Penn State plays at Ball State tomorrow night. The Nittany Lions and Cardinals face off for the second time this season.
The teams come into the match from opposite perspectives. Penn State, the national power, comes off an upset loss at the hands of Rutgers-Newark. The Scarlet Knights became the only team in the EIVA's lower Hay Division to ever knock off Penn State.
Ball State pulled an upset on Saturday night when it knocked off then-No. 3 Cal State Northridge.
The Cardinals will certainly come in with confidence, but turning the Stat Book back to Feb. 19 will probably take away some of that confidence.
Here's a look at the Lions dominating victory over the Cardinals at Rec Hall.
1: Ball State's Jamion Hartley recorded just one kill despite taking a team-high 15 swings.
1: Just one Penn State attacker (Ryan Wolf) hit below .500.
1: Just one Cardinal hit above .300.
2: Two Nittany Lions (Max Lipsitz and Joe Sunder) hit above .700.
2: The Cardinals recorded two aces, which was better than PSU's one.
4: Ball State had four players record negative hitting percentages.
9: On 76 swings, Penn State recorded just nine errors.
12: Twelve is the number of kills Lipsitz recorded on the same number of swings as Hartley.
12: Ball State was only able to dig 12 balls the entire match. The Cardinals average more than 11 digs per set on the season.
28: On the other hand, Penn State recorded 28 digs.
31: The Cardinals were only able to come up with 31 kills in the match.
40: Penn State's big three (Lipsitz, Sunder and Will Price) was able to out-kill the entire Cardinals roster with 40 combined kills.
.079: Ball State's hitting percentage was a lowly .079.
.566: Penn State hit an impressive .566.
The teams are clearly in different places than they were the first time around, but it would be impossible for the Cardinals to forget the loss in Happy Valley. The match was a quick one that Ball State's coach Joel Walton described as an embarrassing performance.
We'll have to see if the Cardinals come out confident after their upset victory or succumb to another beat down at the hands of the Lions.
The rundown: The No. 9 Penn State men's volleyball team begins a two-day, two-game Indiana roadtrip Thursday when it takes on No. 15 Ball State at Worthen Arena.
Shaking it up: The volleyball world was turned upside down Saturday night with two wild upsets involving these two squads. The then-No. 6 Nittany Lions dropped a 3-1 decision to Rutgers-Newark of the EIVA Hay Division -- one of the worst losses in program history. Meanwhile, the then-unranked Cardinals shocked then-No. 3 Cal State Northridge in three sets -- marking the highest-ranked opponent Ball State's has defeated since 1996.
Check out the call at match point:
Penn State vs. Ball State: The Lions are 57-19 all-time against the Cardinals, including nine straight wins. Their last victory was Feb. 19 at Rec Hall where Penn State swept Ball State (30-18, 30-15, 30-22) and held the Cardinals to a lowly .079 hitting percentage.
Getting offensive: But it looks like the Cardinals' attack is starting to heat up. Ball State had struggled offensively to start the season. Its best single-game hitting percentage was a .294 mark -- until two weeks ago. The Cardinals hit .340 against George Mason on March 19. Then, in Saturday's win over Cal State Northridge, they posted a solid .305.
Storyline to follow: Thursday night's match will feature a range of emotions. Ball State comes in riding a pretty big high. The Lions enter on a pretty bad low. Will Penn State get things back together, or will Ball State's stock continue to rise?
Prediction: Penn State 3, Ball State 1. The Lions are too talented and too experienced of a team to let one bad loss keep them down. But this one won't be easy. The Rutgers-Newark upset showed Penn State is vulnerable, and it has a lot of work to do to get where it wants to be come NCAA tournament time.
After struggling when he first came in, Lutz has calmed down and stays in the game. He gets the first batter out on a swinging bunt that drops in front of catcher Bobby Jacobs.
Lutz gets the second batter to fly out for the second out of the inning. One more to go before this one is in the books.
And the game is over after Lutz gets the final batter to ground out to the shortstop Michael Glantz.
0 runs, 0 hits, 0 errors, 0 LOB.
Penn State 10, Kent State 8
Deegan pops out to second base to start the bottom half of the inning.
DeBo strikes out for the second out.
A real quick inning for Kent State after getting Steranka to ground out.
0 runs, 0 hits, 0 errors, 0 LOB.
Penn State 10, Kent State 8
Lutz remains in the game despite struggling in the seventh.
A walk to start of the inning, the tenth for Penn State on the evening.
Lyon flies out to the left fielder for the first out.
Following batter hits into a fielders choice with the lead runner getting out at second.
Lutz strikes out the next batter to pitch the scoreless inning.
0 runs, 0 hits, 0 errors, 1 LOB.
Penn State 10, Kent State 8
Heath Johnson grounds out for the first out.
Louie Picconi hits a lazy fly ball to the right fielder for out No. 2.
Steve Snyder strikes out to end the inning, a quick one for Kent State.
0 runs, 0 hits, 0 errors, 0 LOB.
Penn State 10, Kent State 8
Walter stays in the game after cruising through the past few innings but walks the Kent State leadoff hitter to start the seventh.
Gallas flies out to the right fielder for the second out.
After pitching 5 and 2/3 innings, Walter comes out of the game for the senior Lutz. As the game stands, Walter would get his first ever collegiate win.
Lutz strikes out his first batter of the game but gives up a bloop single right after.
Lutz gives up an RBI single to the next batter as Kent State cuts the Penn State lead to four.
The senior pitcher hits the next batter to load the bases.
Penn State in some trouble now after Lutz gives up two consecutive hits. The first hit brings across one run and the next hit brings in two. Penn State only up two now.
After giving up four runs, Lutz gets out of the inning finally as we head to the seventh inning stretch.
4 runs, 4 hits, 0 errors, 3 LOB.
Penn State 10, Kent State 8
Heath strikes out swinging to start the inning.
Jacobs grounds out to SS for the second out.
Glantz struck out to end the inning.
0 Runs, 0 Hits, 0 Errors, 0 LOB
Kent State 4, Penn State 10
Walter returns to the hill. He's put together a strong outing so far in relief of Franklin.
Bagoly works a walk to start the sixth. Lutz begins to throw again in the bullpen.
Walter throws a fastball past McMillen for his fourth strikeout of the game. One out in the inning.
Hindel lines a single to center and Kent State has runners on 1st and 2nd.
Joe Koch is pinch hitting for Humphreys. A passed ball puts both runners in scoring positions. Walter walks Koch to load the bases.
Rider is up with a chance to cut into the Lions lead. Heath Johnson won't allow it. He catches a fly to right and guns Bagoly out at home for a double play. Walter and the Lions escape with no harm done.
0 Runs, 1 Hits, 0 Errors, 2 LOB
Kent State 4, Penn State 10
Steranka steps into the box as the Lions attempt to take the lead.
After peppering some fans in the stands, Steranka reaches on a throwing error by the SS. The throw was high and Steranka got to the bag before the first baseman could come down from his leap.
The Flashes' 3B had a potential double play ball, but he threw it low to second and everyone was safe.
Jacobs is hit by a pitch to load the bases with no outs.
A passed ball allows Steranka to scamper home, and the game is tied again.
Glantz has a four-pitch walk.
A wild pitch allows another run to score. The Lions take a 5-4 lead.
Johnson works a full count. The payoff pitch is high and the bases are loaded again.
With the Lions having scored two runs on no hits, the Flashes' coaches think it's time for a pitching change. Casey Wilson takes the mound for Kent State.
Picconi steps up to the plate with the bases full and still none out. Picconi has singled and walked so far tonight. He walks again, and the Lions score their third run of the inning without having a hit/
A HIT. Steve Snyder has a bases clearing triple and gives the Lions a 9-5 lead.
Deegan lifts a fly ball to center that's deep enough to score Snyder from third.
DeBernardis strikes out for the second out of the inning.
Steranka works the count full and lines out to center.
Here's a stat line you don't see too often:
7 Runs, 1 HIT, 2 Errors, 0 LOB
Kent State 4, Penn State 10.
Rider leads the inning off with a single to left field.
Klafczynski gets a walk, and Kent State has the first two men on base this inning.
Lutz is warming up in the bullpen.
Steranka starts a double play. He fielded a sharp grounder to his left, and Picconi turned it at second. If Steranka would have tagged the runner going to third, they may have been able to get a triple play.
Lyon gets jammed, but he was able to lift the ball over DeBernardis at first. The single scored Rider from third and Kent State is back in the lead.
Campbell flies out to left field to end the inning.
1 Run, 2 Hits, 0 Errors, 1 LOB
Kent State 4, Penn State 3
Picconi steps in to lead off the inning for PSU. Picconi gets ahead in the count, 3-1. The next pitch is a fastball that's too far inside. Picconi takes first with a leadoff walk.
With Picconi running, Snyder flies out to center. Picconi got back to first and remains there for Deegan.
Picconi takes off again and Deegan lays down a sacrifice bunt. Picconi moves up to second base as Deegan is thrown out at first. Two out.
Picconi steals third without a throw. DeBernardis can't get the RBI as he grounds out to 3B for the final out of the inning.
0 Runs, 0 HIts, 0 Errors, 1 LOB
Kent State 3, Penn State 3
Walter is still on the mound for the Lions.
McMillen starts the inning off for Kent State. He hits one to left field where Deegan makes the catch. One out.
Hindel is retired on the second fly out of the inning. This one went to Snyder in center. Two quick outs for Walter.
Humphreys fouls a few pitches off after getting two strikes on him. Jacobs can't hold on to a foul tip and the at bat continues. The count is now full. Steranka makes a backhand play and throws out Humphreys for another 1-2-3 inning.
0 Runs, 0 Hits, 0 Errors, 0 LOB
Kent State 3, Penn State 3
DeBernardis leads off the inning for Penn State. He singled in his first AB.
Another hit for DeBernardis, as he ropes one into right field for his second single of the day.
Steranka, who reached on a fielder's choice in the first inning, works a full count this time around before cranking a two-run homer to right-center field, tying the game at three.
The full count pitch jumped off Steranka's bat and left the park as the center fielder looked up and watched it sail over his head.
The home run evens the score at three with nobody out for Penn State so far in the third.
Heath grounds one to the left side, but the shortstop tracks it down in the hole and makes a strong throw to first for the out. One away.
That'll be it for Glass today, as Kent State makes a pitching change, bringing in freshman Addison Dunn.
Dunn is 0-1 with a 5.40 ERA over five innings of work in four appearances this season.
Jacobs welcomes him to the game with a double to right field. Klafczynski got turned around trying to chase it down and it fell in on the warning track for a double.
Walter still on the mound for Penn State as he gets ready to pitch to David Lyon, who is leading off the inning for the Flashes.
Lyon flies one to right field, where Johnson is waiting to make the catch. One away.
Another strikeout for Walter, his third of the game, and there are two outs in Kent State's half of the third.
Brett Weibley lines one to fairly deep center field, but Snyder gets under it in time to make the catch and Walter retires the side in order, 1-2-3.
0 runs, 0 hits, 0 errors, 0 LOB
Kent State 3, Penn State 1
Michael Glantz leads off the bottom of the inning for the Lions.
Glantz goes down looking for the first out.
Second hitter of the inning, Heath Johnson, rips one to left-center, but Kent State's left-fielder tracks it down for the second out.
Picconi hits a hard ground ball up the middle, and though Kent State's shortstop makes the diving stop, he doesn't have time to make a play on Picconi at first.
Inning stays alive with two outs and a runner on first for Steve Snyder.
Another hit puts runners on the corners with two outs. Snyder looped one over the second baseman's head into right field, allowing Picconi to move up to third on the play.
Top of the order now for Penn State, as Deegan steps in with two on and two out.
Snyder swipes second base and Penn State has the potential tying-run in scoring position with two outs.
But, for the second time today, Deegan strikes out and the inning is over.
0 runs, 2 hits, 0 errors, 2 LOB
Kent State 3, Penn State 1
As Kent State batted around the order in the first, Humphreys leads off for the Flashes again. No hit this time, though, as he strikes out looking.
But Rider follows that up with a one-out triple to the gap in the left-center.
Klafczynski swings and misses at a breaking ball and Walter has his second strike out of the night. Runner on third with two outs.
A slow roller to the right side almost goes for a hit as DeBernardis and Picconi both went for it and Walter just got to the base in time to cover. Picconi ended up fielding the ball and throwing to Walter just in time to retire Gallas.
0 runs, 1 hits, 0 erros, 1 LOB
Kent State 3, Penn State 1
Sean Deegan draws a leadoff walk and Penn State has its leadoff man on base. Deegan then steals his 16th base of the season already. The Penn State record for most in one season is 27.
