
Junior guard Alyssa Karel has been the Badgers' biggest scoring threat. She's averaging 13.9 points per game and is second on the team with eight blocks. However, she has 32 turnovers, which is something that needs to be addressed in order for her team to be a conference threat. Junior post player Tara Steinbauer is averaging eight points per game and gives the team a solid presence down low. They have a balanced scoring attack with all of their starters averaging nearly seven points per game so really any player can have a huge impact during any game.
4. How Penn State Fared Against Them Last Year
The Lions split the two game series, but both contests were very close. Each team won on its home court as Penn State beat the Badgers by two points during an overtime thriller. Tyra Grant took over the game by scoring 32 points and Karel chipped in 15 points for Wisconsin. The Badgers' six point win featured three players in double digits while Grant was the only Lion in double figures.
5. Overall Thoughts
The Badgers will be a better team than they were last year. Karel is taking over the team and another year of experience for her, Steinbauer and Lin Zastrow will make this team a threat. The team will be stronger because of those three players going through last season's struggles, but it still may be one year too soon for the Badgers to secure nine to 10 wins in the conference. The three juniors are helping this program turn the corner and tonight's game against Michigan State will be a good test for the Badgers.
Today, we take a look at the team's fifth and final senior - Dave Herel.
What he's done so far: It's been a tough year for Dave Herel. He has played in less games every season since his freshman year, mostly because of injuries. After playing 28 games his freshman year, he played only 17 his sophomore year and just nine last season. Now this year, Herel has played only two games and is now out with a serious back injury. Although we don't have much to work with, Herel was impressive in those two games, scoring a goal and playing aggressive on both ends of the ice. The versatile forward is a threat both offensively and defensively, but unfortunately he hasn't been able to show off that talent much over the past two seasons.
What they'll need from him: Hopefully just to get back out on the ice one more time. As a senior, Herel might not have another chance to play collegiate hockey after this year. Although the Icers would obviously enjoy getting Herel back at full strength and having him produce at a high level, I'm sure just seeing him back on the ice and getting another chance to play would be more than enough for the Icers.
Purdue was the conference's most successful team, advancing to the Elite Eight last season, however so far this season it's been anything but spectacular for the Boilermakers.
1. Who They Beat
The Boilermakers (5-6, 0-1) beat five opponents, but wins against teams such as Western Illinois, Seattle, UC Riverside, Evansville and Oakland aren't good for much more than bragging rights. The victories against Western Illinois and Seattle were in a dominant fashion, but what the Boilermakers do against ranked teams remains to be seen. They struggled to put away Oakland and UC Riverside, which are team that Purdue should have dominated.
2. Who They Lost To
They still haven't beaten or lost to any ranked team. Losses to Dayton, Georgetown, Pepperdine, Virginia, Northwestern and Gardner-Webb show how far this team has fallen since last year's magical run. Dayton is a team that is on the cusp of being ranked, as is Georgetown, but being unable to close out games has cost Purdue. The Dayton loss was by three points and the Northwestern loss was by two. Losing to the Wildcats, who were 3-15 in the conference last season, shows this Purdue team is definitely not the same team that finished second in the Big Ten last year.
3. Key Impact Player
Brittany Rayburn has stepped up in many ways for the Boilermakers. After making just one start last year, the sophomore is leading the team in scoring this season. The 6-foot guard is averaging 16 points per game, after putting up nine per game last year. Her 28 assists are second on the team, but after being named the Big Ten's Sixth Player of the Year, she's proved that she's an exceptional starter.
4. How Penn State Fared Against Them Last Year
The Boilermakers swept the two game series with the Lady Lions last year. The first loss was by 11 points and the second by 18, but Tyra Grant had Purdue's number. Grant combined for 34 points during the two games, but was the only Lion who took control of the game.
5. Overall Thoughts
Purdue is nowhere near the caliber of team it was last season. The losses of Lakisha Freeman, Lindsay Wisdom-Hylton and Danielle Campbell leave the Boilermakers without three of their top four scorers. Rayburn will be asked to lead the young team, but the chance of Purdue even making the NCAA Tournament is pretty bleak, especially considering the loss to Northwestern.
The Fighting Illini have been a pleasant surprise this year as they finish the nonconference schedule with an 8-2 record. Here's a closer look at what Illinois has done so far this year.
1. Who They Beat
The Illini have mainly beaten teams that aren't equivalent to the talent level they will see during conference play. They haven't faced any ranked opponents but have beaten the likes of Oakland, Wake Forest, Alabama, Cal Poly and Central Michigan. There hasn't been a huge win for this team, but winning seven consecutive games, many that were fairly close, show Illinois will at least be competitive.
2. Who They Lost To
By having one of the easiest nonconference schedules the team's two losses, both against unranked opponents, make it tough to gauge the program's progress. The Illini lost to Temple (9-2) in overtime and to Marquette (8-4). Both teams aren't elite competition, but Illinois struggled to find consistency in scoring during both contests as Jenna Smith was the only player who played exceptionally well.
3. Key Impact Player
Jenna Smith is among the elite players in the conference and the 6-foot-3 senior is playing at a very high level. Averaging 21 point and 11 rebounds per game is impressive, especially considering team's game plan to stop her. The center does have Karisma Penn and Lacey Simpson to help with the scoring, but this is clearly Smith's team. Smith was a first team All Big Ten selection last season and if she keeps playing the way she is now, the Illini could be a more competitive conference opponent.
4. How Penn State Fared Against Them Last Year
The Lions and Illini were both inconsistent conference teams last season. Illinois was 5-13 in the conference, while Penn State was 6-12. The Lions won both contests against Illinois, but it was by no means in a dominant fashion. Penn State won the series by an average of seven points and in the first game the Lions won by just three points. Smith totaled 45 points and 25 rebounds during the two games and stopping her this year will be no easy task. However, the Illini got the best of Penn State in the opening round of the Big Ten tournament, knocking the Lions out by a score of 58-49. Will the tournament loss fuel the Lions to perhaps seek revenge on Illinois?
5. Overall Thoughts
Illinois has a tough task by opening conference play against the defending Big Ten champion Buckeyes and every game will be a challenge for Illinois. Freshman forward Karisma Penn has been a pleasant surprise by averaging 13 points and 5 rebounds per game during her 10 starts. At 6-foot-2 she gives Illinois another big body to compliment Smith, which is something the Illini need to be competitive. Illinois should be better than last year's 5-13 conference record, but probably not by much.
So the MAKE PLAYS NFL picks race is down to three: Monsieurs Clark, Rorabaugh and Miniaci. Rorabaugh had the lead after a strong Week 14 but went just 6-8 last week. That gave Miniaci and Clark a chance to catch up, which they did, as each put up records of 9-5.
That puts Rorabaugh and Miniaci in a tie for first, with Clark sitting eight games back, lurking like a python waiting for some poor sap to stumble in the Amazon. With just two weeks to go, the picks title is still up in the air.
Now on to the Week 16 picks:
CLARK (121-79):Saints over Bucs, Falcons over Bills, Texans over Dolphins, Packers over Seahawks, Giants over Panthers, Raiders over Browns, Jaguars over Patriots, Bengals over Chiefs, Steelers over Ravens, Cardinals over Rams, 49ers over Lions, Eagles over Broncos, Colts over Jets, Cowboys over Redskins, Vikings over Bears
MINIACI (129-71): Saints over Bucs, Falcons over Bills, Texans over Dolphins, Packers over Seahawks, Giants over Panthers, Browns over Raiders, Pats over Jags, Bengals over Chiefs, Ravens over Steelers, Cards over Rams, 49ers over Lions, Broncos over Eagles, Colts over Jets, Cowboys over Redskins, Vikings over Bears
RORABAUGH (129-71): Home team in CAPS: FALCONS over Bills, BENGALS over Chiefs, Raiders over BROWNS, PACKERS over Seahawks, DOLPHINS over Texans, STEELERS over Ravens, GIANTS over Panthers, PATRIOTS over Jaguars, SAINTS over Bucs, CARDINALS over Rams, 49ERS over Lions, EAGLES over Broncos, Jets over COLTS (starters won't be playing the full game and the Colts don't really care about going for a perfect season), Cowboys over REDSKINS, BEARS over Vikings (if you thought Favre looked bad outside at Carolina, wait until he plays in the cold at Chicago)
The Wolverines have impressed so far this season as they enter Big Ten play with a 9-2 (1-0 Big Ten) record. Here's a look at how Michigan did through nonconference play this season.
1. Who they beat
Half way through the season the Wolverines have picked up some solid wins so far. Buried in between victories against Stephen F. Austin and Detroit, Michigan has a huge win against then-No. 8 Xavier. On the road, the Wolverines shocked the Muskateers 72-71 in a game that not only bolsters Michigan's resume but gave the team a level of confidence heading into Big Ten play. On top of the Xavier victory, Michigan also defeated a tough Iowa team earlier in the month.
2. Who they lost to
Michigan doesn't have too many losses but one of them was to a very good Kansas team. Early in the season in its first road game, the Wolverines were defeated by the Jayhawks 77-66. The loss was not much to worry about for Michigan as Kansas sits at No. 21 in the AP Top 25 poll but the Wolverine's loss to New Mexico State later that week was a little more troubling. Nevertheless, Michigan has bounced back to head into Big Ten season riding a five game winning streak.
3. Key impact player
A very balanced team, the Wolverines don't have one player like a Tyra Grant or Ohio State's Jantel Lavender that takes over the game. Instead, Michigan has four players who average double figures and a handful of rebounds a game. However, if I had to choose one player on the Wolverines who has been their impact player that can possibly give the Lady Lions fits is senior Krista Phillips. At six-foot-six Phillips may not be as dominant as a post player scoring just over 10 points a game, but she adds a presence down low for the Wolverines. Despite her height advantage, she averages only 4.5 rebounds and gets into foul trouble with just under three a game. However, the center averages over two blocks and shoots .511 from the field to lead Michigan in both categories.
4. How Penn State fared against them last year.
Unlike most teams in the Big Ten, the Lady Lions actually played very well against Michigan last year. Penn State defeated the Wolverines 76-58 at home and then beat them again 64-56 on the road later in the season. Winning only six of 19 games in the conference play, Michigan proved to be the one foe who PSU was able to have its way with. To defeat the Wolverines last season, Penn State found scoring from multiple options as four players finished in double figures in the first win while three scoring at least 10 points in the second victory. The Lady Lions travel to Ann Arbor for the team's first matchup on Jan. 31 before the two teams finish off the season series at the BJC on Feb. 18.
5. Overall thoughts
Michigan, like Penn State, is a hard team to figure out through nonconference play. The Wolverines showed some toughness in beating a top-10 caliber team in Xavier, similar to the Lady Lions victory against Pittsburgh. The only question was is this victory merely an upset or a sign of things to come for Big Blue. With a balanced team that has impressed so far this season, it's going to be interesting to see if Penn State can carry over its dominance of Michigan from last year.
What he's done so far: Ryan Paradis has put up big numbers so far this season, notching seven goals and a team-leading 17 assists. No matter what line Paradis has played on and who he's been paired up with, he has found a way to set up his teammates for quality scoring opportunities. Partly as a result of that scoring, Paradis is one of only four Icers with a plus-minus rating of at least 20, with the other three being all defensemen. In other words, Paradis has been one of the most productive forwards on the team this season and he has done that with a combination of unselfish play offensively and by helping out in the defensive zone.
What they'll need from him: Keep up the pace. On top of everything he's done that we mentioned above, Paradis has played in all 21 games so far this season. That comes just one season after he played in 41 games last year -- the senior transfer's first as an Icer. He's on pace to score just about as many goals as he did last year (16) and has almost passed his assist total from last year (19) already. As coach Scott Balboni decides on more permanent line combinations as the team readies for nationals in the second half of the season, the team will hope Paradis keeps playing at the pace he is now regardless of who his linemates are. If he does, the team should continue to outscore its opponent, no matter who it is, when Paradis is on the ice.
The Spartans are coming off a trip to the Sweet 16 and have one of the top center's in the conference. Here's a closer look at what Michigan State's done so far this season.
1. Who They Beat
The No. 16 Spartans (9-3, 0-1) have beaten one ranked opponent, No. 15 Xavier. While they've only faced two ranked teams, they've beaten some teams that are on the cusp of breaking into the rankings. St. Bonaventure (11-1) and Oklahoma State (9-2) are both quality teams that the Spartans defeated. Michigan State dealt the Bonnies their first loss of the season and the Spartans also snuck by the Cowgirls in double overtime. Michigan State dominated George Washington and Western Michigan, but against elite teams it's been close.
2. Who They Lost To
The biggest blow to the Spartans during their quest to try and become a top-10 team came on Nov. 19 when they lost to No. 3 Notre Dame 68-67. While the loss showed Michigan State can compete with a powerhouse, which is still undefeated, converting on just 14-of -22 free throws and committing 21 turnovers showed the Spartans have flaws. A three-point loss to unranked Dayton and a five point loss to Big Ten foe Indiana have Michigan State looking a little different than the team that advanced to the Sweet 16 last year.
3. Key Impact Player
Allyssa DeHaan towers above her opponents. The 6-foot-9 center has a rare skill set to go along with her lanky build. DeHaan leads the Spartans, averaging 13 points and 6 rebounds per game. Her 44 blocks through 12 games has helped the senior surpass 400 for her career and have her 34 blocks away from the NCAA record. Her long arms allow her to contest just about every shot that comes her way and she can score too. DeHaan surpassed 1,000 points last season and so far this year is playing up to the lofty expectations that the Spartans set for her.
4. How Penn State Fared Against Them Last Year
The Spartans swept the series against the Lions, although it wasn't by much. During the first game the Spartans had three players in double figures, but Tyra Grant stole the show for the Lions. Grant's 22 points kept the Lions in the game, but ultimately depth proved to be the deciding factor as the Spartans won 67-60.
Just a month later the teams squared off in East Lansing and Grant only turned in seven points, while DeHaan led all scorers with 17. However, the end result was the same as the Spartans won 70-59.
5. Overall Thoughts
Michigan State is riding a four game win streak heading into their Big Ten clash against Wisconsin. After starting the season 1-2 the team has fought back, but free throws and shooting in general need to be improved. They will not return to the Sweet 16 shooting just 65 percent from the charity stripe. The Spartans are not as strong as they were last season when they went 13-5 in the conference, but Ohio State is the only conference team with the size and talent to stop them.
The Hoosiers currently sit in fourth place in the Big Ten at 8-4 (1-0). Here's a closer look at how Indiana has fared this season:
1.) Who They Beat
The Hoosiers' most impressive win this season came in their Big Ten opener against then No. 22 Michigan State. In a stellar defensive effort, the Hoosiers went on the road and only allowed one Spartan player to notch more than three field goals in a five-point win. The Hoosiers also have a win over Cincinnati, a formidable opponent out of the Big East. Indiana, though, has yet to be really tested outside of its lone conference game.
2.) Who They Lost To
The three toughest games for the Hoosiers outside of the Michigan State game have all resulted in a loss. In November, Indiana had back-to-back losses to Missouri and then No. 15 Virginia. Indiana's third loss in four games came later against Florida State out of the ACC. Still, those three losses were all single-digit losses. The Hoosiers fourth loss came in disappointing fashion as they had a let-down at home against a Cleveland State team that was 3-5 at the time.
3.) Key Impact Player
Indiana has four players averaging double-digits on its roster, but standing out among those four is junior guard Jori Davis. Davis is averaging 17 points per game and is shooting 42 percent for the season. But it's Davis' knack for stepping up in the big games that makes her an impact player. In the loss to Virginia, she tallied 33 points and followed that performance with 23 points against Florida State. In the loss to Cleveland State, Davis finished with just 11 points, an indication that this season, the Hoosiers will go as Davis goes.
4.) Against the Lady Lions Last Season
Indiana handled the Lady Lions last season, winning both matchups against Penn State. In the first game at the BJC, the Hoosiers had five players score at least 12 points in a high-scoring 84-77 victory. Twenty-eight days later in Bloomington, Indiana outlasted Penn State and an 18-point effort from Tyra Grant to come away with 65-55 win. The Lady Lions will get their first shot at redemption this season when the Hoosiers come to the BJC on Jan. 10 before closing out the season in Bloomington in on Feb. 28.
5.) Overall Thoughts
Looking past Indiana would be a crucial mistake for the Lions. While Penn State is a much better team this season, Indiana looks to be strong once again. The key to stopping the Hoosiers is to neutralize the impact of Davis, but the key for Indiana will be to find consistent scoring behind Davis. We saw in the Hoosiers' loss to Cleveland State that Davis can be stopped and that led to Indiana dropping a game it should have won. Indiana has the third-highest scoring offense in the conference, but it is last in scoring defense. For the Hoosiers to be relevant in the Big Ten this season, they need to shape things up on the defensive end.
With the Big Ten games approaching and the nonconference season over, here's a look at the state of the Buckeyes at midseason. Keep an eye out all week as the Lady Lions reporters showcase each team from the Big Ten and what Penn State can expect during conference play. Here is a closer look at No. 6 Ohio State (13-1, 1-0 Big Ten):
1. Who they beat
For the most part, Ohio State has not only beaten its opponents but also beaten up on them. Dismantling teams like Alabama A&M and Wright State, the Buckeyes enter Big Ten play with an average margin of victory of 25 points per game. While they've played a number of cupcakes, OSU defeated then-No.15 ranked California and beat both West Virginia and Oklahoma State, two teams on the cusp of being ranked, by over 20 points apiece. The Buckeyes have only won once outside of the state, but the team has been dominant on its own home court as Ohio State has distanced itself from the rest of the Big Ten through nonconference play.
2. Who they lost to
Although they are clearly the class of the conference, they are beatable. During the Big Ten/ACC Challenge, Duke proved just that. However, the list ends there. In the team's first game outside of the state of Ohio, the Buckeyes fell to Duke 83-67. Going up against the No. 3 team in the country, Duke shot .500 from field and came out more aggressive than the Buckeyes to pull off the upset. Ohio State bounced back and learned from the loss to win its last five games, including a 79-77 victory on the road against Ole Miss. While a team like UCONN is currently undefeated and expected not to lose, Ohio State's loss on the road to Duke looks like one the team will be able to thrive off of come tournament time.
3. Key impact player
Without a doubt, Ohio State's most important player has to be Jantel Lavender. A six-foot-four junior, Lavender has won the Big Ten Player of the Year award in both her seasons and she is the early front-runner this year. She has averaged 22.4 points per game and 9.9 rebounds with a .545 shooting percentage. Lavender will give Penn State's Nikki Greene her biggest challenge of the season when the Lady Lions play OSU and it'll be fun to see if the freshman will be able to hang with Lavender, let alone stay in the game. Also important to note is the outstanding play of sophomore point guard Samantha Prahalis, who has averages 13.9 points per game and 9.1 assists.
4. How Penn State fared against them last year
Playing against Ohio State only once last year, the Lady Lions lost but not too badly. The then-No. 14 Buckeyes won 74-63 behind Jantel Lavender's 28 points in the Lady Lions' season finale. Despite bringing back its star players in Lavender and Grant, both teams look very different this year with young players replacing graduating seniors. Prahalis is a year older and much improved while the Lady Lions have their own young point guard in Alex Bentley to face off against her. Like last year, Penn State won't see the Buckeyes until later in the Big Ten season when Ohio State visits the BJC on Feb. 7 for the two's only match-up this season.
5. Overall thoughts
Like last year, Ohio State is the Big Ten's best team. "I think Ohio State has kind of separated themselves, but outside Ohio State I think two through 11 is just a big, jumble," coach Coquese Washington said after the Lady Lions last nonconference game. They have the front-runner for Big Ten Player of the Year in Jantel Lavender and a blossoming young point guard in Prahalis to give the team a scary one-two punch. Both players average just shy of a double-double and Ohio State should remain one of the top five teams in the nation throughout Big Ten play. If the Lady Lions beat the Buckeyes it would be a huge upset and it'd be an even bigger upset if the Buckeyes didn't win the Big Ten again this year.
Be sure to check Washington's Post all weekend for more Big Ten Showcases from your Lady Lions reporters to find out how the Lady Lions conference rivals are doing this season.
Hope everybody had a great holiday! It's officially less than a week until the opening night of Big Ten conference play. On Tuesday night, No. 4-ranked Purdue and Iowa will get things underway at 7 p.m., followed by Penn State and Minnesota at 9 p.m. on ESPN2.
It's been an up-and-down beginning for the Big Ten -- the high point: the conference taking home its first Commissioner's Cup title ever. The low point: teams like Michigan and Minnesota falling out of the national rankings with disappointing starts.
Here's a look at how each team has fared through its nonconference schedule to this point.
Michigan State (Preseason Rank: 2, Current: 9) - Record: 9-3
The Spartans showed early glimpses why they received five first-place votes in the preseason poll, but they've failed to beat a quality opponent so far. Michigan State's biggest win came against Gonzaga (by four in the Maui Invitational). The Zags are solid this year, but not up to the level of North Carolina, Florida and Texas -- the three losses for the Spartans. Each of those losses were away from the Spartans' homecourt, but the loss to Florida didn't look good. Twenty-three turnovers on a neutral floor against a Gator team that just fell to South Alabama. That counts as a bad loss. Tom Izzo always gets his squad playing to its fullest potential in the postseason (five Final Four appearances since 1999), but he might have his work cut out for him to bring this team to Indianapolis.
Matt Painter's Boilermaker squad has taken care of business so far. Even though Purdue hasn't faced the same caliber opponents Michigan State has (a one-point win against Tennessee was its biggest test), it still will enter Big Ten play with an unblemished record. The 11-0 start still ties the second-best start in school history. This is a talented, experienced squad that has a real chance to make a Final Four run if the core group of E'Twaun Moore, Robbie Hummel, Chris Kramer and JaJuan Johnson stays healthy. The Boilermakers will face a real challenge when they face No. 6 West Virginia on New Year's Day.
Inconsistency is the best way to describe the Wolverines start this year. Big things were expected from John Beilein's bunch, but a complimentary scorer to Manny Harris and DeShawn Sims has yet to emerge. Teams know that preventing Harris and Sims from going off is the key to success. All five losses (Marquette, Alabama, Boston College, Utah and Kansas) came against solid opponents, but to make the NCAA Tournament, Michigan is going to have to pull off big wins in conference play. They competed against No. 1 Kansas last week, but with only two players averaging more than 7 points a game, Michigan will likely only compete against teams -- not beat them.
Ohio State (Preseason Rank: 16, Current: 17) - Record: 10-2
The nasty back injury to Evan Turner was a blow to the Buckeyes. Turner was playing like the best player in the country before he fell on his back on a dunk and broke his back against Eastern Michigan. The Buckeyes have four other players averaging double digits, but without their playmaker they aren't nearly as scary. Ohio State only lost by four points to defending champion North Carolina back in November. Then it fell to Butler the game following Turner's injury. Turner will probably return sometime in late January, which may be in time for the Buckeyes' showdown at West Virginia -- a chance for a statement win. In the meantime, the Buckeyes will trot along without their star point guard. Early Big Ten games at Wisconsin, Michigan, Minnesota and Purdue will be true tests.
The Fighting Illini were on the verge of losing three in a row, but they came back from a 26-point deficit to beat then-No. 19 Clemson in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge. The win turned a lot of heads nationally and had Illinois on a roll, but a recent road loss to lowly Georgia wasn't impressive. Bruce Weber has an inexperienced bunch, led by three juniors but also two freshmen. Illinois should be an NCAA Tournament team -- wins in neutral site matchups against Missouri (Dec. 23) and Gonzaga (Jan. 2) would be major resume boosters. Losses to Bradley and Utah were not.
Tubby Smith has the Golden Gophers firing on all cylinders right now. During Minnesota's recent four-game win streak, it has blown out its opponents by an average of 35 points. A 33-point defeat of St. Joseph's is definitely a highlight of the season so far, but early losses to Portland, Texas A&M and Miami were low points. All three losses occurred during a three-game stretch. The Gophers were ranked as high as 16th in late November, but are not currently ranked. With the offensive outbursts the Gophers have displayed recently, this team might be playing its best just in time for the Big Ten season.
Wisconsin (Preseason Rank: NR [no votes received] Current: NR [receiving 96 votes] - Record: 9-2
Wisconsin's 73-69 defeat of then-No. 5 Duke is definitely the best win out of any Big Ten team thus far and propelled the Badgers into the national rankings (No. 23). They followed the win up, however, with an overtime loss to Green Bay. It's clear this squad is better than what the preseason pollsters thought, but the Badgers still have their work cut out for them. Trevon Hughes and Jon Leuer are both scoring over 16 points a game for Bo Ryan, but the scoring production after those two has been inconsistent. The win over the Blue Devils, Arizona, Maryland and Marquette are all quality wins and puts the Badgers' chances of making the NCAA Tournament very good. There's still 17 games left ahead for Wisconsin, so anything can happen.
Northwestern (Preseason Rank: NR [no votes received] Current: NR [receiving 89 votes] - Record: 10-1
The Wildcats are trying to make an apperance in the NCAA Tournament for the first time in its program's history. When forward Kevin Coble went down early in the season, those prospects looked very slim. But Northwestern will cruise into Big Ten play with the conference's second-best record. John Shurna is playing like his friend Coble -- averaging 15.9 points and 7.2 rebounds a game, including a career-high 25 points in a win against Luke Harangody's Fighting Irish. Wins against Notre Dame, Iowa State and Stanford are OK on the surface. But these are NOT wins Northwestern basketball fans have expected to see their team win. This team probably has the best chance to make the tournament in its history.
Penn State (Preseason Rank: NR, Current: NR) - Record: 8-4
Three losses by an average of less than three points summarizes this season best so far. The Nittany Lions had the ball in the last moments of losses to Temple and Virginia Tech, two teams that will likely be dancing in March. If those games were wins for the Lions, then this looks like an NCAA Tournament team. Instead, this looks like a team that will struggle to get eight wins in conference. In its last two wins against Gardner Webb and American, the team shot the lights out and looked tremendous on both sides of the ball. The defense held each team to only 57 points in both games. That's the kind of lockdown defense the Lions must display to stop some of the conference's best players. Last season, Penn State fans were treated to home wins against then-No. 14 Purdue and No. 23 Illinois. What team could be this year's upset victim? In February, Minnesota, Michigan State, Ohio State, Northwestern all travel to the Bryce Jordan Center. The Lions might need to win a couple of those to look like an NCAA Tournament team.
Coming into this nonconference season, expectations were low in Bloomington. It's Year Two of the rebuilding effort for the Hoosiers. An early loss to winless Boston University in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off doesn't look good. But Tom Crean's players are fighting for him, and that's probably the biggest comfort for Crean. After the scandals that tore their way through Bloomington, Crean looks like the right guy to bring this program back to national prominance. In a home loss to No. 3 Kentucky, his players fought valiantly to the last whistle. They definitely gave their best effort. It's tough to tell how well the Hoosiers will do in the Big Ten this year, but one thing is for sure: this team will fight in each game.
What he's done so far: Contributed well when he's been on the ice. Kirstein is averaging more than a point a game this season. The only problem is he's only played in seven games so far. With nagging injuries keeping him out of 14 games already this year, Kirstein has had trouble getting into any rhythm on the ice. Despite missing so many games, though, Kirstein has found a way to make his presence felt this year, notching four goals, including two game-winners. When on the ice, Kirstein has lived up to his role as a captain, but it's the amount of time he's spent off the ice that has affected the Icers the most so far.
What they'll need from him: It's no secret what the Icers want from Kirstein in the second half of the season. They just want to have him on the ice. As mentioned above, Kirstein has played in only one-third of the team's games this year, one season after playing in 41 games during the team's run to the final four. Kirstein has proven he can produce when he is healthy and suited up, so Penn State's only concern regarding him should be how many games he is able to play the rest of the seaon.
Well hello everyone, Tom Kinslow back with some fresh Full Court Press action after a brief school-related hiatus. With it being the holiday season and Christmas being tomorrow, I figured there's no better time to come back than today. So I'm going to be hitting you with some stuff I've had my eye on over the past couple of weeks and some good holiday related material.
Two Nobodys Combine for Play of the Year (so far):
I see you Eddie House. I see you son. I see you too Tony Allen. Insane play. Great hustle by House and an amazing finish by Allen. I know the Celtics are a great team and all, but let's not lose sight of the fact that this happened against Minnesota. That's right, the same Minnesota that drafted what seemed like 15 point guards this summer. This type of thing happens to teams like that. You know, terrible ones.
Now on to the holiday cheer....
Kobe and LeBron Are Rolling with Santa:
Now I'm sure everyone remembers the MVPuppets from last summer with Kobe and LeBron, aka Nike banking on a Lakers/Cavs finals and flopping miserably. Well, they're back again, just in time for the holidays, but the duo play a backseat to something much bigger than basketball.
A beef between Blitzen and Santa.
Now as you can see from the above video, Blitzen (voiced by the amazing Lupe Fiasco) is not happy with Santa or his other puppet cronies and vows to school Santa and the MVPuppets on the court as Lupe, I mean Blitzen, goes hard on them.
Now with any good rap feud, there needs to be the return diss track, Santa (aka KRS-One) has us covered. Now I love the late-90s imagry here. I thought this was the Notorious B.I.G.'s "Mo Money, Mo Problems" video, and that, my friends, is a good thing.
Now naturally, they have to take us to the actual game, in which Kobe actually shares the ball, and LeBron wins a game with everything on the line. Only in fantasy land right? Enjoy the videos.
Season's Greetings from Around the Association:
Now this is something I enjoy the most about this time of year. It's holiday season and it always means hilarious well wishes from NBA teams and boy do we have some good ones this year.
First off, here is the Orlando Magic, sending out their greetings. Naturally, Dwight Howard steals the show as Jason Williams is shown wondering why he came out of retirement for this. The only bummer is there is no Stan Van Gundy. He was probably too busy hunting down referees while kicking Tiny Tim's crutch out from under him...all while wearing a blazer and a dark t-shirt. All I want for Christmas is for Stan Van Gundy to get a shirt and tie.
Above is the Denver Nuggets' rendition of Winter Wonderland. Oh yeah. This is the good stuff right here. Carmelo Anthony makes a play for most enthused (:30) but this year's winner...George Karl. Yeah, that's right...George Karl. Does he look super happy? No. But does he look psychotic and totally off his rocker? You better believe it. Bravo sir, for your dementa has made all of our holidays brighter.
Now, we move to Detroit and the Pistons, who are offering you a sweet deal on a stocking stuffer -- The Pistons Sing The Holidays. The most hilarious one? "Three Point Bells" by Tayshaun Prince. Why is that hilarious? Well, mainly because the Pistons are 28th out 30 when it comes to Three Point Shooting. 29.1 percent. Bravo fellas. Bravo. Enjoy this video just for the oratory genius that is Detroit PA announcer Mason.
Finally, last but certainly not least, are the Chicago Bulls singing Jingle Bells. Now, bless their hearts. They were so full of the holiday spirit, dressed in their Santa outfits, and then the Bulls, led by Vinny Del Negro, who, for the record is a moron, managed to brighten the holidays of the Sacramento Kings and their fans by blowing a 35 point lead in the second half. The man just wanted to spread some holiday cheer around the country. That's what that choke job was right? Oh, it wasn't? So they let that happen despite their best efforts? Well....that's a shame.
Okay everyone, I hope you all enjoyed the holiday link dump. We'll be sure to be back before we hit 2010 with some good stuff for you. Men's basketball writer Andrew Robinson and I are currently working on a list of the Top 10 Dunks of the Decade so be on the lookout for that as you sit around the fire and sip some Egg Nog.
For everyone here at the Collegian and from yours truly, this is Tom Kinslow signing out and wishing everyone happy holidays and a safe winter break.
What he's done so far: Exactly what was expected. Conte has played in 19 games this season, posting 11 points and a plus-minus rating of 13. In each of the last three seasons, Conte has played an average of 36 games each season and posted plus-minus ratings of 26, 24 and 27, respectively. His play has been very consistent since his freshman year and that has continued this year. Not to mention he is on pace to set a career-high for points in a season, which he set last year with three goals and 13 assists. Along with Steve Thurston, Conte has provided the Icers with much-needed experience in the defensive zone and has led the way as a captain and defensive powerhouse for the young Icers team.
