Though the extent of Whitney Bencsko's hyperextended left knee is unknown at this time, after speaking with coach Steve Shephard and a couple of the gymnasts, there is a chance the sophomore might be sidelined for the remainder of her sophomore season. If that is the case, one lineup spot in each of the four events will have to be filled.
Here are my thoughts on who might take over those spots:
Vault: On the vault Saturday, senior co-captain Allie Southard substituted for Bencsko, and though there was no indication from Shephard, the competition for the lineup spot is most likely between Southard and freshman Madison Merriam. Merriam was in the lineup on Feb. 13 when senior co-captain Rosie Smith was out with back spasms.
Floor Exercise: Smith took Bencsko's spot in the floor exercise lineup on Saturday and did well, posting a 9.775. However, at practice last week, Shephard said four different gymnasts had been competing for spots. Ultimately, it is possible that Smith will be competing with sophomore Daryl Konsevick to compete in the floor exercise.
Balance Beam: Shephard said he had not planned for Konsevick to be in Saturday's balance beam lineup prior to Bencsko's injury. Konsevick, who has competed on the beam in each of the team's eight meets, fell for the second consecutive meet and still might be fighting for her spot. If Konsevick continues to struggle, a possible replacement might be junior Danielle Hover, who competed the event on Jan. 23.
Uneven Parallel Bars: The competition looks to be wide open. Entering Saturday's meet at Ohio State, sophomore Natalie Ettl, the anchor on bars, was sick and wasn't sure if she would compete. At that time, Shephard said the four gymnasts competing for her spot were Smith, Konsevick, Hover and sophomore Alex Stine. Though Ettl ended up competing in Columbus, those four will probably be fighting for Bencsko's spot on the bars.
The Big Picture: To reiterate, nothing is for sure saying Bencsko will be out for the rest of the year. The sophomore hopes to visit the doctor tomorrow and get an MRI at which time we hope to know the extent of her injury. The loss of Bencsko would be a huge blow to Penn State, who looked upon the sophomore All-American to supply four good scores each meet. As Shephard told me today, however, he is lucky that his team has a lot of depth. The two freshmen, Sharaya Musser and Madison Merriam, who both competed in the all-around on Saturday, will have to step up and become what Shephard called "key players" and help make up for Bencsko's scores.
If you're Coquese Washington you must be thinking, "Here we go again." Just like the Lady Lions did when they were blown out by Wisconsin, Penn State's offense has been very limited. The Lions trail Indiana 37-22 and Penn State has very little to be happy about right now.
The Hoosiers are doubling Tyra Grant, limiting the senior to just four points at the half, and the Lions haven't found another scorer to compliment Alex Bentley, who leads the team with nine points. While there's constantly a defender in her face, Grant is forcing shots and shot just 2-for-13 during the half. The Lady Lions are all struggling with their jump shots as they've made just six of their 26 attempted field goals during the first half.
The Hoosiers finished the half on a 20-to-10 run and much of that can be attributed to the Lions' defensive lapses. The Lions are allowing Indiana to take their pick of shots and the Lions' 2-3 zone is allowing way to much penetration as they've surrendered a lot of layups.
Penn State's Big Ten tournament seeding hinges on how they finish this game and right now with games still in progress they would be the sixth seed. The Lions need to work the ball inside until they have enough success with their jump shots. The Lions dug themselves a pretty big hole going down by 15 points, but let's see how they close out the game.
Penn State earned its first Big Ten home win of the year Sunday, defeating Northwestern 79-60. Ten different players got on the floor, but as usual we will use the 10 minutes of playing time rule to grade out the players.
Talor Battle: A- While his shooting numbers weren't great, only going
4-of-11, Battle had a solid all-around game. The junior tallied six rebounds and six assists as well as a steal and block. With his fourth assist, Battle became the sixth Lion to total 1,000 points and 400 assists in a career. Despite the shooting, Battle had 16 points and the backing of coach Ed DeChellis, who said the guard had an
outstanding floor game.
Chris Babb: A The sophomore guard didn't take many shots, but he made the most of what he had. Babb finished 4-of-6 total but 4-of-5 from 3-point range. Babb was willing to pass the ball against Northwestern, and even though he only had two assists, his passing helped set up his teammates. On the defensive end, Babb was a force as well.
Besides pulling in three rebounds and two steals, Babb had three blocks, including an athletic rejection of a 3, where the guard ran into the corner, leapt fully into the air and sent the ball back into the second row of seats on the lower level.
Drew Jones: B+ Even though Jones fouled out in the second half, he still made an impact on the game. Plus, most of Penn State was in foul trouble from the opening whistle, so we'll let the five fouls off a little easier today. When he was in, Jones collected seven rebounds, but just one on the offensive end. The junior forward also added eight
points on 4-of-7 shooting and was on the receiving end of several nice feeds from Battle.
Jeff Brooks: A From the opening tip, Brooks was ready to play. While he shot 4-of-10 from the floor, Brooks was aggressive with the ball, driving to the rim instead of settling for outside shots. Brooks tied Jones for the team lead in rebounds with seven and had two assists. Instead of being passive, Brooks was willing to mix it up inside, evidenced by his first rebound in the second half when he threw a Northwestern defender down fighting for the ball.
D.J. Jackson: B- Hard to give Jackson anything lower given the circumstances surrounding his game. After missing the last two days of practice while helping sort out funeral arrangements for his grandfather at home, Jackson came back to be with his teammates. A foul-plagued first half kept Jackson to just 19 minutes of play, but he stepped up in the second period. Despite having only five points, Jackson was 2-of-2 from the floor and had three rebounds, an assist and steal.
Bill Edwards: C A mediocre performance from Edwards saw the freshman net only two points and one rebound. Edwards came on to relieve Jackson, but was benched in favor of Sasa Borovnjak later in the first half and did not get in until late in the second half, after the game was all but decided.
Sasa Borovnjak: B- While Sasa only played nine minutes, we decided he had an influence and warranted a grade. After coming in, the freshman was assertive and aggressive on offense, which allowed DeChellis to rest Brooks and Jackson throughout the first half. While he got to the foul line four times and hit a basket, Borovnjak did not have a single rebound, assist or block, which is something a forward cannot do if he wants to see more time.
Tim Frazier: B+ The freshman point guard came in as a spark off the bench and delivered. Frazier hit 4-of-4 from the field including a slick basket where he pump faked, then wove around the defender for a jumper. While he didn't post big numbers in other categories, Frazier only played 11 minutes and was an impact player on the floor. However, he may want to work on his foul shooting, going just 1-of-4 from the line against the Wildcats.
Cam Woodyard: A- Why not? Seeing his first action in four games, Woodyard had a breakout offensive performance, going 4-of-5 from the field. Again, with his teammates in foul trouble, Woodyard got a chance to show what he could do, and against Northwestern, it was knock down open shots. The sophomore's first basket was his first since Jan. 16 at Iowa, and his nine points, all in the first half, tied a career high. Woodyard also added two boards and two assists.
Andrew Ott/Steve Kirkpatrick/Adam Highberger: Did not meet the 10-minute requirement. Highberger and Kirkpatrick saw action in the last three minutes when the game was basically over.
YES! I'm so good at this. Steve Kirkpatrick is on the floor for Penn State. Totally called that earlier in the blog. Go back and read it, it's there.
Thanks to the expert tech guys from the Big Ten Network, we got a few extra seconds of Blue Band. Curletti misses the front of a one-and-one.
Frazier goes up and gets fouled. Nice drive by the freshman gets him to the line. He misses the first and second however.
Fruendt hits a three. That is an absurdly hard name to spell.
Kirkpatrick muscles down a board and he gets some cheers from the home crowd.
Hard name guy, Frendt, with a dirve and score.
What's this? The crowd is standing as the clock runs out and Penn State earns their first Big Ten home win of the year.
Final score 79-60 Penn State win. The Lions improve to 11-17, 3-13 Big Ten while Northwestern falls to 18-11, 7-9 conference.
We're off to the media room, but check the website, blog and tomorrow's paper for full coverage.
Sasa, Ott and Adam Highberger on for PSU. Marcotullio on for Northwestern which prompts a "USA!" chant from Nittany Nation. Are they trying to remind Marcotullio that the U.S. tied Itlay in group play during the 2006 World Cup?
Another timeout after Frazier scores another basket.
2:07 2nd half, 79-55 PSU lead
Foul Watch, Hightower edition: PSU 9 team fouls, NW 5.
Luka just fouled out, so that's six for them and Luka got the "SIT DOWN" treatment. Unlike Ohio State's Buford however, Luka did not grab his crotch and point at the scoreboard.
Juice Thompson inside. Did you know that he gave himself the nickname Juice do to his shooting? I didn't either until the Big Ten Network told me last week.
Jones goes up to block and comes down with a foul, his fourth and team's tenth. Curletti shooting two and hits the first. Frazier comes in for Woodyard and, wow, really, lane violation on Northwestern? I guess so and don't get the FT.
Jackson is fouled while shooting, that's seven on Northwestern. This is no lie the most painful game I've watched in a long time. Jackson hits the first FT, his first point of the game, but he can't get the second down.
Battle now with two fouls. Nash hits one of two foul shots. On the other end, oh come on, another foul. This on puts Frazier at the line, where the freshman hits one.
Babb with four fouls now after he hit Ivan Peljusic on the baseline chasing him off a screen.
Fruendt on for Shurna. I can't even say half of the names on Northwestern's roster.
Jackson with his second basket, he now has five points as we go into a timeout.
2:56 2nd half, 77-52 PSU lead
Was that Col. Sanders? Whoever that guy decked head to toe in white and blue was, he looked like the Colonel, and won the best fan of the game. I wonder if he had 11 different types of PSU apparel on.
Luka at the line for Northwestern. Everything about this team is long. Long school name, long player names, long stretches with frequent fouls. OK, that last one was more on the refs.
Northwestern takes a timeout. 7:28 2nd, 69-44 PSU lead.
After a long timeout, we're back. Jeff Brooks is back too, he just threw a man off of him while fighting for a rebound.
Babb called for his third foul and Woodyard on to replace him.
Apparently every ref that works with Hightower is overly dramatic. Jones called for a foul and the guy about hit him while motioning for the foul.
Jones scores inside after Woodyard brutalizes a defender and makes a nice pass inside.
Shurna gets in for a basket and Brooks joins the "I have two fouls because Ed Hightower is the ref" club. At the line, Shurna hits his first but front-rims the second and PSU gets the rebound.
Battle with a gorgeous pass to Jones who was waiting on the baseline and threw it down.
Jackson on for Brooks, who gets a nice hand from the crowd.
Hightower about four seconds late on a foul on Luka. Battle had gotten his shot to fall before the whistle and he wanted the points. After discussing it with himself, Hightower called an intentional foul and Battle goes to the line for two and the Lions get the ball back.
Battle hits both as Babb re-enters. The inbounds play leads to a missed 3 from Woodyard, who then gets called for a foul. Tisk, tisk.
Timeout on the floor, 7:54 2nd half, 69-44 PSU lead.
Jackson has been a virtual no-factor so far, though the two quick fouls didn't help much.
Brooks at the line and misses his first, but he gets another and he hits it. Edwards in to replace Brooks.
DJ with a nice rebound of a missed three.
And we can't go a minute without a foul. This one is on Nash, his third.
Battle gets open for three and drains it.
Lions trap Curletti and almost get a steal, but Thompson gets to it and is fouled by Babb. He hits both shots as Shurna comes back in.
Chris Babb with a deflection that leads to one-man break Talor Battle scoring on a lay-up. And then we have a foul on Jones on the other end.
Sasa back on and he gets another hand from the crowd. Everyone loves this guy. Nash drives in and throws a floater to the guy in the rafters, which Jackson rebounds when it falls.
Sasa on Luka? Awesome.
Jackson called for his third foul and as I'm typing that, there's another foul. This one is on Sasa. I think a good question at this point is who doesn't have two fouls?
Chris Babb just got UP and blocked a three. That play was dirty.
Timeout on the floor, 11:58 2nd half, 63-43 PSU lead.
Kiss-cam time. I wonder if Jamelle Cornley is here and anywhere near Ed Hightower. After last season, I would love to see how that one would play out.
Northwestern starts the second half by hitting a three. There was no foul on the play, though don't rule it out yet.
Babb hits a three for Penn State's opening act, then Thompson hits his second three of the half. As much as I dislike college teams jacking up 19 foot jumpers, if this prevents fouls, by all means keep it up.
Babb on Shurna, who misses a bit of a desperation shot.
Jones called for an offensive foul as Hightower comes sliding to make sure everyone knows he called that foul.
It looked like Northwestern lost the ball out of bounds, but I'm going to check, ok, no foul. Kinda sad I have to keep doing that, isn't it?
Oh, there it is. That foul is on Nick Fruendt, his first.
Brooks gets inside and scores and without much of a surprise, Shurna is called for a foul. Brooks can not convert the three-point play.
Shurna for three, can't convert. Chris Babb, however, can convert as he gets a 3 to go.
Brooks drives in and draws enough contact to get a foul and we have our first timeout of the half.
15:27 2nd half, 57-41 PSU lead
I'm back, just in time for my "favorite" Daughtry ad... Though, at this time last week, the three of us were lost somewhere in southwest Ohio, so it could be worse.
Today's halftime entertainment is some sort of mind-numbing vaudeville act. Apparently these guys are from Penn State and judging by the nature of their act, I've seen them before.
As a frequent pick-up basketball player at Rec Hall, I've seen these guys "practicing" on the middle deck quite a few nights. I do need to add that I've told them they sucked when their juggling act fell all over the court I was playing on a few weeks ago. And their choice in music, well it's nonexistant so I'm going to get lunch.
Back in a few.
As the volleyball team walks out to a jarring round of applause, here are a few stats and numbers to peruse.
Penn State is shooting 68 percent from the floor, hitting 17-of-25 shots while holding Northwestern to 40 percent on 10-of-25 shooting.
Both squads are hot from downtown. The Lions have hit on 4-of-5 for 80 percent while the Wildcats, who have been relying on the deep ball, have hit 8-of-15 for 53.3 percent.
With so many fouls, both teams have taken a fair amount of FTs. PSU has hit on 11-of-13 for 84.6 percent and Northwestern is at 7-of-9 for 77.8 percent.
Battle and Woodyard lead the Lions with nine each, followed by Babb's eight. Brooks had four rebounds and eight points as well.
The back-to-back-to-back national champion women's volleyball team has gathered by the court to be honored at halftime. Senior Megan Hodge, probably the best volleyball player in the history of time, just received the 2010 Honda female athlete of the year award during the timeout and got a HUGE standing O from the crowd.
But, the game's back and we have a combined 17 team fouls. That's the magic of Hightower.
Brooks on the baseline hits a nice jumper over a defender. On the other end, Jones rejects Luka and Woodyard hits a J on the ensuing possession.
And just when it looked like a basketball game would erupt, Ed Hightower was there to shut it down. Marcotullio misses a golden chance on a beautiful cross from -- sorry, I thought he was a soccer player again. He just missed an FT.
Marcotulli draws a proverbial yellow card, called for a foul which sends Battle to the stripe. The PSU junior hits one of two.
Woodyard cleans the glass and scores on a putback after Battle and Jones couldn't get it go in traffic.
Edwards in for PSU as Thompson goes to the line. Yeah, we had another foul, it's at the point where I can't keep up with them.
That's the buzzer, and that's Bill Edwards' shot going through the net as it sounds. That's back to back home games where the Lions beat the clock at the end of the first half.
Penn State leads at the half, 49-35
And we're back. Wasn't that fun. Northwestern in their standard 1-3-1 defense as Sasa says no by scoring inside. "You can't go 1-3-1 on Sasa, he won't allow it," - AJ
Cam Woodyard nails a 3. With the Lions up 11, DeChellis has gotten some of the lesser used players some minutes here in the first half. Will we see Adam Highberger or Steve Kirkpatrick today?
Hold on, another foul. This on Mike Capocci. Sasa at the line, hitting his first as Hen simply states, "they don't teach that." The freshman hits his second as Shurna comes back on for Northwestern.
Another three for Northwestern, this one from Nash. Babb finds Sasa inside, but he is blocked- no wait, it's just a foul. Another foul, as in the ninth team foul on NW. Sasa misses his first, but hits the second. That's Serbian resiliency right there.
Nash cuts into the lane, and as expected, a foul. Sasa couldn't get set up and got tagged. Brooks in for Sasa who gets a hand from the crowd. Nash hits the front end of the one-and-one. The guard hits his second shot and the Lions are up only seven.
Woodyard from the corner after Battle and Babb passed up threes. Luka called for a foul, that's ten.
Timeout, 3:23 first half, 40-31 PSU lead.
AJ's mom, Laura Cassavell, is in town for the game and just sent him a text saying "NW has 3pt shooters." That may well be the best observation you read on this blog all day.
Battle at the line for three, and the junior hits them all. We are now at a 7-6 edge in team fouls, which Northwestern leads... for now.
Battle dives on a loose ball and calls timeout.
6:52 1st half, 30-24 PSU lead
Brooks at the line. He hits on the first and the second. Apparently I missed that last foul on Northwestern, but then again with so many flying around, it was going to happen. I'm not perfect alright?
Thompson hits another 3 for Northwestern, his third. On offense, stunner, a foul, but the Lions simply use the inbounds to get Tim Frazier the ball and a score.
Blocking foul on Ott, his second and the Wildcat striker, er, forward, Marcotullio goes to the line. He makes the first as Babb and Jones return before the Wildcat misses his second. Battle also back.
Shurna drives and Babb gets called for a foul. This is absurd, Penn State is at six team fouls already as Shurna hits both of his FTs.
Babb finds a cutting Battle who gets tied up on Thompson, who is called for a foul. Hightower made a very nice slashing motion while calling that foul.
With the shot clock winding down, Frazier drove into the paint, shot faked then elevated around a defender for a sweet jumper.
Babb follows his own miss and almost scored in the paint, except he was fouled. Crisis averted. The guard goes to the line, hitting his first as the team's resident Serbian, Sasa Borojnvak, comes on for the Lions. Babb finishes the play by making his other foul shot.
Drew Crawford hits a three for Northwestern by as AJ put it, "doing just enough to hang on."
Timeout, 7:26 1st half, 27-24 PSU lead
I'm almost tempted to put up a post about foul trouble, given that both teams are at four team fouls already. But then I remembered it was an Ed Hightower game and it hit me -- everyone is already in foul trouble.
Colleague AJ Cassavell informed me my favorite EPL team, Liverpool beat Blackburn 2-1 thanks to goals from Steven Gerrard and the pride of Spain, Fernando Torres. Felt that needed to be put in there, so deal with it.
Well apparently Luka committed a foul on that last sequence and he is replaced by Davide Curletti, who has almost as ridiculous a name.
That's a three ball by Chris Babb.
Hightower tags Jackson for his second foul and the junior sits as Bill Edwards comes on. Alex Marcotullio (I know, I think he's on the Italian national soccer team too) comes on for Northwestern, replacing Jeremy Nash.
And that's the first boos for this officiating crew. On the inbounds play, Curletti scores inside after it looked like the ball went off a Wildcat.
Battle misses a three, but as per the norm today, Brooks is there to tip it back out. Ball goes in to Jones, but the center can't convert as Battle strips the ball and jets the lentgh of the floor for a layup.
It's foul day at the BJC, as Brooks gets called for one. Luka back in for Northwestern and Andrew Ott and Tim Frazier come on for the Lions.
Frazier turns the ball over on his first play in, but the Lions are able to force Northwestern into a bad pass and they get the ball back. Ott called for an over-the-back and Nash comes back in for Northwestern.
Battle and Jones are sitting for Penn State. After Battle played all 40 minutes against Ohio State, looks like DeChellis wanted to give him some rest.
Timeout on the floor,
11:35 1st half, 19-15 PSU lead
They're off and Penn State gets the first possesion, which ends in a three for Talor Battle.
Northwestern starts by posting Mirkovic on Jones, while Jackson starts on Shurna. Jeff Brooks blocked the Wildcats' first shot, but the ball went out and Shurna got free for a 3-pointer on the resulting play.
Brooks draws a foul on Crawford and on the inbounds, Battle does some sort of move and gets Crawford tagged for his second foul.
Chris Babb makes a nice pass inside to Jones who spins off Mirkovic for a bucket.
Shurna with another three, Northwestern up 6-5 very early here. Excuse me, was up as Babb drains a triple.
Jackson called for a foul, emphatically I may add, though oddly it was not Ed Hightower. Hightower, the ref fans may remember for T'ing up Jamelle Cornley during last year's home win-- alley oop by Jones from Battle, really nice finish on a two handed jam-- against Iowa.
Brooks came to play, he scored over Mirkovic, ok that name is way too hard to type so I'm going to call him Luka, then scored again on the Lions' next possession.
Juice Thompson for three.
Ball goes out off Luka and Hightower makes a little bit of a show pointing out, but I'm sure the best is yet to come.
What's good sports fans, A-Rob here at the Bryce Jordan Center getting ready for the penultimate home game of the season.
Both teams are warming up as Joe "smooth as" Silko is draining jumpers for the Nittany Lions. Here are a few things we're watching.
D.J. Jackson's play- the junior forward is dealing with the death of his grandfather, Toby Jackson, who passed away on Wednesday. Jackson missed practice Thursday and Friday, but made it back to try and help his team to Big Ten win number three.
Shutting down Shurna- Northwestern forward John Shurna is by far the Wildcat's best player and it will be a tough task for the Lions to contain him. Shurna, a forward, has a good inside-out game and will be a tough cover for Penn State
Victory jacket- PSU coach Ed DeChellis is wearing his beige jacket today, the same jacket that owns a 2-0 record in Big Ten play. WIll the luck continue?
Friday's extra innings victory over Cincinnati was an exciting way for the baseball team to start the season. Not to mention, it was a quality victory against a major program. Head coach Robbie Wine is now entering his sixth season as the Penn State coach, and he is working toward building a team to consistently contend in the Big Ten Conference. Friday's victory was a good start as well as a possible sign of things to come as it is only Wine's second season opening victory in six years. Here is a look at how his past five season openers fared:
2009- Lost to St. Johns, 15-6
St. Johns came out firing last season from the start, putting up three runs in just the first inning against Penn State. However, it looked as if the Nittany Lions were going to be able to keep pace after scoring two of their own in the bottom half of the innings. Unfortunately for Wine, his team couldn't keep up past that as St. Johns put up 15 runs off of 17 hits. The Lions showed some offensive capabilities with six runs and 11 hits but the pitching didn't match. Calvin Grumley and Ryan Ignas, two of Penn State's starters this weekend, allowed four runs in three innings while Penn State's starter allowed 10 runs in less than five innings.
2008- Defeated High Point 4-2
Current ace Mike Wanamaker pitched six shutout innings to lead Penn State to the season opening victory, striking out five and only allowing five hits. Wanamaker was making his Penn State debut, and the pitcher is looking to duplicate that success this season. Catcher Joe Blackburn, who has now graduated, went a perfect 3-for-3 while Mike Deese hit a solo homerun in the fifth inning for the Lions.
2007- Lost to Kansas State 5-0
The Lions came out flat in the 2007 season opener, failing to put any runs on the board. Penn State managed six hits but was unable to move any of the runners past home plate while Kansas State came up with timely hits. However, it was Penn State's defensive miscues that led to the defeat as the Lions committed four errors that led to three unearned runs.
2006- Lost to Tulane 9-4
Playing on the road in Tulane's backyard of New Orleans, Penn State failed to turn its 13 hits into more than just four runs. On the flipside, Tulane scored nine runs off of its nine hits and took advantage of three Penn State errors. The Lions were doomed by a huge Tulane third inning as the Green Wave put up five runs in the bottom half of the innings, digging PSU into too big of a hole.
2005- Lost to Charlotte 6-3
Coach Robbie Wine lost his first-ever game with the Nittany Lions as the 49ers withheld a late Penn State comback. Charlotte, playing on its home field, jumped out to an early 6-0 lead after five innings and closed out the game despite the Lions finding a way to the cut the deficit in half in the sixth. Penn State came up with six hits but only one was for extra bases.
The rundown: After a six-game homestand, the No. 7 Nittany Lions travel to New Jersey for an EIVA match against Princeton.
Triple threat: The Tigers (4-4, 0-1 EIVA) rely on a core trio: senior middle Jeff McCown (1.32 blocks per set), junior Vincent Tuminelli (4.11 kills per set) and sophomore Scott Liljestrom (13.29 assists per set).
Twelve years ago... Penn State has won 11 straight EIVA titles. The last time they lost? 1998 when the Tigers captured the conference crown. Princeton swept the Lions twice that season -- once on March 27 and again on April 16 in the EIVA Tournament. However those were Princeton's only wins against Penn State: the Lions have a 38-2 all-time record against the Ivy Leaguers.
What to expect: Expect the Tigers to come out strong. This is only their second conference match, and they'll have their eyes set on the upset. Unfortunately for Princeton, Penn State is hot. Really hot. They have finally found balanced scoring in the past two weekends and their biggest flaw -- serving -- has improved of late.
Storyline to follow: Who compliments Max Lipsitz in the other middle position? It's the only spot of the lineup that coach Mark Pavlik hasn't quite settled on yet. Look for Nick Turko -- who has a strong offensive upside -- to get the start. He's started the past two games and has posted impressive attack numbers. But Ian Hendries will be on the sideline waiting, and Pavlik can't keep the frosh out for too long. Hendries, who held the position for most of the first half of the season, is a steady blocker and has good composure at the net. Those attributes might be vital for the Lions when they start to play some better teams, so Pavlik might find a way to get him back into the rotation, especially if this is a blowout.
Prediction: PSU 3, Princeton 0. Another mismatched EIVA opponent. Another win for the Lions.
On Sunday, the Lions (0-1) will travel to South Bend for a highly anticipated matchup against the No. 5 Irish (1-0). Let's take a look at how the two teams stack up with one another.
What they've done so far:
PSU is still is still recovering from a 24-17 upset courtesy of Robert Morris last weekend in which the Lions reeled off 75 shots and were denied a single-game school record 26 times by the Colonials' goalie Sal Barcia. For those of you who couldn't make it out to Holuba for the game, here's a quick look at the action.
Notre Dame is still riding high on its 11-7 upset against a then-No. 2 Duke Blue Devils squad this past weekend. Check some highlights from the game here.
The Lions are led by sophomore attackman Matt Mackrides who poured in a team-high five goals against the Colonials. Freshmen Billy Gribbin and Nick Dolik, who scored four and two goals respectively last weekend, will also provide some fire power at attack. Junior Chris Hogan also notched four against Robert Morris and will be looking for more this Sunday.
The Irish will rely on junior middie Zack Brenneman who recorded a hat trick in Durham. Joining Brenneman in the midfield is Steve Murphy, who put in two goals against the Dukies. At attack, ND will look to seniors Neal Hicks and Colin Igoe to improve on each of their two-goal performances last weekend.
Penn State is dealing with some serious injury issues. One of the Lions' most physical defenders, senior Earl Ross, is still recovering from a broken hand, and freshman Tyler Travis, who was expected to start this year, is done for the season. Junior Matt Bernier will carry the load defensively, building off last year's campaign in which he was third on the team in groundballs.
ND is led by a balanced defensive unit. Senior Mike Creighton, junior Kevin Ridgway and sophomore Kevin Randall will try to shut down the PSU attack just as they did to a potent Duke offense. The trio also picked up seven groundballs between the three of them.
Hopefully this weekend's match up will offer some much-needed answers to the Lions' goaltending woes. Having given 24 goals to RMU, Penn State needs to find a way to get its young goalies comfortable between the pipes. Freshman Dave Baker let in 11 goals and failed to make a save, while junior John Nichols gave up 13 more while stopping six against RMU.
Holding down the fort for the Irish will be senior All-American and captain Scott Rodgers. The 6-foot-4, 254 pound Rodgers takes up plenty of room inside the cage and is tough to get by. He turned away 15 shots against Duke and held the Blue Devils' All-American attackman Ned Crotty, who led the country in points last year, scoreless.
Keys to the game:
-Goaltending: Simple as that. The Lions can score, we know that. But it's hard to fathom the idea of scoring 17 goals and still losing a game. If Penn State can't find a way to stop the Notre Dame attack, this could get ugly.
-Faceoffs: Baker or Nichols may not even have to worry about making saves if the Lions can win the faceoff battle. The Irish won 10-21 faceoffs against the Bule Devils and averaged 55.6 percent last year. Check out Monahan's story for a complete rundown of PSU's faceoff unit.
Elsewhere in the NCAA:
-Game of the weekend: No. 11 Hofstra at No.8 Princeton - Junior attackman Jay Card and the CAA's best head to New Jersey to challenge sophomore goalie Tyler Fiorito and the Tigers in both teams' season opener on Saturday.
Player to watch: Jacksonville's Ryan Serville - The freshman turned in a stellar performance in last weekend's 13-12 triple overtime upset of then No. 18 Denver, picking up a hat trick and dishing out three assists. His 15 points lead the country, and he'll look to increase that number this Saturday at VMI.
Last night's 71-39 loss to Wisconsin was one that the Lady Lions will want to forget as soon as possible. However, the defeat was so lopsided it might take some time for the players to get this one out of their heads. Here is Thursday's loss by the numbers:
0- First half points by Penn State's top two leading scorers Alex Bentley and Tyra Grant
1- How many free-throws the Lions hit in the first half
4- Number of seniors playing their last game at the Bryce Jordan Center
5- Penn State players who scored at least one point
6- Where PSU sits in the Big Ten after the loss
7- 3-point baskets nailed by the Badgers
12- Total field goals made by Penn State
13- First half points by the Lions
16- Combined shooting percentage by PSU players not named Tyra Grant or Nikki Greene
16:13- Time it took Penn State to attempt its first free-throw
18- Amount of field goals hit by Wisconsin in the first half. Penn State finished the game with six less than that
23- Minutes played by starting point guard Bentley, who was replaced by Emily Phillips
27- Halftime deficit Penn State dug itself into
27.3- Final field goal percentage by PSU
30- Points in the paint by Wisconsin compared to 14 by the Lions
36.4- Percent of free-throws made by Wisconsin despite winning by 32
40- Amount of points Grant now needs to reach 2,000 for her career
75- First half field goal percentage by the Badgers despite taking 24 shots
Cornell can hammer down the coveted Ivy League regular-season title with a win over Princeton tonight. Cornell has a one-and-a-half game lead on Princeton going into tonight's matchup. A win over second-place Princeton pretty much solidifies the conference title, which solidifies an NCAA tournament berth (since the Ivy League does not have a conference tournament). Cornell has only one bad loss on its resume and that was a road loss to Penn, historically a tough place to play.
Princeton has dropped two Ivy League games this season, but both losses were by three points. One of those losses was to Cornell at home on Feb. 26. Here's a chance for the Tigers to spoil the Big Red's NCAA tournament dreams.
Prediction: Cornell 65 - Princeton 57
Player of the Night: Kyle Smyth, Iona
Siena is the consensus pick to win the MAAC, but don't count out Iona and Fairfield making a run in the conference tournament.
Iona's record is 20-8 right now and it has a group of balanced scorers, with nobody averaging more than 13 points per game. That means the Gaels will need someone to step up to balance out the scoring.
Consider freshman Kyle Smyth as a bonafide option. In wins at Providence and Creighton this season, Smyth scored 21 points against the Friars and 12 points against the Bluejays.
Smyth, a native of Park Ridge, N.J., consistently lost to the Immaculate Conception Crusaders in the North Jersey CYO circuits. Smyth was always a good shooter, but an aggressive 3-2 zone defense kept him at bay while Smyth played for St. Peter's. Smyth also played for Don Bosco Prep, a basketball powerhouse but most known for its success on the gridiron.
If Smyth shoots the ball well tonight against Fairfield, Iona would solidify second place in the MAAC.
Senior Tyra Grant is running out of time to reach the 2,000-point milestone and join the ranks of Lady Lion greats.
Going into tonight's game needing 55 points to hit the mark, Grant turned in a mediocre performance by her standards. The senior finished the evening with 15 points total, all of which were scored in the second half. Tonight's performance now puts Grant 40 points away from reaching the milestone.
With at least two games left, she will need to turn in two solid scoring efforts to reach it. However, if the Lady Lions win their Big Ten tournament opener, then Grant will have another game or two to add to the total.
Knowing the kind of scorer Grant is, it's hard to bet against her hitting the mark. The senior was just named to the Naismith Award midseason candidate list. She is one of 30 semifinalists for the player of the year award and only one of four Big Ten players on the list. Grant is joined by Illinois' Jenna Smith, as well as the Buckeye tandem of Jantel Lavender and Samantha Prahalis. Grant's 19.2 points per game is second in the conference and 16th in the nation, and this marks the second-straight year she has been a semifinalist for the award.
Nevertheless, with Penn State's recent struggles it's hard to envision Grant winning the award, though it is an honor just to be a semifinalist.
After tonight's performance against Wisconsin, it is safe to say that Penn State flunked out of the Big Ten race unless it can rattle off a winning streak in the conference tournament. On a night honoring the seniors, the Lady Lions were embarrassed by a Wisconsin team that played infinitely better. While it is sometimes hard to dish out grades after close loses, this is going to be one of the easier post-game report cards.
After shooting 28.6 percent in the first half and 26.1 percent in the second, it's hard to find a silver lining. The team finished the evening shooting 12-for-44 from the floor and most shots were pretty ugly. Tyra Grant, the team's leading scorer, was held scoreless for the first half while the second-best scorer Alex Bentley was held scoreless the entire game and taken out for most of the game because of her poor performance. The only shooters to play halfway decent on the offensive end were Nikki Greene and Emily Phillips who combined to go 7-for-11. If you take out those two, the rest of the team shot a combined 16 percent the entire game. If that doesn't deserve a failing grade, I don't know what else does.
While Penn State couldn't get the gunk out of the transmission, Wisconsin couldn't miss a shot. The Badgers shot 75 percent throughout the first half and 58 percent on the game. While Wisconsin may be a good shooting team, a lot of that is credited to the non-existent defense played by Penn State. The Badgers had their choice of shooting a wide-open 3-pointer or a wide-open layup on nearly every possession and made whichever one they chose. Wisconsin dominated from the outside with seven 3-pointers made and controlled the paint as well, outscoring Penn State by 30-14 down low.
FREE THROWS: F
Starting to notice a trend here? Yeah, Penn State played pretty poorly. Penn State actually shot more than 81 percent from the charity stripe while Wisconsin shot 36 percent. For someone who didn't know the final score, that would look like a solid statistic in Penn State's favor. However, here is why they got an F. The Lions shot 1-for-2 from the free-throw line in the first half and entered the locker room down 40-13. It doesn't matter how well you shoot from the free-throw line when the game is over, if you are down by 27 points and you have only made one free-throw at the half, you are getting an F.
This game had all the makings for an old-fashioned Lady Lion high-intensity performance. It was Senior Night and a win would have vaulted PSU up to the top of the conference. Not to mention, Janessa Wolff sang the National Anthem. However, that intensity was flushed right down the toilet immediately after the tip-off. Coquese Washington called her team's performance embarrassing, and the Lions played flat for about all 40 minutes tonight. For most of the season, Penn State has played at least one high-intensity half, but tonight both periods were horribly lacking. For a team that runs on heart, intensity and swagger, we got to see what happens when all three are non-existent. I tried to find some positives in this game but I just couldn't. It was a horrible game all around for the Lady Lions and a lot of it stemmed from the team's lack of urgency.
Qualifier allocations are now available at NCAA.com. The allocations are the number of NCAA Championship wrestlers that will come from each conference. The number of allocations is based off the Coaches' Panel Rankings, the Ratings Percentage Index (RPI) and winning percentage among each conference's wrestlers. The Big Ten will send 56 wrestlers, the most among all conferences, to the NCAA Championship. Here is a Big Ten breakdown by weight
It's definitely apparent the Penn State marketing department is pushing this year's baseball team.
Matt Checchio, a marketing representative for Penn State, talked at length about the promotions the department will promote this season.
"We want to make Medlar Field at Lubrano Park the biggest home field advantage for any team to play at in the Big Ten," he said today.
The promotions start with a student ticket sale Tuesday, March 2 in the HUB. Checchio said a few baseball players will be at the sale, too. The student-ticket package starts at $20, which contains tickets to 22 home games in the 2010 season.
Students will be able to pay with LionCash, Checchio said.
The home schedule kicks off at home at 3:35 p.m., Friday, March 26th against Hofstra. Every Friday night game will also be $1 hot dog night at Lubrano Park.
Additionally, Checchio keyed me into a very interesting promotion. At the Hofstra game, students will have a chance to win a month of free rent (up to $500). If a student lives in the dorms, they will receive a gift card to a retailer, Checchio said.
If students buy the season-ticket package, students' names will be entered twice in the drawing.
Future promotions also include $1 nacho nights against Pittsburgh (April 13) and Duquesne (April 20), mustache night April 21 against Mount St. Mary's.
Checchio said this year's young group of players has inspired the large amount of promotions this season.
Wisconsin finally extends the lead to over 30 points after another Badger 3-ball. This Wisconsin team is on fire and simply looks like the better team. In a game that could have been huge for the Lions, they came out flat at the start and deflated after the half. It'll be interesting to see how PSU can regroup from this eventual loss this weekend and next week in the tournament. If Penn State can make a run in the tournament and play with the swagger they had last month, they can win it all. If they play like this, they will likely be knocked out in the first round. Wisconsin has just doubled Penn State's point total in a game that was both the senior's last at the Jordan Center as well as a disaster. The final score from the BJC is Wisconsin 71, Penn State 39. Stick around for post game grades.
Tyra Grant draws an offensive foul on Wisconsin and pumps out her chest in excitement as she has done in front of this Penn State crowd for the last four years. Regardless of the score, the senior is going to compete and if you haven't read Bill Landis' profile on Grant today then check it out after this game. Tyra draws another foul on the other end and hits both free-throws to give her 15 in the half. However, no one else is doing much else for the Lions. On the following possession, Wisconsin hits a 3-pointer to continue its torrid shooting. Alex Bentley has been on the bench for what seems to have been the entire second half. She doesn't appear hurt so Washington must have taken her out for either disciplinary reasons as she is still on the Penn State bench. We'll be sure to find out what the deal is there after the game when Washington is made available for comment. And of course since I just typed that, the coach looks over to the freshman guard and sends her back into the game. Penn State down 64-35 with four minutes left.
Not much of anything going down in the last four minutes. Both Penn State and Wisconsin score one basket but other than that nothing else. Just a bunch of misses and turnovers from both teams. Timeout with Wisconsin up 53-28 and 7:19 remaining in this disaster for the Lions.
Grant gets into the lane draws the foul on Wisconsin to shoot two. However, the senior only hits one of two while PSU needs all the points it can get to claw back into this one. After a Wisconsin miss, the Lions push the ball back up the court and Grant draws another foul. This is the type of intensity and motivation to drive the team was missing in the first half, and against a team who was shooting 75 percent, it may be too late. The Badgers continue to make their shots while Penn State continues to throw the ball away, this time literally as Trogele over shoots an open Marisa Wolfe. On the other end, Wisconsin drives for an open lay-up, misses the shot, grabs the offensive rebound and bangs it in. Penn State is playing better but not good enough to make up for such a lackluster first half. It looks like this game may be out of reach for Penn State as Wisconsin doesn't show signs of slowing down and the Lions don't show signs of changing that. Badgers up 51-26 with 11:17 remaining.
After the timeout, the Lions get the ball back and Grant races up the court to draw a foul on the offensive end. She hits both free-throws and now has the last seven points for the Lions. Greene gets whistled for a foul on a Wisconsin shot that drops and Washington doesn't look happy with the call. Greene drives to the hoop a little too hard and can't connect on the basket. Washington is now out of her seat and arguing with the refs. After sitting on the bench with a disappointed look on her face for the first 20 minutes, the third-year coach looks riled up now. Penn State down 45-22 with just over 15 minutes to go.
Grant gets her first basket of the game, hitting a 3-pointer from the top of the key and steals the ball on the following possession. The senior maneuvers around the Wisconsin defender and gets her shot to fall. Badgers call a timeout with 16:50 remaining in the game and a 41-20 lead. Grant has hit the last two shots. Is it too late for Penn State to make a comeback? Stay tuned to find out.
The Lady Lions end the first half in fitting fashion as Meredith Monroe throws up an airball with seconds left. Washington looks angry as she heads to the locker room and you could imagine the players are about to hear it from her. Wisconsin is shooting lights out at exactly 75 percent while Penn State is shooting under 30 percent. As for turnovers, PSU has twice as many as Wisconsin with 12 and the Badgers have made them pay with 19 points off of them. As they have for the past month, the Lions have failed to get to the free-throw line with only two attempts through 20 minutes. Grant and Bentley have been held scoreless and the rest of the team hasn't picked up the slack. This game could determine whether the Lions make the NCAA Tournament or not and it has huge Big Ten Tournament seeding implications. With only 13 points in the first half, the first thought has to be this is the lowest first half total all year for Penn State. They will have to pick things up big time in the second half as PSU has dug itself a pretty big hole to say the least. We'll keep you posted during the second half as the Lady Lions are down, 40-13 at the half.
Wisconsin continues to score as Penn State continues to turn it over. Like the last time Penn State played Wisconsin, Grant has been shut down completely in the first half. However, this time no one else has picked up the slack as second leading scorer Alex Bentley has yet to score. Washington has to be furious right now as her team can't hit a basket and Wisconsin can't miss. The Badgers are shooting over 70 percent and Penn State has hit six baskets while getting to the line only once. Down 40-13 with just over 30 seconds until halftime, this has been pathetic basketball on the Lions' end.
Thinks just continue to not go Penn State's way as Wisconsin drains another 3-pointer after the timeout with the shot clock winding down to zero. A turnover and Wisconsin jumper increase the Badger lead to 18. And on the next possession Wisconsin comes up with another steal and races down the court for an uncontested lay-up for the 20 point lead. Washington tries to shake things up and puts in all four freshmen along with sophomore Zhaque Gray. Greene gets fouled down low and will go to the line to shoot two, the Lady Lions first two. With 3:47 until the half, Penn State is getting embarrassed, down 32-12.
Nikki Greene comes out of the timeout to score for Penn State. The freshman center has six of the team's eight points and is the lone bright spot in an otherwise lousy performance so far. More sloppy play by the Lions for the next few minutes with turnovers and poor defense scattered throughout. We're now 12 and a half minutes in without a free-throw attempt and Penn State is down 13 in its home finale. With 7:31 remaining, Badgers up 23-10.
Turnovers and poor defense are hurting Penn State through the early going of the game as the Lions simply aren't getting enough shots off. On the flipside, Wisconsin's shots have been falling so far as they continue to find open shots. Washington calls a timeout after Wisconsin slices through the PSU defense for an easy lay-up. We're almost nine minutes in and Penn State has yet to attempt a single free-throw, which is never a good sign in such an important game. Wisconsin leads 21-6 with 11:14 remaining in the first half.
Wisconsin wins the tip-off and starts thing off with a successful 3-pointer followed by a wide-open lay up down low two possessions later. Less than two minutes in, Washington takes Arcidiacono out of the game for regular starter Julia Trogele as the senior gets a hearty applause from the Penn State crowd. Nikki Greene puts the Lions on the board after falling into a 7-0 hole with a nifty post move for the lay-in. Penn State struggles after on the defensive end as Wisconsin's passing continues to open up shots down low for the Badgers. Greene and Trogele only two Lions on the board five minutes in as Penn State is down 13-6 with 14:51 on the clock.
It's Senior Night here at the Bryce Jordan Center and, despite the rather small crowd on hand, it's a heartwarming atmosphere for the seniors. I'm one of your three Lady Lions reporters Alex Angert and I'm here to bring you all the updates from tonight's game against Wisconsin. Tyra Grant, Meredith Monroe, Nicole Arcidiacono and Meggan Quinn (who decided to dress out in uniform for the first time this year) came out with their parents for a photo at mid-court followed by a video recorded by their teammates talking about the four seniors. Prior to that, junior Janessa Wolff came out and sang the National Anthem, showing off her other talents.
As for tonight's game, it's an important one. I'd say it's probably the most important game of the season for the Lady Lions and will decide whether or not Penn State makes the NCAA Tournament. A win and their hopes are still alive. A loss and PSU will probably need to make some noise in the Big Ten Tournament to have a shot. For Wisconsin, it's pretty much the same situation. The Badgers have a better overall record but they are only one game ahead of Penn State in the Big Ten standings. If Penn State wins tonight then the two would be tied with the Lions having won both meetings this year. Arcidiacono makes her way into the starting lineup tonight for Senior Night along with usual starters Grant, Bentley, Monroe and Greene. It'll be interesting to see how long coach Coquese Washington keeps her in a game with such importance. Stay posted as the game is about to get under way.
For the eighth-straight year, the Nittany Lions and Ohio State will meet during the regular season.
Unlike the fierce football rivalry, which the Lions trail 13-12 in the series all-time, Penn State has dominated this friendly rivalry, though as of late, it has struggled at the Buckeyes' St. John Arena.
Here are some trends and a quick history of the series:
Series began: 1965
Series record: 39-16-1, Penn State
Last Penn State win: 2009, 196.650-196.050
Last Ohio State win: 2008, 194.250-193.650
-The Lions haven't lost to the Buckeyes in Rec Hall since a 193.075-192.150 loss in Feb. 1998.
-The Lions are 1-4-1 in their last six visits to Columbus, Ohio.
-The Lions are 15-3 against the Buckeyes at the Big Ten Championships, with losses coming in 1996, 1997 and 2002.
In the 2009 meeting, a tri-meet with Alabama, the Lions scored a season high 196.650 to sweep the Buckeyes and the Crimson Tide, who were ranked No. 11 at the time. It was also the Penn State's highest score since 2007. Brandi Personett recorded a then-career high on the all-around with a 39.600, which she broke last weekend with a 39.700. Ohio State finished third.
Did you know?
All three Ohio State coaches have ties to Penn State. Head coach Carey Fagan and assistant Meredith Yonushonis, both Ohio natives, were gymnasts under current coach Steve Shephard at Penn State. Assistant Bill Lorenz held the same position earlier this decade with Penn State.
The baseball team opens up the 2010 season this weekend with a three-game series against Big East teams Cincinnati, St. Johns and Notre Dame.
Here are the probable pitchers for each game going into the Florida:
FRIDAY VS. CINCINNATI
Penn State- Ryan Ignas
This will be Ignas' first start of the season and only the third of his career. Primarily used in a relief role as a freshman last year, Ignas excelled in middle and long relief as well as closing. However, this season he will find himself in more of a set role as a starter, and he will be looked on to be one of the team's top pitchers. If last season is any indication though, this kid can throw. He led the team in wins and saves while earning All-Big Ten Third-Team Accolades.
Cincinnati- Dan Jensen
Like his Penn State opponent, Jensen is coming into his first full year as a starter after bullpen duty. The junior made 25 appearances out of the bullpen for the Bearcats last season and finished the year with a 4.60 earned run average, second best on the team. This will be Jensen's second start of the season, and he pitched superb in his first one. He allowed only three hits and one run in five innings pitched while striking out four en route to the win.
SATURDAY VS. SETON HALL
Penn State- Neal Herring
Herring will be thrown into the fire immediately as a starter and a freshman. A tough first collegiate appearance against a well-rounded Seton Hall team, Herring will be expected to showcase his talents early on to hold onto a starting spot. After playing in four sports in high school, Herring said he was almost certain he was going to go to Michigan but decided to play for the Nittany Lions instead due to the atmosphere.
Seton Hall- TBA
The Pirates have yet to name its probable pitcher for Saturday's matchup.
SUNDAY VS. NOTRE DAME
Penn State- Calvin Grumley
In his third year with Penn State, Grumley has spent time in both the rotation and bullpen in the past. However, this will be the first year he is expected to be a full-time starter. Last season he made eight starts to go along with five relief appearances, and he finished the season with a 2-3 record and a 9.14 earned run average. During his freshman year, Grumley had a 2-0 record but a 7.86 earned run average. If Penn State wants to contend for a Big Ten title this season, Grumley will need to improve that earned average by a few runs as the Lions don't have enough proven offensive fire power to make up for it.
Notre Dame- Eric Maust or Steve Sabatino
The Fighting Irish have yet to name which one will start yet, but they have narrowed it down to two. Maust is a seasoned veteran entering his senior year with a lot of success in the past. Through his first three years, Maust has accumulated a 14-6 record with 104 strikeouts and a 4.51 earned run average. A two-sport athlete at Notre Dame, playing both baseball and football, the senior pitched three innings of relief in a 19-3 route of Mississippi Valley State last weekend and only gave up one hit. Notre Dame's other possibility to pitch is Steve Sabatino, who started that same route and went three innings of no-hit ball with five strikeouts. Sabatino isn't as experienced as Maust, but he is also highly successful. The sophomore had a 3-0 record last year to go along with a 3.86 earned run average. Both pitchers will pose a problem for Penn State, but Notre Dame should be a good early season test for the Lions.
With the season opener less than 24 hours away, here's a few thoughts from Penn State coach Robbie Wine on the Big Ten/Big East Challenge.
Wine had this to say about the tournament setup:
"It's really neat having two big conferences from the Northeast [competing]. We're all familiar with one another. The coaches are familiar with one another. It's a good event. On our end, we'd like to have more time on the field, but with that many teams it's tough to fit it all in."
Ryan Ignas is scheduled to start Friday's game against Cincinnati. Here's what Wine said about the Lion starter:
"If he pitches his game, he'll go six or seven innings. He's a strike thrower, and he makes the offense put the ball in play. He's not going to strike a lot of guys out. We don't want him to. He'll get deep into a game."
Wine said there aren't any position battles to settle this weekend. He believes the lineup is basically set, but he'd like to get a few backups some action. Wine also said this of the pitching staff:
"[We'll] try to get everybody to the mound. Get everybody some innings so they know what it's all about to get out there. Even if it's one hitter, it's an appearance."
Game of the Night: South Carolina @ No. 2 Kentucky 9 p.m., ESPN2
South Carolina handed Kentucky its only loss of the year and knocked the Wildcats out of the No. 1 ranking just days after earning it. The Gamecocks' reward? A trip to Rupp Arena.
Expect Kentucky's massive fanbase to be extra fired up for this game. After all, SCAR ruined its dreams of a perfect season. UK coach John Calipari told reporters it's too late in the season to be focusing on revenge, but the fans certainly will be. The key to shutting down South Carolina is stopping guard Devan Downey.
Downey averages 22.7 points per game, but doesn't have much help. On the other hand, Kentucky can rely on its absurdly talented core of John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins and Patrick Patterson, each who can take over a game on his own. Looking at that, and barring another Downey explosion, this game looks to be set before it begins.
Prediction: Kentucky 84, South Carolina 65
Player of the Night: Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors guard
No, your eyes are not lying, I picked an NBA player for Player of the Night. Why did I do this? It's Steph Curry, that's why. Since leaving Davidson, Curry has adjusted well to the better level of play in the pros. Recently, Curry has been on a tear, including dropping a team-high 32 points while leading the dismal Warriors out of a 13-point hole to beat the Atlanta Hawks. While Tyreke Evans looks like the rookie of the year, Curry is making a strong case for himself, averaging 15.3 points per game with 5.1 assists while showing his small size isn't holding him back. In fact, Curry posted a triple-double just before the All-Star break, putting up 36 points, 13 assists and 10 rebounds in one game. So once all the college action ends, flip the channel to TNT at 10:30 and catch
Jeff Byers joined Nittany Lion coach Cael Sanderson for his weekly radio show. Here's some key points from the show.
Sanderson said he and the team were upset after the loss at Minnesota. He said the team thought it would win, but he credited the Golden Gophers for taking care of business. However, Sanderson said it was a good sign that the Lions were disappointed with the loss and believed they could have won. The Penn State coach said if the Lions wrestled the team they had in December, the current team would beat up on their former selves. He said everyone's made progress and the team will be at its best for Big Tens and NCAAs.
Sanderson said the redshirts have really helped prepare the starters for the postseason. He mentioned David Taylor as a guy who's been pushing teammates in practice. Sanderson believes the freshmen's results have shown they could be doing well in the lineup. He said they love to compete and bring intensity and leadership to practice.
As was reported earlier, Jake Kemerer is soon to be released from his commitment to Oklahoma wrestling.
Sooner coach Jack Spates had held Kemerer's scholarship until recently. Here's his reasoning on the matter.
"When we make a commitment to a young man, that commitment is binding. If we were to tell a young man and his parents in July, like we were told, 'I know we promised you a scholarship, but we didn't know that a junior national champion was available. We're just not going to have the money for you.' Parents and kids would go ballistic. They would say, 'Hey, you promised me. You gave me your word. You made a commitment.' We think those commitments are mutual. If you start allowing people out of commitments because there's maybe an opportunity that wasn't there before, then you're going to have chaos. It goes both ways. Wrestlers and parents expect you to honor your commitment to them. I think that's what coaches have the right to expect as well."
Spates said the Sooners wanted Kemerer to come for one year. He said if Kemerer was unhappy after the first year, they'd grant him a release to any school outside of the Big 12.
Despite the past events, Spates had this to say of Kemerer:
"Jake's a good kid. We like Jake and we wish all the best."
I also got to talk with Kemerer's mother, Margaret Kemerer. Below are her thoughts on her son's release.
"We heard rumors through the grape vine two days ago. I'm thrilled and relieved. We're really happy for Jake. He's a hard worker, and wrestling and having success in college was a dream of his. Jake loves to compete. Getting that year back is big for him and our family."
Coach Steve Shephard was far from thrilled about having his Penn State women's gymnastics team compete in a double dual-meet with the men's team this weekend.
"Totally chaotic," was how Shephard described last Saturday's double dual at Rec Hall. "There's just so much going on. It's so distracting."
But Shephard and the No. 14 Nittany Lions will need to get used to it as the Lions will see a similar atmosphere at Ohio State's St. John Arena this week in another double dual with the men and down the road at the Big Ten Championships.
Shephard added that last weekend was a good experience, though, since those types of distractions will be present at Big Tens, regionals and nationals.
Senior Brandi Personett agreed with her coach that having the men there does add another distraction, but overall enjoyed competing with them.
"It pumps us up having them there," Personett said. "But, it was distracting. But also, more fun."
Molly Fernandez, whose passion and fire are what coach Susan Isidor believes was missing from the team, was slightly intimidated upon hearing who else was in the Lions' freshman class.