DeBernardis stays hot with the bat, lining one into left field for a hit, as Deegan moves up to third.
Steranka grounds one to the first baseman, who decides to come home with the play. Deegan gets caught inbetween third and home and is eventually tagged out for the first out.
Runners on first and second now with one out for Ben Heath.
Heath lines one into center field, over then center fielder's head. DeBernardis scores easily from second, but Steranka is thrown out trying to score from first.
It goes as an RBI double for Heath, and Penn State cuts the lead to two, 3-1.
Runner on second, two outs now for Bobby Jacobs.
Jacobs grounds one to second and Campbell makes the play for out No. 3.
Penn State gets one run back, but has two runners thrown out at the plate in the inning.
1 run, 2 hits, 0 errors, 1 LOB
Kent State 3, Penn State 1
Leading off the game for Kent State is Jared Humphreys, who went 2-for-3 with two walks, an RBI and three runs scored in yesterday's game.
Franklin jumps ahead in the count 0-2, but throws a couple pitches in the dirt before giving up a base hit. Humphreys on first with nobody out.
Jimmy Rider flies one down the line in right, but Heath Johnson tracks it down while bumping into the fence in foul territory and makes the catch. Humphreys tags up on the play and goes to second, but one out now, as Ben Klafczynski steps in for Kent State.
Franklin strikes out Klafczynski swinging for the second out of the inning.
Anthony Gallas steps in for Kent State. He has six home runs and 27 RBIs this season.
Gallas draws the two-out walk and Kent State has two on with two out for David Lyon.
Lyon rips one down the line past Steranka and into left field for an RBI double. Kent State takes an early 1-0 lead.
Now Franklin walks Evan Campbell to load the bases with two outs.
One pitch later, a wild pitch gets to the backstop and Gallas scores easily from third, Kent State goes up 2-0.
Franklin quickly falls behind in the count 3-0, before battling back with a pair of strikes. Full count.
Another walk and, again, the bases are loaded with two outs and Kent State already leading 2-0.
Franklin works another full count before walking another batter, this time forcing in a run. Kent State takes a 3-0 lead on Franklin's fourth walk of the game.
Second mound visit of the inning, so Franklin is done for the day. Freshman John Walter will take over for Franklin. Franklin goes 0.2 innings and, as of now, gives up three runs on two hits and four walks, but he is responsible for all three runners on base right now, as well.
Walter gets the first batter to pop up to the right side of the infield, and second baseman Louie Picconi is there to make the catch and end the inning. Walter avoids any further damage for Penn State and takes care of all three runners he inherited from Franklin.
3 runs, 2 hits, 0 errors, 3 LOB
Kent State 3, Penn State 0
Unlike it was for last weekend's home-opening series, the weather today is much more suitable for baseball. The mid-30 temperatures that were here for that series against Hofstra have turned into high-60s for today.
The Nittany Lions will take on Kent State for the fourth time this season, having won the first meeting before dropping the last two, including last night's 9-8 loss at Kent State.
Mike Franklin will make his first start of the season today. He has made four relief appearances this season, giving up eight runs off six hits over 2.2 innings. He has walked seven and struck out four, while his opponents batting average is .429.
On the other hand, Brennen Glass, Kent State's starting pitchers, has posted solid numbers so far this season. He is making his ninth appearance, and third start, of the year, posting a 1.89 ERA and holding opponents to a .194 batting average over 19 innings pitched.
The starting lineups for the teams are as follows:
It's fun to see people who are ambidextrous utilize their rare ability. Most often, you see it with switch hitters in baseball. But not until recently has there been a switch pitcher. Yankee prospect Pat Venditte took the mound the other day and pitched with both arms. He wore a special six-fingered glove that allows him to switch arms during an inning. A lot of unusual things happen in all of sports, let alone baseball, but a switch pitcher is very rare and pretty awesome. Even if he never becomes an outstanding pitcher, Venditte should be able to find work from teams in awe of his ability. Who needs a lefty specialist when one of the righties in your bullpen can pitch lefty as well? If you're like me, you're hoping he makes it to the majors soon so we can get a better look at his unique talent.
Some things important and not so important:
- Act now! You could own Don Mattingly's loyalty check he received for appearing on an episode of The Simpsons in 1992. The check is for $0.61 and the bidding is more than $300 right now. That's a better investment now than Enron was in 2001.
- Twins outfielder Denard Span accidentally hit his mom with a foul ball during a Spring Training game. She's OK, but Span's face won't be after she slaps him.
- Santonio Holmes joins his quarterback as Steelers in trouble with the law/ladies. Now that's a dynamic TD combination if I ever saw one.
Video of the week: Vicious. Just vicious. That kid won't be feeling his face for awhile.
It was reported Wednesday by the Centre Daily Times that senior Adam Lynch, who has one more year of eligibility remaining, will return to the Penn State wrestling team for the 2010-11 season.
Lynch had initially intended to pass on a fifth year of eligibility and pursue graduate school, but he informed coach Cael Sanderson he's decided to return to the Nittany Lions.
The 141-pounder went 13-13 in 2010-11 and came one win shy of qualifying for NCAAs during his sixth-place finish at the Big Ten Championships. For his career, Lynch is 43-35, with the majority of his bouts occurring at open tournaments.
Having Lynch on the team for another season is welcome by the Penn State coaching staff, who said multiple times throughout the year it'd like to have Lynch back for another year.
The senior will have the chance to act as a mentor for incoming freshmen Andrew and Dylan Alton and Hank Stinson, who will provide competition at the 141-pound weight class.
In today's paper there is an article on Maggie Dunbar's ability to be an all-around team player. I have some information on how she developed into the elite midfielder that she is, and how her athletic family shaped her competitive nature.
Sandwiched between two boys can do it to you, but it wasn't only two brothers who influenced her.
Kevin Dunbar, Dunbar's father is a huge sports fan. And Dick Hall, Dunbar's grandfather, played Major League Baseball from 1955-1971. He spent most of his 16-year career with the Baltimore Orioles but also spent time with the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Hall is involved in his grandchildren's lives. Dunbar's grandparents live in the Baltimore area and attended most, if not all of her games.
Martha Dunbar has always had confidence in her daughter and has always been there to support her. Dunbar said she didn't think her mom has ever missed a lacrosse game. Martha jokingly said she might have missed one or two here and there.
While Dunbar stands out on the field, she tries extremely hard to stand out in the classroom as well. She sets her standards high, going into every semester with goals of obtaining no less than a 3.0 GPA.
Like many student athletes, Dunbar has a tight schedule. But it doesn't faze her.
"It's all about a balance," Dunbar said. "Every day I go to class, go to the library and then to practice."
Penn State played Bucknell to a very tight, back and forth game on Tuesday night but just couldn't put it all together to get its second win of the season. Let's take a look at some statistics from the game, the high points and the low points.
17...saves made by freshman Dave Baker against the Bison, tying his single game season-high.
4...goals by Matt Mackrides, his fourth game of the year with four-plus goals and upping his season total to a team-high 25.
2...face-offs won by Charley Henneghan in eight chances, who has won 62.1 percent of face-offs this season.
15 ...face-offs won by Bucknell's Jake Clarke.
1...goal by defenseman Matt Bernier, the first of his career at Penn State.
0...number of Bucknell goals the Lions allowed on four Bison man-up opportunities.
2...number of goals by senior Anthony Basciano, his second straight game with two goals.
14...groundballs won by Bucknell in the first quarter in which it outscored the Lions, 4-1.
5...groundballs the Lions picked up in the first quarter, the least they scooped up in any quarter.
18...UMass' ranking in the most recent USILA Coaches' Poll, which the LIons will open up their CAA schedule against, this Saturday at noon.
Lady Lions senior guard Tyra Grant has been named honorable mention All-America by the Associated Press.
Grant is the seventh Lady Lion to win the award and the first since Tanisha Wright in 2005.
Grant is still a semifinalist for the Naismith Player of the Year award and a finalist for the Lowe's Senior CLASS Award. She finished her career as a Lady Lion third on the all-time scoring list with 2,044 points..
Penn State attacker Billy Gribbin was named the CAA Freshman of the week Wednesday.
Gribbin got the award after his hat trick Saturday in the Nittany Lions' 13-11 win against St. John's. Overall, Gribbin is second on Penn State in goals (16) and points (22) and is tied for the team lead in assists (six).
Gribbin had a goal and an assist in Penn State's loss to Bucknell Tuesday night.
When the NCAA Regionals seeds were released yesterday, No. 11 LSU and No. 14 Penn State were matched together in the same region.
And while the fans will be watching the Tigers and Lions square off April 10 in Rec Hall, they'll also be keeping their eyes on the battle between two of the best gymnasts in the country: Susan Jackson and Brandi Personett.
The Tigers' Jackson ranks third in the country in the all-around with a 39.565 regional qualifying score (RQS). The Lions' Personett is fifth with a 39.545.
Most assume the regional all-around title will be won by either, but Lions coach Steve Shephard said it would be foolish to forget about freshman Sharaya Musser making a run.
"Sharaya is gonna be in the mix, too," Shephard said. "She can sneak up on some people."
Musser is ranked 72nd in the country in the all-around, but that's because she just finished the requisite sixth meet to have an RQS and is still counting a 37.900. That was Musser's first all-around of the season, and she was thrown into the floor lineup right before the event started.
Since then, Musser has been one of the most consistent gymnasts in the Big Ten, though.
"She's just now coming into her own," Shephard said. "She's really getting her flow together and feeling a lot more confident about everything, and it's really starting to show.
"She's one of the best gymnasts in the country, no doubt, even as a freshman."
The two major softball polls came out on Tuesday, and defending national champion Washington remains in the top spot in both.
Penn State is not receiving votes just yet but can surpass last season's victory total by winning just one of its two games tomorrow at Kent State. The doubleheader starts at 3 p.m.
Here is the most recent Top 10 (USA Today/ESPN.com) 1/1 Washington-28-2 2/3 Michigan-24-5 3/2 Arizona-28-3 4/4 Missouri-23-4 5/5 UCLA-26-4 6/9 Florida-23-4 7/10 Arizona State-31-4 8/6 Alabama-24-9 9/11 Stanford-25-4 10/7 Georgia Tech-29-5
Three Big Ten teams are ranked once again, with Michigan (2/3) by far the highest positioned. Illinois (18/20) and Ohio State (21/23) round out the Big Ten representatives. No conference teams are receiving votes.
Despite beating No. 17 William & Mary, Penn State fell from No. 14 to No. 16 in the latest IWLCA rankings. The Tribe fell to 20.
ALC rival Vanderbilt is on the rise as it moved from 12 to 10, and No. 1 Northwestern lost another first place vote as it won 18 of 20. No. 2 Maryland -- a team Penn State led after one half -- received two first place votes.
The Lions are 6-3 on the year and coming off their second win over a ranked opponent this season. They travel to Gainesville to welcome Florida to the ALC this Saturday.
The Penn State defense forces the ball out of bounds and take over on possession. Baker tries to feed the ball up field to Mackrides, but his pass sails over the head of Mackrides and out of bounds.
The Lions go back on defense after the mistake by Baker. A check by Ross gives possession to back to the Lions.
Hogan gets a look, but rips his shot just wide of the cage. Hogan has been trying to beat Feeney on the right left side game, but has yet to score on that shot. Hogan then sends another shot wide.
A huge defensive stand by the Bison as Basciano walked in front, but was checked from behind and lost possession. Penn State with the ball and 18 seconds left in the game. An errant pass is picked up by Bucknell and that'll do it for the game.
Bucknell 11 Penn State 9
Baker makes a save, but once again Bucknell is able to get to the net with relative ease. Baker has had no help in this fourth quarter as the Lions defense has really fell apart in the late going.
Mackrides again comes from behind the net and dives in front while shooting. Mackrides bounces it through the five-hole of Feeney and brings the Lions within three with just under three minutes to play.
Bucknell gets another great look, but Baker makes the kick save and quickly works the ball up field. Basciano takes a huge hit, but still manages to bounce the ball through the legs of Feeney and the Lions now trial by two.
2:24 Fourth Quarter
Bucknell 11 Penn State 9
The game is starting to slip away from the Lions as Bucknell again gets another look. This one comes from the right side as the Bison have ripped off three straight goals and are making it very difficult for the Lions to stay in the game.
Penn State controls the draw and have a crucial possession. Dolik rips one from the top of the zone, but Feeney makes the easy save as Dolik shot stick side.
Mike Danylyshyn connects for the fourth straight Bison goal. The Penn State defense seems to have fallen apart as they can't account for the open man on another possession.