What they'll need from him: In Conte's last semester of collegiate hockey at Penn State, the Icers simply need from him exactly what they've gotten from him in his first seven semesters. As stated above, if there is one thing Conte has given the Icers it's consistent play. Coach Scott Balboni knows what he can expect from No. 6 every time he sends him out on the ice, and as long as Conte keeps playing shutdown defense against the opponents' best scorers and setting a solid example for the underclassmen defensemen, the Icers should be in position to make a run deep into the postseason.
The EIVA has released its preseason rankings and Penn State finds itself in a familar position.
The Nittany Lions have dominated the conference, and predictably the preseason poll has the Lions at the top. Penn State went through its conference slate last season undefeated without losing a single set.
The best chance at an upset during the conference season appears to be right down the road at Saint Francis as it recieved the only other first-place vote in PSU's Division. At the top of the other Division in the EIVA is Rutgers-Newark, who recieved four of the five first-place votes.
The conference's Web site reminds us with a countdown on the side of its page that the season kicks off in 15 days when Penn State takes on USC in Hawaii Jan. 7. The following day the Lions play Ohio State, and both the Trojans and Buckeyes are also at the top of their respective conferences' polls.
Individually, the Nittany Lions are led by senior Cyler Sanderson, who moved up one spot to No. 2 at 157-pounds in the Intermat poll. Sanderson was also named Big Ten Wrestler of the Week after going 5-0 en route to winning the 157 title at the Reno Tournament of Champions. It is the senior's second wrestler of the week honor this season.
Dan Vallimont (No. 8 at 165) and Cameron Wade (No. 12 at HWT) were the only other Lions to move up, both jumping one spot. Wade rose in the rankings despite not competing while out with an injury.
Junior Brad Pataky dropped to No. 11 at 125 after going 3-2 over the weekend.
Remaining idle were David Erwin and Frank Molinaro. Erwin is No. 14 at 184 while Molinaro, the Lions' lone undefeated wrestler, is No. 6 at 149.
As a conference, the Big Ten is still represented by seven teams within the top 25. Iowa remains No. 1 while Ohio State and Minnesota are also in the top 10.
The Lions have a small break before traveling to Lock Haven for a dual meet on Jan. 3.
Game to Watch: No.21 Mississippi @ No. 6 West Virginia. 7:30 p.m., ESPN2
The Mountaineers(8-0) barely survived their last game, beating lowly Cleveland State 80-78 on a lay-up with 1.2 seconds left. Granted, the game was on the road, but it's no excuse for the 6th ranked team in the land. West Virginia was tagged in many preseason publications to win the Big East - apparently a lot of people forgot about Villanova - and tonight's game is a test to see if the Mountaineers can live up to the hype. Ole Miss (10-1) comes into the game with their one loss - to that Villanova team - in the finals of the Puerto Rico Tip-Off. The Rebels own a win over No.15 Kansas State and another quality win would only help their resume going into SEC play. Expect do-it-all forward De'Sean Bulter to post his usual solid numbers for West Virginia, but guard Chris Warren and the Rebels will leave Morgantown with an early holliday gift.
Prediciton- Miss 78-WVU 75
Player to Watch
Austin Freeman, SG Georgetown
After a strong 8-0 start to the year, the No.14 Hoyas (8-1) were upended by Old Dominion at home in their last game. With one game left before Big East play, the Hoyas will want to notch a win over Harvard avoid the inconsistency that plagued them all of last year. Center Greg Monroe is a proven talent, but Freeman has been just as good for head coach John Thompson III. The junior guard is second on the team in minutes, points per game and foul shooting. Freeman has scored in double figures in all but two games while hauling in at least one rebound in each contest. If anything, Freeman could stand to tone down his turnovers, but the Hoyas have a proven perimeter player to go with Monroe's presence down low.
We here at Washington's Post are making a list and checking it twice. And the first half of Monday night's game certainly wasn't nice.
Since we're tired of receiving grades and aren't willing to give them out, we decided to mix it up this week. In the spirit of the holiday season here is a recap of Monday night's game, but with a twist.
Without further ado, here's " 'Twas the Week Before Conference Play"
'Twas the week before conference play and all through the BJC
Not a player was scoring, couldn't hit a three.
The Lady Lions were stumped by the Golden Grizzlies' scare
But the players couldn't focus, winter break would soon be there.
The Lions were playing all sluggish on the court
As visions of a first-half comeback started to fall short.
Coach 'Quese on the sideline and assistant coach Maren Walseth to her right
Had just broken out the clipboard and told the Lions to use their height.
When out on the court there arose such a clatter
Tyra Grant drove to the hoop to take care of the matter.
Away to the bench Nikki Greene went with a foul
Took a seat next to coach 'Quese whose team was on the prowl.
The lights on the board with the new and improved score
Gave a glimmer of hope to the players on the floor.
When what to my wondering eyes should appear
But a second half run with the Lions playing in high gear.
With a veteran guard so smooth and slick
Washington's Post knew in a moment the Grizzlies needed to stop her quick.
More rapid than ever all the points came,
Washington whistled, and shouted and said clear the lane
Now Grant! Now Trogele! Now Bentley and Monroe!
On Greene! On Phillips! On Wolff and Arcidiacono!
To the top of the key, to the bottom of the post
Now score and rebound when we need it most.
As the young team readied for conference play
It was met with an obstacle that wouldn't stand in its way.
So up on their feet the crowd it grew
With a come from behind victory starting to brew.
And then, in a moment Washington's Post heard on the floor
The swooshing of scoring and the crowd starting to roar.
As the Lions sliced through the lane and turned the game around
Down to the floor Trogele came with a rebound.
She was having her best game of the season on a cold winter night
And her improved post play was a welcomed sight.
A plethora of players checking in at the scorer's table
Made it look like the Lions were finally able.
The team how it responded, its second half play how merry
The Lions' shots were better, and there wasn't a free throw Wolff couldn't bury.
Penn State's points piled up like freshly fallen snow
As passing and cutting to the basket continued the game flow.
The ball left the hand of the Grizzlies right before the shot clock,
But the ball would be met with a powerful block.
Phillips used her quickness and mid range jump shot
To stifle the Oakland defenders and even scored a lot.
The Lions were passing the ball at a very fast pace
And Washington's Post took note and was ready to write just in case.
With a blow of the whistle and a gesture with his hand
The referee knew the Lions made a defensive stand.
He spoke not a word but went straight to his work
And turned, looking at Washington with a quick little smirk.
Clapping her hands with the crowd on its toes
Washington watched as her team's points continuously rose.
She sprang off the bench after the referee's final whistle
And away to the locker room the victorious Lady Lions flew like the down of a thistle.
But Washington's Post exclaimed as the Lions walked out of sight,
"Happy conference season to all, and to all a good night."
What he's done so far: Thurston has provided the Icers exactly what they expected after he announced he would be coming back for a fifth season this year. While the eight goals and 10 assists have been helpful offensively, Thurston's presence on the defensive end has made the transition much easier for the young Penn State defensemen playing in front of Teddy Hume. Thurston's plus-minus rating of 35 is easily the best on the team right now with only two other players having a rating even above 20. The only thing that seems to be more rare than seeing the other team score a goal with Thurston on the ice is seeing Thurston miss a game. The senior is one of just eight Icers to play in all 21 games this season, and has been as consistent as anyone in a Penn State uniform.
What they'll need from him: Stay healthy. This can be said for every player up and down the Icers lineup, but when it comes to Thurston this seems to be the only legitimate concern. Assuming he is on the ice and healthy, it's hard to imagine Thurston not producing at an elite level. He'll make Hume's job easier, he'll keep helping the young defensemen by setting a solid example and he'll score a few more goals along the way. If Thurston is able to stay on the ice, his consistent production might just be the key to getting that elusive championship that has evaded him over the past four years at Penn State.
The Lady Lions won last night, but it wasn't pretty.
For coach Coquese Washington it was actually painful to watch.
However, as painful of a victory as it was, it was still just that- a victory.
Penn State trailed by 12 at halftime and needed a huge second half rally to squeeze out the victory against the two-win Oakland team.
Fellow Lady Lions reporter Bill Landis watched the game last night and said he was impressed with the team's play for most of the second half but they should have never been in that situation.
Even though this was a game that Washington called the hardest game of the year because of finals and winter break, it was a must-win for Penn State.
So even though it was ugly, it was still a win.
Here's a closer look at the box score and what stood out from the game.
Tyra Grant- 21 points
Like she has done all season and her entire career, Grant took over when her team needed her too. With her team's back against the wall and down big in a trap game, Grant proved why she is one of the most prolific scorers in Lady Lions history.
Nikki Greene- Eight minutes
This isn't the first time the freshman has played limited minutes this season as Washington kept her minutes down against Drexel too. Greene only committed two personal fouls, which is a good sign for the team, which makes it seem as if it was simply a match-up problem. While that probably is true since the Lady Lions had a huge size advantage and Oakland jumped out to an early lead with a much small lineup, it is disappointing to see Greene play so little after being named last week's Big Ten freshman of the week. It'll be pivotal for the center to bounce back next week.
Julia Trogele- Three personal fouls
If Trogele can stay in the game, it's usually a good sign for the Lady Lions. Against Oakland last night, Trogele only committed three fouls so she played 27 minutes and had herself a big night. The junior chipped in 13 points and had eight rebounds to help secure the victory. Trogele adds height, experience and the ability to play in the post and on the perimeter so for Penn State to be successful she will have to keep the fouls to a minimum like last night.
Alex Bentley- 0.142 shooting percentage
She may only be a freshman, but Bentley runs the offense. Even though she may not fill up the box score like Grant, Bentley has been instrumental in most of Penn State's victories this season. The young point guard played most of the game but her shot was off as she only hit 1-of-7 attempts from the floor and failed to get to the free-throw line.
Emily Phillips- 4-for-8 from the field
The team's energizer bunny came up big last night for the Lady Lions. A career day for the sophomore point guard, Phillips scored eight points in 27 minutes of play off the bench. In a game where PSU's significant height advantage didn't help, the shortest player on team came through in the clutch to give the Lady Lions a jolt of energy off the bench.
While there were some other numbers that stood out (Meredith Monroe's goose egg, Zhaque Gray's six minutes of play compared to Rene Womack's 27 minutes, etc.), Washington and the Lady Lions pulled out a necessary victory against Oakland. While it was an ugly win and painful for Washington to watch, Trogele said it best when she thought this was a game the Lady Lions would have lost in the past. "We wanted to come out aggressive and I think that maybe in the past we maybe would have hung our heads." Slowly but surely this program is turning around- one painful win at a time.
How many of you Fox football fans (or just football fans) absolutely love the Fox NFL robot? How many of you like him enough to buy him? Well, now you can. Cletus, the energetic, football-playing, guitar-shredding robot is now an action figure. Personally, I think this should be the next entry in Sports Illustrated's Sign of the Apocalypse. It's just another dumb marketing ploy. That robot really grinds my gears. I can tell you I won't be buying one and if I do somehow get one of these little toys, I'll blast some rap music and take a baseball bat to it, Office Space style.
Some things important and not so important:
- ESPN, take this down. Keep Brett Favre off my TV. How many players get into a minor tiff with their coach over the course of a season? How many of those do you spend 30 minutes out of Sportscenter talking about? Knock it off. It's called a dead horse. And you're beating the heck out of it.
- Roy Halladay took out a full page ad in the Toronto Sun to say goodbye and thank you to the Blue Jays and the city of Toronto. Classy move by a classy guy who played 15 years for an organization that couldn't make the playoffs if every other team in the league came down with a case of deadness. Better luck in Philly, Doc.
- Some food for Yankees fans who are upset the team traded Melky Cabrera. He has a career .716 OPS and -8.7 UZR defensively. He's a league average (at best) hitter and a below average defender. Chalk it up as a win for the Yanks. The Braves could have done better.
Video of the Week: Go to 2:34 of this video. Honestly one of the worst play calls I've ever seen. The Redskins have an easy field goal and go for a fake that doesn't even come close to working. Fans booed and rightfully so. That play alone should cost Jim Zorn his job.
Future Nittany Lion Andrew Alton won the 145-pound title at Central Mountain High School's King of the Mountain Tournament in Mill Hall, Pa. on Saturday. Andrew Alton's brother Dylan Alton captured the 152-pound title in the same tournament.
Game to Watch: No.9 Michigan State @ No.2 Texas, 7:00 p.m. ESPN2
The big games just keep coming for the undefeated Longhorns(10-0). Looking to avenge a 67-63 loss last season in East Lansing, Rick Barnes and his Texas team meet Tom Izzo and the Spartans (9-2) in Austin. While the attention will go to the guard matchup between the 'Horns Avery Bradley and J'Covan Brown against MSU's Kalin Lucas and Durrell Brown, the deciding factor will again lie in the frontcourt. Texas showed it could muscle around anyone during its beatdown of North Carloina but Raymar Morgan and Delvon Roe are athletic enough to pose some problems.
Prediction: UT 92 - MSU 85
Player to Watch: Kenny Boynton, PG No.18 Florida
John Wall may be the SEC freshman drawing all the attention, but Florida's dynamic first-year guard has propelled the Gators into somewhat unexpected success. Boynton has filled in for the departed Nick Calathes nicely, leading Florida in scoring with 13.7 ppg and second in assists at 3.6 apg. With the Gators mired in a two-game slide after lossed to No.5 Syracuse and unranked Richmond, coach Billy Donovan will be leaning on his freshman playmaker to get the Gators back to winning.
As 2009 comes to a close, it's time to look back at the past 10 years. For Penn State men's volleyball, it was quite the decade: 10 straight EIVA titles, 10 straight NCAA appearances and one memorable national championship. Here, we take our best crack at selecting an All-Decade Team:
Libero - Dennis Del Valle (2011)
He may have only two seasons at PSU under his belt, but Del Valle -- the starting libero for the Puerto Rican Junior National Team -- has already established himself as one of the most dynamic defensive specialists to ever wear a Penn State uniform. Del Valle posted double-digit digs in 16 of 30 matches last season, collecting his second straight second team All-American distinction. He gets the nod over fellow countryman Ricky Mattei.
Middle Hitter - Max Holt (2009)
Who else? The two-time first team All-American finished a successful four-year career as Penn State's all-time leader in aces. The explosive middle hitter was the 2009 EIVA Player of the Year after he led the nation in aces per game and hitting percentage.
Middle Hitter - Keith Kowal (2005)
Like Holt, Kowal is a slam dunk first-teamer. Kowal set the school record for hitting percentage his sophomore season. He promptly broke his own record the next year, attacking at an unbelievable .574 clip. The three-time All-American also set the school's single-season record with 194 blocks.
Outside Hitter - Matt Anderson (2008)
He may not have completed his career at Penn State -- Anderson forwent his senior season to sign a professional contract with the Hyundai Captital Skywalkers of Korea -- but his legacy as a Nittany Lion is nothing short of extraordinary. The West Seneca, N.Y., native became only the second player in program history and the second-ever non-MPSF player to be named the National Player of the Year. He joins Lion legend Ivan Contreras, who earned both distinctions in 1997. Anderson posted double-digit kills in 28 of 29 contests -- including eight matches with 20 or more kills -- for the 2008 national champions.
Outside Hitter - Carlos Guerra (2003)
Guerra became the second Nittany Lion to record 1,800 career kills and the first to record 100 aces. In the Lions' loss to Hawaii in the 2002 Final Four, Guerra led all players with an impressive 28 kills. In his final match in Happy Valley, he again led the team in kills (19), though the Lions fell to Brigham Young.
Outside Hitter - Matt Proper (2006)
Proper, a 2006 Big Ten Medal of Honor recipient for outstanding proficiency in athletics and academics, was a two-time second team All-American for Penn State. He registered 22 kills on .452 hitting in the Nittany Lions' epic upset over then-No. 1 UC Irvine in the 2006 NCAA semifinals, leading PSU to its first national title match in 11 years.
Setter - Jose Quinones (2003)
Quinones was legendary in Happy Valley for the way he ran the offense and dominated the stat book. The Puerto Rico native was a captain by the time he was a sophomore, and by the end of his junior year he was Penn State's all-time leader in assists. When Quinones graduated in 2003 he also held the school record for aces, which has since been broken a few times -- most recently by Holt. He was a four-time first team All-EIVA selection and a first team All-American in his junior and senior seasons. In 2007 former beat writer Dean Myers took a closer look at Quinones' career.
Libero - Ricky Mattei (2004)
Mattei started the trend of successful Puerto Rican liberos anchoring the Penn State team. He was a second team All-American in 2003 and 2004 and became the first player in school history to record 900 digs.
Setter - Luke Murray (2006)
It was the final, most important match of his career, and Murray was absolutely brilliant. In the 2008 national title match against Pepperdine, the East Petersburg native registered his first collegiate triple-double with a season-high 63 assists, a career-high 12 digs and a career-high 11 blocks while leading the Nittany Lions to a team hitting percentage of .407. His senior leadership was vital in Penn State's title run, and that alone solidifies his spot on the All-Decade team.
Middle Hitter - Max Lipsitz (2010)
Lipsitz came out strong -- somewhat surprisingly -- his freshman year in 2007. Since then, he's made his marks in the PSU history books: he has been first team All-EIVA all three of his seasons and was a first team All-American in 2009. Penn State has had an abundance of strong middle hitters this decade, so for Lipsitz to make the list mid-career speaks volume about his talent.
Middle Hitter - Nate Meerstein (2006)
The senior hit .458 in the 2006 NCAA semifinal upset over UC Irvine at Rec Hall, but Meerstein's biggest accomplishments occurred in his junior campaign. For the 2005 Nittany Lions, Meerstein hit .514 -- which ranked second nationally -- and recorded at least five blocks in 18 matches, including 10 in the EIVA Final. The 6-foot-9 Pittsburgh native was a 2005 first team All-America selection after leading Penn State to its first 30-win season since 1982.
Outside Hitter Will Price (2010)
He started his career off by winning the EIVA's Newcomer of the Year award -- as a George Mason Patriot. That didn't do anything for him as far as getting on this All-Decade team. After sitting out what would have been his sophomore year due to transfer rules, he has only played one season for Penn State. And what a season it was. He deserves second team All-Decade recognition perhaps solely for his 2009 first team All-American campaign, when he recorded 343 kills, 51 aces, 134 digs and 62 blocks. With the lack of depth at outside hitter for Penn State during the decade, Price could have made a run at first team honors if he had a longer career in Happy Valley.
Outside Hitter - Alex Gutor (2007)
He was an All-EIVA selection in each of his four years at PSU -- including 2004 EIVA Newcomer of the Year -- and was named to the 2005 NCAA Championship All-Tournament Team in his sophomore season. As a senior captain, Gutor -- a native of Ukraine -- had a career-high 29 kills in a 3-1 victory over St. Francis (Pa.) that clinched Penn State's 23rd regular season league title.
Opposite - Zelko Koljesar (2003)
A stud in the classroom, he won numerous national honors for his accomplishments as a student-athlete. When he finished his career he was the career aces leader and fourth on the kills list with 1,437.
Dan O'Dell - Setter (2006)
The three-time first team All-EIVA selection was a catalyst for the Nittany Lions' offense in each of his four seasons with Penn State. Murray gets the slight nod over him, however, because of his heroics in the 2008 National Championship.
Zach Slenker - Middle Hitter (2003)
This has been the decade for middle hitters in Happy Valley. Missing out on the All-Decade team is no slight to Slenker; the others were just that good. A three-time All-EIVA selection, Slenker finds himself near the top of Penn State's all time ranks in blocks and aces.
Highlights of the 2000s:
Biggest Upset: Penn State stuns UC Irvine in 2006 NCAA Semifinals
The teams had already met earlier in the season -- the Anteaters swept Penn State in March. Now it was the NCAA Semifinals and UC Irvine was the country's top team. Rec Hall -- the predetermined neutral site -- was filled with an energetic crowd of 3,430 and the hometown Nittany Lions did not disappoint. Fourth-seeded Penn State shocked UC Irvine 3-2 in match that lasted nearly three hours. Adding to the drama was a power failure in the middle of the fifth set that left Rec Hall in darkness for nearly 12 minutes. With the win, the Nittany Lions went to the national title game for the first time in 11 years.
Best Innovation: NCAA introduces the libero position in 2002
This new position added more excitement to the game: better passing, more defense, longer rallies. And Penn State has certainly benefited, recruiting two of the best in Dennis Del Valle and Ricky Mattei.
Worst Innovation: In 2008, NCAA said the word "game" should be referred to as "set."
The sport is constantly changing -- see: rally scoring, let serves, liberos -- but this is a bizarre terminology switch that is, for lack of better terms, ridiculous. The unneeded word swap did nothing but confuse broadcasters, scorekeepers and fans to the point of frustration.
Signature Moment: Freshman Max Holt aces match point in the 2006 NCAA semifinal upset over UC Irvine
It was the biggest play of the most memorable game of the decade. With all the drama leading up to the fifth and final set, a freshman stepped up to the line and silenced the No. 1 team in the country with an ace to end the game.
Best team: 2008
The only Penn State men's volleyball team (and second PSU team ever) of the past 10 years to be the best in the country has to be the best Penn State team of the decade. The team was just stacked. With three players from each of our first and second teams on the roster, this team was loaded with potential and capitalized. You can't ask for much more than that.
Best Rivalry: UC Irvine
Honestly, a tough call here. The Lions have .500 records or close to it with many of their common opponents over the last decade. Other teams that we considered were Hawaii, USC and Long Beach State. We went with Irvine as the biggest rival of the past decade because of the close record between the teams and the magnitude of the result (see: upset of the decade). Irvine has been the face of men's volleyball recently, with a PSU national championship sandwiched in their dominance. That's what rivals are for.
Tonight's game against the Oakland Golden Grizzlies could be the perfect Christmas present for Coquese Washington and the Lady Lions (7-3, 0-1). The Grizzles (2-8) are a team that has only been outscored by an average of one point by its opponents, but that stat isn't too truthful. On Nov. 30 the Grizzlies posted their largest margin of victory during a 95-40 win against Marygrove and that was the last time the Grizzlies won a game.
The Lady Lions should be head and shoulders above tonight's competition and the chance to end nonconference play with a win should be well within reach for Washington's team.
Here are the advantages the Lions have heading into tonight's game.
Nikki Greene is 6-foot-4, Janessa Wolff is 6-foot-3 and three other Lady Lions are at least 6-foot-1. The tallest player who sees action for the Grizzlies is 5-foot-11 center Bethany Wattersworth. She averages 14 points and seven rebounds per game, but Wattersworth is better suited to play forward. Having her go up against Greene, Wolff and Julia Trogele could be a nightmare for the Grizzlies' best player.
A Big Ten team going up against a team from the Summit League shows the difference between the caliber of athletes. The Grizzlies have three players who average more than 10 points per game and only two other players who score at least five points per game. The Lions definitely don't have the most balanced scoring attack, but it still tops the Grizzlies. Tyra Grant and Alex Bentley average 17 and 10 points per game while three more players score at least six points per game. Just like the Lions have done for most of the season, it will take contributions from the bench to help solidify the scoring.
The Lions are coming off of a huge win against Pittsburgh, while the Grizzlies are riding a four-game losing streak. Even though Washington's team hasn't played in eight days, because of a break for final exams, it still wants to continue building momentum heading into the conference schedule. Meredith Monroe, who has worked her way into the starting lineup, said after the Pitt win that the Lions don't want the season to be like it was in 2007 when the team was satisfied with just beating Duke. Monroe said it's what the team does from here on out that matters most.
On paper this game looks like one the Lions should be able to dominate, but not playing a game in over a week could have the Lions shaking off some rust. As usual, Washington will want to see her players limit the number of unnecessary fouls and find some offensive consistency. Look for Washington's team to perhaps try to run some new plays and give some of the younger players more minutes, because after tonight the conference schedule comes at the Lions in full force.
Don't worry, even with the lack of Penn State hockey over the next couple weeks, BTP will still bring you coverage of the Penn State Icers.
Starting tomorrow, be sure to check back every day as we break down the play of individual Icers. We'll take a look at each player's contributions so far and what the team will need from each player the rest of the season in order to continue the success from the first-half of the year.
We will feature one or two players every day to help get you through the holiday break until the Icers return to the ice Jan. 8 against Robert Morris (PA).
With just one day off since their game on Saturday - a convincing win over Gardner-Webb - the Penn State men's basketball team will take the floor tonight against two-time defending Patriot League champions American University.
Fortunately, however, head coach Ed DeChellis was able to rest his starters for much of Saturday's game as no one played more than 30 minutes, and freshman Tim Frazier was the only one who played more than 25.
After the win on Saturday, Frazier said with the Lions' eventual goal of reaching the tournament come March, quick turnarounds like this one will be something the Lions have to overcome.
"Our goal is to get to the NCAA tournament, and to do that we have to win," Frazier said. "We have to just turn around and be focused on the next game. By the end of tonight this game is over and we have to start focusing so we can be ready for Monday, and execute."
Despite American's consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances, the Eagles have gotten off to a 2-9 start this season - including bad losses to Florida Atlantic and Fairfield.
They did, however, knock off the Big East's bottom-dweller, DePaul, on the road last week, but they followed that up with a loss at home to UMBC, who the Lions beat by 16.
American had to play that game - which was originally scheduled for Saturday - yesterday, because of snow, so the Eagles will be facing an even quicker turnaround than the Lions.
In the first nine contests, the Eagles did not have Vlad Moldoveanu, a junior forward from Bucharest. He scored 26 against DePaul and 14 yesterday against UMBC.
"I think it got our guys' attention the other day when American beat DePaul at DePaul," DeChellis said. "They added a new player who was a transfer who had 26 points off the bench. He played very well, so hopefully that got our guys' attention and hopefully they pay attention to detail at practice."
DeChellis also noted the early 5 p.m. tip-time, saying he hoped his players would be focused for the game.
Here are three keys:
1. Stopping Moldoveanu
DeChellis and the Lions only have two games worth of film on the 6-foot-9 forward, so he could be the x-factor in tonight's game. Expect the Lions to double team him down low as most of American's talent from their title runs graduated last spring.
2. Get out and run
The Eagles are coming off a tough loss yesterday followed by a trip to Happy Valley, so it's understandable if they come out sluggish. On Saturday DeChellis used a three-guard offense to push the ball, and with fatigue being a factor for AU, expect more of it tonight.
3. Get Brooks involved
Sure, the Lions might win tonight if Jeff Brooks continues his inconsistency on the offensive end and on the glass, but they won't in Big Ten play. Tonight's contest is the final game before the Lions open up their conference slate at Minnesota next week, and Brooks could use some confidence heading into Christmas break.
A player by player breakdown of Saturday's 104-57 victory over Gardner-Webb
Talor Battle: A
Not only did Battle bring early energy to an emotionless gym, but he dropped in 21 points. Perhaps more importantly, however, for the player who led the nation in minutes last season, Battle only played 24 on Satuday. That could be helpful as the Lions have a quick turnaround against a feisty American squad on Monday.
DJ Jackson: B
Jackson only scored two points and suffered some early foul trouble, but it was hard to tell if it was the fouls or the 30-point lead that allowed him to play only 20 minutes. Not much to worry about here, though as Jackson simply took a back seat to the Lions' three-guard offense on Saturday. He also brought in three boards.
Andrew Jones: A-
Jones only played 15 minutes--once again indicative of the score - and was able to notch 11 points. He set the tone early scoring five of the Lions first eight, basically asserting the Lions dominance over the Runnin' Bulldogs from the opening tip.
Tim Frazier: A
Frazier's best game yet. 18 points, 7 assists, 5 boards and a pair of threes was just what the freshman needed to get his confidence up for Big Ten play next week. Frazier went 8-for-9 from the foul line, and it seemed like he was there all night as the Dogs had to resort to fouling him because of his quickness.
Jeff Brooks: B-
Only five points for Brooks, but head coach Ed DeChellis likely won't mind because of Brooks' seven rebounds. Despite his 6-foot-8 frame, Brooks has struggled on the glass all season. If that is changing as indicated by last night, that could be one of the biggest keys in conference play. Still, the Lions need a breakout game from Brooks.
Chris Babb: A
Babb is the third guard in DeChellis' three-guard offense to get an A. Deservedly so as he, Frazier and Battle dominated the flow of the game. He had 12 points, seven boards and five assists and started penetrating a little bit more, setting up open shots for the other two.
Bill Edwards: A-
Edwards needed a game like this to get his confidence up. After an early injury he has struggled to get in the flow of the offense. He did just that with 13 points in 19 minutes on Saturday. The reason he gets the minus is his just three rebounds - but you can't really blame him because it's not like he was losing them to the Bulldogs - just other Lions.
Andrew Ott: A-
Twelve points in 14 minutes - can't ask for much more out of a backup center. Ott got to the line and was 8-for-9 from the stripe and even had a steal late in the contest. Ott may be nothing more than a backup center, but he is certainly proving to be a very serviceable backup center
Sasa Borovnjak and Cammeron Woodyard: B
Each had four points, Borovnjak had two assists and Woodyard two rebounds. They had 13 and 12 minutes, respectively and when they were in, the Lions' offense continued to run smoothly.
Billy Oliver and Steve Kirkpatrick: N/A
Fewer than ten minutes for each of them, but just like Woodyard and Borovnjak, the offense didn't miss a beat when they were in. It really didn't miss a beat all night.
They get the A for doing just about everything right: 45-24 rebounding edge, 22 asssists, 12 3-pointers, and of course, a 104-57 final score. They get the minus because they did it against Gardner-Webb.
A national ESPN2 audience tuned in last night to watch the No. 1 Penn State women's volleyball team win an unprecedented 3rd straight national championship in thrilling, almost improbable fashion -- storming back from a 0-2 deficit to edge dominant Destinee Hooker and Texas, 3-2.
Among those watching? Members of the Penn State men's volleyball team.
"I was happy to see the women capture an unheard of third straight title," said captain Jesse Wagner, who watched the championship game last night with his family. "They have moved past the moniker of a great team and on to that of a dynasty."
Wagner said the men's team is proud of their female counterparts, and will look to their on-court dominance as motivation for their upcoming season.
"[The women's] season is done and we are focused on ours," the senior libero said. "The success that they have had should only drive us to perform at an equally high level."
And Wagner said that will begin right away. The men's season begins Jan. 7 in Hawaii where they'll face off against USC -- the team that knocked the NIttany Lions out of the NCAA Semifinals last May.
"The bitter loss to USC is still on our tongues and we plan on avenging that loss in our very first match out in Hawaii," Wagner said.
He thinks his team will take on the same resilient attitude the women displayed last night.
1. The team's increased energy. Penn State coach Cael Sanderson said:
"This is always a fun time of the year; the holiday season and being done school for a few weeks is exciting. It gives you a chance to focus in on your wrestling. They're focused, and they're relaxed. It gives us a chance to see some competition we don't see very often in West-coast teams and some Midwest teams. It's a good opportunity for everybody, and they're excited for the opportunity."
"The more he wrestles -- the more he is going to feel better and better. He has a good feel for the sport. He's real athletic and has a lot of tools to work with. The more experience he gets and the more opportunities he gets to step out there - it's all going to move forward together. His confidence is a success. Everything is going to move at the same speed there. He's doing a nice job, and he's showing he's a guy that can really get in there and do some damage, which is what we need."
3. Brad Pataky's performance. Sanderson's thoughts on Pataky's loss last week and ability to rebound at Reno:
"Brad is fine. He's a little off, and it was good practice for him. Just adversity, and this will be a good chance for him to bounce right back. It's all part of life and wrestling, and it's just what happens. He's a strong kid, and he'll be fine."
4. Clay Steadman's return and increased toughness. Steadman talked about what he needs to improve on:
"Getting my intensity back. I'm in slow motion out there this year. I'm going after the guy, but I don't have any anger or anything with my opponents. That is what I've been trying to work on. It's trying to get mean out there. I feel like I'm wrestling my buddy instead of to win and to smash people."