"To be honest, the first thing I heard is we have Katie [Guy] from Canada and Hayley [Sofarnos] from Australia and me from Maryland," Fernandez said. "I [felt] like an outcast. When I heard both were on their national teams, I thought 'Oh my gosh, what am I getting myself into?' "
Though she was teased for being the only American in the group, the Baltimore native said she just worked as hard as she could to earn the respect of her teammates and coaches.
No. 5 UCLA took on unranked Cal State Fullerton in midweek action and survived a late rally to hold on for 9-6 win.
The Titans made their push in the final frame, loading the bases with two outs for centerfielder Torrie Harrison, who lifted a grand slam to left field to cut the deficit to three.
Cal State Fullerton continued its push as Kadie Baldwin doubed in the next at bat to extend the rally with pitcher Ari Cervantes coming to the plate. Cervantes reached on an error as Baldwin rounded for home, only to be gunned out at home to end the game.
The rally by the Titans was the first test for the Bruins this week as they'll be taking part in the Cathedral City Classic where UCLA will take on No. 14 Texas, No. 17 Ohio State and No. 23 Northwestern. Quite the gauntlet to say the least.
Robbie Hummel went down in Purdue's win tonight. It doesn't look good.
It doesn't look good because it probably means one more devastating injury to a great player who's already faced his fair share of them. It doesn't look good because the class of the Big Ten may be shorthanded down the stretch, leaving an opportunity for Michigan State and Ohio State to surpass a team neither could beat at home.
It doesn't look good because the Boilermakers are the conference's best shot at a Final Four berth, and if Hummel's gone, you can be sure the Big Ten men's basketball season will come to a close all too soon.
Whether you're a Spartan fan or not, you probably enjoyed watching their march to Detroit last year. A Purdue march to Indianapolis -- the site of this year's Final Four -- would have made for a fantastic encore.
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Ozzie Guillen -- now there's a man who needs a Twitter account.
The often outspoken White Sox manager gave himself a new way to let everything on his mind out into the open. And it's making at least one member of the organization very nervous.
"No comment ... and make sure you write that it is no comment with a head shake from side to side," Sox general manager Kenny Williams said in response to the news.
I'd be nervous if I were Williams. Guillen has a habit of letting fly whatever comes into his head. Filters don't exactly come naturally to him, which will make his venture into the wide and wild world of online instant media quite intriguing indeed.
Let's hope this leads to other prominent coaches in sports to get into Twitter. After all, we as fans admire the immense amount of thought these leaders of men display on the field. Why not share their thoughts off it?
We'd probably learn sage advice and be forced to think for 10 minutes about the meanings of Phil Jackson's posts. We may not get too excited reading Tony LaRussa's or Bobby Cox's feeds, but we'd always be searching for the hidden meaning behind the 140-character musings of Bill Belichick.
And of course, there's the thought of Joe Paterno getting in touch with the 21st-century technology. But we already know the chances of that happening.
"What do you guys call those things, Twittle-do? Twittle-dee? I haven't got the slightest idea what you're looking at." Paterno said last year.
The new IWLCA rankings have been released, and the 2-1 Nittany Lions have moved up to 14. Penn State opened the season at 18 but claimed victories over Bucknell and now No. 11 Loyola. Though the Lions ultimately fell to No. 2 Maryland, they led at halftime by three and earned the respect of the voters.
Ohio State moved from 16 to 19 after starting 1-1, and Vanderbilt fell two places from 11 to 13 after starting out 0-2. As always, Northwestern is No. 1.
On Feb. 3, the Buckeyes used a 10-0 run to close out the game to beat Penn State 75-62. The Buckeyes edged out another close game with the Nittany Lions Wednesday night , this time 75-67.
Here is an evaluation of each Nittany Lion player:
Talor Battle: B
Battle didn't have his best shooting performance of the season. He finished up the first half shooting 2-of-8 from the field for 10 points, but finished up 7-for-19 with 22 points. The Albany, N.Y., native moved into 7th all-time on the Penn State scoring list, passing Tom Hovasse with a 3-pointer in the second half. The most impressive group of names Battle broke into tonight: He became one of three Lions to score 500+ points in consecutive seasons, joining Joe Crispin and Jesse Arnelle, two of the best Penn State players (if not THE best, in history)
DJ Jackson: B
Jackson was scoreless in the first half, so it's tempting to give the junior forward a lower grade. But Jackson came on strong down the stretch, hitting two 3-pointers in a 1:09 span, part of a 9-0 run that really brought Penn State back into the game at the 11:51 mark. The Farrell, Pa., native finished with 13 points and six rebounds.
Drew Jones: C+
Jones scored eight points and grabbed eight rebounds, so that was nice. Thing is, Jones looked tentative once again when he caught a couple passes in the post. If he had converted on a couple more shots, it could have been the difference. Foul trouble wasn't too much of an issue -- he picked up his fourth foul with 1:12 to go when the game was basically out of reach.
Chris Babb: C+
Babb disappeared in the second half. When the sophomore entered the game late in the second half, it was almost forgotten that Babb had been playing great defense on Turner in the first half. He really did keep Turner off the scoring stat sheet early on, which kept the Lions in the game. If Babb didn't do such a solid job defensively than his five points would be an easy target.
Jeff Brooks: C+
Once again, Brooks showed signs. He had a nice spin move around a Buckeye defender for a layup and scored on a couple follow-up put-backs. Brooks finished with eight points and six rebounds, but the coaching staff knows Brooks is capable of more.
Tim Frazier: C
Frazier continues to show signs of maturity, but it's safe to say he's still a freshman. The Houston, Texas native finished with five points and five assists -- a nice assist total. Still, Frazier could have contributed more effectively down the stretch. He showed signs of tentativeness and was unsure of his moves on the floor. Credit most of that to playing a Top 10 team, however.
Bill Edwards: C+
Edwards looked impressive in the first half. The Middletown, Ohio., native converted on some nice drives and scored six points, but he didn't look as sharp in the second half. Edwards was the first Lion to enter the game in the second half at the 16:48 mark, but the only memorable play was one in which Evan Turner stripped the freshman as he drove to the lane. Edwards finished with the same point total he entered the second half with: six points.
Thursday night, Tyra Grant will play her final game at the Bryce Jordan Center. With that final game, one of the most storied careers in the program's history will come to an end. We here at Washington's Post count down the five best games of Tyra Grant's career:
5.) Feb. 4, 2007 vs. Wisconsin
It was the first ever Lady Lions Think Pink Day and it was the first time Tyra Grant exposed the BJC crowd to just how explosive of a scorer she can be. Grant, a freshman, got a rare start as the 15-8 Badgers came to State College. Grant took the start as an opportunity to showcase her scoring ability. She went 9-for-17 from the floor and finished with a game-high 28 points. The Lions won the game 70-61 behind Grant's breakout night.
4.) Feb. 1, 2009 @ Iowa
In the first triple-overtime game in Lady Lions' history and the longest women's basketball game in the history of Carver Hawkeye Arena, Grant tied a career high with 33 points. The junior guard set a career high in field goals attempted and field goals made, going 13-for-30 from the field. The Lions failed to win the game, but Grant's effort kept them in the game. With the 33-point effort, Grant became just the fifth Lady Lion to have three or more 30-point games.
3.) Jan. 10, 2010 vs. Indiana
In an overtime win this season over the Hoosiers, Grant moved into sixth place on Penn State's all-time scoring list with 27 points. Although Grant was just 8-for-23 from the field, the senior was instrumental from the free throw line. She went 10-for-12 from the line as the Lions hit 10 free throws in the overtime period to seal the victory.
2.) Feb. 18, 2007 @ Iowa
Although the Lions lost the game to the Hawkeyes, this was the game that put Grant on the map as an up-and-coming star in women's college basketball. The freshman set her career high with33 points despite not being in the starting lineup. She went 9-for-24 from the field and hit 12 of 14 free throws. The Lions ended up losing by seven, but Grant let the rest of the Big Ten know what she was capable of.
1.) Jan. 22, 2009 vs. Wisconsin
In perhaps the most clutch performance of her career, Grant scored 32 of her team's 58 points in a win over the Badgers. The Lions battled back from a 17-point deficit to force overtime. In the extra frame, Grant scored 12 of Penn State's 13 points and hit a jumper at the buzzer to give the Lions a two-point victory.
Thursday's game against Wisconsin isn't just any old game. Well, at least, that's the case for a certain four Penn State players. Tomorrow night's game will be Tyra Grant's, Meredith Monroe's, Nicole Arcidiacono's and Meggan Quinn's last game at the Bryce Jordan Center. All four are seniors and all four have experienced plenty of ups and downs during their tenure with the Lady Lions. Be sure to check tomorrow's edition of The Daily Collegian as well as collegian.psu.edu to read about Tyra Grant's reflection on her Penn State career and about how the four seniors react to playing their final game at the Bryce Jordan Center this week.
However, in the meantime check out some stories that have been written about each of the four players throughout the last few years, starting with a story written at the start of the season about how they want to end their careers with a bang:
Babb misses a three and has to foul Diebler on the resulting play.
The Ohio State guard hits 2-2 and Penn State takes over.
Battle gets in for two.
That's the game here at the BJC. Ohio State wins 75-67, dropping Penn State to 10-17, 2-13 Big Ten while Ohio State improves to 22-7, 12-4 in conference.
We're going downstairs, but check the blog and tomorrow's paper for more.
Turner to the stripe and hits both and Ohio State calls timeout.
29.3 seconds 2nd half, 73-65 OSU
Turner hits his first FT, bringing Babb back in for Brooks. The Buckeye hits his second shot.
Great passing leads to a basket for Jackson. Again, it was Frazier starting it with a nice dish inside to Jones who found the cutting Jackson.
Turner is really, really good at basketball. He just smoked Frazier for a basket and now he victimizes Jackson.
Battle gets inside and converts as he gets fouled by Turner. The Penn State junior misses his foul shot however.
Jones called for a foul on a Buckeye fast break after Battle got stuffed and left in the dust. Buford for a one-and-one and he hits both.
Ohio State up eight as Frazier gets inside and is rejected by Lauderdale. Lions foul on the other end as we have 47.9 seconds left. Lighty at the line, missing the first and second.
Well, you don't see that every day. Chris Babb banked in a three after getting fouled and the sophomore goes to the line as the crowd starts to evacuate. Babb misses and Diebler gets a breakaway.
Buford fouls out as Frazier steps to the line for two. The freshman misses the first but gets the second and we have a timeout.
30.3 seconds 2nd half. 71-65 OSU lead.
Tim Frazier is putting on a clinic. The freshman is tearing Ohio State's defense apart and keeps finding open teammates, but Battle misses this 3-pointer.
Turner gets fouled and it almost looked like a bail-out call, but regardless we have a timeout
3:53 2nd half, 61-57 Ohio State lead.
Lions with the rock out of the timeout and Frazier makes a good feed to a cutting Jones who scores. That was a simple, effective play and it got Jones a touch. Always want to keep the big guys involved.
And then, Jones gets called for his third foul. Lighty at the line again, hitting both with that crazy high shot of his.
Frazier makes a slick pass to Jones with time running out and the center hits the short jumper. That possession had disaster written all over it until Frazier saw the big man.
Turner hits on the other end. Lions get the ball back and Brooks is fouled and takes a one-and-one. The forward hits his first and the second and the Lions are within seven.
Diebler gets himself open for a miss and Brooks gets into the lane and hits a tough shot. And OSU miss leads to a PSU fast break, where Frazier hits Jackson in stride and the junior gets fouled and makes the lay-up anyway. Jackson hits the FT as well and this is now a two point game.
Amazingly, I can hardly hear. This is the loudest I've heard the BJC all year and Turner tells everyone to shut up by backing down Battle and making a layup. Timeout on the floor.
4:49 2nd half, 61-57 Ohio State lead.
Admit it, this game looked over a minute ago, I thought it may have been close. But nailing three triples in a row is a good way to climb out of a hole. That, and the Lions are stepping up on the defensive end.
Lighty gets right into the lane, but is fouled by Edwards and misses. At the line, Lighty goes 1-2 and PSU reels in the board.
Battle takes the ball right at Turner and gets Madsen to commit. The junior hits the shot and draws contact from the rotating Buckeye and makes a three-point play out of the matter.
Ohio State's lead is down to six as Babb gets whistled for a foul and Lauderdale replaces Madsen for the Buckeyes.
Lighty drives inside again and gets a shot to fall while being fouled by Jones. The guard hits the freebie. Lighty's shot, as observed by AJ, has a ridiculous arc.
Hold on, that was awesome. Jones went up for a dunk and got stuffed. Literally. The ball got jammed between the rim and backboard. I've done that plenty of times playing pickup, but that was rather impressive seeing as it was off a dunk.
Random possesion arrow rule gives the ball to Penn State and Edwards gets called for an offensive foul.
To quote Mark Jackson, "Mama, there goes that man." Turner just hit a nasty fade-away over Babb, and the Buckeyes are up 11 with 8:20 to play.
Buford fouls Jackson, bringing Frazier and Brooks in for Edwards and Babb. Simmons back in for Ohio State. Off the inbounds, Jones scores.
Simmons with an epic airball. It didn't so much miss as curve to the left of the net. Brooks takes the ball in and gets fouled by Simmons and we have a timeout.
7:50 2nd half, 55-46 Ohio State
Have I ever mentioned my distaste for the kisscam? I haven't, really? Well, this isn't the forum to do it, but let's say I don't like it...at all.
PSU inbounds out of the timeout. Bill Edwards gets inside but can't convert. Jackson grabs the rebound but also misses, though there may have been some unnoticed contact.
Jones back in for the Lions, replacing Brooks. Lighty hit a 3 on OSU's last possession, but Jackson drains one of his own as the Lions still trail by 14.
Turner misses an open three, but his good friend Talor Battle does not. Diebler drifts into the corner and misses a three.
On the other end, Battle knew something we didn't as he dished to Jackson and ran down the floor with his fist raised. Of course, the 3 ball went in and Ohio State takes a timeout.
11:49 2nd half, 49-41 Ohio State lead
Play resumes as Brooks finds Jones right under the basket, but the center can't put it away and Turner answers on the other end.
The Buckeyes are on a 10-2 to open the half, but Brooks hits a short jumper to stem the bleeding.
For some reason, the Lions keep knocking loose balls out of bounds and it's burning them so far. Edwards comes on as Turner is fouled and hits his first shot. Apparently the junior brought his own screaming fan girl section, as a group of ladies goes nuts as Turner hits his second foul shot.
Lauderdale fouled hard by Brooks and the Buckeye big man, ok wait, he apparently wasn't shooting the ball. Well, the inbounds leads to a Turner basket and the Lions glaring weakness of defending the out-of-bounds play comes up again.
16-4 run as Lighty gets in for a bucket. However, Talor Battle cuts down the lane and lays it in. Evan Turner just did Chris Babb dirty, but missed the shot and we have a timeout.
14:32 2nd half, 46-32 Ohio State
I needed that walk. But far more importantly, it's time for the second half so let's get going.
Turner misses a runner to start the half. The junior has been very off all night, really unusual for the Player of the Year candidate.
A Jones turnover in the post leads to a wide open Diebler 3 that he surprisingly hits. Not saying Diebler is a bad shooter, he just hasn't been able to find a rhythm against PSU this season.
Jackson gets fouled and goes to the line, where he hits on both FTs. Those were his first points of the night, and if the Lions want to win this game, the forward has to get involved.
Why do I say this stuff? Diebler just made me look like an idiot by draining another triple, prompting DeChellis to call for a full timeout.
18:01 2nd half. 38-28 Ohio State
As Steve noted, A-Rob here to blog the second half. That is, if my head doesn't explode from whatever is trying to ball on the floor.
The Lion is competing against demon Spam, the Nookie Monster, Ike the Spike a mutant Subway sub and a few other unsavory characters. To be honest, I'd rather have Crisler Arena's never ending techno playlist over this.
This is still going on. There is no reason for this. In fact, I think I have just become stupider having seen this and I'm going to have nightmares.
This "game" ran for almost 10 minutes and as an encore, the BJC throws a Daughtry ad at us. Yep, that's my brain melting. We'll be back with actual basketball in a minute as I need to take a walk.
Ohio State leads Penn State 30-26 at halftime
Tim Frazier brought the Lions within four points at halftime with a layup at the buzzer. Frazier had drawn a foul on Jon Diebler with about 35 seconds left and after a broken possession the Lions still retained possession.
Frazier caught the inbounds pass and willed a layup in to bring his team within five points.
It's been a pretty wild first half to say the least. We saw a technical foul on the Lions bench and we saw the Buckeyes lead at eight at one point.
The Lions have done a great job on Turner -- holding him to only five points. He still has four assists and five rebounds. And, he probably could have had three more assists if his teammates knocked down some open shots.
Here's a look at the scoring distribution in the first half:
Ohio State: William Buford - 10 pts, Jon Diebler - 6 pts, Evan Turner - 5 pts, David Lighty - 5 pts
Penn State: Talor Battle - 10 pts, Bill Edwards - 6 pts, Tim Frazier - 4 pts, three others with 2 pts
This is Hennessey signing out...there's currently 10 mascots on the court and I'm pretty sure Robinson is about to give some awesome commentary.
Ohio State leads Penn State 26-19, 3:44 to go in the first half
Battle is at the line shooting three free throws after Turner fouled him in the act of shooting.
But, there was a technical foul called. I'll recap it for you.
The referees handed the Penn State bench a technical foul after a couple calls that could have went either way. DeChellis let one of the referees have it after he ran over to reverse a call made near the Ohio State bench.
It looked like the ball went off a Buckeye, but OSU coach Thad Matta went nuts and the referees reversed the call. On the next possession, it looked like they blew the technical on assistant coach Lewis Preston, but DeChellis was letting the referees have it.
There was another questionable call a couple minutes earlier, but DeChellis had a reasonable gripe on this one. The referee was all the way across the court and ran over to make the call. He did have a good angle to see who did knock the ball out.
Only question is if he in fact did see it.
Ohio State leads Penn State 24-19, 6:58 to go in the first half
The scoring has increased and the defensive intensity increased tenfold by the Buckeyes.
And, I must note, there is a huge Subway sub dancing at center court that is probably scaring every kid who might ever think about buying a sub.
But, more importantly, the most notable play came when Turner stuck his hand out and deflected Battle's pass, then gave it up to Diebler down the court for an easy put-in.
Turner has is only 1-of-5 shooting, but hit all three of his free throws. He's got five points.
Buford hurt the Lions last game, and he's off to six quick points.
Penn State leads 13-9, 11:26 to go in the first half
The Buckeyes have missed a lot of open shots -- mainly Jon Diebler. The guy couldn't buy a bucket until the last two minutes of the last matchup between these teams. He has continued his horrid shooting against the Lions, opening up 0-for-3 from 3-point land.
Turner is also scoreless to this point, but just fouled by Chris Babb on a pretty crazy play. Babb stole an outlet pass to Turner but Babb lost his balance, sending Turner to the line.
Battle also nailed a 3-pointer and Brooks converted on a followup in the lane.
Good basketball being played so far.
Tied at 6, 15:02 to go in first half
It's been an even first five minutes at the Bryce Jordan Center.
And Evan Turner is scoreless.
Penn State got out to an early lead on a Chris Babb jumper just inside the 3-point line. Babb caught a pass from Talor Battle and knocked it down.
The Buckeyes scored on two straight points in the post -- a Dallas Lauderdale and William Buford. Buford then added another shot in the paint.
Drew Jones and Battle also added buckets.
We're live at the Bryce Jordan Center live blogging tonight's matchup between No. 9 Ohio State and Penn State. The Nittany Lions enter the game on a two-game win streak, two wins on the road at Northwestern and Michigan.
A decent crowd on hand for a Wednesday night game, but doesn't look like it'll be the largest home crowd of the year. Kind of surprising after how well this team has done of late.
At Tuesday's practice, Penn State coach Steve Shephard hinted that there may be a few changes in the lineup when the team travels to Ohio State Saturday.
Sophomore Natalie Ettl, normally the anchor on the uneven bars, was sick this week, and Shephard said he is unsure whether she will be able to compete. If Ettl, No. 11 in the nation on bars, is unable to compete in Columbus, the coach said the competition for the spot on bars is between four gymnasts: Daryl Konsevick, Alex Stine, Rosie Smith and Danielle Hover.
Smith, the senior co-captain, competed on the bars the first three meets of the season but lost her spot in favor of freshman Madison Merriam.
Shephard also said he hasn't decided on what the lineup for the floor exercise will look like on Saturday. Allie Southard and Konsevick have been in the lineup in all seven meets this year, but Shephard said Smith and freshman Sharaya Musser are competing for spots.
The coach said it is hard to determine which two of the gymnasts will compete in the floor exercise Saturday because they all have been scoring around the same score, whether it be in competition or exhibition.
"They've all been around 9.700, 9.750, so we need one of them to step up and go above 9.800," Shephard said. "Whoever we feel has the best potential to do that, and is going to score the highest for the team, that's who we're going to go with."
This weekend's three-game series in Florida marks both the season opener for the Penn State baseball team as well as the second annual Big Ten/Big East Challenge. This year, the Nittany Lions are slated to face Cincinnati, Seton Hall and Notre Dame. Of those three teams, Penn State got to play Seton Hall last year and came out victorious, winning 6-1. The Lions also played St. John's but were trounced, 15-6, and instead of playing a third Big East team, they faced Northwestern and won, 9-1. Here is a look at the Lions' statistics at last year's Big Ten/Big East Challenge:
Penn State finished sixth overall with a pretty solid batting average of .312, second in the Big Ten that weekend only to Indiana. The Lions had the fourth highest on-base percentage at .433 but had a pretty lousy slugging percentage of .385. The team finished with 21 runs, 35 hits, five doubles and a triple, but no home runs and only 17 runs batted in. They showed good patience by getting 20 walks but also struck out 28 times. However, they were only one of two teams that weren't caught stealing at all while picking up two steals themselves.
The Lions came in seventh place for overall team pitching during the Big Ten/Big East Challenge last year with an earned run average of exactly 4.00. Opponents hit .250 against Penn State's pitchers, who only surrendered 25 hits. The team gave up 17 runs, but not all of them were the pitchers' faults as only 12 ended up being earned. The Lions also had a pretty good strikeout-to-walk ratio compared to the other teams, striking out 23 batters and only walking 11.
Here is how this year's opponents finished last season during the three-day tournament.
Cincinnati- eighth place for batting and 16th place for pitching
Seton Hall- 14th place for batting and fourth place for pitching
Notre Dame- third place for batting and third place for pitching
Check back later this week to read more on the three teams that Penn State is facing this weekend.
And here it is. Pitchers and catchers have reported and baseball is underway. It's time to start getting excited again. It's a blank slate for every team, and it's one of the few times of the year it's great to be a fan. Whether you're a Phillies fan or a Pirates fan, a Yankees fan or a Royals fan, it's just so stimulating to see baseball is back in bloom. Soon, the rest of the rosters will officially report and exhibition games will begin. What will 2010 bring?
Hopefully more of the same. Big plays, walk-off wins, surprise teams, young players having breakout seasons, etc. It's a time to get excited. And if you aren't excited, Jayson Werth's caveman-esque beard might.
Some things important and not so important:
- Former top-notch closer Eric Gagne has admitted to using HGH. This is the biggest surprise since Mark McGwire admitted steroid use.
- Major League Baseball announced it hopes to begin testing minor leaguers for HGH. Eric Gagne immediately regrets signing a minor league contract last week.
- The ex-assistant coach that Raiders head coach Tom Cable hit in the face last year is suing the team and Cable for damages. Upon hearing the news, Cable took it out on one of his current assistant coaches.
Video of the week: How this even happened is beyond me. I'm...befuddled. But the announcer puts it best. In unrelated news, the team is now holding open tryouts for a new cheerleader.
Details from the NCAA's investigation into the alleged practice violations of the Michigan football team came out Tuesday, and they are shocking.
No, not shocking because it turned out the Wolverines didn't play strictly by the rules (um, no one does), but shocking because they just barely crossed the alleged boundaries.
In most cases Michigan went less than an hour more than it was allowed, which may actually help its case because the complaints seemed to suggest more. The story here isn't Michigan breaking rules, it's players complaining about them. For some, this is just the ammo needed to get rid of RichRod and find a true Michigan Man. (Don't worry, Jim Harbaugh. Your day will eventually come.)
Should the Wolverines produce on the field this season, however, all will be forgotten and forgiven in Ann Arbor.
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When I saw on ESPN.com that Tony Kornheiser was has been suspended from his ESPN duties for two weeks, my first instinct was to be surprised. Kornheiser seems pretty unintimidating and harmless. I figured it must have been an ugly, impulsive slip of the tongue.
When I clicked on the ESPN.com story's headline, I found the story to be curiously under-reported -- just a couple of paragraphs saying the PTI host would be out for two weeks after he made "critical comments about the wardrobe of morning 'SportsCenter' co-anchor Hannah Storm."
This was followed by a statement from an ESPN exec who called Kornheiser's remarks "entirely inappropriate" and "hurtful and personal."
After reading that, but no specific mention of Kornheiser's comments, my initial surprise was compounded. Kornheiser? That mousey, middle-aged guy from PTI getting personal and hurtful?
Kornheiser has been known to playfully refer to some women as "babes" on his show, but I couldn't imagine the man going completely overboard.
After reading a report on TheBigLead.com, I was enlightened. Tony has been known to go on some tongue-in-cheek rants on PTI, and it seems Hannah Storm took the brunt of his latest verbal outpouring, this one coming on his Washington-based radio show. Kornheiser's inspiration? Storm's outfit. According to TheBigLead, Kornheiser describes her as wearing go-go boots, a Catholic school-style skirt that is "way too short for somebody in her 40s or maybe early 50s by now" (TheBigLead says Storm is 47), and a "very, very tight shirt" that makes her look like "she has sausage casing wrapping around her upper body."
Wow, Tony. Ouch. And, hey, I'm not here to wag my finger -- Tony understands that he messed up; according to ESPN.com, Kornheiser apologized on his radio show Friday -- but I'm definitely surprised. That's quite an investment in something petty and largely irrelevant.
It's easy for sportscasters and others with a platform to forget that it's not (usually) their job to be comedians. Let's hope this reemphasizes Kornheiser's focus on what he's paid to do: comment on sports, not fashion.
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The mood among Eagles fans feels about the same.
"Yeah, he's past his prime. Yeah, he's been hurt a lot. Yeah, there's a nice young guy ready to step right in for him. But he can't be going."
Last year it was longtime safety Brian Dawkins. This year it was longtime multi-purpose threat Brian Westbrook.
Calling him a running back wouldn't be fair to Westbrook. No. 36 did far more than take handoffs. From the moment he took over the primary backfield duties from Duce Staley to the instant he suffered that concussion in Washington this season, Westbrook was the Eagles' offense.
At first it was easy to hide. Donovan McNabb was doing so much with his arm and his legs. With all the defenses' attentions being driven to the quarterback, no one noticed for a few seasons who was really running the show.
Westbrook spent most of his first year in Philly returning kicks and punts. And he was darn good at it, killing the rival Giants with a beauty of a runback early into his tenure.
Then he started working his magic out of the backfield. The trick to guarding the Eagles' high-voltage offense wasn't containing McNabb or double-teaming Terrell Owens. It was finding that 5-foot-10-inch back from Villanova. His receiving abilities were that of a wide receiver, and his breakaway speed was comparable with any dynamic tailback of his day.
It was more than just Westbrook's athletic abilities that made him a fan favorite. His intelligence in the heat of the moment was displayed most prominently during a famous sprint against the Cowboys. Westbrook's decision to kill more time and not put up an insurance touchdown was appalling to fantasy owners and Dallas fans, but to Eagles fans it was a moment of genius. Just another way to stick it to the hated Cowboys.
No. 36 gained 5,995 yards on the ground and 3,790 through the air. He ranks second in franchise history in rushing yards, third in rushing touchdowns and third in total touchdowns ... as well as placing third in receptions and 10th in receiving yards. He's had more touches and yards from scrimmage than any other Eagle.
Unfortunately, as Charger fans know very well, even the great running backs take so much wear and tear that, by the age of 30, they're shells of themselves. That's why it was time to let Westbrook go. He missed half of the 2009 season and only garnered 455 yards from scrimmage with two touchdowns. The man suffered two concussions in consecutive appearances. He just doesn't have that kind of firepower anymore.
LeSean McCoy showed in his rookie season he could provide the same kind of ability Westbrook gave the team in his prime. Someone else will give Westbrook a chance to continue his career as a do-everything backup.
But, like Dawkins was this season, the little all-purpose back will be missed in the locker room and on the field next year.
Some things on the backup setter that didn't make the paper today:
Tor Covello knew what he was getting in to when he joined the team last fall. After the 2008 national championship season, Penn State graduated setters Travis Foltz and Luke Murray, who both served as captains. Coach Mark Pavlik contacted three high schoolers and gave them all a unique recruiting pitch.
"I told each guy, 'Look, you are probably going to sit behind Edgardo, but your role is very important, because if you can't make the second team better, the first team doesn't get better,' " Pavlik said. "So I said whoever is the first to tell me they wanted it had the job."
Covello was the first to give the coach a call.
"Strictly based on academics I wanted to come here anyway," he said. "Plus my sister, Kara, and I are very close, and she was already a freshman here. Playing volleyball at Penn State? That's the ultimate perk."
A lot has been said about Covello's hilarious impressions..
..but we'll let you be the judge. The sophomore setter was kind enough to perform two of his favorite impersonations for us. Check it out:
I guess the best place to start is to lay out my feelings for Allen Iverson.
Before he dissed the entire Sixers fan base by showing up late to Fan Appreciation night in 2006 and basically quitting on the team that year, I loved the guy. The way he fearlessly, recklessly threw his body around and played through injuries would have crippled a lesser man.
This year, after another failed stint to fit in with another team outside Philadelphia, Iverson announced he was retiring from basketball.
"About time," my dad told me over the phone.
After trades to Denver and Detroit, A.I. never really seemed to fit in. On top of that, he started to lose a step; he was getting old after all. In Detroit, Iverson quit again. He gave up on the Pistons when they moved him to the bench, still convinced he was a starter and 20-plus-point guy.
But, just when the world thought it was rid of Allen Iverson, the Sixers, those same Sixers he had found so much glory with, came calling. The team was struggling and nobody was going to home games anymore. After all, Philly is a Phillies town these days.
They needed an answer -- the Answer.
I remember watching A.I. announce his comeback and thinking, in the sarcastic manner I always do, "Well, this will be fun for a day or so."
Iverson's return was marked by a sellout crowd and the little-guard-that-could kissing the logo at halfcourt. Touching. Then, something I didn't expect happened -- Allen Iverson was a team player.
Of course he was still starting. After all, you don't bring the Answer home just to have him ride the pine.
But this Answer was different. He wasn't forcing shots, he was passing. Hell, he passed up a potential game-tying shot against Toronto. Tell me the last time you saw that.
Also in typical Iverson fashion, he missed games. At first it was the injuries catching up to him. Then news that his daughter was ill came out, but he wasn't giving out any details.
So despite being voted into the All-Star game, A.I. missed the five games leading up to it and the game itself. The old Iverson would have never skipped an All-Star game. He returned after, and as always, questions about his commitment flared up.
"Of course he's making it up," critics said. "It's Allen Iverson. It's another excuse. Every time, it's something different."
Then, he left again, and it was because of his daughter again. Seeing this, and knowing how much A.I. cared about his kids, I started to think, "You know what, there may be something to this."
Monday, the Sixers announced Iverson would miss at least the next three games, and maybe the rest of the season. This could be the end of Allen Iverson's career, and by stepping away from the game, he finally redeemed himself, at least to one fan.
So Allen, if this truly is it, I want say thank you for this year. You made a few games watchable, and I hope for nothing but the best for your family.
A pair of Nittany Lions were rewarded Tuesday by the American Lacrosse Conference for their performances against Bucknell and No. 2 Maryland last week. Senior midfielder Theresa Bucci was named the Offensive Player of the Week while freshman attacker Molly Fernandez was honored as the ALC Rookie of the Week. Bucci is the first Nittany Lion to receive the award since April 2006 when Shari Maslin took home the honors. Bucci tallied a total of six goals last week, including a career-high four goals against No. 2 Maryland. Fernandez was able to break onto the ALC scene with back-to-back hat tricks. The freshman out of Baltimore is currently tied for the team lead in points (8) and second in goals (6).
Welcome back to the Stat Book. My apologies for no Stat Book last week. We are back in full force this week.
I'm going to change up the style a little bit from here on out and do a by the numbers approach.
Recently, we've been talking a lot about Penn State's senior co-captain Max Lipsitz. It's midseason and to say Lipsitz is at midseason form would be an understatement. Coach Mark Pavlik has been talking for the last couple weeks about how Lipsitz is stepping up and playing at an extremely high level.
He certainly didn't disappoint this weekend against Ball State and IPFW, and here is his performance by the numbers.
1: The number of hitting errors he recorded in each match this weekend.
2: Lipsitz combined for just two service errors all weekend. Serving has been a struggle all season for him so this might be the most promising of all the impressive numbers from the weekend.
14: The high-jumping senior at least helped out on 14 of the team's blocks.
24: He pounded away 12 kills in each match.
32: Out of the 180 points Penn State had this weekend, Lipsitz accounted for 32 of them. That's more than one-sixth of the Lions' points while playing middle blocker, which rotates off the court for half of the match.
.733: His hitting percentage against Ball State. Numbers lower than this earlier in the year were good enough to earn him the title of "Mr. Consistency" here at ATN. He lived up to his nickname against the Cardinals, only to improve against IPFW...
.846: Against the Mastodons he got his 12 kills on just 13 attacks.
Pavlik said today in the weekly Pavcast (See below) Lipsitz and setter Edgardo Goas have been clicking well together recently and the numbers certainly didn't lie this weekend. If the Lions plan on making a run at a national title, they will rely on "Mr. Consistency."
"It's a double-edged sword. I think [Turner]'s a good enough player and he's shown that he's going to be pretty consistent and get his. What we try to do is contain him as much as possible. We can't let him get 30, like he did the other night. But the other guys are just as worse because he's able to find them and they can shoot you out of the thing pretty quickly."
DeChellis said the Lions must be strong on team defense because focusing on Turner allows others to step up and hit shots.
"They're an explosive team. All those guys can score. Contain Turner the best you can and push out on the other guys."
Jon Diebler is the 3-point leader out of all conference players this season, but, with 1:36 left in the last matchup, he hit his first 3-pointer to extend the Buckeye lead to six.
DeChellis was asked about containing Diebler at Monday's press conference.
"Deibler is a kid who thrives off Turner's penetration. He's a great passer, he can pitch it. He's 6-foot-5. He's athletic and a tough guard, has balance, not trying to force shots, knowing when to take it. Knowing when to drive and pitch is impressive."
Turner is being talked as a possible No. 1 draft pick and the National Player of the Year. He's also earned the respect of DeChellis.
"He's a kid that's worthy of all those accolades."
Game of the Night: No. 13 Georgetown vs. Louisville
Ho, hum. It's another Big East matchup that could go either way. The nation's most potent conference has been a hotbed for upsets this season -- i.e. Louisville over Syracuse; UConn over Villanova; Rutgers over Georgetown -- to name a few.
Georgetown has beaten then-No. 7 Duke and shown signs of a dangerous NCAA tournament squad. The Hoyas have still stumbled on the road, though. They've lost to Rutgers, Marquette, Nova and 'Cuse on the road. That's four of their six losses.
Louisville also owns wins over 'Cuse and UConn, but also lost to Seton Hall, St. John's, Charlotte (by 22) and Western Carolina. It appears as if Rick Pitino has his team firing on all cylinders -- defeating Syracuse on the road and two other conference wins in their last three.
We'll see which team gets the upper hand in this matchup at Freedom Hall.
Prediction: Georgetown over Louisville, 71-68
Player to Watch: DeShawn Sims, Michigan
If Michigan pulls off a win over bubble-team Illinois, it will be because of DeShawn Sims stepping up and beating Mike Davis in the paint.
It will be a battle of the blue birds today as the No. 17 Delaware Blue Hens (2-0) head to Homewood Field in Baltimore to take on the No. 4 Johns Hopkins Blue Jays (1-0).
The budding Blue Hens are coming off a thrilling triple-overtime 11-10 win against no. 12 UMBC last weekend. UD's Curtis Dickson, an All-American pick last year, poured in a career high seven goals and was awarded CAA's Player of the Week for his efforts.
The Jays put a hurting on Manhattan College this past Saturday, turning a dominating 14-3 performance. Hopkins was led by a top-tier senior of their own in player of the year candidate Steven Boye. The two-time Honorable Mention All-American attackman had six goals, and added two assists as well.
Delaware sits atop the CAA standings and will take on Penn State late in the conference schedule on April 30 when the Blue Hens visit Happy Valley.
Today's match up of high-powered offenses should give the Nittany Lions a glimpse as to what their struggling defense will be up against in April.
The game airs at 5 p.m. on ESPNU. Make sure to check it out.
It's the last Pavcast of February and we have Penn State men's volleyball coach Mark Pavlik looking all over the place.
In this week's edition, we ask Pavlik to look forward to this Friday's match against EIVA foe Princeton, look back to what the coach will ultimately describe as one of the greater sporting events he's seen in a long, long time, and look at one of his current players, Max Lipsitz, and what kind of dominance the senior captain has shown he is capable of.
Check it out:
Pavlik discusses the upcoming match against the Tigers and their new head coach, Sam Shweisky:
Pavlik on watching USA upset Canada in Olympic hockey this week:
Pavlik on the dominance of senior captain Max Lipsitz:
So in the conversation of great middles in the history Penn State men's volleyball, where does Lipsitz fit in?
The No. 13 Nittany Lions took a bit of a step back this weekend against West Virginia, posting a 195.950 after three straight weeks above 196.
So how did the Lions grade out? Let's take a look.
As usual, the Lions were very strong on vault Saturday. The Lions, who scored a 49.200 as a team, were led (here's a surprise) by senior Brandi Personett. Personett, coming off her second 10.000 this season last week against Pittsburgh, scored a 9.950 as she stuck her vault. The rest of the team all scored either 9.800 or 9.825, including co-captain Rosie Smith. It was unclear whether Smith would miss her second-straight meet after a nasty spill before the Pitt meet.
Starting today, the GymInfo rankings are based on a team's Regional Qualifying Score (RQS). The RQS is made up of the average score of a team's top six meets, including three away meets. The high score is then dropped and the other five scores are averaged to make up a team's RQS.
Penn State's RQS is calculated like this:
Top six meets (Including three away)
PSU at Pittsburgh (Feb. 13): 196.450*
PSU vs. Illinois (Feb. 6): 196.425
PSU vs. Alabama (Jan. 30): 196.025
PSU vs. West Virginia (Feb. 20): 195.950
PSU at Denver (Jan. 16): 194.150
PSU at Michigan State (Jan. 8): 193.900
*score is dropped
Penn State drops it highest score against Pittsburgh and the average of the five remaining scores are 195.290, making the Nittany Lions No. 14. Michigan stands close behind at No. 15 and Illinois is No. 17.
The RQS is also used for individual rankings and, in Brandi Personett's case, it boosted her up to No. 6 in the all-around. The senior has an RQS of 39.354. The gymnast remains the No.1 vaulter and No. 2 in the floor exercise in Monday's rankings.
Sophomore Natalie Ettl also remained No. 11 in the uneven parallel bars, with an RQS of 9.845.
Penn State didn't play this weekend but the rest of the conference did. Some things went well for Penn State while others not so much. As for the standings, they have been shaken up a little bit. This year in the Big Ten, one week will do just that. For PSU, the shakeup helped out a little bit as the Lady Lions went from sixth in the conference to fifth. As fellow Lady Lions reporter Bill Landis posted on the blog earlier, ESPN's Charlie Creme predicted only three teams will make the NCAA Tournament this season. For a power conference like the Big Ten, he could easily be wrong and a fourth team could slip in. At No. 5, Penn State might be sort of a stretch. Here's some notes on what happened this week:
1. Penn State won against Michigan. While this was a big win for Penn State, it was just as big a loss for Michigan. Prior to that game, Michigan was only one game back from PSU in the loss column and breathing down Penn State's backs in hopes of making a late season push. The Wolverines lost that game and lost to Wisconsin over the weekend to drop them down into the conference, ending any chances of making the NCAA Tournament unless they win the Big Ten tourney.
2. Speaking of Wisconsin, it finished the week with another notch in the win column but another one in the loss column, as well. Coming into the week, Wisconsin was third in the conference and that is still where they remain. The Badgers travel to Penn State on Thursday for a colossal showdown that could determine which team makes the tournament (both could eventually make it in, but a win would certainly help a lot)
3. Michigan State and Purdue flip-flop spots. At the start of the week, Purdue was second after a victory against Penn State while Michigan State was fourth. However, thanks to one Purdue loss and two Michigan State victories, those two teams have traded sole possession of second place. However, both teams remained ahead of Penn State and both teams have at least one victory against the Lions on the season.
4. Northwestern had a big week. One of the teams that has been in the Big Ten cellar all season long had itself a pretty strong week beating both Iowa and Indiana. Only a game outside of second-to-last place in the conference still, it may be too late for Northwestern. Nevertheless, two wins to close out the season and the Wildcats are a surprising .500 Big Ten team in the conference.
To wrap it up, things can go either way for Penn State after this past week. A strong week and a few Spartan, Badger and Boilermaker losses and Penn State can finish second in the entire conference. Michigan State faces Purdue on Thursday so one of those two teams is guaranteed a loss and Iowa (who is tied with Penn State at 8-8 in conference) has to face Wisconsin. As for overall records, Penn State's is better than both Purdue's and Iowa's but slightly behind MSU and Wisconsin. But all of this means nothing unless the Lady Lions win themselves. Be sure to read Tuesday's edition of The Daily Collegian to read about Bill's chat with ESPN Bracketologist Charlie Creme and find out more about Penn State's tournament hopes.
The Big Ten Gymnast of the Week has been awarded seven times this season. For the fifth time and third week in a row, that gymnast is Penn State senior Brandi Personett.
This week's accolade comes after Personett posted a career high in the all-around of 39.700 in Saturday's home meet against West Virginia. The senior broke her past record she set three separate times, including twice this year.
The senior won individual titles in the vault, balance beam and the floor exercise as well as the all-around on Saturday.
In today's rankings, Personett is No. 6 in the all-around, the No. 1 vaulter and No. 2 in the floor exercise.
No Monday Minute again this week. After back-to-back sweeps this weekend, Coach Mark Pavlik gave the team the day off from practice. So instead of our weekly player interview segment, we're bringing you Midway Monday -- a look back at the first half of the No. 7 Nittany Lions' season.
After the Lions play Princeton Friday night, they'll have completed 15 of their 30 regular season matches. So, albeit a bit early, we decided to look back at some of the highlights (and lowlights) of the first half.
Lions' best attribute: Bouncebackability. After sloppy play in a sweep by Southern California in the season-opener, Penn State came back the next day to win a five-set thriller over hometown favorite Hawaii in the Outrigger Invitational. After a lackadaisical first set against Laval on Feb. 13 -- where the team posted a substandard .194 hitting percentage -- the Lions stormed back to win the next three over Canada's top-ranked team and finish the match hitting .403. Their composure and ability to forget is commendable, but it will be interesting to see if they can level out that streakiness in the second half of the season.
Lion's worst attribute: Serving. It's something that has been a main concern since the start of the season, beginning in the Lions' home-opener at Rec Hall where they posted 21 serving errors in a sweep over St. Francis. Even Penn State's opponents are noticing its deficiencies behind the line. "I don't think Penn State is as strong at serving as last year," Ball State coach Joel Walton told the Ball State Daily News before teams met last weekend. "We just have to make sure our passers have their passing caps on." Though the Lions' serving has improved of late, they'll need to become more consistent if they want to make a run in the NCAA's this May.
MVP: I'm taking a cop-out here and saying the Lion's first half MVP is not one singular player. It's their dynamic trio: "Mr. Consistency" Max Lipsitz, "Mr. Explosive" Joe Sunder and "Mr. Everything" Will Price. Each of the Lions' top guns has made an equal contribution to the team's success. For the season's MVP, you'll have to keep an eye out for which of these guys elevates his game to the next level when Penn State's schedule gets tougher.
Biggest surprise: No doubt, it's outside hitter Ryan Wolf. The 6-foot-3 former walk-on went from perpetual second-teamer to dependable starter in a matter of days. And you'll be seeing a lot more from the Lone Wolf in the second half of the season. The sophomore has been solid in the past six games he's started, and he'll continue to develop as he experiences more and more valuable playing time.
Best tidbit that didn't make the paper: After I wrote a feature on Tom Comfort, which included a story about the frosh cuddling up in a Buffalo Bills Snuggie, I asked him to tell me, on a scale of 1-10, how embarrassed he was that the anecdote was printed. Comfort's response? "7.7," he said with a laugh.
Best postgame quote: "Grade my own performance? I don't think I'm going to go down that road." -Senior captain Will Price on evaluating his effort after Penn State swept Juniata on Jan. 26.
Best opposing team's quote: "In English?" -Laval coach Pascal Clement after he was asked to make an opening statement in the post-game press conference.
Second half storyline to follow: How will the Lions' veteran stars cement their legacy at Penn State? Price and Lipsitz have already shown that, at their respective positions, they deserve to be in the conversation of top players to ever come through the program. Have we already seen the best they have to offer? Or do they have the ability to elevate their game even more to close out their senior campaigns? Also, perhaps most important to them, can they translate their individual dominance into a team national championship this May?
Note: This is using the USA Today/NFCA Top 25 Poll, which seems to be the poll most schools use for rankings on their sites.
No. 1 Washington:
As we mentioned earlier this weekend, the Huskies fell victim to the upset bug, losing to Utah State 7-4. However, Washington rebounded, defeating its next two opponents in UC Santa Barbera and San Diego State, getting a one hitter from pitching phenom Danielle Lawrie in the latter contest. As Audrey reported in today's paper, the contest between the Huskies and Penn State was rained out, with no make up date scheduled.
No. 2 Arizona:
The Wildcats split the weekend with No. 6 Missouri, winning the first contest 5-0, only to drop the back end of the doubleheader 10-5, with Penn State pitcher Lisa Akamine's sister Sarah being saddled with the loss.
No. 3 Florida:
The Gators swept their weekend action at the Lipton Invitational, beating Campbell, Kansas, Marshall and taking two from East Carolina.
No. 4 Michigan:
Michigan went 4-1 over the weekend, with its only loss coming at the hands of Virginia, as we documented yesterday. The Wolverines rebounded to defeat Oklahoma State 8-1 on Sunday. Michigan has showdowns with No. 6 Missouri and No. 9 Alabama on tap for next weekend.
No. 5 Arizona State:
The Sun Devils went 4-1 over the weekend, falling victim to an upset from Illinois State in a nine-inning thriller. Arizona State run-ruled Rutgers twice by a combined score of 33-0 over 10 innings. Ouch.
Talor Battle has an opinion on who should win national player of the year, and it isn't John Wall.
During Monday's practice, the junior guard said Evan Turner, his friend and teammate on the USA's World University team last summer, deserves the honor.
"We just have to hope to contain him," Battle said of the Lions' matchup with the Turner and the Buckeyes on Wednesday. "Nobody all year has stopped him, and I hope he does win national player of the year. I honestly think he's the best player in the country."
Battle then went a step further and called Turner the best prospect for the next level.
"If I was an NBA coach or a manager," Battle said, "he would be my first-round draft pick and not John Wall."
As my good friend and fellow men's hoops reporter, Steve Hennessey chronicled in a Feb. 3 article, the two are very close friends and talk almost every day.
After Turner led the Buckeyes to a win at Michigan State, Battle said he texted Turner multiple times waiting for a response. When he never got one, he sent another text that said, "I guess you're not my friend no more."
Turner responded, Battle said, with a phone call in which he joked, "You guys won two games in a row and you think you can boss me around now?"
The Lions clash with the Buckeyes will take place Wednesday at 6:30.
On the season, Turner is averaging 20 points, nine rebounds and six assists per game.
Sure, the Mountaineers are a tournament lock and destined for a high seed, and sure, the Huskies are squarely on the bubble, but tonight's contest is just as much of a tossup as most other Big East games.
The Huskies come in on a two-game winning streak, and with Calhoun back at the helm, they are playing their best basketball of the year. They won consecutive road games (one of them at Villanova) and Jerome Dyson, the Huskies' game manager and go-to scorer, has scored 20 and 15 points.
The Mountaineers will have to deal not only with UConn's quickness, but with its physicality. The Mountaineers are one of the most inside-oriented teams in the nation, but UConn, as Calhoun's teams do every year, leads the Big East in blocks per game.
Prediction: UConn 81, West Virginia 73
Player to watch: Alex Oriakhi, Connecticut
Oriakhi stepped up in UConn's win over Villanova, and down low against West Virginia he will have to do the same if the Huskies want to get back on the right side of the bubble.
He will have to stop the nation's best forward combination in DaSean Butler, Devin Ebanks and Kevin Jones.
But Oriakhi, who is averaging 5.3 points per game this season, is second on the team with just less than two blocks per contest, and 7.2 boards. The Huskies need to neutralize the Mountaineers and let the guards take advantage with their quickness. That starts with Oriakhi.
ESPN bracketologist Charlie Creme had some interesting points about the Lady Lions' chances of making the NCAA Tournament this season.
While Creme certainly isn't the final arbiter of who gets in the tournament and who doesn't, his predictions do give a glimpse as to what the field will look come March.
Apart from discussing Penn State basketball, I also got Creme to share his thoughts on the strength of the Big Ten this season. As is stands right now, Creme has just three Big Ten teams in his bracket. I asked him if he thought this was a down year for the conference:
Playing a key role in Penn State's victory against Michigan on Thursday, Marisa Wolfe's performance earned her Big Ten Freshman of the Week honors. With Nikki Greene on the bench after picking up her fifth foul, Wolfe was called on to finish out the game down low for the Lady Lions and she rose to the occasion. She picked up a career high in points with 13 and a high in rebounds with six as she played 22 minutes in a reserve role. She finished the game shooting 5-for-7 from the field and went a perfect 3-for-3 from the charity stripe in the win. Wolfe is now the third Penn State player this year to be honored as Big Ten Freshman of the Week along with Nikki Greene and Alex Bentley.
Robin Petrini made it well known at practice last week she didn't care about winning her 400th game. While Petrini said she didn't even know at the time she was just two wins shy of 400, it's kind of a big deal.
With Saturday's win against her alma mater, Utah State, she extended her lead as Penn State softball's winningest coach and put the second closest-coach, Sue Rankin, now 94 wins behind her. In the history of the program, which dates back to 1965, Petrini is just the sixth coach, and aside from Rankin -- who was head coach from 1982 to 1995 -- the other four coaches combined for just 126 wins in a total of 19 seasons.
Petrini has been the head coach since 1997, and just for fun, we here at Seventh Inning Stretch are going to look back on some of the pop culture icons and historic events that happened during Petrini's stay in Happy Valley.
First win: Feb. 28, 1997. It was a 5-1 win against Towson State
It's very possible that some of the players on the bus on the way to and from that game were listening to 1997's best song, "Candle in the Wind." While it's definitely not the best pump-up song for a game, Elton John made a lasting legacy with that one. OK, so they were most likely using their CD players (and maybe even cassette players) to listen to another big hit, R. Kelly's "I Believe I Can Fly."
100th career win: April 8, 2000. It was a 2-0 win against Purdue
While there was certainly no Y2K effect on Petrini's coaching performance, as her team went 38-19, it was a very monumental year. In politics, George W. Bush was elected president after beating Al Gore, despite the highly controversial outcome that hinged on the state of Florida. But if you weren't wrapped up in the election coverage, maybe you were one of the 51 million people that watched the realty show "Survivor's" first-season finale. I know I was.
200th career win: March 23, 2003. It was a 3-0 win against James Madison
In 2003 the Lions reached their fourth-straight NCAA tournament, despite finishing 9-9 in the Big Ten. While the Lions still recorded 31 wins, they didn't garner nearly as much publicity as Lance Armstrong, who captured his fifth Tour de France title that year. But then again, Lance had to compete with coverage of the impending U.S. invasion of Iraq, which was one of the year's biggest stories.
300th career win: April 11, 2006. It was an 8-0 win against Bucknell
The success Petrini's 2006 squad achieved still hasn't been topped. It notched 39 wins, and its .696 winning percentage is still the coach's highest for a season. Despite a 10-10 conference record, the Lions made the NCAA tournament for the sixth time in Petrini's tenure.
The same year the Lions finished fifth in the conference, Italy was busy finishing up as host of the Winter Olympics. Just as U.S. skier Bode Miller underachieved in Torino, the Italians overcame the competition to overachieve and win the FIFA World Cup.
400th win was Saturday, Feb. 20, 2010. It was a 6-1 win against Utah State
The Lions haven't made any postseason tournament the past two years, and now they're off to a 6-3 start. The win came against Petrini's alma mater, but the coach said she's more interested in getting her team back to the postseason. With captain Jackie Hill taking the circle and senior Ashley Griffith leading the outfield, Petrini may find her team playing meaningful softball come mid-May.
However, until the Lions' fate is decided, prepare to continue being bombarded by Tiger Woods' fall from grace and enjoy the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver.
If anything, Tracy McGrady's 19-point first-half outburst in his Knick debut Saturday shows that he's still got it. How else to explain that kind of output from a guy who, for the most, hasn't played for a year?
He's gone to New York with the right attitude, even saying he would accept the minimum to play with LeBron next season should that opportunity arise. But if T-Mac can stay healthy and make performances like Saturday's routine, he'll have much bigger offers coming his way.
It wasn't Scottie Reynolds' fault Villanova lost to Pitt on Sunday.
Yet it was because of him that the Wildcats fell.
I'll elaborate. Reynolds has made a name for himself as the go-to guy on Jay Wright's undersized squad. He's putting up almost 19 points per game this year and shooting nearly 50 percent from the floor, including a torrid 40 percent from 3-point range.
Scottie's made several game-winning shots for the Wildcats, including his famous drive to the hole that sealed 'Nova's ticket to last year's Final Four.
But he can't be expected to do that every time his teammates cough up the ball in crunch time. Sunday against the Panthers, Reynolds drove wildly to the rim no less than seven times in the final minutes. A few times he hit the layin. Once he was fouled and went to the foul line. But most of the time, he found himself in too deep among the trees and was either stuffed or forced to take an awful shot.
There has to be someone else for Villanova to turn to if it wants to make another run at a championship. This certainly isn't the end of the line for 'Nova, but it is definitely something to be concerned about.
* * * * *
What a hockey game, right?