5:25 Fourth Quarter
Bucknell 11 Penn State 7
A Bucknell shot come from point blank range. Baker gets a piece and the shot goes off the post. That would have been a huge goal for the Bison, but the Lions take over possession and bring it into the Bucnkell zone.
Hogan fires one on the ground but the shot goes wide. Hogan elects to shoot off stick on Feeney and just missed tying the game.
A turnover by the Bison gives the ball back to the Lions and Dolik bounces another shot just wide of Feeney. Hogan feeds Dolik in fron, but Dolik gets nailed from behind and can't get the shot off and Bucknell takes over possession.
A nice possession by the Lions, but they fail to come away with what would have been a crucial goal.
Poor defense by the Lions as two Penn State defenders allow the Bucknell attack to walk in and rip a shot past Baker. Not Baker's fault there as the defense left him by himself to stop a point blank shot.
8:07 Fourth Quarter
Bucknell 9 Penn State 7
Nice face-off win by Joe Britt and the Lions have possession to start the final quarter.
Kyle VanThof gets a nice look from the right side, but is stoned by Feeney. After the save, Feeney tries to advance the ball up field but his pass is intercepted by Gribbin and the Lions again have possession.
The Lions have a shot blocked and the Bison take over.
A broken play leads to a goal for the Bison as Charlie Streep fell down with the ball, but got back up and found an open man in front for the go ahead goal.
12:07 Fourth Quarter
Bucknell 8 Penn State 7
The Lions control the draw after the goal and work the ball around to Mackrides. The sophomore rings one off the cross bar, but the Lions maintain possession and get a goal from Billy Gribbin.
Penn State being the aggressor against the the Bucknell zone and the Bison have yet to find an answer or make any sort of adjustments to the up-tempo attack of the Lions.
Baker comes up big as Bucknell looks for the go ahead goal. Baker stood tall against the post, made the stop and smartly moved the ball up field.
Hogan tries to bounce one past Feeney, it goes wide but is picked up Mackrides on the back side, Mackrides fires a shot of his own high and wide, but the Lions maintain possession as we near the end of the quarter.
Penn State squanders its possession at the end of the quarter as they turn the ball over. Bucknell takes over on possession, but fires a last second shot wide and the quarter comes to and end.
End of the Third Quarter
Penn State 7 Bucknell 7
Penn State controls the draw, but has trouble finding space for a shot. Basciano had a little room in front, but couldn't get a good shot off and Feeney makes the easy save for the Bison.
The offensive approach for the Bison appears to be to work the ball around and wait for their opportunities. They're taking a lot of time off the clock with a two goal lead and not doing anything to force the issue against the Penn State defense.
Baker picks up another save as the Bison have now amassed 23 shots on goal.
Some nice defense again by the Lions ends in another turnover for the Bison. The Lions waste no time getting into the zone and Mackrides rips one just over the net.
The Bison now doing their part on defense as they have forced the Lions to work the ball around the goal and are leaving little openings for the Penn State attack. Dolik tries a little spin move and draws a penalty. The Lions go man up for 30 seconds.
The man up opporunity goes wasted as the Lions mustered just one real chance on Feeney. Hogan fed Mackrides in front, but Mackrides couldn't get the ball out of the basket.
Hogan let's loose his long shot and beats Feeney on the right side to bring the Lions back within one.
5:59 Third Quarter
Bucknell 7 Penn State 6
Bucknell controls the draw, but the Lions are being patient on defense and waiting out the Bucknell attack. The Bison get a look in front, but Baker comes up big again as he kicks away the low shot.
Baker makes another huge save, but then makes a costly mistake as he carried the ball out of the net to almost midfield and turned the ball over. Baker couldn't get back in time and Bucknell gets an easy goal.
12:17 Third Quarter
Bucknell 7 Penn State 5
Some haltime thoughts:
A much better second quarter for the Lions as they climbed back into the game with a three-goal run early in the quarter. The offense looked inspired as the Lions got some nice ball movement from Hogan and Mackrides.
The defense was stout for most of the first half. A couple of costly penalties led to some goals for the Bison, but all-in-all it was a decent half for the Penn State backline. Baker has been impressive, notching seven saves on 19 shots on goal.
A lot of the Bison shots have gone wide, but Baker has stood tall when called upon and is keeping his team in the game. Bucknell seems to get easily frustrated and if the Lions can rattle off another run of a couple goals, they can take the Bison out of this game.
Another shot from the Bison goes wide as they struggle to get good chances on the man up. The Lions penalty gets released, but Bucknell finds an opening in front as Klipstein beats Baker for the go ahead goal.
Baker makes a huge save to keep it a one goal game as he stops another shot with hit head.
The Lions get a chance at the end of the half as Ross comes away with a steal and fires up to Gribbin. Gribbin tries to feed Basciano behind the net, but he can't control the pass and the half expires.
Bucknell 6 Penn State 5
Mackrides ties the game in nearly the same fashion as his earlier goal. He rolled from behind the cage and ripped a side arm shot, that continues to give Feeney fits. A solid individual effort by Mackrides to even the game at 5.
Bucknell is visibly frustrated as players are swinging their sticks in disgust. The hitting has picked up a bit and tempers are starting to flare as Chris Hogan takes a penalty for slashing.
Bucknell goes a man up as on a crucial possession as the half winds down. The first shot in the man up goes way high, but the Bison take a timeout.
1:37 Second Quarter
Penn State 5 Bucknell 5
Penn State doesn't let the goal affect them as the defense stands tall and gets the ball after a loose ball push by the Bison.
Dolik carries the ball into the zone for the Lions. He gets absolutely laid out, but maintains possession and Penn State takes a timeout.
3:35 Second Quarter
Bucknell 5 Penn State 4
The Lions and Bison exchange a couple of defensive stands as the Lions get a steal and a fastbreak , but Mackrides was tripped by the Bison defense.
Some nice defense by Alex Gannet for the Lions. A Bison defender appeared to have a clear lane to the goal, but Gannet slid down from the crease and cut off the Bucknell attack. Baker followed that up with a nice save on a long shot, but gave up a big rebound.
After the rebound, Chris Palmer finds a bit of space and beats Baker to get the Bison back on the board.
4:12 Second Quarter
Bucknell 5 Penn State 4
The Bison take a personal misconduct foul as coach Frank Fedorjaka was running his mouth to the referee. The Lions go a man up.
An excellent look from Hogan who was at the top of the zone and fired a pass to Mackrides who was waiting by the left post. Feeney stood no chance as Mackrides was left all lone after the great pass from Hogan.
8:11 Second Quarter
Penn State 4 Bucknell 4
Earl Ross takes a one minute personal foul for cross checking as the Bison will go a man up. Not a smart penalty for Penn State as the Lions looked to have momentum on their side.
The Bison get a shot from about 15 yards out, but Baker is strong with the stick to deny to goal and the Lions take over on possession. Some nice hustle from the Lions leads to a rip from Basciano.
Excellent passing from the Lions defense up to Hogan as the Lions pull within one.
9:05 Second Quarter
Bucknell 4 Penn State 3
A nice start for Baker as he stops a quick shot from the Bison. The Lions turn the ball over, though, on the ensuing possession and the Bison bring it back into the zone.
Penn State picks up a ground ball as they desperately need to get something going on offense.
Shea gets a nice look for the Lions, but Feeney has no problem making the stop. The Lions seem to be having a bit of trouble shooting on the left handed Feeney. A lot of the Penn State shots are going right into the basket of Feeney. The Lions will need to start picking their spots better if they want to score.
The Lions with a nice possession as they cycle around the net and find a good look for Basciano. Basciano fires a shot just wide as he tried to go low post on Feeney.
Mackrides fakes a shot, but then comes back in front and fires without looking towards the goal. Excellent shot by Mackrides as the Lions answer and more importantly have a quality possession.
11:11 Second Quarter
Bucknell 4 Penn State 2
Not a whole lot of action down in the Bucknell end as the Lions managed to get just four shots on goal. Defensively, the Lions looked pretty good. One mishap led to a Bucknell goal, but the Lions have been fairly strong in their own end.
We'll see if Penn State can pick up the intensity in the second quarter.
Thiel was very animated during that timeout. The Lions aren't playing too bad on defense, but the offense has mustered just two shots on goal.
A magnificent save by Feeney as Mackrides fed Billy Gribbin on the doorstep. Gribbin fired low, but Feeney went down and made the save and the Bison take over possession. a huge save for the Bison and what could be a disheartening play for the Lions.
Matt Shankoff takes a pentalty for cross-checking and the Lions go a man down.
That'll do it for the first quarter. Bucknell will have possession and a be man-up for the first 2 seconds of the second quarter.
End of the First Quarter
Bucknell 4 Penn State 1
Penn State kills off the Bernier penalty as Bucknell fails to get a shot off.
But the Lions turn the ball back over to the Bison after another bad pass. Neither team is passing the ball particularly well right now. A couple of bad passes have led to turnovers for both teams, but so far those turnovers haven't been costly.
Bucknell strikes for its third goal of the game after Mike Danylyshyn absorbs the contact from the Penn State defender and beats Baker low. The Penn State players pleaded for a crease violation, but to no avail and the goal stands.
Bucknell strikes again for another quick goal and prompts Lions' coach Glenn Thiel to take a timeout.
3:08 First Quarter
Bucknell 4 Penn State 1
After the Lions turn the ball over, Bucknell takes over and fires a shot wide of Baker in the cage. The Lions appear to have an increased tenacity on defense as Eisenriech takes a huge hit in front of the net.
Penn State goes down a man, though as Bernier takes a one minute penalty for an illegal check.
Some nice defense by Penn State as the Lions allow Bucknell to pass the ball around the cage, but don't allow any shots. They force a bad pass and take over on possession as the Bison take a timeout.
5:24 First Quarter
Bucknell 2 Penn State 1
Penn State finally gets the ball into the offensive zone, but an errant pass from Chris Hogan to Matt Mackrides ends in a turnover and Bucknell heads down with possession.
Some good defense by the Lions as the Bucknell possession ends in a turnover. On the ensuing possession, the Lions get their first shot of the game but Mackrides' shot is stopped by Bucknell goalie Kyle Feeney.
Baker makes his first stop of the game after a shot ricochets off his helmet. The Bison and the Lions exchange a couple of fruitless possesions.
Matt Brenier takes it upon himself to fire one from his own end and catches the enitre Bucknell team napping and scores from about 3/4 field.
8:21 First Quarter
Bucknell 2 Penn State 1
Joe Britt into to take the face-off for the Lions, but Bucknell controls the draw and takes the first possession.
Bucknell middie Ryan Kipstein takes the ball on the right side against two Penn State defenders and beats Lion's goalie Dave Baker low. On that possession, Bucknell was patient and sort of feeling out the Lions defense.
They found some space for Kipstein and the Bison open a 1-0 lead.
Bucknell controls the ensuing draw and after a sloppy possession finds space in front for Billy Eisenreich. The ball was on the ground for the majority of that possession, but the Penn State defense appeared out of sorts and Eisenreich found himself all alone in front of the Lions goal.
12:36 First Quarter
Bucknell 2 Penn State 0
Welcome Penn State lacrosse fans to Jeffrey Field where tonight the Nittany Lions square off against Bucknell in their final nonconference game of the season.
This is newly appointed men's lacrosse writer Bill Landis bringing you the action from a chilly Jeffrey Field press box.
Penn State was in high spirits Saturday after coming away with its first victory of the season. The Lions will be looking to build off the 13-11 win against St. John's as they welcome a Bucknell team coming off of back-to-back losses.
It's a windy night here at Jeffrey field and there is a bit of rain in the forecast. We'll see if the elements have any sort of effect on the game.
We're about seven minutes away from the opening face-off. I'll be back with live action in a bit.
Ed DeChellis has filled the first of three open scholarships for next season.
Nate Bauer of Blue-White Illustrated.com reported Bowman committed with Penn State on Monday after visiting Penn State and meeting with DeChellis. Bowman also had offers from Duquesne, South Florida, Drexel, James Madison, Northeastern, St. Joe's, LaSalle and high-level interest from Nebraska and Minnesota.
Bowman, rated as the 92nd best shooting guard prospect by ESPN, averaged 17 points per game for St. Thomas More School in Oakdale, Conn., and helped his team advance to the national semifinals.
"I sort of knew I was going to [commit] but I just had to make sure," Bowman told Bauer. "I really liked the coaches and the players. I had a chance to be around them a lot, and it was just right."
Bowman, a 6-foot-4, 185 lb. guard described himself to Bauer as a player that likes to shoot but can also play above the rim, dribble and pass. The guard was also a standout player at Central York High School before going to St. Thomas More this year to refine his game, St. Thomas More post-graduate coach Jerry Quinn said.