How he gets that intensity back:
"Try to be more intense in the room. I'm good friends with just about everyone on the team. I don't have a grudge against anybody. I want to wrestle my buddies in the room. I'm real careful not to hurt them. I'm trying to take it out. Everyone I'm wrestling is an opponent that I need to beat. I'm not wrestling Dave Erwin; I'm wrestling an opponent. I'm not wrestling Cameron Wade; I'm wrestling an opponent. I have to take their face off their head."
How Sanderson has helped bring intensity back:
"He's helped me a lot - talking to him helps my head. The guy knows what he's talking about. He tells me to be mean; I'm going to try the hardest to be mean. I was talking to him the other day. I said, 'I need to get my confidence back.' He was like, 'All you got to do is be confident - don't be cocky, be confident.' He was saying... be confident. He knocked me back in my place. I was like, 'Yeah - you're right.' I'm thinking too much about it."
Another Note: Jake Kemerer's injury is nothing serious. Here is Sanderson's take:
"He's fine. I don't know the technical term of what he did to his knee. It's nothing that needs surgery. It's just another painful injury. He's actually on the mat again - not wrestling live yet, but he'll be fine. Thankfully, it's not anything severe."
Rorabaugh had a perfect Sunday last week, but blew it with the Monday night game. The being said, last week's records were as follows: Rorabaugh 14-1, Clark 12-3, Miniaci 11-4
We'll have a full standings update with next week's picks.
Clark: Ravens over Bears, Patriots over Bills, Cardinals over Lions, Texans over Rams, Titans over Dolphins, Chiefs over Browns, Falcons over Jets, Eagles over 49ers, Raiders over Broncos (Charlie Frye can't be as bad as JaMarcus Russell, can he?), Bengals over Chargers, Packers over Steelers, Seahawks over Bucs, Vikings over Panthers, Giants over Redskins
Miniaci: Chiefs over Browns, Falcons over Jets, Dolphins over Titans, Pats over Bills, Cards over Lions, Ravens over Bears, Texans over Rams, Broncos over Raiders, Chargers over Bengals, Eagles over 49ers, Steelers over Packers, Seahawks over Bucs, Vikings over Panthers, Giants over Redskins
Rorabaugh (w/home teams in caps): RAVENS over Bears, BILLS over Patriots (hey, they haven't won a road game yet in America), Cardinals over LIONS, Texans over RAMS, Dolphins over TITANS, CHIEFS over Browns, Falcons over JETS, EAGLES over 49ers, BRONCOS over Raiders, Bengals over CHARGERS (for sentimental reasons), Packers over STEELERS, SEAHAWKS over Bucs, Vikings over PANTHERS, Giants over REDSKINS
It was a fitting way to end it. Megan Hodge rose above the net and with one final swing of her right arm, sent the ball down and off the outstretched arms of Destinee Hooker for match point. The newly named AVCA National Player of the Year unleashed her powerful kill and sent it off the hands of the player who provided the stiffest competition for that award. For the better part of four sets, Destinee Hooker reminded the country that maybe it should have took a second look at the Player of the Year award. For four sets, the Texas outside hitter completely dominated the consensus No. 1 team in the country. But for one set, Megan Hodge reminded the country why she deserved the award. With the Lions trailing by one in the deciding set, Hodge joined with teammate Fatima Balza to get a set-tying block point at 7-7. With the Lions trailing by one point later in the set, Hodge took the pass from setter Alisha Glass and found some space on the floor to tie the set at nine. An error by Hooker gave the Lions set point and Hodge took one more swing to leave her imprint in the history books of Penn State women's volleyball. Her hitting percentage of .137 was more than 200 points lower than her season average, but the senior finished with 21 kills, none more crucial than her hit from the left side and off the hands of hooker. Statistically speaking, it wasn't even close to the best match of Hodge's career. But resiliency proved stronger Saturday night and, for one last time as a Nittany Lion, Hodge had plenty of that.
Who am I kidding, it's way too early to look ahead, but I'll do it anyway. Here's a look at what the Lions will have to do for a fourth-straight title in 2010:
The Lions biggest hole will be replacing Alisha Glass at setter. To do so, Rose may use one of his highly-touted recruits or sophomore-to-be Marika Racibarskas. Either way, the position is up in the air because Glass played almost every point of every match.
The loss of senior outside hitter Megan Hodge appears worse on paper - she did win the AVCA player of the year award in 2009 - but the Lions' depth at hitter should be enough to make up for that. Expect Katie Kabbes to play a bigger role in what will be her junior season, and the front line of Blair Brown, Kabbes, Darcy Dorton Fatima Balza and Arielle Wilson (an early frontrunner for next year's player of the year) will be as intimidating as any that head coach Russ Rose has ever thrown out there.
In the back row, Alyssa D'Errico and Cathy Quilico - whose collective hustle is perhaps the biggest reason the Lions are champions right now - return as well as some younger back-line players like Kristin Carpenter and Megan Shifflet, who will have an entire offseason to work on their service game.
Most importantly, Dorton, D'Errico and Quilico all return as the three most energetic and vocal players both on and off the court. They all return with another year of experience, too, which makes the Lions dangerous not only from a talent standpoint, but from a mental standpoint as well.
An early prediction for 2010: 38-0 and a title. Sound familiar?
With a third-straight title, so too comes the close of the careers of Megan Hodge and Alisha Glass, arguably - and based on statistics and record, definitively - the greatest tandem in the history of women's college volleyball.
Here are their thoughts from the post game press conference on the title:
Glass: "It's something that's gonna be hard to describe. It's something that you look back on and just look and think it's amazing. It has been amazing for us to be a part of it. This was our goal. This was what we wanted from the beginning of the season. I think you saw that in the match. We just would not let it go."
Hodge: "It was unbelievable. We have done a lot of silly things throughout the year as a team and did not step up the way we should have. I think tonight, the one thing we knew we would have to do with this team is play hard."
Hodge and Glass' career accomplishments: -142-5 record -Three national titles (in a row) -Four Big Ten titles -Two consecutive unbeaten seasons -78-2 record in conference play -Hodge: AVCA first-team All-American all four years, AVCA player of the year this year, two Big Player of the year awards -Glass: AVCA first-team All-American twice, second-team All-American once
The match was one of the best ever. But with its conclusion and a third-straight national title, it's time to put some of the Lions' accomplishments over the past three years into a more national perspective.
Three straight titles: Never done before in women's volleyball, and just once this decade in any major college sport - the UConn women's basketball team.
102 consecutive wins: First-place by a mile in volleyball. Second all-time in all NCAA sports. This season alone they have passed John Wooden and Bill Walton's UCLA basketball teams of the early 70s and Mia Hamm's North Carolina soccer teams of the 90s.
Two-straight undefeated seasons: The Lions became the fourth team to finish their season unbeaten last year. Now they've done it twice in a row. They are the only team in NCAA women's volleyball history to do so.
Three titles in this decade: Only UConn women's hoops and UNC women's soccer have reached three. The Lions are easily the volleyball team of the decade, and arguably the team of the decade for any collegiate sport.
But now that the Saints have been knocked from the ranks of the unbeaten, I think their chances at winning the Super Bowl are actually stronger.
No longer will they have the pressure of being undefeated and no longer will they have to field questions about trying to make history and a possible showdown with the currently undefeated Colts.
How's it feel to have that weight off your shoulders, Saints?
Meanwhile, everyone's favorite drama queen is at it again.
Chad Ochocinco wants to wear Chris Henry's No. 15 jersey to honor his recently-deceased teammate, but he'll be facing a fine because it violates a No Fun League rule. Sorry, Ocho, but the NFLPA can't pay it: http://sports.espn.go.com/nfl/news/story?id=4756880
Come on, NFL. Ochocinco was man enough to face reporters and cry on camera earlier in the week. My bet is he wears it anyway and if the NFL has a problem with that, they should be the ones getting fined.
As the play intensifed in the fourth and fifth games of the NCAA championship, it wasn't just women's volleyball at its best -- it was college sports at its best.
No. 1 against No. 2.
The player of the year against her closest competition.
Coaches making adjustments, players diving across the floor, a record-setting winning streak on the line and a comeback that solidified Penn State's place as one of the greatest teams in the history of college sports.
For a matchup that was highly anticipated since the preseason, it certainly lived up to the billing.
Check back for more coverage and a full story as our beat writers wait for comment from the team.
For the third-consecutive season, the Penn State women's volleyball team won the NCAA title. The win against No. 2 Texas extended their record-setting winning streak to 102 matches.
After trailing 2-0 entering the third set, the Nittany Lions won the last three sets to win an unprecedented third-consecutive national championship.Penn State, which won 22-25, 20-25, 25-23, 25-21,15-13, has not lost a match since the 2007 season.
Despite excellent play by Destinee Hooker for Texas, the Longhorns could not pull out the win and for the second year in a row ended their season after leading a match 2-0.
Clay Steadman's return to competition at Reno, Nev. this Sunday after a two-meet suspension could not have come any sooner for the 197-pounder.
"It feels good to be back," Steadman said. "I came back with a fire under my belly - trying to get back into it, get back on the coach's good side."
Steadman said he had a beer on his 21st birthday with some friends - none of whom were members of the Penn State wrestling team. The action warranted the suspension because it broke Penn State coach Cael Sanderson's team rule, which asked all wrestlers to abstain from drinking alcohol during the season.
When the coaching staff asked if Steadman had a beer, he informed the coaches he did.
"They thanked me for being honest," Steadman said. "I'm not going to do it anymore. That was a thing from the past that I used to participate in in past seasons. It's not what they're about, and it's not what I'm about anymore either."
It's been a strange week for the Penn State men's basketball team. It will end tonight with a game against Gardner-Webb at the Bryce Jordan Center.
Leading up to the game, head coach Ed DeChellis battled limited practice time because of exams, a different pre-game routine because of graduation and now 12 inches of snow that will most likely thin out what was already expected to be a very thin crowd.
So for those of you sitting warmly on your couch, here are some things to watch for in tonight's matchup with Gardner-Webb (3-5).
1. Can the Lions shoot the ball early?
So far this season, when the Lions are cold, they have been ice cold. It seems a few missed shots can lead to a few more. This was especially evident in their 1-2 Thanksgiving trip to Charleston and last weekend against Virginia Tech. If they can shoot early, they could pull away quickly. If not, the game could get as ugly as the weather. (Last weather reference, I swear.)
2. Who else will step up?
Talor Battle was exhausted after last Saturday's game and rightfully so. Aside from DJ Jackson's four buckets, he was the only player who scored more than once. The Lions should be able to beat Gardner Webb on Battle's shoulders alone, but with Big Ten play looming next week, the Lions need to get someone else confidence before heading into a league that will be better at neutralizing Battle.
3. Can the Lions shake off the rust?
They haven't played in a week. They had three days off this week because of finals. They didn't go through their typical pregame shootaround. It all sounds like a recipe for a slow start. Let's face it: The Lions are better than the Runnin' Bulldogs. But if they get off to a shaky start and let them hang around, it could be a closer game than Ed DeChellis would like.
In case you were wondering about the odd start time of tonight's Penn State-Gardner Webb game, the 9 p.m. contest was pushed back from its original tip because of graduation.
With graduation slated to end early in the afternoon, the court will not be ready for basketball until two hours later than the typical 7 p.m. start.
But the later start isn't the only way the Lions are affected by the graduation in the Bryce Jordan Center. Head coach Ed DeChellis said because of the delay, they will have to move their shoot-around to the South Gym of the Bryce Jordan Center.
DeChellis also noted that with the late start time, exams being over, and a likely empty arena because many students have left for the holidays, the Lions will have to maintain their focus despite the wacky schedule and unnatural surroundings.
"It's going to be hard," DeChellis said. "We talked about that already. Everybody will be going home, it's a late game because we have graduation in here, but by the time they flip the arena over we couldn't start until 9. But it's about what we want to do. It's not about how many people are in the stands. It's about our mindset and our attitudes."
Junior guard Talor Battle echoed DeChellis' sentiment about the game, saying the key will be focusing on the game and nothing else.
"It's a basketball game, and we all play basketball because we love it. That should be all the reason we need to go out and play hard. Regardless of how many people are there, how late it is - that's irrelevant."
With the snow falling in Happy Valley, that crowd could be even scarcer than originally expected.
Game to watch: No.2 Texas vs. No. 10 North Carolina, 2 p.m. ESPN
In the first game played at the new Cowboys Stadium, the Longhorns take on the Tar Heels in an afternoon matchup. While ESPN will pepper the TV audiences with facts about "Jerryworld," the real highlights will occur on the hardwood. Texas has not lost a game yet this season, but this matchup provides the first true test of the year. UNC has already dropped two contests, albeit to then No. 24 Syracuse and at No. 4 Kentucky. While UNC has used its depth in the frontcourt to bully its opponents so far, the Longhorns boast the size and skill to compete down low. Damion James and Dexter Pittman should provide an interesting battle with Ed Davis and Deon Thompson, but the game will be decided by Texas' army of guards.
Prediction: Texas 71, UNC 66
Player to watch: Jon Scheyer, Duke PG
Scheyer is coming off a 36 point explosion against Garner-Webb and is looking to continue that strong play as the Blue Devils head to Madison Square Garden for a prime time matchup. The senior shot 11-of-13 from the floor, with eight rebounds and nine assists After his best performance of the year against a less talented opponent, Scheyer will try to keep his strong play going against No.15 Gonzaga. Duke has always performed well in New York, and that trend should continue against a Bulldogs team that may be ranked too high and won't be able to keep up with Duke's high octane offense.
As coach Coquese Washington prepares her team for its non-conference finale on Monday against Oakland, let's take a look at the last decade for the Lady Lions. The program has seen mixed results in the past 10 years as the team underwent a major coaching change halfway through the decade. After kicking off the 2000s with a trip to the Final Four, Penn State has found itself towards the bottom half of the Big Ten standings over the last five years. With the decade coming to a close in a couple weeks, here's my Lady Lions All-Decade team:
G- Kelly Mazzante
Mazzante is hands down the most accomplished Lady Lion of the past decade. One of the best women's basketball players in recent years, Mazzante has found a great deal of success on the collegiate and professional level. The star Lady Lion just missed the team's Final Four run in 2000, but her play kept Penn State one of the top schools from 2001-2004. Mazzante is one of the top collegiate basketball players in the last twenty years as she graduated as the all-time leading scorer in Big Ten history (male or female) with 2,919 points. The three-time Naismith Award finalist piled up the awards in her four years with the Lady Lions as she was a two-time AP First Team All-American and a two-time Big Ten Player of the Year. From her first game with the Lady Lions to the day she graduated, Mazzante cemented her place amongst the Penn State and college basketball greats.
G- Tanisha Wright
Wright was another key member of the successful Lady Lions teams earlier in the decade. While Mazzante led the team on the offensive end of the court, Wright was the team's star defender winning the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year award twice in her first three seasons. However, Wright was also a great scorer and offensive threat as she took control of the Lady Lions offense when Mazzante graduated. The guard led Penn State in scoring, assists and steals during her senior season when she led the Lady Lions to six victories against top-25 ranked opponents. Wright and Mazzante were the perfect backcourt tandem in 2003 and 2004 as they both were named to the All-Big Ten First Team, thus making Wright another obvious selection for the Lady Lions All-Decade team.
F- Tyra Grant
From day one, Grant has made her mark in the Lady Lions record books. The leading scorer on this year's team, Grant has led Penn State in scoring since her freshman year. The only player on the list to have played for both head coaches, Rene Portland and Coquese Washington, Grant has yet to play for a tournament team, let alone one that has finished above .500. However, if last season's finalist for the Naismith Award continues her hot play, she can graduate Penn State having played for a winning team. Leading a team that has relied so heavily on freshman talent, Grant has showed a maturity and presence on the court that has rubbed off on her teammates in recent weeks. An All-Big Ten First Team honoree last season, Grant is quickly rising up the Penn State all-time scoring list as she is in eighth place on the list with over 1,600 points and a half season left to play. "The one thing I know about Tyra is that she is the ultimate competitor. She is going to give everything she has on the court on game night," coach Washington said about Grant and why she is another obvious selection for an All-Decade team.
F- Maren Walseth
A current assistant coach for the team, Walseth once wore the Lady Lions jersey as well. A mentor on the sideline for current post players like Julia Trogele, Janessa Wolff and Nikki Greene, Walseth is qualified for the job thanks to her success as a player. A member of the Big Ten All-Freshman squad in 1998, Walseth carried over her success into the 2000s when she helped lead Penn State to the Final Four in 2000. Although she did half of our damage to opposing team's at the end of the 90s, Walseth was a dominant post player in 2000 and 2001. She was named to the All-Big Ten First Team both those seasons and finished 14th on Penn State's all-time scoring list. However, it was her role on the 2000 Final Four team and her lasting impact as a coach that made Walseth a clear-cut candidate for the All-Decade team despite playing two years in the 90s.
C- Amanda Brown
The Lady Lions may finally have found their replacement for Brown in freshman Nikki Greene after having a huge hole down low for the last two seasons. Unlike the previous four selections, Brown didn't come onto the scene strong right away. She averaged under four points and three rebounds her freshman year and although she was a key contributor to the team during her sophomore year, she was far from a dominant force down low. However, its Brown's play during the 2005-06 and 2006-07 seasons that warranted her selection. As a junior, Brown was a second-team All-Big Ten selection when she averaged over 15 points, seven rebounds and nearly two blocks a game. The center followed up her coming out season with a first-team All-Big Ten selection her senior year as she was one of the top players in all of college. She became the first Lady Lion to lead the Big Ten in rebounding and broke the Penn State record for highest field-goal percentage in a season. Her strong senior season led to Brown being selected by the Los Angeles Sparks in the 2007 WNBA draft and left a gaping hole in the Lady Lions front court that is still being felt today.
There you have it, my Lady Lions All-Decade team. While plenty of other players have come and gone within the last 10 years, these five players undoubtedly found a place in Penn State history. A tumultuous decade for the Lady Lions program that is back on the up-swing, these five women led Penn State in both successful and struggling seasons. The Lady Lions have four stand-out freshmen on this year's team, two of them in the starting lineup, so make sure to check back in 10 years to see if they made the cut for the next Lady Lions All-Decade team. If you're a little impatient, check back this weekend for more Lady Lions coverage on Washington's Post.
The Nittany Lions' 2010 recruiting class features two of the most highly touted recruits from volleyball hotbed Southern California. Connor Curry and Jace Olsen -- who both have experience competing at the national level -- will join Penn State next fall, transitioning from the sunny beaches of metro LA to the oft-chilly State College, which averages 126.6 days below freezing each year.
"I know Penn State is pretty friggen cold," said Curry, who toured the campus twice, including a visit last January. "But I love the university, the program, and the academics enough to want to travel that whole way for school."
Curry, a libero from Newport Beach, said his favorite aspect about PSU is the school spirit he sensed from walking around campus.
"Everywhere I went I would see people wearing some kind of Penn State clothing," Curry said. "It was pretty cool."
Olsen agreed, saying the positive atmosphere he saw on campus had a large influence in his college decision.
"When I visited Penn State I had a really good time," said Olsen, a 6-foot-7 middle blocker who was also recruited by Hawaii, USC and UCLA. "I loved the school, the team, and also the fact that everyone had so much school spirit. It was awesome."
Coach Mark Pavlik can't wait for these two to get on campus. He said the duo has an easy-going 'SoCal' attitude that will blend nicely with the team.
"Connor and Jace just have great personalities," Pavlik said. "It's really hard not to like them. They're just great kids."
1. Cael Sanderson said Brad Pataky's loss to Pittsburgh's Anthony Zanetta on Saturday was a lesson for the 125-pounder. Sanderson mentioned Pataky did not practice the last few weeks. Pataky's recent absence from the mat was due to a skin condition. Sanderson stated Pataky over thinks situations sometimes, but because of the 125-pounder's work ethic, the Penn State coach believes Pataky will rebound.
2. Sanderson mentioned the booming confidence of his brother Cyler Sanderson and said the 157-pounder is learning how to be loose on the mat. Sanderson also said he sees this weekend as a way for David Erwin and Dan Vallimont to solidify their NCAA-tournament, title-winning potential.
So, this one took awhile to set in. Here's a recap of who went where:
* The Phillies get Roy Halladay, Phillippe Aumont, Tyson Gillies, Juan Ramirez and $6 million. The Phillies will give Halladay a three-year extension plus vesting options.
* The Mariners get Cliff Lee.
* The Blue Jays get Kyle Drabek, Brett Wallace and Travis d'Arnaud.
* The A's get Michael Taylor.
Four teams, five top prospects, two Cy Young winners...and a partridge in a pear tree. Here's how it looks for each team:
Phillies: They got their man. The Phils had been gunning for Halladay since the summer. Now they land him and get a contract extension so they won't worry about him hitting the free agent market after the season. However, it came at a steep cost. Lee was solid for Philly down the stretch, posting a 3.39 ERA after the midseason trade that brought him to Philly and a 1.56 ERA in the playoffs. Drabek is one of the top pitching prospects in baseball and projects as a front-of-the-rotation starter in his prime. Taylor was also the Phils' top outfield prospect and posted an .850 OPS in AAA last season, a sign he could be ready to contribute this upcoming season in the majors. As for the prospects the Phils received, Aumont could be a solid reliever down the line but the other prospects won't project as much. With the trade of d'Arnaud, the Phils no longer have a catcher of the future. The Phils got their man, but in the end it seems like a pretty lateral move.
Mariners: Lee gives the Mariners a very solid one-two punch in the rotation when coupled with Felix Hernandez. Aumont will hurt losing, but the other prospects won't be stars, making this a nice little win for the Mariners. With the signing of Chone Figgins, the M's could find themselves in the playoff chase.
Blue Jays: It's a nice package, but you wonder if they could've gotten more. Drabek will be a top pitcher for years. Wallace is already a strong hitter who could be an All-Star for years. d'Arnaud could be a decent catcher. It certainly is a nice group, but the Jays had been asking for more and one wonders if they could've gotten a bigger package had they waited longer.
A's: The A's jumped in last minute to grab Taylor in exchange for Wallace, who was acquired in the Matt Holliday deal. It's basically a swap of one top prospect for another. Taylor should contribute to the A's as early as this season and give them much-needed pop in the middle of the order. Look for him to be a Rookie of the Year candidate if he can secure a starting job early in the season.
Well, that's my breakdown. If any of you have something to say or have your own take, I'd love to hear it.
While many people are expecting a Winter Classic to be played at New Yankee Stadium, it appears those hopes may have to be put to rest.
The stadium will be hosting a college football bowl game between Christmas and New Year's Day starting next year through 2013.
While it may be exciting to see a Devils-Rangers or Rangers-Islanders game played in the "House that Steinbrenner Built," it looks like game may have to wait at least a few seasons. It's too bad, because that stadium would've had a large draw and the Winter Classic itself has been gaining attention and popularity since it was instituted.
Martin Brodeur claimed another record.
The Devils goaltender recently tied the all-time shutout record and just last night tied the all-time games played record. He tied Patrick Roy with 1,029 career games.
Brodeur shows no signs of aging, posting a 2.10 GAA and .920 save percentage this season. He will be entering the Hall of Fame when he's first eligible and looks to take a few more records with him to the Hall.
Yahoo! Sports' blog Puck Daddy comes up with another gem: best fights of the decade.
The juggernauts of the AFC had won their first 13 games heading into a meeting with a team everyone knew they would take running away.
After all, this team was 13-0. It had clinched home-field advantage with its last win against a division rival. The coaches even decided to let his starters play the full game.
And yet, in Week 15 of the 1998 season, John Elway's mighty Denver Broncos, the reigning Super Bowl champions, fell to the New York Giants to end their run at perfection.
Eleven years later, the football world ponders the fate of the undefeated Colts in their Thursday night game with division-rival Jacksonville. Experts and aficionados have spent days trying to figure out whether Indianapolis -- which has a trend of resting starters for the playoffs in seasons past -- will shoot for a perfect regular season.
In the long run, it really doesn't matter if the Colts play Peyton Manning, Reggie Wayne and the rest of the starting lineup a quarter, a half or the whole game. The Jaguars will likely win tonight anyway.
And it doesn't really have anything to do with these Colts or these Jags. The history of teams who have clinched the top seed in the conference early shows a trend of regular-season losses. Recent trends indicate the Colts probably won't even win the championship, and not just because they'll likely have to deal with the currently undefeated Saints to claim it.
Here's a look at all the teams who had home-field advantage in the first half of the decade.
The 2000 Titans and Giants didn't clinch home-field advantage until the final game of the season. Tennessee lost its first playoff game to Baltimore, who then crushed New York in Super Bowl XXXV.
In 2001, the Steelers won the AFC's top seed in Week 15. A week later, with all their starters playing, the Steelers lost in overtime to Cincinnati. Pittsburgh won its regular-season finale against Cleveland but eventually lost to New England in the playoffs. The Patriots went on to upset the NFC's No. 1, St. Louis, who clinched the top spot in Week 17, in the Super Bowl.
Oakland and Philadelphia secured home-field advantage in the final week of the 2002 season. The Eagles lost their second-straight NFC Championship Game to Tampa Bay, who then annihilated the Raiders in Super Bowl XXXVII.
The Eagles again clinched the No. 1 spot in 2003, doing so again in the last week of the season. New England did the same in the AFC. Philadelphia lost to the surprising Carolina Panthers in the NFC championship, but the Patriots ended up beating them in the Super Bowl. They would be the last top-seed in either conference to win the title.
Both Pittsburgh and Philadelphia clinched home-field advantage early in 2004. The Steelers clinched in Week 16, then beat the Bills in the finale. The Eagles secured their third-straight home-field advantage the week before. Philly's backups played most of the next two games, which the team lost. Pennsylvania's two teams each fell to the Patriots.
In 2005, Seattle secured the advantage in Week 16, then rested Matt Hasselbeck most of its season finale. The Seahawks reached the Super Bowl but lost to Pittsburgh.
The Indianapolis Colts, meanwhile, started off 13-0, clinching the top seed after its 13th win. Sound familiar? In their 14th game, the Colts played all their starters the whole game, but still lost 26-17 to the Chargers. Indy went 1-1 the rest of the season after that, resting their starters all the way.
Then came the playoffs. The Colts' first game came against the streaking Steelers, who would stun the sports world by toppling Indianapolis 21-18. The month off seemed to slow down the high-flying Colts offense. They came very close to pulling off the victory (one can easily summon a video of Jerome Bettis' famous fumble and Ben Reothlisberger's game-saving tackle for evidence), but nonetheless the Colts exited the postseason far earlier than expected.
The rest of the decade showed similar results to teams that clinched home-field advantage. It actually doesn't matter whether teams rest their starters or play them through the season. The 2006 Chargers played their starters in their Week 17 game but lost in the divisional round regardless. The 16-0 Patriots from 2007 famously played out the regular season at full strength before falling one game short of a perfect season in Super Bowl XLII.
Fact of the matter is the top seeds in each conference haven't fared well this decade after clinching home-field advantage. No. 1 seeds are 7-10 in the regular season after securing the top seed, whether their starters played or not. The top seeds are 6-8 in the playoffs since the Colts had that No. 1 spot in 2005.
Only six teams have ever been 13-0. The Colts are the only team to be on that list twice. The '72 Dolphins and '98 Broncos played out the full season and won the Super Bowl that year. The '05 Colts and '07 Patriots fell short of this goal. What will become of this year's Saints and Colts will be determined in the next two months.
But one thing is certain: I wouldn't bet on the Colts tonight. Even with Peyton Manning playing all 60 minutes, the Jaguars are likely bound for the playoffs and are looking to make some noise in the AFC South. A win tonight could kick-start the tail end of their season and propel them into a postseason run.
With that and history against them, Indianapolis is in trouble. And unlike Elway's Broncos, the Colts don't have the defending championship to fall back on.
As recently reported on Washington's Post, freshman Nikki Greene was named last week's Big Ten Freshman of the Week.
If her 12.0 points and 10.5 rebounds per game last week are any indication of things to come, then Greene can expect a few more awards on her mantle piece by the time she graduates.
A highly touted recruit out of Texas, Greene struggled with foul trouble and staying in games throughout the first month of the season.
However, the freshman picked things up this past week against Monmouth and Pittsburgh as she is now adjusting to the pace of the collegiate game.
"She's such an imposing presence," coach Coquese Washington said. "She has a presence for us offensively and defensively, and the more she's on the floor, the better team we are. I think she's going to continue improving as she gets more experience."
Greene wasn't the only heavily sought after recruit coming out of high school so let's take a look at how her stats compare against other top 6-foot-4 and taller freshmen.
Nikki Greene, Penn State- 10 games started, 7.2 points per game, 6.0 rebounds per game, 1.8 blocks per game, .371 field goal percentage and 4.0 fouls per game
Brittney Griner, Baylor- 9 games started, 17.0 points per game, 8.2 rebounds per game, 5.6 blocks per game, .486 field goal percentage and 2.4 fouls per game
Kelsey Bone, South Carolina- 6 games started, 15.5 points per game, 8.8 rebounds per game, .8 blocks per game, .422 field goal percentage and 2.6 fouls per game
Cokie Reed, Texas- 0 games started, 6.3 points per game, 4.6 rebounds per game, .8 blocks per game, .419 field goal percentage and 3.25 fouls per game
Greene was ranked No. 19 by ESPNU HoopGurlz last year while Griner was ranked No. 1, Bone was No. 2 and Reed was No. 5.
While each coach has taken a different approach easing the four freshmen into the game (only Greene and Griner have started every game), they've had mixed results.
Griner has dominated the college game from day one while Bone has had a high level of success as well.
Texas's coach is taking the opposite approach with Reed, letting her learn the game from the bench.
However, this past week has been a positive sign for Greene and the Lady Lions as it will be interesting to see if she can grow into the dominant player she is projected to.
Some of her freshmen counterparts may be a little closer, but as Washington said, Greene is only going to get better and better with each game.
A trio of future Penn State wrestlers acquitted themselves admirably at this past weekend's prestigious Walsh Jesuit Ironman.
Twins Andrew and Dylan Alton won titles at the 145- and 152-pound weight classes, respectively. Also, walk-on recruit Frank Martellotti finished third at 130 pounds. His only loss came to the eventual champion of the weight class, Nate Skonieczny of Walsh Jesuit.
Andrew Alton beat Brad Squire of Wadsworth, Ohio in the 145 final, and Dylan beat Jesse Shanaman of New Jersey powerhouse Blair Academy in the 152 final.
Flowrestling was at the Ironman and has plenty of video from the event, which the good folks at Happy Valley Half Nelson so kindly compiled:
Everyone's favorite commissioner, Bud Selig, has announced a committee he put together to decide whether video reviewing of umpires' calls should be used in the playoffs.This "All Star Team" includes managers Tony La Russa, Jim Leyland, Joe Torre and Mike Scioscia, and the committee will meet next month for the first time. This could be good for the sport. Some people argue review corrupts the integrity of baseball, which is funny, because I always thought dumb umpires like Bruce Froemming blowing easy calls ruined baseball's integrity. Let's hope this committee of somewhat intelligent managers gets something done.
Some things important and not so important:
- Erin Andrews will be in court to face her peeper when he is to plead guilty. This could be a better showdown than AVP: Alien vs. Predator or Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever. I'm thinking Privacy Matters: Andrews vs. Barrett.
- The Phillies are about to nab Roy Halladay and the Red Sox got John Lackey. Sorry, Yankees fans. You'll just have to settle for only three high priced pitchers in your rotation.
- Sponsors are ditching Tiger Woods after he announced his indefinite hiatus from golf. Maybe the newly transformed John Daly can land that Gillette deal he's always wanted. Or Hooters.
Video of the Week: It's hard being the King. Being the best in the NBA causes some hunger. So can you blame LeBron James for stealing this fan's fries? At least he high-fived him.
Not many stand out games tonight, but this game has implications for the Lions. Garner-Webb (3-4) travels to the BJC on Saturday mired in the midst of a four-game losing streak which will likely extend to five tonight. If the Runnin' Bulldogs have one thing going for them, it's the fact Duke has not played in 10 days. Garner-Webb leading scorer Grayson Flittner is averaging just 10.6 ppg and will have trouble even reaching that number at Cameron.