Some are calling USA's 5-3 win over Canada the biggest victory for American hockey since the Miracle of Ice.
Good thing the National Broadcasting Company opted for America's finest over dancing on ice.
Poor judgments by the folks at NBC spoiled what was an otherwise unforgettable night in Olympic history.
Even more startling is NHL commissioner Gary Bettman entertaining the thought of pulling its players from the 2014 games because hockey apparently disappears for two weeks.
It's nights like Sunday why you still have a league, Gary.
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- John Beilein's press conference following his Michigan men's basketball team's loss to Penn State on Saturday was eerily similar to those of Ed DeChellis in the Bryce Jordan Center. The Wolverine coach was bombarded with questions about struggling through a tough season and keeping his team motivated.
Nonetheless, Beilein took time to credit the Penn State men's basketball team for its perseverance despite starting 0-12.
"They've got a great coach and a great group of kids," Beilein said. "[Talor] Battle did some things today -- he might have had one 3, but he ended up getting three back-door layups and one was incredible."
Add Beilein, a coach who reached two sweet 16s in the last five years with West Virginia, to the long list of coaches that has given DeChellis and the Lions praise, saying they are better than their 10-16 record indicates.
Tyra Grant said she was glad, that in her final year at Penn State, she would finally have the chance to experience something her classmates enjoyed for years.
For the first time in a long time, the Lady Lions didn't play an away game during THON weekend and the team used the off weekend as a chance to check out the action inside the Bryce Jordan Center.
The Lions were one of several Penn State sports teams that participated in the Pep Rally last night, and while they never took the stage until around 11:30 p.m., were thrilled to finally participate in THON.
"This is just a great experience," Grant said while wearing scrubs and a stethoscope after her team completed its dance. "This atmosphere is just crazy and seeing all the people here who care, it shows that it's for the kids."
The Lady Lions also participated in Athlete Hour earlier Saturday afternoon, which Grant said "was a good kind of chaos." She said her team helped THON families with arts and crafts, and said many of her teammates were drenched from the water guns the kids carried with them.
While she joked that arts and crafts aren't something she's particularly skilled at, teammate Janessa Wolff was by far the best artist of the group, Grant said.
The Lions then walked around on the dance floor for a bit Saturday night before they were called on stage for their dance. The team wore white T-shirts, red shorts and their basketball sneakers, while Grant and freshman Nikki Greene were dressed as the "doctors" of the group. They performed to Kanye West's "Heartless" but also worked in some MC Hammer dance moves toward the end of their performance.
"It took us about one week to get that dance together between practices and everything," Grant said. "It was really a different element for some of us, but we had a lot of fun with it."
Even assistant coach Maren Walseth was on hand to watch the dance and participate in the THON activities. Walseth graduated from Penn State in 2002 but said during her time with the Lady Lions THON weekend always happened while the team played an away game.
She said one year she made it to about a half hour of the even,t and while it was held in Rec Hall at the time, this year Walseth had a squirt gun in her hand and was on the floor with her team. She said seeing the people on the floor is something she's always wanted to do and she encouraged her team to take in the entire experience since she's not sure when they will be able to participate again.
Watching the players dance gives the audience a chance to see them out of their element on the basketball court, she said. However, she wasn't surprised to see some of the team's quieter players having just as much fun as the overly enthusiastic ones.
"You could hear them talking about it and we knew they were excited about participating," Walseth said of the team's dance. "But at the same time there's a reason why they play basketball and don't dance."
In what is one of the more improbable upsets in this early part of the season, unranked Virginia (2-4), upset No. 4 Michigan yesterday in action at the LSU Tiger Classic by a score of 2-1.
The Cavaliers, who lost all three games in round-robin play, including a 13-0 beatdown at the hands of the Wolverines on Friday, entered championship play and escaped with the win and advanced to the championship game today against No. 19 LSU.
Virginia got a magnificent performance from pitcher Melanie Mitchell, who threw a complete game, scattering three hits across the seven innings while senior outfield Sarah Tacke provided the go-ahead run on a solo home run in the top of the fourth inning.
It was the second upset in the top five this weekend, as No. 1 Washington, Penn State opponent today, fell to Utah State on Friday.
For the first time this season, the No. 13 Penn State women's gymnastics team did not post a season high.
But that did not stop the Nittany Lions from a first place finish in tonight's dual-meet against West Virginia at Rec Hall.
Penn State started off the meet looking sharp. The Lions scored a 49.200 on the vault with all six of the team's competing gymnasts scoring above a 9.800. Senior Brandi Personett, just one week removed from her second career perfect 10, scored a 9.950 to place first in the event. Three different Lions scored a 9.825, leading to the fourth-best vault score of the season.
With the momentum from another great vault score, the Lions moved over to the uneven bars. Despite an uncharacteristic fall from anchor Natalie Ettl, Penn State still posted a 49.250, its second-best bar score of the year. Senior Alexandra Brockway, an All-American on the event last year, scored a career high on the bars of 9.925. Personett and freshman Sharaya Musser each added a 9.875 to the team's total.
The Lions entered the third rotation with a 98.450 and looked to bring the confidence they showed on the first two events into the balance beam, which has been Penn State's worst event this season. The past three meets, however, the Lions looked to have turned things around as they surpassed 49.000 each meet. Tonight was a different story. Penn State counted two falls and finished with a 48.200, its worst beam score since Jan. 23. Despite the poor team score, Personett did manage to take home the individual title with a 9.925 on the beam.
Following the 48.200 on beam, the Lions showed great poise and came back strong to close out the meet in the floor exercise. Penn State posted a season-best 49.300, including a 9.900 from Musser and a 9.950 from Personett to finish the meet. After surpassing 49.000 in the event for just the second time this season, Penn State's team score stood at 195.950, its worst since its first home meet back on Jan. 23.
Personett set a career high in the all-around with a 39.700, a full .100 better than the mark she tied the week before. Bencsko posted a season-best 39.300 in the all-around and was awarded the Ann Carr award following the meet.
Senior Casey Rohrbaugh told us after the meet she knows the Lions will work hard in the gym this week to fix their problems on the balance beam. If they can correct those problems, this team will have no problem scoring a 197.000. Penn State's hopes to do just that next Saturday when it competes against Ohio State in Columbus, Ohio.
With her 9.950, Personett sets a new career high in the all-around with a 39.700.
Penn State finishes with a 195.950.
We're heading down to the floor. Check back later for a meet wrap up, and check Monday's Daily Collegian for full coverage.
The Lions close out strong with a 9.900 and 9.950 from Bencsko and Personett, respectively. Should seal the win for the Lions, but they can't be happy with the final results.
Merriam scores a 9.850
Southard's score checks in at 9.775.
West Virginia is doing well on beam and has a chance to walk out of Happy Valley with a win.
Scores sit at 175.950-175.900 in Penn State's favor with three gymnasts left for each team.
Rohrbaugh goes 9.825, and Southard finishes up her routine.
The Lions have struggled on floor as of late but appear to doing well so far.
Konsevick gets things started on floor for the Lions and scores 9.700.
Rohrbaugh finishes up her routine and looks extremely pleased with her routine.
Personett scores 9.925.
Team scores 48.200 and counts two falls and a stumble.
Personett performs without a hitch.
Bencsko and Southard score 9.775 and 9.350, respectively.
Like Musser, Allie Southard falls on the back flip.
Thats four falls - two counted - and one stumble through five routines.
Personett is up, and the Lions need a 9.900 or better from the reigning Big Ten GOY
Bencsko finishes up and stumbles on the landing.
Musser falls on the the third and final back flip of the set. This could be a problem. The Lions are once again having trouble stopping the bleeding on beam.
Konsevick goes 8.750 and Musser scores a 9.325, which will count towards the score.
Daryl Konsevick falls twice, though, putting the pressure on the rest of the team to hit.
This will be a real test for the Lions, who have had trouble stopping the bleeding on beam this year. Musser needs a solid routine.
Rohrbaugh wobbles a little, but stays on and sticks the landing.
The Lions get ready for beam, always an exciting event for them.
With the Lions, As Forrest Gump would say, "Never know whatcha gonna get."
Ettl's score just came out at a 9.050, her worst of the season.
Here is how Penn State scored:
Team score: 49.250
*Does not factor into the team score.
The 49.250 is the team's second best score on the event this season. As the Lions move over to compete on the balance beam, I will hand over the reins to Jared Shanker, who will take you through the rest of the meet.
Last week's Big Ten Freshman of the Week, Sharaya Musser, goes next for Penn State. Musser does well but also takes a step or two on her landing, scoring a 9.875.
Alexandra Brockway, a senior and an All-American on bars last season, is up next. Brockway does well and nails her landing. Brockway scores a 9.925, her best of the season.
The bars specialist, sophomore Natalie Ettl, is up next. She is currently No. 11 in the nation on the event. Unfortunately for Penn State, Ettl uncharacteristically falls off the bars and the team will most likely not count her score.
Merriam goes first for Penn State and stuck her landing. Last week she posted a 9.675 after not scoring below 9.800 prior to that meet. The freshman gets a 9.750.
Bencsko goes next and also does well but may have taken a step on her landing. Bencsko scores a 9.825.
Next up is Personett, who performs a solid routine followed by a great landing. The senior tallies a 9.875, which ties her season high.
The Mountaineers scored a 48.700 in the bars and now will compete on vault.
Here is Penn State's lineup on the bars:
Personett's score just flashed up on the screen as a 9.950. The No. 1 vaulter in the nation continues to impress.
Here is how the scores will shake out for Penn State:
Team score: 49.200
*Does not factor into the team's score
That is the fourth best performance on the vault this year for Penn State, the nation's No. 4 team in the event entering tonight's meet.
The Lions will now move over to compete on the uneven parallel bars.
Musser's score was just announced at 9.825.
Last but certainly not least is senior Brandi Personett. Personett got her second perfect 10 of the season on the vault last Saturday at Pittsburgh.
Personett performs another great vault and we are awaiting the score from the judges.
Bencsko vaults next and also sticks her landing. Penn State may challenge its 49.400 team score from last week the way it has started out. The sophomore All-American gets a 9.800.
Musser goes next and the freshman performs a solid vault but doesn't perform a perfect landing.
In last week's meet, the Lions posted a 49.400 on the vault, just .100 away from tying the Penn State record. They will look to beat that score tonight.
Rohrbaugh kicks things off for Penn State and sticks her landing. The senior scores a 9.800.
Hover goes next and takes a small step on her landing. The junior posted a 9.800 against Pittsburgh and tallies the same exact score in tonight's meet.
Smith goes next and performs a great vault and sticks her landing. As my esteemed colleague Jared Shanker pointed out, I guess her shoulder is fine. Smith scores a 9.825.
The Lions will start out on the vault and the lineup looks like this:
Penn State coach Steve Shephard held Smith out of competition last week and was uncertain if she would compete tonight. Smith, a co-captain, injured her shoulder a few days before the last meet at Pittsburgh. It is definitely a positive for the Lions that she is back in the lineup tonight. The gymnast averages a 9.780 in five meets this year on the vault.
Good evening gymnastics fans, Jake Kaplan and Jared Shanker here to take you through tonight's action between West Virginia and No. 13 Penn State at Rec Hall.
In each of the first six meets of the season, the Nittany Lions have put up season highs and look to build on their 196.450 last weekend at Pittsburgh.
Tonight's meet is a double dual-meet, meaning the Penn State men's gymnastics team will also be competing tonight at the same time as the women's team. The men will go up against Illinois.
We are about 15 minutes away from the team's being announced so stay tuned for a lot more coverage of the Lions' women's gymnastics team in tonight's double dual-meet.
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Check with the Collegian for coverage of Penn State's 55-51 win, its second road win of the week.
AJ, Robinson and I will have blog posts tomorrow. We'll have grades about the game. We have a column and stories for Monday's paper.
Signing off from the Courtyard Marriott hotel in Ann Arbor. Many thanks to John Lowe from the Detroit Free Press for putting us up in this hotel. We never would have covered the great college basketball game that we got to. (Not to mention had no business staying in such nice of a hotel)
Here's a look at each of the first-round matchups in the ACHA tournament. The games are listed in order of face-off time with all games being played Saturday March 6.
10 a.m. -- #4 Illinois vs. #13 Stony Brook (West Rink)
11 a.m. -- #5 Iowa State vs. #12 Kent State (East Rink)
1 p.m. -- #2 Penn State vs. #15 SUNY-Canton (West Rink)
2 p.m. -- #7 Oklahoma vs. #10 Central Oklahoma (East Rink)
4 p.m. -- #1 Lindenwood vs. #16 Rutgers (West Rink)
5 p.m. -- #8 Minot State vs. #9 Oakland (East Rink)
7 p.m. -- #3 Ohio vs. #14 Robert Morris (Ill.) (West Rink)
8 p.m. -- #6 Liberty vs. #11 Arizona State (East Rink)
All of the following rounds will be played on the West Rink, except for consolation games. Each of the top four seeds get to play its opening round game on the West Rink, so Penn State's No.2 ranking will allow it to play all of its games on the same rink as long as the Icers keep winning.
Some of these matchups have already occurred this year, including a couple of them this weekend in conference tournaments.
Below are all the first-round matchups with a list of any previous matchups between the teams this season:
Just about 35 minutes from tip-off at Rec Hall's South Gym where the No. 7 Nittany Lions will take on IPFW, their second MIVA opponent in as many days. Penn State was sharp in a sweep over Ball State last night, with their dynamic three each posting a personal season-high hitting percentage. The Lions as a team hit a season-best .566 in the win, their shortest match of the year at just one hour, 18 minutes.
We caught up with senior captain Max Lipsitz before tonight's match to discuss how the Lions would like to carry that momentum over against the Mastodons.
With Penn State's win over UC Santa-Barbera last night, Robin Petrini earned her 399th win as head coach. That means that Petrini has three chances over the next two days to notch that 400th victory.
Here's how the Nittany Lions stack up against today's competition.
Note: Today's contest against Utah State was bumped back to 3 this afternoon because of overnight rain.
Utah State (5-1)
While the Aggies only won 10 games last year, Utah State jumped out to an impressive 4-1 start with wins over Maine, Idahoâ€ˆState, Northern Colorado and Seattle. The Aggies then opened up action this weekend with a stunning 7-4 upset of No. 1 Washington, breaking the game open with a five run fourth inning. It's obviously a big momentum boost for Utah State but let's see if the Aggies can avoid the let down today.
Utah State is also Petrini's alma mater, where the former shortstop earned won two AIAW Championships..Penn State is 0-2 against Utah State all time, but the last matchup was in 1989.
San Diego State (7-1)
San Diego State has clubbed it's way to a 7-1 on the shoulders of its offense. The Aztecs have outscored their opponents 43-25 in their eight games, winning two in extra innings.
The Aztecs are led by pitcher Samantha Beasley, who entered the weekend with a 4-0 record only allowing 10 hits and one earned run while tossing two complete games, one for a complete game shutout over 22.1 innings.
Beasley pitched the opener against UC Santa-Barbera, throwing a one-hitter, fanning 13 along the way. If Penn State catches her tonight, it'll be interesting to see how the Lions' bats fare.
Hen is now sick of techno. Never thought I'd type that out. Can't wait to see what music we listen to on the way home now.
Inbounds gets to Harris who drives in and is fouled by Brooks. However, unlike seemingly every other time, Harris misses and goes to the line for a one-and-one.
Harris misses and Michigan is called for a foul on the rebound. 2.5 seconds left here as Battle steps up for a one-and-one.
The junior misses and that's the horn. Penn State wins 55-51, for their second straight road win and second conference victory.
We're off to find the media room as PSU improves to 10-16, 2-12 Big Ten. Michigan falls to 13-13, 6-8 Big Ten. Check the website and blog for more coverage and a full recap in Monday's paper.
Out of the timeout, Battle is able to get deep into UM's defense and is fouled by Sims. Not in the bonus, the Lions have to inbounds and it obviously goes to Battle.
Battle drives, kicks to Brooks who takes one dribble and stabs the Wolverines in the heart with a basket and a rebound on the ensuing possession.
Novak fouls Brooks and its Brooks' moment to shine. The junior misses the FT and despite Jackson's best efforts, the ball goes out.
7.4 seconds 2nd half, 55-51 PSU
Babb inbounds to Battle who then has a mid-dribble arguement with DeChellis before he misses a 3.
Good ball movement by Michigan gets the ball to Sims for a decent shot. The senior can't convert and Brooks gets the board as we go into a timeout.
Cue up Steve's iPod again.
1:10 2nd 53-51 PSU
Give the UM faithful credit, I still can't think straight after that possession, but I did hear another "Go Blue" chant. I mean at some point, this dressed-mostly-in-yellow crowd does have to realize PSU is wearing blue, right?
Battle looks a little sluggish on the floor as the ball goes in to Jackson who gets called for an offensive foul. Thats four fouls on Jackson.
Babb is able to beat Harris to a long rebound but the Lions have the ball knocked away and turn it over. Babb again as he gets in the way of a pass.
Michigan foul on Morris, his second and its a timeout.
2:06 2nd 53-51
Oh look, the game's back.
Battle gets bumped a few times by Morris with no call and Harris gets a breakaway dunk. I can't hear anything right now as this place just ERUPTED in noise.
Babb misses from about 16 feet and the ball goes out off a Wolverine, bringing up another timeout.
3:31 2nd half, 53-51 PSU
Michigan's band is very good at what they do, but as far as singing along to 80's rock, this arena is lacking compared to PSU crowds.
Morris back in for the Wolverines, replacing Lucas-Perry. Make that two ridiculously cheap fouls on Frazier against Sims. Mark three fouls on the freshman.
Jones gets bumped trying to grab a board and drops the rock out of bounds. Call could have gone either way, but it goes back to UM as Harris drains a 3-ball.
Harris picks off a Frazier pass and drives right into Battle. The junior is whistled for the foul as Harris hits the shot, misses the FT and watches his teammates lose the ball out of bounds. Brooks returns for the Lions, replacing Frazier.
5-0 run here for UM as Morris gets tagged with his first foul. Fans wanted a travel on Battle, but the whistles stayed silent. PSU grinds the clock and Jackson has to take a deep 3.
PSU calls for a timeout after a Michigan missed 3.
4:37 2nd, 53-49 PSU
I'm wondering which one of these Michigan guys broke into Steve's car and stole his iPod. It's nonstop techno at Crisler Arena.
UM inbounds and Lucas-Perry missed a three, which Battle rebounds in a dramatic manner.
Another Lucas-Perry miss and two PSU misses bring us to another timeout.
6:50 2nd half. 53-44 PSU
If you're not already, Steve is tweeting the game and doing an exceptional job so get over there and follow him. Far cry from the man carrying all of his computer cables into our hotel outside his computer bag.
There was an older gentleman a few rows in front of us doing a crossword during warmups. However, this game has kept his attention so far and the crossword is missing in action.
Gibson with one of two FTs. Ott back in for the Lions replacing Jones as the ball goes out off of Michigan.
Frazier bowled himself over by running into Stu Douglass, who responded by collecting the ball and dunking. On the ensuing possession, Gibson is called for a foul on Frazier who goes to the line for two.
Michigan student section keeps chanting stuff really, really fast. I'm no expert, but I think you want your opponent to understand your remarks, thus making them think about it and distract them.
Jeff Brooks is that guy. The junior saved an Ott miss, did some sort of maneuver to keep the ball away from Michigan and then scored. Sweet play.
Harris faced up Babb and fired a three which missed. Sims grabbed the board and had two putbacks fail to go in before Brooks muscled the board down. Two possessions and two big time plays for the forward.
Battle misses a three at the shot clock buzzer and it goes out to Michigan. Frazier gets called for an absurdly cheap foul on Sims, who after the inbound decided he wanted to be Kevin Garnett and take an 18-footer.
Call that one in. Talor Battle just abused Stu Douglass which prompts a Michigan timeout.
7:53 2nd half. 53-44 PSU lead.
I have to say, for being indecisive on whether I was going to come on this trip, I'm having a great time. Crisler Arean is a great basketball venue on top of it all, though the awesome media seats are probably altering my judgment.
Michigan tried their hand at "zombie nation," but PSU still wins that fight as Battle nails a three.
Next Lions possession, Battle makes a nice save of a ball from going out and is able to get a basket despite going up against two defenders.
Timeout on the floor,
11:52 2nd, 48-41 PSU
Sorry fans, we had a few technical issues, but A-Rob here to blog the second half.
Brooks and Jackson have scored inside for PSU.
Sims hits a shot with the clock down to two seconds, these late shots are killing the Lions this year.
Brooks scores and is fouled by Sims. During the FT, which Brooks hit, the crowd was chanting "GO BLUE." Last I checked, PSU is wearing blue tonight.
Babb hits a three in transition but Harris responds over an outstretched Jackson. This half has been back-and-forth for the first five plus minutes as Jones scores.
Darius Morris cuts right into Penn State's defense and scores as help was very slow to get there.
Battle drives past Novak, who had no chance on the play and makes a nice dish to Jones who finishes with a basket.
Timeout as Battle is blocked, but it looked like he drew contact and Penn State's bench wanted a foul.
13:35 2nd half, 43-41 in favor of PSU
Some halftime notes:
-Bill Edwards is playing, but has not gotten involved during his three-and-a-half minutes.
-Tim Frazier is playing one of his best Big Ten games. He is not afraid to attack the rim and he is passing the ball with precision. The rest of the Lions are noticing and are making some phenomenal back-cuts.
-Balanced scoring, again.
-Some crazy trampoline-dunkers at halftime
Check back with Hen for the second
Halftime: Penn State 29, Michigan 29
A D.J. Jackson corner 3-pointer gave the Lions their first lead since the opening minutes, but DeShawn Sims quickly equalized at 29.
The score remained that way until the halftime buzzer rang and the band broke into another chorus of "Hail to the Victors."
Bill Edwards has checked in. We'll keep you posted on how he looks with the ankle injury he is struggling with. He is wearing a brace on his right ankle.
3:17 to go first half: Michigan 27, Penn State 26
A quick five-point swing gave Michigan a nine-point lead. Tim Frazier, who made a very smart play to strip a Michigan ballhandler, couldn't convert on a tough layup. Seconds later, after an impressive outlet pass, Manny Harris hit a 3-pointer.
But the large lead didn't last long. Battle and Babb hit consecutive 3-pointers, while Michigan missed a pair.
Frazier looks very good passing the ball early. The assist numbers may not show it, but twice he found a cutting Battle, who didn't convert, but the Lions were able to later on that possession.
The most recent was a Battle missed layup that Drew Jones tipped in, to cut the lead to one.
After a Manny Harris walk, the Lions will have the ball with a chance to take the lead.
7:20 to go first half: Michigan 24, Penn State 18
Tim Frazier capitalized on the next possession and Battle on the one after that, and the Lions used a 8-0 run to cut the deficit to one, and forcing Beilein into a timeout.
During one of the breaks, DeChellis must have gotten on his players to contest the Michigan shooters. Even if they are a couple seconds late, the Lions are still making sure to get their hands up on jumpshots whenever possible.
Frazier and Battle have run the show during this four-minute stretch. The two have combined for eight-straight Penn State points, and Battle is using Frazier's ball-handling skills to cut backdoor whenever possible.
With just less than nine minutes to go, Frazier gave a reminder that he is still a freshman. With Stu Douglass going in for an open layup, Frazier clipped him on the arm, giving him an and-1.
Such has been the case for Frazier all year. He has the talent and the quickness, but some mental lapses have plagued his game.
A Zack Novak 3-pointer just before the break gave UM a six-point lead.
11:41 to go first half: Michigan 15, Penn State 8
Right out of the timeout, Stu Douglass picked up a loose ball and drained a corner three to give Michigan a four-point lead. With the shot-clock winding down, Battle stripped a cutting Wolverine, but the ensuing loose ball came to an in rythym Douglass. When UM gets hot, they like to use the 3-ball in bunches.
Sure enough, two possessions later, Manny Harris hit a 3-pointer from the top of the key, forcing DeChellis to take an early timeout. On the play two Lions collapsed on the ball, leaving Harris open from deep.
That isn't something you want to do against a Beilein coached team, dating back to the Kevin Pittsnogle/Mike Gansey West Virginia days.
Frazier and Ott checked into the game for the first time, just before the 12-minute mark. Ott and his new buzz got involved right away. Ott lost the handle on a Talor Battle feed, but seconds later drew a foul on a solid box out.
15:00 to go first half: Michigan 7, Penn State 6
On the Lions first possession, a pair of offensive rebounds set up Jackson for an easy left-handed layup. Jackson has been involved a lot early. After picking up a foul that led to MIchigan's first point, he swatted a Darius Morris runner into the second row.
The Lions look very active on defense early, contesting the three missed 3-pointers that the Wolverines have taken. The problem has come on the offensive end. Despite multiple offensive boards, the Lions have managed only to score on easy shots. They are 0-for-2 from deep.
DeChellis is wearing the same beige jacket he wore during Wednesday's win. Good luck charm? We'll see. Michigan will have the ball after a Jeff Brooks travel.
Here are the starting lineups:
G Talor Battle
G Chris Babb
F D.J. Jackson
F Jeff Brooks
F Drew Jones
G Darius Morris
G Stu Douglass
G Manny Harris
F DeShawn Sims
F Zack Novak
As they did during the first meeting, the Wolverines are starting the game with three guards -- all of whom can shoot 3-pointers. That doesn't include forward Zack Novak, who has also attempted more than 100 from behind the arc. As it did on Jan. 7, the meeting could be decided by whether the Lions can stop Michigan from deep.
The Wolverines take the tip and we're underway...
The Maize Rage is out in full force for tonight's clash of sub-.500 Big Ten squads.
The Wolverines may be suffering a disappointing season, but they have won consecutive road games and a win tonight would even their conference record at 7-7. An NCAA tournament appearance may be out of the question, but an NIT berth remains a distinct possibility.
As for the Nittany Lions (9-16, 1-12 Big Ten), they are coming off their first conference victory on Wednesday in Evanston over Northwestern. For the first time in 2010, the Lions had all five starters in double figures and, they didn't rely heavily on the conference's second-leading scorer Talor Battle. It was Chris Babb and D.J. Jackson with 20 points apiece who carried the Lions.
Just heard "Hail to the Victors" from the MIchigan band, and the Lions (including Andrew Ott with an incredibly sharp-looking new buzz cut) have emerged from the locker to go through some layups before lineups are announced. Check back soon for the teams' starting fives.
Live from the Crisler Arean, it's Saturday night basketball in the Big Ten.
As usual, here are a few things we're watching:
Andrew Ott has a new haircut, and it was the rage on Twitter last night. The big man has a super-short buzz cut to match his epic 5 o'clock shadow and it's a sight to be sure.
In more relevant news, freshman forward Bill Edwards is out on the floor shooting after coach Ed DeChellis said he would be a game-time decision during Friday's teleconference.
After a very strong outing against Northwestern, we want to see if Drew Jones and Jeff Brooks can string together a couple of good games and play with energy on both ends.
Talor Battle didn't have his best shooting night against the Wildcats after eight games where he averaged 23.5 ppg. Hardwood Hits thinks the junior will have a bounce back performance.
One last thing: the ball. Michigan uses "the ROCK," a ball the Lions used in their early season tournament with rather bad results. For some reason, Penn State can't shoot with this ball so we'll see if the team can figure this puzzle out in Ann Arbor.
Stayed tuned for the live blog when things get going.
After a nice little drive, Hen, A-Rob and I arrived in Ann Arbor. It's a pretty nice town, but a confusing one -- we spent about an hour wandering aimlessly in search of a student newspaper.
We ate at Pizza House on Church Street. Chicago-style stuffed Pizza with sausage and pepperoni. Phenomenal. Absolutely phenomenal.
We'll be heading to the Crisler Arena tomorrow about an hour or two before the 6 p.m. tip, so keep checking back for more updates. Until then, we'll be enjoying our stay at Courtyard Marriott that three college kids like us have no business staying in.
So far, the six-and-a-half hour drive through vast openness, snow-covered farms and even a small herd of grazing bison has been well worth it.
With Penn State softball coach Robin Petrini currently sitting at 398 wins after three victories last weekend in New Mexico, we figured we'd take a look at the Nittany Lions' competition tonight and see how they stack up and what challenges they represent in keeping Petrini from the milestone.
Western Kentucky (1-2)
A rough start for the Hilltoppers, who coming off of a 35-17 campaign stumbled out of the gate with losses to Samford and Southern Illinois-Edwardsville. The pitching has been the bright spot for Western Kentucky so far, with its pitchers having a combined 1.35 ERA and only allowing three earned runs.
However, the hitting has been atrocious for the Hilltoppers, only scoring four runs over their first three games and one extra-base hit. Western Kentucky's defense has also been poor, with six errors spread across the three games.
Penn State has never faced Western Kentucky in its history, but the Lions do have a good chance to take a victory. Penn State just has to put the ball in play in some fashion and lean on the fact that the Hilltoppers have struggled in the field so far. If the Lions can get a lead, their pitching should be able to shut down Western Kentucky's anemic offense en route to a victory.
UC Santa-Barbera (4-3)
The Gauchos come stumbling into this weekend after being run-ruled by UCLA twice earlier this week by scores of 14-0 and 11-1. UC Santa-Barbera did start out the season 4-1 before dropping the two games to the Bruins.
UC Santa-Barbera does allow teams to put the ball in play, allowing its opponents to hit .302 in its first weekend of competition and its pitching duo of Lindsey Correa and MeLinda Matsumoto currently hold ERAs of 5.44 and 6.41. If Penn State sees the ball as well as it did this past weekend, runs shouldn't be too much of a problem for the Lions.
However, Penn State does need to look out for a couple of hitters that could give its pitchers fits.
Kelly McDonald and Kelsey Anderson have been leading the way for the Gauchos so far this season, hitting a combined two home runs and batting in 10 while hitting .318 and .375 respectively. Penn State will have to keep the duo at bay but may be able to outslug the Gauchos if it comes down to it.
Well that'll do it for now, we'll be back tomorrow to preview Saturday's matchups against Utah State and San Diego State. Until then, this is Tom Kinslow signing off.
A Ball State block sets the score to 28-22. The young guys are struggling a bit here late.
A point later, Sunder ends the match with a strong swing. Penn State wins the set 30-22 and the match thankfully comes to a close, 3-0.
Stay with the Collegian online for more coverage on tonight's dominant win and check back to Above the Net tomorrow for coverage of tomorrow night's IPFW match.
Will Price gets subbed out to a standing ovation from the 16-or-so people in Rec Hall. Price ends the night with 15 kills. Tom Comfort, Price's replacement, gets a kill on his first point. Looks like Pav is going to get the future Lions some playing time with this one well in hand.
22-15 at a Ball State timeout.
We're seeing much cleaner volleyball this set. The Cardinals are making the Lions work for their points. The scoreboard shows it too. Sure, Penn State is still up 20-14, but Ball State may actually tally more than 15 this set.
Tor sets up a beauty to Will Price. Lipsitz was coming to the net from the Tor's frontside, but Covello sets it up behind himself and Price gets an untouched kill.
A few PSU kills later, the Lions are up 14-10 now. A timeout for Ball State.
A Ball State kill and now the Cardinals are up by two, 8-6.
Ball State is hanging in there early on. 4-4.
Looks like Edgardo's evening has come to a close. The setter will be given a rest as Tor Covello will start the third set.
A quick 2-1 start and Ball State has the lead.
As we break between sets... the Lion has arrived!
Sorry Lion, this one's a snoozer. And if the third set is anything like the last two, you're stay in Rec Hall will be short.
My prediction came true -- Ball State scored 17 points for the Lions on errors and violations but only tallied 15 points of its own. Filthy volleyball.
Lipsitz gets a clean block to bring us to set point. A service error from Price brings us to set point No. 2.
And, fittingly, a net violation by Ball State finishes the set. Penn State wins 30-15 to go up 2-0.
Correction -- the Cardinals are making short work of themselves. Another service error. 27-14 PSU.
Tor Covello in to serve. A nice little volley -- the ball crosses three times -- ends after a monster swing from Sunder bounces off a Ball State player and into the stands.
25-11 now. Penn State making short work of the Cardinals.
Make that 23-10 after a Price kill. Timeout Ball State.
Hitting error, ball into the antennae, double hit, service error... and Penn State goes on a 5-1 spree. The Cardinals undoubtedly will have handed the Lions more points than they scored for themselves when this set comes to an end. 22-10 PSU as Goas serves.
This one's getting out of hand, again. Another run for Penn State and the Lions find themselves up 14-8. Ball State finally ends the run, but promptly puts the serve into the net. The Cardinals are shooting themselves again this set.
Penn State up 16-8.
Ball State takes a timeout, down 11-6.
Del Valle sprints to the edge of the stands and punches a rogue dig back onto the court. Ball State answers with a hitting error, and Penn State gets the point, 6-5.
A kill later, Joe Sunder shows some flash and gets a kill. Another 3-0 PSU run there.
And a 3-0 run puts Penn State on top, 3-2. That was short lived.
Some early life from the Cardinals, they go up 2-0 after a block from middle. A small eruption of energy ensues on the sideline.
Ball State ended up hitting negative in the first set at -.033. Ouch.
Eddie Gentile here to take you through the second set here at Rec Hall. Here's to hoping Ball State will make this one at least a little more entertaining. Total dominance there in the first.
The ball goes into the bleachers for a Ball State point.
The Cardinals on a little 3-0 run here.
A hitting error by BSU gives the Lions set point.
Goas to serve.
And the Cardinals hit the ball out of bounds. PSU wins the first set 30-18.
Lipsitz and Sunder pick of a block.
The Cardinals have no answer for Sunder as he hits right through their block.
Virtually no BSU attack is getting through PSU's block unscathed. Seems like every time a Cardinal attacks the ball is at least tipped at the net.
Lipsitz picks up his fourth kill.
Another block by Turko and Sunder puts PSU up 28-15.
Ball State calls a timeout with the Lions leading 23-24.
Penn State playing without assistant coach Colin McMillan tonight. He is attending a wedding.
The Cardinals take a turn handing away a point as they let a free ball fall to the floor.
Add in another free point for Penn State.
The Lions earn this one on a Price Kill. PSU on a 8-2 run.
Make that 8-3.
A Sunder kill followed by a Sunder service error puts us at PSU 18, BSU 12.
A much smaller crowd joining us tonight. The lack of energy is apparent in the gym.
Penn State goes on a little run, and Ball State calls a timeout.
Price leads with 3 kills and 2 digs.
Penn State 13, Ball State 9
Penn State gives the Cardinals a few points. Giving away points has been a struggle for the Lions early in the season.
A hitting error by Lipsitz makes the score PSU 9 BSU 8.
We're here at Rec Hall and the match between Penn State and the Ball State Cardinals is underway. Sorry for the slight delay.
Nick Turko got the start tonight at middle hitter. His first start since starting the first match of the season against USC.
About 45 minutes until tip-off at Rec Hall. It's Ball State vs Penn State in the No. 7 Nittany Lions fourth match against a MIVA opponent this year. We grabbed libero Dennis Del Valle before he hit the court for warmups to get his thoughts on tonight's game. Check it out:
The ALC will officially grow this weekend as it sees the birth of a new program in Florida. The Gators open their program with a game Saturday against Jacksonville. After recruiting for a few years, Florida finally gets to show the lacrosse world what it can do.
No. 11 Vanderbilt continues its challenging opening schedule as it heads to No. 4 North Carolina. The Commodores lost their season opener last week in Nashville 19-10 to No. 5 Duke. After pounding Massachusetts last weekend, No. 1 Northwestern visits No. 13 Stanford.
Johns Hopkins opens their season at George Mason, and Ohio State plays its home opener against American. The No. 16 Buckeyes fell to No. 20 William and Mary by one.
If you didn't watch the NBA on TNT last night (perhaps you were in Doc Brown's DeLorean watching NBC's not-so-live "coverage" of the Olympics) you really missed out on two epic games.
First off, there aren't many words to describe what happened in last night's Nuggets and Cavs game. Two superstars, LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony went toe-to-toe in every sense of the word. The pair guarded each other on almost every possession, going basket for basket with each other all the way down to the wire. Denver ended up besting Cleveland after a dagger from Anthony and a missed three by James at the buzzer. Perfect theater. These were the stat lines of the pair when it was all said and done.
LeBron James: 43 points, 13 rebounds, 15 assists, two steals and four blocks.
Carmelo Anthony: 40 points, six rebounds, seven assists, one steal, two blocks.
My ideal scenario, a seven-game series in mid-June between the two teams. Sound good? You bet it does. I know everyone would love to see Kobe and LeBron go at each other in primetime every night, but I'm not sure any one truly appreciates the season Carmelo is having this season, and I'd much rather see this series happen than a Lakers/Cavs matchup. Yeah, that's right, I said it.
Now if you stayed with TNT's coverage last night, you were treated to the Celtics and the Lakers. Yes, there was no Kobe last night, but that doesn't mean it was short on drama. The game came down to the wire and Boston escaped with a win after a desperation heave by Derek Fisher fell short.
Quickly, let me just say that shows how badly the Lakers need Kobe. Yes, they hung tough without him, but with less than three seconds to go, Los Angeles had no one to go to. They couldn't go to Gasol with that much time, Shannon Brown can't be trusted, Ron Artest is Ron Artest and then there was Fisher, who is more than washed up, who somehow got the ball and hoisted up a bad shot. Kobe better rest up while he can and save himself for the stretch run because if he is banged up in the playoffs, it spells trouble for the Lakers.
Now let me just say this to the Boston Celtics and their fans. Your dreams of a championship, give them up. Now. Stop fooling yourself and give it up. Yes, I know I picked Boston to make it to the Finals (oops), but it's just not going to happen.
Rasheed Wallace has mutated into some gelatinous blob that hoists bad shots at will. The team is old and it shows on a nightly basis. Oh, and Kevin Garnett is now on the downside of his career. I'm sorry Celts fans, it's true. Once your knees go, it's all over. There's no getting them back, no matter how hard you try. Garnett is dragging his bad leg all over the floor, and it's a shame to watch.
Don't give me Amare Stoudamire coming back from his microfracture surgery a few years back. Yes, he came back from it. He also did it in the prime of his career and even he isn't as dominant as he once was, while albeit still very successful.
The fact of the matter is, Boston isn't better than Cleveland or Orlando and Nate Robinson isn't going to save them. I'm sorry, but that's just the way it happens sometimes. The Celtics went for broke dealing for Ray Allen and Garnett two years ago and they got a ring out of it. Be proud of that. But for now, you'll get to the second round and nothing more, and the sooner you accept that, the better.
One of the most anticipated bouts this weekend pits No. 13 Brad Pataky against No. 6 Zach Sanders of Minnesota. Last season on Jan. 10, Sanders pinned Pataky. Pataky responded by beating Sanders twice -- once in the Big Ten Tournament and once during the regular season.
Pataky said his emphasis this weekend lies in the hand-fight battle, something he has worked on the past several weeks. The redshirt junior said he looks forward to this matchup more so than his recent bouts.
Here are some things Pataky said he and assistant coach Cody Sanderson have worked on at practice in preparation for the Sanders bout:
"Getting under hooks, clearing under hooks, getting ties, clearing out of ties, getting to our shot, leading our setups to get to our shot, fighting off his shot."
The Nittany Lions will be performing their routines in front of a crowd of thousands of people Saturday night.
However, they won't be performing their gymnastics routine, and it won't be in front of the Rec Hall crowd.
Following Saturday's meet against West Virginia, the Lions will travel to the Bryce Jordan Center for THON, where they will do a dance routine for the Four Diamond families.
Not sure if she plans on unveiling it at THON, but senior Allie Southard was showing off some of her breakdancing moves as she did the "worm" across the floor exercise canvas at Thursday's practice.
"I've never done anything like this before," said freshman Sharaya Musser, whose excitement grew the more she talked. "It's going to be really fun doing a whole routine together. I think it's gonna be a blast."
Musser and her teammates were able to raise $140 for THON, all from assistant coach Jess Bastardi. The gymnasts were given 20 minutes to perform as many complete beam routines as possible. For each stuck routine, Bastardi would donate $1.
"It was definitely one of the hardest assignments I've had to go through," Musser said. "But it felt good, just trying to raise as much money as we can for the kids."
The Nittany Lions are coming off their best meet of the year on the road against Pittsburgh when they posted a 196.450. Penn State looks to score a season high for the seventh straight meet Saturday night when West Virginia comes to Rec Hall at 7 p.m.
Here is a brief scouting report of the Lions' next opponent.
West Virginia: The Mountaineers opened the season in the same quad-meet as the Lions in East Lansing, Mich. Though Penn State posted its worst score of the season in that opening meet with a 193.900, West Virginia scored a lowly 191.225. The Mountaineers have since improved, however, and are No. 26 with a 193.729 average and a high score of 195.650. Compare West Virginia's 193.729 average to Penn State's 195.379. and the Lions look poised for another victory Saturday night.
Don't forget to follow Beam Me Up's live blog of the action from Rec Hall on Saturday.
Before practice on Thursday, sports psychologist Dr. Dave Yukelson visited with the No. 13 Lions to offer some words of inspiration as they prepare for Saturday night's meet against border rival West Virginia.
Coach Steve Shephard enlisted the help of Yukelson, who has spoke to the team before, to talk to them about dealing with the pressure the Lions' lofty goals place on the team. The team huddled around Yukelson as he stressed the importance of living in the moment and worrying only about the things the team could control.
"We can't worry about winning Big Tens or making nationals," Casey Rohrbaugh said was the message of Yukelson's speech. "All we can do is one routine at a time and focus on that event. You only have control of that moment."
Freshman Sharaya Musser said Yukelson helped offer a different outlook on things.
"It helps put things in perspective," Musser said. "It's really helpful for me to have a different way of thinking."
The Rundown: The No. 7 Nittany Lions will take on Ball State Friday night at Rec Hall. The match is the third of a four-game road trip for the Cardinals, and the fifth of a six-game homestand for Penn State. The Lions hold a 56-19 all-time record against the Cardinals, including wins in the last eight meetings.
Storyline to follow: The battle in the middle. Both Ian Hendries and Nick Turko have proved they deserve a starting spot in the Lions' lineup. Hendries, a steady defensive presence at the net, has started the last 11 matches for Penn State. Meanwhile, Turko -- who started the Lions' season-opener in Hawaii before being sidelined for a few matches with a sprained ankle -- came off the bench last Saturday in the Laval exhibition and went off for 10 kills on .909 hitting. Who gets the nod? The dependable defensive minded Hendries or the explosive -- and sometimes streaky -- Turko? Tough call.
Lee leads: Junior Lee Meyer -- who leads the Cardinals with 127 kills -- recorded a career-high 27 kills in Ball State's win over Quincy last Friday. Myer has recorded double-doubles in four of Ball State's last seven matches and also holds the team lead with double-figure kills seven times this season.
Prediction: Penn State sweeps. The Lions looked like they were finally hitting stride -- and reaching mid-season form -- in their two convincing exhibition wins over Canada's top-ranked team Laval last weekend. Plus, Ball State -- currently fourth in the MIVA -- was swept by Ohio State and struggled in a five-set victory over Rutgers-Newark, two teams Penn State handled easily.
Check 'em out: The Cardinals and Lions have had three common opponents this year: Ohio State, Loyola-Chicago and Rutgers-Newark. Here's some highlights from Ball State's five set victory over the Scarlet Raiders.
The NBA trade deadline fascinates me. I think the days leading up to the deadline is one of the most interesting times in winter sports.
Slumping teams take wild turns to find the spark they need to get back to the top.
Weak teams search far and wide for the strength that has eluded them. Executives with teams on the cusp of greatness search desperately for the spark they need to break through. And in the wake of such talent scouting, the rumors start to circulate. Role players, current and former superstars, sleepers and players who haven't yet been drafted, all alike, take to the trade block.
This year sees injured former superstar Tracy McGrady on his way to the sorry Knicks. He'll be joined by up-and-coming marksman Eddie House, who has provided serious scoring support to the Celtics off the bench for years. The Celts will receive talented guard Nate Robinson, who fell out of favor in New York and is yet to reach his potential. It'll be interesting to see how each player grows in his respective new environment: Will McGrady return to greatness? Will Robinson reach his potential? Will Eddie House grow into a star?
Almost as interesting: the trades that don't pan out. Storied but aging sharpshooter Ray Allen will stay in Boston to work with Robinson and without former sidekick House. Amare Stoudemire will stay put in Phoenix after it was rumored he'd be traded the Cavs to complement LeBron James. James will get a talented 20-and-10 player in Antawn Jamison instead.
And the takeaway for fans? What seems like a new season before the playoffs are even underway. I, for one, feel entertained and refreshed. Can't wait to see who does what as teams work to gel with their new players and make their playoff runs.
* * * * *
With the clock winding down in regulation Thursday night in Cleveland, Chauncey Billups took the ball down the court and held up just outside the 3-point line.
He wanted to take the last shot. Even if it was going to be with Daniel Gibson's hand right there in his face.
Guess what happened? Shot flies up, shot flies off the rim. No chance for a putback. Overtime, here we come.
The worst part of this poor decision was that Billups was waving a teammate away from him, you know, to give him enough room to operate that difficult crossover that didn't make Boobie Gibson budge an inch.
The Nugget he waved off? Carmelo Anthony, the NBA's third-highest scorer this season.
'Melo went 13-for-28 with 40 points on the night. Chauncey finished 7-for-20 with 18 points. Go figure.
Methinks "Mr. Big Shot" has let that old title get to his head. He may have hit some clutch buckets with the Pistons when they were plowing through the East, but Billups is much more advanced in years now. He just doesn't have that ability anymore, and he needs to recognize this if the Nuggets want to improve on their Western Conference Finals run from last season.
When the overtime clock was winding down, Chauncey again tried to wave Anthony off to get the last shot for himself. This time, though, Carmelo stuck around near the elbow. Frustrated that Gibson again wouldn't back down for the great Chauncey Billups, the guard dished it off to Carmelo, who fired a jumper right over the head of a surprised defender.
One LeBron James stumble later, the Nuggets leave with the victory.
Chauncey's selfishness didn't cost Denver the game this time, but it will. Oh it will.
* * * * *
Three big-name college football players are making headlines for all the wrong reasons this offseason, and you can say sianara to Pitt's Elijah Fields.
Fields, perhaps the most gifted athlete for the Panthers, fell victim to the dreaded violation of team rules.
Iowa's Adrian Clayborn and Oregon's LaMichael James also are in hot water. Clayborn is set to plead guilty to a 2009 assault charge, and James was arrested on domestic assault charges but plead not guilty.
I know those 6 a.m. workouts and class can be daunting, but how hard is it to stay out of trouble?
It's likely Clayborn's or James' status for spring ball will be affected by these events.
But after a winter of turmoil at Michigan State, how dumb can a guy be?
The Nittany Lions travel to Minneapolis to take on Minnesota in their final dual meet of the season. Here's how the teams match up.
No. 10 Penn State (13-5-1, 5-2 Big Ten) at No. 5 Minnesota (11-5, 6-1)
PSU- No. 13 Brad Pataky (23-6)
MINN- No. 6 Zach Sanders (20-4)
Both wrestlers have been rolling of late. Sanders is coming off a tough loss to Iowa's Matt McDonough, who was Pataky's last ranked opponent back on Jan. 29. Flip a coin on this one.
Prediction: Pataky by decision. PSU- 3 MINN- 0
PSU- Bryan Pearsall (3-20)
MINN- No. 1 Jayson Ness (22-0)
Pearsall's been fighting hard, but I don't see this being close. Ness is No. 1 for a reason, and I think he'll show us why Friday.
Prediction: Ness by technical fall. PSU- 3 MINN- 5
PSU- No. 20 Adam Lynch (11-9)
MINN- No. 8 Mike Thorn (20-5)
How far can Lynch ride his recent momentum? I think his five-match win streak may come to an end in a tight match Friday. Thorn has faced the best the conference has to offer, and has a 3-2 record in those bouts.
Prediction: Thorn by decision. PSU- 3 MINN- 8
PSU- No. 4 Frank Molinaro (26-3)
MINN- No. 16 Mario Mason (15-7)
Molinaro has been taking care of business. He has the confidence necessary to make a run in the postseason tournaments. He won't miss an opportunity to give his resume a boost.
Prediction: Molinaro by decision. PSU- 6 MINN- 8
PSU- No. 6 Cyler Sanderson (25-3)
MINN- No. 2 Dustin Schlatter (13-1)
Has anyone been wrestling better than Sanderson lately? One could argue Schlatter has. The Golden Gopher 157-pounder hasn't lost since his first bout of the season. Don't expect another Sanderson pin.
Prediction: Sanderson by decision. PSU- 9 MINN- 8
PSU- No. 7 Dan Vallimont (22-6)
MINN- Cody Yohn (19-11)
Vallimont hasn't exactly been blowing the competition away, but he's been getting wins. Yohn has struggled against top competition. Expect the patterns to continue.
Prediction: Vallimont by decision. PSU- 12 MINN- 8
PSU- Justin Ortega (6-17)
MINN- No. 8 Scott Glasser (27-5)
Three of Glasser's five losses have been at the hands of No. 1 Iowa. Ortega hasn't been able to break through and get a Big Ten win. The Lion will battle, but I don't think that's enough.
Prediction: Glasser by decision. PSU- 12 MINN- 11
PSU- No. 10 Dave Erwin (25-6)
MINN- Kaleb Young (7-13)
Erwin has the advantage in experience and wins. He should win this matchup nine out of ten times. With the potential for the dual to be close, the Lions must hope he takes care of business.
Prediction: Erwin by decision. PSU- 15 MINN- 11
PSU- Dave Crowell (17-13)
MINN- No. 13 Sonny Yohn (21-9)
Yohn just defeated Iowa's talented Luke Lofthouse, 7-0. Crowell's goal in this bout may be to just avoid giving up bonus points.
Prediction: Yohn by major decision. PSU- 15 MINN- 15
PSU- No. 12 Cameron Wade (18-6)
MINN- Ben Berhow (16-10)
Berhow has lost his last two bouts by small margins to the No. 10 and No. 2 heavyweights in the country. Meanwhile, Wade has won four-consecutive matches to cap Penn State blowouts. It's time to see how Wade performs when the pressure is on.
The Lady Lions have finally snapped their losing streak. It lasted three weeks and covered six games, but Thursday night against Michigan the Lions came out on top. Here's how we grade the Lions in their 71-65 win against the Wolverines:
Not the best shooting night for the Lady Lions, but when it came down to it, they were much better than their opponent. The Lions shot 38.8 percent from the field and just 3-for-14 from beyond the 3-point line. Tyra Grant led the Lions with 25 points and was 9-for-20 from the field. Alex Bentley had a rough night from the field going just 4-for-14, but as Grant said after the game the freshman made up for it with her passing and her intensity during overtime. In all, the Lions still took some suspect shots but down the stretch they hit the shots they needed to hit and came away with the W.
Penn State used a lot of 2/3 against the Wolverines. That translated into some tough shots in the paint for Michigan, but also opened up a lot of outside opportunities. As a team Michigan hit nine 3-pointers, but also attempted 30. In a sense, the Wolverines beat themselves taking so many shots from the outside, but part of that stemmed from the Lions playing strong defense in the lane. Unlike the previous six games, the Lions were smart with most of their fouls and had just a couple that seemed like questionable decisions. Penn State outrebounded Michigan 38-31 on the defensive glass, but the Wolverines still had 22 second chance points. Washington said after the game she would have liked to have her guards more involved with the rebounding, but down the stretch she felt her team grabbed some key rebounds.
Free Throws: A
It took the Lions one half to start getting into the aggressive style they wanted to play at, but when they finally did it paid off. The Lions got the line 22 times and converted 16 of those chances. Penn State came into the game with the goal of getting to the line 20-plus times and they did that. Michigan got to the line just 16 times and missed six of those attempts.
The Lions appeared to be a bit flat in the first half and parts of the second half. But Tyra Grant changed that. The senior put the team on her back toward the end of the second half and overtime. In the extra frame, Grant twice drove, hit the bucket and got fouled. One such play caused the Lions' bench to erupt and assistant coach Maren Walseth to spike her clipboard on the floor in excitement. Penn State may not have had the energy they would like for 65 minutes, but in the last 10 they had much more than their opponent had.
This was a huge win for the Lions. Not only does it snap a six game losing streak, but it also puts the Lions back in the thick of things in the Big Ten. With just two games remaining, the Lions need to build off of this win and ride that momentum into the Big Ten tournament.
1. If Bubba Jenkins transfers, he will be clear to wrestle next season without sitting out a transfer year. There is a one-time transfer exception rule; Jenkins will most likely fit all the criteria.
2. If Jenkins graduates from Penn State, he can decide to go to any school he wants, including any Big Ten or Big 12 institution.
3. Jenkins confirmed he visited Arizona State during its dual with Oregon State on Jan. 31.
4. The former Nittany Lion said he will wrestle at the upcoming University Nationals.
Here are some things we discussed:
What weight he plans to wrestle at?
"More than likely, I'm coming back at '49. I can compete at '57. I feel comfortable at '57, but I feel best at '49. I don't think there is anybody in the country that will be able to beat me at 149 next year at Penn State or anywhere."
Jenkins spoke about being recruited for the second time:
"It's a little bit different getting recruited the second time because the first time [coaches are] going off what you could be and what you could do and what they saw you do in high school with high school wrestlers. Now, it's a little bit different because they saw that I have what it takes to win a national championship. The recruiting -- a little bit heavier this time than it was before because now every college coach in the country knows who I am. Instead of before, it was only certain areas of the country who knew where I was. It's a little bit different. It's a little bit more hectic."
Jenkins said he likes being on his own schedule:
"It's been a really good experience. I feel I'll grow more off of this experience than anything just because it has been so up and down and so roller coaster -- most people don't go through this. I feel like it's only going to make me stronger in the end."
There was a special guest at the Lady Lions game tonight and he gave the Penn State crowd a little show. Penn State President Graham Spanier showed off his best dancing moves during a first half timeout as he danced to the Cha-Cha Slide with the Nittany Lion and a couple cheerleaders. Here is a photo that a Lady Lion fan tweeted earlier tonight of Spanier breaking it down:
Penn State coach Scott Balboni updated the status of four injured Icers earlier this week in practice.
Balboni said forward Chris Pronchik, who has been out since early January with a broken thumb, is back skating again and could be ready for this weekend. Pronchik just needs to be cleared to play. Defenseman Dan Loucks, who has been out with a shoulder injury is also skating again and is just waiting to be cleared. Balboni said Loucks is day to day
Dominic Morrone was expected to have a doctor's appointment today after his appendectomy last week, and Balboni said he'll know more about his condition after his visit. Balboni also said Eric Steinour is also probably out for another week or two after he had the flu and mononucleosis.