"He's just not a shooter. He's actually really pretty talented and if needed, he can help out at the point, but one of the things I told coach, he really looks to score," Quinn told Bauer. "He has a scorer's mentality and he's got a shooter's mentality, and he's not afraid to miss, which is important. He's a guy who moves. When he's spotting up, when the ball is released we're typically pulling our defense out because we expect him to make every open jump shot. But he's an athlete as well."
Bowman said the coaches sat him down in the conference room and showed him the depth chart for next season. With Cammeron Woodyard the only shooting guard currently on the roster and Taran Buie set to arrive on campus this summer, Bowman told Bauer the coaches "would be disappointed in me if I wasn't getting playing time right away."
For this week's Tuesday Timeout, we spoke with senior attackman Anthony Basciano. Basciano had two goals in last Saturday's victory over St. John's and will be looking to contribute again in tonight's highly anticipated match-up with Bucknell.
Crosse Check) What comes to mind when I say the name Brian Shea?
Anthony Basciano) Leadership, soft-spoken, hardworking.
CC) What's your favorite class that you're taking this semester?
AB) Probably English 202 A.
CC) Why's that?
AB) My teacher's really nice, and it's pretty interesting. It's kind of a research class which is pretty fun.
CC) Do you have a favorite sport other than lacrosse?
AB) I really like to play paintball outside of lacrosse.
CC) Favorite place to eat on- or off-campus?
AB) I probably eat the most Uncle Chen's.
CC) Favorite thing on the menu?
AB) General Tso's Chicken.
CC) Did you fill out a bracket this year for the NCAA tournament?
AB) No I didn't (laughs). For being an athlete, I don't really follow sports that much. I'll follow football, but I don't think I've ever watched a full basketball game in my life.
CC) You're a senior, what are your post-school plans?
AB) I'm trying to get into casino marketing or casino management. Just something in the tourism scene because I'm a Recreation, Parks, and Tourism Management major.
CC) How'd you get into that?
AB) I don't know, a bunch of advisers told me it was a good major, and I've enjoyed it ever since. I enjoy working with people and interacting with people. And also I just like the whole casino environment and stuff like that.
CC) Last question: who's the most entertaining guy on the team?
AB) Charley Henneghan.
CC) That's what everybody's been saying all year. What is it about him?
AB) He's kind of a clown. He's what? 26 years-old or something like that? Like a sixth-year senior? I don't know, he's just a funny kid.
In this week's Pavcast we have the Penn State men's volleyball looking ahead to what the Rutgers-Newark upset means to the EIVA. Then Mark Pavlik previews the No. 9 Nittany Lions' match against No. 15 Ball State and explains what his team may -- or may not -- have planned for April Fool's Day.
Along with the draw, the order of the events for each team was announced. Penn State will start on vault then have a bye before performing on the uneven bars. After the bars, Penn State will move to the balance beam, have another bye and then finish off on the floor exercise.
I spoke with 2010 Big Ten Gymnast of the Year and senior Brandi Personett tonight to get her initial reaction. She said she liked the order of events because the top-two seeded teams in the competition, Oklahoma and LSU, both have to finish on the beam with LSU having a bye in the final rotation.
Here is a complete list of the order of events for regionals:
Rotation 1: Vault-PSU, Bye before Bars-Maryland, Bars-New Hampshire, Beam-OSU, Bye before Floor-Oklahoma, Floor-LSU
Rotation 2: Vault-LSU, Bye before Bars-PSU, Bars-Maryland, Beam-New Hampshire, Bye before Floor-OSU, Floor-Oklahoma
Rotation 3: Vault-Oklahoma, Bye before Bars-LSU, Bars-PSU, Beam-Maryland, Bye before Floor-New Hampshire, Floor-OSU
Rotation 4: Vault-OSU, Bye before Bars-Oklahoma, Bars-LSU, Beam-PSU, Bye before Floor-Maryland, Floor-New Hampshire
Rotation 5: Vault-New Hampshire, Bye before Bars-OSU, Bars-Oklahoma, Beam-LSU, Bye before Floor-PSU, Floor-Maryland
Rotation 6: Vault-Maryland, Bye before Bars-New Hampshire, Bars-OSU, Beam-Oklahoma, Bye before Floor-LSU, Floor-PSU
If there was one thing the Lady Lions offense missed all season long it was a consistent threat from 3-point range. Starting next season, that is about to change. At the McDonald's All-American Powerade Jam Fest Monday night, Penn State signee Maggie Lucas took home the 3-point shootout title. Powered by a 22-point performance in the final round, Lucas came out victorious against sharpshooting signees committed to both Florida State and Tennessee. Lucas will likely be looked upon a lot next season and figures to play a prominent role in the offense thanks to her long-range abilities. She averaged 23 points her senior season at Germantown Academy and finished her high school career with 2,197 points. Last season, the Lions were ranked dead last in the Big Ten in 3-point field goals made with only 118 made while shooting only .314 percent from downtown. Not to mention, Penn State's leading 3-point shooter Tyra Grant, who made 49 this past season, has since folded up her Lady Lion jersey for good. Safe to say, Lucas will be a refreshing addition to Penn State's offense next season thanks to her ability to shoot the 3-point shot.
This Tuesday night at 7:30 p.m., the No. 18 Bucknell Bison will come to Jeffrey Field for what will be Penn State's last non-conference game before opening up CAA play on Saturday against UMass. The Lions (1-6) are looking to keep their momentum up after last Saturday's win against St. John's, and take that confidence into the conference schedule. Let's take a look at what Bucknell (4-4) will bring to Tuesday's game.
Previously against Penn State:
These two teams first met in 1968 in a 13-9 PSU victory and have gone on to compete against each other every year since. Penn State currently holds a commanding series lead against Bucknell, 33-9. In last year's meeting, Matt Mackrides recorded the best game of his freshman campaign, scoring two goals and dishing out two assists in a 9-8 Penn State victory.
What they've done so far:
At 4-4, Bucknell has had its ups and downs and has played some pretty tight games this year. The Bison started the year with a heartbreaking 12-11 overtime loss to a then No. 2 Duke, but followed the loss with an important 11-5 victory over Ohio State. Other key wins have come against Towson and Hobart, while Navy and Albany have handed Bucknell tough losses.
With seven players with 10 or more points this season and five players with 11 or more goals, the Bucknell offensive attack is deep and talented. Leading the Bison statistically is senior attackman Austin Winter. The two-time Honorable Mention All-American has 11 goals and 19 assists on the year. Joining Winter at attack is junior Mike Danylyshyn (see below for a sick, one-handed Danylyshyn goal earlier this season against Duke), whose 12 goals are third on the team. From the midfield, junior Ryan Klipstein and sophomore Charlie Streep are first and second on the team in goals with 20 and 15 respectively.
On the defensive end, sophomore Jason Neithamer will cause the most trouble for the Penn State attack. The 6-foot-4 Neithamer is quick and strong and is second on the team in groundballs with 31. Juniors John Collett and Alex Lyons will join Neithamer and have picked up 36 groundballs collectively this year.
In between the pipes for Bucknell is Kyle Feeney. The true freshman won the starting job over junior Sam Finnell and fellow freshman Josh Briskman and has made the most of his opportunity. Feeney boasts an 8.59 goals allowed average and has saved 55.7 percent of the shots he's faced.
Keys to the game:
-Defensive communication: With so many offensive weapons, the Bucknell attack is a force to be reckoned with. The Lions will need to be sound defensively, communicate well and help each other out with defensive slides to make sure that all of the Bison's offensive options are covered and accounted for.
-Groundballs: Bucknell has won 280 groundballs compared to the Lions' 229. Penn State can help itself by keeping the ball out of the hands of Bucknell's offense, and keeping possession for as long as it can.
Sophomore Lisa Akamine became the second Penn State pitcher in three weeks to be named the conference's pitcher of the week when she got the honor on Monday.
Akamine won both of her starts this past week and pitched a total of 18.1 innings and surrendered just three runs (two earned) on nine hits to help the Nittany Lions split both of their doubleheaders for the week.
The California native has been on an upswing lately, as Kinslow first pointed out, going 8-1 with a 1.07 ERA in her last 12 appearances. In fact, in those dozen appearances since Feb. 19, Akamine has given up one run or less in 10 of them.
Akamine joins teammate Jackie Hill as the first pair of Lions to receive the honor in the same season since 2008.
After its best road score of the season at Saturday's Big Ten Championships, Penn State moved up three spots to No. 14. In the final tally of the Regional Qualifying Score (RQS), the Nittany Lions own a 196.225.
RQS is calculated by taking a team's top six meets, three of which must be road meets. The top score is then taken out and the remaining five are averaged. This is how Penn State's RQS of 196.225 is calculated:
The Lions finally dropped the 194.150 at Denver from the second week of the season, which had been bringing down their RQS and in turn their ranking.
Though Penn State finished second to Michigan in the conference championships, the Lions remain No. 3 in the Big Ten behind the Wolverines and the Fighting Illini at Nos. 6 and 13, respectively.
Penn State dropped to No. 6 in vault but jumped up in the other three events. The Lions are No. 9 in the uneven bars, No. 14 in the balance beam and No. 17 in the floor exercise going into regionals on April 10.
Brandi Personett, who was named the 2010 Big Ten Gymnast of the Year on Saturday, remained No. 5 in the nation in the all-around this week. She dropped from No. 2 to No. 3 in vault and from No. 9 to No. 10 on the balance beam. However, Personett increased her rank in the floor and is now No. 2.
With Penn State's win in the second game of the doubleheader Saturday, it marked the second time since Wednesday the Nittany Lions lost the first game before rallying in the second.
Against both Saint Francis (Pa.) and the Golden Gophers, Penn State's bats were mostly silenced from solid pitching in the opening game. Players also said some of it had to do with hits right at the fielders. Obviously the offense picked up in the second games, but the difference from the first games is still drastic. Here's the offensive breakdown of the game one vs game two performances from the two doubleheaders this past week:
Game 1s: 5 runs, 8 hits, 1 extra-base hit
Game 2s: 16 runs, 24 hits, 7 extra-base hits
Penn State has a doubleheader coming up Wednesday on the road against Kent State, so it'll be interesting to see if this offensive turnaround in the second game was simply a coincidence or the start
It Was Over When...: Rutgers-Newark went up two sets to start the match. The Scarlet Raiders were energized and played with purpose. No. 6 Penn State was neither.
Player of the Match: For the first time this season, it's not a Nittany Lion. The Scarlet Raiders' Marcin Midura had a match-high 22 kills on .474 hitting. He was outstanding in the upset.
Stat of the Match: Five. The difference in team blocks between Rutgers-Newark and Penn State. The Scarlet Raiders out-blocked the Lions 12-7, just one of the many aspects of the game they dominated.
Surprise of the Match: Penn State lost. It was the first time in program history the Lions lost to a team in the EIVA Hay Division.
Quotable: "I think it's just as important to overcome success as it is to overcome a loss. And at this point in the season, we need to learn that." - coach Mark Pavlik.
Check it: Here are some video highlights of the match, courtesy of the Rutgers-Newark athletic department. Again, dubious choice in background music.
What's Next: The Lions travel to Muncie, Ind. Thursday to take on Ball State. The unranked Cardinals come in off a huge upset of their own -- they swept No. 3 Cal State-Northridge last night. It was the program's first win vs. a top-five team since 1999.
Steven Hill in to close this game out for the Lions after Lutz pitched a scoreless eighth.
Needing four runs to keep this game alive, Hofstra gets a hit to lead off the ninth inning.
After falling behind 3-0 to the batter, Hill battles back but gives up the walk on the full-count.
Two on and no outs for Ethan Paquette, who has gone 0-for-4 today.
One out down after Hill strikes out Paquette.
Two outs down and men on the corners for Hofstra following a fielders choice.
And that's all she wrote as Hofstra flies out to the Penn State center fielder for out number three. A third straight victory by the Lions, who go 3-1 on the weekend series.
Penn State 8
A light drizzle has the Penn State fans in attendance heading for cover as we enter the bottom of the eighth inning.
DeBernardis flies out to the left fielder for out number one.
Steranka hits a hard liner right to the pitcher, who appears to be shaken up on the play after getting drilled. The PSU third baseman makes it to first with the hit.
After Steranka moves to second on a wild pitch, Ben Heath draws the walk with one out.
Jack Greenberg pinch hitting for Bobby Jacobs. Greenberg is 0-for-5 on the year and searching for that elusive first hit.
Greenberg will have to wait another day for that first hit after he pops out.