For the Blue Devils (7-1), this game is a chance to extend their NCAA-record nonconference home winning streak. A win would give Duke 74 straight. However, Duke can't be happy with its last game, when St. John's shot 50.9 percent from the floor, but Kyle Singler, Nolan Smith and the rest of the Blue Devils should play better defense tonight.
Predicition: Duke 75, Garner-Webb 56
Player to Watch
Wayne Chism, Forward Tennessee
The No. 8 Volunteers are the SEC's highest scoring team at 85.0 ppg, and the versatile Chism has contributed across the board. Chism, a 6-foot-9 senior, leads the Vols with 6.8 rebounds per game and 1.1 blocks a game. While not the leading scorer, Chism is producing 11.5 ppg, and shooting .522 from the floor and .467 from 3-point land, a career high. Against Wyoming, the Vols will face an uptempo team similar to themselves, which should allow the athletic Chism to make some plays.
Nikki Greene is quickly adjusting to collegiate basketball. The 6-foot-4 center helped ice the Lions' upset victory over Pitt, which came just three days after recording her first career double-double.
Greene's performances against the Panthers and the Monmouth Hawks helped her take home the Big Ten Freshman of the Week award. She becomes the first Lady Lion's player to win the weekly award in the program's history. Greene averaged 12 points and 10.5 rebounds during the two wins for the Lions.
The freshman displayed her physicality in the post against the Panthers as she kept up with Pitt's player's, some of which were 6-foot-5. But it was Greene's ability to hit her free throws down the stretch that helped the Lions pull off the upset.
Greene is currently averaging 7 points and 6 rebounds per game and also leads the team with 18 blocks. Her 1.8 blocks per game puts her second in the conference.
If you plan on traveling to Tampa this weekend for the 2009 NCAA Women's Volleyball Championship, and you just can't get enough of Penn State women's volleyball, then stick around the St. Pete Time's Forum on Sunday.
The day after the National Championship, the arena will host the Under Armour All-America Volleyball Match and Skills Competition in conjunction with the 2009 AVCA Annual Convention.
During the All-America festivities, you will be able to get a glimpse of the future of Penn State women's volleyball.
Penn State has six committed recruits on the 24-player First Team All-America squad (yes, I said six) and one player on the honorable mention team.
With seven incoming All-Americans coming to a program that will play in the Final Four just three days earlier , this is certainly a case of the rich getting richer.
No other team has more than two first-team players. Again, Penn State has six. Even if the Lions come up short in their bid for a third-straight national championship, it doesn't look like the team's success is going to end any time soon.
Keep checking Can You Dig It? and the Collegian online for coverage of Penn State women's volleyball and the NCAA Tournament.
Apparently Penn State's win over Pitt did not go unnoticed.
If you take a look at the newest AP Top 25 Women's Basketball poll and go all the way to the bottom, you'll find the Lady Lions.
For the first time this season, and the first time since 2007-08, the Lady Lions are receiving a vote in the AP Poll.
While the Lions still have 23 teams in front of them before they even crack the top 25, this is a sign that the team is heading in the right direction.
According to the Penn State athletic office, this is the first time the Lady Lions have been receiving votes since the 2007-08 season when the team was coming off a huge upset victory over a Duke team that was ranked No. 10 in the country.
The Lions' latest win bears a striking similarity to that win over the Blue Devils, but the team doesn't want the four point victory over No. 15 Pitt to have the same effect the win over Duke had.
After beating Duke, the Lions went on to lose 15 of their last 23 regular season games and drop their opening round game in the Big Ten tournament.
With one nonconference game remaining before Big Ten play gets into full swing, the Lions are looking to build off of this win over a ranked opponent and not simply be satisfied with a big win.
"We are just taking it one game at a time, one practice at a time, and if we do that we will be able to avoid what happened two years ago [after the Duke win]," coach Coquese Washington said after the game.
Senior guard Tyra Grant echoed her coach's thoughts.
"I know Meredith [Monroe] said it in the huddle, 'We don't want to just say this is Duke, because after the Duke season it was just, 'OK we beat Duke,' ", Grant said. "Now it's like we beat Pitt, who else can we beat? Who else are we going to beat?"
There were 4,159 recorded fans at Saturday's Penn State-Pitt matchup.
Pittsburgh coach Agnus Berenato doesn't buy that.
"I think that somebody has to look at the people who give numbers because it seemed like more than four thousand to me," she said. "I thought the crowd really was very, very effective."
With a larger than normal crowd in attendance due to the free admission, in-state rival and honoring of the 2000 Final Four team at halftime, the Lady Lions used the crowd's enthusiasm to propel them to their upset victory against the Panthers.
As the score went back and forth throughout the entire game, the players used the home court to their advantage.
Down the stretch with the game up in the air, the fans were on their feet more than in their seats with the Lady Lions coming up with big play after big play.
Each time Tyra Grant drove in the paint and picked up a foul or basket the crowd would erupt as she pumped her chest and let out a furious scream.
"I loved it," she said. "All those people coming to see you. They're all supporting you."
The main reason for the high attendance was the return of the Lady Lion alumni as a part of the 10 year anniversary of Penn State's final four season.
However, it was the play of the young Lady Lions that infused so much energy into the stands.
"All those alumni that are coming back, we just wanted to feed off that energy," Grant said, "They've done so much in the past years and we just wanted to give them a little something back."
The players did just that.
They pulled off the unexpected upset of a team that was coming off of two straight Sweet 16 seasons and a team that was 8-0.
With the game winding down and the team's first victory against a ranked opponent looking possible, the current Lady Lions on the court and the former ones in the stands fed off of each other on every possession.
"There was a time in the second half when our kids were tired," coach Coquese Washington said. "I would tell them, 'Look down there, see all those alumni and play for them. You're tired now, you've got their legs that we can run with. We can shoot with their arms. We can talk and communicate with their mouths,' They did just that."
I just want to go on record as saying that as crazy as last Saturday's game against Delaware was, this game easily takes the cake as being the craziest game I ever saw. It just got out of hand so quickly, and it was a close game, which makes it even stranger. It was tied going into the second and it was only a two score game until all of the extra-curricular activities.
Purple Eagle goalie Patrick Janokowski was really the catalyst of the entire fiasco. Janokowski hit Icers forward Marek Polidor right in the face as other Niagara players helped knock him to the ice. He repeatedly hit Penn State defenseman Steve Thurston right in the back with his stick as he laid on the ice. Then to complete his night, he got physical with more Icers as defenseman Paul Daley was being attacked while laying on the ice.
Janokowski was plain dirty during the course of the game and downright stupid knowing that his team had no backup. It caused a 30 minute delay and really took the wind out of the game.
But major props to Niagara defenseman Patrick Martin. I had no idea the Purple Eagles were using a defenseman in net until O'Brien mentioned it in passing after the game. Penn State peppered Martin early and he really stood his ground. A very admirable effort from Martin under very tough circumstances.
Also, I feel we need to get Icers forward George Saad a little more attention because the man had his big night overshadowed by the events of the second period. Saad finished with a hat trick, doubling his goal total for the entire season.
Saad's second goal was a thing of beauty where he stepped over a Niagara defender and buried the puck into the back of the net. After the game, both Icers coach Scott Balboni and O'Brien said Saad had been the victim of bad bounces the entire season and it was about time he found the back of the net.
O'Brien went on to say he hoped the wind didn't go out of his sails as Penn State heads into its holiday break.
But as BTP heads into break, make sure to check back here as we do our best to keep you updated with what's going on with Penn State and the ACHA.
With exams this week, the Lions will be off from practice both today and tomorrow, before returning to the floor on Tuesday. It may come as a well needed break for a Lions' squad that looked visibly tired - specifically Talor Battle - during yesterday's contest.
They don't have another game until Saturday when they square off against a 3-4 Gardner Webb squad. Two days later they will face an American team that made the tournament the last two seasons, but is 1-8 to start this year. Head coach Ed DeChellis said the two days off will provide the Lions with a chance to focus solely on their school work so when they return to the floor they can focus solely on hoops.
But following a mentally draining home loss to Virginia Tech last night, DeChellis noted that practice in the days leading up to the game was often interrupted or cut short because of exams. While he didn't use that as an excuse for the loss, DeChellis said it was tough to get his team in a rhythm heading into a huge nonconference game with players coming in and out.
Here are his quotes from Saturday's postgame press conference:
"We'll be off Sunday and Monday. We'll get back together Tuesday afternoon. There's just no time [Sunday]. They just need to focus on academics. Monday there's no time, they've got exams all day long, and they've got to focus on that."
"This was a real hard week for us academically for us, too - very hard. We had several kids with finals this week. On Thursday we had a hard practice, but we had guys coming and going. Drew Jones and DJ came late - they had review sessions. They get there at 4:30 and then Cam's gotta leave at five. [Chris Babb] had two finals Thursday, too."
Saturday's loss was a heartbreaker for Penn State. It was the Nittany Lions' last chance at an impressive nonconference win, as only Gardner Webb and American remain on the schedule.
Here are some tidbits from Saturday night's loss:
--Tim Frazier was whistled for two early fouls and pulled five minutes into the first half. He played 18 out of 20 minutes in the second half, but he wasn't pleased with the performance, according to backcourt mate Talor Battle. Battle said Frazier was beating himself up for Malcolm Delaney scoring 27 points, but the junior told the freshman some of those points came when the Lions went zone.
"All he's doing is trying, trying so hard to defend," Battle said. "Malcolm Delaney is a junior, he does the same things I do. Tim kept telling me, 'He was holding me.' I said, 'I know what you mean, that's normally what I do.' I just told him, [that Delaney is] a little more heady so he's gonna try and cheat and do the little things to get the edge. We'll keep him up. We need him this year."
--Jeff Brooks was pulled in favor of Bill Edwards in the second half and didn't see any time down the stretch. The junior failed to pull down a single rebound and scored two points on 1-of-6 from the field.
DeChellis on the move to sit Brooks:
"We just felt like Jeff didn't get any rebounds. He played 16 minutes and didn't get a rebound. He wasn't rebounding the ball and we felt like we needed somebody who played 22 minutes and didn't have a rebound. That was part of the focus that we're trying to get to get across to the guys: trying to keep the ball alive."
Andrew Ott grabbed a career-high six rebounds in 16 minutes of play. He subbed in and out with Cammeron Woodyard at the end for defensive purposes.
--Chris Babb couldn't find the net. He shot just 1-of-7 from the field, (0-of-5 from 3 -- his bread and butter) but grabbed six rebounds. The Texas native looked good shooting against UMBC but didn't have his stroke Saturday.
--The Lions committed just six turnovers as a team. It was the second time they turned the ball over less than 10 times, with the first coming against UNC-Wilmington.
I had heard a rumor from a fellow Lady Lions reporter that last year Pittsburgh's head coach Agnus Berenato shook the hand of every reporter before her press conference.
I had to see it to believe it.
Just as I had been told, the coach walked into the media room and shook hands with the 20 or so journalists in the room before answering any questions.
I was amazed and impressed.
After her No. 15 ranked team was upset in a game, she still made a point to thank us for coming and shake our hands.
That is unheard of for a coach, especially after such a loss.
Some reporters snickered a little bit, and I thought it was bizarre at first also.
But after listening to Berenato speak, I realized she was a stand-up coach and great for women's basketball.
After fielding questions about her team's loss, including one about the Pitt-Penn State series that you could tell irked her, she even made a point to thank everyone in the room.
Here is what the Berenato had to say:
"Just before I leave, I want to say to everybody here, all of you reporters, it's a Saturday afternoon during the Christmas holiday time and you have a lot of things you could be doing. Your time is very, very valuable and very, very precious and on behalf of the University of Pittsburgh and women's basketball, we appreciate that you come and you're here and you are covering the game. Honestly, our game can't grow if it's not for you. You guys have the power to grow our game. It doesn't matter if we have great coaching, great players. It doesn't really matter unless you give us that visibility. I don't care who wins the game, it's about the game and it's about those 30 fabulous student-athletes who were out there on the court. They are fabulous student athletes who are someday going to be really productive members of society. I just want to say thank you for covering our sport."
Berenato, now in her seventh year with the team, has put Pitt women's basketball on the map proving she is a first class coach.
After attending her post game press conference, I've come to the conclusion she is a first class woman also.
After a hectic week in which an undefeated team nearly fell to the Redskins and the Raiders continued their conquest of Pennsylvania, we here at MAKE PLAYS have a tie atop the leader board. A 9-6 Week 13 from Miniaci was enough to tie Rorabaugh for the lead with a quarter of the season to go. We'll finish out the season with our picks, even this week as we put off studying for finals and watch Sunday's games.
Unfortunately, with the end of the Fall semester also comes the end of one of our esteemed members of MAKE PLAYS. Dave Rung, one of our fine sports copy editors, graduates in a couple of weeks. His term with the Collegian is over, and thankfully for him so is his term as a pickster. Rung's final record of 88-83 will be carved into a plaque and presented to him at his graduation ceremony, although knowing him he'll probably just pawn it for rent money.
As for the rest of us, here are our picks.
CLARK (100-71): Saints over Falcons, Ravens over Lions, Packers over Bears, Texans over Seahawks, Colts over Broncos, Dolphins over Jags, Chiefs over Bills, Vikings over Bengals, Patriots over Panthers, Jets over Bucs, Titans over Rams, Raiders over Redskins, Chargers over Cowboys, Eagles over Giants, Cardinals over 49ers
MINIACI (109-62): Falcons over Saints, Colts over Broncos, Texans over Seahawks, Pats over Panthers, Bills over Chiefs, Ravens over Lions, Vikings over Bengals, Jets over Bucs, Dolphins over Jags, Bears over Packers, Titans over Rams, Redskins over Raiders, Chargers over Cowboys, Giants over Eagles, Cards over 49ers
RORABAUGH (109-62): (Home team in CAPS) Saints over FALCONS, RAVENS over Lions, Packers over BEARS, TEXANS over Seahawks, COLTS over Broncos, Dolphins over JAGUARS, Bills over CHIEFS, VIKINGS over Bengals, PATRIOTS over Panthers, Jets over BUCS (who cares if Sanchez is in or out, it's the Bucs!), TITANS over Rams, Redskins over RAIDERS, Chargers over COWBOYS, Eagles over GIANTS, Cardinals over 49ERS
Here is an evaluation of the Lions' individual performances in Saturday night's 66-64 loss to the Hokies.
The Lions did a lot wrong in this game, but they did one thing right: Talor Battle. Battle picked up the team and carried it on his back, in the 66-64 loss to the Hokies. He scored 32 points while no one else on the team had more than 12. In fact, DJ Jackson was the only other player to make more than one field goal. To say this loss is devastating might be an understatement, as the Lions will enter conference play yet again with a weak nonconference resume.
DJ Jackson: B+
Jackson was the Lions' lone option aside from Talor Battle, posting 12 points and seven boards. He even hit a pair of 3-pointers, and went 4-for-8 from the field. But if the Lions want to contend in conference play, they will need more than two players stepping up.
Jeff Brooks: D
Aside from one monster dunk, Brooks did next to nothing Saturday night. In 22 minutes he had two points and no rebounds - despite his 6-foot-8 frame. In the press conference after Tuesday's game, DeChellis said he was looking for consistency from the junior forward - aside from his typical big plays. DeChellis got none on Saturday.
Andrew Jones: B-
Jones helped shut down Jeff Allen down low, but went just 1-for-3 from the field. Jones also went 5-for-6 from the line, and while it may be a small sample size, his stroke looks like it is improving.
Talor Battle: A
If Battle's running layup had gone down and the Lions had pulled it out in overtime, we might be talking about one of the best performances ever by a Nittany Lion. Instead, the Lions will settle for 32 points and nine boards from the junior - who despite looking tired all game was their only scoring threat. Much may be said about his 3-for-10 performance from the line, but Battle's performance tonight - aside from his foul shooting - was nothing short of spectacular.
Tim Frazier: C
Frazier only had two points, but he ran the break well and had three assists. Had it not been for foul trouble, Frazier may have been able to get into a rhythm, and provide some help and rest for Battle. He also committed a bad foul with under a minute to play in the game that gave the Hokies a two-possession lead.
Chris Babb: B-
Babb grabbed six rebounds, which was especially important given the fact that DeChellis was running a three-guard offense for most of the second half. He was only 1-for-7 from the floor though for four points. Babb's running jumper with under two minutes to go was Penn State's last real chance to claw back into the game, but - as he has all year - Babb continued to struggle making plays for himself.
Andrew Ott: B-
Ott pulled down six boards and helped in defending Allen - who finished with a quiet 12 points. He played just 16 minutes, but made his presence felt on the floor and on the stat sheet. But the Lions could have used points down low, which Ott--who finished with three - wasn't capable of providing.
Bill Edwards and Cammeron Woodyard: C
Not much sample size here for either of them. Edwards had two points and Woodyard was scoreless, although it was his assist that set up the Brooks dunk. Both were serviceable, although neither played more than 15 minutes.
This was a huge win for the Lions. The team hasn't beaten a ranked opponent since it topped Duke on Dec. 2, 2007. That's 740 days without a win against an elite opponent and a signature win like this could do wonders for the Lions.
In the spirit of final exams, which are coming up sooner than most of us would like, here's how I grade the Lions' performance in Saturday's 77-73 win over Pitt.
The Lions had their work cut out for them with the Panthers' big lineup. Pitt had four players that are 6-foot-3 or taller and the Lions showed improvement in the paint. Freshman Nikki Greene was constantly battling for the ball down low and while she picked up a few fouls in the act, I like how she responded to the physicality down low. I'm pretty sure we wouldn't have seen Greene have seven rebounds against a team as physical as Pitt just one month ago, but she continues to improve. Also impressive were Meredith Monroe and Julia Trogele who recorded 13 and 10 rebounds each.
The positive is that no one fouled out. Sixteen personal fouls is a big improvement for the Lions who have consistently had at least 18 personal fouls in their previous nine games. I give credit to Trogele for playing solid defense while avoiding the referee's whistle. The junior, who has struggled to stay on the court due to foul trouble for most of the season, only had one personal foul in her 30 minutes of play. Her ability to go straight up on the Pitt shooters helped her notch two blocks while altering several Panther shots. Nikki Greene and Janessa Wolff both picked up four fouls, but were able to contribute and stay in the game down the stretch.
Shooting 28 percent from the floor for an entire half usually does not equate to a victory. The Lions were able to overcome their poor shooting in the first half and shoot 40 percent during the game's final 20 minutes. The team is still missing too many layups, but they did attack the basket better today and second chance shots were common. The Lions were fortunate enough that Pitt shot just 42 percent on the game. The Lions were 8-for-19 from beyond the arc, while Trogele and Bentley each went 2-for-3. The shooting is still too inconsistent, but Monroe went 5-for-8 and as a team 28 free-throw attempts is great. However, they need to make more than 75 percent of their shots from the charity stripe.
This was the most noticeable difference in Saturday's game. Both teams have a history of playing each other and outside of the conference this is as close to a rivalry game as it gets. Tyra Grant was willing to do whatever it took to lead her team to a victory, even if it meant pumping her fist, pounding her chest or diving on the floor for a loose ball. And her teammates followed her lead. Emily Phillips took some pretty hard fouls, but the 5-foot-4 point guard responded and even notched a block. This was the type of game where the players on the bench were shouting and clapping and the atmosphere inside the BJC was just very competitive. The Lions definitely didn't play their most fundamentally sound basketball, even though it's by far the best they've displayed this year, but their desire to answer the bell in a game that had nine lead changes says something about this team's character.
The Lions did just enough to get past the Panthers, which is no easy task. Three players scored in double figures and the team won the turnover battle. The Lions only turned the ball over 10 times, but managed to record nine steals. This was definitely a signature win for this young team and while the Lions passed Saturday's test, I want to see if they can follow up their big win with a few more. The team has to be feeling confident heading into its game against Oakland on Dec. 21, but it will take the same level of intensity that was on display Saturday for the Lions to have success once they continue conference play.
When the Lions played the Pittsburgh Panthers Saturday afternoon it marked the 40th time the programs squared off. While Saturday's atmosphere in the BJC was by far the most exciting it's been this season, don't look for the Panthers to return to Happy Valley anytime soon.
Although the series has typically gone in favor of the home team, as the visitors have lost each of the last five games, the Panthers won't be able to try and get revenge next season.
Both teams agreed to have the series rotate each year, but Panthers coach Agnus Berenato said that Penn State isn't willing to hold up its end of the bargain next season.
"Penn State didn't want to play us next year," Berenato said. "They didn't want to come to our place next year, so they want to defer for a year. Well, you know we have a pretty good crew and I'm not into that deferring stuff."
Berenato, who is in her seventh year at the helm of the Pitt basketball program, said she's trying to change the face of Pittsburgh women's basketball. While her team has become a power in the Big East conference and is coming off two consecutive Sweet 16 appearances, the coach still likes the intensity that the Pitt vs. Penn State rivalry provides.
Coquese Washington even said it was good for her young squad to play a NCAA tournament caliber team like the Panthers. So then why aren't the two teams meeting again next year?
That's exactly what Berenato wants to know.
When the Pitt coach was asked if the series would continue after next year's deferment, she didn't hesitate sharing her feelings.
"It's like sometimes when you want to get a dress on sale you pass it up, then you go back to get it and it's gone," Berenato said about the status of future Penn State vs. Pitt games. "And the world belongs to the aggressor and I'm not waiting on anyone."
-The Lions foul Green, who will have to wait before he shoots as the refs look at how much time is left. Even without a timeout, the Lions are getting the benefit of Green being iced. He makes one and Battle's running layup falls agonizingly short and off front rim. The Lions fall to 6-4 with the 66-64 loss. Check Hardwood hits and the Collegian's Website later for more.
-The Hokies evaluate Penn State's defense and call their final timeout as well. The last 7.7 seconds will be played without stoppages. Again, it's early, but this could be one of the turning points in both of these teams' seasons.
-He swishes both -- made all that much more important by a Battle 3-pointer to cut the lead to one with 7.7 to go. The crowd is singing Zombie Nation louder than it has all year, as DeChellis calls another timeout -- Penn State's last.
-Delaney and Battle are each carrying their teams with 25 and 29 points, respectively. Fittingly, it's Delaney to the line with a chance to give the Hokies a four-point edge.
-Second free throw is off front rim and in. The Lions call timeout after a Battle bucket cuts the lead to two. 18.4 left.
-Almost instantly, the Lions blow their chance by committing a foul right out of the timeout. Delaney misses the first, and DeChellis -- trying to ice him -- calls a timeout. Hokies still up by three, with 28 to go.
-Timeout Hokies with 35 seconds to go. The Lions squandered a pair of opportunities, Babb on a running bank shot and Battle on an NBA-range 3-pointer. With 15 to go on the shot clock, the Lions need a stop here to avoid another non-conference loss.
-Battle is still struggling from the line -- he is 3-for-10 after missing a pair that would have given the Lions a lead. As a result, Ott committed a foul on the ensuing rebound, and a pair of free throws on the other end have given the Hokies a three-point lead.
-Yes, it's early in the season, but these are two teams that may be on the bubble come March. It makes the committee's job a lot easier when one team has clearly proven itswlf against another. it'll be a big two and half minutes for Penn State and VT hoops.
-Delaney sinks both, giving the Hokies the lead, and Andrew Jones commits a foul on the ensuing possesion -- resulting in a missed Jeff Allen free throw and the Lions' ball down one.
Penn State 59, Virginia Tech 58: 3:30 to go second half
-On a Hokie fast break a very questionable intentional foul call on Babb -- as are most intentional fouls. More than likely, however, Babb went in with little intention of actually blocking the shot. Tech will have two shots and the ball after the break.
-Jeff Brooks hasn't played much in the second half as Ed DeChellis has gone with a three-guard offense of Babb, Frazier and Battle, which is working mostly because of their rebounding ability.
-Babb then forces a jumpball, giving the Lions a chance at taking the lead in their next offensive possession. After a missed 15-footer from Jackson, Jones, who skyed for the rebound hit the ground hard going for a tip-in when Allen committed his fourth. Jones makes both, giving the Lions a one-point lead. The whole arena is on its feet.
-They continue to struggle in the half-court, but a Chris Babb rebound, in which he out-jumped two or three taller Hokies forced Tech into a coul, and two made free throws once again cut the lead to one.
-Battle and Frazier have exploited a couple of Hokie turnovers and scored four-straight fast break points to cut the lead to one. That said, however, the Lions have had trouble putting up points in the half-court offense (aside from Battle), which the Hokies will likely try to make them do in the final five minutes.
-In case you were wondering, "Don't Stop Believin" won the song of the night vote, beating out "Sweet Caroline" and "Shout."
Virginia Tech 56, Penn State 51: 7:04 to go first half
-The Hokies have equaled that largest lead right out of the break, as Malcolm Delaney blew by Tim Frazier for a two-pointer and the foul. He hit the free throw, and the Hokies look poised to pull away. In response, DeChellis subbed Chris Babb for Tim Frazier.
-Bill Edwards and Andrew Ott are playing significant second-half minutes, and while neither is putting up points, both look solid defensively. The Lions are down two after another Battle transition bucket. He has 25, but looks visibly tired -- especially when shooting free throws. He is 3-for-8 from the stripe.
-Frazier in for Battle, and his fresh legs are enough to force a jump ball. Frazier is scoreless so far tonight.
-After another Delaney three, the Lions miss on a pair of long-range attempts -- one from Babb and one from Woodyard. Hokies up five with just over seven to play. Battle and Jones are checking in after the break.
Virginia Tech 48, Penn State 47: 11:43 to go, second half
-Jackson hit a huge corner-three to bring the struggling Lions within one. Jackson had all day as Battle and Frazier are using their quickness to draw Hokie defenders. Expect more penetration in the second half, so -- once again -- the Lions' success tonight may be directly correlated to their shooting ability.
-With a 4-0, run the Lions tied the game at 43, but just as quickly the Hokies got back up by five, on a streak capped by a Malcolm Delaney three with a hand in his face.
-Neither team, however, can seem to take control here, as the largest lead of the game came at 6-0 Virginia Tech. With under 12 to go, the Hokies are up one.
Virginia Tech 43, Penn State 39: 15:56 to go second half
-Same starting five in the second half for both teams and the Hokies take the lead early on a two-pointer from Victor Davilla.
-The two teams traded threes, starting with an NBA-range trey from Battle for his 20th, 21st and 22nd of the night. But the Lions left Allen -- not typically a shooting threat -- open at the top of the key. The 6-foot-7 forward coolly knocked down the three with all the time in the world to do so. Hokies by four at the first TV timeout.
Halftime: Penn State 36, Virginia Tech 36
-Ott is back in for Jones, and VT immediately tried to exploit that matchup, going right to Jeff Allen for a post-up two-pointer. He simply backed in and used his quickness to get around Ott for an easy deuce, cutting the lead to one.
-Woodyard to Brooks for his second incredible dunk of the season. His first -- against UMBC on Tuesday -- was No. 1 on ESPN's top ten plays. This one may be right up there. Ott got an offensive board, and Brooks, who stumbled on the previous play was already open on the other end of the floor on the break. Woodyard simply threw it up and Brooks finished with two hands, eliciting the loudest reaction for a single play all year. Quick side note-- DeChellis said after Brooks' last dunk that he thought Brooks had the capability to do that more often. So far, Brooks has made his coach look like a wise man.
-Lions and Hokies are deadlocked at 36 heading into halftime, and it probably should be that way if you watched the game or even take a glance at the stat sheet. The Hokies are shooting a little better from the floor (47 percent to Penn State's 40) but the Lions have made four threes. They are separated by just one on the glass, too. If the second half is as even and well-played as the first, should be a good one. Stay tuned.
Penn State 33, Virginia Tech 31: 2:46 to go first half
-The Hokies are face-guarding Battle so he can't get the ball on the inbounds after baskets. The Lions have been forced to use other guards to take the ball up the court. Battle has been able to get the ball most of the time, but at the very least the Hokies are effectively taking five or ten seconds off the shot clock and some energy out of Battle.
-He seems to be taking it personally, though as he already has 15 points. After driving coast to coast on the previous possession for a left-handed layup, a 3-pointer ignited a chorus of zombie nation -- by far the loudest all year -- and the Lions have a three-point lead.
-In the last five minutes, the Lions have picked up their intensity rebounding and have even passed the Hokies for a 15-14 edge on the glass -- likely the reason they also have a 33-31 edge on the scoreboard. Heading into the TV timeout, Battle was fouled off the ball for the second time in a two-minute span. Hokie coach Seth Greenberg didn't like either call.
Virginia Tech 23, Penn State 21, 7:01 to go first half
-Battle back in for Frazier. For the nation's minutes leader last season, who is on pace for the same thing this season, maybe three minutes off is a blessing in disguise. Ott hits one of two from the line, cutting the Hokies lead to two with just over 11 to go.
-The Lions have gone to a 2-3 zone that the Hokies are having trouble penetrating. But a JT Thompson foul-line jumper that banked in, gave VT its largest lead of the night at four.
-Battle is back on the board scoring on an offensive rebound amongst two or three Hokie forwards. He then evened the score with a breakaway dunk, igniting the crowd for about 20 seconds before Erick Green hit a 3-pointer to put the Hokies back in front.
-The Lions' zone is giving the Hokies trouble when they can't get out and run. They haven't been able to do so in the last minute or two, and the Lions have cut the lead to two.
Virginia Tech 18, Penn State 15: 11:35 to go, first half
-Bill Edwards in for Brooks and Andrew Ott in for Jones after he made one of two from the line. The Hokies are dominating on the offensive glass, and Jeff Allen finally has his first points, scoring three the old-fashioned way.
-The BJC got deafly quiet for about a minute as Battle went down in front of the student section. He limped off the floor with what looked like an ankle injury. The fans haven't responded well, nor have the Lions as Penn State now trails by three.
-He came back during the under-12 TV timeout. He looks fine, but will be on the bench when the game resumes.
Penn State 12, Virginia Tech 9: 14:20 to go, first half
-Fans on their feet and jumping as the Hokies take the opening tip. The noise carried over to the first position as Bell commits an offensive foul. Not sure if DeChellis addressed it in his pregame speech, but the Lions would do well to get the crowd involved early and keep it that way.
-The Hokies jumped out to a quick 6-0 lead, starting on a breakaway layup from Bell. He was fouled and missed the free throw, but Malcolm Delaney scored on the ensuing offensive rebound.
-The Lions are struggling offensively to find holes in the Hokies' defense. They have put up four shots, all four have been contested, and three resulted in long rebounds allowing for the Hokies to run the fast break. The Lions have stayed in the game by forcing three turnovers in the game's first three minutes.
-A pair of buckets by Battle and Jones cut the lead to three, and a Talor Battle 3-pointer evened the score. But as DeChellis stressed, the Hokies have been effective on the offensive boards and a Davilla tip-in off a VT miss gave the Hokies the lead.
-The Lions are shooting well, and given their heavy reliance on the jumpshot, that bodes well early. On back-to-back possessions Jackson hit a three, and Babb hit an 18-footer after pump-faking a three. Jones is going to the line after the first TV timeout, with the Lions up 12-9.
Probably the best home environment of the year, and perhaps rightfully so as the Lions host the 6-1 Hokies in a game that will likely go a long way in both teams' resumes come tournament time.
Student section is full along the court, and is slowly filling in behind the baskets, but regardless, this should be the biggest crowd of the year so far.
Tip time is in a few minutes, here are the starting lineups:
Talor Battle, G
Tim Frazier, G
Jeff Brooks, F
DJ Jackson, F
Andrew Jones, F/C
Malcolm Delaney, G
Dorenzo Hudson, G
Terrell Bell, F
Jeff Allen, F
Victor Davilla, C
Welcome to the Collegian's live blog of tonight's showdown between Penn State and Virginia Tech. Both teams would love to add a win to their NCAA Tournament resumes.
Check back for our deadball updates throughout the game. It tips off in 15 minutes -- airing live on ESPN2.
The Hokies of Virginia Tech (7-1) come into town tonight for a Saturday night clash at the Bryce Jordan Center. In the 2007-08 season, the Hokies left Penn State as 66-61 losers. This year, the Nittany Lions are on the quest for a crucial nonconference victory to keep their NCAA Tournament hopes alive.