But the most encouraging news regarding injuries is Pronchik.
"If Pronny's ready to go, he'll play," Balboni said. "We're trying to win a championship and we'll play whoever's ready to play and healthy to play."
It looks like 197-pounder Dave Crowell will start again this weekend against No. 13 Sonny Yohn. Clay Steadman said it is unlikely he will wrestle at Minnesota because of his unspecified injury. Steadman said:
"We planned on wrestling off this week -- yesterday or today. I've been trying to get back into the room every day. My trainer has been keeping me off the mats. I'm going to the doctor [Wednesday] to see if anything is getting better. I've been trying to put off going to the doctor because I don't want him to find anything out towards the end of the season. I don't want him to tell me I have to be out for a month. Basically, whenever I'm ready to go, we're going to wrestle-off, like next week. I'm sure they're going to have to make a decision soon. Two weeks from Big Tens, that is not very much time. Whether it's me or it's Crowell, we have to get our minds right."
I got a chance to talk with Minnesota assistant coach Joe Russell via phone about Friday's dual meet in Minneapolis. The teams are very even on paper, and it should be a good final dual of the season. Here is a little bit of what Russell had to say.
Russell on what he expects from both teams:
"Both teams want to have a big showing at the last competition before the Big Ten tournament. So, you want to finish the regular season on a good note. Both teams are going to be scrapping as hard as they can, trying to get wins and put themselves in a good position for the Big Ten tournament. I expect both teams to be wrestling real hard."
Russell on Minnesota rebounding from their loss to Iowa:
"We're hopeful that our guys can learn and make positive strides from what was kind of a lopsided defeat. Sometimes you learn what not to do. Hopefully we can use that as a learning situation and have a better performance Friday. With the Big Ten conference, it doesn't matter who you wrestle, you're going to be pushed."
Russell on the importance of the dual for the ranked wrestlers:
"These dual meets kind of set the tone. It's the last chance to set yourself up for the Big Ten tournament so going out on a good note is important. Big Ten duals take precedence in the seeding process for the Big Ten championships. So, what happens Friday, in a lot of weight classes, I believe will affect the seeding for the Big Tens. If you're supposed to win you better win. If you can get an upset, it's going to do you well in a couple weeks."
Russell was inducted received the Medal of Courage from the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2007. Click here for more information about his story.
Reynolds shoots a three and its not even close. Grant grabs the rebound and runs end-to-end for the lay-up and an eight-point lead for the Lions.
Grant now has 25 points and is the clear emotional leader for the Lions right now. She's exciting the whole arena and its translating into some nice play by the Lions.
A couple of free throws followed by a lay-up from Hollins makes it a four-point game.
Phillips with a foul on Hollins. Not a smart foul by Phillips. At 5-foot-4 she isn't going to block many shots, but she tried anyway and ended up knocking Hollins to the floor. Hollins misses both free throws and the Wolverines are fouling now.
Veronica Hicks fouls out after fouling Trogele. Trogele hits both and its a six point lead for the Lions.
Jenny Ryan hits for Michigan. Trogele inbounds to Bentley and she is fouled immediately. Bentley goes 1-for-2, but Monroe gets the rebound after the miss and she is fouled. Monroe hits both and the Penn State lead is now seven.
Another miss by the Wolverines is corralled by Monroe. She is fouled by Ryan and will go to the line with the chance to ice the game in all likelihood. She hits one for an eight-point lead.
Nya Jordan scroes for the Wolverines, but time expires after the make and Penn State has snapped its six-game losing streak.
We'll be back later with the post-game report card.
Penn State 71 Michigan 65
Grant drives, gets hit to the floor but still hits the lay-up. The foul is on Reynolds, that's her third. Grant gets called for a lane violation and the free throw is waved off.
Bentley feeds the alley-oop pass to Grant who again gets fouled, but finishes the lay-up. The Lions bench erupts and assistant coach Maren Walseth spikes her clipboard on the floor. The foul is on Krista Phillips and she fouls out.
Grant misses the free throw and the rebound goes to Hollins. Hollins tries to get out on the fast break, but is met at the basket by Bentley who swats her shot out of bounds.
The Lions use the enitre shot clock and Bentley hits from just inside the lane to give to give the Lions a six-point lead.
Michigan takes a timeout.
Penn State 63 Michigan 57
The Lions get a good look from Marisa Wolfe, but she misses. Trogele grabs the rebound and puts it back in. The Lions celebrate, but the referee waves it off and we'll have a review.
The basket is waved off and we're going to overtime.
End of Regulation
Penn State 57 Michigan 57
Hicks drives baseline and misses the lay-up. Trogele fouls Hollins while fighting for the rebound. Hollins goes to the line with a chance to tie the game. Hollins hit both to tie the game at 57.
The Lions take a timeout and they will inbound with just over 15 seconds left.
15.7 Second Half
Penn State 57 Michigan 57
Nice look from Grant as she drew the attention of two defenders then fed Maris Wolfe on the low block. Wolfe hits the lay-up to bring the lead back to three. That's 13 points for Marisa Wolfe.
Veronica Hicks had a wide open lane to the basket, but opted to throw it out on the wing for a 3-pointer. Not a smart play by Hicks, giving away a sure two points in such a close game with plenty of time left.
Reynolds drains a three for the Wolverines and we're tied at 55 with under a minute to play.
Grant answers with a baseline jumper to put Penn State back out in front.
Michigan has trouble finding an open player after Grant's hit and the team takes its final timeout.
21.0 Second Half
Penn State 57 Michigan 55
Emily Phillips picks up a reach-in and both teams are now in the bonus.
Marisa Wolfe gets fouled while rebounding and hits both free throws to put the Lions ahead by seven. Closing out games has been a problem during this losing streak, let's see how the Lions respond this time around.
Greene picks up her fifth foul on a block. The crowd and the Lions bench wanted a charge called, but the refs said Greene was shuffling her feet. Greene takes a seat and that's a big loss for the Lions with just over two minutes to play.
Trogele forces a bad pass into Monroe that intercepted by Hicks. Krista Phillips scores for the Wolverines and its now just a one-point lead for the Lions.
Washington takes a timeout.
1:30 Second Half
Penn State 53 Michigan 52
Wolff blocks Boylan and then feeds the pass upcourt to a streaking Tyra Grant. Grant finishes and the Lions have a six point lead. Michigan answers with a three on the other end.
With the shot clock running down, Boylan throws up a desperation shot that is short off the rim. Wolff misses the rebound and its another second chance bucket for Michigan.
Nice hustle play by Grant as she saved the ball from going out of bounds and fed Bentley for the lay-up. After a Wolverines miss, Wolff feeds Bentley out on the fast break. She's all alone and hits the lay-up.
Michigan takes a timeout.
4:10 Second Half
Penn State 51 Michigan 46
Veronica Hicks comes back in and picks up where she left off as she nails another 3-pointer. Hicks gets a little trigger happy as the Wolverines quickly get the ball back and she chucks up a bad shot.
Marisa Wolfe picks up her ninth point of the game on the other end. A solid game from the freshman tonight.
Grant takes on three Michigan defenders and finds a way to finish as she connects on the lay-up. Grant is really setting the pace right now, attacking the basket and drawing fouls. With the Wolverines in the penalty, Penn State should follow Grant's lead and start being more aggressive.
Back-to-back scores for the Wolverines prompt Washington to take a 30-second timeout.
6:58 Second Half
Penn State 45 Michigan 41
Grant still being aggressive as she drives and draws the foul by Reynolds. She hits both freebies and the Lions lead grows to five.
Nikki Greene picks up her fourth foul as Krista Phillips does a bit of acting. The ball was thrown in to Phillips who got a little contact from Greene and fell forward as if Greene pushed her.
Emily Phillips scores for the Lions and Barseth takes a timeout.
10:27 Second Half
Penn State 41 Michigan 34
Hicks steals the ball from Studevent and takes it in for the lay-up. The Wolverines trail by four. Janessa Wolff picks up a foul and gives the ball back to the Wolverines. Hicks drains a three to make it a one-point game.
Phillips fouls Courtney Boylan. Boylan goes to the line with a chance to take back the lead. She hits both and Michigan has a one-point lead.
Marisa Wolfe gets fouled and hits the shot. She follows it up with a made free throw and the Lions are back out in front by two.
Grant gets fouled on a put-back. The foul is on Hicks, that's her fourth. Four fouls for Michigan's leading scorer. That's huge for Penn State as Hicks has been torching them all game.
11:44 Second Half
Penn State 37 Michigan 34
Sloppy start to the second half as both teams exchange two possessions without scoring.
The Wolverines miss three 3-pointers in one possession. The Lions get the rebound on the third miss, but Bentley is called for the travel. Michigan again comes up short on the inbounds pass and the Lions take over after the ball goes out of bounds.
Grant drives and gets fouled by Hicks. Grant's teammates need to follow her lead and start attacking the basket rather than settling for the jumper. Grant misses both free throws as we are still without a made bucket in the second half.
Grant drives again and gets the first field goal of the half as she hits the floater over a couple of defenders.
Bentley has the opportunity to drive, but she pulls up and misses the jumper. On the other end, Hicks does what Bentley should have done and drvies hard to the hole for a lay-up.
Greene goes down hard on a rebound attempt, but appears to be OK.
15:34 Second Half
Penn State 31 Michigan 25
Some halftime thoughts:
Not exactly the half the Coquese Washington was looking for, but her team still has the lead.
In the rebounding department, Michigan holds a slight 23-22 lead over the Lions. Penn State did have a few key offensive rebounds, but also let a few defensive rebounds get away for some second chance points for Michigan.
Penn State has gotten to the line more than Michigan, but that's not hard when the Wolverines got to the line just once. Penn State has gone 4-for-4 from the free throw line.
A bright spot for the Lions is the fact that they commited just five fouls in the first half and only one of those was a shooting foul. Nikki Greene is the only Lion with more than one personal.
Meredith Monroe leads the Lions with nine points, while Tyra Grant is right behind her with eight.
Carmen Reynolds is the only player in double figures with 11.
Had it not been for five 3-pointers for Michigan, this would be a different game. But the long ball has kept them in the game.
Look for the Lions to attack the basket more in the second half and try to get the line more.
I'll be back with second half action in a bit.
The first half ends with a Wolverines' miss and a desperation heave from Bentley that falls about 40 feet short of the bucket.
Penn State 29 Michigan 23
Couple of sloppy possessions from the Lions. Janessa Wolff had her shot blocked on a bad attempt and then the next trip down Wolff threw an errant pass out of bounds.
Another three from the Wolverines brings them within two, but Wolfe answers on the other end to bring the Lions' lead back to four.
Hicks drains a long ball. The Wolverines have made eight field goals and five have been from 3-point land. The deep ball is keeping Michigan in this game as they are only shooting 28 percent.
Coquese takes a timeout with the Lions ahead by four.
33.8 First Half
Penn State 27 Michigan 23
Now that Penn State President Graham Spanier is done doing the Cha-Cha Slide at half court, we can get back to the action.
Correction, the call on Bentley was on the floor. Penn State gets the ball back after an offensive foul on the Wolverines, but Studevent misses on a jumper.
Hollins drives, gets fouled by Studevent and hits the lay-up. That's one of the bad fouls that coach Washington talked about at her press conference. Hollins had Studevent beat, but the freshman reached in anyway. Hollins misses the free throw and Greene gets the rebound.
Trogele goes down. Not really sure what happened. It appear she may have gotten the wind knocked out of her as she didn't seem to favoring any sort of lower body injury. She gets helped to the bench by a trainer.
Grant hits a three from the right side and Michigan coach Kevin Borseth takes a timeout.
5:07 First Half
Penn State 20 Michigan 15
Monroe chucks up a desperation shot from the top of the key with one second remaining on the shot clock. It goes in and the Lions take a two-point lead.
Grant drives again with the shot clock running down. She draws the contact from Reynolds and she'll shoot two from the charity stripe. Grant hits both to keep the Lions in front by two.
Nice hustle by Tyra Grant as she runs the floor to cut off the potential fast break for Michigan. Grant swatted the ball out of bounds before it could reach its intended target.
Rachel Sheffer tries to drive on Janessa Wolff, but Wolff stays with her the whole way and swats the shot out of bounds. Nice defense by Wolff to stay with her player. Bentley picks up her fist foul and the teams second.
Media Timeout. Michigan will be shooting free throws out of the timeout.
7:44 First Half
Penn State 15 Michigan 13
After the timeout, the only starter left on the floor for the Lions is Bentley. She is joined by Wolff, Wolfe, Studevent and Gray.
The Wolverines finally miss a 3-pointer as Hollins can't connect. Gray grabs the board and pushes up the floor. The possession ends in a jumper by Bentley from the foul line, bringing the Lions within 3.
Studevent misses, but Monroe is there for the rebound and the put-back. A big offensive rebound there for the Lions. But they're still struggling a bit on the defensive glass.
Media Timeout. The Lions will have possession out of the timeout.
11:25 First Half
Michigan 9 Penn State 8
Michigan wins the tip, but Bentley comes away with a steal. She feeds Grant for an open look from three but the senior's shot rims out. On the Lions next possession, Greene gets two and Penn State opens up the scoring.
The Lions go with a 2/3 zone against the Wolverines. Carmen Reynolds finds some space on the outside and nails a three for Michigan's first points.
Nikki Greene drives on Phillips and picks up the foul. It's on the floor and the Lions keep possession. Monroe misses a short range jumper and Phillips hits a three on the other end.
Penn State also utilizing a soft zone press off the Michigan inbound. The Lions aren't really pressuring the ball, though.
Zha Zha Gray hits from the baseline on her first attempt of the night, bringing the Lions within two. On the other end, the Lions miss the opportunity for a defensive rebound and Reynolds drains another three for the Wolverines.
14:48 First Half
Michigan 9 Penn State 4
Welcome to the Bryce Jordan Center for another installment of Lady Lion basketball. Collegian Lady Lions reporter Bill Landis here to take you through the action as Penn State plays host to the Michigan Wolverines.
After riding high on a six game winning streak, the Lady Lions have fallen on hard times as of late. Winless in its last six games, Penn State is looking for a much-needed win against a Michigan team that handed them a 66-62 loss back on Jan. 31.
The Wolverines meanwhile are coming off a loss to in-state rival Michigan State, but they have won four of their last six games.
In the last meeting between the two teams, the Lions were torched by Michigan guards Veronica Hicks and Carmen Reynolds. Hicks and Reynolds each scored 18 points in the Wolverine's win while the Lions struggled to find a consistent scorer to compliment Tyra Grant's 19-point effort.
A key for the Lions tonight will be to dominate the glass. Michigan is the only team that Penn State has outrebounded during this losing streak, and rebounds will crucial tonight.
Michigan is the third worst rebounding team in the Big Ten and the Lions will be looking to exploit that tonight. We should have a nice battle tonight in the paint between Lions' 6-foot-4 center Nikki Greene and Michigan's 6-foot-6 center Krista Phillips.
Another key for the Lions will be to manage their fouls. In that game in January, the Lions committed 17 fouls and allowed Michigan to get to the line 20 times. The Lions were only fouled nine times and got to the line just 10 times.
Look for Penn State to try to push the tempo early and attack the basket. Coach Coquese Washington said during her press conference yesterday that she wants her guards to get back into the attacking mentality they had during the teams winning streak.
We're about three minutes from tip-off, I'll be back with starting lineups.
With this year's trade deadline in the rear-view mirror, it's time to recap and pick out our winners and losers.
Cleveland - Any time you can get a legit No. 2 scoring option behind LeBron James without giving up the promising J.J. Hickson, it's a good deal. Antwan Jamison should help spread the floor and take some of the focus off LeBron, which was the problem in last year's Eastern Conference Finals. However, I do worry about Cleveland's ability to run with the Lakers in a possible Finals matchup. Los Angeles had major issues with Shaq and Big Z on the block (Pau Gasol in particular) and without Ilgauskus in the lineup any more, it could hurt the Cavs in the end. With that being said, if Cleveland doesn't make it to the Finals, its fans might as well pack up shop and head to another team.
Houston - In the Tracy McGrady deal, the Rockets ended up getting Kevin Martin, Hilton Armstrong, Jordan Hill and Jared Jefferies. If that wasn't enough, they got the right to swap first round picks in 2011 with the Knicks and now own New York's 2012 first rounder, which is not protected. To get all of that, they gave up McGrady, Carl Landry and Joey Dorsey. The Rockets were big winners and Kevin Martin will be a great pickup for a scrappy team that has been playing without Yao Ming all season.
Sacramento - So you gave up one of your top two players in Kevin Martin (Tyreke Evans being the other) and managed to get back Carl Landry, Joey Dorsey and Larry Hughes. Seriously? Larry Hughes? Why Sacramento pulled the trigger on this deal is beyond me. It certainly wasn't to get better on the court, but the sad reality is that in the market we're living in, these are the types of deals that have to be made in order to stop the bleeding financially. Either way, Tyreke Evans is a lonely, lonely man right now.
New York - How could it possibly be a trade deadline without the Knicks doing something stupid? Getting McGrady's expiring contract = good. Giving up two first round picks to do it = bad. Obviously Donnie Walsh didn't pay attention to how the Knicks got into the quagmire they're in right now, but Isiah Thomas just essentially gave away draft picks (including this year's to Utah). So now this is essentially what the draft looks like for New York over the next three years.
2010: Utah owns the rights to the Knicks' pick no matter where it is.
2011: Houston has the right to swap firsts with the Knicks, no matter where the pick is (which they'll do)
2012: Houston owns the Knicks first round pick.
That'll be two of the next three drafts without a pick and another where it'll be a mid-to-late pick at best. Walsh must believe the Knicks will really be able to bring in at least two good players with the cap flexibility coming up this offseason. If he doesn't, this move is even worse in retrospect.
Well that should do it for FCP's trade deadline recap. If you're a fan of the Knicks or the Kings (or possibly my Pistons and especially the Nets), I'm sorry, but at least the season's almost over with.
Senior Mike Wanamaker had to redshirt last season after needing to undergo surgery on his arm. Despite coach Robbie Wine deciding to take it slow with the pitcher to have him at full strength when Big Ten season rolls along, Wanamaker said he is virtually back to 100 percent and ready to pitch. The senior was selected in the 25th round by the Pittsburgh Pirates but opted to play college ball. As a freshman he pitched for Boston College and as a sophomore he pitched for St. Petersburg. Here is a look at what the pitcher did for Penn State during his junior year:
1. Selected to the All-Big Ten second team in 2008
2. Won six games and ended the 2008 season with a 3.41 earned run average
3. Also notched four complete games and finished that season with 59 strikeouts.
4. During his junior season, he led the team in the following categories: starts, wins, earned run average, innings pitched, complete games and opponent's batting average
5. Ranked fourth in the Big Ten in earned run average and seventh in strikeouts
We know Nittany Lions fans partied long into the night after last night's 81-70 win at Northwestern, so here are a few things Hardwood Hits put together to help ease the post-win hangover.
With the win, the Nittany Lions snapped their 12 game losing streak to open conference play. The streak marked the program's worst opening to a Big Ten season ever.
The losing streak started on Dec. 29 at Minnesota, meaning last night's win was the team's first of 2010. 59 days had passed since the Nittany Lions had last won a game (Dec. 21, 2009 vs. American)
After tallying the W, the basketball team is now tied with the football team for wins in 2010 with one. Penn State defeated LSU 19-17 in the Capital One Bowl Jan. 1.
Speaking of LSU, with Penn State winning, the Tigers are now the only BCS conference team to remain winless in conference play. LSU currently stands at 0-11 in SEC play, 9-16 overall.
Some of our readers may have heard Big Ten Network analyst and former PSU guard Jon Crispin say if Penn State could keep up the balanced scoring they could go places. Places meaning the postseason. Hardwood Hits searched long into the night and the only place we can see the Lions going is next season.
Up next for PSU is Michigan, a team that rallied back from a 16-point hole in State College on Jan. 7 to steal a game the Lions really should have won. That game tips off Saturday at 6 p.m. in Ann Arbor, Mich.
While sitting in the media room at the Bryce Jordan Center and participating in Wednesday's media day, a question came up about the team's future field. While Beard Field is expected to be completed by the start of the 2011 season, coach Robin Petrini seemed extremely enthused about all the details the new facility has to offer. So excited in fact that she's not willing to share the blueprints with the underclassmen. Petrini said she shared the sacred prints of Beard Field with a few of the seniors and while pitcher Kimi Wong's eyes lit up at the thought of the new facility, don't expect any underclassmen to find out the details until it's officially approved.
"It's very exciting," Petrini said. "I've been in on all the meetings. We've even met with the woman who does that furniture. She's coming back next week to nailed down everything we picked out to make sure all the colors, carpets, furniture is what we want. It's been really exciting. It's going to be a nice place."
Petrini said its been a two-year process of deciding on specifics of the facility and while she described it as an "up and down rollercoaster," she said the PIAA has already contacted Penn State about using the softball facility in the future. The coach said she knew at some point the PIAA would become part of the process, but don't expect the high schoolers to strolling around in the Lions' future locker room.
"We've made it such that they don't have to go into our locker room," she said. "There's a visiter locker room and then there's the auxilarily up in the IM Building. So our locker-room doors will be locked. But, it's going to be a fantastic facility."
A player-by-player look at the Lions' performance in Wednesday's win. Five players scored in double figures as the Lions snapped a 12-game losing skid.
D.J. Jackson: A
Jackson got the Lions out in front early, scoring 15 of his 20 points in the first half. He was 5-for-5 from the line, and -- even when Battle was struggling -- he was able to pick up the slack, something no Lion has been able to do all season.
Chris Babb: A
Babb played the same role he has played in many of Penn State's better performances this season, except this time, the Lions' No. 4 and 5 scorers stepped up. Babb was deadly from outside with four 3-pointers, and, like Jackson, he was perfect from the stripe on his way to 20 points.
Talor Battle: A-
He may not have had an "A" game, but with some of the performances Battle has turned in this season without getting a win, he deserves it. He is the conference's second-leading scorer but has hardly received any help. Tonight he did, and his 10-7-6 night was enough to help support the Lions' other four double-digit scorers.
Drew Jones: A
Jones notched 10 points, his highest output this conference season. But what may go unnoticed are his seven rebounds and his physicality down low. After almost every basket, the oft-quiet big man let out a scream. Sure, he fouled out, but I'm guessing he'll trade it for a win.
Jeff Brooks: A
Brooks' put-back dunk was one of the night's highlights -- only Brooks is used to making those plays. What he hasn't done during the losing streak is put a few of those plays together for an entire game. He did that Wednesday with 12 points, five boards and four assists.
Tim Frazier: B+
The freshman guard played his role well tonight, coming off the bench to score four points, and basically spelling whoever needed it. The freshman guard was never really involved, but when he got in the action he wasn't hesitant to attack the rim or in the open floor, as he has been before.
Well, LeBron can't say Cleveland didn't at least try to keep him.
The Cavs pulled off a three-team trade Wednesday, landing Antawn Jamison from the Wizards while giving up Zydrunas Ilgauskas' $11.5 million expiring contract.
It's better than dealing for Amare Stoudemire, who this writer feels is overrated and plays zero defense. The Cavs also got to keep the promising J.J. Hickson.
The deal should make Cleveland the runaway favorite in the East and gives it as good a shot at a title as the Lakers.
Clevelanders everywhere are keeping their fingers crossed, as the fate of the city's sports landscape plays out in the next four months.
Something tells me the sight of Brady Quinn just doesn't hold much promise.
* * * * *
No matter what Tiger Woods says Friday, he won't be able to repair his precious image.
Let's make that clear right off the bat. It's been three months since his Thanksgiving incident that started his cataclysmic fall from grace, and Woods has said nothing of substance defending himself or admitting his guilt and asking everyone to just move on.
"This is not a press conference," Woods' agent Mark Steinberg said Wednesday. Well, it should be.
After 84 days of hiding in whatever remains of his private life, Woods now expects everyone to go back to the way things were when he was king of the sport. Back then, he controlled everything that happened with his public image, from how long media had access to him to what kinds of stories could be written about him. If someone wanted to delve into the kind of person Woods was off the course, the golfer wouldn't let him past his basic biographical data. What kind of food he likes. How much he practices daily. What he likes to do with his kids.
No one knows anything about the kind of man Tiger Woods is anymore, except what's been reported for the last three months by tabloids and TMZ.
Now I'm not here to say what Woods should do. He's a grown man (I'm pretty sure) and he can make his own decisions about how to handle this very delicate situation.
All I'm saying is this little chat with the press should have happened long ago. Alex Rodriguez waited nine days after his initial confession of steroid use to hold a press conference about the matter, to field questions about the subject and to put an end to the rumors and speculation and get his side of the story out. True, he wasn't completely upfront with all the facts and the one-question limit for the reporters yielded the mad search for Cousin Yuri. But at least A-Rod was out there, exposed to the public eye and pushing the story along as quickly as possible.
Woods has allowed this story to spin completely out of his control, and he's about to find it's much harder to play spin doctor on his image when he's been out of the public eye.
With the Lady Lions playing just three more regular season games, we've decided to take a look at a record that hinges on the final games. While Penn State is guaranteed at least one game in the Big Ten tournament, it looks like Tyra Grant's 2,000 career-point milestone will depend on how deep the Lions go in the conference tournament. This record will definitely come down to the wire and here's our analysis of how Grant stacks up going down the final stretch.
Will Tyra Grant reach 2,000 career points?
The senior's 1,920 points ranks fifth in all-time scoring. Grant surpassed Suzie McConnell's 1,897 points when she scored 11 points against Minnesota, but with four games left this record could very well come down to the Lions playing at least two games in the conference tournament. She needs 80 points, which is something I believe she will need at least four games (most likely five) to accomplish. If you base it off her previous success this season against the remaining schedule, you may assume it's likely, but wait just a minute.
In previous games against Michigan, Wisconsin and Indiana, she scored 19, 14 and 27 points. So if she can duplicate these performances, or something very similiar, she would still be 20 points shy, which she would have a chance to get in the first tournament game. However, Grant has been extremely limited when facing teams for the second time this year. She's been contained much more and has struggled to put up at least 20 points (doing it only once) during the second time around. The defensive looks have allowed her to distribute the ball more and has helped freshman Alex Bentley increase her stats, but the double teams have absolutely swarmed the Lions' leading scorer.
It was apparent that team's zeroed in on Grant during their second matchup as she's scored less points against every single opponent during the second game. Against Minnesota she scored 23 points the first game and was held to 11 the second time around. The same holds true for Iowa where she put up 28 the first time and just 20 the second. Against Michigan State and Purdue its been the same trend. The reason why I believe the Lions will need at least two conference tournament games for her to get to 2,000 points is becuase Penn State faces two of the conference's top defenses.
Michigan's defense ranks third in the conference and gives up an average of 58.1 points per game. Senior center Krista Phillips is having her best collegiate season and has been a real force for the Wolverines, totaling 47 blocks while averaging 6.2 rebounds per game. The Lions haven't been willing to drive to the hoop during their six-game losing streak and with someone like the 6-foot-6 Phillips clogging the lane, Grant's going to need to make a consistent effort to drive (and potentially take a physical pounding) if she wants to reach 2,000 points.
So if Grant passes Thursday night's test against Michigan, she's going to have one week to get ready for the conference's best defense. Wisconsin limited Grant to just 14 points the first time around and the Badgers are a real defensive power as they've held their opponents to an average of 56.6 points per game. If she can put up a total of at least 35 points during these two games, I believe she has a decent shot of reaching the milestone.
The Lions close out the regular season on the road against an Indiana defense that was anything but spectacular the first time around. Grant torched the Hoosiers by putting up 27 points during Penn State's overtime win, but something as simple as an extra five-miute period could be crucial this time around. While the senior shot just 8-of-23 from the field, her 10 free throws were enough to help her pad her stats. Grant needs to be able to get to the free throw line early and often during these next three games if she wants to become just the fourth Lady Lion to reach 2,000 points.
With three regular season games left and the conference still in a jumble, if the season ended today Penn State would be the No. 6 seed and play No. 11 Illinois in the first round. This would be interesting since Grant averaged 16 points per game in two contests against the Illini.
While Grant is the first to admit that she wants to win rather than secure any individual accolades, the conference's top five teams receive first-round byes in the conference tournament, and as the bracket sits now, the Lions would have to play No. 2 Purdue in the second-round game.
Just for fun, here's how many points I think Grant will put up in the three regular season games:
vs. Michigan, 20 points
vs. Wisconsin, 18 points (It's senior day, and the game will have huge conference implications.)
vs. Indiana, 28 points
I still say it will take two conference tournament games to get to 2,000 points. However, my prediction is that the Lions win two of their last three games and advance to the second round of the tournament where Grant will reach 2,000 points in the Conseco Fieldhouse.
With Penn State having only three games left on its schedule before the Big Ten Tournament, it would seem as if this recent six-game losing streak would have killed any shot at an NCAA Tournament bid.
However, that is far from true.
All season long we've been told by coach Coquese Washington how unpredictable the Big Ten Conference is this year outside of Ohio State.
And because of this, Penn State is still within striking distance of second or third place in the conference if it wins out the last three games.
On Thursday, the Lady Lions will play a Michigan team they lost to earlier this month but at the same time a Michigan team which is definitely beatable at the Bryce Jordan Center. After the Wolverines, Penn State has a home game against Wisconsin and then travel to Indiana. Washington's team has already beaten both of them this season.
All three games are games Penn State could easily win and a 3-0 record to close out the season, and one or two wins in the Big Ten Tournament would probably be enough to allow the Lady Lions to lace back up those dancing shoes they took out of the closet last month.
Here is a look at the conference standings going into the final two weeks of the season with each teams overall and conference win-loss records in parentheses:
1. Ohio State (25-3, 13-2)
2. Purdue (14-12, 9-6)
3. Wisconsin (18-7, 8-6)
4. Michigan State (17-8, 8-6)
5. Iowa (14-11, 7-7)
6. Penn State (15-10, 7-8)
7. Michigan (14-10, 6-8)
8. Indiana (13-12, 6-8)
9. Northwestern (14-11, 5-9)
10. Minnesota (12-13, 5-9)
11. Illinois (13-12, 5-10)
It is safe to assume the Big Ten will get at least four teams into the conference, possibly five. Thanks to only one team being able to distance itself, Penn State still has a chance to vault up the standings back to third or fourth with three wins to close out the season. An overall record of 18-10 and a conference record of 10-8 is nothing great, but in the Big Ten this season, nothing great is still good enough.
Here at Crosse Fire we are eagerly waiting for the IWLCA rankings to come out for the week. We expect the Lions to move up in the national poll from No. 18 to around No. 15. Ohio State was ranked No. 16 in the preseason polls but lost to No. 20 William and Mary 15-14. And of course, we predict No.14 Loyola to move down too, because it couldn't handle Penn State's heat.
But today at the women's lacrosse media day, Coach Isidor didn't seem the slightest bit worried about where her team falls in the IWLCA poll. She said she had no idea where the Lions would be ranked and said her team simply isn't worried.
First, props to ESPN's Dana O'Neil. She followed around college basketball referee Tim Higgins through a short-week span, covering an exhausted referee through three different cities. It culminated with a controversial call against the No. 2 team in the country. Great read and video here: http://sports.espn.go.com/ncb/columns/story?columnist=oneil_dana&id=4920019
Game of the Night: No. 12 Ohio State vs. No. 4 Purdue
Two of the Big Ten's best squads will duke it out tonight for a leg up in the conference title race. The Buckeyes have Evan Turner, who is playing like the best player in college basketball right now. They also beat the Boilermakers in West Lafayette, Ind., back in January. So this is a win for Ohio State, right?
As ESPN's Lee Corso would say: Not so fast my friends. (Can't believe I just referenced Corso ...)
Purdue has one of the most experienced groups in the nation, so Robbie Hummel, Chris Kramer and E'Twaun Moore are more than capable of exacting revenge on the 12th-ranked Buckeyes.
Prediction: Ohio State 77 - Purdue 72
Player of the Night: Luke Harangody, Notre Dame
If the Fighting Irish want to make the NCAA tournament, a huge performance from Harangody tonight would make things easier. Thing is, he might not play.
The Sporting News reports that Harangody will be a game-time decision tonight because of a deep bone bruise to his right knee. He missed Notre Dame's last game, a loss to St. John's on Saturday.
The tournament field has been set with the final rankings of the regular season released today.
Penn State stayed put at No. 2, with the top-9 spots all remaining the same.
The biggest story relating to Penn State in these final rankings is Rhode Island and Delaware finishing the season ranked No. 14 and No. 15, respectively, and missing out on the tournament.
Other big movers included Central Oklahoma jumping up from No. 13 to No. 10 to make the tournament and Kent State also moving up three spots to No. 12, clinching a tournament bid.
Kent State would have missed out on nationals, but Slippery Rock declined its automatic bid after its goaltender broke his wrist last Thursday. Slippery Rock coach Bill Waldschmidt decided his team would not be competitive enough to compete at the tournament.
The final rankings to determine the tournament field are below. Coaches of the top 18 teams will then rank only these 16 teams in a separate poll to determine playoff seedings and matchups.
There was some confusion with the latest 141-pound college rankings released Tuesday by Intermat.
On the Web site, the 20th-ranked wrestler is omitted. In yesterday's blog post, we reported Penn State's Adam Lynch was the wrestler in that spot. Some people have wondered if that was really the case.
Here is a portion of the e-mail sent to Pat Donghia, Assistant Communications Director for Nittany Lion wrestling, from Intermat with the full list of ranked wrestlers at 141-pounds.
All season long, head coach Ed DeChellis has stressed the importance of playing a full 40 minutes defensively. The Lions have suffered let-downs leading to prolonged runs that put them behind. If there is any team in the conference capable of taking advantage of soft defense, it is the Wildaats with their very efficient back-door driven offense.
2. Shut down Shurna
John Shurna has stepped up in place of the injured Kevin Coble this season as the Wildcats' leading scorer. DeChellis should be able to use primary defensive stopper D.J. Jackson on him tonight, but even for Jackson, the task of stopping such a versatile player will be a daunting one.
3. Contributions outside of Battle, Babb and Jackson
To start the season, the question was who would help junior guard Talor Battle score points. We now know his supporting cast is sophomore Chris Babb and Jackson. Now the question is, can those two get anyone else to join that cast. The Lions haven't had a fourth player step up since Bill Edwards posted a double-double against Purdue. Maybe supporting Battle isn't the problem. Maybe it's supporting the support.
This is not your father's Northwestern team - or at least the Wildcat team of the last few seasons. Despite the early season loss of Kevin Coble, the Cats have played very well at times this season en route to their 17-8 (6-7 Big Ten) record.
A win tonight would put them keep them on the bubble (likely on the outside looking in, but still in contention). They have had their success this season, by using a far more up tempo game in transition, while continuing to rely on their precision in the halfcourt, Penn State coach Ed DeChellis said.
"They're shooting more and they're shooting much quicker than they have," he said. "They've slowed it down from the first six games to the last three or four games, but some of their guys have the green light."
The first "green-lighted" player DeChellis mentioned was sophomore forward Jon Shurna. He is averaging 17.8 points per game and 6.5 rebounds, and he has stepped in for Coble as the Cats' main offensive weapon this season.
This season they are averaging 69.4 points per game, up 6 percent from last season.
But Lions' junior forward D.J. Jackson said the increase in scoring was not a result of a shift in offense.
"They are looking to push the ball a little bit more, but if they don't have anything in transition, they're still gonna run that Northwestern offense," Jackson said. "Back cuts, dribble hand offs and things like that - we have to shut that down."
The Lions have had recent success against Northwestern, including six wins in their last seven contests. But junior guard Talor Battle said this season's Northwestern team is different.
"That was a different team than the past," Battle said. "I'm sure they'll be ready so we have to go in there hungry."
Snow might stop the Nittany Lions from opening up their season this weekend, but that doesn't stop the Collegian's baseball writers.
Welcome to Inside the Dugout -- your home for everything about Penn State baseball. Check our blog all season long for the latest information about the team.
For starters, here's some news about a graduated first baseman most Lion fans will be familiar with. Cory Wine, son of head coach Robbie Wine and PSU's career putouts leader, just got traded to the Washington Wild Things from the Las Cruces Vaqueros, according to a press release. The release can be viewed here: http://www.washingtonwildthings.com/cgi-bin/dist/news.cgi?id=1266257396
From the release, it sounds like the Wild Things are high on Wine.
The Big Ten Network announced Tuesday that it will broadcast Penn State's two-game series against Northwestern in Evanston, Ill. the first two days of May. The May 1 game starts at noon and the May 2 game is scheduled for 2 p.m.
Additionally, the Nittany Lions' doubleheader against the Wolverines in Ann Arbor, Mich. on April 21 will be shown on the network's Web site, BigTenNetwork.com. That contest will start at 4 p.m.
Both conference opponents are currently ranked in both polls. Michigan is No. 3 in the ESPN/USA Softball Division I Poll and No. 4 in the USA Today/NFCA Top 25 Poll. Northwestern is No. 21 in both polls.
With the Nittany Lions' win over Pittsburgh this past Saturday, the Lions officially passed the midway point of the season. The 2010 campaign has had its fair share of ups and downs thus far for the No. 13 team in the country, from a 193.900 to start the year to a pair of perfect 10s.
Here's a rundown of the storylines so far this season with six of 11 meets in the rearview mirror.
Ranked No. 11 in the GymInfo Coaches Preseason Poll, the Lions started the season colder than the 10-degree weather outside Jenison Field House in East Lansing, Mich. for their season-opening quad-meet at Michigan State. The Lions finished in second place but failed to reach the 49.000 mark on any event, resulting in a team score of 193.900. It was only the second time in their last 20 meets the Lions didn't score at least a 194.
Since a tough meet at the Denver Winterfest Classic on Jan. 16, the Lions have been on a roll. The Lions improved by a full point in their home-opener against Cornell, Iowa and Yale on Jan. 23 and nearly did the same the following week against No. 1 Alabama and Minnesota. The Lions are now on a three-meet streak in which they have topped 196, including a season-high 196.450 against Pittsburgh.
History made (twice)
At the Jan. 23 tri-meet, it appeared the Lions were going to fall just short of tying their team record of 49.500 on vault as senior Brandi Personett stepped up to anchor the event. Dropping the lowest of the first five scores, the Lions stood at 39.500, needing a perfect 10.000 from Personett to tie the mark. Katie Rowland was the only gymnast in school history to have scored perfect on vault, and though Personett came close before, what were the odds she would do it to match the record? Well, never doubt the reigning Big Ten Gymnast of the Year and No. 1 vaulter in the nation. Personett soared through the air, stuck her landing and let the judges and crowd of 2,100 soak it in: a flawless vault.
History repeats itself
Personett, who already is littered throughout the Penn State record books, wasn't satisfied with just one 10.000. Against Pittsburgh, Personett became only the second Nittany Lion women's gymnast to record multiple 10s in a career.
Big trouble on little beam
Through the season's first three meets, the Lions struggles could be summed up with one word: four. That is how wide the balance beam is in inches. The Lions were unable to solve their problems on beam at the beginning of the year, causing senior co-captain Allie Southard to wonder where the disconnect was between practice and live competition. The troubles on beam came to a point in the home-opener Jan. 23 when the Lions fell four times, counted two, and scored a 47.825. Coach Steve Shephard called it a "disaster." The Lions have since improved greatly on beam, scoring above 49.000 in three-straight meets.
All preseason, Shephard made mention of the highly touted freshman class he had coming in. With just about everyone returning from last year's team that missed a shot in the Super Six by the slimmest of margins, it was hard to believe the freshmen Madison Merriam and Sharaya Musser would make much of an impact this year. Well, we should have listened. Merriam and Musser are each competing in multiple events and are contributing nicely.
Brockway limited to bars
A regular on vault, bars and beam last year, senior Alexandra Brockway suffered a severe ankle sprain in November, more than a month before the first meet of the year. The injury was so significant, however, that Shephard decided it wasn't worth risking Brockway's health and has limited her to strictly bar. It's not exactly a bad thing for Brockway and the Lions considering Brockway earned first team All-America honors on the event in 2009. Still, it's a disappointing finale for Brockway.
No. 1 visits Rec Hall
On Jan. 30, the top-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide made their way to Rec Hall for a tri-meet with the Lions and Minnesota. It's been so long since the No. 1 team came to Penn State, that Shephard couldn't even remember the last time it happened, only able to recall when No. 1 Utah competed in Rec Hall in 1981. The Lions would end up finishing second to the Tide, who scored a 196.600.
Disaster in Denver
Following their second-straight sub-par performance and second-place finish at the Denver Winterfest Classic, the Lions were ready to get back home. They would, eventually. It was a 20-hour affair for the Lions from the moment they left their hotel a little before 5 a.m. to the time they landed safely in State College. Emphasis on safely, because following a three-hour maintenance delay at the airport in Philadelphia, the small jet taking the Lions back to school had one small problem: no steering. So the pilot aborted the landing and returned to Philadelphia, where the Lions waited three more hours before finally getting home.
Wang's agent must have been desparate to sign Chien-Ming to an NL team, since that's the one place a pitcher would have to round the bases on a regular basis.
The market for the pitching treasure from Chinese Taipei has dropped off the table since his body turned into glass that dreaded June day in Houston. It'd be nice to see the one-time Cy Young probable turn it back around, but seeing as he's playing for the laughing stock of Major League Baseball, that doesn't seem likely.
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Bad things happen to good people, as evidenced one again by news out of Denver Tuesday.
Nuggets coach George Karl announced he has a "very treatable" form of neck and throat cancer. Karl had been cancer-free since prostate surgery in 2005, and his son, Colby, was once diagnosed with thyroid cancer.
Karl has been an NBA mainstay the last few decades and has the 10th-most career wins as a coach.
Let's hope Karl learns what we all thought we did from Urban Meyer's one-day sabbatical and take care of himself before worrying about his day job.
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Clausen's absence is Clark's gain
Former Notre Dame quarterback Jimmy Clausen's ailing right toe is keeping him out next month's combine, the premier NFL showcase for potential draft picks.
Clausen is widely believed to be a first-round lock and could be one of the first QBs taken in April's draft.
Daryll Clark is not and won't be.
But one less quarterback able to show off his talents is one plus for the former Penn State signal caller, who will have to impress scouts in person to even be considered as a draft choice.
Clark is well-spoken and charismatic, so a decent workout should be enough for one team to pull the trigger on Daryll.
Peter Russell and Joe Yasalonis, that is. The two are Penn State recruits and will join the Nittany Lions next fall. We caught up with the duo between sets at the Lions' Friday night match with Laval. Hear how Russell chose Penn State, why the two are nervous to make the transition to collegiate volleyball and what special hobby Yasalonis shares with coach Mark Pavlik.
It's Tom Kinslow here giving you the first post on the Collegian's softball blog, "Seventh Inning Stretch". We hope to use this blog to give you, the reader, some extra coverage on all things softball.
With that in mind, both nationwide polls were released today, with not much change in the rankings.
In the ESPN.com/USA Softball Division I poll, defending Washington received all 20 first place votes after starting the season off 5-0. Meanwhile, Georgia Tech made a big hop to ninth after being 14th in the preseason poll.
Breaking into the rankings were Texas and Texas A&M, who sit at 15 and 22 respectively. Their rise knocked both Tennessee and DePaul out of the rankings.
Here is the rest of that poll:
1. Washington (20)
7. Arizona St.
9. Georgia Tech
14. Ohio St.
18 . La.-Lafayette
19. Fresno St.
20. Florida St.
22. Texas A&M
23. North Carolina
The USA Today/NFCA Top 25 Poll was also released today and it closely mirrors the ESPN.com poll with a couple notable exceptions.
Florida is ranked third instead of 10th in this poll while UCLA is seventh instead of fourth. Also, DePaul was the only team to drop out of the rankings, while Texas A&M remains unranked but receiving votes.
Here is the full tally of that poll as well:
1. Washington (30)
5. Arizona St.
10. Georgia Tech
14. Ohio St.
17. Fresno St.
23. Florida St.
24. North Carolina
That'll do it for now but make sure to keep checking back throughout the week as we update you throughout the week.
Following Kansas' come-from-behind victory last night, the Wildcats look to keep pace in the race for the NCAA tournament's No. 1 overall seed when they head to Starkville, Miss., tonight.
Kentucky is riding a six-game winning streak and has three potential NBA first-round selections, but the Bulldogs have not yet lost a home game in the SEC. Their 6-4 record in the SEC gives them hope for an NCAA tournament bid, but they are still without a quality win. Their best right now (aside from a pair of victories against intrastate rival and fellow bubble squad Mississippi), might be a neutral-site win over UCLA.
To get that win, Jarvis Varnado -- who is averaging five blocks per game -- will have to contain DeMarcus Cousins down low and Ravern Johnson may have to match John Wall. Good luck.
Prediction: Kentucky 94, Mississippi State 73
Player to watch: Deonta Vaughn, Cincinnati
With the Bearcats entering one of their most important games of the season on the road, they will look to Vaughn as the man to lead them. Tonight, the Bearcats head to South Florida in a clash of two teams sitting squarely on the bubble. The winner will likely be in the field of 65 (at least until its next game) and the loser will have work to do.
Vaughn's stats are down from last season -- mostly because he has given way to freshman Lance Stephenson and an improved sophomore forward in Yancy Gates. But during the team's most important stretch (the last seven games), Vaughn has scored at least 10 points six times.
In the last meeting between the two, Vaughn scored 20 during a 78-70 Bearcat win. If Cincy wants to get off the bubble and into the NCAA tournament it will likely start tonight with Vaughn.
Eight Big Ten teams continue to hold rankings, with Friday's opponent, Minnesota, holding the No. 5 spot.
Lion 141-pounder Adam Lynch made his first appearance in the rankings. He is No. 20 at 141 in the Intermat College Rankings Seven Penn State wrestlers now hold rankings. Here is where they rank, with last week's spot in parentheses.
Nothing like the Olympics. We've waited four years for the Winter Games, and now they're finally here. Granted, things haven't gone so smoothly. Twenty-one-year-old Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili was killed in a test run Friday. And there was a brief malfunction during the torch lighting ceremony, where Wayne Gretzky looked like he wanted to stab someone or light someone on fire with said torch. Despite the tragedy and the hiccup in the opening ceremony, the Olympics have been exciting to watch. It's the magic of the Olympics. Here's to hoping we get to see some good matchups.
Some other things important and not so important:
- The Raiders made Sebastian Janikowski the league's highest-paid place kicker. I'm sure JaMarcus Russell will fumble enough times the next four seasons to make that deal worthwhile.
- Floyd Landis, who won the 2006 Tour de France and then had it taken away after he was found to be doping, has a warrant out for his arrest. The crime? Hacking into an anti-doping agency's computer. He's probably peddling his way across Europe as we speak.
Another week, another Pavcast. This week we have Penn State's head guy recapping the team's two exhibition wins over Canadian power Laval, previewing this weekend's matches over MIVA squads IPFW and Ball State and telling us about his extensive French vocabulary that was put into good use when the bilingual Rouge et Or were in town. We also have Mark Pavlik hand out some superlatives to his No. 7 Nittany Lions.
Check it out:
Pavlik recaps Laval:
Pavlik on IPFW and Ball State:
Pavlik on speaking French:
Coming tonight to Above the Net: We sit down with Peter Russel and Joe Yasalonis, two Penn State recruits, and discuss some of their hopes, dreams and fears about joining the team next fall.
1. On Sunday, Penn State didn't face the Iroquois Nationals who placed third in the 2008 ILF World Championship. Several of the Nationals play for the Rochester Knighthawks, who faced the Boston Blazers Saturday night, and didn't make the trip to State College. So what the Nittany Lions got was a younger National team.
"There were a lot of guys missing," Penn State coach Glenn Thiel said. "They're trying out some of these guys for a few spots on the team."
2. According to our very own Collegian stats, Penn State lost only one face-off in the first period, something midfielder Joe Britt attributes to the Lion face-off players' different styles. Along with Britt, Charley and Danny Henneghan took face-offs in the first. Thiel said the streak occurred for another reason.
"In the international game, the face-off is a little different," Thiel said. "I'm not sure their kid was a true face-off guy, so we definitely had an advantage there... After that first quarter, they actually did a good job nullifying us."
3. Dave Baker said there is nothing new in regards to the goaltending choice.
"I have no idea," Baker said. "Your guess is as good as mine. Coach has confidence in both of us. Whoever ends up playing is going to do a good job. As far as the team goes, everyone is realizing we're pretty good in goalie no matter who [Thiel] chooses to play."
The No. 13 Nittany Lions set a new season-high score for the fifth time this year in a 196.450-194.650 victory over Pittsburgh.
So how did they grade out? Let's take a look.
Analysis: The Lions nearly tied their all-time record on vault of 49.500 on Saturday, missing the mark by a mere tenth. For the second time this year, Brandi Personett's vault was flawless, garnering a 10.000 from the judges. The perfect score makes Personett only the second gymnast in school history to record multiple 10s. Freshman Sharaya Musser, who preceded Personett, set the table for the senior when she recorded a career high 9.925. Leadoff vaulter Casey Rohrbaugh and Danielle Hover each recorded a 9.800, and sophomore Whitney Bencsko rounded out the scores with a 9.875.
Analysis: For the third time in four meets, sophomore Natalie Ettl recorded at least a 9.900 on bars. Overall, though, the team took a step back after a 49.350 last week against Illinois. Personett and Musser tied for second on the event with a 9.825, and senior bars specialist and All-American Alexandra Brockway finished fourth with a 9.800. Bencsko scored a 9.725.
Analysis: After struggling mightily on the balance beam through the first three weeks of the season, the Lions have done a complete 180-degree turn on the event over the last three. Despite an issue with the lineup that forced the Lions to jumble their order, each counted score was above 9.800. Personett and Musser shared the beam title with the Panthers' Alicia Talucci with a 9.875. The Lions took the next three spots, though. Daryl Konsevick went 9.825 and Bencsko and Rohrbaugh each scored a 9.800.
Analysis: With the exception of Personett, who ranks second in the country on floor and scored a 9.900, the rest of the Lions struggled on the event. Freshman Madison Merriam, who has come on strong as of late, scored a 9.850, the only other Lion to post a score above 9.800. Coming off a 49.175 on floor last week against Illinois, the Lions went 48.800 this week.
Analysis: It was the Lions' best meet to date, which is especially promising considering it came on the road after two sub-par road meets to start the year. The team score of 196.450 is the Lions' best score since last year's Big Ten Championships, a good sign the Lions are at good point six meets into the season. The team has come a long way since its 193 at Michigan State to start the year. If the Lions can put together a great meet on all four events, 197 could be in their future.
If it wasn't for another Brandi Personett 10.000, Sharaya Musser would have stolen the show Saturday.
The highly touted freshman from Colorado Springs, Colo. had her best outing by far as a member of the No. 13 Nittany Lions this weekend in a 196.450-194.650 win against intrastate rival Pittsburgh. Musser tied with Personett for first place on beam with a career high 9.875 and finished second on vault with a 9.925, also a new career mark.
"The vault, I've been really trying to stick my landing, and I stuck it tonight," said Musser, ranked sixth in the Big Ten on the event. "I'm just really happy about my performance."
Coach Steve Shephard came away from Saturday's meet impressed with the rookie, who rounded out her meet with a 9.825 on bars, which Musser is ranked fifth in the conference and 32nd in the nation on.
"Sharaya did a real nice job," he said. "She stuck her vault; she did a real nice bar routine; she rocked the beam. She did a beautiful routine."
Brandi Personett's perfect 10 on the vault in Saturday's meet was the just the ninth in program history and made her one of only two Penn State gymnasts to have two perfect 10s on the vault. The other was Katie Rowland in 2003.
Here is a list of all nine of the perfect 10's in Penn State women's gymnastics history.
1999-Ellen Casey (floor exercise)
1999-Missy Leopoldus (balance beam)
1999- Missy Leopoldus (balance beam)
2000-Nikki Smith (balance beam)
2003-Katie Rowland (balance beam)
2003-Katie Rowland (vault)
2003-Katie Rowland (vault)
2010-Brandi Personett (vault)
2010-Brandi Personett (vault)
I spoke to Penn State coach Steve Shephard and Personett at practice today and asked them how to compare the most recent perfect 10 to the one on Feb. 23 at Rec Hall.
Shephard said he thought this perfect 10 was about the same as the one earlier this season, and still said he has seen the senior do it even better.
After watching it on video, Personett said she thought the perfect score from this past Saturday was better. She added, however, that a couple of her friends in the stands said the Feb. 23 vault routine was better.
"I guess it depends on the angle you're watching it from," she said.
Don't know who that is? You will soon. Nick is a Penn State recruit who will join the Nittany Lions next fall. We caught up with the 6-foot-4 outside hitter while he was in Happy Valley for last weekend's Nittany Ninvitational boy's club volleyball tournament.
Here's you're chance to get to know the future Lion. Find out why the Baden native chose Penn State and what he thinks he needs to improve on to make the transition to collegiate volleyball:
Check back tomorrow for our weekly Pavcast, then later in the week for a conversation with Peter Russell and Joe Yasalonis, who will join Goodell in Penn State's class of 2014.
Game of the night: No. 1 Kansas at No. 23 Texas A&M, 9 p.m. ESPN
Texas A&M is on a tear, winners of five straight, but it welcomes the only team in the Big 12 on a bigger streak. The No. 1 Kansas Jayhawks travel to A&M, currently tied for second in the conference, looking to build on their three-game lead.
Coach Bill Self can point to his defense as the catalyst for Kansas' ten-game winning streak. The Jayhawks lead in the country in opponent's shooting percentage at 36.5 percent and are allowing just 62.8 points per game.
Opposing the juggernaut from Lawrence is an A&M team riding a 16-game home winning streak. However, the Aggies have never defeated Kansas at home, posting an 0-6 record all time. And for a Kansas team trying to tie coaching legend Fog Allen with six-straight conference titles, A&M's home woes should continue
Prediction: Kansas 75 , Texas A&M 64
Player to Watch: Villanova and UConn's starting backcourts.
Reynolds. Fisher. Walker. Dyson.
Four names that strike fear across the Big East will be on the floor in Philadelphia tonight when the Wildcats take on the visiting Huskies.
Scottie Reynolds, a senior in the running for Big East Player of the Year has been the engine that drives Villanova for the last three years but is putting together arguably his finest season in a final go-round. Meanwhile, Corey Fisher is the steady hand that controls the Wildcats' high-scoring offense, but is just as good at putting the ball in the basket himself.