Mario Eramo hits a fly ball to the left fielder that carries a little bit but not enough to do any damage. Inning over and we're headed to the last frame.
0 runs, 1 hit, 0 errors, 2 LOB.
Lutz in to relieve Herring, who pitched his longest game of the year. He gave up nine hits and four runs through seven innings.
A nice defensive play by Picconi to get the leadoff man out for PSU.
Lutz gets the next batter to ground out but then gives up a single with two outs.
However, Penn State heads to the dugout with the score still intact after a Hofstra batter flies out.
0 runs, 1 hit, 0 errors, 1 LOB.
Penn State 8, Hofstra 4
Left fielder Mario Eramo gets on base with a single to start the bottom half of the seventh.
Michael Glantz advances the runner over to second base as Penn State looks to add at least one more run to its now three-run lead.
Wild pitch moves Eramo to third base and gives Glantz a sacrifice RBI opportunity.
Glantz draws the walk to put runners on the corners, and he then steals second to get two runners in scoring position for Picconi.
Picconi gets the RBI sacrifice fly and brings Eramo home to stretch the lead to four.
Hofstra's second baseman has trouble fielding a sharply hit ball but is able to regroup and throw PSU's speedy Deegan out to end the inning.
1 run, 1 hit, 0 errors, 1 LOB.
Penn State 8, Hofstra 4
Hofstra's Scott A'Hara leads off the seventh inning with a hit for the Pride, who has only three innings now to mount a comeback.
Matt Prokopowicz grounds out for the first out of the inning but A'Hara advances to second.
Herring gets a bloop single down the right field line to put runners on the corner with one out.
The Pride picks up their first run since the first inning on a missed play ball by shortstop Michael Glantz.
A high pop up by the ensuing Hofstra batter is ruled an infield fly out. DeBernardis tries to make the play and trips over the pitchers mound to fall flat on his face. He shakes it off and heads back to first knowing he has owned Hofstra all weekend.
Hofstra continues to chip away in the seventh inning, picking up two more runs on a John Kenny single and fielding error by left fielder Mario Eramo.
With a man on third base, Herring gets out of the jam and gets a ground out to first base.
Seventh Inning stretch her at Medlar Field at Lubrano Field.
3 runs, 3 hits, 2 errors, 1 LOB.
Penn State 7, Hofstra 4
Hofstra sends another new pitcher to the mound, this time it's freshman Greg Lettini. Lettini has an ERA of 12.00 in six innings of relief work this year.
DeBernardis leads off the inning for Penn State by popping it up to shallow center for the first out.
Steranka steps in now, looking for his first hit of the day after starting out 0-for-3 with a strike out, groundout and reaching on an error.
He remains hitless for now, though, as he strikes out looking at a pitch on the outside corner.
Two outs, nobody on for Heath.
But Heath keeps the inning alive with his second single of the day.
Jacobs hits one high in the air, but it doesn't even make it out of the infield as Hofstra's second baseman puts it away to end the inning.
0 runs, 1 hit, 0 errors, 0 LOB
Hofstra 1, Penn State 7
Herrring still on the mound for the Lions, as the freshman works into the sixth inning. He's given up just one run off four hits so far today.
He pitched six full innings in each of his first two starts this season, but hasn't pitched more than that at any point yet in his young career.
Herring strikes out John Kenny to start the inning, but then gives up a one-out single to Hancock.
Ford lines one into left field and Hofstra has back-to-back one-out singles, as Jordan Bredehoeft steps in to the box.
But the brief rally is over as Bredehoeft grounds one to Picconi, who flips it to Gratz, who sends it on to DeBernardis at first for the 4-6-3, inning-ending double play.
0 runs, 2 hits, 0 errors, 1 LOB
Hofstra 1, Penn State 7
Searer leads off the Lions' half of the fifth with his second hit of the day - a shot up the middle for a leadoff single.
Picconi steps up now, batting out of the No. 9 spot today. Picconi has batted second, eighth and now ninth in the batting order just this weekend alone. Picconi is 0-for-1 today, but he's walked and reached on an error and come around to score both times.
Searer gets picked off for the first out of the inning.
And Picconi won't come around to score this time, as he pops out to the first baseman in foul territory for the second out of the inning.
Top of the order now for Penn State, as Deegan tries to keep the inning alive. He worked a full count and followed off a series of pitches before lining out to the right fielder to end the fifth.
0 runs, 1 hit, 0 errors, 0 LOB
Hofstra 1, Penn State 7
The fifth inning starts with a poop-up in foul territory that is tracked down by Steranka at third base. One away.
Top of the order for Hofstra as Prokopowicz steps in and bloops one into left field for his second hit of the day. Runner on first with one out for Matt Watkins, who is 0-for-1 today with a groundout and a walk.
Watkins works his second walk of the day, but Mike Walraven quickly follows that up with a fly out to center for the second out of the inning.
Cleanup hitter Ethan Paquette tries to keep the inning alive, but can't as he rolls one to Steranka at third, who tosses to second for the third out.
0 runs, 1 hit, 0 errors, 2 LOB
Hofstra 1, Penn State 7
Another new pitcher for Hofstra as Drew Liebert takes over on the mound. He is Hofstra's third pitcher in four innings today.
Ben Heath welcomes him to the game with a sharp single through the left side.
Jacobs pops one up behind the plate and Hofstra catcher Kevin Flynn makes the catch from his knees, one away.
Eramo lines out to center for the second out of the inning. Heath was nearly double off first on the play, but he dives back in time.
Glantz lines one into left field, but it's right at the left fielder, as Scott A'Hara barely needs to move to make the play to end the inning.
0 runs, 1 hit, 0 errors, 1 LOB
Hofstra 1, Penn State 7
John Kenny leads off the inning with a sharp grounder to shortstop, but Glantz makes the play for the first out.
Herring then gets the next batter to roll one back to the mound for out number two.
Matt Ford fights off an inside pitch and loops down the line in left for a two-out double.
Runner on second with two out for Hofstra's No. 8 hitter, Jordan Bredehoeft, who has already taken over for Jared Hammer.
Bredehoeft skies one to shallow left, where Eramo is waiting to put it away. Inning over.
0 runs, 1 hit, 0 errors, 0 LOB
Hofstra 1, Penn State 1
Andrew Barbarino comes in to pitch for Hofstra.
Glantz pops one up in foul ground but the three Hofstra players look at it hit the ground. It's been a tough game for Hofstra in the field.
Glantz hits a deep liner to left, but it's caught for the first out.
Searer hits a hopper up the middle that's gloved by the pitcher. He threw to first for the second out.
PIcconi hits a grounder to SS, but the throw is low and cannot be handled at first. E-6.
The pickoff throw is wild, and Picconi scampers to third. I'm sure the Hofstra coaches would like to see some Pride in the field on defense.
Deegan hits a sharp one hopper in the hole between SS and 3B. The SS got a glove on it but that was it. Another PSU run crossed the plate to make it 7-1.
Deegan stole second as DeBernardis stands in at the plate. DeBernardis works a walk.
Two men on for Steranka. Another balk moves both runners into scoring position.
Steranka grounds out to 2B to end the inning.
1 Run, 1 Hit, 2 Errors, 2 LOB
Hofstra 1, Penn State 7.
Herring is back on the mound after a lengthy bottom of the second.
The count goes full to Watkins, who earns a walk.
Walraven hits a line drive right at Searer in right field. One out.
Paquette strikes out. Watkins was running on the play, but Paquette interfered with Heath's throw and Watkins was ruled out at second. Strange play, but the Lions are out of the inning.
0 Runs, 0 Hits, 0 Errors, 0 LOB
Hofstra 1, Penn State 6.
Searer's bunt attempt rolls foul down the first base line. He hits a slow roller on a 1-2 pitch that the third baseman can't handle cleanly, so Searer's on first with a single.
Searer takes off on the first pitch to Picconi and steal second.
Picconi jumps ahead 3-0 on the count before taking two strikes. He began walking to first on the second. He gets to take first after the full count offering is inside for ball four.
A pickoff attempt at second base nearly gets Searer, but he's called safe. The Hofstra coach is now demonstrating what happened for the umpire, who isn't ammused.
Runners on first and second for Deegan, who shows bunt on the first pitch. He pulls the bat back and takes a ball. The count is now 3-0 and the fourth pitch misses. Another song with the word, "walk," plays as Deegan takes first.
Rigopoulos is struggling to find his command. The bases are loaded for DeBernardis, who rips a 2-RBI single to left field. The Lions take a 4-1 lead with no outs in the inning.
Steranka looks at strike three. One out.
Heath has another RBI opportunity with men on 1st and 2nd.
Deegan swipes third, so the runners are on the corners for Heath.
A balk scores Deegan and sends DeBernardis down to second. PSU up 5-1.
Heath strikes out
Jacobs gets a bloop double to fall in center and DeBernardis trots home for a sixth Lion run.
Eramo grounds out to 3B on a slow roller. Hofstra finally gets out of the inning.
4 Runs, 3 Hits, 0 Errors, 1 LOB
Hofstra 1, Penn State 6.
Ford works a walk to lead off the second for the Pride.
Hammer steps up to the plate and shows bunt. Runner goes and avoids the force out as Hammer grounds a ball to SS for a 6-3 putout. One out.
A'Hara grounds out to 2B. Ford advanced to third on the play.
Prokopowicz looks to get the tying run in, but grounds out to 2B for the third out.
0 Runs, 0 Hits, 0 Errors, 1 LOB
Hofstra 1, Penn State 2.
Deegan steps in to lead off the Lions' half on the inning and fouls off a bunt attempt. After fouling a few off, Deegan is caught looking at a strike on the inside corner.
DeBernardis hits a liner over the SS's head for a single.
Steranka hits a ground ball to SS that is bobbled and everyone is safe. The Lions have runners on first and second with one out.
Heath steps in looking to add to his RBI total.
Heath grounded to 3B and Hofstra got the force at 2nd, but the turn throw went off the 1B glove and DeBernardis ran home for the run.
Jacobs hit a fly down the right field line that was misjudged by the RF and dropped for an RBI single. Heath scored and Jacobs advanced to second on the play.
Eramo worked a walk. The Lions have runners on first and second with two outs.
Glantz steps up to the plate for his second AB since his shoulder injury. He bunted yesterday, so this should be the first time we see him swing.
Glantz flies out to CF and the inning is over.
2 Runs, 2 Hits, 2 Errors, 2 LOB
Hofstra 1, Penn State 2.
Herring's first pitch is an 87 mph fastball ripped to left field for a double. It carried over Eramo's head.
Matt Watkins grounded out to 2B, while Prokopowicz advanced to third.
Walraven grounds out ot SS, but it was enough to score Prokopowicz from third. Hofstra has an early 1-0 lead.
Paquette hits a grounder to SS, but Glantz's throw is low and gets by DeBernardis for an E6.
Kenny keeps the inning alive with a single through the right side. Hofstra has men on 1st and 2nd.
Flynn grounds out 2B to end the inning.
1 Run, 2 Hits, 1 Error, 2 LOB
Hofstra 1, Penn State 0.
Penn State is wearing the all-white uniforms, while Hofstra has another mix of blue and yellow.
The 2010 All-Big Ten teams were announced Friday night and include three Penn State gymnasts.
Senior Brandi Personett and freshman Sharaya Musser were awarded first team All-Big Ten.
Personett has been named first team All-Big Ten all four years while at Penn State and is hoping to garner Big Ten Gymnast of the Year honors for the second consecutive year at the conclusion of Saturday's Big Ten championships.
The senior has had an outstanding year for Penn State, highlighted by two perfect 10s on the vault, and a 39.700 all-around score against West Virginia Feb. 20. Personett is No. 5 in the nation in the all-around with a 39.263 average. She is tied for No. 2 in vault, No. 4 in the floor exercise, and tied for No. 9 on the balance beam. She is the best in the conference in the all-around and in the above three events.
Musser has had an excellent freshman campaign for Penn State. The Colorado Springs, Colo., native has performed the all-around in five meets, including a freshman record 39.600 against Michigan on March 7. Musser is No. 9 in the nation in the vault and No. 2 in the Big Ten behind Personett. She is tied for No. 5 in the conference on the uneven bars, and tied for No. 9 on the balance beam.
Additionally, the fact that Musser made the first team while Michigan's Natalie Beilstein made the second team might foreshadow that Musser will be the Big Ten Freshman of the Year.
Lion sophomore Natalie Ettl was honored on the second team. Ettl specializes on the uneven bars, and is tied for No. 9 in the nation and tied for No. 1 in the Big Ten on the event. Ettl averages a 9.865 and has a high of 9.950. She was also awarded the sportsmanship honoree for the Lions.