Here's a look at the Hokies roster:
G - Dorenzo Hudson - 9.0 ppg, 2.75 apg
G - Malcolm Delaney - 20.9 ppg, 3.75 apg
F - Terrell Bell - 6.9 ppg, 6.0 rpg
F - Victor Davila - 8.8 ppg, 5.9 rpg
F - Jeff Allen - 13.1 ppg, 8.4 rpg
Allen didn't start the team's last game against VMI (4-4), but he scored 24 points, grabbed 13 rebounds and dished out five assists in 26 minutes of play.
Hudson stepped up to score 24 points on 10-of-18 shooting, as Malcolm Delaney went only 3-of-14, nine points, from the floor.
Va Tech brings in a 7-1 record to the BJC. Check back here for a live blog of the contest during its start.
Sims hits the lay-up for Pitt to cut the lead to three.
Bentley heads to the line with less than a second left.
She hits one and that ices it for the Lions.
Huge win for the Lions.
That'll do it for us here at the BJC.
Be sure to check Washington's Post for our post-game report card and check the Collegian online for coverage of today's game.
Penn State 77 Pitt 73
Shayla Scott fouls Nikki Greene before the inbound pass. Forget what I said, these are the biggest free throws of the game for the Lions.
Greene calmly knocks down both and its a five point lead for the Lions.
Penn State takes a timeout to go over defense.
7.6 Second Half
Penn State 76 Pitt 71
Greene hits both. Nice poise shown by the freshman as she nails the biggest free throws of the night for the Lions.
Wolff checks in for Greene, who receives a standing ovation from the crowd.
Sims hits the lay-up for Pitt. They trail by three.
Timeout Pitt. That's its final timeout.
7.6 Second Half
Penn State 74 Pitt 71
Pitt will not go quietly as Sallard hits another three.
Grant drives baseline, but misses. Greene is there for the rebound and gets fouled. She'll shoot two. Greene has been huge on the glass, grabbing some key offensive boards.
Greene hits one-of-two.
The crowd rises to its feet with one minute remaining, the Lions clinging to a three-point lead.
Grant drives and dishes to Greene who draws another foul. Nice job by Grant to draw the defender and feed Greene down on the block.
Timeout on the floor.
24.7 Second Half
Penn State 72 Pitt 69
Tyra walks from the bench over to the trainer under her own power. She's limping, but she walks back to bench and joins her team in the huddle.
Doesn't seem to be too serious of an injury, but she stays on the bench out of the timeout.
Three-pointer from Shayla Scott makes it a one-point game.
Zha Zha Gray answers on the other end with a three of her own. First points of the game for Gray and they couldn't have come at a bigger time.
Tyra Grant and Nikki Greene check back in as Grant hobbles onto the floor.
Huge three for Trogele as Coquese Washington gives a fist pump on the sideline. Two big three's for the junior here late and the Lions have a seven point lead.
Pitt takes a timeout.
1:32 Second Half
Penn State 71 Pitt 64
Good defense by the Lions leads to another Pitt turnover. Nice job on that trip by Janessa Wolff to get out on the shooter in the corner and deny the shot.
Tyra Grant drives hard from the right, absorbs the block from Sallard and hits. Grant gets up a yells. Grant hits the free throw and puts the Lions up by six.
By far the best performance of the year for Grant. She has 24 points and is being a true leader.
Penn State slowing things down a bit with just under five to play. They use the whole shot clock as Monroe banks in a desperation heave with the clock expiring. The BJC starts to get a little rowdy.
Tyra Grant spins into the lane, draws contact again and hits the finger roll. The senior has put the team on her back here in the late going. She hits the free throw and its a seven point lead with just under four to play.
Two offensive rebounds in one possession an the short jumper by Monroe falls for the Lions.
Tyra Grant goes down and gets carried off the floor by coaches.
We'll follow up on Grant's injury.
Timeout on the floor.
3:14 Second Half
Penn State 65 Pitt 60
Jania Sims ties it for Pitt.
Trogele finally lets one go and bangs home a three to put the Lions back on top. Trogele has been hesitant to shoot up until this point. If she can get going here late, that could be huge for the Lions.
Trogele picks up a foul, just her first. Sixth team foul for the Lions.
Timeout on the floor.
7:08 Second Half
Penn State 55 Pitt 52
Harrison hits the baseline jumper to bring Pitt back within two.
Monroe hits a jumper on the other end to put Penn State back up by four. The Lions are going to need contributions from everyone as we enter crunch time here.
Monroe draws a foul and heads to the line. She hits both and its now a six-point lead.
Nikki Greene picks up her fourth. Greene is having trouble just putting her hands straight up on defense. The Lions can't afford to lose Greene, but with four fouls she takes a seat. Marisa Wolfe checks in.
Pitt misses both free throws, but gets the rebound and hits a jumper.
Bentley's three attempt rims out and Sallard hits a jumper on the other end.
Timeout on the floor.
8:39 Second Half
Penn State 52 Pitt 50
Janessa Wolff picks up her third personal, but it's just the Lions first here with just under 15 minutes to play.
Wolff picks up her fourth about 10 seconds later and she'll be replaced by Meredith Monroe.
Shayla Scott hits both free throws for the Panthers to tie the game at 43. Penn State needs to avoid those costly fouls if they want a chance at winning. Thus far, Pitt has only gotten to the line once this half.
Grant hits a two and gives the lead back to the Lions.
Nikki Greene picks up a cheap third foul. The fourth of the half for the Lions. Pitt has three. Selena Nwude, who has the strangest free throw shot I've ever seen, hits one-of-two and Pitt is within one.
Pitt uses the three-two zone and Gray feeds it into Greene who draws the foul. The freshman hits two big free throws to put the Lions up three.
Phillips gets a steal and drives hard to the lane. The sophomore gets fouled and will head to the line for two. Phillips is doing a nice job of attacking the basket tonight and drawing contact.
Phillips hits one-of-two.
Pitt gets called for the push on the offensive end. Possession goes back to the Lions and there's a timeout on the floor.
11:49 Second Half
Penn State 48 Pitt 44
The Lions use the whole shot clock as Grant just misses. Greene is there, thought, for the put back and the Lions lead by seven.
After a Pitt score, Nikki Greene gets fouled and heads to the line for two. Greene hits one-of-two as Womack just misses the offensive board.
Pitt gets another bucket, then fouls the Lions on the other end.
Timeout on the floor.
15:47 Second Half
Penn State 43 Pitt 41
Bentley hits a three from the corner out of the timeout and brings the Lions within two.
Off a Pitt miss, Bentley grabs the rebound and finds Grant on the wing. The senior spots up from three and nails the jumper to give the Lions a one-point lead. Seventeen points now for Grant.
Nice look from Alex Bentley as she draws the attention of two defenders and finds Nikki Greene all alone on the block for two. Nice work by Bentley to penetrate ans dish to the center.
The Lions get a turnover and Grant drives and hits to give the Lions a three point lead and prompt a Pitt timeout.
17:17 Second Half
Penn State 40 Pitt 37
Twenty seconds into the half, Penn State has to burn a timeout as Grant gets trapped in the corner.
19:35 Second Half
Pitt 35 Penn State 30
As a video commemorating the 2000 Final Four team plays on the BJC video screen, here's a few things I noticed in the first half:
- Tyra Grant is stepping up. The senior leads the Lions with 14 points. She is also the emotional leader tonight, celebrating every point and getting her teammates fired up.
- Alex Bentley forced a few bad shots and took a back seat to Emily Phillips. Phillips did a nice job of running the offense and hustling on defense. The sophomore has contributed five points thus far.
- The Lions two-three zone is doing a nice job of shutting down Pitt's options in the paint. However, the players on the block are not getting out quick enough on the shooters in the corners. Pitt has hit a couple key three's and that's the reason they lead at the half.
- Biggest stat of the half for the Lady Lions: they only had seven turnovers while scoring 17 points off of Pitt turnovers.
- The Lions shot just 28.6 percent in the first half and only trail by three. If the Lions can pick up their shooting a little bit and continue to control the emotional aspect of the game, then they can pull off the upset.
I'll be back with second half action.
Nice hustle by the Lions out of the timeout as they get a couple of loose balls to maintain possession.
Alex Bentley spots up from three and hits, giving the Lions a four-point lead.
Another huge three from Harrison brings the game back to one. The Lions need to be stronger in the corners while playing in the zone. They can't afford to leave Pitt's shooters open because that's where the Panthers are doing most of their damage right now.
Popovec hits a couple of free throws to give Pitt back the lead at 31-29.
Zhaque Gray checks into the game for the Lions. Gray suffered a knee injury in the last game against Monmouth, but apparently feels OK to play to today.
All 5-foot-4 of Emily Phillips blocks a shot and then gets fouled. She hits one-of-two free throws to bring the Lions within three. Monroe grabs the board of the second miss but her put-back attempt rims out.
The buzzer sounds and that'll do it for the first half.
Pitt 33 Penn State 30
Taneisha Harrison connects on a three-pointer and gives Pitt a two-point lead.
Treys have been crucial for the Panthers this far as they've hit a couple to keep them stride-for-stride with the Lions who are doing most of there work in the paint.
Tyra Grant nails a three to give the lead back to Penn State. She pumps her fist as she runs back down the floor. No question, Grant has been the emotional leader thus far for Penn State. She also has 12 points.
Pitt no in the penalty as Nikki Greene gets fouled on the defensive end.
With over five minutes left in the half, the Lady Lions should try to use Pitt's foul situation to their advantage.
Trya Grant drives from left right corner and takes on three defenders. She manages to rise above the defense and hit a runner to give the Lions a three-point lead. Grant with the hot hand right now.
Offensive foul on Pitt gives the ball back to the Lions.
Timeout on the floor.
3:52 First Half
Penn State 26 Pitt 23
Phillips hits one-of-two and the Lions have their first lead of the game at 12-11.
Monroe grabs the board off the Grant miss and gets fouled. That's now five team fouls for Pitt. The Lions have just one.
Monroe hits both and opens up a three-point lead.
Five-straight points from Pitt give them a two-point lead.
Monroe grabs the Grant air-ball and ties the game back at 16. Grant is taking some ill-advised shots here in the first half. The Lions can't afford stupid shots against a team like Pitt.
Tyra Grant drives hard to the cup, absorbs the block from Sallard and connects on the lay-up. Grants free-throw gives the Lions a one-point lead. Very strong take by Grant as she showed a lot of emotion after hitting the lay-up.
Thus far, the Lady Lions seem to be playing with more intensity than Pitt.
Grant gets isolation and drives to the left side and hits the finger roll. Lions lead by three.
Timeout on the floor.
7:35 First Half
Penn State 21 Pitt 18
Tyra Grant nearly hits the ceiling with a 30-footer and the miss goes out of bounds off Trogele, giving possession back to Pitt.
Sophronia Sallard checks into the game. Her an Pepper Wilson, which is apparently what Shawnice Wilson goes by, give the Panthers the edge in the best name category.
Tyra Grant hits a couple of free throws and the Lions tie the game at eight.
Sallard hits from the corner to give Pitt back the lead. If the Lions are going to run a two-three zone, the players on the block need to be quicker at getting out on the shooters in the corner.
Emily Phillips drains a three to tie the game once again. Nice ball movement from the Lions led to an open look for Phillips from the left side.
Back-to-back fruitless trips by Pitt leads to Phillips running the floor. She gets fouled and will shoot two.
Timeout on the floor.
11:59 First Half
Penn State 11 Pitt 11
The Lions win the tip and Nikki Greene goes 0-for-3 on the Lions' first possession. After two trips down the floor for each team, there is still no score.
Wilson gets the first bucket of the game for Pitt and hits the free throw to give Pitt an early 3-0 lead.
Alex Bentley hits as the shot clock expires. She drove from the right side and stopped short of the 6-foot-6 Wilson and hit the floater.
The Lions utilizing a two-three zone on defense. They seem to be willing to let Pitt shoot from the outside and look more focused on post defense.
Timeout on the floor.
15:59 First Half
Pitt 8 Penn State 6
Penn State starters:
G Tyra Grant
G Alex Bentley
F Julia Trogele
F Meredith Monroe
C Nikki Greene
G Taneisha Harrison
G Jania Sims
G Shayla Scott
F Chelsea Cole
C Shawnice Wilson
Welcome to the Bryce Jordan Center for another installment of the saga that is Lady Lions basketball.
I'm Collegian Lady Lions' reporter Bill Landis here to take you through the Lions nonconference matchup against the power from the Big East, the No. 15 Pitt Panthers.
The Lady Lions are coming off of a big win over a very young Monmouth team. The Lions received stellar contributions from seniors Tyra Grant and Meredith Monroe in the 25-point victory.
Pitt is 8-0 on the year and coming off a 25-point win of its own against Valparaiso.
In the last meeting between the two teams, Pitt buried the Lions 80-59.
The key for success for the Lions, as it is every game, will be to stay out of foul trouble. They did so against Monmouth, but that will tougher against a bigger, more experienced Pitt team.
The Lions will need to key-in on Pitt guard Taneisha Harrison. The 6-foot guard leads Pitt this season with 16.1 points-per-game.
Some players from the 2000 Lady Lions' Final Four team will be hand today. Let's see if some of their success can rub off on the Lions today.
this season including the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year honor.Fans,
coaches and media decided who won the Lowe's Senior CLASS Award through voting.
Fan voting ended nearly a month ago. Yeisley passed South Florida's Zak
Boggs on the last day but couldn't hold the lead and finished fan voting in second. But when factoring in the coaches and media balloting, the senior came out the overall winner. Yeisley led the Lions to a Big Ten Championship appearance
and the NCAA Tournament this season. He plans to graduate after the current
Wins against teams from the Colonial Athletic Assosciation, Patriot League and Northeast Conference are nice and all but they aren't going to turn heads.
A win against a ranked Big East opponent, now that would.
The Lady Lions will have that opportunity Saturday afternoon as the team hosts the No. 15 Pittsburgh Panthers. After failing to defeat opponents from the SEC, ACC and Big Ten through the first month of the season, the Lady Lions will have their chance at a signature win before closing out non-conference play.
However, it won't be easy.
Pittsburgh brings a perfect 8-0 record to the Bryce Jordan Center and the Panthers trounced the Lady Lions last year, 80-59.
Regardless of last year's defeat, the players and coaches are excited to play the rival school.
Take a look at what they had to say:
Coach Coquese Washington- "I'm really excited about playing Pitt. It's a great rivalry. Agnus Berenato is a great coach. I know they're a really good team this year. Again, it's going to give us an opportunity to see where we are against another NCAA caliber team. I thought we competed against Georgia Tech. Had we not started so slowly, maybe the outcome is a little different. We've got another chance here at home to play against an NCAA caliber team, a Big Ten type opponent, on our home floor. Hopefully we will take advantage of this opportunity and get a big win."
Senior Tyra Grant- "It's going to be a great experience with the atmosphere. We're ready, we're going to use these two days for preparation and put some things in offensively and defensively for what we're going to do against them and put it all together on Saturday."
The Lady Lions will be taking on the Panthers at 1 p.m. on Saturday. Check Washington's post for live blogging and a recap of the game.
Cael Sanderson has convinced another talented Pennsylvanian to don the blue-and-white for college.
The latest Penn State recruit is Frank Martellotti, a senior at Shady Side Academy in Western Pa. Martellotti won a PIAA title at 103 pounds as a freshman and placed third the last two years. Currently a 130-pounder, Martellotti projects at either 133 pounds or 141 pounds in college.
Most impressively, Martellotti turned down scholarship offers at other Division I schools to come to Penn State -- as a walk-on.
"I loved everything about my visit," Martellotti said. "I was most impressed by the coaching staff and its dedication to being the best through hard work and practice."
Martellotti has a chance to become only the second Shady Side Academy wrestler to become a four-time PIAA place-winner. The first was Dane Johnson, who graduated last spring after winning his third consecutive PIAA title and placing for the fourth time.
"I will be a walk-on at either 133 or 141," Martellotti said. "Cael [Sanderson] told me that if I worked hard and earned a spot in the starting lineup, he would hook me up with scholarship money."
Martellotti joins Dylan and Andrew Alton, Dirk Cowburn and Sam Sherlock in Penn State's future Class of 2014. The other four signed during the early signing period in November.
So far, Penn State has one commitment for the high school class of 2011, Nico Megaludis of Franklin Regional, Pa. Megaludis won a state title at 112 pounds last year and moved up to 119 pounds this year. He also projects at 133/141 at Penn State. Look for Sanderson to search out recruits for the 125-pound and heavyweight classes to round out the Class of 2011.
Brad Pataky has one more season of eligibility remaining after this year, so a Class of 2011 recruit could have a chance to start right away at that weight class. At heavyweight, Cameron Wade will be the only true big man on the roster after this season, so Sanderson will want to beef up the depth behind him.
One scenario being thrown around message boards involves allowing current freshman Luke Macchiaroli to grow into a heavyweight to take over after Wade, but the Lions could use another big body in the room regardless.
Here are a couple additional points to follow up the Eastern Wrestling League story:
Craig Turnbull, now in his 31st year as West Virginia's coach, knows Penn State's absence was a loss for the conference, but he also thought the Nittany Lions' departure was in some sense, a Penn State loss. He said Penn State coach Rich Lorenzo enjoyed a conference for eastern recruits and Penn State parents, who could drive short distances for Lion dual meets. Lorenzo confirmed those assertions and said some of the Pennsylvania duals acted as home meets.
Lorenzo also enjoyed the EWL schedule because the Lions could wrestle their seven dual meets and still face NCAA-tournament powerhouses. Lorenzo said scheduling national powers doesn't exist today because Penn State has to play one to two more conference games while still keeping its commitment to in-state rivals.
Edinboro coach Tim Flynn said Penn State's departure from the EWL put the Lions into the premier wrestling league where they always played top-tier opponents. In other words, Flynn saw the change as a positive for the Penn State wrestling program.
Game of the Night: No. 6 Syracuse (-3.5) vs. No. 11 Florida, 9 p.m.
Two undefeated teams that weren't close to the Top 10 in the beginning of the season have proved they belong in elite company. Now, on the most prestigious basketball hardwood, the Gators and the Orangemen have the chance to prove they belong for the long haul of the season.
Florida has already knocked off then-No. 2 Michigan State and Florida State, while Syracuse has beaten then-No. 4 North Carolina and No. 12 Cal.
Two impressive track records on the line. Florida has lost eight players in the last five years who have left school early to declare for the draft. Syracuse has Wes Johnson, an Iowa State defacto, and a really talented frontcourt with junior forward Rick Jackson and senior Arinze Onuaku.
Gator coach Billy Donovan doesn't think his squad is playing as good of defense since beating FSU, so we'll see if his players rise to the challenge.
He's explosive and a terrific ball handler, but he has to learn how to play with his teammates before he explodes. With a game on ESPN2 tonight, he has a chance to prove he's the real deal.
Cincinnati plays Miami (OH) tonight, who hasn't had tremendous success this year (evident by its 2-6 record), but it did take Kentucky to the wire. How did Kentucky win that game? A buzzer-beater by freshman sensation John Wall.
Stephenson can have his John Wall moment tonight against the same team.
The show began with coach Sanderson talking about this past weekend's Nittany Lion Open. He was specifically asked about the championship bout at 157-pounds between Cyler Sanderson and David Taylor. Cael said the fact the match came down to the final seconds indicates the competiveness of the two wrestlers.
Sanderson also had this to say about Taylor's progress: "He came here to be a four-time national champion, and I think he's on pace to do that."
Those are pretty strong words coming from someone with Sanderson's background.
The coach also talked about some other performances from the weekend. He said David Erwin had a great tournament, and he wasn't surprised at all of the success he had.
Erwin had the chance to watch Edinboro's Chris Honeycutt defeat two Nittany Lions on his way to the final. Sanderson said if you "watch somebody beat your teammates, you gotta get in there and get some revenge." He also said Frank Molinaro has been doing a great job and has been consistent in his effort.
As for the issues of who's going to be the main man at 133 and 141, it appears Sanderson has the grapplers picked out for now. Colby Pisani's performance at the NLO has led to Sanderson giving him the nod at 141. Though Pisani has outperformed Adam Lynch to this point, Sanderson still had high praise for Lynch.
"Lynch does everything we want," Sanderson said. "If everyone brought his work ethic into the room, we'd be national champions every year."
At 133, Bryan Pearsall has emerged as the starter. Sanderson and host Jeff Byers talked about the contrasting styling of Pearsall and Tyler Saltsman, with Pearsall being better on the mat, while Lynch is stronger while standing. Sanderson said it came down to which grappler can do best against outside competition, and he said Pearsall is that guy.
Sanderson also announced the spots at 174- and 184-pounds were locked in right now, with Justin Ortega at 174 and Erwin at 184. The same can't be said for 197.
Following some technical difficulties, the show returned to Sanderson talking about forfeiting at 197 in this weekend's dual meets. He said Clay Steadman broke some team rules and would have to make up for the mistake. With the loss of points, Sanderson is looking for veterans like Cyler Sanderson, Brad Pataky, Erwin and Dan Vallimont to step up and earn some bonus points.
UC Irvine head coach John Speraw sees the talent disparity between East Coast and West Coast volleyball shrinking, yet said being on the West Coast still gives him an advantage with recruiting.
"I'm sure there are some challenges that Penn State and other East Coast universities have that we don't." Speraw said. "By sheer numbers alone, you see a higher level of talent on the West Coast. It's not that there's not talented kids in the East. It's just that more kids right now are playing here, and naturally that means there will be a bigger talent pool. It's pretty easy for us, universities in California, to see those guys who are right here."
Speraw - who was a middle blocker for the 1995 UCLA men's volleyball team that swept Penn State in the NCAA Championship finals - said that PSU has done a "fantastic job" with recruiting outside of the California hotbeds, finding the best talent in the East, Midwest, and Puerto Rico.
"[Coach Mark] Pavlik has always been the best at finding the best kids in those areas. [2009 grad Max] Holt from Ohio is a great volleyball player. Max [Lipsitz] from New York is a great volleyball player. [Edgardo Goas and Dennis DeValle] from Puerto Rico, those guys are great volleyball players."
Speraw also said that being so close in proximity to other volleyball powerhouses UCLA and USC can be a disadvantage.
"We're all here, so close together, all competing for the same kids. And a lot of those kids want to stay close to home." Speraw said. "But on the other hand, when there are talented kids on the East Coast, Penn State doesn't have as many universities to compete with."
Pepperdine head coach Marv Dunphy said that there will continue to be more and more talented kids coming from the East Coast, due to the sport's growing popularity.
"More boys are playing volleyball. It's just by osmosis, it just happened," Dunphy said. "Boys are realizing that volleyball is a viable alternative to other sports."
Perhaps to be noted: Pepperdine does not have men's soccer or football programs.
A much better performance this time around for the Lady Lions. They weren't plagued by turnovers and they played smart, disciplined basketball en route to a 25 point win over the Monmouth Hawks Wednesday night at the BJC.
Here's how I grade the Lions in their sixth win of the season.
First Half: A
Easily one of the best halves the Lady Lions have put together this young season. There was really nothing the team did horribly wrong. They shot 54.5 percent from the field, but more importantly, they played some stingy defense. Holding to Monmouth to just over 18 percent from the floor, the Lions forced nine first half turnovers and out-rebounded the Hawks 25-15.
Second Half: B+
Another strong half for the Lions. The only thing that keeps this grade from being an A is the fact the the Lions got a little sloppy as their lead increased. After committing just four personal fouls in the first half, the Lions committed 10 in the second half. Monmouth got to the line 13 times in the second half and scored nine points. The Lions' shooting percentage also dropped 13 points to 41.4 percent.
A very strong shooting half for the Lady Lions in the first was followed by an average shooting half in the second. But overall, the Lady Lions took smart shots and waited for the right opportunities.Tyra Grant had an excellent night shooting 5-for-7 from the field and teammate Meredith Monroe followed suit, shooting 4-for-5. The lone blemish in the shooting arena for the Lions was freshman Gizelle Studevent going 0-for-8. The freshman was trying to find her touch, but could never get anything going.
Alex Bentley showed she's continuing to grow as a point guard as she dished out seven assists. The Lions as a team had 11 assists. The first half was stronger than the second in terms of costly turnovers, but the Lions had some nice ball movement that led to a lot of open looks. Emily Phillips came off the bench and added three assists.
One of the strongest, if not the strongest, defensive outings for the Lady Lions this season in terms of facing up and denying the ball. The Lions held the Hawks to a 22.1 field goal percentage. A down spot on the defensive end tonight was on the glass. While the Lions had 35 defensive rebounds, they allowed 21 offensive rebounds. Still, the Hawks converted just nine second-chance points.
A strong performance from the Lady Lions, but it was against a very young team. However, Coach Washington took this game as an opportunity to get her younger players a lot of valuable minutes. That sort of experience will be important as the Lions get into Big Ten play. The game was a nice bounce back for the Lions after dropping two straight.
Player of the Game: Meredith Monroe
The senior got a rare start and took full advantage. Monroe scored the Lions first seven points and finished the game with 11 points and seven rebounds. Although Nikki Greene did have a double-double, the freshman was just 4-for-13 shooting. For that reason Monroe gets the Player of the Game nod.
That wraps up the post-game report card. A strong performance and a strong win for a team that needed it.
The Lions will be back in action Saturday when they take on No. 15 Pittsburgh at 1 p.m. at the Bryce Jordan Center.
Womack gets two more for the Lions after Monmouth couldn't convert on the offensive end.
Lions by 22 with Monmouth at the line shooting two.
Two misses and a rebound for Lions seal the victory.
Bentley adds a three-pointer for good measure and that will do it for us here at the BJC.
Check back later for the post-game report card.
Thanks for following.
Penn State 67 Monmouth 42
Womack gets called for the travel as she tried to drive from the right side. The ball goes back to to Monmouth who trails by 19.
Canady fouls Studevent with the Lions now in the double bonus.
Studevent hits one-of-two.
Loose ball on the floor , Penn State gets called for the foul.
Monmouth calls another timeout. Guess they couldn't reach a consensus on a movie.
48.9 Second Half
Penn State 62 Monmouth 42
Out of the timeout, Singer hits for Monmouth.
There doesn't appear to be enough time left and Monmouth has been too inconsistent offensively to pull off the comeback.
Greene grabs two offesnive rebounds in one possession and Bentley finishes it off with two.
Another timeout from Monmouth. Probably to discuss what movie they're going to watch on the bus back to New Jersey.
2:10 Second Half
Penn State 61 Monmouth 40
Greene hits both and the Lions lead by 23.
Chanel Gomez gets a lay-up on the other end for the Hawks.
Nikki Greene picks up another block, but the ball goes out of bounds.
Another timeout on the floor.
3:20 Second Half
Penn State 59 Monmouth 38
Martin is helped off the floor by two coaches and she too appears to be favoring her left leg. She gets worked on by the trainer as Monmouth gets two points off a lay-up by Alexis Canady.
Nikki Greene gets fouled and will head to the line for two, but first we have a timeout on the floor.
4:40 Second Half
Penn State 57 Monmouth 36
Tyra Grant gets a little overzealous and boxes out on the first free throw. Monmouth hits both and its back to a 20 point game.
Nikki Greene grabs the offensive board and puts it back for two. Greene now has a double-double.
Abby Martin is down on the floor for the Hawks as we have a timeout.
5:36 Second Half
Penn State 57 Monmouth 33
Emily Phillips picks up the offensive foul and the Lions come out in a press. It works as Monmouth throws the ball into the hands of Renee Womack.
Marisa Wolfe scored in transition and the Lions lead by 23.
Nicole Arcidiacono checks in to replace Bentley. The Lions are running a four-guard offense with Marisa Wolfe being the only forward on the floor.
Tough defense by the Lions leads to a shot clock violation for Monmouth. Bentley checks back into the game.
Timeout on the floor.
7:19 Second Half
Penn State 53 Monmouth 31
Renee Womack flashes to the elbow and receives the pass from Bentley. Womack rises over the defender and hits, putting the Lions up by 20.
Nikki Greene picks up her third personal. Monmouth foes one-for-two from the line.
Greene goes to the line and hits both to put the Lions' lead back at 21. Greene then picks up her fourth foul on the other end. Studevent checks in for Greene.
Zha-Zha Gray comes back onto the floor with the help of crutches.
Emil Phillips hits the bucket and draws the foul after a monster block by Womack on the defensive end.
Timeout Penn State.
9:30 Second Half
Penn State 51 Monmouth 30.
Still no sign of Zha-Zha Gray as Gabby Singer hits the three for the Hawks and cuts the Lions lead to 18.
Trogele cuts baseline and Nikki Greene feeds her from the high post. Trogele draws the foul and heads to the line for two. Trogele hits both and the Lions open up a 21 point lead.
Janessa Wolff gets fouled and heads to the line. She hits both and its 45-27 Lions.
Timeout on the floor.
11:52 Second Half
Penn State 45 Monmouth 27
Zhaque Gray, Meredith Monroe and a Monmouth player collide and Gray limps off the court and goes over to the trainer. We'll find out what happened after the game.
Lions stay in the man defense as Nikki Greene grabs another defensive board. Grant gets the bucket and one in transition. Grant hits the free throw and the Lions are up 22.
Nikki Greene shows some of that highly touted athleticism as she gets the ball down low, bobbles it but has the wherewithal to regather herself and take it the bucket. Greene draws the foul, but misses both free throws.
Monmouth hits a three, but does a little too much celebrating as Renee Womack streaks down the court and gets the uncontested lay-up. Monmouth hasn't really been hustling back on defense at all this game. That doesn't bode well against a team like Penn State.
Nikki Greene picks up just her second personal and there's a timeout on the floor.
15:45 Second Half
Penn State 41 Monmouth 20
Great first half for the Lions. They did exactly what the wanted to do and came out to a fast start for the first time in three games.
Defensively, the Lady Lions put a strangle-hold on Monmouth. The Hawks could hardly get to the basket and had to settle for some outside shots that didn't fall.
Meredith Monroe has been a spark. Tyra Grant picked things up towards the end of the half and finished with 11 points. Grant and Monroe lead the Lions in scoring.
The Lions shot a lusty 54.5 percent from the field and 88.9 percent from the line.
Monmouth shot just 18. 2 percent on 6-for-33 shooting.
The Lions have out-rebounded Monmouth 25-15.
I'll be back with second half action in a bit.
The Lions continue to work hard on the offensive glass. Grant grabs the board off of a Studevent miss and gets the put-back.
Good defense by freshman Marisa Wolfe. Monmouth's Abby Martin was working under the basket to create some separation, she went for the shot and Wolfe grabbed the ball out of her hands and got the jump ball. Possession to Monmouth.
Emily Phillips runs the floor after another defensive stop and gets fouled. She hits both free throws as the Lions open up a 19 point lead.
Monmouth has multiple chances to score at the end of the half, but can't convert. It's been at least eight minutes since Monmouth has scored a bucket. I'll have the exact number for you when I get the half time stats.
Penn State 32 Monmouth 13
Alex Bentley forces another jump ball, possession goes to the Hawks. The Lions are being tenacious on defense. Monmouth is having trouble getting to the hoop and when it does, the players are met by one or two Penn State defenders.
Monmouth having a hard time getting anything going on the offensive end.
Meanwhile, the Lions are running and gunning, and starting to run away late in the first half.
3:10 First Half
Penn State 28 Monmouth 13
Nikki Greene grabs the offensive board off of Grant's miss and puts back the uncontested lay-up. Lions lead by 11, their largest lead of the game.
6:26 First Half
Penn State 24 Monmouth 13
Janessa Wolff is working hard on the defensive glass. Twice in the last two minutes she has gotten good position down low and drew the foul while grabbing the board.
Monroe checks back into the lineup to replace Trogele.
After a long possession for the Hawks, Nikki Greene grabs the defensive board and is fouled by Chanel Gomez. Gomez heads to the bench after the foul. Gomez has her initials tattooed on each of her triceps, in case she forgets them I guess.