For UConn, Jerome Dyson has filled A.J. Price's role of shot-maker, hitting seemingly every key basket in a chaotic season that has seen the senior lead the team in scoring at 18.8 points per game. Kemba Walker has taken Price's role as point guard to heart, leading the Huskies in assists (5.8) and steals (2.0) and while he doesn't have a deadly shot, the sophomore is a rising star in the loaded Big East
For the 13th time in her career and the fourth time this season, senior Brandi Personett was named the Big Ten Gymnast of the Week. The reigning Big Ten Gymnast of the Year scored her second career perfect 10 on the vault and tied her career high in the all-around with a 39.600 on Saturday at Pittsburgh.
The All-American senior was not the only Penn State gymnast honored this week. Nittany Lion freshman Sharaya Musser was named Big Ten Freshman of the Week after she scored a 9.875 on the balance beam to tie Personett for first in Saturday's dual-meet. Musser also scored a career high of 9.925 on the vault, good enough for second place on Saturday behind Personett's 10.000.
Penn State continues to climb the rankings each week. In Monday's rankings, the Nittany Lions jumped from No. 15 to No. 13 after Saturday's 196.450 at Pittsburgh.
The Lions' average score stands at 195.379 with the score from Saturday's meet being the team's season high.
For the first time this season, Penn State is No. 1 in the Big Ten, after Michigan dropped to No. 16 overall. The Wolverines' average score is 195.208.
In the individual rankings, Lions' senior Brandi Personett jumped back up to the No. 1 spot on the vault after her perfect 10 on Saturday. Personett is also No. 2 on the floor exercise, averaging a 9.904 and is No. 17 in the all-around, averaging a 39.187.
Natalie Ettl rose two spots in the uneven bars rankings and is now No. 11 with a 9.863 average.
After the Penn State wrestling team took care of Michigan State, 26-12, Friday, members of Cael Sanderson's squad hit the mat at the 2010 Edinboro Open Saturday.
Three Nittany Lions won titles as unattached wrestlers at the 157-, 165- and 184-pound weight classes, while eight total Lion grapplers placed at the event.
Freshman David Taylor grabbed the 157-pound title, while fellow freshman Jake Kemerer won the title at 165 and redshirt sophomore Quentin Wright earned top honors at 184.
Redshirting freshman James Vollrath placed third at 157, with his only loss coming to Taylor. The Lions' Nick Fischer followed Vollrath with a fourth-place finish at 157. At 184-pounds, redshirt freshman Ed Ruth lost in overtime to Wright during the 184-pound title bout.
After Jack Chidester weighed in at 133 pounds last Friday, questions arose on whether Bryan Pearsall's starting spot was in contention. Penn State coach Cael Sanderson spoke about Chidester's chances in taking Pearsall's spot:
"Well, at this point in time, it would have to be something where he'd be coming in and giving us no question or leaving no doubt. They wrestled-off early. Pearsall, that is his spot right now. There have been opportunities. They wrestle matches in practice, and Pearsall is winning them. It's set."
Our server was down the past few days, so apologies for the lack of posts. But we're back now, so here's your complete coverage of Penn State's two 3-1 exhibition match victories over Canadian power Laval University.
Max Lipsitz's thoughts before Friday's match:
Jesse Wagner's thoughts before Saturday's match:
Quote that sums up the weekend: "I had a lot of fun this weekend. It was great to just be in a situation where literally anything happened. We could have had some team come in here that completely demolished us or we could have had some random team. But it was good and it was competitive and we had to play well and everything. I liked it, it was fun." - Will Price
Best quote of the weekend: "In English?" - Laval coach Pascal Clement after he was asked to make an opening statement in Friday's post-game press conference.
Did you notice: Nick Turko in Satuday's match? How could you not? The freshman middle hitter entered the game for the struggling Ian Hendries and made the most of the opportunity, tallying 10 kills on an astounding .909 hitting percentage. No, that wasn't a typo. It will be interesting to see who Pavlik gives the nod next weekend when PSU faces IPFW and Ball State.
Number of the weekend: 3,210. The number of fans at Rec Hall Saturday night, marking the best home crowd for the Nittany Lions this weekend. Among those in attendance? Three Penn State recruits. We'll have more on them later.
Player of the weekend: Max Lipsitz, Mr. Consistency. In a weekend where Penn State changed up its lineup and had a couple different guys in a couple new positions, the big guy who stayed in the middle stayed composed and led the team to two victories over tough competition. Lipsitz posted 18 kills on .600 hitting Friday, followed up by 12 kills on .588 hitting Saturday.
Check back tomorrow for our weekly Monday Minute segment.
Here at Crosse Fire, we will highlight and preview some of the upcoming games across the country in the American League Conference. Both Ohio State and Vanderbilt will compete this weekend in two highly touted matches.
The first matchup will take place on Sunday between No. 16 Ohio State and No. 20 William & Mary. The Buckeyes will head to Williamsport, Va. in a battle of two of the top 20 teams in the nation. All-American attacker Kelly Haggerty will provide constant pressure on the Tribe's defense. Last season, Haggerty netted 91 points, which ranks second all-time among Buckeye season leaders.
The second game will take place in Nashville, Tennessee as No. 11 Vanderbilt will host No. 5 Duke Sunday at 1 p.m. The Commodores will look to get off to a hot start as they return 11 starters and a group of seven seniors from last year's NCAA tournament team. Senior Sarah Downing can light it up. Last year, Downing set the single-season school record with 55 goals and 81 points.
After accompanying my roommate to McLanahan's on Allen Street Thursday, I bought the latest issue of SLAM magazine. Flipping through, a little piece in the top right corner of page 86 caught my attention.
The Punks section of the magazine, which highlights up-and-coming high school players, features a small story about incoming Penn State freshman Taran Buie. The piece, written by Ryan Jones of the Penn Stater magazine, describes the heckling Buie, the half-brother of Nittany Lion guard Talor Battle, has gotten since moving to State College and joining the Little Lions basketball team.
"They're heckling me as soon as I step on the court: 'You're not as good as your brother, your mom loves Talor more than you'," Buie told Jones.
Jones also writes about how Buie got acclimated to his Penn State teammates early by playing pick-up games with the Lions over the summer. The high school senior isn't having any trouble adjusting to life at State College High either, being named to the homecoming court.
It also helps that his brother is only a few miles down the road.
"Being able to see Talor every day, having the family together, it's been great," Buie told Jones.
Coach Steve Shephard has a nice little Saturday carved out for his gymnastics team as it travels to Pittsburgh for a meet with the Panthers.
Shephard and the team will board the bus for the Steel City around 10 a.m. Saturday morning and arrive a little after noon. There the team will grab lunch before heading off to the mall to do some weekend shopping before the 7 p.m. competition against the Panthers, Shephard said.
It could be a smart motivational tactic by the 18th-year coach, though. Perhaps a new pair of shoes is all his gymnasts need to top 197.
Saturday's road trip comes as a relief to the No. 15 Nittany Lions. The trip to Pittsburgh is a little more than a two-hour bus ride, as opposed to the 20-hour ordeal the Lions suffered through to get home after their meet at Denver.
"It's nice because we can do our school work on the bus," senior Allie Southard said. "You don't have to pack as much or worry about getting in the hotel and checking in and that whole process."
For freshman Sharaya Musser, she's just happy she doesn't have to get on another airplane after taking five flights the weekend of the Denver meet.
"I personally hate traveling on airplanes," Musser joked, "so I'm very relieved it's just a bus ride. It's always fun to be on the bus together and make a lot of memories."
The big story out of Happy Valley on Thursday was Joe Paterno's surgery he underwent in January to correct his vision.
In the past two years, Paterno's drank from the fountain of youth, getting a new hip and a new set of eyes.
This on top of ligament repair of a partially torn knee suffered at Wisconsin in 2006.
Conventional wisdom is pinning a 2011 farewell tour for JoePa, who figures to have the pieces in tact to make a strong run for a national championship.
What's fact is this: With every operation Joe gets, the more it shows how enthused he is about coaching, and how it's foolish to put a timetable on his career.
Anyone can see that.
* * * * *
Watching the Spurs-Nuggets game Thursday night, I was petrified at the sight of Denver's Chris Andersen.
No, it wasn't his arm full of multi-colored tattoos. Or that weird mustache thing he has going on.
It was his hair. It looked, well, normal.
How can humanity let this happen? The Birdman is one of the greatest things to grace the NBA (now that he's clean, that is). He's a big, goofy-looking, energetic white guy with some pretty nice ups and a ridiculously spiky hairdo. He does things like compete in the Slam Dunk contest and say things like, "It's time for the Birdman to fly," then proceed to miss eight first-round dunks, then miss five second-round dunks.
Seeing Andersen flying around with what can only be described as a bowl cut is not only disappointing, it's legitimately disheartening. Which one of these players would you rather pay to see: the ho-hum dude with odd facial hair and a bunch of tats, or the crazy-looking guy with the headband struggling to contain that wild, spiny hair?
When Allison Baver walked through the stadium during the Opening Ceremonies of the 2002 Winter Olympics, she realized she had made it.
However, that singular moment was a long time coming for the Baver's as Allison's quest for Olympic glory started long before her time at Penn State.
Allison began skating when she was 10 years old, but back then she was simply a fourth grader looking for something to do outside on the weekends.
And then skating went from a hobby to a passion. And then from a passion to a dream.
For Baver's mom Dixie, her daughter's entry into competitive skating was a humorous one.
"She actually told us she wanted to join the skate team at the skating rink and I said to her, 'That's okay, you can do that, but we can't take you to all these competitions,' " Baver's mom recalled laughing.
With Mrs. Baver unable to take Allison to the skating rink, another mother offered to give a ride so the eager speedskater could test her luck.
"Allison called me over the weekend and she said, 'Mom, I'm skating really, really good. I'm winning,' " Dixie added. "That was it. From that time on, we took her to every competition for the next 15 years."
Yet though Allison was talented and knew she wanted to go to the Olympics, she was just a teenager.
And then her coach sat her down and told her Allison if she was really serious about making the Olympic team, she would need to dedicate her whole life to this one thing.
"I was like 15 or 16 and I was like, 'Hmmmm, I'm not doing that.' " Baver said. "But then it was just the right time in my life that things fell into place, and I wanted to do it. I wanted to graduate college, and I wanted to qualify for the Olympics."
More on Allison Baver's broken leg-
A year ago, Baver was in Bulgaria for a speedskating competition, forcing her mom to follow the race on her computer.
Only able to see each skaters name jump around the screen, Dixie watched as three laps were down with eight more to go.
"All of a sudden the race stopped," Dixie remembered with a slight tremble in her voice. "And you're thinking, 'Oh my gosh, what's going on with the race? Did something happen to the computer?' And then I saw her name disappear and immediately I knew something happened."
Not knowing what was going on, Dixie finally got a call.
" 'Mom, I'm injured. I broke my leg.' "
On Allison's end, her voice was as calm as the ocean that separated the two by 5,000 miles.
On Dixie's end, there were tears -- a lot of them.
" 'This can't happen because I'm skating the Olympics,' " Dixie said Allison first told her. " 'I have tryouts in seven months and I'm going to be there no matter what.' "
However, the most shocking news was still yet to come for the Bavers.
Check Friday's edition of The Daily Collegian to find out what that news was.
Both teams were riding multiple-game losing streaks heading into tonight's Minnesota-Penn State showdown. For the Golden Gophers, their ride ended Thursday night as they defeated the Lady Lions, 59-52. Coach Coquese Washington was short for words after the game, and no players came out to talk as it appears this loss may the most difficult of the last five. Here are our grades for the game:
The starters deserve an F but the bench kept them in the game. Tyra Grant was held scoreless for about the first 30 minutes of the game, and other than a two-minute spurt where she hit four consecutive shots, she didn't do anything in the last minutes of the game. The Lady Lions' second leading scorer, Alex Bentley, had herself another cold shooting performance finishing 4-for-12 while Penn State's frontcourt of Trogele, Monroe and Greene combined for eight total points. Penn State settled for way too many jump shots and failed to attack the hoop, finishing the game shooting 23-for-56 from the field. Instead of running with the ball and playing up-tempo like they did when they were winning, Penn State settled for a half-court offense for most of the game. As for the bench, Penn State found scoring production from three unlikely sources- Janessa Wolff, Gizelle Studevent and Zhaque Gray. All three players have had minor flashes all season, but this was the first time in a while where all three contributed significantly in the same game. Gray had 10 points, Wolff had nine and Studevent had six as the three combined to shoot 11-for-18 from the floor. Unfortunately, the offensive grade is weighed down mostly by the lack of production from Penn State's starters.
All game, Penn State had a chance to take over the game. Whether that was because Penn State's defense was playing well or Minnesota's offense was simply not that good, it's hard to tell. We're going to give credit to both trains of thought and give Penn State's defense a C. It's truly baffling as to how Penn State could have lost this game when its defense held Minnesota to seven less field goals on the evening. But what is even more confusing is how Minnesota won the game making only 14 field goals throughout the entire game and only six in the second half. Credit Penn State's defense for some of that as they never gave Minnesota too many open looks offensively. In the last minutes of the game, Penn State had the open looks offensively but simply missed the shots. The defense is the reason why they had those opportunities.
This was a game Penn State needed to win. After losing four games in a row and falling back down the Big Ten standings, this was a game that could have helped Penn State end the season on a run. But they never played with that fire tonight. They didn't open the game with the intensity they had against Ohio State and they didn't close it out when a win was in sight. For about two minutes, when Tyra Grant hit three-straight 3-pointers, the bench and team came alive and looked like they were having fun and playing with a swagger. That soon changed as Penn State couldn't capitalize on that momentum.
FREE THROWS- F
If there was a grade lower than an F, that's what Penn State would have gotten. Maybe a Q? Or a Z? But since an F is the worst the Lady Lions can get, that's what they are getting. Not to be too harsh, I think coach Coquese Washington would agree, tonight's performance in relation to fouls and free-throw shooting was abysmal by the Lady Lions. Like I said earlier, Minnesota won this game making seven less field goals and an equal amount of 3s. That is because they made 25 more free-throws. Minnesota ended up going 28-for-31 from the free-throw line while Penn State went 3-for-6. In the second half, the Lady Lions shot one free-throw. Fittingly enough, they missed it. Not a single starter attempted a free-throw, but they made sure Minnesota's players did.
The rundown: The No. 9 Nittany Lions play host to Canada's top-ranked team, Laval, in two exhibition matches this weekend. The Rouge et Or finished their regular season a perfect 18-0 and enter next month's CIS championship with a No. 1 seed and an automatic berth to the finals.
What to expect: The unexpected. It's tough to gauge exactly how good Laval will be given the discrepancies between the CIS and NCAA. And Penn State enters tomorrow's game with a blank slate -- the team hasn't seen any game tape of the Rouge et Or and know very little about Canada's top squad. But the Lions don't seem to care. They are looking at this game as an opportunity to test themselves against tough competition and work out the kinks of their new lineup.
What to look for: Keep an eye on the guys trying out new positions. Will Price -- a 2009 All-American outside hitter -- returns to opposite, a position he hasn't played in a year. See how he, and the rest of the team, adjusts to a lineup coach Mark Pavlik calls "much more balanced." Also keep tabs on Alan Mars, who should sub in at some point as a middle hitter. The redshirt junior made his debut in the middle against Springfield last weekend and put up pretty decent numbers. He's been working on the new position all week so it'll be interesting to see how that translates in a high-level match.
A rich history, eh? These teams first met 28 years ago in the Dalhousie Classic. The Lions topped the Rouge et Or 3-1 (13-15, 15-9, 15-5, 15-6) en route to sweeping the tournament. Their last official meeting was in 1988, however the squads have met a few times for preseason matches since.
Je ne parle pas francais, mais... There's not much information on the Laval volleyball team on the web. And for the limited info that's out there? It's not in English. Definitely wish I had taken more than just two years of French in middle school. There was, however, a short article about this weekend's matches on the Laval Athletic website. I did my best translation -- thanks, Google Translator -- and came up with this quote from Rouge et Or coach Jaques Clement on why he's excited for his team to play Penn State: "For us, it is really a gift of the sky in our preparation for the Canadian championship. It is large general in territory external against probably one of the three greater programs of the history of the United States." I think I'll stick to journalism.
Prediction: This one's tough. I'm going to say Penn State will take both matches -- Friday night in five sets, Saturday in four.
The Nittany Lions face the Spartans in their last home meet of the season.
No. 10 Penn State (12-5-1, 4-2 Big Ten) vs. Michigan State (8-5-1, 2-3)
PSU- No. 13 Brad Pataky (22-6, 5-1)
MSU- Brenan Lynon (3-13, 0-4)
Pataky fell two points short of a technical last week. He put up a dominating performance but got caught up in the hand tie-up in the second period. More improvements in that area will get him into technical-fall range.
Prediction: Pataky by technical fall. PSU- 5 MSU- 0
PSU- Bryan Pearsall (3-19, 1-5)
MSU- No. 4 Franklin Gomez (17-1, 4-1)
Pearsall talked about keeping things positive despite his losses. He'll need to have those vibes continue when wrestling Gomez. The Lion 133-pounder has had trouble in first periods and has had to fight from behind. I just don't see him winning this one.
Prediction: Gomez by major decision. PSU- 5 MSU-4
PSU- Adam Lynch (10-9, 5-1)
MSU- Dan Osterman (18-10, 2-3)
Osterman has losses to both Montell Marion and Ryan Prater. Lynch defeated them both. Penn State coach Cael Sanderson said he wants 30 Lynch's on the team, but there is only one.
Prediction: Lynch by decision. PSU- 8 MSU- 4
PSU- No. 4 Frank Molinaro (25-3, 4-2)
MSU- No. 12 David Cheza (20-8, 4-1)
Molinaro feels he is starting to pull away from the field. He showed that last week after a major decision over Andrew Nadhir. Molinaro will pull away again Friday.
Prediction: Molinaro by major decision. PSU- 12 MSU- 4
PSU- No. 7 Cyler Sanderson (24-3, 5-1)
MSU- Anthony Jones (8-13, 1-4)
Sanderson has notched three straight pins. Jones has lost five straight matches. I see the trend, and I'm sticking with it.
Prediction: Sanderson by fall. PSU- 18 MSU- 4
PSU- No. 7 Dan Vallimont (21-6, 3-3)
MSU- Kyle Bounds (25-12, 3-2)
Vallimont seeks his 100th win. There is no better incentive to win than that. With it also being Senior Day, the adrenaline will be flowing for Vallimont.
Prediction: Vallimont by major decision. PSU- 22 MSU- 4
PSU- Justin Ortega (6-16, 0-6)
MSU- Ian Hinton (14-13, 1-4)
Ortega hasn't won a Big Ten dual match yet and has lost nine straight matches. During stretches, Ortega lags. Until he shows some promise of his Intrasquad self, I can't pick him.
Prediction: Hinton by decision. PSU- 22 MSU- 7
PSU- No. 10 Dave Erwin (24-6, 5-1)
MSU- Curran Jacobs (11-7, 1-1) OR Nick Palmieri (13-10, 1-2)
It doesn't matter who Erwin faces. With his current win streak mounting, he should have no trouble dispatching either one of the opponents.
Prediction: Erwin by major decision. PSU- 26 MSU- 7
PSU- David Crowell (17-12, 0-3)
MSU- Tyler Dickenson (15-14, 0-5)
Steadman suffers from an undisclosed minor injury, so Crowell will get the go. Both Crowell and Dickenson haven't won a Big Ten match. I'll go with Crowell. He's shown some fight against recent ranked opponents while moving up a weight class.
Prediction: Crowell by decision. PSU- 29 MSU- 7
PSU- No. 11 Cameron Wade (17-6, 5-1)
MSU- Alan O'Donnell (10-10, 2-3)
Wade has finally let Sanderson's attitude-preaching set in. Wade's confidence has increased, as will his win total on Friday.
The Lady Lions' recruits keep racking up the high school awards. Maggie Lucas, the 5-foot-9 guard from Germantown Academy is the latest Penn State recruit to earn a national honor. Lucas was selected thursday evening as one of the nation's top 24-players who will play in the prestigious McDonald's All-American Game.
Lucas will suit up for the East team, which also includes Stefanie Dolson, Bria Hartley and Samare Walker who are recruits for No. 1 Connecticut. The Germantown Academy player has already surpassed the 2,000 career point mark and is widely regarded as one of the top shooters in the country.
The only other future Big Ten player selected to the McDonald's All American Game is 6-foot-7 center Madison Williams who will suit up for Michigan State next season.
Bentley called for a charge to cancel out her basket sending Minnesota back to the line to ice the game. Gray misses her three point attempt and so does Grant as time expires. Minnesota ends its six-game losing streak and Penn State picks up its fifth loss in row. Final score from the BJC-
Penn State- 52
Trogele drives the line and finds an open look but misses the layup forcing Penn State to foul with 25.6 seconds on the clock. Minnesota, as they have all game, makes both free-throws. Penn State down five with 25.6 and a timeout on the floor.
After the timeout, ZhaZha's 3-point attempt falls short and Minnesota takes the lead back from PSU. A Monroe miss and a Penn State foul sends the Gophers to the line and they convert on both. However, a long jumper by Bentley brings the lead back down to one with a minute remaining. After a missed Minnesota shot, Bentley races up the court but misses the difficult layup and Monroe is whistled for the foul on the other end. After the Gophers hit both free-throws, a timeout is called with 45.7 seconds remaining. Penn State down 55-52.
Grant gets hers again, driving through the lane for a finger roll. That's now her 11th straight point but Minnesota heads back to the free-throw line. Grant gets greedy and goes for an off-balanced shot but misses. However, after nailing four straight shots, three being threes, she gets a pass in our book. Greene gets the ball wide-open down low and gives off the impression of a dunk but simply lays the ball in for a seven-point PSU lead. After a Minnesota free-throw, Greene hits another layup as Penn State now leads by eight. The Gophers cut it to six and Grant tries her hand at a very, very long three and fails to hit both rim and backboard on the brick. Two Minnesota free-throws and a Minnesota three trim the lead back down to one as Washington calls a 30-second timeout. Like pretty much every game this season, it looks like this one is going to go down to the wire. Penn State leads 50-49 with 3:18 left.
Going for the block, Grant is charged with her second foul but Minnesota misses both free-throw attempts. After going 15-for-15 through the first 32 minutes, Penn State catches a break and holds on to its lead. Let's see if PSU can increase the lead some more and put this one away. Penn State up, 44-39 with 7:57 in the game.
Grant, who has been held scoreless all game, is back in the game and gets whistled for a foul immediately and Minnesota converts both free-throw attempts. On Penn State's next two possessions, Janessa Wolff hits a long two followed by Grant getting her first basket, a wide-open three. Grant strokes another 3-ball to give Penn State the lead. And for the third time in a row, Grant converts from 3-point range. The Penn State bench and crowd erupts while Grant jumps up and down on the court realizing her shooting touch that had been non-existent all game has returned. After trailing virtually all game, Penn State is now up by five.
With Penn State now down one, Washington opts to go with five non-starters but Studevent throws up an airball right before a media timeout. Score remains the same. Stay posted for more updates as the Lady Lions claw back.
Bentley comes up with another basket to cut the lead down to seven. If the Lady Lions wants to come back in this one, which judging by Minnesota's offense they can, Bentley will need a big half. PSU and Minnesota exchange baskets, with Gray making another shot. The rarely used Studevent comes up with two points for Penn State and on the opposite end, Minnesota gets flagged for a charge. Gray hits another jumper to give her 10 points and what may be her first double-digit scoring game since being taken out of the starting lineup earlier this season. Studevent comes right back and hits another shot for Penn State who has just erased a double-digit deficit to only one point. PSU down, 34-33 with 12:28 left.
Washington takes out three of her starters in hopes to get some production from the bench. Bentley hits a running jumper for PSU and after a Minnesota miss, Gray throws up an airball on the opposite end prompting another Penn State timeout. Minnesota up nine with 15:28 on the clock.
We're underway here in the second half and Penn State kicks things off with a successful shot by Meredith Monroe, only the third field goal of the game by a PSU starter. For the third time in the first minute of this half, Penn State tries to feed the ball down low to Nikki Greene but comes up unsuccessful. On the opposite end, Monroe gets called for the shooting foul and Minnesota knocks down both free-throws. A few Penn State turnovers later, Minnesota gets its first double-digit lead of the game, 32-21 with 16:15 remaining.
This was not a pretty played half by Penn State. The defense wasn't horrible for most of the first 20 minutes but offensive turnovers gave Minnesota some easy opportunities to run up the score before the half. The Lady Lions seem to be settling for way too many long or off-balanced jump shots instead of attacking the rim. If Penn State wants to start putting some points on the board in the second, it will need to start playing a more fast-paced offensive game instead of setting up the half-court offense. Five free-throw attempts in the first half is not a good sign for a team in the middle of a four-game losing streak. The only positive sign is Minnesota hasn't played too well. Each team has shot 8-for-24 in the half but the major difference is Minnesota has gone 11-for-11 from the stripe while Penn State has gone 3-for-5. Both Bentley and Grant have been shut down offensively and one of them will need to take control in the second half if Penn State wants to snap its losing skid. Grant has been held scoreless and Bentley is 1-for-6 so far. There are only four more games after this one, a loss tonight would really hurt the Lady Lions chances at making the tournament.
Emily Phillips comes into the game for Bentley and has her first pass intercepted by a Minnesota player who drives the length of the court for the layup. Phillips redeems herself on offense, drawing the foul and getting to the line. However, her shot is short and bounces off the front of the rim. Penn State gets whistled for its 8th foul of the half and sends Minnesota to the free-throw line as coach Coquese Washington looks on with her arms folded and an unhappy look on her face. Another PSU turnover gives the Gophers the ball back and they make the most of it, extending the lead to seven with time winding down in the first half. With a chance to give them a nine point lead at the half, Minnesota converts on a jumper that banks off the backboard. Washington heads to the locker room behind her team, not looking pleased. Minnesota 28, Penn State 19 at halftime.
Gizelle Studevent comes off the bench in hopes of igniting a little Penn State offense and hits a long-two point jumper after the timeout. After Minnesota answers back, Janessa Wolff gets to the line for Penn State but misses one of her two attempts. With 14 minutes gone by now, the Lady Lions will need to play more aggressive to put points on the board as four free-throw attempts won't cut it. After what seemed like an hour since someone last scored, Julia Trogele picks up an offensive rebound and converts the put back to erase the deficit to one. Minnesota up, 20-19 with 3:13 left before the half.
Kind of a sloppy game throughout the first 10 minutes by both teams. Penn State comes out of the timeout and throws the ball back over the halfcourt line for a turnover on its first possession. Immediately after, Marisa Wolfe gets whistled for the foul to send Minnesota to the line. Minnesota hits both free-throws for the lead and both teams exchange multiple unsuccessful offensive possessions. With nine minutes remaining, Greene commits her second foul of the game and heads to the bench. Janessa Wolff finally puts some points on the board for Penn State and ties the game back up. Gray gets called for her second foul and Minnesota goes back to the free-throw line with a 16-14 lead and 7:05 on the clock.
Gray is called for her first foul on a Minnesota basket, giving the Golden Gophers a 3-point play to cut the Penn State lead to one after Minnesota closed the gap. With Penn State leading 8-7, Grant comes back into the lineup for Trogele, but misses her first shot since coming in. After a few Penn State misses a few shots, Minnesota takes the lead for the first time of the game. The Lady Lions take the lead right back but Minnesota drills their first 3-pointer for a 12-10 lead. Timeout with the score tied, 12-12.
Both teams exchange misses on the opening possessions before Penn State gets on the board first with an Alex Bentley lay-up. After a Penn State turnover, Alex Bentley picks up the first foul of the game and Minnesota scores on the ensuing possession. Tyra Grant heads to the bench after missing on a wide-open three as the game is tied at two early on. Trogele and Gray, who replaced Grant, charge the floor on a two-on-one race to the basket and Gray hits the open mid-range jump shot to give Penn State the lead. Gray scores again and Minnesota races up the court, drawing a shooting foul on Nikki Greene. Penn State, 6-2 with 15:16 in the first.
Lady Lions reporter Alex Angert here to blog tonight's Minnesota-Penn State showdown. With the Lady Lions attempting to snap their four-game losing streak, I'll be giving you guys full updates throughout the game to keep you posted. After winning six-in-a-row to take sole possession of second place in the Big Ten, Penn State has fallen on a pair of difficult weeks. Most recently, the Lady Lions were defeated by the conference's top team, Ohio State. After playing arguably their best basketball of the season for the first 30 minutes, the Lady Lions couldn't keep up with Ohio State's record breaking performance from 3-point range. We're just about under way at the BJC, stay posted for more...
The top-two teams in the West Coast Conference square off tonight in Spokane, Wash., with major tournament implications. I had both teams in my tournament projections this week, and these two are clearly the class of the conference.
The Zags had been playing very sluggishly until an overtime loss to San Francisco seemingly woke up Matt Bouldin. The senior guard has scored 19 and 20 points in his last two contests, giving Gonzaga two very impressive wins. Many people used the San Francisco loss as proof that Gonzaga was overrated. The Zags seem to be using it as motivation.
As for St. Mary's, which lost to Gonzaga in early January, 89-82, the Gaels might be the hottest team in the conference. They sit at 21-3, but have yet to record a "quality win." Their best win this year is a road victory over a sub-par Oregon squad.
No one knows how the committee feels about quality wins better than the Gaels, having been left out of the tournament last season despite finishing 26-6. Tonight would certainly give them one.
Prediction: Gonzaga 82, St. Mary's 73
Player to watch: Jerome Randle, Cal
Believe it or not, there is a meaningful game going on in the Pac-10 tonight, and Randle likely will be the deciding factor.
Going up against Washington in a matchup of the two teams sitting on the bubble, Randle's quickness, shooting ability and senior leadership could determine whether the Bears remain atop the league.
The 5-foot-10 guard is averaging 19 points and 5 assists per game, while shooting 3-pointers at a .394 clip. But it is his explosiveness that makes him scary. He has had five games this season with at least 25 points, and he even posted a 39-point game on the road against Washington State.
If he gets hot, expect the Bears to dispatch the Huskies at home.
After taking Sunday and Tuesday off, and practicing lightly on Monday, the Nittany Lions returned to their regular practice on Wednesday.
Head coach Ed DeChellis said the time off was crucial in getting his players not only rest, but a chance to catch up on their academics and get healthy.
"It'll be good for us that we were off our feet and got some rest - not banging each other around," DeChellis said. "I think that's what the bye week should be used for. Academically this has been a big week for us as well, so it's good that they have some time to concentrate on their studies."
DeChellis said the week off has given freshman swingman Bill Edwards time to heal his sprained right ankle, and that, as we reported Monday, he is still a go for this weekend's clash against Michigan State - barring any re-aggravation of the injury.
Junior forward Jeff Brooks said the time off was crucial not just to heal injuries like Edwards' but to give even the healthy players time to cure some bumps and bruises. The time off, Brooks said, gave the Lions a much needed boost in energy for the stretch run.
"It's always important to restore some energy by just resting up and eating and things like that," Brooks said. "I think it'll play a major part for the rest of the season."
The final rankings, which will determine the ACHA tournament teams, come out Friday, Feb. 19.
That means this weekend's games are the last ones that teams will play before coaches cast their ballots and those final rankings are released.
With the top-11 teams likely to make the tournament, taking automatic bids into consideration, some teams need to have big weekends to jump up in the rankings, some just need to avoid drastic letdowns and others might have already played their way out of the tournament.
Below we take a look at how the top-15 teams fared last weekend and who each team takes on this weekend.
No. 1 Lindenwood
Last weekend - vs. No. 5 Illinois: W 5-1, W 4-3 (SO)
This weekend - vs. No. 21 Robert Morris (Ill.)
Lindenwood finished off a season sweep of Illinois. Lindenwood has now won five straight against Illinois, going 4-0 against the Illini this season and beating them in the title game last year.
No. 2 Penn State
Last weekend - vs. No. 11 Rhode Island: L 4-3, W 5-1
This weekend - at/vs. Drexel
The Icers played to their second-straight split after their 19-game ACHA winning streak was snapped last weekend. One win or overtime loss in this weekend's two games against Drexel gives Penn State the ESCHL league title.
No. 3 Ohio
Last weekend - vs. No. 5 Iowa State: W 1-0, W 4-2
This weekend - vs. No. 15 Kent State
Ohio clinched the CSCHL regular season conference title last weekend. That title gives them an automatic bid to the ACHA tournament, which the Bobcats would have qualified for regardless. Chance for revenge this weekend at home against Kent State, a team that upset Ohio 3-2 in the last meeting.
No. 4 Illinois
Last weekend - at No. 1 Lindenwood: L 5-1, L 4-3 (SO)
This weekend - vs. No. 13 Central Oklahoma
Illinois can't seem to beat Lindenwood. After losing to the Lions in last year's title game, the Illini dropped all four meeting this season. The Illini welcome a Bronchos team this weekend that is battling for its tournament life.
No. 5 Iowa State
Last weekend - at No. 3 Ohio: L 1-0, L 4-2
This weekend - vs. No. 9 Minot State
The Cyclones responded to their jump into the top-5 by getting swept in a weekend series for the first time since Oct. 23-24, 2009 when they lost back-to-back games to Kent State. Iowa State will look to bounce back this week against a Minot State team that desperately needs a pair of wins to solidify its seeding in hopes for a tournament berth.
No. 6 Liberty
Last weekend - at Delaware: Postponed/Cancelled
This weekend - vs. Rutgers
Liberty, sitting comfortably at No. 6, likely enjoyed an unexpected weekend off. Instead of taking a trip to Delaware to play a desperate Fightin' Blue Hens team that is battling for its playoff life, the Flames got an extra couple days of late-season rest.
No. 7 Oklahoma
Last weekend - vs. Indiana: W 7-2, W 10-3
This weekend - OFF
Oklahoma does not play any more games before the final rankings that determine the ACHA tournament teams come out. Avoiding an upset against unranked Indiana last weekend should be plenty to keep the Sooners where they are in the rankings, giving them an at-large bid to the ACHA tournament.
No. 8 Oakland
Last weekend - at Davenport (ACHA DII): L 4-1, L 3-2 (SO)
This weekend - vs. Buffalo
With teams currently outside of the tournament picture winning games, getting swept by an ACHA Division II team is the worst thing that could have happened to Oakland. Though the Panthers are back-to-back Division II national champions, any losses at this point in the season could be enough to drop a team far enough in the rankings to miss the tournament. Especially with the Grizzlies because their last chance to impress the voters is in a pair of games at home against unranked Buffalo.
No. 9 Minot State
Last weekend - Bottineau: W 3-1, L 5-3
This weekend - at No. 5 Iowa State
Bad news for the Minot State Beavers is they lost to Bottineau. Who? Exactly. Good news is they have a chance to go on the road and play No. 5 Iowa State this weekend, so they can leave a good lasting impression in the voters' minds with a win or two.
No. 10 Arizona State
Last weekend - vs. Central Oklahoma: L 4-2, L 5-4
This weekend - vs. Villanova
It's not how a team starts that matters, it's how it finishes. Unfortunately for Arizona State, that might be the case for the Sun Devils this season. Despite starting the season 14-0-0, the Sun Devils are just 3-6 in their last nine games and were just swept by a team trying to catch them in the rankings. With only two games against Villanova remaining before the final rankings come out, Arizona State has run out of chances to prove to the voters why it deserves a tournament bid.
No. 11 Rhode Island
Last weekend - at No. 2 Penn State: W 4-3, L 5-1
This weekend - vs. Stony Brook
Rhode Island is hoping a split on the road at Penn State gets them more respect than Delaware's split with Penn State got the Blue Hens two weekends ago. After splitting with the Icers, Delaware stayed at No. 14 in the rankings. Though staying at No. 11 would put the Rams in the tournament, any letdown against Stony Brook this weekend could drop them a spot and put them out of the tournament.
No. 12 Adrian
Last weekend - vs. John Carroll: W 17-2
This weekend - vs./at Western Michigan
Seventeen goals are a lot. But 12 losses are a lot, too. Unfortunately for Adrian, those 12 losses might outweigh all the goals the Bulldogs have put up recently. Despite scoring 40 goals in their last three games, the Bulldogs have done so against inferior opponents and likely will not have enough quality wins to make the tournament.
No. 13 Central Oklahoma
Last weekend - at No. 10 Arizona State: W 4-2, W 5-4
This weekend - at No. 4 Illinois
The Bronchos did exactly what they had to do to keep their tournament hopes alive. They went on the road and swept a team three spots ahead of them in the rankings. Now, Central Oklahoma has a chance to end this season on a huge roll if it can go on the road and sweep No. 4 Illinois. Currently sitting two spots out of a potential at-large tournament bid, a sweep is likely the only chance the Bronchos have to make the playoffs.
No. 14 Delaware
Last weekend - vs. No. 6 Liberty: Postponed
This weekend - at/vs. No. 18 West Chester
There is a lot of talk about what part of the northeast was hit hardest by the storm this past weekend, but it just might be Delaware. Not the whole state, but the hockey team. Needing to move up at least three spots in the rankings, the Blue Hens badly needed a sweep against No. 6 Liberty to give them a chance to make the tournament. With those games postponed, and no chance to make them up before the final rankings come out, Delaware's last chance to impress voters comes against No. 18 West Chester. If beating No. 2 Penn State two weeks ago didn't move Delaware at all in the rankings, it's hard to see how the Blue Hens can move up three spots regardless of what happens against West Chester.
No. 15 Kent State
Last weekend - vs. Eastern Michigan: W 3-2, W 6-3
This weekend - at No. 3 Ohio
Kent State has plenty of wins against quality opponents this season, having beaten No. 1 Lindenwood, No. 3 Ohio, No. 4 Illinois and No. 5 Iowa State at least one time each. However, Kent State also lost a lot of games against teams ranked lower in the rankings, as well. Playing the No. 3 team in the ACHA on the road this weekend gives Kent State one last chance to try and jump into the top 11 and capture a tournament berth.
I talked with Penn State assistant coach Dan Earl for my story about Talor Battle and Kalin Lucas, and the former Lions guard talked about defending the Spartans' lightning quick playmaker.
Earl said the coaches have been stressing the Spartans speed in practice but added the players really won't experience just how fast MSU is until the game starts. While Battle is familiar with guarding Lucas, freshman Tim Frazier may find himself one-on-onbe with the reigning Big Ten Player of the Year, and Earl said he hopes Frazier can figure it out "sooner rather than later.'
When guarding Lucas, who can create scoring for his teammates, Earl said it would take a defensive effort by the entire team.
"You warn them that he's fast. He likes to use traffic, use that ball screen and try to drive the ball initially," Earl said. "But he can shoot the ball as well so you gotta constantly be on your toes and look alive and be ready to defend and contain the ball. Talor has seen him before, but it's not going to be just the guy defending him, it's going to be a collective effort, the other guys have to play help side defense."
With a player of Lucas' caliber, Nittany Lion defenders are going to give up point, and Earl said it's important for the players to realize that and not get discouraged.
"You're gonna get scored on," Earl said. "It's just trying to minimize how often that happens and make it a difficult shot. You can't have blow-bys and wide open layups so even if you get blown by you've gotta have help defense and have somebody step up, ready to take the charge."
For the first time ever on the Stat Book we will pay attention to solely one player and his performance over a weekend.
This week we will take a look at the incredible performance sophomore Ryan Wolf had in his first weekend as a starting outside hitter for the Nittany Lions.
Here is the Ryan Wolf edition of the Stat Book.
When Wolf gave the Lions their 20th point against Rutgers-Newark in his first set as a starter, he had matched his career total coming into the match.
Wolf came into the weekend with just four kills on his career, three coming this season.
In his first collegiate start, Wolf made coach Mark Pavlik look like a genius for giving him the nod. He fired out of the gates and tied Will Price in the first set for the team lead with five kills. Wolf got his five kills on just five swings for an unbelievable 1.000 hitting percentage.
He came back to earth a little bit to close out the weekend with 16 kills and a .300 hitting percentage.
Despite cooling off a little, Wolf recorded 80 percent of his now 20 career kills last weekend.
In addition to his potential contributions with the offense, the coaching staff and Wolf's teammates have praised Wolf for his defensive ability all season long. When he got his opportunity he did nothing but prove their notions.
Wolf finished the weekend with 13 digs, finishing second on the team behind only libero Dennis Del Valle. He also chipped in five block assists.
With Will Price making the move to opposite hitter, it is vital for the Lions to have another threat at outside hitter along with Joe Sunder. If Wolf continues his success and even gets a little better with experience, then this team could go a long way.
Coach Cael Sanderson talked with Jeff Byers during his weekly radio show. Here are some of the topics the two discussed.
Sanderson began by commenting on how excited and proud the team was of the turnout for the duals last weekend. Despite the winter weather, over 3,800 fans made it to Rec Hall for Friday's dual match against Northwestern.
Sanderson said he was happy with the effort the Nittany Lions gave against Northwestern and Michigan. He felt they used every second to their advantage, which is something he's emphasized all season. He and Byers talked about the fight Bryan Pearsall showed in his close loss against Michigan. Sanderson said he's happy with where the team is after those duals and wants to continue to build for the postseason. He said there's still room for improvement, and the wrestlers are really starting to trust the coaches and believe in what they're doing.
Sanderson said the goal for the Big Ten championships is to get as many wrestlers through to the NCAA championship as possible. "The more, the merrier," Sanderson said. Byers commented on the importance of bonus points, and Sanderson agreed they play a pivotal role in the outcome of the postseason tournaments.
The Lion coach talked about the overall confidence of the team. He said the confidence is coming along, even with guys who haven't been winning. Sanderson said confidence is huge because it allows the grapplers to fully commit to what they're doing, especially on offense.
The show ended by talking a little about the senior wrestlers, who will be competing for a final time at home Friday against Michigan State.
Brendan Herlihy- Sanderson said Herlihy's been a great and an incredible student. He said the heavyweight stepped in once or twice and did a good job filling in for Cameron Wade in some tough circumstances.
Dan Vallimont- Sanderson called Vallimont a tough, talented wrestler. He praised his ability to balance a tough workload for school with training. He said it could be a special night for Vallimont as he attempts to get his 100th win Friday.
Dave Erwin- Erwin's ability to establish himself as one of the top 184-pounders in the nation is something Sanderson said has made a huge difference for the team. He said it looks like Erwin is having a lot of fun out there, which usually makes him hard to beat.
Adam Lynch- The Penn State coach said Lynch has been fun to watch. He's done everything right, and his emergence has been a real neat story. Sanderson said the wins he's had in the Big Ten duals have made a big difference. "You want 30 Lynches in the room," Sanderson said.
Cyler Sanderson- Cael Sanderson said it seems like he was just picking on his brother around the house. He is happy with the transition Cyler has made and glad he made the move to Penn State.
Christian Harr- Though Harr may have another year of eligibility, Sanderson said the 149-pounder will most likely be honored as a senior Friday. Sanderson said Harr's been right there to step in all season and has really made the wrestlers better.
Another automatic bid for the ACHA National Championship next month has been officially clinched.
There was little doubt that Ohio would make nationals, but the Bobcats made it official by sealing up the CSCHL regular season title. Ohio is now the fourth team to punch it's ticket for nationals, joining Canton as the ECHL champions, Stony Brook as the ECHA champions and Robert Morris (Ill.) as the host team.
The CSCHL will probably have at least three more teams in the tournament (Illinois, Iowa State and Lindenwood) and possibly a fourth (Kent State), depending on how the final three automatic bids play out and how the teams stack up in the final rankings.
The final rankings that will determine the 16 teams in the tournament will be released Feb. 19.
The Tar Heels are having their worst season in recent memory (13-10, 2-6 ACC), but don't count Carolina out of this one. UNC/Duke is one of the best rivalry games in sports, so count on the Tar Heels putting out a great showing at home. The players know they've let down the fans this season. What would be the best way to make it up to them? A big-time victory against their rivals in front of a packed home court.
Prediction: North Carolina 72 - Duke 69
Player to Watch: Jordan Eglseder, Northern Iowa
At 7-feet tall, Eglseder is capable of taking over any game inside. The senior has great touch in the paint and has led the Northern Iowa Panthers to a No. 18 ranking in February. That's impressive. The Panthers are ranked 18th right now and don't appear to be slowing up. Eglseder is averaging 12.3 points and 7.7 rebounds a game, so he's been a huge part of their success. They play at Drake tonight, which is another test for one of the most surprising teams in college basketball this year.
With Canada's No. 1 volleyball team, Laval University, traveling to Penn State this weekend for two exhibition matches, it's hard not to wonder what if. What if the Nittany Lions competed in Canada? How would they fare?
Alright, I know. The NCAA is completely different than its Canadian equivalent, the CIS.
The NCAA allows athletes four seasons of eligibility. The CIS, however, grants its athletes five seasons of eligibility. And on top of that, athletes may compete for a year in a professional league - something prohibited altogether in the NCAA - and be charged just one year of eligibility.
So for example, a volleyball player may play three years in the CIS, take a year off and play professionally in Europe, then come back and play one more season for their university. When Laval comes to Rec Hall Friday night, there will be some players on its roster that are 23, 24 years old and have already played professionally overseas.
With that said, it doesn't mean we can't have a little fun. The CIS's regular season is over, but Penn State's schedule is just heating up. I took Canada's statistical leaders - in categories that could be measured against the Lions through 10 games - and calculated how Penn State would fit in.
Senior captain Margo Josephs, who is expected to return from her knee injury in the middle of the season, led the team last year with 23 CTs. The Lions eagerly await her return.
As a sophomore Jackie Eastman played in all 17 games and was fourth on the team in groundballs (26).The speedy,Springfield native had 8 CTs and is back in action for her junior season.
Junior Ashely Boccio had a breakout sophomore season and even earned All-American recognition. She is expected to do great things in the back field.
Former attacker and Florida sunshine girl, Katy Wick, will see time on defensive this season as well. Her hard work ethic has made for an easy transition to the defensive side of the game.
Keep an eye out for freshman Katie Guy, the Whitby, Ontario native. Guy brings great ball skills and was also a member of the 2009 Canadian World Cup Team.
Don't forget the Goalies
Senior Stephanie Ellis has established herself over the past seasons and is one the best in the game. She had a standout 2009 season,starting all 17 games. She was ranked second in the ALC in goals against average en route.
Demarcus Cousins and Greg Monroe are arguably the best big men in college basketball. Both forwards are underclassmen, but they are being coveted as top 10 lottery picks in June's NBA Draft.
Kentucky's Cousins, only a freshman, has been playing like the best player on the most talented team in the nation. Most draft projections have Wildcats' freshman guard John Wall as the No. 1 overall, but don't be surprised if Cousins goes in the top three.
I'm a self-professed Kentucky fan, but I have to admit that Georgetown's Monroe might be playing as well as Cousins right now.
Georgetown trailed Providence at halftime Wednesday night, but the Hoyas sophomore took over the game with his passing, assisting on 12 of his teammates' baskets.
It was amazing to watch a 6-foot-11 slash and distribute the ball with such finesse and athleticism. Even though the Hoyas were playing Providence, not exactly an elite Big East squad this season, Monroe decided to take over the game, albeit not scoring the basketball.
That's a sign of a great player. If he wanted to score, he could have. But he likely decided to pass it off to his teammates instead.
While it's only speculation until both players gain more experience (in the NCAA and a couple NBA), Monroe might pan out to be a more complete player in the future. Swingmen who are 6-foot-11 don't come around every day. Monroe showed off his touch on his passes and his ability to drive to the paint with control. That's a great asset.
Game of the night: No. 6 Purdue at No. 10 Michigan State
Electric Spartans guard Kalin Lucas is listed as questionable for tonight's contest but this matchup of the Big Ten's top teams won't disappoint. Robbie Hummel and the Boilermakers survived a three game skid in conference and have won five straight. Michigan State is on a two-game slide since Lucas sprained his ankle in Madison against Wisconsin. A win over the Boilermakers would be a huge boost for a depleted Michigan State squad that will visit State College on Saturday. But I don't see that happening.
Prediction: Purdue 71 - MSU 67
Player to Watch: A.J. Ogilvy, Vanderbilt Center
The 6-foot-11 Aussie is averaging 13.5 ppg and leading the Commodores in rebounding as a junior. Ogilvy is the latest in a trend of Austrailian player infiltrating the college ranks, a process started by Milwaulkee Bucks center Andrew Bogut and former St. Mary Gael Patty Mills and has Vandy ranked at 24th in the nation. With a huge matchup against Tennesee Tuesday night, Ogilvy should find plenty of Vols to exploit with his size, as the tallest player on Tennesee, 6-foot-10 Brian Williams (not the news guy), is averging just 16.7 minutes a game.
Today I wrote an article on the growth of lacrosse in Maryland and its raging popularity. I have some extra information, so read on.
The University of Maryland has one of the most domineering women's lacrosse programs in the country, and the 2010 roster has 20 women from within the state. That is more than half.
Head coach Cathy Reese, who is a former Terrapin player, coached at the University of Denver before returning to her alma mater and said she was able to see the sport spread through Colorado. Reese says she expects lacrosse to continue to grow, and this year is proof that it has. The sport has spread all the way down to the Sunshine state.
Reese and Ruthie Lavelle, president of the Maryland Youth Lacrosse Association (MYLA), both pointed out the University of Florida just added its first women's program this year. Guess what state the majority of the Gators come from? Maryland. Seventeen, more than half of Florida's new team is from the lacrosse breading state.
Senior Captain Margo Josephs said that people from Maryland have a state pride and lacrosse goes right along with that.
The Penn State-Pittsburgh intrastate rivalry renews this weekend when the No. 15 Nittany Lions travel west to take on the Panthers at 7 p.m. Saturday at Fitzgerald Field House .
Unlike the football rivalry, which has been dormant since 2000, the Lions and Panthers have squared off in gymnastics every year since 2001. The gymnastics rivalry, though, is a little more lopsided than the one played on the gridiron, where Penn State holds only an eight-game advantage. In contrast, the Nittany Lions own a 39-meet advantage in the gym.
Here's a quick history of the gymnastics meetings between the two teams:
Series began: 1966
Series record: 41-2, Penn State
Last Penn State win: 2009, 194.800-191.675
Last Pitt win: 2004, 196.350-195.800
Pitt's lone other win came in 1984.
From 1971-2009, the teams competed against each other in all but six years (1975, '81, '94, '96, '99, 2000).
Penn State opens the 2010 season ranked 18 in the initial IWLCA rankings. The Nittany Lions finished last season at 15.
The ALC was well represented as three other teams started exactly where they finished last season. Northwestern opens at its familiar spot (No. 1), followed by Vanderbilt and Ohio State at No. 11 and No. 16, respectively.
Penn State's first opponent, Loyola (Md.), enters the year ranked No. 14. The Greyhounds promise to give the Lions a tough opening contest this weekend at Holuba Hall.
After games against Loyola and Bucknell, Penn State faces No. 2 Maryland here in Happy Valley. Penn State will play a total of six ranked teams this season.
Tom Watson needs to climb down from his high horse.
He's spoken about Tiger Woods' behavior on the golf course in the past, and the great Joe Posnanski has a piece in this week's SI chronicling the two and their contrasting styles.
I like Posnanski. He's one of my favorite writers and more talented at what he does than most of us will ever be at what we do.
I like Watson. Had he won the British Open it would have been the sports story of the year.
But let's not forget his assessment of the Turnberry course after the first round in July: "She's defenseless. She's naked. You have to take advantage of her."
Or how he felt after his performance the next day: "I'm 59. So this is the next best thing to sex."
Great golfer. Vulgar golfer.
Wait, which TW are we talking about again?
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Someone really needs to give the Wizards a break.
First their chances at becoming a true contender in the Eastern Conference fell through the Verizon Center floor with some bad contracts and trades. Then their star player and face of the franchise got charged for bringing guns into said arena and was indefinitely suspended by the league.
Now even Mother Nature seems to have it in for Washington, both the team and the city itself.
After about 32 inches of snow fell on D.C. last weekend, the capital region got hammered again Tuesday. The Wiz were in Orlando on Friday and Charlotte on Tuesday, and neither time did they have the chance to return home.
Flip Saunders' squad was supposed to play Atlanta at home Saturday, but the bad weather kept the team in Florida until it could head out to North Carolina for Tuesday's game.
Now the Wizards have to wait until after the All-Star break for another shot to play in front of their fans.
Haven't they suffered enough? At some point karma has to swing back in their favor, right?
At least the rest of Washington's February schedule is favorable. Five of its last seven games this month are at home, and the two road match-ups the Wiz have to play are against Toronto and lowly New Jersey.
Really, it's a break that's long overdue.
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Tennis great John McEnroe is calling Roger Federer the greatest tennis player of all ... of all time.
Owner of seven Grand Slam titles, McEnroe knows a thing or two about success on tennis' highest level.
Acknowledging other racquet icons like Rod Laver, who is the only male player to win all four major titles in a single calendar year, and Pete Sampras, whose mark of 14 career Grand Slams Federer just surpassed, McEnroe pointed to Roger's consistency throughout the decade as enough to put him atop the pedestal of all-timers.
The Swiss maestro's longevity atop the sport is unprecedented, but with no true competition aside from a certain injury-riddled Spaniard, we're withholding him from "greatest ever" status because of his talent-starved era.
How many major titles does Federer win with a field of the likes of McEnroe, Borg, Lendl and Connors?
We think it's a safe bet his amazing streak of 23-straight semifinal appearances in Grand Slams doesn't happen, either.
Want our choice for greatest ever?
Write to us. Share some of your thoughts and we'll have a nice conversation about tennis through the ages.
Today it was announced that freshman forward Dominic Morrone underwent surgery for a case of appendicitis and will miss time on the ice.
How long that time is, however, is another question.
"I've heard some people say they know people who had it and played the next week and I've heard other people say four weeks, five weeks," assistant coach Bill Downey said. "So we'll wait to hear from the doctors and go from there."
Losing Morrone would be a huge hit to the Icers, who have gotten 13 goals (fourth on the team) and 20 assists (second on the team) from the freshman on the season.
Morrone joins other Icers like Dan Loucks, Chris Pronchik and George Saad and are all currently on the injured list with various ailments.
With their forward's status up in the air and other injuries lingering, Penn State is more than confident in its depth to help it weather this latest rash of injuries.
"Guys are just going to have to be ready to play, no matter when your number's called," forward Tim O'Brien said. "I think that's a big thing for our team that we've had our ups-and-downs throughout the year, and I think that top-to-bottom, no matter whose number is called, everybody in this locker room has faith in each other and I think that's a good thing."