Here is a complete list of the All Big Ten selections:
Beam Me Up is proud to present the first-ever Daily Collegian video preview of the women's gymnastics Big Ten Championships, which will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday at St. John's Arena in Columbus, Ohio.
Women's gymnastics beat writers Jared Shanker and Jake Kaplan teamed up with last year's writers Kurt Bopp and Eric Book to break down the upcoming championships, discussing topics ranging from postseason awards, to the favorites and eventually predictions.
Here is the final installment of the three-part series.
The rundown: Fresh off a memorable Senior Night-- where the Nittany Lions swept Princeton at Rec Hall en route to clinching the EIVA Tait Division regular-season crown -- the Penn State men's volleyball team will travel to New Jersey to take on Rutgers-Newark.
Best vs Best: It's a battle of two undefeated teams -- in the EIVA, that is. The Scarlet Raiders are atop the Hay Division with a 6-0 record. The Lions, meanwhile, head the Tait Division with a 9-0 conference mark.
Scout it: The Scarlet Raiders saw a six-game winning streak snap last Saturday when they suffered a 3-0 loss to Ball State. Here are some highlights from the match, courtesy of the Rutgers-Newark athletic department. Not quite sure why they chose Cotton Eyed Joe as the background music, though. Regardless, check it out:
Prediction: Penn State 3, Rutgers-Newark 0. Just like last time -- when the Lions swept the Scarlet Raiders on Feb. 5 in a match that took just 1 hour, 24 minutes -- this one should be a cinch for Penn State.
To say the Lions were relieved to get their first win of the season on Saturday would be an understatement.
"Aww man, you have no idea," senior defenseman Earl Ross said after the game of how good if felt to win. "Two years ago St. John's did this to us when they were 0-6, and they beat us, and then they went undefeated for the rest of the season, so hopefully we can do the same."
After the game, players and families exchanged laughs and congratulatory hugs with major sighs of relief coming from everyone.
Here's a couple pictures I got of the celebration. Ross and junior Chris Hogan signed some autographs for some eager young fans.
SJU adds one more in desperation but the final score here at Jeffrey Field, 13-10 Penn State. The Lions pick up their first win of the season and are celebrating appropriately.
Thanks for tuning in Lions' fans.
The Red Storm take their final timeout with 56 seconds left. Lions have the ball and will look to kill what's left of the clock.
St. John's goalie comes way out the cage to put pressure on Hogan, but he split dodges two defenders and takes it straight to the cage. 13-10 Lions with 2:45 left.
Penn State takes their final timeout with 3:08 left.
Chris Hogan capitalizes, going for the five-hole to put the Lions up two with 4:35 remaining.
Lions to get a 1:00 man-up opportunity with 4:41 left in the game.
Basciano gets his second of the quarter to put the Lions up 11-10, their first lead since the 9:28 mark in the first when they lead 2-1.
Anthony Basciano knots the score at 10-10 on a beautiful assists from Mackrides. Lions' ball with 7:18 left.
PSU gets the 30 second man-up opportunity at the 8:11 mark.
Dolik gets the hat-trick at the 13:07 mark after an offside call on the Red Storm to tie it up at 9-9. But St. John's Garrett Mitchell puts SJU up 10-9 immediately after.
Dolik finds the back of the net for the second time this game. 9-8 SJU with 14:29 left in the game.
Lions hold the ball to finish out the third quarter. They'll get the ball to start the 4th with 47 seconds of a man-up opp. to play. Red Storm still up 9-7 heading into the final 15 minutes of play.
Billy Gribbin comes around the crease with 2:43 left in the 3rd to get his third goal of the game, cutting the SJU lead to two. Gribbin had a tight window and found it, great shot.
St. John's looks fired up coming out of the huddle. Penn State fans have brought out the cowbell to get their guys going.
Lagodich again at the 6:24 mark on a man-up goal. Again from really far out. Red Storm make it two 13 seconds with another goal to make it 9-6. Timeout Penn State with 6:11 remaining in the 3rd.
Freshman Nick Dolik comes right back with a nice goal, taking a big hit in the process. 7-6 SJU with 6:39 left.
St. John's Alex Lagodich puts the Red Storm up 7-5 with 7:19 remaining. Lagodich put it in from deep, right on the bottom right corner of the cage.
Matt Shankoff takes a big hit and is a bit slow to get up. He's still in the game, but it's something to keep an eye on.
No goals after a couple of penalties for both teams, just over nine minutes left in the third.
1:00 penalty on the Red Storm with 30 seconds remaining the half. Lions can't capitalize on the final possession of the half, but they will start the second half with the ball and a 30 second man-up opportunity. St. John's holds a 6-5 lead after 30 minutes of play.
Lions take a time out with 1:27 remaining. Hopefully they can hold onto the ball for the last shot of the half.
A Penn State turnover after they warned to keep the ball in the box and took it out. St. John's calls a time out with possession with 2:34 remaining in the half.
After a lengthy Red Storm possession, St. John's finally puts one in at the 4:31 mark to go up 6-5.
Baker was bombarded with shots after a man-up opp. at the 7:02 mark, but almost all of them were off cage.
5-5 on a pretty assist from Kyle Van Thof to Billy Lloyd on a PSU man-up goal.
Lions make a costly turnover on the offensive end, Red Storm makes the most of it with a goal with 10:29 remaining to make it 5-3. Lions come right back in nine seconds with a Danny Henneghan goal to make it 5-2 St. John's.
Big defensive stop by PSU. St. John's had a few shots but the Lions held their ground. Matt Mackrides gets a quick goal in front of the crease at the 11:44 mark of the second. 4-3 St. John's.
The Red Storm's Alex Lagodich puts them up 4-2 with just 34 seconds left in the quarter. Lions had a scoring opportunity in the waning seconds but couldn't capitalize.
St. John's gets the go-ahead goal at the 5:32 mark, 3-2 Red Storm with a man-up opportunity coming for them now. Baker makes a huge save with the Lions a man down.
Charlie Holenstein ties the game up at 7:57 for the Red Storm. Baker must've been screened, he didn't even see it.
Gribbin puts in his second of the game at the 9:58 mark, 2-1 Lions. PSU is looking sharp on the offensive end, two goals on three offensive possessions.
Freshman Billy Gribbin capitalizes on a Penn State man-up opportunity. Tied up at 1-1 with 11 minutes left in the first.
Hey there Lacrosse fans, Mike Still here at Jeffrey Field for the Penn State men's lacrosse game against the St. John's Red Storm. It's a bright and shiny day here in Happy Valley, and Crosse Check will be here to give you live updates on the action.
St. John's strikes first at the 13:00 minute mark in the first quarter. The shot came just outside of Baker's left foot, couldn't get there fast enough.
Lutz stays in to pitch the seventh and gives up a single back up the middle to Hofstra's leadoff man.
Ethan Paquette steps in, he's 2-for-2 today with a pair of singles and a walk.
Paquette hits one hard up the middle that deflects off Lutz's glove, is fielded by Picconi at second, who flips to Glantz covering the base and then onto first for the 1-4-6-3 double play.
Ford gets a base hit to keep the game alive.
But the next batter, Matt Watkins, flies out to shallow right to end the game.
Penn State wins 9-4.
0 runs, 1 hit, 0 errors, 0 LOB
Penn State 9, Hofstra 4
Searer steps in to leadoff the inning for the Lions. He's 1-for-2 so far today with a groundout and a single.
A line drive lands in right-center for a leadoff single and Penn State has the potential go-ahead run on first with nobody out.
Picconi drops a bunt down the third-base line and Hofstra's third baseman, thinking he wouldn't have a play on Picconi, let it roll hoping it would go foul, but it didn't.
The ball came to a stop on the chalk line, and Penn State has runners on first and second with nobody out.
Hofstra goes to the bullpen for the first time in this game, replacing starter Jared Rogers with Cody Normand.
Penn State also goes to the bench, sending pinch-hitter Michael Glantz to the plate to hit for Heath Johnson.
This will be the first at bat for Glantz since he separated his shoulder while diving for a ball against Dallas Baptist.
Glantz drops down a bunt and the pitcher tries to nail Searer at third, but the throw is not in time and all runners are safe.
Bases loaded with no outs in the bottom of the sixth of a tie game for leadoff man, Sean Deegan.
Lions take the lead.
After falling behind in the count, 0-2, Deegan rips a shot into right field, plating a pair of runs.
Searer and Picconi both come into score, as Glantz moves up to third on the two-run single by Deegan.
Lions lead 6-4, still no outs.
And now DeBernardis brings in both of those runners with a double to the right-center field gap.
Penn State has doubled its score already this inning and still has nobody out. Penn State leads 8-4.
Steranka flies out to left for the first out of the inning. Still a runner on second with one out for Heath, who already has three RBIs today.
Heath works a full count before grounding one through the left side for another hit, his third of the day. DeBernardis moves up to third on the play, so the Lions have runners on the corners with one out for Jacobs.
Another hit, another run.
Jacobs lines one into right field, scoring DeBernardis from third and Penn State extends its lead to 9-4.
Runners on first and second, still only one out for Mario Eramo.
Eramo lifts one high to the outfield, where the center fielder is waiting for it. Two outs.
Searer, the same one who started the inning with a hit, ends it with a strikeout.
Penn State has a huge inning to break the tie and take control of the game heading into the last inning.
5 runs, 6 hits, 0 errors, 2 LOB
Penn State 9, Hofstra 4
Yet another appearance for David Lutz, who has now pitched in 12 games this season, including today.
He gets the first hitter, Jared Hammer, to ground out to Steranka at third.
Lutz wastes no time getting another ground out, this time to Searer at second, for the second out.
Top of the order now for Hofstra, and Prokopowicz bloops the first pitch he sees into shallow center for the base hit to keep the inning alive.
Matt Hancock is pinch-hitting for Bredehoeft with a man on first and two outs for the Pride.
Lutz fires a two-strike fastball by Hancock, who swings and misses for strike three. The game moves to the bottom of the sixth, still tied 4-4.
0 runs, 1 hit, 0 errors, 1 LOB
Hofstra 4, Penn State 4
Heath leads off the inning for the Lions. Heath has 27 RBI on the year at this point. He looks at strike three on the outside corner. One out.
Rogers gets Jacobs looking as well for another strikeout.
Eramo works a two-out walk.
Eramo gets caught stealing. Hofstra pitched out to gun him down.
0 Runs, 0 Hits, 0 Errors, 0 LOB
Hofstra 4, Penn State 4.
Walter is back out for the fifth. Picconi make a nice play on a grounder up the middle, but Paquette beats the throw to first for a single.
That's it for Walter. Drew Irsfeld is coming in from the bullpen in relief.
Walter final line: 4+ IP, 4 ER, 6 H, 1 K, 2 BB.
Ford lays down a sac bunt and advanced Paquette to 2nd. One out.
Johnson makes a good attempt at a ball hit down the right field line, but it lands foul.
Watkins hits one back to Irsfeld, who looks the runner back and throws to first for the out.
Irsfeld gets ahead, 0-2, on Hagburg. He finished him off with a breaking ball for the strikeout.
0 Runs, 1 Hit, 0 Errors, 1 LOB
Hofstra 4, Penn State 4.
Heath Johnson goes after the first pitch and flies out to CF.
Deegan grounds out to 1B. He nearly beat the pitcher to the bag.
DeBernardis steps to the plate with two outs and the bases empty. He lines one down the left field line and jogs into second with a double.
Steranka is up with a chance to give the Lions the lead. He skied a ball to deep center, but it was caught for the third out.
0 Runs, 1 Hits, 0 Errors, 1 LOB
Hofstra 4, Penn State 4.
Watkins singles down the right field line.
Hagburg took a Walter pitch off the helmet and jogged down to first.
Hammer laid down a sacrifice bunt and moved the runners up to 2nd and 3rd with one out.
Kenny hit a hard grounder up the middle for a 2-RBI single. The game is tied at 4.
There's a conference at the mound with some action in the PSU bullpen.
Prokopowicz lays down a bunt and beats Steranka's throw to first for a single.
With Bredehoeft batting, Kenny steals 3rd and Prokopowicz advances to second on a ball in the dirt that trickled away from Heath.
Walter freezes Bredehoeft with a curve to strike him out. Two down with two in scoring position.
Walraven pops out to SS and the inning is over.
2 Runs, 3 Hits, 0 Errors, 2 LOB
Hofstra 4, Penn State 4.
Penn State opens up the inning at the top of the order and a chance to make something happen. Unfortunately for the Lions, the speedy Sean Deegan is unable to get on base for the power hitters behind him as he strikes out.
Joey DeBernardis hits a bouncing ball right up the middle of the field past a diving shortstop to get on base with one out.