Tyra Grant gets two for the Lions on the other end.
Strong defense from the Lions leads to a shot clock violation and a timeout on the floor.
Monroe still leads the Lions with nine points.
7:32 First Half
Penn State 20 Monmouth 13
Nikki Greene is strong defensively on the low block and allows Monroe to sneak in and force the jump ball. Greene gets the lay-up on the other end to put the Lions up 7.
The third jump ball in less than 2 minutes gives possession back to the Hawks.
Trogele and Wolff check in for Greene and Monroe. Let's see if the Lions can find another scorer with Monroe off the floor.
A nice back door cut by Tyra Grant and a better pass from Emily Phillips leads to a foul and two free throws for Grant. She hits one-of-two.
Grant takes the inbound pass after a Monmouth score and runs the floor for an easy lay-up. Monmouth was slow getting back, and Grant took full advantage running end-to-end for the easy deuce.
Renee Womack picks up a foul and there's a timeout on the floor.
11:26 First Half
Penn State 18 Monmouth 11
Monroe gets the first bucket for the Lions, who come back in a man-to-man defense.
Tyra Grant does throw the ball into Nikki Greene on the Lions' second possesion. The freshman absorbs contact, but can't hit on the lay-up. Monroe grabs the board and gets fouled on the put back. Monroe hits both free throws as the Lions grab an early four point lead.
Zhaque Gray spots up from the men's line, but is hard off the back of the rim. Monroe gets her second offensive board, hits the lay-up and gets the foul in the process. She follows up with a made free throw and Monroe has the Lions first seven points.
Strong showing from Monroe early, She is attacking the basket hard on both ends and getting to the line -- something the Lions need to do more of.
Gizelle Studevent goes end-to-end and misses the wide open lay-up. Monroe follows up with another offensive board and puts the lay-up in.
Timeout on the floor.
15:25 First Half
Penn State 11 Monmouth 6
Penn State starters:
G Alex Bentley
G Tyra Grant
G Zhaque Gray
F Meredith Monroe
C Nikki Greene
G Alysha Womack
G Erin Rooney
G Adriana Allen
G Alexis Canady
F Abby Martin
Small lineup for the Hawks to start it. Let's see if the Lions try to work Greene down low early.
Welcome to the Bryce Jordan Center where tonight the Penn State Lady Lions take on the Monmouth Hawks in nonconference action.
Collegian Lady Lions' reporter Bill Landis here to take you through the all the exciting plays.
For the first time this season, the Lady Lions are on a losing streak. Coming off losses to No. 23 Georgia Tech and Minnesota, the Lions will look to rebound against the Hawks.
Monmouth comes in with a record of 3-4. In its last game, Monmouth was blown out on the road against ACC power Boston College.
The Hawks have a win against Davdison in a tournament in Wilmington, N.C., but have yet to win a true road game. They dropped a 56-41 road game at Rider earlier in the season.
In its loss against Minnesota Sunday, the Lions fell victim to a slow start. Coach Coquese Washington said she wants to see her team come out to a fast start this time around and put the pressure on the Hawks early.
The Lions are just finishing up their pregame shoot-around.
We'll be back with the starting lineups. Also, don't forget to check out the Washington's Post twitter @Washingtonspost.
Brooks ran along the baseline and rebounded redshirt junior forward D.J. Jackson's dunk with authority. Best highlight of the year so far for this team.
Game of the Night: No. 5 Kentucky (even) vs. No. 12 UCONN, 9:30
Kentucky's freshmen proved they were up for a big game in Kentucky's win over North Carolina last weekend, but that was at Rupp Arena. Tonight's game will be a true test for these youngsters, under the lights of Madison Square Garden against a tough UCONN team.
Sporting News' college basketball expert Mike DeCourcy called Wildcat freshman John Wall the best athlete to ever play the point guard position, but like ESPN's Dana O'Neil reports, UCONN's point guard Kemba Walker will have something to say about Wall dominating. UCONN coach Jim Calhoun said Walker and Jerome Dyson will share the duties of guarding Wall. It makes sense because Wall will run all over the place, and the Huskies need those two players to have fresh legs.
The Huskies lost by nine on the same MSG floor about two weeks ago to Duke, but I think the Huskies match-up better with the Wildcats. Patrick Patterson will be the difference maker -- if he has a good game, then Kentucky should win.
Prediction: Kentucky 78 - UCONN 73
Player of the Night: D.J. Kennedy, St. John's
Kennedy and the Johnnies only lost to Duke by nine points at Cameron Indoor Stadium and they play the Georgia Bulldogs tonight. It's the 7 p.m. game on ESPN2, coming before the Kentucky/UCONN showdown.
Kennedy is leading St. John's with 17.1 points a game through seven contests and is a real impressive athlete. St. John's is a very solid basketball team at 6-1, with impressive victories over Temple and Siena in the Philly Classic. The Bulldogs are in a rebuilding stage (they lost to Wofford), but they're still an SEC school and a win would be nice.
In front of a New York crowd, expect Kennedy, a Pittsburgh native, to shine tonight.
Jake Kemerer suffered an injured right knee during Sunday's Nittany Lion Open.
The freshman was told the injury is specifically in the knee's bursa sac. Though the knee was a little swollen, he said Tuesday it was only a minor injury and there was little pain.
Kemerer said he first felt pain in the knee during his first match Sunday, and it continued to increase with each bout after. He was forced to forfeit his final match due to injury.
The 165-pounder is expected to be out 1-2 weeks, and said he has to avoid hitting the knee to prevent any further swelling. However, the injury came at a pretty good time for the redshirt, as he won't be missing any tournaments during that time.
The rest of the Penn State wrestling team takes on West Virginia and No. 24 Pittsburgh this weekend.
Monday night, Devils goalie Martin Brodeur, who we here at 10 Minute Misconduct universally named the best goalie of the decade, wrapped up career shutout No. 103 in a win over the Sabres, tying him with Hall of Fame Red Wings goalie Terry Sawchuk for most all-time shutouts. Tonight, Brodeur goes for shutout No. 104, which would put him alone atop the list. Brodeur has had a long, decorated career, and this would be just another achievement. Brodeur already is the NHL's all-time leader in wins and is four games shy of tying Patrick Roy for most career games. Brodeur is certainly Hall of Fame-bound and this would be just another feather in his cap ... or goalie mask.
This is why Brodeur is good at what he does:
An SUV picked a fight with Islanders defender Brendan Witt. Brendan Witt won.
Tuesday morning, Witt was on his merry way to Starbucks when he was struck by an SUV. However, he got right back on his feet, declined medical attention and continued to Starbucks for his morning coffee. He not only was OK, but he played in last night's game, logging 17:02 of ice time.
A witness said it was like watching Clint Eastwood.
"I didn't look, but I might have put a dent in his truck," Witt told reporters after the incident.
All moving vehicles are now afraid of Brendan Witt.
Hockey fights are awesome. How about hockey fights with girls? No, this isn't an all girls team. It's a girl on a guys team fighting back when picked on. She gets props from me.
At Coquese Washington's weekly press conference Tuesday afternoon she acknowledged that some of her Lady Lions have been hit by the injury bug.
Freshman center Nikki Greene has been dealing with a jammed thumb, and it's the type of injury that Washington said the center keeps re-injuring. While the coach was quick to point out that it's nothing major, during Sunday's game Greene could be seen several times clutching her heavily wrapped thumb. Washington said it's something that originally happened in practice and then she said somehow everyday Greene manages to either have the ball tip off it or one of her teammate's bangs into it. For a post player, dealing with a nagging thumb injury is something that will continue to get banged around as the season continues and Washington said it will heal with time. However, the coach was quick to point out that the center won't have that luxury during the season.
Monroe makes quick turnaround
When Meredith Monroe clutched her left knee Wednesday during the first half of the Georgia Tech game, Washington initially thought her top substitute at the forward position would be out of action for several weeks. And after the game when Monroe was examined by doctors the coach was pretty certain it would be a few weeks until the senior captain would be able to play.
After giving Monroe off Thursday and Friday to try and give her knee time to heal, the Lions headed into the Minnesota game thinking she was nowhere close to playing. Monroe told her coach she was feeling pretty good and took part in the pregame shoot around and then lobbied for some playing time with Washington. Coquese said the doctors cleared the 6-foot-1 forward to play, although she initially had some reservations about the possibility of getting Monroe into the game.
"The doctor said she looked good and she could play," Washington said. "I was like 'Well, yeah, okay I'm gonna play her when she hasn't practiced and we thought she was going to be out for a couple of weeks.' But she said she wanted to play, we needed her and she went in and played really well for us."
Monroe injured her right knee last year and played for the majority of the season with a torn meniscus so I suspect it's going to take a pretty significant injury to keep her out of the lineup.
Here's our usual grades for each player in tonight's 58-42 victory over UMBC.
junior guard Talor Battle: B
Battle was held under 10 points for the third time this season. He was guarded closely by UMBC guard Chris De La Rosa who was pesky on the Lion guard all night. Battle didn't really need to do much scoring in the second half. Penn State needs him to find his shot, though. The junior finished 0-for-4 from 3-point range, which puts his season mark at 14-for-56 (25 percent). His shooting percentage from the field is now at 49-of-125, for 39.2 percent.
freshman guard Tim Frazier: B+
Frazier stepped up in the second half by spreading the ball around and finding open men. The guards really did a nice job of making cross-court passes and getting the offense going fluidly. He finished with 7 points and five assists on 3-of-6 shooting from the floor.
junior forward D.J. Jackson: C
Jackson never got anything going offensively and finished scoreless for the first time all year. But, he's a guy who will score when the team needs him to. The Lions didn't really look to him as one of those guys tonight. He had a solid game defensively guarding UMBC's Shawn Grant for most of the game.
junior forward Jeff Brooks: A
Brooks scored double digits for the fifth time this season and really cemented himself as one of the keys this year to the Lions' offense. He paced the squad with 14 points on 7-of-11 shooting. One awesome stat the coaching staff will love when they see it tomorrow: 0 fouls.
junior forward/center Drew Jones: A
The junior big man had his best game of the year -- finishing with a double-double for the first time since his impressive outing against Notre Dame in the NIT Semifinals at Madison Square Garden. Jones joked around in the postgame press conference, making fun of Brooks twice. It's fun playing the game when you're playing it well.
freshman forward Bill Edwards: C+
Edwards led the team with three turnovers and was not the same player the coaching staff has been bragging about. His seven rebounds were solid and good for second on the team, but the freshman moved slowly with the ball in his hands and had a few questionable turnovers.
sophomore guard Chris Babb: B-
Babb came off the bench for the fifth straight game and had a decent game. His six rebounds were a nice addition from the guard, but his 2-for-7 shooting from the 3-point arc wasn't too impressive.
sophomore guard Cammeron Woodyard: B+
Aside from a turnover trying to put the ball behind his back on a layup in transition, Woodyard had an impressive night. His best play probably came on a dish to Andrew Ott -- an extra pass around two defenders that led to an Ott slam. Woodyard finished with 5 points, only hitting one of his five 3-pointers.
junior forward Andrew Ott: B+
Ott probably had his best game of the year -- hitting the floor to collect a nice loose ball and also dunking the ball nicely off a clever Woodyard pass. He also gave an excellent pass along the baseline to Jones for a slam dunk. His offensive rebound putback in the first half was a nice sign for Ott, too.
freshman forward Sasa Borovnjak: C
Only seven minutes played, but the big man failed to score.
freshman forward Billy Oliver: B-
Oliver was the tenth different Lion to score in the game on a nice take to the hole with his opposite hand. He only hit one of his foul shots, but it was a nice move from the redshirt freshman.
junior forward Steve Kirkpatrick: C
Kirkpatrick only played two minutes and had zeros on his box score sheet. Little side note: He was shooting the lights out in practice on Monday.
Six members of the Penn State wrestling team are now ranked after the release of the latest Intermat polls.
After winning the title at the Nittany Lion Open, Dave Erwin is now ranked at 184-pounds. Previously unranked, the senior jumped all the way to No. 14.
Cyler Sanderson also moved up one spot to No. 3 at 157. Frank Molinaro (No. 6 at 149) and Dan Vallimont (No. 9 at 165) remained unchanged.
Brad Pataky fell one spot to No. 7 at 125 after finishing second at the NLO. The grappler who beat him, Virginia Tech's Jarrod Garnett, is now No. 6. Cameron Wade also dropped to No. 13 among heavyweights.
As a team, the Nittany Lions dropped a spot to No. 14.
The game has come to an end -- Penn State rebounded from a lackluster first half and executed on offense.
Jeff Brooks finished as the team's leading scorer with 14 points and Drew Jones had his best game of the year with 10 points and 10 rebounds.
We're heading down to the press room. Thanks for joining us with the live blog at the BJC.
Check tomorrow's Collegian for full coverage of tonight's game.
7:28 left in the second half, Penn State leads 53-32
The Lions have found their shooting stroke in the second half, hitting their 3-pointers at a 3-for-6 mark in the second stanza.
The first half run has increased to 28-12 thus far.
The guards have been making some nice looks -- reversing court with cross-court passes ans driving and kicking out. Chris Babb had two 3-pointers in a three possession span.
Andrew Ott also had an impressive dunk after a great, aware pass from Cammeron Woodyard.
Other scores around the nation: Georgetown leads Butler 31-27 with 1:37 left in the first half.
Big Ten: Minnesota leads Morgan State 43-21 at halftime. Morgan State is a solid team so this is a real statement from the Gophers who haven't been very impressive this season.
11:20 left in the second half, Penn State leads 41-28
The Lions have jumped out to a 13-point lead with a 14-5 in the second half. Jeff Brooks had back-to-back scoring possessions for Penn State to keep it floating above the double digit leading mark.
The defensive intensity has also increased by the Lions.
Timeout on the floor.
18:15 left in the second half, Penn State leads 32-23
Jeff Brooks just had a highlight reel dunk.
Off a D.J. Jackson missed jumper from 12 feet out, Jeff Brooks soared along the baseline and had a reverse dunk to ignite the crowd.
On the next possession, Tim Frazier connected on the Lions' second 3-pointer of the night to give the Lions a quick 5-0 run to start the half.
Halftime: Penn State leads 27-23
Penn State is 1-for-11 (9.1 percent) from 3-point range and 12-for-35 from the field. Against a UMBC defense that has been less than pressuring, the Lions have to be disappointed with the output.
Andrew Jones has really been the lone bright spot for PSU with 8 points and 6 rebounds at half. Jeff Brooks has 6 points.
For UMBC, 5-foot-10 guard Chris De La Rosa has had his way against the Lion defense, ddriving to the hoop at will pretty much. He's also done a nice job guarding Talor Battle, holding the point guard to 4 first half points, including 0-for-3 from downtown.
3;29 left, 21-21
This is a very, very sluggish performance so far. Penn State hasn't scored in three minutes and it's tied up against a winless opponent in the bottom of the standings in the America East Conference.
UMBC corralled an offensive rebound and kicked it out to Nick Grace for a 3-pointer to tie the game.
Penn State's offense is as painful to watch as an episode of American Idol --- scratch that. More painful than the first episode of MTV's Jersey Shore.
5:59 left, 21-18 PSU
Jeff Brooks just slammed emphatically after a nice pass from the baseline from Andrew Ott.
But that wasn't the loudest cheer yet. The Subway sub giveaway has won that honor. Everyone is going nuts trying to get a sub. I guess a 6:30 p.m. start time doesn't work well for eating dinner early. We enjoyed our cheeseburgers from the press room, though.
More on the next stoppage of play.
7:15 left in 1st half, 19-18 PSU
Retriever guard Chris De La Rosa easily dribbled around Chris Babb in transition to give UMBC the lead, 18-16 with 7:41 left.
The arena was silent, with only a few UMBC supporters sounding their approval.
Cammeron Woodyard quickly countered with a 3-pointer, the team's only successful one thus far (the Lions are 1-for-5 from downtown) to take the lead back, though. And there was a timeout on the floor after.
9:47 left in 1st half, 12-12
Penn State is getting the looks, but it can't hit a bucket. Ed DeChellis is obviously not happy with the play thus far -- subbing Cammeron Woodyard, Chris Babb, Andrew Ott and Jeff Brooks in the game, with Battle only staying in.
15:04 left in 1st half, 10-8 Penn State
Not a very exciting first five minutes. Both teams are hitting its jump shots -- UMBC is 4-for-6 from the field and PSU is 5-for-9. UMBC's jumpers have been really open and unguarded. PSU is moving the ball nicely on offense, but freshman guard Tim Frazier was hesitant and passed on a 7-footer in the lane. Jeff Brooks has missed a couple easy shots too -- one making assistant coach Lewis Preston annoyed. Preston walked down the bench to fellow forward Andrew Ott to explain what Brooks did wrong.
Action starting back up here -- Jones missed his free throw attempt after he was fouled on a successful layup. More updates at the next stoppage of play.
The National Anthem was just announced and the starting lineups are being announced and the tip is about to be thrown up:
20 Adrian Satchell
23 Chauncey Gilliam
21 Matt Spadafora
24 Shawn Grant
10 Chris De La Rosa
F Jeff Brooks
G Tim Frazier
F David Jackson
F Drew Jones
Welcome to the Hardhood Hits live blog, Nittany Lion basketball fans. Stephen Hennessey here bringing you complete coverage of tonight's matchup between the UMBC Retrievers and the Nittany Lions.
Andrew and AJ and I are currently enjoying some delicious burgers in the media room, but we'll be heading up to press row in a few minutes.
Here's some key notes for tonight's game:
1. UMBC is winless, but has been competitive in most of its games against some quality opponents. (two point loss at James Madison, five point loss at Towson, three point loss vs. Loyola, Md.).
2. Penn State is 20-1 throughout the last three seasons in nonconference home games. This will likely be the 21st win.
3. UMBC and PSU have only faced each other each other twice in history, with two victories for the Lions. Last time they played, the Retrievers lost by four points in 1992 at UMBC.
The MLB Winter Meetings have commenced and on day two a big deal just went down between he Tigers, Yankees and DBacks. The Yankees get Curtis Granderson, the D'Backs get Edwin Jackson and Ian Kennedy, and the Tigers get Max Scherzer, Daniel Schlereth, Austin Jackson, and Phil Coke. It's a good deal for the Yankees, as Granderson is a 30-30 threat with decent contact and on-base skills, as well as playing decent defense. The only knock on him is that he's pretty pitiful against lefties, owning a .614 OPS against them in his career and only posting a .484 mark last season. Austin Jackson's ceiling could conceivably be Granderson, so the Yanks get more of a sure thing. And Ian Kennedy hasn't been able to stick in the majors yet after several cups of coffee with the Yanks. Coke was OK last season coming out of the pen for the Yanks, albeit some ups and downs.
The Tigers made out big in this deal. Coke will help the pen. Schlereth adds nice depth and Austin Jackson should be starting in CF for them within the next year or two. The big name is Scherzer. He has some solid stuff and is under team control for five more years. Right now, I'd argue he's better than Edwin Jackson, which really makes you wonder what the DBacks were thinking. It's not a very good trade for them, as I feel Edwin Jackson is going to regress a bit next season.
Some other things important and not so important:
- Moneyball fans rejoice. The film adaption of the best-selling baseball book and sabermetrician's bible is back on. Steven Soderbergh has been replaced as director by Bennett Miller, who was the director of the critically-acclaimed film "Capote." Brad Pitt is set to portray A's general manager Billy Beane and Demetri Martin has signed on to portray then-assistant GM Paul DePodesta.
- Sports Editor Adam Clark is hoping to see the Raiders "in the hunt" for the playoffs by Week 17. I haven't laughed that hard in awhile.
- I'm surprised Tiger Woods didn't bury his phone in a sand trap. Woulda been a good place to hide it from the police. No one expects Tiger to be hanging out in a bunker.
Video of the Week: Saints WR Robert Meachem was unhappy with this interception and demanded the ball back. So he went and took it.
Zeynep Ton, who graduated from Penn State in 1996, helped to lead the Nittany Lions to a second-place finish in the tournament. That year, 1993, was the first year Penn State had made it to the Final Four.
Ton, who is now a professor at Harvard, said the players on the team now probably don't fully understand how lucky they are to compete so far into the post season nearly every year. "So the last two years, you've seen the Penn State women's volleyball team win the national championship. That's something that's almost taken for granted now," Ton said. "The women's volleyball team gets great players, they make it to the Final Four all the time and they have a great program. And that wasn't so much the case when I was at Penn State."
While nearly every player currently on Penn State's roster has competed in a National Championship game, that was not true for the 1993 team. In Penn State's first appearance in the title game, the Lions lost 3-1 to Long Beach State. Ton and two of her teammates were named to the All-tournament team for that run. However, despite the loss, Ton still describes that season as one of her fondest memories from her time at Penn State.
"Nothing has given me as much joy as that collective effort and winning as a team," Ton said. "To this day, when I think about Penn State, the biggest accomplishment I see is being part of that team that made it to the Final Four and played in the championship game. This is going to be strange to the girls who are on the team because they are used to it, but for us, it was so very special."
As Penn State's season winds down and the Lions inch closer to the coveted championship game, Ton hopes the athletes take a step back and look at what they have accomplished in their time on the team.
"My advice for them is to celebrate the fact they are attending this wonderful university, they are part of this great volleyball program and that they have Coach Rose as a coach," Ton said. "I do hope they reflect on their lives and they realize they are here for their talents and their hard work. I sincerely think it is so important to realize how lucky they have been."
Colby Pisani seemed to increase his stock over Adam Lynch in the 141-pound weight class this past weekend at the Nittany Lion Open. Pisani finished fourth place with a 3-2 record, a win by fall and a victory over No. 8 Tyler Nauman of Pitt. Lynch finished 2-2 along with a loss to future Lion Andrew Alton.
Coach Cael Sanderson said Pisani competed well but has more potential. Sanderson said Pisani is a talented wrestler and needs to work on the things the coaching staff has been stressing.
As to whether Pisani is now the main guy at 141 pounds, Sanderson answered:
"That is something we'll look at here closely. There is not a better wrestle-off than just putting two guys in the same tournament because that is what we're looking for. We need the guys that compete well against outside competition."
Game of the Night: Binghamton vs. Marshall, 7 p.m.
If you've been reading the news, you know this basketball game has nothing to do with basketball and a lot to do about the Binghamton school community.
A Binghamton professor was stabbed to death on Friday in his office by a graduate student police believe knew the professor.
Abdulsalam S. al-Zahrani, 46, is suspected of killing 77-year-old anthropology professor Richard T. Antoun. When a tragic event happens like this, the whole campus seems to rally and come together during sporting events. That's the type of situation the Binghamton basketball team is faced with tonight.
Following Michigan State's loss to North Carolina, the team needs to rebound in a big way. The Spartans only dismissed Wofford by 12 points and they travel to The Citadel tonight, looking for their first road win of the year.
One player who needs to play at full throttle tonight is Raymar Morgan. The senior forward is only averaging 11.4 points a game and 5.7 rebounds. He not score in 19 minutes of play in the team's 77-72 loss to Florida and has went scoreless in two games this year. Morgan did score 16 points against the Tar Heels.
A 20+ scoring game would be huge to establishing more confidence in Morgan, who is somebody the Spartans will count on during conference play.
Penn's volleyball fans could easily be seen on the side of the court Saturday night, mimicking the players on the court by jumping up and down with every point the Quakers made. They could be heard even better. Penn was being praised after the game by coaches on both sides of the court for its energy and enthusiasm during Saturday's NCAA tournament second round match against Penn State.
"They were doing what you'd expect a team to do in a situation where they have nothing to lose," Penn State coach Russ Rose said. "They played hard, they kept their heads up and I respect that and admire it."
Although Penn State won the match 3-0, it was not an easy task. The fierce game plan produced by Penn halted the Lions and prevented them from playing with as much energy as their opponents.
Penn coach Kerry Carr said the coaching staff formulated a game plan that was completely unorthodox for her team to counter Penn State's strong attack and block. She said her team's goal was to get the Lions frustrated and to take their energy away, and that worked for the Quakers at first.
"A team that is just so good and so much stronger at every position on paper, you have to go with something different," Carr said. "We started with something that got them out of rhythm."
The Quakers had the lead for the majority of the first set, not getting behind until the 20-19 mark. Penn State cruised from there to take the first set, and the next two sets came a little easier for them.
However, despite the loss and the end of the season, the Quakers are still impressed with their performance against the returning back-to-back National champions.
"We really wanted to come out with a strong start and make sure that we were taking every risk we could, trying to get points in every possible way," Penn's junior setter Megan Tryon said.
The Lions were also impressed with their opponent's play. Rose and his team were quick to praise the Quakers for their huge presence on the court as well as the way they took the energy out of Penn State's play.
"I thought that they just played really smart and they played hard too," freshman outside hitter Darcy Dorton. "Like Coach said, they won the battle when it came to energy, and I think that says something about their program."
1. Bubba Jenkins sat out from the Nittany Lion Open today. The redshirt said he suffered from a bruised sternum, two bruised ribs and pulled cartilage under his ribs.
"I can't even lay on my stomach on the mat without feeling some kind of pain," Jenkins said.
2. Bryan Pearsall seemed to increase his value over Tyler Saltsman at the 133 spot. Both 133-pounders won their second-round bouts. Pearsall pinned Jason Turpyn and Saltsman defeated Nassau's Mike Doria by a 4-3 decision. In Pearsall's second match, he lost a 7-4 decision to Binghamton's Garret Morabito while Saltsman lost to Missouri's Nathan McCormick.
While their losses pushed both to the consolation bracket, Pearsall had a better showing. Saltsman lost to Pittsburgh's Zach Grove by an 8-7 decision, which ended his day. On the other hand, Pearsall won three straight in the consolation bracket including a 15-0 technical fall over unrostered Rob Vollrath. He ended the tournament in eighth place.
Although Pearsall did not solidify his spot as the starting guy at 133, he seems to hold the upper hand based on his Nittany Lion Open performance.
3. David Erwin's victory at 184 pounds solidifies his comeback. It was his first open tournament win of the season and proves his early-season difficulties arose because he lost energy while cutting weight. Dan Vallimont took third place and lost to unattached Rutgers wrestler Scott Winston 9-3. Vallimont wrestled from behind the whole match -- a match he should have won. His third-place finish wasn't a disappointment, but as the No. 9 wrestler at 165, his bout with Winston was more than winnable.
The Lady Lions got off to a rocky start in their 2009-10 Big Ten campaign. Here's a look at some of the areas that led to the Lions' 56-48 loss to Minnesota Sunday:
First Half: B-
If it were not for a slew of early turnovers for the Lions, they could have very well been leading going into half time. The Lady Lions turned the ball over 11 times in the first half, with most of those coming early in the half. The Lions overcame the sloppy play early and made a nice run at the end of the half to cut the Gopher lead to three before the teams headed to the locker room. The shooting numbers were good and four three-pointers were crucial in the Lions comeback. Defensively, the Lions did a nice job of neutralizing the three-point shooting of Minnesota, but in doing so allowed some easy buckets down low. Still, with as bad as the first half started, Coach Washington needed to be pleased with the way her team ended the half.
Second Half: C-
Unfortunately for the Lions, they couldn't maintain the hot streak they had going into the half. Instead the Lions reverted back to some things that have shown to be problems for them this season. However, the most glaring problem in the second half was fouls. In all, Minnesota got 23 points at the foul line, and built a lead that was just too much for the Lions to overcome.
Penn State started out shooting the ball pretty well. Towards the end of the first half, the Lions were taking smart shots and built a comeback that left them down three points. However, as the game wore-on, the Lions began taking some ill-advised shots and finished the game with a 32.7 field goal percentage. After going 4-for-10 from the three-point line in the first half, the Lady Lions went 2-for-8 to end the game. In all, though, it wasn't the best shooting performance by the Lady Lions, but the shooting isn't what led to them losing the game.
When the Lions actually got into a half court offense, the passing was OK. But bad passes led to turnovers in the first half and the turnovers led to easy buckets for the Gophers. The Lions were much stronger with the ball in the second half with point guard Alex Bentley distributing the ball well, but 11 first-half turnovers dug the Lions into a deep hole. One promising note is that the Lions had just seven turnovers in the second half.
If the Lions did not commit 18 personal fouls, this grade would have been higher. The Lions used a nice mix of man-to-man and zone defenses to stifle a team that is normally proficient from deep. Minnesota shot just 5-for-20 from three and had an overall field goal percentage of 26.9. The fouls killed the Lions, though, as Minnesota got to the line 26 times and converted 88.5 percent.
Because it was an early start for the Big Ten season, a little bit of sloppy play is expected. The Lady Lions did demonstrate some resiliency in coming back at the end of the first half, but could never get a consistent attack. Free throws played a key role as the Lions got to the line just seven times and hit six. The Lions were also absolutely dominated on the glass, as Minnesota out-rebounded Penn State 51-28. Not getting to the line, committing lazy fouls, and not boxing out on the boards is a recipe for disaster, but even having done all of that, the Lady Lions still only lost by eight.
Considering the circumstances, the final score isn't that bad, but I'm sure Coach Washington would have liked to see a better effort from players other than Bentley and Tyra Grant.
CLARK (91-65): Falcons over Eagles, Panthers over Bucs (not that anyone cares either way), Bears over Rams, Bengals over Lions, Titans over Colts (A Colts win could ensure the surging Titans miss the playoffs. Big game), Texans over Jaguars, Broncos over Chiefs, Patriots over Dolphins, Raiders over Steelers (Raiders will take the 15-yard penalty and fine and knock Ben out with a cheap shot), Saints over Redskins, Chargers over Browns, Giants over Cowboys, Seahawks over 49ers, Vikings over Cardinals, Ravens over Packers
Minaci (100-56): Eagles over Falcons, Panthers over Bucs, Bears over Rams, Bengals over Lions, Colts over Titans, Texans over Jags, Broncos over Chiefs, Pats over Dolphins, Steelers over Raiders, Saints over Skins, Chargers over Browns, Cowboys over Giants, Hawks over 49ers, Vikings over Cards, Ravens over Packers
Rorabaugh (101-55):HOME TEAMS IN CAPS: Eagles over FALCONS, Bucs over PANTHERS, BEARS over Rams, BENGALS over Lions, Titans over COLTS (this could be a weird one), Texans over JAGUARS, Broncos over CHIEFS, Patriots over DOLPHINS, STEELERS over Raiders, Saints over REDSKINS (but beware of the let-down game potential), Chargers over BROWNS, Cowboys over GIANTS (the annual Dallas December meltdown is delayed is a week), 49ers over SEAHAWKS, CARDINALS over Vikings, PACKERS over Ravens
OPLINGER (81-75):Eagles over Falcons, Panthers over Bucs, Bears over Rams, Bengals over Lions, Colts over Titans, Jaguars over Texans, Broncos over Chiefs, Patriots over Dolphins, Steelers over Raiders, Saints over Redskins, Chargers over Browns, Giants over Cowboys, Seahawks over 49ers, Vikings over Cardinals, Ravens over Packers
GENTILE (80-76): Eagles over Falcons, Panthers over Bucs, Bears over Rams, Bengals over Lions, Colts over Titans, Texans over Jaguars, Broncos over Chiefs, Pats over Dolphins, Steelers over Raiders, Saints over Redskins, Chargers over Browns, Giants over Cowboys, 49ers over Seahawks, Vikings over Cardinals, Packers over Ravens
RUNG (80-76): Falcons over Eagles, Buccaneers over Panthers, Bears over Rams, Bengals over Lions, Colts over Titans, Texans over Jaguars, Broncos over Chiefs, Patriots over Dolphins, Steelers over Raiders, Saints over Redskins, Chargers over Browns, Giants over Cowboys, 49ers over Seahawks, Vikings over Cardinals, Packers over Ravens
Note 1: No Thursday games were picked by anyone, so they do not count toward the overall records.
Note 2: When someone didn't get his picks in on time, he received an 0-for on the week. When someone forgot to pick a game, he received a loss for the game.
Note 3: Week 11 was the first Sunday of Thanksgiving break. Only three people sent in picks that week. They are counted for the overall records seen below, but will not be used in the overall records used for the rest of the season.