The Lady Lions will be represented in the Women's Basketball Coaches Association All America game by recruit Areile Edwards.
Edwards, a 6-foot-2 forward from Christ the King High School, is the only Big Ten recruit selected to play in the game.
"I am thrilled for Ariel to receive such a great honor," Coquese Washington said in a press release. "Her outstanding high school career has proven that she deserves to be listed among the county's elite players."
Edwards is making the most of her senior season with Christ the King as she's taken great strides in improving her game. Known as a player with remarkable physical tools, this season she's been able to improve her perimeter game as well.
"She's a 6-foot girl, but she's not a forward," said Joe Staszewski of the New York Post, who watched Edwards play the last two years. "She can bring the ball up the court, she has a nice touch, I mean she's very, very versatile."
Stazewiski said one of the knocks on Edwards' play in the past was that she was considered "too soft," but he said that's all changed this season. Her growth comes during just her second season with Christ the King after she transferred from Elmont High School in Long Island, NY.
Edwards joins a long list of Penn State basketball players who participated in the game. Among them are current Lady Lion Nikki Greene, current assistant coach Maren Walseth, and former players Helen Darling, Tina Nicholson and Kim Calhoun.
The game will be played April 3, in San Antonio, Texas, which is also the host site for the Women's Final Four.
It's an eventful volleyball weekend in State College and in this week's Pavcast, we hear Penn State coach Mark Pavlik's thoughts on the non-stop festivities.
The No. 9 Nittany Lions will host Laval University of Quebec -- Canada's top-ranked squad -- in a Friday, Saturday double feature. Meanwhile, Penn State will be hosting a boy's bid volleyball tournament , featuring some of the East Coast and Midwest's top club teams, including three PSU 2010 recruits.
We also have some fun with Penn State's head guy and ask him to describe some of his current players in one word. Apparently, it's harder than it sounds.
Check it out:
Pavlik on Laval men's volleyball:
Pavlik on this weekend's Nittany Ninvitational:
Pavlik does his best to describe some of his players.. in one word:
I've said it before: There's something particularly intriguing about a good crossover. Political strategist James Carville jumped to socio-athletic Louisiana sports commentatary after writing an inspiring piece about the Saints' importance to N'Awlins going into a Super Bowl on the heels of the city's rebuilding. It worked (they won, anyway).
This week's intriguing crossover rests on the pint-sized frame of Danica Patrick. There's a long-existant infatuation with women's insertion (that one's for Freud) into male sub-worlds. Danica's career has no doubt gotten a boost from her good looks, and -- gold star for her -- she has remained relevant by displaying considerable talent behind the wheel.
And now she's taking a step in a new direction. Danica is making a leap from IndyCar to stock car racing, the uber-recognizable racing genre of NASCAR, after securing a seat for Saturday's Nationwide Series race at Daytona.
While she's not exactly racing with the big boys of stock car racing, she is crossing over to America's most mainstream style of car racing. Time can only tell if Danica will ever make it to Sprint Cup racing and be competitive, but I'm excited to see how she finishes in Saturday's race.
Good luck, Danica, and it's not just because you're super hot.
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The Brewers decided to build a statue of one of the people that brought the franchise to Milwaukee 40 years ago.
The more than seven-foot-tall statue will be unveiled to the public Aug. 24, and it will be designed by the same man who built metallic replicas of Milwaukee greats Hank Aaron and Robin Yount early last decade.
All this sounds great -- until you realize the man about to be bronzed is Bud Selig.
Don't get me wrong, Selig -- who headed the group that bought the Seattle Pilots and moved the floundering team to Wisconsin in 1970 -- is primarily responsible for bringing the Brew Crew into relevance. His being named MLB commissioner in 1992 was a huge step for small-market clubs throughout the league.
But what Selig has done since handing over control of the franchise and overseeing the rest of them is hardly deserving of a more-than-life-sized statue. This is the man who oversaw the rise of steroids and performance-enhancing drugs in his sport, turning a blind eye because the juiced-up players were bringing in attention to a game trying desperately to recover from a lockout. The man who helped bring the All-Star Game to Milwaukee and provide one of the most entertaining and well-played games in recent memory -- only to have it end in a tie because he wouldn't alter the rules in an exhibition to let players re-enter the game.
For goodness' sake, this is the man who kept all small-market teams constantly looking over their shoulders for fear of contraction less than 10 years ago. That's right, the same small-market teams that looked to Selig as a shining light in the early '90s looked on him in terror in the early- to mid-'00s.
Yep, sounds like a guy worthy of canonization to me.
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If there's one thing the Saints' Super Bowl win over the Colts underscored for the rest of the football world, it's that 2009 became the Year of the Risk.
Seriously, some of these coaches must have thought a Madden opponent was on the other end of their headsets with some of the gambles they took.
Saints coach Sean Payton and Steelers coach Mike Tomlin both tried onside kicks at what are normally inopportune times, Payton to start the second half of the Super Bowl and Tomlin with his team leading the Packers in a late regular-season meeting. (Green Bay recovered but Pittsburgh ultimately triumphed.) Rex Ryan's Jets clinched their win over the Chargers in the playoffs on a gutsy fourth-and-1 call, and Pats head man Bill Belichick ... well, you know what happened there.
Gall was displayed on the college level as well, with Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz attempting a fake field goal in the Orange Bowl and Boise State's Chris Peterson calling for a fake punt late in the Fiesta Bowl -- although fortune favored only the latter of the two.
Math will show that only half of these decisions worked, but that's a minute point.
The larger picture is that this past season the naturally ultra-conservative football coaches stopped overthinking every little detail and no longer feared worst-case scenario with each passing play, instead choosing to go with their hunches and eliminate their auras of genius and think like -- dare I say it? -- fans.
Somewhere along the way, football became fun again.
Brandi Personett is certainly making her case for her second straight Big Ten Gymnast of the Year award.
Personett was honored as the Big Ten Gymnast of the Week after she tied her career high on the all-around with a score of 39.600 in Saturday's dual-meet. The gymnast ranks No. 24 in the nation in the all-around, averaging a 39.104. She also ranks No. 2 in the nation on the vault and No. 3 on the floor exercise.
Though the season is only five meets old, this is the third time the senior has garnered this accolade. She also won the awards following Penn State's season-opener at Michigan State and following the Nittany Lions' home opener on Jan. 23. This is the 12th time in her career she has won this award.
After a week's hiatus, we're back with A Monday Minute. This week we have the soft-spoken Tomas Pereira, a junior outside hitter from Brasilia, Brasil.
In this week's segment, Periera gives us his take on coach Mark Pavlik's punchless joke about one of American's most celebrated generals and discusses why he loves Adrian Brody's oscar-winning World War II flick. Check it out: VN320063.mp3
The Nittany Lions have been slowly but surely climbing up the rankings each week since returning home to compete at Rec Hall.
After starting the season at No. 11, then falling to No. 18, and then No. 22 after its second meet, Penn State has boosted its ranking in three home meets.
Since the No. 22 ranking, the Lions have gone from No. 19 to No. 17 and now stand at No. 15 with an average score of 195.165. The team set their high score this past Saturday night against Illinois with a 196.425.
Penn State remains second in the Big Ten behind Michigan, which ranks No. 13 in the nation with a 195.240.
Following a season-low performance on the vault, senior Brandi Personett dropped to No. 2 on the event behind her childhood best friend Susan Jackson of LSU. Personett's average stands at 9.910 while Jackson's stands at 9.915. Personett is also No. 3 in the floor exercise and No. 24 in the all-around.
Other Lions who cracked the rankings this week include sophomore Natalie Ettl, who is tied for No. 13 on the uneven bars.
Fans heckling athletes is a natural occurrence in sports today, whether it's at the professional, college or even high school level.
But most coaches and players would agree there is a line that shouldn't be crossed -- and University of Rhode Island coach Joe Augustine felt that line was crossed by a fan at the Penn State Icers game Saturday.
With time winding down in the Icers' 5-1 victory, a couple of fans could be heard yelling over the glass in the direction of Augustine.
As the final buzzer sounded and the team's met at center ice to shake hands, Augustine repeatedly yelled, "Stay there, don't move," to the fans who had been shouting at him.
Immediately after shaking hands, Augustine left the ice in pursuit of the heckling fans, who had left the bleacher area.
Augustine hurried across the bleachers in pursuit of the men, finally catching them near the exit and confronting them.
Grabbing a hold of one of the men by his coat, Augustine told the man he had crossed the line by talking about Augustine's daughter.
Surrounded by a crowd of people leaving the game, Augustine was finally separated from the fan by one of his assistants and the team captain. He then walked back to the URI locker room amidst other fans yelling his name.
Once back in the tunnel under the bleachers, the same assistant coach came back toward the crowd of people and asked one of the yelling fans, "Do you have something you'd like to say to coach Joe?"
After standing there for a minute, the assistant then returned to the locker room with Augustine.
Calls to Augustine and multiple ACHA league officials went unanswered as of the time of this post.
Any updates or responses from either Augustine or the league office will be posted if we get them.
Anyone who witnessed the incident or possibly has any pictures or video footage, feel free to e-mail it to BTP at firstname.lastname@example.org
Today we are starting a new segment on Crosse Fire called "Meet the Team Monday." Each week, we will ask a player ten random questions and let you see a different side of the Penn State's women lacrosse stars.
This week: Junior midfielder Laura Lesnick
1. Favorite music?
I like alternative rock, like OAR, Red Hot Chilli Peppers
2. Favorite pro sports team?
3. Favorite sport other than lacrosse?
To watch it's definitely football, to play is soccer
4. Favorite Penn State athlete not on women's lacrosse?
5. Favorite place to vacation?
Ocean City, Md.
6. Do you like snow? Favorite thing about it?
I do like snow; yeah, I like playing in snow
7. Favorite meal?
8. Favorite TV show?
9. Favorite movie you saw the past year?
The Blind Side
10. Favorite hobby/thing to do other than lacrosse?
No. 14 Delaware and No. 6 Liberty were supposed to meet last weekend in two games that would've had huge implications for the ACHA national picture.
But because of the snowpocalypse, the games were postponed, along with all activities on the University of Delaware campus. Now, word on the Fighting Blue Hens' Web site is that the games probably will not be made up. Delaware has two conference games this weekend with West Chester, followed by the ESCHL playoffs the next weekend. And since the last rankings that will decide the field for nationals will be released a week from Friday, scheduling the games after the rankings would not make any sense.
That probably will be the final nail in Delaware's ACHA hopes, as the Blue Hens could've gotten a huge boost if it had beaten Liberty twice this weekend.
As it stands right now, Penn State and Rhode Island might be the only ESCHL teams to make the ACHA field.
Sure, the contest may have lost some of its luster with Texas' recent swoon (The Horns have lost four of their last six.), but tonight's Texas-Kansas clash has been the most anticipated game of the season.
Right now, Kansas is the best team in college hoops. It's ranked No. 1 in both polls and has won eight straight. But Kansas has not faced a team with big men like Texas' all year long. Damion James is averaging 18 points and 11 boards per game, while Dexter Pittman and Gary Johnson have helped Texas control games on the glass.
But the Horns are struggling and are still reeling after a loss to rival Oklahoma in Norman on Saturday. It'll be a tough turnaround made even tougher by Sherron Collins, Cole Aldrich and Xavier Henry.
Prediction: Kansas 71, Texas 60
Player to watch: Scottie Reynolds, Villanova
How could it be anyone else?
Reynolds and the Wildcats are coming off a loss at Georgetown and head into one of the most hostile environments in the country in Morgantown. He will be the one looked at to control the game.
Reynolds is averaging 19 points, three boards and four assists per game for a young Nova squad. The Cats have yet to face adversity this season and another loss tonight would certainly bring some. But with perhaps the most seasoned Big East veteran manning the offense, don't expect Scottie and the Cats to go down so easily.
These two games may be the two best of the entire regular season, and they are in one night. Enjoy.
Here are the Collegian's assessment of each player's performance from Saturday's 66-64 loss to Minnesota:
Junior guard Talor Battle: B
Battle played like his usual self, but his 3-for-7 total from the free throw line brings his grade down. If he makes three out of his four misses, then the Lions win the game. Battle hit some big shots at crucial moments, but the free throw percentage was disappointing. Also, he was pretty quiet on the offensive end in the first half.
Sophomore guard Chris Babb: B-
The Arlington, Tx., native can still convert on more of his open shot attempts. He'll hit about half of those attempts, but he has the potential to be one of the most successful jump shooters in Lions history. He should be hitting all of the big shots. He never got going in the first half, but some huge shots in the second half earn her a B- grade.
Junior forward D.J. Jackson: A
D.J. hit some big time shots in one of his best games of the year. He finished second to only Battle in points (18) and played strong in the first half. Jackson got to the line early and often and converted on all his attempts, hitting all eight. He played the way the Lions need him to play to be successful.
Junior forward Jeff Brooks: B-
Brooks started but only scored three points in 19 minutes played. His crucial pass to Battle in the game's final minutes is the one play that stands out. He somehow corralled the loose ball and earned the assist on Battle's final play. Still, the Lions would like for Brooks to score than three points as a starter and crunch-time contributor.
Junior forward Drew Jones: C
Jones fouled out with 4:33 remaining and was a virtual non-factor all game. It seems like Jones gets whistled for an over-the-back foul each game and it's a pretty glaring habit. As Jones looked like he was about to get back on track, he came out and played poorly Saturday. With that performance, he may have forfeited his starting spot back to Andrew Ott.
Junior forward Andrew Ott: C+
Combine Ott's points, rebounds, assists and steals and you don't even add up to his personal foul total. Ott was whistled for four fouls in 14 minutes and finished with zero points so you can't really award him too high of a grade. Despite a lingering shoulder injury that kept him out of the Ohio State game Wednesday, Ott played some big-time minutes for the Lions. It will be interesting to see if he or Jones starts on Saturday against Michigan State.
Freshman guard: Tim Frazier: A-
Frazier looked as comfortable as he has in the last 10 games. The freshman controlled the ball for the majority of the end of the game and made some great moves with the ball. Coach DeChellis' assessment of Frazier's play: "I thought Tim Frazier made a couple nice drives to the basket. Defensively, No. 5 (Devoe Joseph) got him on a couple things but he had a better second half defensively. As a freshman out there, he did a good job. He was a little more comfortable I thought, he did fine."
Freshman swingman Bill Edwards did not play at all on Saturday. Coach DeChellis said he was nowhere near ready to play.
"No. He couldn't jump, couldn't cut. He couldn't go."
Andres Casais and Drew Cost, both seniors next year, were named the Nittany Lion captains for the 2010 season on Thursday. Ironically, Casais and Cost were the only two players available for comment after the NCAA Tournament loss to Maryland -- an omen, or perhaps head coach Barry Gorman knew then who his captains would be.Let's break down the new captains:1. Casais is the central defender on the Nittany Lion backline. Noted for his tackling abilities, Casais has a knack for frustrating opponents with his clean swipes. Casais, perhaps more importantly for his captain role, is a leader. He is vocal. He always puts the fault on himself instead of on others.2. Cost is more than a solid midfielder. He played most of the year in a central position but moved to an outside midfield position later in the year while Mackenzie Arment sat. The good thing is: Cost is a threat at both positions. From a leadership standpoint, Cost tells things how they really are. He seems like a guy who is unafraid to approach other teammates about their play.-MonahanComments
The Nittany Lions (12-5-1, 4-2 Big Ten) wrapped up a solid weekend with a 29-10 defeat of Michigan (4-12, 0-5). Here are a few things to take away from the action.
1. Brad Pataky won by major decision, 13-0, against Michigan's Sean Boyle. Combined with his performance against Northwestern Friday, Pataky outscored his opponents 28-0 in the two duals. That's a pretty solid weekend for the 125-pounder. Pataky looked in control of his matches and seems to be on the right track heading towards the postseason.
2. Bryan Pearsall's struggles continued. However, despite losing 13-9, the Lion 133-pounder held the upper hand for much of the bout. There's was an obvious shift in aggression midway through the match. Pearsall had Michigan's Zac Stevens on the defensive, and the Wolverine resorted to injury timeouts to catch his breath. It was a good showing from Pearsall in front of the Penn State crowd.
3. Much like Pataky, Cyler Sanderson and Cameron Wade are both looking good late in the Big Ten season. Sanderson and Wade each pinned both of their opponents on the weekend. Prior to the pins, both Lions looked in control and on their way to big wins.
4. Dave Erwin and Dan Vallimont each won by decision, but I think it's safe the say both matches were closer than the Penn State coaches would have liked. Vallimont was never able to build a significant lead against Aaron Hynes, but came away with an 8-7 victory. Meanwhile, Erwin appeared to be on his way to a major decision, but faltered late en route to a 12-9 win. It's hard to say a win is disappointing, but both victories could have been more decisive.
5. The lack of points from 133, 174 and 197 is troubling. The wrestlers at these weights are showing good effort but have been overmatched in many of the bouts. The decision as to who will wrestle at 197 must be made soon, and it seems like a toss up at this point.
6. The Rec Hall crowd has been a factor. Sanderson said Friday he was happy with the turnout, considering the winter weather throughout much of Pennsylvania. Several wrestlers have mentioned how listening to the crowd support the teammate competing before them has helped to get them motivated to wrestle.
A side note regarding the crowd: If I were a betting man, I'd put my money on the ROTC guy to win the intermission push-up championship Friday when the Lions host Michigan State.
It's the end of the week. Per the usual, here are the bracket projections.
Midwest Region (St. Louis)
7. Wake Forest
8. Virginia Tech
10. Rhode Island
15. Morgan St.
16. Prairie View A&M/Arkansas St.
Kansas remains the tournament overall No. 1, and Georgetown remains a two seed despite a mid-week loss courtesy of its blowout of Villanova on Saturday.
The rest of the bracket appears relatively weak. The 12-seeded Marquette Golden Eagles nearly knocked off the third-seeded Badgers early in the season. Just a barometer of the college basketball landscape: a few elite teams and a whole lot of mediocrity.
South Region (Houston)
2. West Virginia
3. Michigan St.
5. Georgia Tech
9. Texas A&M
13. Murray St.
14. Weber St.
15. Robert Morris
With their win over Michigan State in primetime on Saturday, the Illinois Fighting Illini eked their way into the tournament as the last team in. It gives the Big Ten five teams (with the other four teams all in the top-16 overall seeds). The Spartans are the other Big Ten team in the region. After they appeared destined for a one-seed, they dropped to a three because of two losses this week.
West Region (Salt Lake City)
4. Ohio St.
5. Ole Miss
6. New Mexico
7. Northern Iowa
11. Mississippi St.
13. Old Dominion
14. Stephen F. Austin
15. Coastal Carolina
The Orange remained one of the hottest teams in hoops this week with a pair of impressive victories over Cincinnati and Providence. Duke makes a return to the top-eight overall seeds because so many highly ranked teams lost this week. This bracket could see some upsets, too, with mid-majors New Mexico, Northern Iowa and Siena all in the top-eight seeds.
East Region (Syracuse)
3. Kansas St.
8. Florida St.
10. St. Mary's
11. Notre Dame
13. Louisiana Tech
The Lehigh-Villanova first-round game would mean a matchup of my mom's alma mater (Lehigh) and my sister's current school (Nova). That would be a fun day in the Cassavell household, but, as Nova should do with a bracket like this, the Cats will cruise. Purdue, Kansas St. and Tennessee have all looked shaky at points this season. Washington also represents the only Pac-10 team in my bracket.
Where Penn State fits in: Like last week, and the week before, and the week before (you get the point), the Lions don't fit.
Postseason prediction: None
Final Four prediction: Kansas, West Virginia, Syracuse, Villanova
The Lady Lions are now in the midst of a four-game losing streak and Sunday's game was just another hard-fought loss for the Lions to add to their list of struggles. Surrendering a 15-point lead makes this a tough pill for the Lions to swallow, but Ohio State was shooting lights out. The No. 8 Buckeyes set a Big Ten record by making 17 three pointers and Samantha Prahalis made five of her six attempts. With as crazy as a game it was, here's our breakdown.
The positive was the Lions nearly doubled Thursday night's point total. The negative was they just didn't do enough. They had a balanced scoring attack and ended with four players scoring in double figures. The Lions just couldn't score on a consistent basis. Alex Bentley was nearly unstoppable in the first half, scoring 16 points. During the game's final 20 minutes she had just four points off of only five shots. Nikki Greene was limited to just two points in the second half and while the team shot 45 percent and shot 38 percent from beyond the arc, Ohio State just put on a shooting clinic. The Buckeyes shot 54 percent for the game, and their 17 threes were just down right impressive.
Coquese Washington said after the game her team's defense hasn't been up to par during the last four games. After forcing 18 turnovers in the first half, the Lions only got seven turnovers in the second half. Blowing a lead was something this team's done several times this year as its had moments where the team's youth was exposed. Sunday was no exception. Allowing the Buckeyes to go on a 17-4 run during the second half is the main reason why the Lions couldn't pull off the upset. Penn State was out rebounded 35-25 and for as much aggression as the Lions had in the first half, they lacked a whole lot of it during the games final minutes.
Emotions ran high as Tyra Grant and Alex Bentley scored at will in the first half. High fives were going all around the Bryce Jordan Center as Penn State had an 11-point lead heading into the half. As soon as Brittany Johnson hit a 3-pointer to open the second half, it was known that the game was going to be a back and forth contest. The difference was Ohio State responded to the controversy and the Lions didn't. Penn State did maintain its composure even when Prahalis got a technical foul, but in a way Prahalis' foul fired her team up. The Lions kept looking for their spark and time and time again they just couldn't find somebody who could take over the game during its closing minutes. The team didn't look like it packed it in early, but they were just flat out beat by Ohio State's second-half momentum.
Free Throws: B-
Well, you can't say the Lady Lions didn't make their free throws. The problem was they just didn't get to the line enough. Another trend that's shown up time and time again during the four-game losing streak is the team's inability to get to the charity stripe. They only had 11 attempts today and while they made 10 of them, it's simply not enough. Julia Trogele, who is one of the team's best free-throw shooters didn't even make it to the line and Grant was limited to just six attempts. Washington said in her post game press conference that her team needs to make the decision to get to the line in order for it to be successful, and on Sunday they didn't get the job done.
The Lions will need to regroup quickly as Minnesota comes to town Thursday night, but it's going to take awhile for Penn State to get the images of Ohio State draining 3-pointer after 3-pointer out of their minds.
Saturday's Penn State-Minnesota basketball game featured the Nittany Lions wearing throwback uniforms. Here is a look from gopsusports at the jersey.
But the Lions didn't don the jerseys solely to look good. The game was a part of Coaches vs. Cancer and the Lions auctioned the jerseys after the for two dollars per ticket. Basketball sports information director Brian Siegrist said about 5,000 tickets were sold.
Head coach Ed DeChellis said he was initially disappointed because the blizzard drove away some of the paid attendance of 10,291.
"Well, we just kind of with our luck and then the sense that we didn't have much of a crowd today because of the storm, but I hope it went well," DeChellis said. "The uniforms looked good out there. We were trying to raise money for Coaches vs. Cancer and hopefully we sold enough of those tickets to do that but if we had a big crowd, I think it would have been more successful. I appreciate everybody who came today and weathered the storm. To be honest with you, I was surprised there were that many people there tonight considering the storm that we had."
Lions take a timeout and it looks like this one is just about in the books.
OSU with a 82-73 lead with 50 seconds left.
Prahalis hits her free throws and brings her total to 26 points. Lavender was close behind with 18.
Final 86-73 OSU wins
Penn State dominated the first half and lead by as many as 13, but a sharp shooting OSU team was ultimately too much for the Lions to overcome. Be sure to check The Daily Collegian's website, as well as our blog for the full game analysis.
Trogele with her first foul of the game.
Greene with her fourth foul, this one coming away from the ball.
Lavender goes to the line and hits both free throws.
Trogele with the foul
81-73 OSU leads. 1 minute left in the game
Bentley's pass picked off by Lavender, who feeds it to none other than Prahalis for the three.
Bentley with a basket.
Timeout Ohio State
79-73 OSU leads with 1:58 left in the game
Lavender with the clean block on Greene's attempted hook shot.
Ohio State takes the lead off a three pointer.
Prahalis picks up her third foul, the team's fifth of the half.
Moeller with the foul, sending Grant to the line.
Grant hits both, to give the Lions a one-point lead.
Prahalis with a nice move to get some space and bypass Bentley, but airballs the shot.
Prahalis makes up for it on the fast break with the behind-the-back dribble and pass to her teammate for the three.
OSU hits another three to take a 76-71 lead with 3:57 left in the game
Maria Moeller with the foul on Trogele as she clipped her from behind.
Prahalis with her first missed three pointer of the game. And it comes with 8:32 l3ft in the contest
Monroe with the post move to make it a five-point game.
Moeller with a three off the pass from Prahalis. This OSU team is draining the long ball all afternoon. They are 13-for-21 from beyond the arc and Prahalis is just a dominant force on the court as she can dribble, penetrate and shoot.
69-67 Penn State leads
Prahalis and Lavender are heating up right now and the Lions need to regain their compusure, avoid the unnecessary fouls in order to maintain the momentum that they establsihed.
Greene with a monstrous block on Little. the ball soared back out to the free throw line where Trogele chased it down for the layup.
Greene with a big rebound and a long pass out to Trogele who gets another layup.
Lavender with the jumper from the top of the key.
67-64 PSU leads
Grant called for the offensive foul, her second of the game.
Gray enters for Phillips
Little gets the basket for the Buckeyes.
Bentley loses her footing and slides out of bounds, OSU ball.
Prahalis wastes no time, driving to the hoop and getting the basket, and the foul. Foul called on Bentley.
She makes the free throw and cuts Penn State's lead to four points.
Schulze with a three for OSU.
It's now a one-point PSU lead with 11:09 left in the game.
Penn State has let the Buckeyes back in this one, but out of the timeout Grant hits a three, extending the Lions' lead to nine points.
Bentley checks back in the game, replacing Monroe.
Timeout Penn State
Lions lead 63-54 with 12:54 remaining in the game
Lavender was flailing her elbows trying to post up Greene and Greene picked up the foul. It was a very questionable call and one that's really going to alter Penn State's approach during this second half. Greene heads to the bench with three fouls.
Johnson heads off the court with the help of her teammates. She couldn't put any weight on what appears to be a left-knee injury. That would be a huge loss for OSU is she misses some time.
Lavender with two more in the paint.
Phillips checks back in the game, replacing Bentley. Phillips picks up the foul when she tried to get a hold of Parahalis who beat her and had a drive to the basket.
Prahalis hits both free throws.
Trogele with a basket, but the Buckeyes hit a three.
60-54 Penn State leads
Schulze called for the foul on Grant who took a hard fall to the floor. Grant hits both free throws to give Penn State a 13-point lead.
Ohio State let the ball go out of bounds when they missed the layup.
Walker picks up her third foul while bentley was trying to penetrate.
58-45 PSU leads. 15:50 remaining in the game
Johnson opens up the half with a three to cut Penn State's lead to eight points. Many times this season the Lions' have gone on five minute scoring droughts where they've struggled mainiaining their composure and you have to wonder what Penn State team shows up her this half.
Greene picks up her second fouls of the game, but responds with a bakset the next time down the floor.
Bentley added two more as did Trogele. Trogele's basket came off a great assist for Grant who is having another strong performance.
Prahalis picks up the technical foul. Grant at the line shooting three. Prahalis is a very emotional player and after she hit her layup she turned to the referee and wanted the foul called as well. Coach Foster said in his teleconference this week that he welcomes her emotion becuase it goes hand in hand with her play, but he doesn't look too happy about that one.
Lions up 56-45
I must say I'm very surprised the Lions have taken control of this game. Ohio State turned the ball over 18 times in the half, but for as bad as it's been for the Buckeyes, they are draining threes. They are 8-for-13 beyond the arc and Prahalis is 4-for-4. I just wonder if they can keep on hitting the long ball because right now that's accouting for 24 of their 37 points. Ohio State will try to get the ball to Lavender and their other post players more in the second half, but right now Greene is owning the paint. the Buckeyes have just 12 points down low, much becuase of Greene and Monroe. Both combined for nine first-half rebounds, while Greene also has 10 points. The Lions only comitted six turnovers in the first half, which is very low, considering they usually turn the ball over about 16 times a games. Penn State's balanced scoring attack is something it lacked during its three-game losing streak, but today Grant, Greene and Bentley combined for 39 points.
Greene hits the free throw, successfully converting the three-point play.
Prahalis nails her third three of the game to try and keep pace. Johnson hits a three as well.
OSU is really draining the long ball today, as PSU's taken a much differnt approach. The Lions are working the ball inside and as Prahalis is called for the offensive foul, coach Foster almost picked up the technical foul. The fans were yelling to give Foster the technical, but it didn't happen.
Greene at the line hits one. Nikki has 10 points already that gives PSU three players in double digit scoring figures.
Prahalis with another three. This time she turned and blew kisses toward her teammates. Not sure if her boyfriend, who is OSU's star basketball player Evan Turner, appreciates that.
Bentley gets on the scoreboard again, this time hitting a jumper with 10 seconds left in the half.
PSU holds onto a 48-37 lead heading into the half.
Trogele gets involved in the scoring with a three of her own.
On the following posession, off an OSU miss, Greene gets the ball down low and gets the basket and the foul. Greene rarely shows much emotion, but as her teammates are jumping up and down, she quietly headed back to the huddle.
Foul was on Andrea Walker
PSU up 40-26
Gray, Trogele, Greene, Janessa Wolff and Bentley on the floor for Penn State
Gray tries to work the ball inside to Greene who was conpletely covered, causing the turnover.
Hill picks up the foul, her first, the Buckeyes' third.
Bentley with another jumper, giving her a team-high 12 points.
Johnson drains a three as Trogele couldn't get out on the wing fast enough to guard her.
35-26 PSU leads, 3:42 left in the half
The crowd is on its feet here in the BJC as Bentley and Grant are running on adrenaline. After Grant's three, it was the usual fist pump and with Bentley's score coach Coquese Washington gave her a look that made it seem like even the coach was surprised by how the freshman's been able to respond time and time again this year.
Off the inbounds play, the Lions hold tight for about five seconds, before Bentley gets the steal. Grant called for the charge on the posession.
Shavelle Little called for the foul on Bentley.
Monroe with a tough pull of the inbounds play. The senior is really playing with a lot of toughness in the post today, but her agression gets the best of her as she's called with the reach- in foul.
Grant with the steal and the basket off the fast break.
Out of the timeout, Andrea Walker hits a shot from the elbow.
Marisa Wolfe with the basket after a nice bounce pass from Phillips.
The Lions' 2-3 zone is keeping the Buckeyes out of the paint, but as Johnson hits a three, they have to find a way to get on the shooter. The Buckeyes are firing the threes and until they start missing, I'd expect we'll see more of it.
Referees are gathering on the court for a discussion and after a quick talk with OSU coach Jim Foster, PSU inbounds the ball under their basket.
Greene with an aggressive putback off the miss. She's certainly going to be tested by Lavender, but so far she's holding her own.
Prahalis with another three.
The Lions continue to stay aggressive with the offensive boards as Monroe score two off the rebound.
Grant converts another three but OSU pushes the ball up the court and feeds it to Lavender for the basket.
The roller-coaster ride continues as Grant drains a three, followed by a two from around the three-point line from Bentley.
Timeout OSU 31-19 PSU. 8:10 left in the half
Janessa Wolff checks in for the Lions as does Marisa Wolfe and Zhaque Gray.
Grant gets the Lions their first points after the break giving PSU a 13-8 lead.
Bentley off the steal converts the layup. Much to fellow writer Bill Landis' dismay she didn't dunk, but hey, at 5-foot-7 that may be asking too much.
Zhaque Gray on the fast break and gets fouled. Makes both shots.
17-8 Penn State leads
Emily Phillips and Julia Trogele check in for Penn State.
The Buckeyes have comitted a lot of turnovers this far and it's helped keep this a fast-moving game.
Janessa Wolff picks up the foul, her first and PSU's second.
17-10 Penn State. 11:43 remaining in the half
OSU gets the tip as Lavender works it inside and converts with the hook shot.
The Lions missed their first three shots as Grant misfired on a three, Monroe missed a jumper at the top of the key and Grant missed an inside shot.
Penn State gets on the board courtesy of a jumper from Bentley. The freshman drained another to give PSU the 4-2 lead.
It was short lived as Prahalis drained a three fron the left corner.
Greene converts the inside bucket after momentarily losing control.
It's a back and forth contest here as Hill hits a three and Bentley responds with a bucket of her own.
Both teams are keeping a very fast-paced game as we're quickly approaching the 15 minute mark.
Grant makes the most of a wide open three point attempt from the left side to give PSU an 11-8 lead with 15:17 left in the first half.
The highly anticipated showdown between the Big Ten's two top teams is just about underway. It's Audrey here ready to deliver all of this afternoon's action as it unfolds from the BJC.
The teams took part in a fairly long warmup as both worked on their bounce passes. Ohio State's Jantel Lavender and Samantha Prahalis were working together for a good portion of the warmup as the center and point guard are one of the country's most dynamic duos. They will certainly test PSU's freshmen Alex Bentley and Nikki Greene.
Wade gets a takedown to begin the HWT bout against Aplaud. Wade nearly had a pin setup, but was able to come away with three near fall points to make it 5-0.Only the buzzer stopped Wade from getting the pin as he takes an 11-0 lead into the 2nd.
Wade pushed the lead to 13-2, but finally got his pin to end the bout and dual meet with his second pin of the weekend.
FINAL SCORE- PSU- 29 UM- 10.
Crowell gets the call against No. 9 Biondo. Crowell falls behind 2-0 after Biondo gets a takedown. With 1:18 left, Biondo goes down with an apparent leg injury, but after a minute on the mat, he is up and ready to go. Crowell escapes, but Biondo gets another takedown to make it 4-1. Biondo allows another Crowell escape off a restart, but Biondo counters a Crowell shot to get another takedown. Heading into the second period, Biondo leads 6-2.
Crowell rides Biondo for the first 50 seconds before the two go off the edge. Biondo is able to get a reversal off of the restart to make it 8-2. Crowell gets an escape to make it 8-3.
Crowell chooses neutral to begin the 3rd. A takedown by Biondo makes it 10-3, but Crowell escapes to cut into the lead. Another Biondo takedown makes it 12-4, but is followed by another Crowell escape. Biondo takes the bout 15-5. PSU leads 23-10.
No. 11 Erwin takes on Collins at 184. Erwin gets a takedown to open the scoring. Collins escapes to make it 2-1, but Erwin gets another takedown to push his lead to 4-1. Collins escapes to make the score 4-2, but Erwin gets a takedown right before the buzzer to make it 6-2 heading into the 2nd.
Erwin gets an escape and takedown to push his lead to 9-2. There's a blood timeout with 27 seconds left as the UM trainer tends to Collins. The score after two periods is 10-4 in favor of Erwin.
Collins is tended to again before the 3rd. Collins escapes to cut the lead to 10-5. Collins gets two near fall points to make it 10-7, After an Erwin escape, Collins secured a takedown, but Erwin holds on for the win, 12-9. PSU leads 23-6.
Ortega gives up a takedown to Zeerip to begin the match at 174. Ortega gets ridden for over a minute but escapes to make it 2-1. A questionable takedown near the edge of the mat is awarded to Zeerip.
Zeerip leads 4-1 heading into the 2nd period. The Wolverine escapes to make it 5-1. That score holds until the end of the period.
Ortega can't escape Zeerip's grasp and the riding time point is assured to Zeerip. A stall call on Ortega makes it 6-1. Ortega is then able to escape following a restart to make it 6-2. With the riding time point, Zeerip takes the bout, 7-2. PSU now leads 20-6.
We're back with No. 7 Dan Vallimont taking on Aaron Hynes. A Vallimont takedown makes it 2-0, but Hynes gets on the board with an escape soon after. That's the way the 1st period ends, 2-1 Vallimont.
Vallimont gets a quick reversal to start the 2nd, before Hynes escapes to make it 4-2. Hynes gets a takedown to tie the bout at four with just over a minute left in the period. Vallimont gets a reversal to take a 6-4 lead before Hynes escapes to cut Vallimont's lead to 6-5.
The final period begins with Vallimont up 6-5, but Hynes starts on the bottom and gets an escape. Vallimont comes back with a takedown to go up 8-6. An escape by Hynes cuts the lead to one. Vallimont holds on to win, 8-7. PSU leads 20-3.
Cyler Sanderson faces Dave Johnson. Sanderson with the quick takedown. A Johnson escape makes it 2-1. Johnson lifts Sanderson's leg all the way in the air. As he takes Sanderson down, the Lion 157-pounder barrel rolls underneath Johnson's two legs and grabs Johnson's back for two points in a spectacular-looking move. Another escape and takedown makes it 6-2. Sanderson gets the pin at the 2:46 mark. PSU 17, UM 3.
Loy will now take over for the final five bouts.
A quick take down for Mark Boyer, and a quick reversal for Frank Molinaro to start the 149-pound bout. Boyer gets an escape, but Molinaro counters with a takedown. Molinaro gets Boyer's leg. The Wolverine tries to scramble out of bounds, but Molinaro yanks him in and then throws him down for two points. Molinaro leads 6-4 after first.
Molinaro quickly escapes then picks Boyer up and throws him down for a hard takedown. Molinaro gets a single leg, which quickly turns into an easy two points. Molinaro allows the escape. Molinaro is having his way. He throws him down and pushes out of bounds before the restart. Another takedown for Molinaro. 15-7 Molinaro lead after two with riding time assured.
Molinaro lets up the escape to start the third. Molinaro with another takedown and another allowed Boyer escape. Boyer doesn't how to stop the takedowns. Another Molinaro takedown and Boyer escape. Molinaro gets another two points on a throw-down. Escape for Boyer at the restart. Molinaro receives a stall point. At the edge of the mat, Molinaro brings Boyer in, and controls him for two. Molinaro wins 25-11. PSU, 11, UM 3.
Adam Lynch wrestles Marc Weber. Lynch gradually gets a leg on Weber, getting the takedown. Lynch rides Weber and the Wolverine eventually receives a stall warning. Lynch has Weber's right arm as he tries turning him. Weber gets the escape as Lynch loses control of the arm. Lynch leads 2-1 after one.
Lynch refuses being ridden, furiously fighting for the escape. Lynch gets a single. He fakes for the right leg than grabs the left, throwing Weber down for two points. A stall point for Lynch. Lynch has his riding time at 2:27 to start the third, assuring the riding time.
Lynch allows the Weber escape. Lynch gets caught and Weber takes him down. As Weber tries to turn Lynch, the Lion sneaks away with a reversal. Weber with another escape. Lynch wins 9-5. PSU 7, UM 3.
Bryan Pearsall faces Zac Stevens at 133 pounds. Stevens gets a takedown. Stevens gains four near-fall points on two separate occasions. Pearsall gets the escape to the crowd's congratulating cheers. It's 6-1 Stevens after one.
A Stevens takedown and a Pearsall escape makes the score 8-2. Pearsall catches a single leg and brings Stevens down. He doesn't get control and almost lets up a pin opportunity. After a scramble, Pearsall finds control, gaining two points. 8-4 Stevens after two.
Pearsall gets a reversal for two points after Stevens tried desperately to hold on to Pearsall's leg. Pearsall gets takedown. Stevens now with a takedown. The Michigan bench receives a warning. Pearsall really showing some attitude as he throws Stevens off the mat. 13-9 Stevens win to the crowd's boos.
No. 13 Brad Pataky will face Sean Boyle at 125 pounds in the first match. Pataky goes for the single leg right away and gets a takedown after a skirmish. Pataky rides Boyle, looking for the turn. Boyle can't escape despite his tries. Pataky gains two near-fall points and continues to turn Boyle. Pataky leads 4-0 after one. He has almost three minutes of riding time.
A quick escape to start the second for Pataky. Boyle goes for a shot can't get a leg. Pataky gets Boyle's two legs at the end of the period but lets go. 5-0 Pataky after two.
Pataky assures riding time 20 seconds into the third. Pataky had Boyle's leg and gradually takes him down as Boyle tried to fight the Nittany Lion off. He turns Boyle for two more back points. Another turn gives Pataky another three points.
Pataky wins 13-0. PSU 4, UM 0.
This is Daily Collegian writer Brendan Monahan, bringing you the results of the Penn State- Michigan dual meet. I'm joined by Ryan "Robo" Loy on my right and Pat McDermott on my left.
There is a better turnout today than on Friday. The concourse level is packed, and I expect more will pile in as the meet itches closer to the start. I expect Dave Crowell to start at 197 pounds although there has been no official word.
The No. 17 Nittany Lions continued their trend of posting a season-high, which they have done in all five meets this season.
For the third-consecutive week, Penn State knocked off a Big Ten foe. This week it was No. 23 Illinois, which finished ahead of Penn State at last year's Big Ten Championships.
The meet started off slow for the Lions on the vault. The event, which had been the team's best in each of the first four meets, was its worst tonight. Almost all six of the Penn State gymnasts didn't stick their landings on the vault leading to a team score of 48.825.
However, the Lions didn't let the slow start phase them. On the next event, the uneven bars, Penn State posted its season high with a 49.350. All six Lions posted above a 9.825 on the event, which would prove to be the team's best event of the meet. Sophomore Natalie Ettl set a career-high on the bars, her lone event, tallying a 9.950.
With the momentum in their favor, the Lions continued to excel on their next event: the balance beam. Despite an early fall by sophomore Daryl Konsevick, Penn State recovered and posted another season high on an event, netting a 49.100. Brandi Personett set a personal career-best with a 9.950 on the beam.
Going into the final rotation, the meet was very close. Penn State went to the floor exercise while the Illini went to the balance beam. Penn State continued its success and set yet another season high with a 49.150. Personett closed things out with a 9.925 on her way to an all-around score of 39.600, which tied a career-high.
Just as they had been the past two home meets at Rec Hall, the Lions were very happy with their performance and score of 196.425 and look to continue to build off their score and get better each week. Penn State will go on the road next week when they travel to Pittsburgh to take on the Panthers. They hope to erase their poor road scores from the first two meets at Michigan State and Denver earlier this year.
Bencsko, the penultimate competitor for Penn State, performs what probably was her best routine of the season.
Bencsko's score was announced at 9.875, a season high for the sophomore.
As usual, Personett performs a really good floor routine and may have sealed up the win for Penn State. The Rec Hall crowd starts chanting "10" but we will have to wait and see if Personett will get her first perfect score on the floor exercise.
Personett gets a 9.925.
I'm heading down to the floor to talk to the team in what looks to be another season-high overall score and quite possibly another Penn State victory against a conference opponent.
Check back later for a wrap up of the meet.
Rohrbaugh stumbles on one of her landings in the middle of her routine but overall puts out a solid routine. She scores a 9.775, which ties a season-high.
Illinois has posted two more scores on the beam, 9.750 and 9.550, putting Penn State in a solid position to win this meet as long as Bencsko and Personett finish off on a high note.
Southard's score of 9.650 was just announced. That is her best score since the first meet of the season when she got a 9.725.
Freshman Madison Merriam is up next for Penn State. Merriam has an average of 9.800 on this event this season in three meets.
Merriam ties her season high with a 9.825.
Konsevick does well and gets a score of 9.750.
Southard is up next. Her best friend on the team and roommate, Brandi Personett, is giving her a pep talk on the side of the floor.
Southard stumbles on her second pass and once again a couple moments later but overall performs a decent floor routine.
Meanwhile, Illinois has posted scores of 9.575 and 9.650 on the balance beam. This one will come down to the final routines.
The floor lineup looks like this:
Despite nailing their routines on the last two events, the Lions still trail Illinois, which has a score of 147.350. The Lions will finish on the floor exercise and Illinois will finish on the balance beam.
For comparison, after three rotations last week, Penn State had a score of 147.100.
Bencsko is up next after scoring a 9.800 last week. She performs another great routine as the Lions continue to build of each other's scores. Bencsko sets a career high on the beam with a 9.875.
The anchor for the Lions, Brandi Personett, looks to finish off another solid meet on the balance beam for the Lions.
The senior ends things on a high note for Penn State. Her score of 9.95 is a career high.
And the scores:
Team score: 49.100
*Does not factor into team score
For the second straight event, the Lions set a season-high and currently have an overall score of 147.275.
Rohrbaugh leads off for Penn State and performs a very good routine with a solid landing. Rohrbaugh's routine earns her a 9.700.
Konsevick, who posted a 9.800 last week, is up next. She does well up until a fall late into her routine. Hopefully for the Lions, they won't have to count her score. Konsevick nets a low score of 9.250.
Musser, who tallied a 9.825 last week, does a solid job as usual for Penn State and tallies a 9.675.
Southard, one of the best beam performers for the Lions, does a great routine for the second straight week. The senior co-captain scores a 9.900, the highest score for a Penn State gymnast this year on the balance beam. It also ties a career high for Southard.
Penn State is coming off its best performance on the balance beam as last week it posted a team score of 49.050 after failing to surpass 48.000 in the first three meets.
Here is the beam lineup:
Alexandra Brockway, an All-American on the event is up next and looks to get back into a rhythm after a sub-par performance last week. She, as her four teammates did before her, nails her routine and her landing.
Meanwhile, Musser's score of 9.825 was just announced.
Brockway scores a 9.850.
Ettl is up next to anchor the event for Penn State. Ettl, who only competes on the bars, does a solid routine as usual and scores a 9.950.
Tonight's performance on bars for Penn State was easily the best of the season.
Here is how the scoring shakes out for Penn State:
Team score: 49.350
The team score is just the second time this season the Lions have surpassed 49.000 on the bars and the best of the season by a margin of .250. The high score on bars last year for Penn State was a 49.250, which just goes to show how impressive the Lions' performance on the bars was tonight.
After two events, Penn State and Illinois are deadlocked at 98.175 as the Lions move on to the balance beam and Illinois goes to the floor exercise.
Merriam kicks things off for Penn State and performs a solid bars routine and gets a 9.850.
Whitney Bencsko goes next and looks to perform better than her season average of 9.431. She performs a good routine and sticks her landing. Bencsko nets a score of 9.825, by far her best of the season.
Personett, who fell last week on the event, is up next on the bars. She recovers this week and sticks a great landing. Personett gets a 9.875, also her season-best.
The Lions are nailing their bar routines tonight. Musser also hits a solid routine and should get a good score.
Uneven Bars lineup:
Madison Merriam remains in the lineup for senior co-captain Rosie Smith after she posted a 9.800 last week in her first official competition on the uneven bars.
Vault has been Penn State's best event through the first four meets but tonight may be a different story for the Lions as they did not put up their best performance on the event.
The scores are in:
Team score: 48.825
The score of 48.825 is the lowest of the season for Penn State on the event. Next up for the Lions is the uneven bars as Illinois moves on to the vault after a very good score on the uneven bars of 49.175.
Hover goes next and gets a 9.700 followed by Smith. Smith nails her landing and scores a 9.825 for the best vault for the Lions thus far.
Whitney Bencsko vaults and stumbles a little bit on her landing, good enough for a 9.650.
Sharaya Musser, the highly-touted freshman, also stumbles a little bit on her landing off the vault.
Personett, two weeks off her perfect 10, continues the trend of questionable landings for the Lions to finish off the event.
The vault lineup for the Lions looks like this:
Casey Rohrbaugh starts it off on the vault for the Lions and hits a decent vault, good enough for a 9.65.
Penn State will start on the vault and the Fighting Illini will start on uneven bars.
Warmups are about to conclude and action will be under way shortly.
Good evening gymnastics fans. Jake Kaplan here to take you through tonight's dual-meet between No. 17 Penn State and No. 23 Illinois.
Penn State is coming off its best meet of the season with a score of 196.025 against No. 1 Alabama and Minnesota last week at Rec Hall. The Lions look to continue to build on their score every week and knock off a Big Ten foe for the third consecutive week.
Introductions should be commencing in around fifteen minutes here at Rec Hall.
It Was Over When...: Coach Mark Pavlik put the starters back in. Pavlik let a lot of second team players get some court time in the second set, and their inexperience showed as Springfield evened the match at one set a piece. The starters returned for sets three and four and coasted to victory.
Player of the Match: Max Lipsitz. The senior middle only played in the three victorious sets for the Nittany Lions, and his presence was vital for the victory. Lipsitz had 13 kills in his three sets of action on an impressive .450 hitting percentage. He also only had one service error on the day. He has been struggling with serving all season, and his improvement has been obvious recently. In addition to his kills, he picked up five block assists and a solo block.
Stat of the Match: 30. The number of points Springfield scored in the second set. The set win for the Pride was the first set Penn State has dropped to an EIVA opponent since March 8, 2008.
Surprise of the Match: Tom Comfort. The surprise with Comfort is that he only came in for one play in the match. Even when Pavlik put in a lot of reserve players in the second set, Comfort remained on the sidelines with his teammates. After the trip to Hawaii, it appeared like Comfort had a firm position in the starting lineup. Now it looks like he has some work to do to get another opportunity.
Quotable: "I know I'm loud. Once I'm out of the court I feel like nobody's actually talking or bringing the energy. It's just sad watching them play without energy." -Junior libero Dennis Del Valle on watching from the bench as his teammates lost the second set.
What's Next: The Lions will take on Canadian power, Laval Friday and Saturday at Rec Hall.
Here are some extra things to take away from the Northwestern meet.
From a competition standpoint, are you pulling away from those ranked below you?
"Actually, yeah. I'm starting to feel more confident the more matches I get in. I've already been through the storm. I wrestled one, two, three, four already. Now I have that confidence. That last one against [Kyle] Ruschell boosted my confidence level. Now I'm just starting to get ready for Big Tens."
Racking up bonus points.
"It's nice. It adds up at the end, too. Especially when you get in those tight matches like Wisconsin -- we got some bonus points, and it really helps in them type matches."
Justin Ortega letting up the last-minute takedown.
"I don't know. I don't know. He wrestled really well and fended off that shot several times and hit some counter-offense on that. But then that is something he has to know that he can win that match. That is a good kid. That was a big recruit coming out of high school. He wrestled well. Now you have to put that final nail in the coffin. You have to make it happen. Hopefully, he'll learn from that."
What's up with Ortega's heart condition?
"We don't know so much about his heart condition. It's not really official. It was more of his mom. It was one time. But our doctors haven't found anything or he wouldn't be wrestling. If he had a heart condition, he wouldn't be wrestling. It's too risky, and it's not worth it."
A hitting error by the Pride seals the game and Penn State wins it 3-1. Keep checking the Collegian's Web site and Above the Net for more coverage.
Wolf at the line as Penn State is up 28-23. He hits it into the middle of the net and the Lions lead is again cut, this time to four. Lions look impatient, like they just want to close this one out.
After Springfield commits a hitting error to give the Lions a 21-19 lead, Sullivan tries to call a timeout. He's reminded by the line judge he already used the two allotted for him in this set.
Net violation by Penn State and Pavlik calls a timeout with his team holding on to a 16-15 lead. This is by far the most mental mistakes Penn State has made all season. Springfield is playing well, but not exceptional. The Lions are clawing their own hole.
Double contact by Goas and the point is awarded to Springfield, who is inching closer now trailing by just three. Lions are sloppy, but still maintain a lead.
A Lipsitz kill is negated by a Penn State net violation -- much to the senior captain's dismay -- and the Lions Lead is cut 13-9.
There's definitely some miscommunication on Penn State's end of the court. Del Valle cuts in front of Wolf as he sets up for a pass and the Lions scrambled for a long rally, which they eventually lost. PSU is up 12-4, but they don't look too crisp.
Penn State looking to run away with the fourth set and end this match on a (relatively) high note. They're up 10-3 after a Goas service ace.
Lipsitz with a solo block to put the Lions up 6-1 and Springfield calls a timeout. Again.
Fourth set underway and a service ace by Wolf gives the Lions a 3-1 lead. Penn State is looking to build off of the momentum they spent nearly all of the third set trying to create.
Set point and Pavlik substitutes freshman Tom Comfort in for Ian Hendries to serve. The frosh didn't see any playing time in last night's game after playing poorly in the Lions' road trip to Illinois. The Lions lose that point, but win the set on a Price kill. And we're on to the fourth, Lions up 2-1.
Price dishes it over the net and the ball falls on Springfield's blue point giving the Lions a 28-22 lead. That one gets the crow energized. Price seems to be getting the big plays in this third set. He's leading by example.
Price gets a kill to put Penn State ahead 24-21, followed by a Pride hitting error that increases the Lions' lead. Sullivan calls a timeout and Pavlik seems to be spending all of the break talking to his captain, Lipsitz.
Wolf and Lipstiz team up for a block to give the Lions a 19-17 lead and finally the team is showing emotion. They come in for a huddle and smiles are on each of the guys' faces -- even the normally reserved Wolf. Springfield calls a timeout hoping to kill any momentum.
Penn State up 16-13 after a Price kill. The team looks to be loosening up -- a bit. But they're still not at the level of composure they were at in the first set. They seem to be pretty shaken up from losing the second.
Mental mistakes by Penn State. A net violation, a miss-hit pass. No enthusiasm. They're down 8-9.
It's 5-5 to begin the third and there seems to be a lack of energy on the Lions' end of the court. Even when they score a point, there's not much celebration.
The Lions return to the starting lineup they began the first set with. That should speak volumes about their highly disappointing second set. The guys are pretty silent as they take the court.
Set, Springfield. The Lions quickly exit the gym in silence while a lone Springfield fan, standing on the top row of the bleachers wearing a maroon sweatshirt, raises his hands and lets out a huge scream.
Will Price starves one set point off with a kill.
Set point for Springfield, they're up 29-26.
Penn State hasn't dropped a set to an EIVA opponent since March 8, 2008 at Princeton. Springfield is three points away from ending that streak.
Springfield has come alive. They lead 27-25 and their guys are pumped. Really pumped. They are lively. Mark Pavlik calls a timeout. And again, looks like he's sticking with the lineup.
Pavlik calls a time out with his team up 23-22 after a pretty sloppy play. Wagner and Pereira had some miscommunication and it lead to an easy Springfield point. Pavlik doesn't make any substitutions, it looks like he just wants his guys to relax.
The Nittany Lion, who is having a ridiculously hectic day with five varsity teams hosting home matches today, has arrived. I don't know how he does it.
Turko and Wolf team up for a block and the Lions regain the lead 18-17. Turko, a freshman, is probably the most animated of the Lions after an individual achievement. He pumps his fist as his entire face broadens into a huge grin.
Tomas Pereria is subbed in for Joe Sunder as the Lions trail by one, 16-17.