Interesting note here at Medlar Field, we have our first right field spectators all season long. Granted it's only the second home game, but these have to be some true Penn State baseball fans to brave this weather to sit out in the outfield seats.
After a short injury break for Hofstra's coaches to come check out their shortstop (he stayed in the game as it appears nothing too serious), Jordan Steranka hits a ball that drops in the outfield for a single to put men on first and second.
Ben Heath continues his torrid hitting with a double down the third base line to bring in both base runners and take back the lead for Penn State. Heath has been the sparkplug for PSU all season long providing power and clutch hits like this one here and the RBI in the first game.
Bobby Jacobs strikes out for the second time this game for the second out of the inning.
Mario Eramo keeps things going in the inning for the Lions and strokes a single in between the center and right fielder to bring in Heath from second base for another run.
Elliot Searer picks up a single on a hit-and-run to advance Eramo to second. Searer moves to second on the throw to put both runners in scoring position with two outs.
Hofstra gets out of the inning by getting Louie Picconi to groundout.
3 Runs, 5 Hits, 0 Errors, 2 LOB
Penn State 4, Hofstra 2
The freshman Walter settles down in the third to get two quick outs after surrendering two runs in the previous inning.
I seem to have spoke too soon and jinxed Walter as he just gave up a two-out walk to put a runner on.
However, the pitcher battles back and gets Matt Ford to ground out to the second baseman Elliot Searer, who made the play on all three outs.
0 Runs, 0 Hits, 0 Errors, 1 LOB
Hofstra 2, Penn State 1
Mario Eramo leads off the inning with a walk for the Lions.
Elliot Searer bunts over Eramo to second as Penn State looks to be trying to tie this game quickly.
Louie Picconi smokes a dart to the shortstop, who was in the perfect position to snag the ball out of the air for the second out of the inning.
Heath Johnson strikes out swinging to end the inning and strand the runner on second base.
0 Runs, 0 Hits, 0 Errors, 1 LOB
Hofstra 2, Penn State 1
Ethan Paquette leads off the inning with a nice hit for Hofstra to put one on with no outs.
Matt Ford follows it up with another hit right up the middle to give Hofstra two runners early in the inning.
The Pride bunt over both hitters into scoring position and almost had the bases loaded after some confusion by the pitcher and first baseman as to whose ball it was. However, crisis was avoided and Penn State got the out.
Walter hits the ensuing Hofstra hitter to load the bases with only one out.
The freshman pitcher shows some wildness in this inning, giving up the bases loaded walk to tie the game at one.
Hofstra's next batter appears to have himself a big hit but Heath Johnson makes the diving catch to save the Lions from too much trouble. However, the Pride got another run to take the lead on the play as there was only one out.
Walter gets out of the inning with a groundout to the third baseman. Nevertheless, Hofstra was able to do some damage in the inning to take the lead.
2 Runs, 2 Hits, 0 Errors, 2 LOB
Hofstra 2, Penn State 1
Sean Deegan shows bunt to leadoff the bottom of the first but decides to swing on the next pitch and pops out into foul territory. The Pride's catcher and third baseman have a little miscommunication on the high pop up and collide in front of the Hofstra dugout. However, the catcher is able to pull in the ball for the out.
Joey DeBernardis gets real good contact on the ball and dives it to the warning track but the ball falls just short of the wall for the out.
Third baseman Jordan Steranka continues his solid weekend and hits the ball into the gap between the left and center fielder for a two-out triple. What would have been a stand up double, Steranka went for the triple and just slid underneath the tag to be called safe.
On the next at-bat, Ben Heath ropes a single over the first baseman's head for the RBI single to put PSU on the board.
A three-pitch strikeout by Bobby Jacobs ends the inning for the Lions, but not until after Penn State picked up the early lead.
1 Run, 2 Hit, 0 Errors, 1 LOB
Penn State 1, Hofstra 0
A web gem to kick off the game by Mario Eramo, who dives to catch a dropping bloop fly ball hit by Hofstra's leadoff hitter Matt Prokopowicz. A great play by the left fielder that sat out the first game and just entered the game.
Walter gets the next two batters to ground out as the Penn State defense comes out impressive. A quick start by the Lions and nice first inning by Walter.
0 Runs, 0 Hits, 0 Errors, 0 LOB
Hofstra 0, Penn State 0
We're almost underway here at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park for the second game of today's doubleheader. An interesting game earlier today, to say the least, Penn State came out with the walk-off victory. Pitcher Ryan Ignas pitched the seven-inning shutout for the win and the Lions won on a two-out rally in the bottom of the seventh, despite not getting a hit. A walk, hit by pitch, pair of steals and error lead to the win and the Lions are in position to come away with two wins today.
Starting the second game for the Lions will be John Walter, who comes into the game with an 0-3 record and 8.47 ERA. The starting lineup looks pretty similar with a few changes. Coach Robbie Wine has flip-flopped Joey DeBernardis with Jordan Steranka in the two and three spot in the lineup and replaced Luis Montesinos and Steve Snyder with Heath Johnson and Mario Eramo.
Louie Picconi leads off the inning and gets good contact on the ball. However, the senior infielder lines out to the center fielder for the first out of the inning.
We have a couple changes here with one out. Mario Eramo is pinch hitting for the Lions while Hofstra brings in a new pitcher to face the batter.
New pitcher Andrew Barbarino shows off a nice off spead pitch and gets Eramo swinging on three of four pitches for the strikout and second out of the inning.
Leadoff hitter Sean Deegan draws a two-out walk to put one on for Jordan Steranka. Wouldn't be surprised to see a steal from Deegan here. However, no need to steal here as Steranka gets nicked by the ball to draw the free pass.
Joey DeBernardis to the plate with two on and two-out, and a shot at his third walk-off hit of the season.
Deegan steals third base with three balls and no strikes on the first baseman DeBernardis. And he hits a ground ball to the third baseman who makes a nice grab but throws the ball into the dirt to give Penn State the walk-off.
An unconventional way to end the game with a walk-off error, but the Lions will take the win to snap their four-game losing streak.
We have about a 30 minute break in between games before the players come back out for the second half of the doubleheader. Stay tuned as we bring you full updates of the second game this afternoon.
Penn State 2, Hofstra 1
Ryan Ignas still in the game after only allowing three hits and one run through the first six innings. With today being a doubleheader, each game is only seven innings so if Pen State can pull out a win in the bottom of the inning the pitcher would earn himself the complete game win.
Ignas comes out strong and has himself a real quick one-two-three inning. The sophomore pitcher gets the first hitter to ground out to second baseman Louie Picconi and then gets the following two hitters to pop and fly out. We're headed to the bottom of the seventh and a chance for Penn State to walk-off with the win
0 runs, 0 hits, 0 errors, 0 LOB
Hofstra 1, Penn State 1
Joe Burg comes on in relief for Hofstra. Burg pitched one scoreless inning for Hofstra in yesterday's 7-1 rout.
Penn State has the heart of the order coming up this inning, starting with the No. 2-hitter Steranka.
A ground ball to first, however, retires Steranka. One away.
Burg apparently was in just to face Steranka, as he comes out of the game now, giving way to Jeff Guthridge, who also pitched a scoreless inning in yesterday's game.
Guthridge gave up one hit, while striking out two and walking one in yesterday's eighth inning.
The first batter he faces will be Joey DeBernardis, who flied out in his last at bat after drawing a first-inning walk.
DeBernardis welcomes Guthrdige to the game by driving one into the gap in right-center for a one-out triple.
Instead of walking Heath to set up a possible double play ball, Hofstra is electing to go after Heath.
And it backfires.
Heath lifts a fly ball to right field, which is deep enough to score DeBernardis from third on the sacrifice fly. Game tied 1-1 with two outs and nobody on in the bottom of the sixth.
The inning stays alive after Jacobs lines one the opposite way into right for a two-out hit.
Eliot Searer steps in, he's 1-for-2 so far today with a single and a fly out.
He draws the two-out walk and Penn State has a runner in scoring position with two outs for Steve Snyder, who is 0-for-2 today.
Snyder behind in the count 1-2. A pitch misses just low as Snyder is able to lay off and the count is even at 2-2. A foul ball keeps the at bat alive.
A ground ball to the shortstop is fielded cleanly and tossed to the second baseman for out No. 3 on a fielder's choice. Inning over, but not before Penn State pushes the tying run across the plate.
1 run, 2 hits, 0 errors, 2 LOB
Hofstra 1, Penn State 1
Steranka makes a sliding stop on a one-hopper, then gets up and guns down Ethan Paquette at first for the out.
Ignas ties up John Kenny on an inside, two-strike pitch for the strikeout. Two away.
A groundout gives Ignas a 1-2-3 inning, as we move to the bottom of the sixth.
0 runs, 0 hits, 0 errors, 0 LOB
Hofstra 1, Penn State 0
Picconi ready to leadoff the bottom of the fifth for the Lions. After falling behind 1-2, Picconi works a full count.
Back-to-back foul balls and the count is still full. Picconi lifts another one foul, but this one stays in play and the Hofstra first baseman makes the catch to record the out.
Montesinos grounds out to third after making contact on a check swing on the first pitch of the at bat. Two outs.
Deegan flies out to left field and the Lions go 1-2-3 in the fifth.
This is the first time today Penn State failed to have at least one man reach base in an inning.
0 runs, 0 hits, 0 errors, 0 LOB
Hofstra 1, Penn State 0
Hofstra's leadoff man comes up swinging at the first pitch, grounding out to first.
Prokopowicz hits another grounder, this one goes to Picconi at second, and there are quickly two away in the fifth.
Kevin Flynn bloops one over Picconi's head to keep the inning alive for Hofstra.
A line drive stays up just long enough for Searer to come on and make the play in right, inning over.
0 runs, 1 hits, 0 errors, 1 LOB
Hofstra 1, Penn State 0
DeBernardis set to leadoff the fourth for Penn State. He walked in his first at bat, but pops one up to the shortstop this time. One out.
In steps Penn State's biggest offensive threat this season, Ben Heath. Heath flied out to center his first time up.
He again hits one to center, but this time it's on a line and falls in for a base hit.
Catcher Bobby Jacobs bloops a soft liner over the shortstop on a two-strike pitch for Penn State's second straight hit.
Runners on first and second with one out for Elliot Searer, who had a single in his first at bat today.
Searer hits a hard line drive to right, but Elliot Hagburg barely has to move to make the play. Two outs.
With runners on first and second and two outs, Snyder steps up to the plate. He lines back to the mound that glances off the pitcher's leg, but Monaghan sticks with it and makes the play for out No. 3.
0 runs, 2 hits, 0 errors, 2 LOB
Hofstra 1, Penn State 0
Casella here to take over the live blogging for the next few innings.
Mike Walraven leads off the inning with a base hit for Hofstra, but Ethan Paquette follows that up by lining one right at Steve Snyder in center for the first out.
John Kenny hits another fly ball to Snyder in center, two outs.
In steps Elliot Hagburg, who flied out in his first at bat. After Ignas throws ball one, Walraven steals his sixth base of the season.
Hagburg draws a four-pitch walk to put two on with two outs for Matt Hancock.
Hancock lines one back through the box for an RBI single, scoring Walraven. Hancock Hagburg moves up to second on the play. Hofstra leads 1-0.
Ignas gets No. 9 hitter Scott A'Hara to ground one to Steranka at third, who steps on the base for the final out of the inning. Hofstra strikes first, taking the 1-0 lead.
1 run, 2 hits, 0 errors, 2 LOB
Hofstra 1, Penn State 0
Picconi steps up to the plate. He's batting lower in the lineup today. He hit a liner that fell in front of the right fielder for a single.
Montesinos squared around for a bunt, but the pitch tipped off his bat for a foul ball. It was heading for his head.
Picconi is out after he's picked off first base. Wine walks over to argue.
Montesinos strikes out swinging at a breaking ball lower and away. Two outs.
Deegan smokes a liner to the right-center gap that falls off the fielder's glove. Deegan speeds around to third for a triple.
Steranka flies out in foul territory for the third out.
Still no score after three innings.
Ford swings at the first pitch and grounds out to DeBernardis at 1B. One out.
Hancock works a full count and hits a ground ball to hole between SS and 3B. It was a tough play to make, but they call it an error as Montesinos can't come up with it.
A'Hara works a walk, and Hofstra has two men one with one out.
Hofstra now has the top of the order up with Prokopowicz. The Hofstra 2B flies out to LF for the second out of the inning.
Flynn hits a hopper to 3B that Steranka takes care of and throws to first for the third out.
Hofstra 0, Penn State 0.