Erwin gets a late takedown in the 184 final to beat Honeycutt 9-8. The tourney is winding down now, with the only major action for PSU left the 157-pound final between Cyler Sanderson and David Taylor.
Erwin down 7-6 in final.
Garnett pins Pataky in the final.
Pataky faces Jarrod Garnett. Garnett leads 10-6 in the second.
Molinaro wins the 149-pound title 6-0.
Molinaro leads 5-0 in the third period of the final. Wade received a pin in a consolation bout.
Wright and Vallimont take third place in their weight classes. They pinned their opponents immediately after Taylor's pin. Pisani loses by decision.
Pisani with an escape, 5-2 Kemmerer lead. Taylor in a dominating performance, lead 2-0 and rode Wright for a minute. He pins him for a final showdown with Sanderson.
Taylor faces No. 17 Patrick Wright in the semifinal. Taylor leads 2-0.
Kemmerer finally gets free for one point after the third restart. Sanderson won 4-3 and advances to the final.
Cael watches Colby intently. Kemmerer cannot escape Pisani. 4-1 Kemmerer in second.
Sanderson gets an escape and a takedown to take a 4-2 lead into the third.
Pisani starts on bottom, leans left, twirls and escapes. He picks up Kemmerer's leg but cannot get the take down. Kemmerer catches Pisani's leg and brings him down for two points.
Pisani faces Penn's Zack Kemmerer. 2-0 Kemmerer in first.
Sanderson faces Daryl Cocozzo. Sanderson down 2-1 in first.
Nick Fischer loses 1-0 in consolation.
Honeycutt defeats Quentin Wright 6-5 in a down-to-the-wire semifinal. Vallimont loses 9-3. Pataky advances 6-4.
Vallimont with an escape, 5-3 Winston lead. Winston slowly widens gape -- 8-3 over Vallimont. Pataky up 2-1 in the third.
In a close call, Vallimont almost gets pinned. He scrambles away but not before giving away two near-fall points. 5-2 Winston. Pataky leads 2-1 to start the second.
Bradley Wisdom of Missouri faces Penn State's Brad Pataky. Pataky leads 2-0 in the first.
Dan Vallimont faces Scott Winston. Vallimont gets an early takedown but allows a quick escape.
Erwin advances to final with a 5-2 victory.
Patterson escapes Erwin's grasp for a one-point notch. Erwin immediately dives for his ankles to catch Patterson off-guard.
Erwin faces Joshua Patterson of Binghamton. It is 0-0 to start the second. Erwin gets a reversal. 2-0 in the middle of second.
8-3 Molinaro over Rowe. He advances to the finals.
Ed Ruth and David Crowell square off in a 184-pound consolation match. Ruth holds a 4-2 lead to start the second. Ruth defeats Crowell.
Molinaro up 5-3 to start the third against Mike Rowe, who is wrestling unattached from West Virginia.
The 3rd period begins with Alton with 13-7, but the high school senior is taken down and his lead is cut to 13-9. Alton was able to open up the lead again, and won the match 16-10.
Alton leads 8-4 to start the 2nd and pushed the lead to 12-4 before giving up an escape and takedown. With a minute to go in the 2nd, Alton leads 12-7.
Andrew Alton just secured a takedown in his consolation match, pushing his lead to 6-2. Following an escape, another Alton takedown makes it 8-3 with 30 seconds left in the 1st period.
With 20 seconds to go in the 1st period, Wade has a 13-0 lead. The Lion heavyweight bumped the lead up to 15-0 and won by technical fall.
Kemerer could not finish, so his day is done.
Over at the heavyweight mat, Cameron Wade just began his consolation match, and has already taken a 5-0 lead. Three more near fall points make it 8-0.
Kemerer is suddenly down 5-4, and appears to be injured. He looks to be in pain and is getting attention from the medical staff.
Herlihy just wrapped up his match, winning 3-2.
Herlihy's match is tied 2-2 heading into the 3rd period, while Kemerer is up 4-2 midway through his match.
Herlihy escapes to start the 3rd and takes a 3-2 lead.
Brandon Herlihy is engaged in another consolation bout. As the 1st period winds down, Herlihy is up 2-1.
Jake Kemerer is also grappling in a consolation match and is up 2-1 as well.
Ed Ruth lost in sudden victory, 6-4.
Nick Fischer just lost 6-1 in his bout at 157.
Ortega is locked in a close one, tied 4-4 in the sudden victory period. Two near fall points doom Ortega, as he falls 6-4.
Vallimont picks up Maryland's Jimmy Sheptock and throws him to the ground with under 30 seconds. Vallimont wins 6-5. Pisani defeats Pittsburgh's Tyler Nauman 9-3.
Pataky over Stein. Erwin over Thompson 5-3. 13-2 Taylor over Vollrath.
Kemerer loses by decision to Lehigh's Dennis Galante. Andrew downed 6-2.
4-1 Erwin lead over David Thompson after first. Pataky leads Allen Stein 2-0 in first.
Another Molinaro takedown makes it 7-1. The final score is 9-2 in favor of Molinaro, who moves on to the semis.
On the mat over, future Nittany Lion Andrew Alton is beginning his quarterfinal match.
A loud takedown by Molinaro pushes his lead to 5-0.
Molinaro leads his match 2-0 in the 2nd period. Following an escape, Molinaro now leads 3-0.
Wade cannot come back and loses 6-1 to Tomei.
As the 2nd period ends, Wade trails 4-1.
Meanwhile, Cyler Sanderson just pinned his opponent to move on to the semifinals.
Cameron Wade gets the quarterfinals for the Lions, taking on Ryan Tomei. Wade falls behind 2-0 after being taken down.
Elsewhere, Frank Molinaro and Cyler Sanderson are also starting their quarterfinal matches.
Half of the mats are cleared and it looks like we're nearing the start of the quarterfinals. The crowd seems to be hitting a mid afternoon lull as they await the prime matchups.
Brandon Herlihy is up 5-2 with a little over a minute to go in the 3rd period. The final is 5-3 in favor of Herlihy, who advances to the next consolation round.
Christian Harr loses by decision after holding a 3-0 lead in the third.
Bryan Pearsall gains a 15-0 technical fall in the consolation round.
Matt Dodds loses by decision in his consolation bout.
Christian Harr takes on Dylan Alton in a 149-pound consolation match. Harr leads 2-1 in the first. Alton gets an escape after breaking free of Harr's grasp. After Harr takes a 3-2 lead, Alton goes for a last-ditch takedown. The two flipped several times on the mat with neither gaining points. Harr holds on for the 3-2 decision.
Consolation rounds are still taking place. The quarterfinals will follow.
6-4 James English consolation win.
Christian Harr wins his consolation bout.
Erwin defeats Mike Cucinotta by a 12-5 decision. Dodds suffers a loss to Scott Winston.
Matt Dodds is losing 9-2 in third-round action while Erwin leads 2-0.
Kemerer gets an escape for a 3-2 third-period lead. The Citadel's Derek Sickel forfeits due to injury and Vallimont advances. Kemerer advances also.
Kemerer is tied 2-2 against Boston's CJ Inglin in the second while Dan Vallimont leads 2-0 after an injury stoppage in the first.
Molinaro rides Wiest after leading 5-0 in third-round action. He holds his opponent down for more riding time in the third. Wiest continually tries to escape but Molianro uses his forearm strength to bring him down to the ground twice. Molinaro lets up an escape but wins 6-1.
Frank Molinaro leads 3-0 in the second against Missouri's Brandon Wiest.
After taking a 4-3 lead, Dylan Alton lets up an escape to start the third. Dylan gets caught on back points, 6-4. 6-5 on an Alton escape, but he cannot muster enough for the comeback and loses by decision.
Andrew Alton faces Adam Lynch on Mat 5. Alton had a 2-1 lead in the first. Andrew Alton defeats Lynch as his brother Dylan Alton leads 3-1 in the second period.
Down 3-2, Pisani gets a pin as Dozier flailed his arms and legs back and forth trying to escape Pisani's grasp. Pataky pins his second-round opponent.
A take down for Pisani makes it 3-2. Halfway through the first Pataky leads 10-0 in the first period in second-round action.
Pisani pushes Dozier to the outside line -- desperately seeking a takedown in the second-round match. Dozier takes a 3-0 lead in the second.
Michigan State's Collin Dozier takes a 2-0 lead over Pisani in the first period.
Caschera mounts a comeback, but loses 10-8.
14-6 Wade victory over Landis. Eric Caschera is down 6-4 to Michigan State's Jeremiah Austin in the second.
Cameron Wade has a 5-2 lead over Navy's Mike Landis in the second period.
As English steps off Mat 5, Dan Vallimont steps on against Bloomsburg's Mike Dessino. Vallimont is up 12-4 in the 2nd and looks to be on his way to a win. In the end, the Lion won by major decision.
On Mat 1 Jake Kemerer is competing in his first action of the day. Up 5-2, his opponent looks to be injured, but the match continues. A Kemerer takedown makes it 9-3, which is the final.
David Erwin is winning convincingly, up 12-0 in the 2nd period. Looking over, it appears Erwin's match ended after the 2nd period, with Erwin advancing.
Meanwhile, Ed Ruth is up 7-1 on Pete Mesko. Midway through the 2nd, Ruth extends the lead to 11-2. Ruth just won by technical fall with a minute left in the 3rd.
On Mat 5, James English is down 5-3 with a minute left in his match. English fell by that score to Virginia's Kellon Balum.
Dylan Alton is taking on Ryan McIntyre of Pitt-Johnstown at 149. Alton has a 5-1 lead in the 2nd period. McIntyre got an escape to start the 3rd to cut Alton's lead to 5-3. An Alton takedown made it 7-4 with a little over a minute to go.
Christian Harr was tied at 2 with Binghamton's Donald Vinson when Vinson went down with an injury. After a slight delay the two resumed the match. Vinson battled Harr and pinned the PSU 149-pounder with seconds left in the 2nd.
Adam Lynch is competing right now, and is up 10-3 in the third period. With riding time, Lynch wins 13-3.
Frank Molinaro is taking on Pierre Frazile of the Citadel. Both wrestlers are getting a feel for each other as the first period ends scoreless. After a Molinaro escape, he takes down Frazile to go up 3-0. Two back points put Molinaro up 5-0. Molinaro finishes with a major decision, 8-0.
Andrew Alton is up 3-2 after one period in his first action of the day. Seconds into the second period, the high school senior and future Lion pinned his opponent.
Clay Steadman is wrestling Richard Perry of Bloomsburg at 197. Neither grappler has gained an advantage in the opening period, as they're both neck tying. Steadman is able to take a 1-0 lead in the second period. That one point held up as Steadman took the match 1-0.
Meanwhile, Brad Pataky is taking on Ryan Link of Pittsburgh, who's been rumored to be a possible transfer to PSU. Pataky is up 5-0 mindway through the second period. Pataky leads 6-2 going into the third period. Two takedowns push Pataky's advantage to 10-2 and he wins by that score.
Eric Caschera is having a tough time in his second bout. The clock is counting down as he loses a tough 7-1 decision to Mike Rhone of Benton.
While future Nittany Lions Dylan and Andrew Alton are both scheduled to compete, signee Sam Sherlock isn't anywhere in the bracket. Sherlock was originally listed to compete today.
Christian Harr is up 11-2 over Sean Floor of Gannon University heading into the final period. That score held as Harr took the victory.
Meanwhile, Matt Dodds is wrestling Ohio's Josh Kassil and trails 5-4 heading into the third period. An early escape gives Kassil a 6-4 advantage, but Dodds notches a takedown to tie it 6-6. After falling behind 7-6, Dodds scored another takedown to come away with the 8-7 victory.
Searching through the brackets, no listing of Bubba Jenkins is found. Jenkins mentioned the possibility he would not compete because of a chest bruise he suffered.
Adam Lynch is taking on Virginia's Nicholas Gordon at 141.
After falling behind 2-0, Lynch scored on an escape and a takedown to take a 3-2 lead. Following the second period, Lynch is up 7-4. After three near fall points, Lynch takes a 10-4 lead, and with the addition of a riding time bonus, he takes the match 11-4.
Eric Caschera looks to be the only Penn State wrestler competing in the main gym in the opening round of bouts. Caschera dominated his opening round match with over three minutes of riding time en route to winning by technical rall.
The wrestlers have finished warm ups and cleared the mats. Quentin Wright just sang the National Anthem, and the Open is about to get underway.
With a three games to none victory over the Quakers, the Lions drew the task of playing a virtual road game in Florida against the Gators next Friday.
Despite some early struggles, Penn State dominated in most statistical categories for its 98th straight win. Here is a recap of the Lions' play tonight:
PASSING: The Lions passed the ball effectively from the back, mostly through the efforts of Blair Brown and Alyssa D'Errico, who recorded 14 and 9 digs, respectively. Brown only recorded two kills, but she made her presence felt on the back line and with four aces.
MIDDLE HITTING: Arielle Wilson played one of the best games of her career tallying 13 kills and controlling the game from start to finish. She was the lone reason the Lions stayed in the first game once they got down by five. Fatima Balza also added five blocks and two kills.
OUTSIDE HITTING: It may have looked a little weak tonight, but the amount of pressure Penn put on Megan Hodge opened up room for Wilson to dominate. Darcy Dorton also responded from a shaky performance last night with nine kills and a .333 hitting percentage. Last night she was very quiet. Tonight it seemed like she touched the ball on every point.
DEFENSE: Blocking and digging were both spread out fairly evenly for the Lions, but they couldn't seem to contain Elizabeth Semmens, who posted 11 kills. Semmens had 10 errors, too, leading to the question of whether the Lions will be able to deal with a similar player who may be a little more accurate in the upcoming rounds.
SERVING: Big improvement from last night as the Lions put together eight service aces. They also had eight errors, but most of those came early on. Once the Lions worked out their kinks offensively, they did so serving as well. Brown's four aces led the team, and the turning point of the match may have been Megan Hodge's jumpserves early in the third set, putting the Lions up for good.
SETTING: As usual, Alisha Glass controlled the match. She did a great job of recognizing where Penn's defense was situated and distributing the ball away from it. For the second consecutive night, three Lions had at least eight kills.
Final analysis: As the nation's No. 1 team should, the Lions dominated the Quakers on the stat sheet, but the one aspect of the match that we didn't analyze was effort and energy. The Quakers controlled most of the first game and judging by the hustle and enthusiasm it was tough to tell who the better team was without looking at the scoreboard. That said, the Lions are moving on to the regional semifinals.
For more on tonight's match check Monday's Collegian. Comments
Entering Friday night, the ACHA had only one undefeated team left.
By the time the top-ranked Lindenwood Lions left their own home ice last night, it had none.
The No. 3 Ohio Bobcats traveled to Lindenwood Friday night and dominated the Lions in a 5-2 victory, ending the Lions' 29-game winning streak.
Then in Saturday's game, the Bobcats scored a late third-period goal to snap a 3-3 tie and defeat the Lions again, this time by a score of 4-3.
Lindenwood entered the game 24-0-0 this season and had not lost since a 3-2 loss on Feb. 28, 2009 in the CSCHL playoffs last year to, of all teams, the Ohio Bobcats.
Ohio has now won three straight meetings and is the only team to beat Lindenwood in the Lions' last 51 games. That's right, Lindenwood is 48-3-0 since Nov. 22, 2008, but all three losses have come at the hands of the Bobcats.
Although the two teams do not play each other again in the regular season, it is possible they could meet in their league playoffs or, obviously, at the ACHA national tournament.
Lindenwood was not the only high-ranked team to suffer a loss Friday night, however.
In an even bigger upset, No. 2 Illinois was shutout by No. 17 Kent State, 2-0.
The loss was Illinois' third at home this season, but the other two came against No. 1 Lindenwood back on the first weekend of October.
Illinois will get a chance at revenge Saturday when they take on Kent State in a night game. Check back here later tonight for an update on how that game turns out.
While the No. 1 and 2 teams both suffered this weekend, the other three top-5 teams all had strong weekends.
No. 3 Ohio, as mentioned above, handed the No. 1 team a sweep on Lindenwood's own home ice.
No. 4 Liberty rolled to a 9-0 victory against Virginia Tech.
And No. 5 Penn State followed up a 2-1 shootout victory Friday with a dominating, 6-0 win Saturday against No. 13 Delaware.
Penn State will move on to the second round of the NCAA tournament tomorrow night after it defeated Binghamton tonight by a match score of 3-0. Overall, the Nittany Lions looked good in the first round of the tournament, and I, Jocelyn, am here to break down the different aspects of tonight's match:
PASSING: The team passing looked good tonight with the Lions keeping many plays alive and getting the ball to many different players. Seven different Lions had kills on the night and four had assists.
MIDDLE HITTING: Arielle Wilson led the attack in the middle, recording 12 kills in the match. Blair Brown wasn't far behind her having nine. Wilson's attack percentage of .800 was the highest on the team. Fatima Balza added one kill to the efforts from the middle hitters.
OUTSIDE HITTING: Megan Hodge, unsurprisingly, led the outside efforts. She led the team with 13 kills and had an attack percentage of .545. Katie Kabbes added two kills and Darcy Dorton one on the evening.
DEFENSE: The Lions accumulated 33 digs on the night and only allowed their opponents to score 36 total points. They also held the Bearcats to only 19 total kills. Alyssa D'Errico led the team in digs with eight, and Blair Brown was close behind her with seven.
SERVING: Serving was decent for the Lions, with the team recording five aces and eight errors. Libero Alyssa D'Errico continues to be the strong force at the line, leading Penn State with three aces. Marika Racibarskus and Jessica Ullrich each got a point off a serve as well.
SETTING: Alisha Glass had a good night, recording 32 assists. She also managed to record four kills and set up the ball for 38 other kills by her teammates. She had no attack errors on the night.
NCAA tournament play will continue tomorrow when Penn State takes on Penn at 7:30 p.m. in Rec Hall. Check back later for more coverage of tonight's match.
Penn State managed to get the first points on the board for this set, but Binghamton responded with a couple of big kills to quickly make the score 6-5 in Penn State's favor.
The set remained close throughout the middle, with score being 13-10. However, the Lions began to pull away toward the end with several kills from several players.
The nearly 3,000 fans in attendance for the match made themselves heard during the final stretch of the set, as Penn State returned from a timeout leading 21-14, yelling "P-S-U chants" and applauding loudly on a kill by Brown.
The match was ended on a kill by Megan Hodge making the final set score 25-14 and the match score 3-0. The Lions will return to action tomorrow night in the second round of the NCAA tournament where they will face Penn.
This set started off very similar to the last, with Binghamton scoring the first point and Penn State responding with one of its own. And once again, the Lions began to pull away with help from a kill by Arielle Wilson to put the team up 8-3.
The Bearcats looked frustrated during a short timeout on the court, with nearly all of the team members standing with blank expressions on their faces and their hands on their hips.
Penn State's lead was aided by errors from Binghamton, with balls being hit out of bounds and served into the net. At the first team timeout of the set, the Lions were up 15-6.
A service ace by Marika Racibarskus followed by a kill from Hodge finished the set, and after winning 25-13, Penn State now leads 2-0 entering the third set of the night.
Binghamton scored the first point of the set, and it was back and forth from there. Alyssa D'Errico got the crowd riled up with a service ace to bring the score to 4-2, and Blair Brown responded in the next play with a kill that brought the crowd to its feet.
The score didn't stay close for long as another service ace by D'Errico put the Nittany Lions up 11-2, causing both the players on the court and on the sidelines to erupt in dancing and cheering.
Megan Hodge and Brown led Penn State on the attack with 3 kills each in the set. Binghamton was led by both Anna Lejina and Michelle McDonough who each had 2 kills.
The Lion's resiliency to keep the ball alive on defense and their strong offensive attack allowed them to run away with the set, winning 25-9. The teams will switch sides of the court and have brief team meetings before action in the second set begins.
We welcome you all to Rec Hall for the first round of the NCAA tournament. The stands are pretty full as Penn State takes on Binghamton to see whose season will be over and who will continue on to the second round of the tournament which will be held tomorrow night here at Rec Hall.
Both teams look excited to get started as the starting lineups are announced.
Binghamton starters are:
Penn State starters are:
Each team huddles in the middle of its side of the court as the final seconds prior to the match run down. I, Jocelyn, will be back to give you results from the first set here shortly.
Cael Sanderson has received more publicity -- along with his goal of establishing Penn State as a national force in future years. WrestleFattie.com pitted Sanderson's scenario up against the situation current Iowa coach Tom Brands faced when he left the Hawkeyes as an assistant in 2004 for the head coaching spot at Virginia Tech.
At Va. Tech, Brands took the program from a 1-16 record his first year to an ACC crown and a 16-4 record his second year. When the head coaching spot opened at Iowa, Brands returned to assume the helm of the Hawkeyes' program. In his second and third years at Iowa, the Hawkeyes won two national titles; they look to go for their third straight this year.
In simpler terms, it's not a bad comparison for Cael.
We all know about the Big Ten's first ever victory in the men's ACC/Big Ten Classic this past week. But how did the conference fair in the women's version of the conference showdown. After the Lady Lions fell to Georgia Tech on Wednesday, here is how the rest of the action went down.
The best games of the Classic
Illinois 65, Wake Forest 50
Unlike Penn State, Illinois was able to complete its comeback bid and even managed to turn it into a blowout. Down by 16 at the half to the Demon Deacons, the Fighting Illini outscored its opponents by 31 points in the second half. Jenna Smith led the way with 27 points and nine rebounds to lead Illinois to its seventh win of the year.
Boston College 72, Iowa 67
The Eagles handed the Hawkeyes its third loss of the season in a close contest. Despite having three players finish in double digit scoring, Iowa was unable to capture a victory for the conference. At the end of Wednesday night, the ACC led two games to one.
No. 9 Florida State 82, Indiana 74
The No. 9 ranked Seminoles used a late game push to knock off the Hoosiers. After defeating the Lady Lions in the conference showdown last year, Florida State used a 14-5 run over the final three minutes to give Indiana the loss this year.
No. 12 Duke 83, No. 3 Ohio State 67
In one of two first class ACC/Big Ten matchups, Duke pulled off the upset by stunning Ohio State. No. 3 Ohio State had cruised through its first eight games of the season but ran into trouble against No. 12 Duke. On the court, Duke's Jasmine Thomas went head to head with OSU star Jantel Lavender. While Lavender lit up the box score with 20 points and 18 rebounds, Thomas one-upped her by finishing with 29 points and 13 rebounds.
No. 21 Michigan State 72, No. 4 North Carolina 66
Earlier in the evening an ACC team upset the top team in the Big Ten. By night's end, the Big Ten did it right back. The No. 21 Spartans upset the No. 4 Tar Heels for the victory after a disappointing start to the season. Already having slipped down the polls after two early season stunning losses, Michigan State pulled out a victory against the favored team from North Carolina.
The rest of the games
Clemson 69, Northwestern 68
No. 15 Virginia 56, Purdue 49
Michigan 71, Virginia Tech 51
Wisconsin 53, North Carolina State 48
No. 22 Maryland 66, Minnesota 45
So that makes the final tally ACC 7, Big Ten 4. As balanced as the Big Ten is this season from top to bottom, the star power in the ACC was a little too much. Like the first two years we saw some exciting games, including the one played in the Bryce Jordan Center, and here's hoping the tournament continues to please next year. After an oddly placed game against Big Ten rival Minnesota, the Lady Lions go back to its non-conference schedule on Wednesday. Be sure to check Washington's Post all weekend for more updates on what's going on with the team and Big Ten.
So, I've decided, being it the end of the decade, that we should do some form of all decade team. I've asked fellow Collegian staffers and hockey fans to help pick their top lines of the decade. Without further adieu, I will share my line, along with ones picked by Icers reporter Tom Copain, women's volleyball and Lady Lions reporter Bill Landis, women's volleyball and men's basketball reporter AJ Cassavell and web editor Ian Brown. Enjoy.
C- Joe Thornton
RW- Danny Alfredsson
LW- Alex Ovechkin
D- Scott Niedermayer
D- Nicklas Lidstrom
G- Marty Brodeur
I don't think there's any question about some of these. Thornton is a solid center with elite passing skills. Alfredsson is a consistent scoring threat, and Ovechkin is the face of the league, despite not playing the entire decade in the NHL. There's still no one better than him. Niedermayer and Lidstrom were forces on the blue line this decade and helped their teams to multiple Stanley Cups. And Brodeur is arguably the best goalie of the last 20 years, let alone 10.
C- Mats Sundin
RW- Jerome Iginla
LW- Markus Naslund
D- Chris Pronger
D- Nicklas Lidstrom
G- Marty Brodeur
Back three were pretty easy. Brodeur and Pronger have been consistently good the last 10 seasons and no all-decade list can be complete without Mr. Norris Trophy (Lidstrom). I decided to go with Sundin as my center over Thornton because of his more complete scoring ability, Iginla for his blend of grit and skill and Naslund for being a dynamic scorer during the dead-puck era.
RW- Jerome Iginla
LW- Alex Ovechkin
D- Scott Niedermayer
D- Nicklas Lidstrom
G- Martin Brodeur
This was actually a little harder than I thought it would be. Brodeur was a lock. He led the league in wins five times during the decade and won the Cup in '02. Lidstrom has been the most dominant defenseman in the league probably for the last 10 or 12 years and was plus-40 three times during the decade. I was leaning toward Ilya Kovalchuk for the left wing spot, but decided to go with Ovechkin. He's been in the league for five years and is already in the top 40 for active goal scorers. Iginla is on the list for being a clutch performer as well as a physical presence. In this decade, Iginla has notched 53 game winning goals and been in 32 fights according to hockeyfights.com. Thornton is the center for his uncanny ability to create scoring chances. He has 543 assists in this decade, has led the league in assists three times and is the league leader this season. Finally, I went with Niedermayer over Pronger for the final defenseman spot solely for the fact that he stays on the ice. Niedermayer is plus-69 in the decade and accumulated just 434 penalty minutes, significantly less than Pronger's 684.
C- Joe Thornton
RW- Jerome Iginla
LW- Alex Ovechkin
D- Scott Stevens
D- Nicklas Lidstrom
G- Marty Brodeur
With the lockout wiping out the 2004-05 season, the decade is really divided in half. Most of the best players this decade either dominated the first half of the decade or the second. Lidstrom, Brodeur, Thornton and Iginla did both. Lidstrom has dominated every defensive award and even single-handedly won the Olympics for Sweden. Brodeur, Thornton and Iginla are obvious both stat-wise and in terms of longevity. Ovechkin gets in because he has dominated the league in the last few seasons more so than anyone else despite only having played half the decade. Stevens gets in over Pronger by two Cups to one.
C- Joe Thornton
RW- Jerome Iginla
LW- Alex Ovechkin
D- Chris Pronger
D- Nicklas Lidstrom
G- Martin Brodeur
Sidney Crosby's only played half the decade. I'd rather have 10 years of Thornton than five of Crosby. Even with limited sample size, is anyone even close to Ovechkin? I'd say no.
Well there you have it. Those are our picks. You have anything different? Feel free to comment with your own. Thanks for reading.
The party was already underway in Lubbock, TX. The student section rushed the court to celebrate a win over No. 10 Washington, were sure the buzzer-beating, game-winning shot was their tickets to a night to remember. Well, it still will be a night to remember for the Red Raiders basketball program and the rest of the college basketball fan base. The fans got to storm the court twice. C'mon, if you're a college basketball fan and get to storm the court to celebrate your favorite team beating a top 10 opponent, you're having an awesome night.
Mike Singletary swished a running 3-pointer as time appeared to expire, which would have lifted the Red Raiders to a huge upset to propel their season. But the Red Raiders didn't allow a hangover to the premature party at the end of the regulation and came through with an awesome performance in overtime.
Texas Tech upset then-No. 9 Kansas last season at the beginning of the March, but Red Raiders coach Pat Knight dialed up another special win Thursday night. This win gives credibility to the Big 12, which was believed to lack depth after the talented Kansas, Texas, Iowa State and Oklahoma squads.
There will be two volleyball matches played Friday night at Rec Hall.
One will feature a team that hasn't lost in more than two years playing against a team that lost 15 times this year.
The other match will feature two teams that combined for just 10 losses this season and won their respective conference championships.
While No. 1 Penn State's match with America East Champion Binghamton could provide a few moments of note, it will be the latter match between Pennsylvania and Army the looks to have the more evenly matched teams.
Granted, Binghamton is on somewhat of a hot streak, having defeated New Hampshire and then Albany on its home court to win the America East Championship, but on paper the Nittany Lions look to have too much firepower for the Bearcats.
The match between the Quakers and Black Knights, however, will be one that features two teams that are quite familiar with each other.
"Fortunately we have seen Army across the net before," Penn coach Kerry Carr said. "Usually in the Spring they come to our Spring tournament and we match up really well with them."
The Quakers are 5-1 all-time against Army in a series that dates back to 1987. The last time the two teams played was in 2007, when Penn took down the Black Knights in straight sets, but this time around looks to be more competitive.
While Penn ran through the Ivy League schedule nearly unscathed, their only loss came in five sets to Harvard on Nov. 13, Army was nearly as successful in Patriot League play.
The Black Knights lost just twice -- back-to-back, four-set road matches against Navy and American -- in the conference. Still, Army earned the top seed in the conference tournament and swept both Lehigh and American to win the Patriot League title.
While the Lions match with Binghamton looks to have all the signs of snooze-fest, the match between Penn and Army, according to Carr, has a good chance of going five sets.
The Big Ten finally got its first victory in the Challenge last night and at my expense. After a 6-0 start, I sputtered last night going 2-3 to end up tying Hennessey in the overall challenge predictions.
Anyway, here's a column from Mike Lopresti basically summing up the significance of a win for the Big Ten -- its first in 11 tries.
Now, to the quick hits:
Game of the night: Washington at Texas Tech
A pair of unheard of, unbeaten teams take the floor tonight looking to make a name for themselves on ESPN2. The Huskies average 84 points per game, near the top of the nation, but they will head into a hostile environment in Lubbock.
Quincy Pondexter is averaging 20 points and 11 boards per game for the Huskies, who are the nation's 10th ranked team. Isaiah Thomas (no not that Isaiah Thomas) has also added 20.6 per game.
This is a high-scoing team that really has not proven themselves on the road yet. The get the chance tonight against a more balanced Red Raiders squad with six players averaging at least eight points per game.
Prediction: Washington 88, Texas Tech 76
Player to watch: Nikola Vucevic, USC
In the other ESPN2 game tonight the Trojans take on the second-ranked Texas Longhorns. If USC has any chance to knock off the Horns Vucevich will have to perform.
He has done just that this season averaging 14 points and 10 boards. The forward from Montenegro has led the Trojans to their two wins.
But in their most recent loss -- a 51-48 defeat at home against Nebraska, he struggled, posting only five points in 38 minutes.
With a chance to respond, he gets the brusing front line of the Longhorns tonight.
Senior Meredith Monroe hobbled off the court with the help of two trainers during Wednesday night's game. The team's top forward substitute sat on the bench for the entire second half dressed in her warmups after suffering what appeared to be an injury to her left knee. Coach Coquese Washington said in her post-game press conference that she didn't know the extent of Monroe's injury, but said if she can't go this weekend against Minnesota she expects freshman Marisa Wolfe and junior Janessa Wolff to step up.
"Marisa Wolfe is gonna have to grow up a little bit and get ready to play and give us some minutes," Washington said.
"Janessa [Wolff] will probably play a little bit more of the four spot with Nikki so we'll probably have to go with the bigger lineup at times. But that's one of the things I like about our team is our versatility. Marisa will get thrown to the wolves and we'll see what happens."
It will be tough for the Lions to replace Monroe's production if indeed she is out for an extended period of time. The senior was playing the best basketball of her career and was dubbed by Washington as the team's "most consistent contributor."
We'll keep you posted when we find out more about Monroe's injury
The ACC/Big East Challenge is all tied up entering the final day of play. North Carolina, Maryland and Virginia Tech took care of business for the ACC and Purdue and Northwestern won its games for the Big Ten.