AJ Nally slides just inches away from the scorer's table as he tries to track down a Wolf serve. No such luck. Penn State up 13-11.
Turko with a solo block and the Lions cut their biggest deficit of the afternoon -- two points -- in half. Springfield 9 Penn State 8.
Springfield blocks a Price kill attempt and their guys cheer loudly. It's the Pride's first lead of the match, they lead the second set early 6-5.
Wolf, in his second career start, is showing the same composure he had in his impressive debut last night. The sophomore outside hitter had 3 kills on .500 hitting in the first set. He also equaled Del Valle for a team-high four digs.
Some substitutions for Penn State in the second set. The starting lineup: Price, Mars, Sunder, Wolf, Goas, Jesse Wagner and Nick Turko.
The first set stat that tells it all? Hitting percentage. The Pride hit a dismissal -.033 while Penn State was a ridiculous .548.
Overheard from from the press box: After PA announcer Dean DeVore tells the crow Penn State will be playing Laval College of Montreal next week, two cheerleaders walk past us.
One goes, "Montreal, is that like Canada?"
Mars blocks a Springfield kill attempt and the Lions win the first set 30-14. It's almost fitting that a Mars block ends the game as this first set was anything but predictable.
Price rips the ball past Springfield's back court and the Lions are up 26-13.
Penn State up 22-9. Mark Shipp is subbed in for the Lions. The sophomore is seeing the court for the first time this year. I'm not sure if Penn State expected to dominate this much this early. Springfield looks totally restless and completely frustrated.
Alan Mars is subbed in for Max Lipsitz. On Tuesday at practice, the team split up into two different drills. The outsides went with Jay Hosack on one court and the middles worked with Colin McMillan. Alan Mars, normally an outside, went with the middles. Before McMillan explained the drill, he brought the middles in and said, "OK, first things first. Guys this is Alan. Alan, this is the guys."
Definitely want to keep an eye on this storyline.
Penn State up 13-3 after Joe Sunder scores two consecutive points-- one on a kill and one on a block. The redshirt sophomore is showing composure, and is on track for another solid night. He had 15 kills on .565 in last night's win.
Penn State opens the game on a 9-1 run. After a Lipsitz kill, Springfield coach Charlie Sullivan takes a timeout. Sullivan looks to be trying to dissect a lot of things with his team in the short break, huddling his guys close and using a lot of hand motions. Mark Pavlik, however, doesn't say much to his squad. He shares a quick laugh with Wolf on the bench and says a few words to Hendries. There's not much he really has to tell his team right now. The Lions look sharp.
Looks like Dennis Del Valle forgot South Gym actually counts as a home match for the Lions. He accidentally put on his white jersey -- the libero is supposed to wear the opposite of his team -- and had to make a quick change before lineups were announced.
Hey folks, Emily Kaplan here to live blog today's match. It's Penn State vs Springfield in a matchup of two of the EIVA's top teams. Once again we're at Rec Hall's South Gym -- thanks, women's gymnastics -- and the stands are slowly filling up. Not expecting a huge crowd today, especially with some 14 inches of snow that pounded Happy Valley last night.
The Pride (3-3, 0-1 EIVA) are lead by junior middle blocker Cal Palumbo -- the reigning EIVA Player of the Week -- and senior outside hitter AJ Nally.
The No. 8 Nittany Lions, after seeing its six game winning streak snapped last weekend in a loss to then-unranked Loyola-Chicago, is looking to build off of last night's sweep of Rutgers-Newark.
Lawrence Westbrook hits a 3-pointer as time expires over Chris Babb to steal a win at the BJC. The Gophers storm the court. Wow. More to come after the press conference.
Final score: 67-64 Minnesota
64-62 Minnesota leads, 37 seconds left
Talor Battle found himself open behind the line and nailed a deep 3-pointer. He's tied with Jackson with 18 points. He calmly clenched his fist after hitting the shot.
They're trading 3-pointers for two free throws. Can they keep up the hot shooting?
62-59 Minnesota leads, 1:13 to go
Westbrook hit two free throws after a questionable foul by Tim Frazier on Minnesota's inbounds opportunity.
But coming back on offense, Talor Battle found Jackson open for a 3-pointer on the wing. He connected. I'm beginning to think that DJ might be the guy to go to down the stretch here. He's been on point all game.
The Lions need a defensive stop right here.
60-56 Minnesota leads, 1:23 to go
No scoring, but some good chances to.
Lawrence Westbrook missed a layup opportunity as he came off a screen following a Smith timeout. But Battle missed a layup of his own on the other end.
60-56 Minnesota leads, 2:26 to go
Tubby Smith earned a technical foul for his team after going ballastic that a Tim Frazier wasn't called before a 35-second shot clock violation was whistled. Frazier reached in and one official whistled for a foul, but another zebra overruled him.
DJ Jackson hit two free throws to bring the Gopher lead to 54-52, and the Lions have been hanging around ever since.
The Gophers are really not executing at all on the offensive end. They're still shooting 46.5 percent from the floor but not getting very good looks in the last three minutes or so.
Drew Jones fouled out with about five minutes left...another sloppy game for him. Just as he had put together three solid games (Illinois, Purdue and Ohio State), he comes out and wastes an opportunity to get back on track. We'll see if Ott or Jones earns the start against Michigan State on Saturday.
We've got a close one here. Jackson and Battle have 15 points each and Babb has 12. They've got to make sure they don't leave Hoffarber open for a 3-pointer because he's been on point. I'd let anyone else on the Minnesota squad shoot over him.
It's another close game for the Lions down the stretch. Can they finally break through and win a game down the stretch? We shall see.
53-49 Minnesota leads, 7:52 to go
Penn State has stolen some momentum in the last minute. Chris Babb nailed a 3-pointer, his fourth of the game, after Tim Frazier created nicely off the dribble. He beat Westbrook to his right, then spun off a screen to find Babb in the corner.
Then Battle drove nicely to the hole, put it up on the reverse glass to trim the lead to four points.
The Lions have to keep up the intensity on both sides of the court. Keep the ball in the hands of Gopher guard Devoe Joseph. He's a defensive stopper who, for some reason, is being trusted to run the point for the most part. I'm surprised Minnesota hasn't given the ball down low more.
Gophers at the line now. Ott picked up his third foul.
47-42 Minnesota leads, 12:05 to go
Rodney Williams and Sampson III ran a really nice pick-and-roll, with piss-poor defense on the part of Andrew Jones. Jones did not hedge the screen and chased after Williams as Sampson III ran by himself to the hoop for a dunk.
Battle is really struggling from the free-throw line -- he just missed the front end of a 1-and-1. He's now 1-of-5 from the line. He's got nine points. He stole the ball from Williams, who basically handed the ball to him and ran for a layup.
Also, check out our Twitter (http://twitter.com/hardwoodhits). Robinson is doing some nice, sarcastic tweeting from the BJC. Seriously though, check it out.
44-38 Minnesota leads, 15:02 to go
The biggest spectacle here is always the Papa John's pizza giveaway here. I don't understand it...people must come to this arena starving because it's always the loudest the crowd gets for the entire game.
But I digress..
Chris Babb hit two 3-pointers to up his scoring total to nine points. If he gets going, the Lions will stay in the game. Jackson has looked solid for the Lions, taking his man off the dribble a couple times. He's got 11 points to lead the Lions.
Hoffarber hit another 3. He leads all scorers with 12 points on 4-of-6 from the 3-point line.
Battle has been quiet with only seven points on 2-of-9 shooting.
36-30 Minnesota leads at halftime
Talor Battle nailed a 3-pointer out of the timeout and that was the only scoring for the remainder of the half. Battle had a real nice steal from Gopher guard Devoe Joseph (not sure why he was handling the ball), but the Lions couldn't score before the half.
D.J. Jackson and Blake Hoffarber are tied at the half with nine points each. Battle has seven points, followed by Tim Frazier and Drew Jones with four points.
Ralph Sampson III and Damian Johnson added six and five points, respectively.
The team numbers for the Gophers and Lions are very, very similar. Minnesota out-rebounded Penn State by one, Penn State has one more turnover (7 to Minnesota's 6), and the Lions are shooting 41 percent from the field, while Minnesota is shooting 44 percent. Both squads have four 3-pointers and nobody has scored in double digits.
Despite all the even numbers, the Gophers own a six-point lead. Expect Minnesota to come out and establish the low-post.
Sampson III, Johnson and Iverson scored pretty much at will when they had the ball in the post.
36-27 Minnesota leads, 1:12 left in the first half
Ed DeChellis calls a 20-second timeout here before the half, trying to prevent his team from falling too far behind before the half. The Gophers have went on a 7-0 run in the last three minutes to open up the game a little bit.
Battle launched up one 3-pointer that would have been a couple feet behind the NBA line. Andrew Ott grabbed the offensive rebound but then put up a terrible attempt at a shot.
31-27 Minnesota leads, 3:46 left in the first half
Penn State tied the game up on a Chris Babb 3-pointer to make the score 24-24, but Ralph Sampson III put the Gophers back on top, hitting two free throws, even though he blatantly traveled before getting fouled.
Jeff Brooks has three points in the last two minutes.
There's a lot of scoring thus far in the game. If Penn State wants to keep up with the Gophers, they'll need Brooks and Babb to continue scoring. This game looks like it's headed for the 70's.
24-19 Minnesota leads, 7:05 left in the first half
Tim Frazier is on track thus far with four points. He corralled a rebound off a Gopher miss and drove it the length of the floor, attacking Lawrence Westbrook and laying it in. Then Frazier drove the baseline and had a nice layup over the Gophers big men.
Hoffarber added another 3-pointer, so he leads all scorers with nine points.
Battle had a nice steal off a Ralph Sampson III turnover and hit a 3-pointer in traffic. That's his only basket, though. He's 1-of-5 shooting. He made a nice pass to Andrew Ott in the lane, but Ott put the ball on the floor, getting it stolen as soon as he dribbled it. Ott has to go right up with that pass.
But Ott did play for about thre minutes -- good to see that his shoulder injury didn't prevent him from playing.
No sign of Bill Edwards yet, though.
14-12 Minnesota leads, 11:06 left in the first half
D.J. Jackson scored seven consecutive points for the Lions. Strong start for the Farrell, Pa. native. He leads all scorers with seven points.
Blake Hoffarber added another 3-pointer to lead Minnesota with six points.
Tubby Smith, former NCAA Champion coach for the Kentucky Wildcats, put in a line change for the Gophers, taking out all five of his starters to put in his five remaining players on the bench. They played well too. Colton Iverson is a heck of a bench player.
7-5 Minnesota leads, 15:49 left in the first half
Drew Jones and Jeff Brooks got starts today, first time both of them have started together since Michigan on Jan. 7.
D.J. Jackson is looking great thus far. He caught a pass at the top of the key from Jeff Brooks and nailed a 3-pointer in rhythm. Then he posted up and created space for Chris Babb to dump a nice lob pass to D.J. Those are the five Lions points thus far.
Lawrence Westbrook grabbed an offensive rebound over Drew Jones and ran along the baseline to hit a jumper. Blake Hoffarber hit a 3-pointer in transition, pretty much unguarded. And Ralph Sampson III created space against Jones and scored easily on a layup.
Penn State's throwback uniforms are pretty awesome.. wish they would wear them every game.
We're moments away from the tip-off of today's game. Here are the starting lineups:
#20 G Lawrence Westbrook, 6-foot-0
#5 G Devoe Joseph, 6-foot-3
#24 G Blake Hoffarber, 6-foot-4
#34 F Damian Johnson, 6-foot-7
#50 F/C Ralph Sampson III, 6-foot-11
#12 G Talor Battle, 6-foot-0
#10 G Chris Babb, 6-foot-5
#15 F D.J. Jackson, 6-foot-7
#25 F Jeff Brooks, 6-foot-8
#22 F Drew Jones, 6-foot-10
Welcome to the live blog of this afternoon's Penn State vs. Minnesota game. The Nittany Lions are still looking for their first victory in this calendar year. They're taking on a Golden Gophers team that they lost to back on Dec. 29. Back then, the Lions were 8-4 and had a lead with eight minutes left in the Minnesota game. Oh, how things can change.
BMX star Jamie Bestwick was on the floor a couple minutes ago, jumping over the Nittany Lion in his trick bike.
We'll be back in a few minutes to give you the starting lineups of today's game.
After a fairly easy win against Northwestern Friday, the Penn State wrestling team could find itself in a similar situation with Michigan Sunday. Here's how the teams match up.
No. 11 Penn State (11-5-1, 3-2 Big Ten) vs. Michigan (4-11, 0-4)
PSU- No. 13 Brad Pataky (20-6)
UM- Sean Boyle (19-15)
Boyle was pinned by Ohio State's Nikko Triggas on Friday. That's the same Nikko Triggas that Pataky beat earlier in the season. The Lion 125-pounder is coming off a technical fall win against NU, and he could do the same in this bout.
Prediction: Pataky by major decision. PSU- 4 UM- 0
PSU- Bryan Pearsall (3-18)
UM- Zac Stevens (19-12)
Pearsall has struggled to get momentum going in his favor all season. Stevens has been one of the Wolverine's better performers and was one of just three wrestlers to get a win in their dual with Ohio State. Expect the same in this matchup.
Prediction: Stevens by decision. PSU- 4 UM- 3
PSU- Adam Lynch (9-9)
UM- Marc Weber (13-21)
The feel-good story continues. Lynch's success has gotten to his opponents as NU didn't send a wrestler out to face him Friday. Lynch should be fresh and ready to go for this matchup.
Prediction: Lynch by decision. PSU- 7 UM- 3
PSU- No. 4 Frank Molinaro (24-3)
UM- Mark Boyer (3-11)
Molinaro said he wanted a pin of his own after Friday's dual. He didn't get it then, but he may be looking for it Sunday. This should be another win for the Lions. The only question is: How many points will they get from it?
Prediction: Molinaro by major decision. PSU- 11 UM- 3
PSU- No. 7 Cyler Sanderson (23-3)
UM- Dave Johnson (16-15)
Sanderson looked in control against NU. Meanwhile, Johnson is coming off a 7-3 loss in his bout at Ohio State. Expect Sanderson to add another win and some more bonus points.
Prediction: Sanderson by technical fall. PSU- 16 UM- 3
PSU- No. 7 Dan Vallimont (20-6)
UM- Aaron Hynes (14-13)
Vallimont got the taste of a win back against NU. He's probably hungry for another, and Hynes might be the next item on the menu.
Prediction: Vallimont by major decision. PSU- 20 UM- 3
PSU- Justin Ortega (6-15)
UM- Justin Zeerip (22-16)
Count to five. That's how close Justin Ortega was to getting a win Friday. Ortega has been wrestling hard, but wins have been tough to come by. This could be another close one.
Prediction: Zeerip by decision. PSU- 20 UM- 6
PSU- No. 11 Dave Erwin (23-6)
UM- Hunter Collins (15-11) OR Erich Smith (3-13)
Erwin has been one the Lions' most consistent wrestlers all season. He's coming off a win by fall Friday, and he could have a chance at another against Michigan.
Prediction: Erwin by major decision. PSU- 24 UM- 6
PSU- Clay Steadman (8-10) OR David Crowell (17-11)
UM- No. 9 Anthony Biondo (27-3)
If trends continue, it should be Crowell for another Sunday bout. Another trend has been the fact Crowell's had tough competition each time he's stepped on the mat. That won't change Sunday.
Prediction: Biondo by decision. PSU- 24 UM- 9
PSU- No. 11 Cameron Wade (16-6)
UM- Ben Apland (11-12) OR Eddie Phillips (7-6)
Both heavyweights had victories on Friday. Wade is pretty athletic for a big guy, and his athleticism should guide him to another win against Apland.
The Rundown: Penn State will continue its weekend at home in Rec Hall's South Gym as it takes on Springfield this afternoon at 4. The No. 8 Nittany Lions swept Springfield in Massachusetts earlier this season and are looking to continue their sweep-streak in the EIVA.
Undefeated Lions: Against the Pride, that is. Penn State holds a 29-0 series record against Springfield.
The Best of the Conference: All three EIVA Tait Conference Players of the Week will be on the court Saturday. Will Price and Edgardo Goas earned the honor the first two weeks of the conference season for the Lions, and Springfield's middle Cal Palumbo received the recognition last week when he hit an unbelievable .833 in two matches.
Storyline to Follow: Who will start in the now three person battle between Tom Comfort, Alan Mars and Ryan Wolf? We were as surprised as anyone to see Wolf get the start last night, but he sure made coach Mark Pavlik look like a genius. I would think Pavlik would play the hot hand and give Wolf his second career start, but then again we thought Mars would start last night.
Key to Victory: Show up. I don't think the Lions will look overly-impressive but they are just more talented than their opposition. Look for what Pavlik likes to call a typical workman like EIVA victory for Penn State.
Prediction: If the lack of energy of playing in their practice gym gets the best of the Lions, they might drop a set. But, they were able to handle it last night, and they'll handle it again. Penn State 3 Springfield 0.
It Was Over When...: Penn State went on a 5-0 run to start the third set. Though the No. 8 Nittany Lions won the first two sets, Rutgers-Newark looked ready to put up a fight. But after PSU had five straight kills -- including a Will Price service ace -- to begin the third, the Scarlet Raiders didn't stand a chance for a comeback.
Player of the Match: Ryan Wolf. In his first career start, the sophomore outside hitter posted 11 kills on .600 hitting. Not bad for a 6-foot-3 walk-on.
Stat of the Match: 5. The number of service errors Will Price recorded in the match. In the post-game press conference, the senior captain said playing in Rec Hall's South Gym -- which is much smaller than the Lions' usual home court down the hall -- could have been a factor.
Surprise of the Match: Ryan Wolf. The kid was on fire. Pavlik didn't have a choice but to keep him in the entire game. And his teammates were loving it. After each one of Wolf's 11 kills, the Lions on the bench jumped up and down chanting, "The lone Wolf," alluding to his normally reserved demeanor.
No. 11 Cameron Wade faces Marcus Shrewsbury. Wade gets the pin and the Lions the 37-10 win.
Clay Steadman escapes from John Schoen for a one-point lead. A lot of grappling but no real action here in the first period. Schoen picks Steadman up high in the air and takes Steadman down. He leads 4-1 after one.
Schoen leads 6-2 after two.
Schoen gets another takedown. Steadman sat with his back upright, but the referee signaled Schoen had enough control for the two points. Schoen wins 13-4. PSU 31, NU 10.
Dave Erwin faces Aaron Jones at 184 pounds. Roddy and Erwin jostle for a while before Erwin catches Roddy off guard and pushes him down for a takedown. Erwin then pinned Roddy at the 2:27 mark after holding him down for several seconds. PSU 31, NU 6.
Justin Ortega faces Brian Roddy at 174 pounds. There is no score after one period.
Roddy picks Ortega up, but the Lion refuses to be thrown down and finds his feet. He then twists away for the one-point escape. Ortega had Roddy's leg at a 90-degree angle and kicked the Wildcat's other leg out from underneath him for the takedown. It's 3-1 Ortega to start the third.
Roddy gets a reversal after Ortega throws him down. Ortega gets the escape with a minute left and riding time not a factor. Roddy catches Ortega on a single leg, and Ortega tries to fight control. It doesn't work, and Roddy wins 5-4. PSU 25, NU 6.
Vallimont shoots in on Kellog's knee and tries to twist him for control. Vallimont loses control and lets him loose. After a Vallimont takedown, the Lion had Kellog's legs straight in the air and his arms around the Wildcat's chest, but no pin or near-fall points come out of it.
Vallimont keeps letting Kellog loose. Perhaps he is looking to work on his shots instead of turning the Wildcat for a possible tech fall. Vallimont wins 21-9. PSU leads 25-3.
This is Collegian reporter Brendan Monahan, taking over for the final five bouts.
No. 7 Dan Vallimont faces the Wildcats' Robert Kellog. Vallimont gets the early takedown. Vallimont had Kellog in an awkward position, a near-pin situation. Vallimont takes Kellog down but lets him go for a 2-1 point exchange. Vallimont gets another takedown and an escape. At the end of one, it's 7-4 Vallimont.
This has been Ryan Loy bringing you the first half of the dual meet. I'll hand it over to Brendan Monahan, assisted by Patty McD.
At 149, Cyler Sanderson takes on Kevin Bialka. Sanderson gets two takedowns in the first 35 seconds to take a 4-0 lead. Sanderson allows an escape off of a restart and goes back to work. Sanderson nearly has a pin, but is awarded a takedown. After a 20 second wait, Sanderson gets the fall. Penn State leads 21-3 heading into intermission.
The referee is slow to blow his whistle as both wrestlers are called for cautions. That's not the first time it's happened tonight. Metzler can't escape and Molinaro has a riding time point assured. Molinaro gets a point as Nadhir is called for a second stall. As time expires, it's Molinaro with a 9-0 victory. Penn State leads 15-3.
Molinaro escapes to open the second, pushing his lead to 5-0. Molinaro gets a quick takedown off of a restart to make it 7-0. Molinaro has 1:52 of riding time heading into the final period.
At 149, it's No. 4 Frank Molinaro taking on No. 13 Andrew Nadhir. This is the lone matchup of two ranked wrestlers. The wrestlers restart with 2 minutes left after going out of bounds. Still no score. Molinaro nearly had Nadhir wrapped up for a takedown, but the grapplers went off the mat. Molinaro finally gets a TD as he throws Nadhir down. That's followed up by two near fall points to make Molinaro's lead 4-0.
Lynch's win by forfeit extends the Penn State lead to 11-3.
Metzler gets up and they start neutral in the 3rd. Metzler has the riding time point secured, so Pearsall is essentially down 5-2. A Pearsall takedown makes it 5-4 with the riding time point factored in. Metzler gets an escape to add to his lead. The crowd is really behind Pearsall with the clock winding down. A counter takedown by Metzler secures the bout, and Metzler wins 8-4. Penn State leads 5-3.
Metzler starts down to begin the second and scores two points on a reversal. Pearsall can't get an escape call at the end of the period, but Metzler is sitting on the mat with an apparent injury. He currently leads 4-2.
At 133, it's Bryan Pearsall vs. Eric Metzler. The Wildcat was able to lift Pearsall off the mat and throw him down for a takedown, but a locked hands penalty point was awarded to Pearsall to cut Metzler's lead to 2-1. The period ends 2-2, but Metzler has 1:42 in riding time.
Pataky gets a takedown at 3:14 to win by technical fall. Penn State leads 5-0.
First up, Brad Pataky vs. Levi Mele. Pataky scores a takedown 30 seconds into the bout to go up 2-0. Two near fall points bump Pataky's advantage to 4-0. Three more near fall points make it 7-0. Pataky is able to secure Mele for another three near fall points. 10-0 Pataky. As Pataky's head gear comes loose, he gets three more near fall points and takes a 13-0 lead into the 2nd.
Northwestern is forfeiting the 141-pound match, so Adam Lynch will have to wait until Sunday's match to try to build on his recent success.
In other lineup news, Jack Chidester also weighed in at 133, and Steadman and Crowell were both announced at 197.
There are still several empty spots in the bleachers as the starting lineups are minutes from being introduced.
We're 30 minutes away from the start of tonight's dual with Northwestern. As of this moment, it looks as though the snow may have kept some fans from making it to Rec Hall, but it could fill up before the dual begins.
The new rankings were released today. Penn State stayed at No. 2 with the only change in the top-5 being Iowa State jumping up one spot to No. 5 and Liberty falling a spot to No. 6. The Lindenwood Lions remained No. 1 with Ohio and Illinois staying at No. 3 and No. 4, respectively.
And with the release of these new rankings, this weekend's series got even more important for Rhode Island, which despite sweeping Navy last weekend, fell one spot to No. 11. With automatic bids considered, it is likely only the top 11 teams in the rankings will make the ACHA tournament. If the Rams slip anymore in the rankings, they could fall short of making the tournament.
Kent State stayed at No. 15 despite beating No. 1 Lindenwood on the road last weekend. Kent State has beaten No. 1 Lindernwood, No. 3 Ohio, No. 4 Illinois and No. 5 Iowa State this season. Actually, the Flashes beat Iowa State twice. Yet they did not jump up in the rankings at all and remain a long shot to make the tournament.
Delaware stayed at No. 14 despite last week's 4-2 win against No. 2 Penn State. The Fightin' Blue Hens have two games this weekend against No. 5 Liberty and two next weekend against No. 18 West Chester. Anything less than a 4-0 record for those games will guarantee Delaware does not make the tournament. And even if the Fightin' Blue Hens do reel off back-to-back sweeps, it still might not be enough for them to jump up as many spots as they need to.
The next rankings come out Feb. 19, and those rankings will determine the teams that qualify for the tournament. So the next two weekends are the last opportunities teams will have to make a move and jostle for a top-11 spot in the rankings.
The Rundown: The No. 8 Nittany Lions play in their first game after being upset by then-unranked Loyola-Chicago in a five-set thriller last weekend. The match -- which will be played at Rec Hall's South Gym -- opens up a six game homestand for the Lions.
A long history: Penn State holds a 77-23 record in this series, which dates back to 1977. However, this is the first time the teams are meeting since 2007 -- when the Lions beat the Scarlet Raiders twice in a home-and-home series. Rutgers-Newark's last victory over Penn State was March, 2004.
What to expect: Expect the Lions to come out strong. After nearly a week off since the Loyola loss, the team will be re-energized and ready to get back on track. Senior Will Price -- who had 22 kills against the Ramblers but hit just .220 -- will lead the way.
Killer Keller: The Scarlet Raider's best player is undoubtedly senior Jon Keller, this week's EIVA Hay Division Player of the Week. He leads the team in blocking (1.14 blocks-per-set) and is tied for first on the team in kills (52). Keller, the 2009 NCAA Div. I-II national leader in blocking average, hit .722 with an ace and seven assisted blocks in the Scarlet Raiders' 3-0 sweep of NYU last week. Keller is a Reading native and was teammates with Penn State's manager, Chris Birch, at Exeter Township High School.
Life's good on Mars: Redshirt junior Alan Mars should get the nod tonight over freshman Tom Comfort, who has struggled mightily since an outstanding debut at the Outrigger Invitational. Mars earned a starting spot in the Loyola match over the frosh, and the 6-foot-7 outside hitter seized the opportunity finishing the match with 13 kills on .381 hitting. Mars worked extremely hard this week to maintain the starting position. He came early to practice Tuesday to work on drills with setter Edgardo Goas.
Prediction: Penn State 3-0. No way the Lions are even dropping a set in this one.
Coming off a season-high 196.025 at last weekend's tri-meet against Alabama and Minnesota, the No. 17 Nittany Lions close their three-meet home stand with their first dual meet of the season, a Saturday night showdown with No. 23 Illinois.
Here's a brief scouting report on Illinois, which is back in the GymInfo top 25 after falling out last week.
Illinois: The Illini are coming off their first win of the season, knocking off conference foe Iowa 195.225-192.950. That's a season-high score for the Illini, whose previous high 194.425. Much like the Nittany Lions, the Illini struggled through their first two meets of the season, failing to top 194 until the third meet of the season.
The Illini are battle tested coming into Saturday's meet, having competed against three top-10 teams, including a pair of top-5 opponents in Oklahoma and Oregon State. Leading the Illini is Allison Buckley, who averages a 39.275 in the all-around. Melissa Fernandez is right behind with a 39.200.
With the Super Bowl XLIV clash between the New Orleans Saints and Indianapolis Colts coming up on Sunday, we asked some prominent figures in the State College community for their predictions.
Former Penn State quarterback Daryll Clark: Saints
Clark texted that Peyton Manning is "amazing" but Drew Brees was a Big Ten guy, so he's going with the underdog Saints.
State College Mayor Elizabeth Goreham: Saints win by two points
"The New Orleans Saints are sort of an emotional favorite, with all they've been through and since they haven't won a championship ... even though Indianapolis may have a fantastic quarterback," Goreham said. "There's a mental game that's in play...I think the emotional desire of New Orleans has really carried them far"
UPUA president Gavin Keirans: Saints 31-Colts 27
Penn State wrestling coach Cael Sanderson: Colts
Penn State women's volleyball coach Russ Rose: Colts
Penn State Men's volleyball coach Mark Pavlik: Saints by four
Former Penn State punter Jeremy Boone: Colts by four
Penn State President Graham Spanier declined to make a prediction via email, writing, "I have no prediction or even a favorite. I'm supporting Penn State in our next games and matches!"
You just offered a seventh-grade quarterback a scholarship.
It's stupid enough this type of behavior happens in college basketball, but trying to project how a football player will go through puberty and if his skills are still D-I-worthy on the other side is embarrassing for one of the premier programs in the country.
"I'm very excited, but I was very, very nervous," David Sills, the pimply-faced 13-year-old told a Delaware paper. "It was very cool, but my heart was beating so fast and I was scared. But after it was over, I was so excited and pumped."
Of course of it's cool. You were 8 years old when Reggie Bush shoved Matt Leinart across the goal line to defeat Notre Dame.
But don't blame Sills. Good for him for securing his college future before he even makes the high school football team.
Kiffin, who must still be on the high of signing one of the top recruiting classes in 2010, is the one acting childish.
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I love when the Ragin' Cajun crosses over. No matter your opinion on his political stance, most can agree that liberal political strategist James Carville is a likable figure -- at the very least charismatic.
And when he's not doing battle with other pundits, he's happy to branch out. He made good on cameo appearances in Tina Fey's sitcom "30 Rock" and frat-pack comedy "Old School." But this time, it's sports.
A New Orleans resident and proud owner of a degree from LSU, Carville penned an interesting piece on ESPN.com about the revitalization of New Orleans post-Katrina, with primary emphasis on the Saints' role therewith.
Carville is bold. He likens the Saints-New Orleans weave to such prestigious fabrics as Steelers/Pens-Pittsburgh, Celts/Sox/Pats-Boston, and Packers-Green Bay. It's ambitious for a NFL team/city that has never even been to a Super Bowl -- hell, Pittsburgh's got six.
But Carville's not out of his league with that kind of statement. He does well to express that New Orleans, in the wake of catastrophe, is leaning on the Saints as much as any storied city above has leaned on its franchises in the past. But the Saints aren't the kind of escape from everyday life that lots of forms of entertainment can be.
For New Orleans, the Saints are a return to normalcy, which the city is fighting furiously to achieve -- the normalcy of enjoying a pastime. Only this year, that pastime is in title contention.
With that paradox of uniqueness and normalcy, the Saints may well join the ranks of storied sports cities, if not for winning a championship, then for giving its fans an equally good reason to be proud of New Orleans again -- a win-or-lose, against-the-odds reason. It's a great story that one can argue belongs up there with much of what other franchises have done for their cities.
And it's really what titles are about anyway, right? Pride. Pride in being the best. Pride in accomplishing what no other team could accomplish. Whether that means winning a Super Bowl for the Saints remains to be seen. But New Orleans has certainly accomplished something other NFL teams can't boast -- their own specific role in a city-wide resurrection. That's why the bourbon will flow in New Orleans win or lose come Feb. 7. Carville'll tell you.
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Every time LeBron James and the Cavaliers are on TV, basketball fans take notice.
Every time Dwyane Wade and the Heat are on TV, they do the same.
Every time the two collide, not only do the true NBA die-hards tune in, America itself seems to look in on whatever arena the pair is playing in.
Thursday night, Cleveland played host to Miami -- or more appropriately, King James welcomed Flash into his courtroom. The Cavs won 102-86, but more importantly, LBJ beat out DW, 36-24.
It should come as no surprise that, in a star-powered league like the NBA, fans often pay much more attention to individuals than they do to the teams they play for. It follows, then, that the off chance that two of the greatest young players in the league playing on the same team next season would bring the roof down on excitement for professional basketball in mainstream America.
In all likelihood, LeBron and Wade won't play together next season. It's too much money to go around and one of them will have to sink down to second-option status, something most egocentric stars today aren't comfortable in doing.
But that shouldn't stop fans from dreaming of a situation in which James dons the red-and-black jersey with Wade right beside him, smiling like a kid in a candy store. Or the two of them switching venues together, sharing a star-studded introductory news conference like Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen and Paul Pierce did in Boston a few years back.
It's the possibilities of sports that make the fans so invested in the first place. What if this is the year my team gets it together and wins the championship? What if this time around, my favorite player finds his inner strengths and rides them to an MVP season? What if -- that's most fans' favorite game to play throughout the course of a year following a team.
So get excited about LeBron and Wade suiting up together next season. Who cares if it could never happen? That's what NBA Live is for, anyway.
As the Penn State wrestling team welcomes Northwestern and Michigan to Rec Hall this weekend, senior Dan Vallimont has the opportunity to get some momentum heading into the Big Ten Tournament.
Here's what some coaches and teammates had to say about Vallimont.
Assistant coach Troy Letters on the Vallimont's points of emphasis in the coming weeks:
"These next three matches Vallimont needs to get majors and lot of points on the board and he'll get his 100th win. It's a big deal to have 100 wins at Penn State. Also, he needs to work on the mat this weekend. Getting out on guys, riding guys. Getting his riding time point is gonna be important because, coming down to the later rounds in the national tournament, the riding time point is huge. It becomes a factor in almost all the matches. So, if he can start learning how to get that riding time point and get out of everyone on bottom, he's going to be right there to win a title."
"He needs to really put the heat on these guys. His high crotch is really hard to stop once he starts making attempts and starts moving the guys a lot. This next month, he really needs to put points on the board and really needs to open up offensively and on the mat."
Head coach Cael Sanderson on working out from the bottom:
"He had a couple matches that he lost because he got ridden. Two in a row actually. Two of the top guys in the country. He's capable of getting away, and he was real close in his matches. It's just doing that last five percent that's gonna actually get the point."
Vallimont on his high crotch shot:
"It's just something I've been doing since I was little, and I've had a lot of success with it."
Sophomore HWT Cameron Wade on Vallimont's high crotch:
"He's so quick and powerful. I remember freshman year watching him and within the first 10 seconds he'd be in the high crotch on anybody. It's just his style, and it works for him. He finishes it most of the time. It's just his go to move."
Wade on Vallimont's matchups:
"He's been pushing the action the last couple matches. He just hasn't been hitting any shots. There's just a couple of minor adjustments he needs to make. I'm sure he's gonna figure it out. It wasn't like he was wrestling slouches. I'm sure this weekend he'll go out there and wrestle like he knows how to and smash these guys."
The No. 11 Nittany Lions return home after a 1-1 road stand to host the Northwestern Wildcats Friday. Let's face it -- this one should be a Penn State rout.
No. 11 Penn State (10-5-1, 2-2 Big Ten), Northwestern (5-8-1, 0-3)
PSU- No. 13 Brad Pataky (20-6, 3-1)
NU- Levi Mele (8-6, 1-1)
Not only does Pataky hold a higher rank, but he also stands an inch taller than Mele. With that being said, the Lion 125-pounder shouldn't have trouble with escapes. Look for Pataky to dictate the pace and have confidence in his shots.
Prediction: Pataky by major decision. PSU- 4 NU- 0
PSU- Bryan Pearsall (3-17, 1-3)
NU- Eric Metzler (9-7, 1-2)
Pearsall defeated Illinois' Daryl Thomas two weeks at Rec Hall by one point. Metzler lost by one to Thomas last weekend, so from a mathematical standpoint, Pearsall should get the win, right? I'm going to with the Northwestern senior -- experience wins in this battle.
Prediction: Metzler by decision. PSU- 4 NU- 3
PSU- Adam Lynch (8-9, 3-1)
NU- Bobby Joyce (1-12, 0-3)
Is anybody not on the Lynch bandwagon now? As the coaches say, Lynch is doing everything right. He's only going to get better. This one is easy.
Prediction: Lynch by major decision. PSU- 8 NU- 3
PSU- No. 4 Frank Molinaro (23-3, 2-2)
NU- No. 13 Andrew Nadhir (19-4, 3-0)
Unfortunately for the Wildcats, their lone ranked wrestler must face the Lions' wins leader. Plus, Molinaro's confidence is flying after beating Wisconsin's Kyle Ruschell last Sunday.
Prediction: Molinaro by decision. PSU- 11 NU- 3
PSU- No. 7 Cyler Sanderson (22-3, 3-1)
NU- Kevin Bialka (9-11, 0-3)
Cyler Sanderson's 63 dual meet takedowns leads the Lions. This ability won't change anytime soon. Bialka is in for a rough bout.
Prediction: Sanderson by technical fall. PSU- 16 NU- 3
PSU- No. 7 Dan Vallimont (19-6, 1-3)
NU- Robert Kellogg (8-12, 1-2)
David Taylor rode Vallimont in practice this week, so the Lion 165-pounder should be better off the bottom. Look for Vallimont to take more shots too.
Prediction: Vallimont by major decision. PSU- 20 NU- 3
PSU- Justin Ortega (6-14, 0-4)
NU- Brian Roddy (7-5, 1-1)
Roddy only lost by three to Illinois' Jordan Blanton last weekend. Ortega will battle, but Roddy sneaks away in a close one.
Prediction: Roddy by decision. PSU- 20 NU- 6
PSU- No. 11 Dave Erwin (22-6, 3-1)
NU- Aaron Jones (8-12, 0-2)
Illinois' John Dergo pinned Jones last weekend. With Erwin's recent wins, I see Jones getting beat badly again.
Prediction: Erwin by technical fall. PSU- 25 NU- 6
PSU- Clay Steadman (8-9, 0-2)
NU- John Schoen (11-9, 0-3)
There's nothing new on the 197-pound front. I'm guessing Steadman will go Friday, and Dave Crowell will wrestle Sunday -- but I could be wrong. This match should be evenly matched, but based on gut feeling, I'll pick Steadman winning his first Big Ten bout.
Prediction: Steadman by decision. PSU- 28 NU- 6
PSU- No. 11 Cameron Wade (15-6, 3-1)
NU- Marcus Shrewsbury (4-9, 0-3)
Wade has been pretty consistent against unranked opponents this year. Basically, he beats the wrestlers he's supposed to beat, and this match shouldn't be different.
The Lady Lions dropped their third consecutive game Thursday night to Michigan State in East Lansing, Mich. Here's a look at how we grade the Lions in the loss.
Just a dismal shooting game for the Lions. Penn State shot 26.2 percent from the field, including just 20 percent in the second half. It wasn't for lack of trying, though. The Lions took six more shots that the Spartans but connected on six fewer shots. The Lions did have some open looks, but it was evident from the beginning of the game that it just wasn't the Lions night to be shooting the basketball. Tyra Grant led the Lions with 13 points, but that was aided by six made free throws. Chalk this game up as a forgettable night for the Lady Lions and probably their worst shooting performance of the season.
On a night when the ball is not going in the cup, defensive stops are at a premium. Unfortunately for the Lions, the stops weren't coming with the frequency they needed in order to stay in the game. Michigan State shot 40 percent from the field. Not an astounding number, but it didn't have to be. The Lions appeared just a bit slower than the Spartans on defense. With center Nikki Greene in foul trouble, Michigan State center Alyssa DeHaan had her way in the first half, amassing eight points. Without Greene's presence in the paint, Penn State tried to utilize a 2/3 zone but to no avail. The Spartans found open looks in the corner as the bottom of the zone seemed preoccupied with closing off the lane.
It's hard to keep up the intensity when trailing by 20 points, but it never really looked like the Lions gave up in this game. Even when down by a significant amount, they were still attacking the basket, trying to get shots to fall anyway they could. It was just one of those nights when shots were not going in, but Penn State still had fight in them towards the end of the game.
Free Throws: C
The Lions went 10-for-16 from the charity stripe, but that didn't matter. Had the Lions gone 16-for-16, they still would have lost by 15 points. A key component to this game, though, was Michigan State's performance from the foul line. The Spartans got 16 of their 65 points from the free throw line. The Lions would certainly like to have their percentage be higher, but this was not a game where free throws played a major factor.
With Ohio State looming Sunday, Penn State will need to put this game behind them as quickly as possible. The Lions will need to bounce back from their worst game of the year as they prepare to face arguably the best team they will play all season.
As Jantel Lavender and the Buckeyes get ready to head to the BJC for Sunday's game, I had a chance to interview the returning Big Ten Player of the Year. Lavender's really one of the most personable athletes I've ever interviewed and she was willing to talk about stuff ranging from OSU basketball to her four tattoos.
Here's some of what she had to say.
Lavender on how she was first introduced to basketball:
What changes she's made to her game since entering college:
Why she deems LeBron James the most-exciting player in the NBA:
Why she thinks opposing teams struggle to guard her:
On her four tattoos:
She's certainly one of the most dynamic players in the Big Ten and after listening to her, I think her personality is just as strong as her dominant post moves.
As tweeted by ESPN's Marc Stein, the Los Angeles Clippers have fired head coach Mike Dunleavy and will be replaced by Kim Hughes. However, Dunleavy is expected retain his title as general manager.
Was it that one playoff appearance that has led Donald Sterling to believe that Dunleavy is a good gauge of talent? Nothing about the Clippers screams talent. Sure they have some players in Baron Davis, Eric Gordon and what's left of Blake Griffin's leg, but the Clippers went nowhere under Dunleavy and surely won't with him bringing in the talent on the team.
I'm sure all five Clippers fans aren't too pleased with this news.
Rajon Rondo Gets A Scolding:
The day after Rajon Rondo told reporters that the Boston Celtics had to put aside agendas and focus on being a team, things got a little frosty at last night's post-game press conference.
Rondo and Kevin Garnett were at the podium when a reporter asked the point guard about the team's chemistry.
Sorry sir, Kevin Garnett will take that question.
Now how hilarious is that? Did you see Rondo's face the whole time? The dude looked like a small child who had been scolded and put in the timeout chair.
It's obvious that Garnett said something to Rondo behind those closed doors he talked about so much. If it was anything like the jawing and chest thumping he does from the sideline, it would have been a scene to behold.
I'm sure Rondo regrets crossing KG. After all, that's the same man who used an arsenal of weapons to describe his mentality for a Game Seven.
I Believe That's an H:
Well hello Monte Ellis! That incredible shot was just the latest from the Golden State guard, who already hit a shot from the tunnel in the arena earlier this season.
This latest feat has started a movement for Ellis to be added to the second-annual H-O-R-S-E competition at the All Star Weekend next week.
Am I the only one who totally forgot there was a trick shot event at the All Star Game? That should tell you all you need to know about the viability of this event. I'm not sure what would put me to sleep faster, this or the Shooting Stars competition. I love nothing more than watching an NBA player, a WNBA player and a retired star throwing up awful half-court shots.
Even with the constant shuffling of the ACC, these two teams appear to have set themselves apart as the class of the conference. They square off at Cameron Indoor Stadium.
It should be an interesting clash, given the Blue Devils' strength this season has been great guard play, while the Yellow Jackets look to Derrick Favors and Gani Lawal in the post for most of their points. The Jackets made a name for themselves with a 71-67 win over Duke earlier in the season. The Blue Devils will be out for revenge in front of what will likely be one of their better crowds of the season.
Prediction: Georgia Tech 66, Duke 64
Player to watch: Luke Harangody
It's a recurring theme for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish: not living up to their potential in a tough Big East. In the last few seasons the Irish have suffered some crippling losses down the stretch that have seriously hurt their tournament chances. This season, after starting 14-3, the Irish have lost four of five (one of those losses coming to a Rutgers squad that had been winless in conference play) and appear headed for a similar fate.
Enter Luke Harangody. In his final season in South Bend, Harangody, who is averaging 24 points and 10 rebounds per game, has to put his foot down on another late-season swoon. That starts tonight against fellow bubble team, Cincinnati. A win and a strong performance by Harangody could send a very clear message to the rest of the Big East that this season's Irish will be different.
The Big Ten network's "Hoops on Campus" comes to Penn State tonight at the Bryce Jordan Center, and the show -- centered around the team and its fans -- will air on Friday.
According to a press release, tonight's festivities will be taped for the show and shown on the Big Ten Network at 10 p.m. Friday.
Instead of focusing solely, on basketball, the show is designed to show the entire university's spirit around athletics and around the team. In addition to athletes from other sports such as football and volleyball competing in contests like a 3-point shootout and a dunk contest, the Blue Band, cheerleaders and Lionettes will all be a part of the festivities that begin at 6 p.m.
The show will air a day before the Lions return home from a rough road trip to host Minnesota at 2 on Saturday afternoon.
Fred Phelps, the fire and brimstone leader of the cult of religious fanatics, the Westboro Baptist Church, is leading his charge against a new kind of evil...hockey.
Yes, the same group that protests gay marriages and pickets soldiers' funerals has said hockey is the devil's sport. The group sent out this message:
"God H8s Ur hockey! ... Valor Pl. & Olive St. WBC will picket your stupid, cold (you will truly pray for these days of being in the cold hockey games when you burn in hell for eternity) violent, time-wasting hockey game - your SPORT. ... You know there will be only a few more of these entertainment events before God lets Obama simply destroy this nation. God does not have anything good to say about your sport(s)."
Yeah, thanks Freddie. If enjoying hockey is a sin, I'll gladly burn in hell. And if I do go there for enjoying hockey, I can always hope there's a zamboni I can ride around in.
Is there anyone in modern sports with a better name than Cal Clutterbuck? The Wild right winger completely decapitates the Stars' Brad Richards here and then fights Steve Ott to the death. Well not to the death, but Cal is the man.
Seeing as though the Penn State women's gymnastics team is about one third of the way through its season, I thought this would be a good time to take a look at the leaders on each of the four events in terms of average score for the No. 17 Nittany Lions.
1. Brandi Personett: 9.925
2. Whitney Bencsko: 9.844
3. Sharaya Musser: 9.819
1. Natalie Ettl: 9.831
2. Sharaya Musser: 9.806
3. Madison Merriam: 9.800
1. Brandi Personett: 9.688
2. Casey Rohrbaugh: 9.681
3. Daryl Konsevick: 9.569
1. Brandi Personett: 9.900
2. Madison Merriam: 9.800
3. Daryl Konsevick: 9.744
It should be of no surprise that three-time All-American Brandi Personett is leading in three of the four events. She leads the nation on the vault and is No. 2 in the nation on the floor exercise. A couple of interesting things to look at are the averages of the freshman, Madison Merriam and Sharaya Musser. Granted Merriam's 9.800 bars average may be a little inflated because she only competed once, it should be noted how much the freshman have contributed to the team in the early going. Sophomore Natalie Ettl, who only competes on the bars, has also done a great job this year leading the Lions on the event.
"I've got partners out there right now whose teams are making less money than their linebackers. I think we've got an acute problem here with the general profitability of the teams," Ravens owner
Steve Bisciotti told the Associated Press. "Damn," I told myself.
It's an unsettling thing to think about: Bisciotti said that enough teams are facing financial shortfall that a lockout is foreseeable in 2011, a new collective bargaining agreement being the antidote.
The NFL is seen as such a powerhouse of entertainment that it's difficult to fathom a financial struggle. But to put it in perspective, NFL teams are businesses, and the nation is facing a crippling recession. It's only sensible that professional sports teams are struggling like the rest of us.
Of course, the thought of a lockout is a whole different animal, and I just don't see the likelihood of a government bailout for this one -- call me crazy.
My guess is that as any sort of drastic undertaking becomes increasingly clear, we'll hear more and more about this. For now, I've got my fingers crossed that things will improve for the NFL -- and the economy and the job market. Because I'd like to be able to afford a TV so I can watch sports, to begin with.
Well, well, well. Highly touted left tackle prospect Seantrel Henderson appears to be having second thoughts on signing that LOI to USC.
Per Pete Thamel of The New York Times, apparently the ongoing investigation in Troy is giving Henderson reason to pause and really think about whether or not Kiffin and Co. is the best ship to climb aboard on these days.
When you're possibly the best O-line prospect since Orlando Pace -- a former No. 1 NFL Draft pick -- you don't take these kinds of chances.
Henderson is better of looking elsewhere, which unfortunately for Penn State fans, means the Big Ten, where Ohio State and Minnesota were finalists for his services.
Ohio State is probably the winner if USC can't close.
Fitting, since Columbus groomed Pace into a future NFL Hall of Famer.
Playing for your professional hometown team is rare.
Spending 53 years with it in various capacities is even rarer.
Dick McGuire, a Bronx native, did just that with the New York Knicks, leading them to three NBA Finals as a player, later serving as a coach and a scout, and finally ending up in the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame.
He passed away Wednesday, 84 years young.
I have no memories of his playing days, but in the fourth-grade, my first year of a short-lived organized basketball career, McGuire spoke to us at the end-of-year awards dinner.
What I can say is this: Players like McGuire, who went to St. John's, are becoming a dying breed.
Free agency and expansion makes it difficult to end up with any team for the length of one's career, let alone a hometown team. Compounding matters is the resistance of New York City talent to stay local.
St. John's and the Knicks have a combined 13 losing season since 2003-04, and the Big Apple has been aching for a winner.
Basketball, believe it or not, is the city's game, though it's looking more and more like that sentence will soon be written in past tense.
Dave Erwin said he is the aggressor but also the collected wrestler when he steps onto the mat.
"When I go out there and let them dictate the pace, it doesn't work out so well for me," Erwin said. "At the same time, I try and keep my head and not overextend myself.
Erwin's friend and teammate Clay Steadman said the 184-pounder has the ability to know when to rest and when to work hard. Steadman stressed his excitement in Erwin's victory over then-No. 7 Phil Keddy. Steadman said it's good to see Erwin and Adam Lynch, both close friends, rack up wins.
"Not only does it make me happy," Steadman said, "but it makes me feel like I still have an opportunity to be successful this year."
Today we are taking a look at Penn State's offense, starting with some of the key girls who they lost:
Attacker Marisa Lozano started in every single game last season and was expected to play this year. But that notion was cut short when she tore her anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in November practice. For the Lions, it is an unfortunate loss. She had 20 goals and 24 assists last season and was second on the team with 53 shots on goal.
The senior captain Kerry Shea started all 17 games last year and ranked third on the team with 27 draw controls. She was the second leading scorer with 24 goals and had 27 points for the season. The midfielder
Here are a few of the possible returning players, who have the potential to fill the void left by Shea and Lozano:
Senior attacker Erica Mihm had a huge 2009 season as she led the team in goals (25) and draw controls (42). The Annapolis, Md. native came up big in the team's biggest games with hat tricks against Maryland, Ohio State and Maryland and a four-goal performance against conference rival Johns Hopkins. Her return is vital to the Nittany Lions' attack this season.
Senior midfielder Theresa Bucci finished last season with goals (18) and points (22). She started every single game. She scored two goals in six different games. The season highlight for Bucci was when she posted a season-high of four points (2 goals, 2 assists) in the Lions 14-10 win over Lehigh.
Laura Lesnick caught fire last season as she broke out with 22 goals (fourth on the team) and a .512 shooting percentage. She tied for the team-high two game-winning goals. The junior midfielder scored eight goals in the team's final four games in 2009, and finished with 23 overall points. As she enters her third season, Lesnick will continue to rise and be a key element for Penn State.
It's hard to say junior attacker Jen Steadman a breakout candidate, especially after she posted 14 goals and 10 assists. Steadman posted a four-goal game against Lafayette and scored two goals in back-to-back games against tough competition. (North Carolina and Lehigh) But Steadman only started two games, and played in 15 out of the 17. If she sees more time this season, watch for her numbers to skyrocket.
The Lions head to Columbus tonight for an early start against the Buckeyes. Here are our keys to the game.
1. Contain Evan Turner without help defense
Turner may be in contention for national player of the year, but that isn't solely because he can score. If the Lions are forced to use two or three players on Turner he will make them pay. To go with his 18.4 points per game, he also averages 5.7 assists. D.J. Jackson or Chris Babb will likely draw the assignment.
2. "Make your luck"
It's something head coach Ed DeChellis has stressed all season long, and it may never be truer than tonight. The Lions need to make plays at every possible moment, because in all likelihood they won't be getting calls or fan support in a raucous environment in Columbus. In Sunday's game against Purdue, the Boilermakers used an early second half run to put the Lions away. Penn State can't afford a similar run tonight.
Sunday's loss to Purdue was arguably the Lions' ugliest performance of the year. But despite their 0-9 conference record, they haven't always looked as bad as they did against the Boilermakers. Every player not named Bill Edwards would do well to forget what happened Sunday.
After an incredible start to the Big East season, the Panthers have come back down to earth with losses in three of their last four games. They look to get back on track tonight with a win in Morgantown against West Virginia.
"Pitt is our rival so we'll probably be using a lot of colorful words against them," a West Virginia student told the AP.
Rival may be an understatement. These two teams do not like each other and neither do the fans. Keep an eye on the Da'Sean Butler-Gilbert Brown matchup. That could be the deciding factor tonight.
Prediction: West Virginia 71, Pitt 64
Player to watch: Dominique Jones, South Florida
Scottie Reynolds, Wesley Johnson, Luke Harangody and Greg Monroe are four obvious choices for an all-Big East starting five. The fifth? Right now it's South Florida's Dominique Jones.
Jones has the Bulls in contention for a very rare NCAA tournament bid, averaging 37 points in their last three games - all impressive wins. He is the hottest player in the nation's best conference, scoring 22 points per game, and he is also one of college hoops' best scoring-passing threats.
Tonight the Bulls head to Georgetown and if the Hoyas don't contain Jones, they'll be on upset alert. After an 0-4 start to conference play, South Florida is 4-1 in the Big East and in contention for the tournament, mostly because of Jones.
As we reported yesterday, Icers defenseman Dan Loucks will be out for the next couple of weeks with a shoulder sprain he suffered last weekend against Delaware.
Loucks' absence leaves a hole in the Icers' defense corps, where he had more often than not found his way into the top six rotation along with Rich O'Brien, Steve Thurston, John Conte and Dan Petrick, among others.
Icers coach Scott Balboni talked about Loucks' injury at practice Tuesday and who needs to step up with Loucks out.
"Mac Winchester and Carey Bell, guys that have played a little bit for us are gonna have to step up and play a bigger role," Balboni said. "A guy like Rich O'Brien, who has played a lot of hockey for us, but he's gonna be asked to play some specialty teams roles. So it'll just mean some other guys that are playing a little bit will have to play more and will have to play in more crucial situations, and they're just gonna have to step up to that situation."
Loucks has three goals and 12 assists in 24 games this season.
"He has such an easy-going personality," coach Mark Pavlik said. "And he just seamlessly fits into the team."
So much so, that Wolf's teammates actually have a hard time describing his role on the No. 8 Nittany Lions -- to them, he's just a silent fixture that holds the team together. Here, captain Max Lipsitz takes his best crack at describing the sophomore outside hitter:
At 6-foot-3, Wolf is somewhat undersized for an outside hitter. Star Joe Sunder stands at 6-foot-7, while starter Alan Mars is 6-foot-6. But Wolf's relatively small stature isn't something that stresses Pavlik out.