Here's the Collegian basketball writers' predictions on how tonight's games will play out:
Clemson (-5) vs. Illinois
AJ: Clemson 77, Illinois 66
Hen: Illinois 74, Clemson 72
A-Rob: Illinois 69, Clemson 63
Miami (-2.5) vs. Minnesota
AJ: Miami 71, Minnesota 63
Hen: Miami 73, Minnesota 68
A-Rob: Miami 72, Minnesota 70
Ohio State (-6.5) vs. Florida State
AJ: Ohio State 75, Florida State 60
Hen: Ohio State 76, Florida State 67
A-Rob: Ohio State 80, Florida State 65
Michigan (-4.5) vs. Boston College
AJ: Michigan 70, Boston College 57
Hen: Michigan 65, Boston College 60
A-Rob: Boston College 68, Michigan 60
Wisconsin (+4.5) vs. Duke
AJ: Duke 84, Wisconsin 68
Hen: Duke 72, Wisconsin 63
A-Rob: Duke 85, Wisconsin 64
What to watch for in tonight's games:
AJ: Despite a valiant challenge for the second consecutive season, the Big Ten once again will most likely fall short tonight. Not a great game to look forward to tonight, but if there is one that may swing the Challenge it will be the Miami-Minnesota contest. But the Canes' inside-outside combo of Dwayne Collins and James Dews plus home-court advantage will prove too much for Minnesota. Clemson should cruise at home and Duke should be able to hold off Wisconsin in Madison for yet another ACC victory.
Hen: These will all be good games decided in the last couple of minutes of the game. In crunch time, I give the edge to teams with playmakers who you can give the ball to and trust them to score. Michigan and Boston College both have those type of scorers, with Manny Harris and Corey Raji -- who I played against in CYO ball. Boston College has the edge in the frontcourt but I think Michigan has more athletes so I'll give them the nod. A guy like Zack Novak has to step up his scoring output for the Wolverines and The Ohio State/Florida State might be the only game which will be a blowout. I also like Illinois in an upset over No. 19 Clemson. I wasn't impressed by the Tigers when I watched them play Texas A&M, and I don't think Bruce Weber will let the Fighting Illini lose three straight games.
A-Rob: This year's Big Ten/ACC Challenge ends the same way last year's did, with the ACC taking the series 6-5. Duke will keep their run going against an overmatched Wisconsin team. Boston College pulls the upset by forcing Manny Harris into an off night, while Evan Turner continues his dominance, dropping at least a double-double on Florida State. The Seminoles may have a tall front court, but height doesn't mean anything if you can't use it to win. Clemson and Miami will take of business to award the Commissioner's Trophy to the southern schools.
The Lady Lions almost pulled it off. Down ten at halftime, the team came within a shot of tying the game with under a minute left but failed to complete the comeback. It was a hard fought game in the second half by the young team and the near upset of a top 25 caliber squad like Georgia Tech had its high points and low points from the Lady Lions. After live blogging the game for you guys, these are my grades on how the team played tonight.
First Half- F
The entire first half was played very sloppily by Penn State. The team was both outplayed and outcoached in the first half of play by the Yellow Jackets. The Lady Lions finished 9-of-28 from the field and 6-for-11 from the free-throw line to go into the half down by ten points. The team's zone defense could not keep up with the Georgia Tech offense and the team's offense couldn't handle Georgia Tech's pressing and trapping. The early fouls by Julia Trogele and Nikki Greene didn't help much either.
Second Half- B+
Whatever coach Coquese Washington told her players in the locker room at halftime worked. The Lady Lions stormed back and at one point with under a minute remaining came within a basket of tying Georgia Tech. The team switched to a more man-to-man style of play on defense and began to attack the hoop instead of settling for jump shots on offense. While the team failed to convert most of it's lay-ups throughout the first half, the team drove much tougher in the lane to get to the free-throw line more often. Missed free-throws, a few stupid fouls and some poor officiating all led to the team falling just short of taking the lead at the end of the game.
Shooting overall- D
Not the prettiest shooting performance by the Lady Lions tonight. At game's end the team finished 35.7 percent from the floor on 20-for-56 shooting. Tyra Grant finished the game shooting under 30 percent while putting up 18 shots and Zhaque Gray went 1-for-7 from the floor. Also, the team only made one three-point basket the entire game, finishing 1-for-8 from downtown. Simply put, the team has had better games shooting the ball.
Based off of free-throw percentage, the score should be lower. However, the team made its way to the charity stripe 30 times as the players began to drive to the hoop instead of taking jump shots late in the second half. Tyra Grant really led the way finishing 10-for-13 from the free-throw line and Alex Bentley hit all four of her free-throws. As a whole, the team only shot 63.3 percent and missed free-throws earlier in the game doomed the Lady Lions in the end.
Probably a D if the game ended at halftime but the Lady Lions really stepped up their defense in the second half. Washington's adjustments and transition to man-to-man helped keep Georgia Tech in check and made the come back possible. In the first half, PSU allowed the Yellow Jackets to shoot almost 50 percent from the field but in the second half they held them to under 35 percent.
The biggest weakness this year for Penn State. Largely due to the team's youth, discipline on the court is something this team struggled with tonight. From fouls to turnovers, it was a sloppy game overall in terms of discipline. Greene, Trogele and Janessa Wolff all had four fouls and when either of them had to leave the court because of foul problems the team suffered. As for turnovers, Bentley committed nine of them. She struggled a little bit early on with the press of Georgia Tech and turned the ball over, something Bentley and the team will need to make sure doesn't happen again come Big Ten play.
A hard game to grade since the team played significantly better in the second half as it was a game that showed both the team's potential and rawness. Check the Daily Collegian tomorrow morning for more on tonight's Lady Lion defeat.
Cael Sanderson received a break this Wednesday from his weekly radio show in order to spend time with his family. So instead, redshirt Quentin Wright joined Jeff Byers. Here are a couple points to recap the show:
1. Wright talked about his relationship with fellow teammate David Taylor. He said they knew each other prior to Penn State when he, his brother, Taylor and both Dylan and Andrew Alton would attend the Olympic Training Center. This friendship carried over to Penn State. Wright said Taylor's redshirt year will benefit him. Wright stated with Taylor redshirting, the true freshman can learn how to use his strength effectively without adding losses to his record, which is a scenario Wright faced last year. Wright also said he gave Taylor advice on how to deal with the intensity of college practices such as Wright coped with as a true freshman.
"You're going to have freshmen tears," Wright said.
2. Wright talked of the the variety of coaches he has encountered during college. He said former Nittany Lion assistant coach Mark Perry taught him how to fight off the bottom while the current coaching staff is teaching him techniques on how to scramble, ride, and wrestle from the bottom.
"I pick up a little bit from all these coaches," Wright said. "I'm creating my own person through having these variety of coaches."
3. Wright spoke of his adjustment to redshirting. He said he enjoys avoiding the hassle of road trips, and he likened his current situation to grade school where he went from class to wrestling on the weekends. He said wrestling is not as mentally draining during a redshirt year, and although he is having fun, sometimes he yearns to wrestle for the blue and white.
"Sometimes it's frustrating when I don't see somebody giving 110 percent," Wright said, "or I see someone giving 60 percent."
Tom Kinslow and Alex Angert go toe to toe over Allen Iverson's return to the 76ers. Kinslow says he shouldn't be welcomed back, but Angert feels he should. Read on.
Well that was short lived.
If you don't know, Allen Iverson's retirement lasted a little more than a week. He signed a one-year, non-guaranteed contract with Philadelphia today, marking his return to the city he was drafted to way back in 1996.
Once the reports of the Sixers discussing Iverson hit the wire, my Facebook and Twitter feeds blew up.
Sixers fans were.....happy?
Fans clamored for the man who quit on the team in 2006. The man who showed up late to fan appreciation night. You may have loved him, but he didn't give a crap about any of you.
Allen Iverson only cares about Allen Iverson.
Get used to it.
Yet, we all know that Iverson's debut will be greeted with much fanfare and a Wachovia Center packed to the gills with No. 3 jerseys and chants of Iverson's name.
For a city of fans who consider themselves some of the best in America, they sure are stupid.
He never cared, he never will. He abandoned your team, he abandoned two others. He was a headache for everyone who ever coached him. Yet, you adore him. Color me unimpressed with the memories of some fans.
To the Sixers fans who do realize what is going on here, I commend you. This will not make the Sixers better. It will not result in anything other than a low seed playoff birth at best.
It's all about the almighty dollar. It always is.
Iverson is no longer what he was, but he's still an icon in Philadelphia. His return will bring a certain "it factor" to a team that has otherwise been brutal to watch.
For a team that has been hemorrhaging money of late, this Iverson boom will put dollars in pockets.
You know those new Sixer jerseys that were debuted this year? Expect the Iverson ones to be flying off the rack.
Expect increased ticket sales. Expect higher TV ratings. Expect higher revenue across the board
Ed Snider and company think that Sixers fans are a such bunch of suckers that they can bring back the circus act that is Allen Iverson back and try and justify it as a basketball decision.
It's a business decision, but as Snider and his cronies predicted, the fans have come running with their wallets open like moths to the flame.
I've had more than one friend talk about going to Iverson's debut. Why? What's to see here?
Is the thought of watching an aging superstar burn out really that appealing, or do Sixers fans honestly believe this will lead to anything more than another first round exit?
I certainly hope not.
This whole thing, from Iverson's cry for help that was his retirement to this farce of a signing is disgusting, and the fact that people have bought into it is just sad.
Philadelphia, you wanted it, you got it. Now prepare to live with it. Prepare to deal with the whining, the pouting and the headaches.
You deserve nothing less at this point.
The shoes. The jerseys. The ridiculously stupid, but oh so cool, signature sleeve he wore.
I had it all.
As a prepubescent Jewish kid who couldn't hit a free throw if his life depended on it, I had myself a childhood idol in the most unlikely form -- a barely six-foot tall brash, somewhat selfish basketball player.
Like many teenage Philadelphia fans, I was enamored by Allen Iverson. His tattoos, cornrows and primadonna attitude just seemed so cool to a kid growing up in the early 2000s.
And then the split came. Like a bad divorce, Iverson was gone and shipped to Denver for two late first-round picks and another aging point guard Andre Miller.
Fast forward to today and basketball has become irrelevant in the city of Philadelphia outside of college ball. A city which has been blessed with celebrity-style stars like Wilt Chamberlain, Julius Erving and Iverson now has to settle for bums like Samuel Dalembert and Willie Green.
After watching the Sixers either miss the playoffs or get bounced in the first round with a bunch of role players and no definitive team leader, the city shifted focus solely on the Eagles and Phillies (Flyers too for the few who still like hockey).
This season, at 5-13 and at the bottom of the Eastern Conference standing, the Sixers needed any help possible. Andre Iguodala is not a go-to player. Elton Brand has been a bust. Lou Williams is out for the next two months.
At 34, Allen Iverson saw himself on the verge of retiring after scorning the past two teams he suited up for.
It was a match made in heaven.
Can it backfire?
It most certainly will. But as a Philadelphia fan, who cares? The 76ers haven't been relevant in basketball since the Answer left. On top of that, this is Allen Iverson, the one player every Philadelphia fan under the age of 25 grew up loving and the player every one older than that couldn't stand.
An older Philly fan could never understand. Neither could a Celtics or Knicks fan. Allen Iverson wasn't just the Answer, he was the man to every young basketball fan who idolized the Sixers.
Watching the 76ers as a kid was never about them winning or not, it was how many points is Iverson going to put up, how many ankles is he going to break with his crossover, how many times is he going to sacrifice his body driving the lane.
Only once in his tenure with Philadelphia did the Sixers faithful every really think the team had a shot at winning an NBA title. No player was able to co-exist with Iverson, but that didn't matter. We just wanted to see what he would do next? Whether it was arguing about having to practice or stepping over Tyronne Lue in Game 1 of the NBA Finals against the Lakers.
Those feelings have come back. If for only a week, at least Sixers fans have a reason to watch their pathetic excuse for a team play again.
The 76ers are back on the map in basketball after hiding under a rock the past few years. Whether it was a basketball signing, a marketing tactic or a desperation move, it doesn't really matter.
All that matters is it's a chance for me and every other gawky Sixers fan to dust off the old Reeboks, hang up the old AI posters and start watching basketball again.
Hey Lady Lions fans, Alex Angert here to live blog tonight's ACC/Big Ten Classic showdown between Penn State and Georgia Tech. Pretty small crowd here tonight to watch the second home game for the Lady Lions.
After starting the season with three opening wins, the team fell to South Carolina in an physical game that coach Coquese Washington called a "tale of two halves." However, the Lady Lions rebounded with two wins at the Dead River Company Classic in Maine, including one where the power went out right before tip-off causing frigid temperatures in the arena.
Penn State (5-1) will be going up against Georgia Tech, a new opponent for the Lady Lions. The Yellow Jackets come in with a 4-1 record and a tough matchup for this young Penn State squad. Expect a lot of pressing and trap defense from Georgia Tech and watch out for Alex Bentley attempting to use that style of play to her advantage as she searches for the open player downcourt.
We are 5 minutes away from tip-off here at the Bryce Jordan Center, stay tuned for more updates.
This Georgia Tech team is a fun one to watch on the defensive end with their pressing and traps. Only a minute into the game they forced Gray to travel after trapping her at mid-court. The Lady Lions game plan looks to be focused on running and driving the lane. Penn State has shown some early dominance on the offensive glass but can't convert on second chance opportunities. Julia Trogele picks up her second foul less than three minutes into the game and heads to the bench. Washington calls her first timeout with just over 16 minutes remaining in the half, Georgia Tech leads 8-1.
Senior Meredith Monroe helped off the court after hurting what looked to be her ankle or knee and Nikki Greene picks up her second foul with 14 minutes remaining. Georgia Tech's game is clicking on all cylinders as Penn State looks overmatched by the Yellow Jackets. The press and trapping by the Georgia Tech defense is causing Penn State to either turn the ball over or force an unbalanced shot. On the offensive end, Georgia Tech's ball movement and strength down low are helping open up easy shots and putbacks. With 11:29 remaining, Trogele picks up her third foul as Georgia Tech leads 18-9.
With 7:54 remaining in the half, the Lady Lions are down 22-13. Penn State has had some good looks on offense whenever the team can escape the press but have failed to convert its lay-ups. Forward Janessa Wolff hobbled back on defense before being substituted out for Marissa Wolfe. Let's see what Washington does with two banged up post players and two more in early foul trouble.
Penn State tries to claw its way back into the game before the half, down by six with 3:09 remaining. Wolff is back on the court, which is good news for the Lady Lions as Greene and Trogele sit on the bench in foul trouble. The lack of height the Lady Lions have on the court really seems to be hurting them down low.
A last second three for Georgia Tech send the Lady Lions into the half down 10 points as the Yellow Jackets lead 35-25. At times Penn State was able to cut the lead down to around five points but were never able to close the gap any more than that as Georgia Tech constantly answered back. Turnovers, missed free-throws and missed lay-ups continue to doom this young squad as the Lady Lions seem to be outplayed by its opponent. As we know this is a very young team and they are going to make mistakes but veteran players like Tyra Grant and Julia Trogele need to step up and lead the way.
With 15:39 remaining, some life has been pumped into the BJC and Penn State sideline after a Julia Trogele three pointer. Georgia Tech still leads 39-31 but the Lady Lions have the ball and are attempting to cut the lead and pick up some momentum. Some first half stats- Lady Lions shot only 32 percent on the floor and only hit 6-of-11 free throws. Although Georgia Tech's press defense is committing a number of turnovers, Penn State has only committed one more in the half. Alex Bentley and Tyra Grant led the way with six points apiece in the half.
The crowd is alive and the Lady Lions are making a comeback. With 13:50 remaining, Penn State is starting to click as they have cut the lead down to two.
And just like that, it looks like a bad call by the referee may change this came and crush the Lady Lions comeback. Down by four and building momentum, Tyra Grant was called for a backcourt violation when the ball clearly went off of a Georgia Tech defender. On the next possession, Georgia Tech hit a three pointer and then forced a Penn State turnover. Yellow Jackets lead 47-41.
Penn State continues to climb back into the game every few minutes but continue to fall back down by seven or eight. Tyra Grant is attempting to lead the comeback with 18 points with just under seven minutes remaining. Fouls and poor free-throw shooting are haunting the Lady Lions in its comeback as the team is down 55-48.
The crowd gets up and lets out a roar as Nikki Greene nails a basket and gets fouled to go to the stripe. The basket cuts the Georgia Tech lead to three with three minutes remaining. After missing the free throw, the Lady Lions force a turnover and almost cut the lead to one after Greene grabs an offensive board. Unable to complete the put back, Georgia Tech calls a timeout. Yellow Jackets lead 57-54 with 2:24 left in the ball game.
Janessa Wolff hits a huge three point basket to cut the lead to only one with a minute and a half remaining but commits a foul on the other end as Georgia Tech nails a shot. With the free-throw, the Yellow Jackets lead by four with a minute left.
With under a minute remaining, Tyra Grant shows why she is an All-American candidate. She nails two clutch free throws to cut the lead to two points and on the following possession Grant grabs a loose ball going out of bounds and does the heads up play to throw it off of a Georgia Tech defender. PSU down two, 30 seconds left.
Bentley misses a shot with seven seconds left and fouls the Georgia Tech player. After hitting its first free throw and missing its second, PSU is called for a lane violation letting the Yellow Jackets shoot again where they make the second. Penn State down by four with only five seconds left. On a sad note, nearly the entire arena gets up and starts to walk out on the team with five seconds left and the game not over. Sad display of loyalty by the Lady Lions fan base. Grant misses the desperation heave that would have simply cut the loss to just one as time expires.
A hard fought second half by the Lady Lions. After a poor first half, Washington got her players to step it up as they almost pulled off the comeback.
Final score, Georgia Tech 64, Penn State 60.
Be sure to check back later tonight for a recap of tonight's game as well as tomorrow's paper for full coverage.
Signing out, this is Lady Lions reporter Alex Angert from the BJC.
With tipoff less than two hours away, here are some more thoughts from coach Coquese Washington on tonight's opponent...
"They are a very athletic bunch. They are very defensive-minded and defensive oriented. Pressure with man to man and they like to get in the passing lanes and do a lot of trapping. Our offensive execution is going to have to be at a very high level."- On Georgia Tech's style of play
"I'm not sure if they are playing any different with her back. Her presence certainly gives them more confidence and gives them more depth so that they can keep rotating people in and out to press."- On Georgia Tech having 2009 Third-team All-ACC forward Alex Montgomery back
"I think South Carolina and Georgia Tech are on par with their athleticism and the quality skill of the players and the big post play."- On if Georgia Tech is their best opponent yet
"It feels good to be back at home. For me personally, I'm tired of traveling. It feels good to sleep in your own bed and I'm sure the players feel the same way that it's nice to be back home. Hopefully get some more W's and go into Christmas break feeling good about ourselves."- On playing at home again
Be sure to follow Washington's Post all game for live updates and don't forget to check out tomorrow's paper for full results.
The Penn State lineup for the Nittany Lion Open was released today. Bubba Jenkins will wrestle as a 157-pounder despite a minor chest bruise. Several future Lions will also compete. Dylan Alton will wrestle in the 149-pound weight class while his brother Andrew Alton will grapple as a 141-pounder. Sam Sherlock, another Penn State recruit, will go at 133 pounds.
Dirk Cowburn will not wrestle despite signing his National Letter of Intent with Penn State. Nico Megaludis, who verbally committed, and Frankie Martellotti, who also verbally committed according to Intermat, will also sit out from the open.
Ten Question Tuesday makes its return following the holiday break, and brings you sophomore forward Nick Seravalli. Seravalli provided a number of interesting answers, telling us about his hatred for Allen Iverson, his love for Taco Bell and an interesting choice of what school he would go to if he didn't attend Penn State.
1. Who are your three favorite bands right now?
A: Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Hank Mills.
2. Who is your favorite Penn State athlete, not on the Icers?
A: Colin Wagner, kicker for the football team. Brings it every week, not an easy position to be in. I mean kicking a ball, could win a game or lose a game, I wouldn't want to do it.
3. What story or name are you tired of hearing about in the news?
A: Right now? I'm tired of hearing about Allen Iversion, I don't care if he retires or comes back to Philadelphia or what he does. Allen Iverson drives me nuts.
4. If you could only listen to one song for the rest of your life, what would it be?
A: "Summer Wind" by Frank Sinatra.
5. What's the best Disney movie of all time?
A: This is a hard one. Let me guess, everyone else has probably said Mighty Ducks or Miracle?
Paul: D-2 and Miracle are the majority. You do have a couple votes for Beauty and the Beast on the team, though.
A: I'll go with D-2, D-2's a great movie.
6. Who is the funniest guy on the team?
A: John Conte without a doubt. Always has a funny one-liner, always there to try and break you up every once in awhile, but you can't let him get to you. He's funny.
7. Best meal in town?
A: Taco Bell. Cheesy Gordita Crunch.
8. If you had to go to school anywhere other than Penn State, where would it be?
A: DU, Delaware University.
9. If you could pull off the ultimate prank on anyone on the team, coach or player, who would it be and why?
A: Absolutely, one-hundred percent, Tim O'Brien. Timmy O'Brien goes around trying to get everyone all the time. He gets Kirstein so rattled, I would love to see Kirstein and a bunch of people team up on Timmy and get him back.
10. What's the most exciting play in hockey?
A: Big hit. A big hit can change the momentum of a game, it happens all the time. Guys like Dion Phaneuf and Scott Stevens used to do it all the time. Come out and just wreck people and change the momentum of the game.
That does it for this edition of TQT. It should be an interesting weekend for Seravalli, as the Icers take on Delaware -- the team Seravalli said he would want to play for if he had to go to school anywhere other than Penn State. The last few answers to that question have been interesting, with a couple players saying Pitt and now a Delaware answer, despite the bitter rivalry between the teams. We'll have to wait and see what next week brings us.
The Lady Lions may be looking at the Big Ten/ACC Challenge against Georgia Tech on Wednesday as just another game, but that doesn't mean we have to.
There is something exciting about facing a team from a top conference like the ACC after watching the Lady Lions play teams from the Mid-American, Patriot and Colonial conferences throughout the first weeks of the season.
While we look forward to Wednesday's Georgia Tech-Penn State tipoff, let's recap how Penn State fared in the first two Big Ten/ACC Challenges.
Florida State 73
Penn State 60
It was a milestone night for Tyra Grant as she reached the 1,000-point mark for her career, but that was the only thing worth celebrating is this one. The Lady Lions shot 41.5 percent from the floor and turned the ball over 29 times. Grant finished with 18 points and Brianne O'Rourke had 16. Although Penn State finished with a slightly better shooting percentage, the difference was PSU's poor free-throw shooting and the Seminole's dominance on the glass and in committing turnovers which allowed them to put up 12 more shots.
Penn State 86
Maybe the high point of the last few years for the Lady Lions, coach Coquese Washington's squad pulled off the improbable upset in her first year with the team. Ranked no. 10 in the country, Duke was shocked by Penn State when Janessa Wolff nailed the game-winning lay-up with only five tenths of a second remaining. Duke went into the game with a 76-game winning streak against unranked opponents but the streak came to an end when Brianne O'Rourke found the wide-open Wolff under the hoop. The Lady Lions finished with four players in double figures as O'Rourke and Mashea Williams both finished scoring over 20 points apiece. The team shot 54 percent from the field and nailed 28 of 30 free throw attempts, showing how successful the team can be if it can convert from the charity stripe. O'Rourke had a career day finishing with 23 points, 8 assists and a perfect 15-for-15 performance from the free throw line.
Here's what was said about the game afterwards:
"What we talked about in the huddle was that we just wanted to get the ball in bounds. We honestly talked more about our press breakers, that we anticipated them coming out and pressing and trying to trapped so we really talked more about just getting the ball in bounds and then going. They didn't press and the girls kind of looked like "what do we do now?" and I said just go! So, Brianne did what we talked about doing: attack, attack, attack. That's our mindset; we're going to attack. She made a great play, which is what great point guards do. She made a great play at the end of the game to win it for us."- Coach Coquese Washington on the last play
"I honestly don't even know how Bri got it up the court. I was on the block trying to occupy my girl and all of a sudden Bri is on the free throw line, and I see my girl leave. I don't know if I screamed her name or anything, but she looked at me so I put my hands in the air, said a quick prayer and put it up there."- Janessa Wolff on her game-winning shot
"It was great hustle by the team. We press. We like to press. It's not a new concept. It's something we like to do, but it is players that make plays. Our kids made a lot of plays in the second half. In the first half, we gave a lot of plays away and that was unfortunate and Penn State took full advantage of that. There were some good things for us in the game, but when you look at this free throw shooting business... that just can't be. Obviously a phenomenal percentage for them: 28 out of 30. They might want to frame that. That is a very good job on their part. Again, for us, we've got some work to do, and we have no excuses. We are better than we played and we'll get back at it."- Duke coach Joanne McCallie on the Blue Devils press
As for the full-court press, check psucollegian.com on Wednesday to read about how Georgia Tech uses the same style of defense and how the Lady Lions are expecting plenty of it against the Yellow Jackets. Georgia Tech may not be ranked like Duke, but a victory for the Lady Lions would be a huge early season victory if they can pull it off.
Goalies often stare down death while in net from oncoming skaters and 100 mph pucks. However, they are not used to getting slashed in the head by their own defenseman. That just happened to Tomas Vokoun of Florida Panthers. After allowing a goal, a frustrated Keith Ballard went to break his stick over the goal post.....but missed completely and nailed his own goalie upside the head. He was taken away on a stretcher but it appears he should be OK.
Derek Jeter...your SI Sportsman of the Year! Wait, what? Sure, there's no denying Jeter is a big name. And he does good charity work. But Sportsman of the Year? Why? The article lists many of Jeter's accomplishments from this season. However, he was not the best player in the league. His .871 OPS was fourth best on his own team. Joe Mauer single handedly carried the Twins to the playoffs. Albert Pujols is the best player in MLB. And this is just baseball. How many other more deserving athletes were there in other sports? Jeter may have had a decent season, but he wasn't even close to being the best player in baseball, let alone all of sports. Sports Illustrated screwed the pooch.
Some things important and not so important:
- Who would have thought Tiger Woods wouldn't be a good driver? Maybe he'll start going with a five iron off the tee.
- TBS has relieved Chip Carey of his supposed game calling duties. Guess we won't get to hear anymore, "It's a line drive base hit to left field and caught by the third baseman" calls in the near future.
- I haven't seen them, but there supposedly someone hacked into Grady Sizemore's computer and posted rather revealing photos of him on the Internet. Grady's Ladies must be going wild.
Video of the Week: Ah nothing like big football hits. Big football hits from Pop Warner kids.
Penn State did its part for the third-straight year, winning its game as a part of the Big Ten/ACC Challenge. If the Big Ten wants to win the challenge for the first time since its beginning, it will have to take care of business in the games the Big Ten squad is favored in.
Here's our take on how tonight's Big Ten/ACC Challenge matchups will play out:
Purdue (-10.5) vs. Wake Forest
AJ: Purdue 68, Wake Forest 60
Hen: Purdue 78, Wake Forest 72
A-Rob: Purdue 73, Wake Forest 61
NC State (-4.5) vs. Northwestern
AJ: Northwestern 71, NC State 69
Hen: NC State 61, Northwestern 58
A-Rob: NC State 63, Northwestern 54
Indiana (+4.5) vs. Maryland
AJ: Maryland 80, Indiana 64
Hen: Maryland 82, Indiana 65
A-Rob: Maryland 77, Indiana 66
North Carolina (-2) vs. Michigan State
AJ: North Carolina 79, Michigan State 68
Hen: North Carolina 71, Michigan State 69
A-Rob: Michigan State 72, North Carolina 70
Iowa (+3) vs. Virginia Tech
AJ: Virginia Tech 71, Iowa 59
Hen: Virginia Tech 68, Iowa 61
A-Rob: Virginia Tech 65, Iowa 57
What to look for:
AJ: If these predictions hold true the ACC and the Big Ten will be deadlocked at three wins apiece heading into the final day of the challenge. Not bad considering the beatdown the Big Ten usually takes. The Northwestern-NC State contest could go a long way to deciding the challenge. Also, expect the Tar Heels to come to life on their home court in a rematch of last season's national title game.
Hen: The Indiana-Maryland and Purdue-Wake Forest games will be blowouts, but other than that, I see each game having the possibility of going either way. Iowa isn't very good, but it will give the Hokies a test on its home court. I see the ACC holding a 4-2 advantage going into Wednesday's five games.
A-Rob: If there's an early season game that could earn the compelling label, its the UNC-MSU rematch of last year's title game. Other than that, the rest of tonight's Big Ten/ACC Challenge games leave a little to be desired. Purdue should cruise against a rebuilding Wake Forest team, while Maryland will still find a way to have trouble against Indiana, but the Terps will come out on top. NC State and Northwestern could go either way, while Virginia Tech should have little trouble handling Iowa. The Challenge should be tied 3-3 going into Tuesday, but it's college basketball and stranger things have happened.
Talor Battle- A The point guard returned to the Talor Battle of old, pouring in a career-high 32 points on 9-of-15 shooting. After struggling from 3-point range all year, Battle found the touch against Virginia, hitting on 5-of-9. The junior also added four rebounds and four assists but was hurt by four turnovers in the contest.
Tim Frazier- A Frazier started his third-straight game and contributed across the stat sheet. The freshman was a big part of the 9-2 run that jump started the Lions in the second half, and was the only player other than Battle to score in double figures with 11. Frazier also had five assists to go along with two rebounds and a steal and made a few key foul shots in the closing minutes of action.
DJ Jackson- B Jackson went into the game given the task of shutting down Cavaliers guard Sylven Landesberg, so he was going to have to sacrifice some offense. However, he should get more than four shots in every game, but we can't knock the forward too much for collecting seven boards and forcing Landesberg into contested shots.
Jeff Brooks- B The junior forward showed some fight on the glass, pulling in a team-high nine boards including two on the offensive end. Brooks didn't shoot particularly well, going 3-of-7, but he did hit his fourth 3-ball of the season, but he needs to finish his chances if the Lions are going to have any success this year. However, the 6-foot-8 forward did show his all-around talent adding an assist, steal and block to his line.
Andrew Jones- C The big man did not have his best game in Virginia, and his season-long struggles continued. Jones shot just 3-7, and two of his makes were dunks. If the Lions hope to compete in the Big Ten, Jones has to get going and shoot better than the 42.8% performance he had last night. The center did get seven boards, but he got outworked a few times down low and certainly could of had a better night on the glass as well.
Chris Babb- C Babb didn't dazzle shooting the ball, but give the sophomore credit for finding ways to contribute anyway. Coming off the bench, Babb hit just 1-of-5, and 0-of-3 from range, but made 4-of-6 free throws on his way to six points. If he isn't shooting well, Babb will have to help in other ways and the guard started to show he can with two rebounds, two assists and a steal.
Andrew Ott- C- The reserve center played 11 minutes and did what was expected of him, but didn't exceed those expectations. On a night with Jones struggling, Ott had a chance to make a statement, but missed his only shot and collected just two rebounds.
Bill Edwards- C In his third game back from injury, Edwards looked like he was on the right path back. The freshman forward hit 2-of-5 shots, not knockout performance, but drove the lane on several occasions and took some contact, showing he wasn't afraid to test his knee. Edwards did have three turnovers and only one rebound, which hurt his grade.
Sasa Boronjvak- Can't really grade him for his performance. The freshman played just one minute and got whistled for a foul, but wasn't on the floor long enough to have anything to grade.
The ACHA announced on its Web site Monday that Robert Morris will join the Icers' conference, the Eastern States Collegiate Hockey League (ESCHL) starting next season.
Robert Morris will be the fifth team in the league in 2010-11, joining Penn State, Delaware, Rhode Island and West Chester. Drexel and Navy will leave the league after this season to re-join the the Eastern Collegiate Hockey Association (ECHA), which includes Towson, Villanova, Stony Brook and Penn State-Berks.
The ESCHL next year should be competitive with the addition of RMU. As it stands right now, all five teams in the league next season are ranked in the most recent ACHA Rankings and no team out of the five is ranked lower than 18th.