"Would i like him bigger? Yeah, of course," the head coach said. "But he's not bigger so I'm not going to worry about it."
I asked Pavlik if there was ever a time he could remember being mad at Wolf. After sitting at his desk for three minutes with a blank expression, Pavlik called in assistant coach Jay Hosack.
"Hey, Jay!" Pavlik yelled across the volleyball office at Rec Hall. "Can you ever remember being mad at Wolfy?"
"Mad at Wolfy?" Hosack quipped. "How could we ever be mad at Wolfy? He does everything we ask."
Much has been said about the incredible atmosphere at Loyola-Chicago's Alumni Gym last Saturday when the then-unranked Ramblers upset then-No. 5 Penn State.
Well, now you can see it for yourself. Looks like somebody caught match point on video (thanks Youtube!). Just by watching the 1:03 minute clip you can tell there's something magical about that building. Check it out:
Let me start by saying how manly Dwight Freeney is for trying so hard to play in Sunday's Super Bowl.
After all, the man only has a torn ligament in his right ankle, something the Colts are saying is a "third-degree ankle sprain" -- which, by definition, is a complete ligament tear.
It takes a lot of you-know-what to even attempt to play a 60-minute football game two weeks after suffering one of those. But Freeney is doing everything he can to take the field on Super Sunday.
That's great, Dwight. Just know that you're not going to be anywhere close to your usual, speedy self coming off the end.
In Super Bowl XXXIX, Terrell Owens came back from a severely sprained ankle and fractured fibula to play a stellar game for the Eagles. But T.O. had about a month-and-a-half to recover and get a feel for what he could do.
Freeney has two weeks. This won't end well.
Nonetheless, the anchor of Indy's defense will likely be starting Sunday, and all of a sudden the favored Colts seem a little vulnerable. Will Drew Brees and company be glad to see him lined up across from them? You better believe it.
Will his diminished impact determine whether or not Indy wins Sunday? Probably not; the Saints defense still has to contain Peyton Manning.
Would the Colts be better off with Freeney sitting this one out? Not necessarily.
Think about it: How can the other Colts complain about feeling tired or worn down with Freeney out there with a third-degree bum ankle?
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And once again we take the question of what a ticket entitles fans off the back burner.
West Virginia's student section apparently needs its mouth washed out with soap after chanting foul language at Ohio State's Evan Turner at a college basketball game last month.
Turns out, the Mountaineer Maniacs toned it down to some extent a week later against Louisville -- when they chanted the name of the mistress Cardinals coach Rick Pitino admitted to having sex with.
Strike two, Maniacs.
But, in true 'Neer style, the damaging hit to its sportmanship is the issue being put on the back burner by the blue and gold.
Hated rival Pitt ventures into Morgantown on Wednesday night, and WVU student rep Jon Kimble said the students will start behaving -- after the Pitt game.
So, does the price of admission grant you free speech in any capacity that's not "Fire!"?
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I may or may not agree with Tim Tebow's view on abortion, but I will listen to his side anyway.
Forget the fact Tebow can draw on more personal experience than most to educate us about this subject; I just think we don't need to complain when athletes take a stand.
And we don't need to complain about Tebow.
I realize I'm taking a risk writing this -- given recent events in our world -- but Tebow genuinely comes across as the closest thing any sports fan can have to the perfect role model. And please, spare me the croc tears on how Tiger Woods betrayed his fans.
Woods told you what sports drink to consume and what golf club to buy, all the while keeping his favorite color private.
Tebow has spoken to prisoners, traveled on missionary trips and used his platform to spread his faith, all the while performing one of the great four-year reigns in college sports history.
Tebow's combined on- and off-the-field efforts are second-to-none, and if he wants to take 30 seconds of our time to give his take on abortion, we should applaud him, regardless of which side of the debate we sit on.
Minnesota point guard Al Nolen has played his last game for the Golden Gophers this season after his appeal for reinstatement was denied by the NCAA.
Reported Tuesday on ESPN's Web site, Nolen was ruled academically ineligible two weeks ago. The junior guard appealed to a special NCAA committee, but with the denial is done for the year.
Though Nolen can still travel and practice with his team, he won't be able to take the floor when Minnesota takes on the Nittany Lions Saturday. For a team seeking its first Big Ten win, the Lions could benefit from the loss of Nolen.
In the Gophers 75-70 win over Penn State on December 29, Nolen had six points, five rebounds and six assists and was leading the Gophers in assists and steals before his suspension.
Nolen has been replaced by DeVoe Joseph, who had four points in 12 minutes during the last meeting between the two teams.
The Penn State wrestling team is starting to get in the mode to take on Northwestern at 7 p.m. in Rec Hall.
Coach Cael Sanderson will have the Nittany Lions in the wrestling room by at least 4:30 p.m. to begin preparing for their 6 p.m. weigh-ins. Once they all arrive the workouts begin.
"It's not just sitting around and watching the clock all day until we get to weigh-in," Sanderson said.
The coach said the workout is viewed as a warm-up to the actual match. He said most teams don't usually have a full workout just hours before a match, but the Penn State coaching staff sees it as a good way to get the wrestlers' weight down and do last minute preparations for the meet.
Once 6 p.m. rolls around it is time for the Lions to strip down and step on the scale. In order to compete, the wrestlers have to be spot-on or below their given weight class. If 165-pounder Dan Vallimont steps on the scale and weighs 165.2 pounds, he cannot compete in the dual meet.
Sanderson said the wrestlers want to be about 0.1 pounds below their given class.
"You don't want to give up your weight," Sanderson said. "If you happen to lose more weight that you wanted to and weigh-ins aren't for another hour, you'd try to get to 0.1 or 0.2 under. Something small, just to be safe."
After weigh-ins the wrestlers can do whatever they need to prepare. The coaches encourage the wrestlers to eat something of nutritional value, like a sandwich, sometime within the four hours before a match, but many will do that immediately before the pre-match workout.
Assistant coach Matt Dernlan said once the wrestlers weigh-in, they don't stay at their class' weight for long. Oftentimes, a wrestler will drink water to put on some weight to put them back up at the weight they train at during the week.
"We want them down to their weight class hopefully just for a few minutes before they make weight," Dernlan said. "Then they can just put that weight back on and get back to their normal walking around weight."
Once the wrestlers go through their own pre-match rituals, it's show time. The lights in Rec Hall dim and the Lions run in a single-file line out onto the mat.
Making weight and training are now the furthest things from their minds--the timer starts and the first match is underway.
To read more about the Penn State wrestling team and its weight management procedures check The Daily Collegian.
Getting down to weight is just another routine that wrestlers partake in nearly every week for six months out of the year. However, it confuses many people as to why they need to keep losing weight week after week if they are wrestling in the same weight class every match.
The members of the Penn State wrestling team gave several reasons as to why weight management becomes something that the athletes always seem to be doing.
Assistant coach Matt Dernlan said one reason is simply because wrestlers' normal body weight doesn't match up with the weights associated with the different competing classes. For example, a wrestler who normally weighs 190 pounds has to either gain weight to compete at 197 or lose weight to compete at 184.
Since this hypothetical wrestler weighs 190 pounds, he will gain water weight and such to get back up to that weight even though he competed at 184-pounds just earlier that day or the day prior.
"Your normal walking around weight is usually a bit higher than your actual wrestling weight," Dernlan said. "Normally we can get the guys within range. Six-eight pounds would probably be normal for most guys to be over during the week."
Sophomore 197-pounder Clay Steadman gave another reason many of his teammates continue to manage their weight week after week.
He said the wrestlers don't want to get too acclimated to their competing weight because then their bodies will shrink down and adjust to that weight meaning they won't be as strong.
Steadman used himself as an example saying he weighs 210 pounds on a regular basis and he tries to stay there throughout the season. This is so when he wrestles other 197-pounders he will be built 10 pounds bigger than his opponents.
"I want to be a 210 pound man wrestling at 197," Steadman said. "I don't want to be a 197 pound man wrestling 197. There's gonna be guys that are 197 that are wrestling 197, and I'll be 10 pounds stronger than them. It'd be an advantage."
While these two are common reasons why the Nittany Lions and other wrestlers continuously manage their weight, redshirt sophomore Frank Molinaro said there's even another reason.
The 149-pounder said because wrestlers' bodies are so muscular and have so little fat, their weight just doesn't want to go as low as it has to for matches. He said some of the wrestlers are six-eight pounds over their competing weight at only 6-percent body fat. Therefore, their bodies don't want them to go down the last four or five pounds.
Molinaro said this struggle to get down causes the wrestlers' bodies to easily obtain water weight once they start eating again.
"Our body doesn't want to get down that low, it's like telling us not to get any lighter," Molinaro said. "Once we weigh in and everything, our body is kind of dehydrated, so when we drink and eat it's gonna absorb everything so we end up gaining five or six pounds of water weight right then."
To read more about the Penn State wrestling team and its weight management procedures check The Daily Collegian.
The issue of Adam Lynch's final year of eligibility was brought up by Jeff Byers on the Penn State Radio Network prior to Sunday's dual at Wisconsin.
After talking to Lynch, it seems as though he's set on continuing to graduate school to further his education. If I were on the Penn State coaching staff, I'd be starting my campaign to persuade the 141-pounder to wrestle one more year for the Nittany Lions.
Lynch may not be a force on the mat who changes the outcome of dual meets, but he does make the Lions a better team. He seems to come from the mold that coach Cael Sanderson wants in his wrestlers, and assistant coach Troy Letters said he is doing a great job of listening to the coaches in practice.
If Lynch doesn't wrestle next year, it could leave the Lions with a hole at 141. The Alton brothers are coming in but with Sanderson's tactics of redshirting his true freshmen, it would leave the Lions searching for someone to fill the void left by Lynch.
Meanwhile, if Lynch does return, not only will he have the chance to continue at 141, but he could mentor the Altons in practice all season. The influence Lynch could have on the incoming freshmen could prove to be very valuable for the future of Penn State wrestling.
Today we caught up with coach Scott Balboni to discuss some of the injuries that have flared up in the past couple of weeks for the Icers.
As it pertains to forward George Saad, who, as we reported, suffered a knee injury two weeks ago against West Chester, the news was positive. Saad only has a couple of stretched ligaments in the knee and Balboni said it would be a couple of weeks before Saad was able to skate again.
Over the weekend, defenseman Dan Loucks injured his shoulder and has been diagnosed with a shoulder sprain. Loucks will also be out a couple of weeks but, according to Balboni, should be fine after that rehab period.
In minor health-related news, all players who were cut up and banged up over the weekend against Delaware have been stitched up and are fully healed going into this weekend.
However, there was a noticeable absence from practice on Tuesday.
Goalie Teddy Hume has come down with the flu and missed practice but the team expects him to be ready to go come Friday night.
If anything changes, make sure to check out Twitter feed and BTP for any breaking news.
The Nittany Lions don't get many opportunities to play in five-set matches.
The loss to Loyola-Chicago was just the second five-setter the Lions have played this season. The first was a victory over Hawaii.
The stats tell a lot in the difference between wins and losses in these matches.
We will be taking a look at the hitting percentages of the Lions' most prolific hitters.
Against Loyola, outside hitters Will Price and Joe Sunder recorded 22 and 19 kills, respectively, and each hit just .220.
Against Hawaii, Price had 23 and Sunder had 19. Basically the same number of kills in each five-set match.
But against the Warriors in a winning effort, Price hit at an impressive .462 clip and Sunder hit just behind at .400.
So in essence the two had half the hitting percentage against the Ramblers.
The biggest difference between the matches was not Price and Sunder's production. As stated, the two produced the same amount in both matches. The biggest difference was against Hawaii, setter Edgardo Goas had a productive option at opposite to dish the ball to.
Against Hawaii, in his first career start, freshman Tom Comfort recorded 21 kills on an unbelievable .548 hitting percentage.
Since then the freshman's production has sharply declined and junior Alan Mars has been starting recently. Mars played pretty well against Loyola, picking up 13 kills on .381 hitting, but it was nothing like what the Lions got out of Comfort in Hawaii.
Regardless of who it is to step up, the Lions will need strong performances from Mars or Comfort in their more competitive matches. Price, Sunder and middle Max Lipsitz can carry the load in EIVA matches. They need another weapon in the losable ones.
Two of Penn State's star players are making a dent in the history books.
Senior captain Max Lipsitz recorded 14 block assists in the No. 8 Nittany Lions' two matches this weekend, marking his 365th career block assist and 389th total block. With that, he surpasses Sergio Pampena (363) for sole possession of fifth place in the Lions' all-time BA list and puts him just two total total blocks away from tying Ivan Contreras (391) for sixth place in that category.
Meanwhile, Dennis Del Valle dug 28 balls in the Lions' mini Midwestern road trip, upping his career total to 680. The junior libero is just 13 digs away from tying Jason Kepner (693) for fifth place on the all-time list.
With most teams winding down their regular season schedule over the next couple weeks, Between the Pipes takes a look at the top 16 teams in the ACHA and how they fared this past weekend.
Though a lot can change over the next three weeks, we will also say whether we think each team would be "in" or "out" of the national tournament if the final rankings were released today.
This past weekend a couple teams picked up big wins to strengthen their chances of capturing a tournament bid. Though most teams currently in position to make the tournament didn't lose, some barely squeaked out wins and others played weak teams that won't help their tournament resume.
Below is a look at how each of the top-16 teams fared this past weekend and whether we think they would be in or out if the tournament started today.
Keep in mind that No. 18 Stony Brook, No. 21 Robert Morris (Ill.) and unranked SUNY Canton have already clinched automatic tournament bids either by winning their conference title or hosting the tournament. Also, we project No. 23 West Virginia to win the CHMA conference and unranked Rutgers to win the NECHL conference -- both securing automatic bids.
Even if those teams don't win their respective conferences, the teams that do win them would still be outside of the top 16, which leaves only 11 "in" spots for the 16 teams listed below.
Teams that improved their tournament chances the most: No. 14 Delaware and No. 15 Kent State.
Teams whose chances took a hit: No. 10 Rhode Island and No. 12 Adrian
No. 1 Lindenwood
Games: vs. No. 15 Kent State: W 10-3, L 5-4
In. Lindenwood is an absolute lock for the tournament even with last weekend's stumble at home against Kent State. The Lions received 31 of 37 first-place votes in the most recent rankings, haven't left the No. 1 spot all year and will likely win the CSCHL to receive the conference's automatic bid anyway.
No. 2 Penn State
Games: at No. 14 Delaware: W 1-0, L 4-2
In. Even with the loss to Delaware last weekend, the Icers are still 24-3-1 and have beaten Ohio, Delaware and West Chester in each of their respective season series. The Icers are in the driver's seat in the ESCHL, so they might even take the conference's automatic bid. Either way, they're in.
No. 3 Ohio
Games: at No. 4 Illinois: L 5-4 (OT), W 4-1
In. Despite losing three of their last four games since sweeping No. 1 Lindenwood a few weeks ago, the Bobcats are still No. 3 for a reason. This team has enough wins, and enough quality wins, to not only make the tournament, but to be a top-5 seed come March.
No. 4 Illinois
Games: vs. No. 3 Ohio: W 5-4 (OT), L 4-1
In. Not necessarily the season Illinois was hoping for, with losses against Kent State, Robert Morris (Ill.) and a pair of losses to Iowa State. The Illini are also 0-2 so far against Lindenwood, and split the season series with Ohio, 1-1.
No. 5 Liberty
Games: vs. No. 7 Oklahoma: L 4-3, W 6-3
In. The Flames lack the quality wins that the other top-5 teams have, but they have posted a 23-2-1 record so far this season. With a potent offense, Liberty has put up huge goal totals this season, albeit against a lot of teams that probably won't be in the tournament. Liberty is 2-0 so far against Delaware, but the Fightin' Blue Hens are on the outside of the tournament picture looking in right now. Other than that, Liberty is 0-2 against No. 9 Oakland and 1-1 against No. 7 Oklahoma. Though the Flames did sweep Stony Brook, a team that is in the tournament by way of an automatic bid.
No. 6 Iowa State
Games: vs. Eastern Michigan: W 10-1, W 5-0
In. The Cyclones have been a mainstay in the top 10 this season and have plenty of quality wins to support their bid for a tournament spot. They have beaten Arizona State once, Oklahoma twice and Illinois three times.
No. 7 Oklahoma
Games: at No. 5 Liberty: W 4-3, L 6-3
In. Oklahoma beat the teams they were supposed to all year, but didn't have many quality wins -- until this past month. Though Oklahoma had beaten Arizona State and Oakland, the Sooners were winless in eight games against No. 1 Lindenwood, No. 4 Illinois and No. 6 Iowa State. Oklahoma, however, swept No. 10 Rhode Island two weekends ago then split a series with No. 5 Liberty this past weekend, solidifying its spot in the tournament.
No. 8 Arizona State
Games: vs. Arizona: W 5-2, W 8-3
In. Despite a relatively soft schedule, the Sun Devils have ridden a 14-0-0 start to a top-10 spot in the rankings and an almost guaranteed spot in the tournament. Other than splitting a series with No. 6 Iowa State, the Sun Devils lost three of four games to No. 7 Oklahoma and were swept by No. 1 Lindenwood in their only games against teams currently in the top 10.
No. 9 Oakland
Games: vs. Central Michigan: W 8-6, W 7-1
In. The Grizzlies have a strong record, but more importantly they handed No. 5 Liberty its only two regulation losses this season. Oakland also split a series on the road at No. 3 Ohio two weekends ago. They have proven they can play with the league's best and, barring a major setback in the next few weeks, they should have a chance to prove that in March.
No. 10 Rhode Island
Games: at Navy: W 4-3 (SO), W 4-2
In. That status could easily change to out by this time next week. At the top of this post, we said Rhode Island was one of the teams whose chances took a hit this past weekend despite the fact the Rams swept their series with Navy. It was more what the teams behind Rhode Island did that hurt the Rams' chances. With Delaware and Kent State both getting big wins, those teams might jump up in the next rankings meaning other teams have to fall. Coming off two close wins against Navy and now having to play at Penn State twice this weekend, the Rams could be in trouble if they leave the Greenberg Ice Pavilion with a pair of losses.
No. 11 Minot State
Games: at Dakota College of Bottineau: W 4-2, W 4-2
Out. Aside from a couple wins against No. 7 Oklahoma and an upset of Rhode Island earlier this year, Minot State's schedule is full of teams like North Dakota State University and University of Minnesota-Crookston. Wins are wins in the standings, but at the end of the year it would be hard to put a team like this in the tournament over a team like Kent State who has wins over four of the top-6 teams in the ACHA. Two games against Iowa State this weekend could decide Minot State's tournament fate.
No. 12 Adrian
Games: vs. Youngstown State: W 7-2
Out. The Bulldogs might be one of the three or four teams that lose out because of all the automatic bids being handed out. Adrian is certainly one of the top-16 teams in the ACHA right now, but the five automatic bids might make them one of the first teams sitting outside the cutoff.
No. 13 Central Oklahoma
Out. The Bronchos got off to a fast start this season, but have fallen out of the picture as of late, more because of their weaker schedule than anything else. Central Oklahoma still has a big advantage over the other teams battling for the last couple spots, however, in that the Bronchos remaining schedule is full of higher-ranked teams. The Bronchos still play No. 8 ASU twice, No. 4 Illinois twice and No. 7 Oklahoma twice. With enough wins in those six games, it would be tough to leave the Bronchos out, but Central Oklahoma is just 5-10 against the top 10 so far this year.
No. 14 Delaware
Games: vs. No. 2 Penn State: L 1-0, W 4-2
Out. The win this past weekend against Penn State was huge, but it might not be enough. The thing that hurts Delaware even more than needing to climb three spots to get a tournament bid is Kent State's win last weekend. Just when it looked like Delaware had the biggest win of the weekend by beating Penn State, Kent State goes on the road and knocks off the No. 1 team in the country, giving them the most significant win of the weekend and a legitimate case for jumping Delaware in the rankings.
No. 15 Kent State
Games: at No. 1 Lindenwood: L 10-3, W 5-4
In. This is a bit of a long-shot because Kent State would have to likely jump four spots to make the tournament, but this team belongs. When it comes to impressive victories, Kent State might have more than anyone. The Flashes have beaten both No. 1 Lindenwood and No. 4 Illinois on the road, No. 3 Ohio at home and swept No. 6 Iowa State at home. Overall, Kent State is 5-3 against the country's top-6 teams. Though the team has 10 losses, seven of those 10 are against teams either in the tournament or battling for a spot, so they don't come close to overshadowing the team's key wins.
No. 16 Michigan-Dearborn
Games: vs. Youngstown State: W 5-2, W 3-2
Out. The Wolves might be ranked in the top 16, but they won't be playing come time for nationals. It's simple, not enough wins, too many losses, too many teams with automatic bids and not a single victory that jumps off the page.
Keep in mind that just because we had a team marked as "out," that in no way means we believe they don't belong in the tournament. Those decisions were made based on what we thought would happen, considering automatic bids, and not just simply on who we thought did or didn't deserve a tournament bid. Strictly picking the nation's 16 best teams, Delaware, Minot State and Adrian would all be in, while Canton, Robert Morris and Stony Brook would likely be out.
Now at this point in the season, plenty can still change over the next few weeks, but feel free to let us know who you think should or shouldn't be in the tournament and whether or not you agree with our who's in and who's out selections.
One play in Sunday's 66-46 loss to Purdue summed up Penn State's entire season, junior guard Talor Battle said. Check out the 0:16 mark of this clip to take another look at the play, which my colleague Andrew Robinson mentioned in his game story.
Here is Battle's take:
"It's just luck, man. After that happened, I shook my head about five times. That summed up a lot of our season -- daggers that teams make. You gotta move on. Making a shot like that -- that's a confidence booster and a momentum booster in front of a home crowd and they ran with it."
The Lions look to snap their nine-game losing streak to start the conference season Wednesday at Ohio State.
Ole Miss is coming off a very tough loss to Arkansas. Prior to the game, the Rebels were in prime position for a top-four tournament seed. But the Rebels didn't win at Kansas State by some fluke. Led by guards Chris Warren and Terrico White, Ole Miss is one of the quickest teams in the nation and can put up points in a hurry.
With Wall running point at the other end, a game in the 60s or even 70s would be surprising.
Prediction: Kentucky 90, Ole Miss 77
Player to watch: Kalin Lucas, Michigan State
With Lucas slated to make his annual appearance at the Bryce Jordan Center in less than two weeks, it's time to start keeping tabs on one of the Big Ten's most versatile guards. Tonight, Lucas heads to Madison to face Wisconsin.
He is averaging 16 points and four assists per game and led the Spartans back into the top five this week in both polls. His matchup with Trevon Hughes could be very fun to watch. But aside from the matchup, Lucas may be out for revenge against Wisconsin. The Badgers held him to a season-low 10 points in their first meeting. Lucas got the last laugh, however, in a 54-47 win.
So, even if you are busy watching the LOST season premier, make sure to flip during the commercials to Lucas playing in a very tough Big Ten environment. Or, if you're clever like me, use the two-screen setup. Either way, it should be a great night of hoops and LOST.
In his weekly state of the union address (a Collegian exclusive), Penn State men's volleyball coach Mark Pavlik discusses how his team plans to bounce back from its five-set setback in Chicago last weekend and the atmosphere of that game and how it differs from Rec Hall. We also solicit his thoughts on his hometown Pittsburgh Penguins and their playoff hopes.
Check it out:
Pavlik on his team rebounding from the loss at Loyola-Chicago:
Pavlik on the discrepancies between the fans at Loyola-Chicago's Alumni Gym and the fans at Rec Hall:
Boy, do two national championships in five years make one jaded when it comes to losing.
North Carolina coach Roy Williams said he can't imagine how his team could be any worse following a humiliating loss to Virginia in Chapel Hill on Sunday.
"How can you go any lower?" Williams asked reporters, according to the Charlotte Observer. "Be honest: How can it be any worse right now?"
Well, Roy, you could be at Fordham, where the Rams sit at the bottom of the Atlantic-10 at a stalwart 2-18. Or in State College, where the Nittany Lions went from winning the NIT last season to an 0-9 start to the Big Ten campaign this year.
Or how about poor Bryant University, where the hapless Bulldogs of the Northeast Conference are still looking for their first win of the season (they're 0-22 so far).
Face it Roy, the Tar Heels aren't nearly as bad as you seem to think. See, it's all a matter of perspective. Sure, 13-8 and in 10th place in the ACC isn't where anyone would like to be, especially following a championship season.
But look at the bigger picture. You've still got a winning record. Next year, I can all but guarantee you'll be right back at the top of the conference once all those young kids on the roster get some experience under their wings.
And don't make it seem like you're all alone as a formerly successful team going through a rough patch. UConn and Louisville were in the Final Four last year too, and they've got about the same record as you.
Don't be so self-depricating, Roy. It doesn't suit you well.
* * * * *
There was pride and the fall, and next up is redemption, if he's lucky.
According to ESPN.com, Gilbert Arenas penned a story "Learning to be a better role model" on the Washington Post's Web site. The story comes in the wake of Arena's guilty plea to felony gun charges and the announcement of his season-long suspension from NBA play. It's appears to be Arenas' first step in repairing his relationship with the youth of D.C.
I have no interest in going into the specifics of Arenas' Post story. I'll let everyone else criticize it and analyze it. It's really the criticism and the analysis to come that will be frustrating for me.
Celebrity slip-ups always seem so formulaic. Celeb messes up. Details are scarce in the wake of legal proceedings: Lawyers tend to shut everyone up. When the legal situation is handled, the celeb's focus shifts to image repair.
Image repair is the most frustrating part of the process -- it's definitely a gray area, but still a bit formulaic. Celeb apologizes to those involved, then apologizes for the bad example set for the children, then claims that he's not the kind of person his action indicated -- that behavior is the exception, not the rule, he'll stress. He'll pledge to be a model citizen from there on out. And the loudest critics will mostly (and hypocritically) call B.S., saying actions speak louder than words. The celebrity will invariably profess to know this, saying something like, "I know I'll have to prove through my actions that I'm not the kind of person who would do what I did," and then he'll go to rehab or seek the counsel of a Buddhist.
But his reputation will be scarred for an indeterminable period of time -- some people just bounce back better than others.
There's nobody I would feel safer walking my dog than Michael Vick, but Chris Brown isn't going near my daughter -- like I said, a grayscale seems to gauge the redemption meter.
As for where Arenas falls in that spectrum? It remains to be seen, but I'm not calling B.S. just yet.
I'll give him his second chance, and I hope he makes good on it. Just as much, however, I hope other people make good on it, opting to forgive rather than stunt the man's emotional growth with cynicism and unsolicited judgment. We stop getting bigger, but we never stop growing. Growth is painful and time-consuming, and basketball players are tall people -- so good luck to Mr. Arenas.
Fundamentally, head coach Ed DeChellis is not disappointed in the efforts of his team's defense so far this season. Overall, the Nittany Lions are fifth in the Big Ten in scoring defense, despite their 0-9 conference record.
But while the defense as a unit has been relatively sound, DeChellis did express his concern at the Lions' inability to make plays on the defensive end, citing low numbers in steals and blocked shots.
Here is a rundown of the team-by-team leaders, courtesy of Bigten.org:
Blocked Shots: (Games, total, per game)
1.Minnesota............ 21 133 6.33
2.Purdue................. 21 102 4.86
3.Ohio State............ 22 98 4.45
4.Illinois................... 22 93 4.23
5.Indiana................. 20 80 4.00
6.Wisconsin............. 21 80 3.81
7.Northwestern........ 21 75 3.57
8.Michigan State..... 22 73 3.32
9.Michigan............... 21 52 2.48
10.Iowa.................... 22 42 1.91
11.Penn State......... 21 32 1.52
Steals: (Games, total, per game)
1.Minnesota............ 21 205 9.76
2.Indiana................ 20 157 7.85
3.Purdue................ 21 160 7.62
4.Ohio State.......... 22 167 7.59
5.Michigan............. 21 151 7.19
6.Northwestern...... 21 136 6.48
7.Michigan State... 22 142 6.45
8.Illinois................. 22 134 6.09
9.Wisconsin........... 21 119 5.67
10.Penn State........ 21 101 4.81
11.Iowa................... 22 95 4.32
Sitting at 10th in the league in steals, DeChellis said with his team's quickness, specifically at guard, turnovers would help create much-needed offense.
"Defensively, we've tried to mix up our defenses in the last couple of games," DeChellis said. "We thought we could maybe get a couple of steals off of our zone, get our hands on some balls and try to get some easy baskets. We've got to try to create some offense any way we can."
As for the blocks, DeChellis noted that last year's team didn't get many either, but he said that it did manage to come up with the critical defensive stop when needed.
Ultimately, he said those kinds of momentum-changing stops are the deciding factor of a good defense -- whether through fundamentals or playmaking ability.
"We haven't had timely possessions defensively," DeChellis said. "It's one thing if people may be scoring, but when you need to crank it up defensively, and you need to turn it up a notch, we haven't been able to do that. Blocking shots -- is that a part of it? Yeah that's a part of it."
Just one day after losing at Michigan, Penn State once again finds itself on the outside looking in. The Lady Lions slid from their short-lived spot at No. 23 back to the receiving votes category.
While the team only received six votes, somehow Michigan State, who the Lions beat a little while ago, received 70 votes. The Spartans didn't play Sunday so I suppose they received an additional 11 votes after beating a Northwestern team that's tied for last place in the conference. At least the Spartans got one win this week, which is one more than Penn State did, so this just puts even more pressure on Thursday's game in East Lansing. Realistically the Lions could get back in the rankings next week if they beat the Spartans and at least keep it close against Ohio State.
This week's rankings did hurt the overall look of the Big Ten as Ohio State dropped four spots to No. 8 and Penn State moved out of the rankings. Right now the Buckeyes are the conference's only ranked team, and after the bizarre losses by the top half of the conference on Sunday, the argument can't be made that the Big Ten is a strong conference. Surely the teams play each other well and there's the rivalry and all that, but when it comes time to go dancing it's going to be tough justifying this conference's legitimacy.
The Big 12 dominates this week's rankings as Nebraska moved up to spots to No. 4, Oklahoma State, Texas A&M, Oklahoma and Baylor are all in the top 15. The conference also boasts No. 22 Iowa State.
As usual Duke and North Carolina help represent the ACC, while Florida State and Gorgia Tech also cracked the top 25.
And what about the Big East? That conference has some great women's hoops as Connecticut remains at the top spot while No. 3 Notre Dame is right on its heels. Plus, West Virginia, Georgetown and St. Johns are all ranked.
My point, Big Ten hoops is struggling and Sunday proved why we will continue to hear about how the conference is a jumbled mess.
Following Saturday's season-best performance, the Nittany Lions have jumped up from No. 19 to No. 17 in Monday's GymInfo rankings.
Penn State, which started the season ranked No. 11, had dropped to No. 22 after the first meet of the season and has gradually been moving up the board since.
The Lions' average team score stands at 194.850, good for second in the Big Ten behind Michigan. The Wolverines hold an average of 194.950. Michigan State, which beat Penn State in the season opener is third in the conference and Illinois, which travels to Rec Hall this weekend, is fourth in the Big Ten.
Alabama maintained its No. 1 status for the second consecutive week after posting a 196.600 at Rec Hall on Saturday.
Penn State senior Brandi Personett remains the top vaulter in the nation with an average of 9.925. Personett is also No. 2 on the floor exercise, averaging 9.900.
Other Lions in the top 25 on individual events include sophomore Whitney Bencsko, who is tied for No. 25 on the vault and sophomore Natalie Ettl, tied for No. 22 on the uneven bars.
I always wondered how much wrestlers can improve at this point in the season. With months of matches under their belts and multiple competitions to fine-tune faults, can wrestlers really improve that much? If they haven't improved by February
- halfway through the Big Ten regular season - will they improve by the time the Big Ten or NCAA Tournament roll around. I guess the answer is yes because there are so many things and intricacies that need improvement.
Redshirt freshman Justin Ortega believes this portion of the year is critical for improvement, and Penn State coach Cael Sanderson agrees.
"We can continue to improve," Sanderson said. "We will on a week-to-week basis. It's little things - little steps. As long as we're focused on the fundamentals and we stay positive and focused on our strengths and build off of those, we'll be fine."
Justin Ortega's heart abnormalities cause the redshirt freshman to wear a heart monitor.
The 184-pounder said he wears the monitor when he isn't wrestling or working out. If Ortega feels he is ill, the 184-pounder must press a button on the monitor. The monitor sends a signal to the hospital. Hospital personnel then call Ortega to see find out his status - how he feels and what triggered his ill feeling.
"Other than that," Ortega said, "it records my heartbeat."
The American Volleyball Coaches Association released it's weekly Men's DI-II Top 15 Poll today, and the Penn State men's volleyball team slid three spots to No. 8.
The Lions (6-2) saw their six-game winning streak come to an end this weekend when they fell to previously unranked Loyola-Chicago in five sets at Alumni Gym. The Ramblers, who at 6-0 are the only remaining undefeated team in NCAA Division I-II, broke into this week's poll at No. 12.
St. Francis (Pa.) fell out of this week's poll after losing twice this weekend. The Red Flash (6-3) -- previously the only other ranked EIVA team -- were swept by Loyola-Chicago and dropped a 3-1 decision to No. 15 Lewis. Penn State topped Lewis 3-1 Friday night.
Southern California -- who dealt Penn State its first loss of the year-- was dethroned from the No. 1 spot it held all season. The Trojans were upset by then-No. 11 Pepperdine on Friday night in Malibu.
Cal State Northridge is now the top-ranked team in the county. The Lions travel to California to play the Matadors on April 10.
When a team signs a former rival, story-telling and teasing is bound to ensue.
It's no different for Hannah Nielsen and Penn State.
The former Northwestern legend joined Penn State today and has already enjoyed reliving memories -- this time from the other side.
Head coach Suzanne Isidor recalled a game two years ago which the Nittany Lions lost by one. With time winding down and Penn State attacking, the upset seemed very possible. But a questionable call went against Penn State and the Wildcats won again.
Nielsen remembered the story exactly, except for one difference -- she was the player who drew the penalty.
Isidor said Nielsen admits the call was questionable and shouldn't have been made. We here at Crosse Fire wonder, however, if she felt that way prior to coming to Happy Valley.
Stephon Marbury had his first game as a member of Shanxi Zhongyu the other day and let's just say he's not really playing up to snuff.
Marbury allowed the great Tre Kelley, that's right, you know, the Tre Kelley you hadn't heard of until you just read his name in this sentence, to drop 34 points and and five assists right on his tattooed head.
If you were curious, Marbury went 0-6 from beyond the arc, scored 15 points, grabbed four boards, dished out eight assists and had four steals according to Asia-basket.com.
But it was the end of the game where Starbury caught his hate.
With his team down one and inbounding from inside midcourt, Marbury took the ball and dished it with time running down to a teammate who was guarded pretty heavily, jacking up a three that clanged off the rim.
On Sina.com, 80% voted that Marbury wasn't playing up to his normal standard.
Um...sorry, but actually he was.
Then the comments came in.
"Marbury's skill was great, but the cooperation of his teammates was bad." Well, get used to that, especially now that he's playing with and against the Tre Kelley's of the world, who evidently he is no longer better than.
But this one, from a user named neo_liu, was a gem.
"Marbury was not in his usual form...for the last shot, he passed the ball to Taylor with only two second left. How could the ball make it in? If it were Kobe, he would have made the shot!"
Bravo sir for your in-depth analysis and wisdom. Watch out Bruce Bowen! Neo_liu is coming for your job!
ESPN is reporting today that New Orleans' point guard Chris Paul has torn cartilage in his left knee and will have to undergo surgery to repair the injury. Yahoo Sports is also reporting that there is a meniscus tear in his knee that will also require a procedure.
Recovery time would be one-to-two months.
This is a killer for New Orleans, who is currently clinging to the eight seed in the west. Without Paul, the Hornets are in huge trouble and in my opinion, are essentially done. There's no way they can recover without their leader, not to mention their best player.
Who this does benefit, however, is teams who are looking up to pick up a complimentary piece at the deadline. I'm talking about you David West.
If Hornets' management decides they are no longer in the running, combined with their willingness and desire to drop salary at any cost, West becomes a big piece to move with his contract (roughly nine million this year).
Either way, this is bad news for the Hornets, the NBA, and most importantly, us, who don't get to see Paul on our television screen for at least a month.
One Final Thought:
It's Kobe and then it's everyone else. Would you rather have anyone else with the rock in their hands with the clock winding down? I know I wouldn't? The Black Mamba ripped the hearts out of the Celtics, who are floundering as of late. Make sure to check back here tomorrow where I dissect what's gone wrong with Boston (who, sadly, were my pick to win the East)
With Penn State splitting this past weekend's set with Delaware, it puts the Icers in a precarious situation.
With Saturday's loss and Rhode Island's weekend sweep of Navy, it moved the Rams ahead of the Icers in the ESCHL standings. The current standings look like this.
Rhode Island (14-2-2): 30 pts.
Penn State (14-1-1): 29 pts.
Delaware (12-5-1): 25 pts.
West Chester (9-7-2): 20 pts.
Drexel (2-14-0): 4 pts.
Navy (1-15-2): 4 pts.
Penn State and Rhode Island will play two games in Happy Valley this weekend, wrapping up the Rams' ESCHL schedule, while the Icers will take on Drexel at home next weekend.
Here are scenarios in which the Icers can take the regular season crown:
1. Sweep The Weekend: If Penn State wins both games, the Icers would finish with 33 points and the title.
2. Win in Regulation and lose in Overtime/Shootout: This scenario would give both teams 32 points and based on Penn State winning the season series 3-1, the Icers would win the regular season title.
3. Overtime/Shootout Win and Regulation Loss combined with a split or sweep of Drexel: The two teams would leave the weekend with 33 and and 31 points. As you can see, the Dragons aren't exactly the powerhouse of the league so it wouldn't be asking too much of the Icers to pull it off. A split with Drexel would tie the two squads, but the Icers would have won the season series 3-1.
4. Overtime/Shootout Win and Overtime/Shootout Loss combined with a win over Drexel: This would leave the two squads right where they started coming into the weekend and leave Penn State only needing one victory to clinch the title.
5. Two Overtime/Shootout Losses combined with Sweep of Drexel: This would put all of the pressure on the Icers against the Dragons. Penn State would be three points behind (34-31) in the standings, making the margin of error zero for the Icers.
The only thing that cannot happen is for Penn State to get swept this weekend. If that happens, the Rams go up five points on the Icers and the regular season crown is theirs.
We'll have more on this later in the week so keep your eyes peeled in the Collegian.
Seems all is not well in Cal Country. Kentucky freshman John Wall, he of first overall pick in June status, has finally made a mistake.
Well, a couple of mistakes.
It all started when the then No.1 team in the country was upset on the road by South Carolina. In the loss, Wall shot 6-of-16 from the floor, pouring in 19 points but had four turnovers and could only watch as South Carolina guard Deven Downey continued to score at will.
After the game, the usually buddy-buddy John Calipari took a
critical tone with his phenom and it didn't sit well with Wall.
"I don't know. He said I played awful," says John Wall. "I didn't think I played that bad. I don't know what to expect. He's probably going to say I played bad today too so I don't know. I just try not to listen to him and go out and play basketball and try and help my team win."
Wall went on to say he hasn't exaclty been living it up the last few weeks. The guard said he hasn't been having fun the last two weeks, and while it is late in the year, this guy has pretty much been able to do whatever he's wanted to against NCAA competition.
While I see Wall coming out and apologizing or explaining this was all out of context and acting like Calipari's best friend in the next game, the real answer will be when Wall is on the floor. The problem with relying on so many talented young players is a lack of veteran leadership.
Its time for Calipari and junior forward Patrick Patterson to jump on this situation and cut it down before anything else happens. I also think this is a one-time thing and we should expect to see Kentucky make a nice run come March.
North Carolina coach Roy Williams is feeling a little blue. No, not Carolina blue, he's feeling way down about his team. After a 15 point loss to the ACC second place Virginia Cavaliers, the worst home loss in Williams' coaching career, the Tar Heels coach hit the "woe-is-me button."
"How can you go any lower?" Williams asked after the game, according to The Charlotte Observer. "Be honest: How can it be any worse than it is right now?"
Well, Roy, I'll tell you.
You could be coaching Penn State, or Penn, or UMBC. No, Roy it could be a lot worse, but obviously you can't see that. Sure, your team is a substandard by UNC standards 13-8 with a horrific loss to Charlotte, but you still coach at UNC.
Anytime you lose a former National Player of the Year and 15th overall pick in Tyler Hansbrough, along with NBA draft picks Ty Lawson, Wayne Ellington and Danny Green, your team is going to drop off. Funny thing is, this isn't the first time Williams has gone through this. It happened after the entire starting lineup of the 2005 national champion team left, and it seemed to work out.
However, this is the first time Roy Williams cried after losing his top players.
"We've got a lot of problems, and staying in front of the basketball has been one from Day 1 with this team," Williams said after Sunday's game as he teared up in frustration, according to The Observer. "And I really thought we could be a good defensive team, and we haven't shown that."
Things aren't over for the Tar Heels yet despite what Williams thinks. The Tar Heels still own a win over No. 5 Michigan State and they have ten ACC games left, including two against rival Duke which could be boosters come Selection Sunday.
But for now, I'm going to lean back and enjoy Williams losing his mind over a few basketball games.
"Ol' Roy's been awfully lucky in his entire life and things have been very smooth, but right now they're not," Williams said, according to the Winston-Salem Journal. "I've got to do a better job with my team than what I'm doing right now."
In past seasons, this might be a high-scoring matchup between two teams battling for the Big East crown. But these teams haven't played up to those standards. UConn is inconsistent this season, and Louisville's lineup isn't filled with the same fire power its had in the last couple years. But that doesn't mean this game will lack intensity and energy. Louisville and UConn are fighting for an NCAA Tournament bid, and from this point forward, every game is a chance to make an impression on the selection committee. Louisville's Samardo Samuels and UConn's Stanley Robinson are proven scorers but need to have strong games to give their team a conference victory.
Prediction: Louisville 76 - UConn 72
Player to Watch: Dexter Pittman, Texas
After Texas beat North Carolina back in December, the buzz around the country was Dexter Pittman's emergence as one of the dominant big men in college basketball. That win isn't as impressive as it looked back in December with the Tar Heels' struggles, but Pittman has also not looked impressive. His 23-point, 15-rebound performance was truly dominant in the post, but he's been quiet since.
In Texas' last 11 games, Pittman has one double-digit rebounding showing and has played less than 20 minutes six times. Part of Texas' struggles could be traced to Pittman's play. When Pittman is dominant, it opens up shots for Texas' extremely talented guards. The big man has the potential to shine tonight against a weak Oklahoma State squad.
In what was arguably the most surprising Sunday of Big Ten women's hoops so far this season, it's safe to safe the conference is a mess. The top four teams took a tumble, while the teams at the bottom inched one game closer to the competition. The only team that didn't have a chance to disappoint was Michigan State, but that's only because the Spartans didn't play yesterday.
As we get closer to the Big Ten tournament, which is just over a month away, we'll do our best to size up Penn State's competition and try and figure out just how crazy this conference really is.
Ohio State vs. Indiana
Ohio State 62
This was by far the upset of the week. Playing in Assembly Hall, with a crowd that appeared very energized (or at least it looked that way on TV), proved to be too much for the No. 4 Buckeyes (21-3, 9-2 Big Ten). While Jantel Lavender had her way against the Hoosiers (12-10, 5-6) in the first half, the junior sensation scored just three of her 21 points in the second half. Coach Felisha Legette-Jack's team outrebounded the Buckeyes and Ohio State looked out of synch in the second half. Eighteen turnovers really hurt the Buckeyes, but give credit to the Hoosiers defense for taking one of the nation's top players completely out of the game during the final 20 minutes.
While it's the highest- ranked opponent the Hoosiers beat with Legette-Jack at the helm, I'm more interested in what this loss does to OSU. The Buckeyes have dropped two of their last three games, both to unranked teams. This week they will surely fall from their elite ranking, but how they respond when Iowa comes to town Thursday night, should make for an interesting game.
Penn State vs. Michigan
Penn State 62
Have the Lions fallen into another late-season skid? Losing their last two games, while getting ready to enter the toughest part of their schedule, makes Sunday's loss that much worse. Perhaps the Lions' minimal margin of victory is finally starting to catch up to them and the lulls this team tends to go into during five-minute stretches of the game has proven to be too much to overcome. Luckily for the Lions (15-6, 7-4), Ohio State and Wisconsin both lost, so they still managed to keep pace within the conference.
Penn State blew a 15-point lead and like we saw so many times this season, PSU couldn't stay out of foul trouble. The one thing the Lions didn't do Sunday was make numerous trips to the free throw line. Ten attempts isn't enough to get the job done, especially when Michigan (13-8, 5-6) appeared at the charity stripe 20 times.
Purdue vs. Iowa
The Boilermakers' two-game win streak over ranked opponents is over. A 19-1 run by the Hawkeyes (11-10, 4-6) forced Purdue to play catch up the entire game, and the Boilermakers' 41 percent free-throw percentage didn't help matters. The Hawkeyes were dominant in all phases of the game as they outrebounded Purdue 49-35 and didn't allow center Chelsea Jones to attempt more than four shots. Maybe Purdue (11-11, 6-5) is just drained after taking OSU down to the wire and beating Penn State in overtime, but only putting up 50 points means there were a lot of missed opportunities for the Boilermakers.
Northwestern vs. Wisconsin
Just when the Badgers have a chance to move up into a tie for second place in the conference, they let the Wildcats (13-9, 4-7) get the best of them. Much like Penn State, who Wisconsin trails by one game, the Badgers (16-6, 6-5) have lost two of their last three games. Wisconsin made it this far by relying on its defense, but Sunday that same defense allowed three Northwestern players to score 11-plus points. Amy Jaeschke torched the Badgers by scoring 20 points while Kristin Cartwright dished out five assists. If Ohio State maintains its two-game lead, second place in the conference could very well come down to PSU and Wisconsin. While Penn State holds the upper hand with a one-game lead and the previous head-to-head victory, the Feb. 25 game in Happy Valley could be very meaningful for both squads.
Illinois vs. Minnesota
Illinois may be the most confusing team in the conference. I say maybe because Michigan State has its share of question marks as well. The Illini swept the regular season series with the Golden Gophers, in a pretty convincing fashion, yet they didn't look too good doing it. Nineteen turnovers and converting just 54 percent of their free throws is why this team is buried toward the bottom of the conference. Illinois (12-9, 4-7) goes however Jenna Smith's play goes and Smith had 18 points and 14 rebounds Sunday, thus giving her team just enough to bypass Minnesota. Even Lacey Simpson and Lydia McCully scored 15 and 12 points, respectively, but I just don't think this team has enough pieces to put together a long winning streak. Last time they beat Minnesota (11-10, 4-6) they followed it up with five consecutive losses. For some reason they had Minnesota's number, but the month of January can't end soon enough for the Illini who went 3-6 in the month, with two of the wins coming against Minnesota.
What we learned Sunday was that the conference race will indeed go down to the wire and fasten your seat belts, because it's only going to get crazier from here on out.
After a jam-packed weekend -- which included back-back-matches and more than 20 hours of traveling via bus -- coach Mark Pavlik gave his team the day off from practice. So we're taking the week off from our Monday Minute segment. Instead, we're bringing you a tale from the Nittany Lion's mini Midwest road trip. This is the tale of the yellow card, as told by Pavlik.
At a crucial moment of unranked Loyola-Chicago's five-set victory over No. 5 Penn State -- the score was deadlocked 20-20 in the fourth set -- PSU senior captain Max Lipsitz was issued a yellow card. The ruling was a little dubious, so we decided to let Pavlik give us his take.
Here, the head coach sets up the scene for us, explains the play, and offers his thoughts on the controversial ruling:
After its best meet of the season Saturday night, Penn State is looking to build off its 196.025 and continue to get better each meet. At this point last season, Penn State's best score was a 195.875 and the Nittany Lions did not surpass 196.000 until the fifth meet.
Senior co-captain Rosie Smith said even at the end of last season, the team was excited whenever it hit 196.000. To achieve that score closer to the beginning of the season, let alone against No. 1 Alabama, shows Penn State is a formidable opponent to any team in the nation.
If one more Alabama gymnast had fallen on the beam, the outcome may have been different and Penn State might have upset the nation's top team.
"I think it was an eye opener for all of us," Smith said. "I know before the meet, we were like 'let's do our best, do our routines, we can keep up with them.' And you know, we said that, but after doing it, and showing everybody that we can keep up with them, it was just that much more awesome that we actually did it. It was amazing."
It's the end of a very busy week in college hoops, so per the usual, here are the bracket projections. For the first time, they do not feature an unbeaten team as Kentucky fell to South Carolina in the middle of the week.
Midwest Region (St. Louis)
2. West Virginia
14. Weber St.
15. Morgan St.
16 Texas Southern/Arkansas St.
With Kentucky's loss, the Jayhawks lock up the tournaments overall No. 1 seed in a region filled with teams that suffered very disheartening losses in the last week. Tennessee, Temple, Pitt and Cal all dropped because of rough weeks. Look for some upsets in this region as mid-majors Tulsa, Cornell and Akron will all be given high seeds if they keep playing well.
South Region (Houston)
7. Mississippi St.
8. Rhode Island
12. Old Dominion
13. Murray St.
15. Stephen F. Austin
Despite getting the No. 1 seed, Syracuse may not be the favorites in this region as Texas would get to play the regional semifinals and finals in Houston. That said, it might not matter as the Orange are one of the hottest teams in the nation right now. Maryland went from a high seed right back to the middle of the pack with its loss to Clemson on Sunday. Watch out for Old Dominion in any 5-12 matchup, the Monarchs have already beaten two tournament-caliber teams in Georgetown and Charlotte.
West Region (Salt Lake City)
3. Ohio St.
4. Georgia Tech
7. Northern Iowa
9. St. Mary's
10. Wake Forest
12. Texas A&M
15. Robert Morris
Washington sneaks in as the last team in, barely edging Marquette, who, after a slow start earned a quality win on Saturday over UConn. Kentucky remains a 1-seed courtesy of its thrashing of Vanderbilt on Saturday and Georgetown a two because of its similar performance against a struggling Duke squad.
East Region (Syracuse)
2. Michigan St.
3. Kansas St.
4. Florida St.
5. Ole Miss6. Gonzaga
7. New Mexico
12. Oklahoma St.
13. Louisiana Tech
15. Coastal Carolina
I had to make some last-minute switches in this region. Virginia moves into the tournament with its impressive win over North Carolina in Chapel Hill. They took the Heels' spot. Yes - as of now, North Carolina - the defending champions - are not in the field. Ole Miss switches spots with Clemson after its loss to Arkansas. The Rebels had been on a roll until Sunday night. One final note: Villanova is the fourth Big East team in the top eight overall seeds.
Where Penn State fits in: Again, the Lions don't fit in anywhere without a conference tournament win. Although a win over Ohio State on Wednesday would drop a Buckeye squad that has been steadily rising in the brackets. Similarly, on Sunday the Lions get the Gophers at the Bryce Jordan Center with a chance to shut the door on their tournament hopes.
Postseason prediction: None
Final Four prediction: Michigan St., Georgetown, Kansas, Syracuse
Someone on this desk penned the "Our Thoughts" on Roger Federer that you'll read in Monday morning's paper. Let's just say I disagree with it.
Winning 16 Grand Slam titles makes you the best at what you do, and to say it's void without competition underscores just how great Federer really is. Rafael Nadal may have had his number in recent matches, but it has been costly. While you can't take anything away from Nadal's wins, they also prove that you can't get by on such a brute style for the length of a career. Everyone wrote Federer off after his epic loss to Nadal in the 2008 Wimbledon finals. Federer simply bounced back and has since won four Grand Slam singles titles.
For basketball fans, think of Nadal as the 1986 Celtics, perhaps the greatest single-season NBA team of all-time. But is anyone arguing that the Lakers aren't the team of the '80s?
The grace with which Federer plays is something to marvel at. Really, has there ever been a surer thing in sports than Roger Federer, who has reached 23 straight Grand Slam semifinals, a stretch that dates back to when Red Sox fans still believed in curses?
The answer is an emphatic no, and it's time to appreciate an athlete who, in a day of scandals and lost innocence, has been the embodiment of class and greatness.
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When Donovan McNabb hit DeSean Jackson on a tunnel screen and the speedy Eagles wideout sprinted past the defense for a touchdown, I stood up and cheered excitedly.
Wait a second, I thought as the play developed, didn't Philly's season end a month ago? And why are they wearing blue uniforms?
It took a glance down at ESPN's scoreboard to realize what exactly I was witnessing: one of the many exciting moments of Sunday's Pro Bowl in Miami.
I know, I know, it's hard to believe a traditionally discarded event like the Pro Bowl, the NFL's hapless and sparsely attended excuse for an All-Star game, could be entertaining.
But the 41-34 win for the AFC featured numerous big plays, as can be expected in a game with 835 combined passing yards between the opponents. There were plenty of surprises, from Jackson's attempted pass to Matt Schaub's impressive showing.
And let's not forget the stunner to end all stunners -- McNabb leading the NFC in rushing yards.
Even the defensive units provided some exciting plays. Sure, there wasn't much effort in the tackling department, but the teams combined for three turnovers, and each of them could have been taken back for touchdowns.
Yeah, the Super Bowl participants and some other big-name stars declined the invitation to play. But who needs them? The guys that want to play can put on quite a show as well.
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The NFL released its all-decade team and we're a little perplexed at some of the offensive selections.
Tom Brady and Peyton Manning are on the two-deep list at quarterback, with Brady getting the nod over the soon-to-be-greatest NFL quarterback ever.
Brady is getting the benefit of the doubt because of his three rings, while Manning (currently) has just one.
Of course, watch the two orchestrate his respected offense, and it's a no brainer who personifies the picture-perfect quarterback.
Manning led the Colts to the most wins this decade, and most importantly has made an appearance in every one of those wins.
Brady's team make-up changes, and the Pats stumble.
Revamp the Colts offensive line, tailbacks and receiving corps, and Manning makes due.
Aside from QB, we were saddened Shaun Alexander is considered the best back of the last 10 years.
You can't even make the "What have you done for me lately?" argument if you're looking to knock LaDainian Tomlinson, because Alexander isn't even in the league anymore.