Jacobs hits a high pop up that the SS runs down and catches in foul territory.
Searer hits a 2-0 pitch up the middle for a single. That's the first hit for either team.
Snyder fouled a pitch off in what looked like a hit and run. The count is 1-1.
Searer is caught leaning off first but get's back in time.
Searer caught stealing for the second out.
Snyder struck out swining.
No score after two innings.
Paquette grounds out to 3B for the first out of the inning.
Kenny grounds out to DeBernardis at first, who flips to Ignas covering for the out. Two down in the Hofstra second.
Hagburg is jammed and hits a weak liner that Picconi runs down and catches in shallow right.
Still no score after 1.5 innings.
Deegan steps into the box to lead off for the Lions.
Deegan grounds out to 2nd base. One down.
Steranka falls behind 0-2. After fouling a couple pitches off, he fanned on a breaking ball for Monaghan's first K of the game.
DeBernardis jumps ahead in the count and hits a high fly down the right field line that fell inches foul. He looked at a ball outside to draw a walk.
Heath works the count to 3-1 and takes a good cut but misses. With a full count, Heath flies out to center.
After one, there's no score.
The first pitch from Ignas is outside for a ball and the game is underway.
Prokopowicz works a lead off walk. (3-1)
Ignas strikes out Flynn and Jacobs throws out Prokopowicz, who was attempting to steal, at 2nd. A strike 'em out-throw 'em out double play. Two down in the first.
Walraven pops out to Picconi in shallow left field.
Hofstra 0, Penn State 0.
The start time has been pushed back to 12:35 and there are a few lineup changes for both teams from yesterday's game.
In our final installment of scouting the rest of the Big Ten in preparation for Saturday's Big Ten Championship, we take a look at the reigning champions and the favorite to win yet again: Michigan.
The No. 9 squad in the nation, and best in the Big Ten, Michigan has won 19 titles, including three straight. Michigan is No. 1 in the Big Ten on the balance beam and is conference's second-best vaulting team, behind the Nittany Lions. The Wolverines are No. 2 in the uneven bars and in the floor exercise.
Michigan's best gymnast is junior Kylee Botterman, who is No. 2 in the conference in the all-around behind Penn State's Brandi Personett. When I spoke to Michigan coach Beverly Plocki earlier in the week, she said that Botterman and Personett are neck and neck in terms of the Big Ten's most outstanding gymnast. Though Personett is probably the favorite to take home Big Ten Gymnast of the Year for the second consecutive year this year, Botterman is a sure be the favorite going into next season.
Checking in at No. 3 in the Big Ten all-around standings is Michigan's Sarah Curtis, who is a senior but will be back for a fifth year in 2011. The Wolverines' third best all-arounder is freshman Brittnee Martinez. Freshman Natalie Beilstein, who is probably the favorite for Big Ten Freshman of the Year, is No. 4 in the conference in the vault and in the floor exercise.
Plocki said her team has progressively gotten better all season long and is right where it needs to be going into Saturday's competition.
"I don't think that we have any glaring weaknesses," Plocki said. "I think that we're a pretty balanced team. At the beginning of the season we had some inconsistencies, and we have slowly but surely been able to improve those."
Penn State's best meet of the year came against Michigan at Rec Hall. In that meet, the Lions scored a 196.725, which was their best score since March 16, 2007, while Michigan scored a 196.575.
Here is a list of the rest of Michigan's 2010 meets:
Jan 9: Iowa and Bowling Green- 194.875 (1st)
Jan 20: Michigan State- 194.200 (Win)
Jan 24: at Nebraska- 194.725 (Loss)
Jan 29: at Iowa State and BYU- 196.000 (1st)
Feb. 5: at West Virginia with William and Mary- 196.400 (1st)
Feb. 13: Minnesota- 195.050 (Win)
Feb. 19: Utah- 195.725 (Win)
Feb 27: at Illinois- 196.775 (Win)
March 7: at Penn State with Maryland and Bridgeport- 196.575 (2nd0
March 12: Georgia- 196.375 (1st)
March 19: at Alabama- 196.875 (Loss)*
Season Record: 13-3, 4-1 Big Ten
Season Average: 195.780
Season RQS: 196.425
*Team's season high score
Again, just like with Illinois, Michigan is a team Penn State has already shown it can beat. The Lions need to have four solid events like they did on March 7 and the Big Ten title will definitely be within reach.
This is the last part of a five-part series where Beam Me Up counts down the top 10 gymnasts in the Big Ten. Beginning Monday, we counted down two more gymnasts every day. Monday we revealed Nos. 10 and 9; Tuesday Nos. 7 and 8; Wednesday Nos. 5 and 6 and Thursday Nos. 3 and 4.
With much anticipation, it is finally time to unveil our top two gymnasts in the conference. It's no secret and a no-brainer that the final two spots will go to Michigan's Kylee Botterman and Penn State's Brandi Personett, but in what order? Well, we are ready to answer that.
Much like her counterpart Personett, the junior Botterman recorded a 10.0 on vault this year. The feat, which came Feb. 27, was the first perfect score by a Michigan gymnast in six years. With help from her flawless vault, Botterman recorded a career-high 39.675 in the all-around. An All-American last year, Botterman has lived up to that title this year. Botterman has a season-high 9.950 on bars and floor this year and a 9.925 on beam. Botterman owns an all-around regional qualifying score (RQS) of 39.485, good for sixth place and one spot behind Personett. With a 9.895 on bars, Botterman is ninth in the country on that event and tied for first in the Big Ten. She is third on vault in the Big Ten, fourth on beam and third on floor exercise. Last weekend, she won the all-around against No. 1 Alabama with a 39.550 all-around. In the March 7 meet against Penn State, she scored a 39.500 in the all-around, which ranked third behind Personett and freshman Sharaya Musser.
No surprise here. Within the next few hours, Personett should be awarded her second-straight Big Ten Gymnast of the Year award. One of the greatest gymnasts to come through Rec Hall, Personett recorded a career high in the all-around with a 39.700 against West Virginia in February. She also has two perfect vaults this year, earning a 10.0 in a quad-meet Jan. 23 and at Pittsburgh Feb. 13. Personett has won just about every individual award possible at Penn State, winning Freshman of the Year in 2007 and Gymnast of the Year in 2009. She also has been to the NCAA Championships as an individual every year. A two-time First Team All-American, Personett is fourth in the country on floor with a 9.925 RQS. One of the best vaulters in the country, she ranks second with a 9.935 RQS, and her 9.885 on beam ranks ninth. She is first in the Big Ten in every event except bars and is tops in the conference in the all-around with a 39.495. That number ranks fifth in the country.
Ultimately, the battle for top gymnast in the Big Ten will be decided Saturday evening when the Big Ten Championships are completed and the winners make their way to the podiums.
Beam Me Up is proud to present the first-ever Daily Collegian video preview of the women's gymnastics Big Ten Championships, which will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday at St. John's Arena in Columbus, Ohio.
Women's gymnastics beat writers Jared Shanker and Jake Kaplan teamed up with last year's writers Kurt Bopp and Eric Book to break down the upcoming championships, discussing topics ranging from postseason awards, to the favorites and eventually predictions.
Here is the second installment of the three-part series. Part one was released yesterday and part three will debut tomorrow at noon.
In tonight's video, we discuss who the last two floor gymnasts should be, the key gymnast for Penn State and whether Brandi Personett needs to lead the Nittany Lions to a Big Ten title to solidify her career.
I spoke with Illinois coach Bob Starkell earlier this week and he said it took his team around a full month in the beginning of the season to get a consistent effort all around. Starkell also said if there was one thing about his team that might be considered a weakness, it's the fact they rely on four all-arounders.
"I think our weakness is that we we're asking a lot of maybe four or five young ladies that are doing an awful lot on the team," he said. "So if they make mistakes, hopefully that doesn't become a snowball effect and affect their whole competition."
I also asked Starkell what he remembered from Illinois' dual-meet at Penn State on Feb. 6. The coach said he did not get to see a lot of the Nittany Lions' routines, but he was impressed with the energy they brought at the start of the meet.
Here is a complete list of Illinois' 2010 results:
Jan. 8: at Oregon State with Air Force and Alaska- 192.850 (2nd)
Feb 12: IGI Chicago Style Invite- 194.225 (3rd out of 4)
Feb 14: Michigan State- 195.600 (Win)
Feb 20: at Minnesota- 196.325 (Win)
Feb 27: Michigan- 196.175 (Loss)
March 6: Ohio State- 196.300 (Win)
March 13: Missouri- 196.200 (Win)
March 20: State of Illinois Classic- 196.650 (1st out of 4)*
Season Record: 12-7
Season Average: 195.302
Season RQS: 196.255
*Team's season high score
Illinois will pose a threat to Penn State's hopes of winning on Saturday, but the Lions showed back in February they can perform better than the Illini when the Penn State gymnasts hit their routines like they are capable of.
As the Nittany Lions prepare for the second half of the season, it's time to take a look back at the first half and discuss what to watch for as Penn State makes a push for the NCAA tournament.
Rookie of the Half:
KB: Molly Fernandez- She leads the team in goals (16) and points (23) and has scored some of the best-looking goals of the season. The future is bright for this kid.
MM: Fernandez- This is a hard one not to agree. Her numbers say it all.
GG: Fernandez- No brainer here. Fernandez leads the team in points and goals, and she brings a new look to the Lions' offense with an eye on the net at all times.
Offensive Player of the Half:
KB: Fernandez- Not only does she lead the team in each statistical category, but she has made top teams look silly. Case in point: Against No. 2 Maryland, the freshman attacked the net, spun around a girl (who fell), spun around another (who stumbled) and still got the shot off.
MM: Theresa Zichelli- I am going with the sophomore midfielder not only because is one of the hardest workers on the team, but she is extremely well balanced. Her transitions from offense to defense make her a threat all over the field. With 10 goals for the season and 12 ground balls, I say she is just catching fire.
GG: Jen Steadman- Fernandez may lead the team in the offensive categories, but Steadman has evolved as a true leader on this team. She currently has 20 points on the season, good for second best on the team, and has dished out seven assists.
Defensive Player of the Half:
KB: Maggie Dunbar- Dunbar is quietly having a big season for the Lions as she leads in caused turnovers (11) and groundballs (22) and is a constant force in Penn State's defensive unit.
MM: Jackie Eastman- Has anyone seen this girl run? She is fast. Really fast. And she leads the team in draw controls (18). What more could you want from a defender?
GG: Eastman- A converted attacker, Eastman was forced to switch sides of the ball after an injury to Margo Josephs. Eastman has started all eight games this season and has tallied 18 ground balls. I still challenge anyone that is quicker from sideline-to-sideline in the ALC.
Game to Watch
KB: Northwestern (April 11)- No-brainer here. The five-time reigning national champs come to Happy Valley with former legend Hannah Nielssen standing on the Lions' sideline.
MM: Ohio State (April 18)- Last year the Lions beat the Buckeyes in the American Lacrosse Conference Championship game 11-7. This year, Ohio State is struggling, recently dropping in the rankings and April is the perfect time for Penn State to clobber them once again.
GG: Ohio State (April 18)- Yes the Northwestern game is huge, but the Lions have a better chance of taking down the rival Buckeyes. This game could foreshadow what is to come in the league tournament at the end of the season.
Player to Watch:
KB: Mary Dean- The junior attacker had a breakout game against Lafayette with seven points, and I don't think she'll be slowing down anytime soon.
MM: Laura Lesnick- The junior midfielder has been consistent throughout the season, and she knows how to take care of business all by herself. Lesnick is second on the team with 14 goals and will continue to be the backbone of the Lions offense.
GG: Suzanne Isidor- OK, even though she is not on the field, she has the biggest impact on this team. Isidor has talented squad that has been inconsistent with a big win against Loyola and tough losses to Virginia and Vanderbilt. If Isidor can get this team rolling they will be a dangerous opponent.
KB: 3rd ALC, Tournament berth
MM: 3rd following No.1 Northwestern and No. 2 Maryland. Hello NCAA
We are just one day away from the Big Ten Championships and for the fourth installment of our Big Ten scouting report series, we will take a look at one of the two conference teams which beat Penn State this year: Michigan State.
The Spartans are No. 25 in the nation and No. 4 in the Big Ten overall. Sparty's best event is the balance beam as they are third in the conference. They are No. 4 in vault and floor exercise, and No.6 in the uneven parallel bars.
Spartans senior Rochelle Robinson is No. 7 in the vault and the uneven parallel bars and in a tie for No. 19 on the balance beam.
Michigan State is entering the conference championship fresh off a victory against Pittsburgh. The Spartans and the Nittany Lions faced off in the season-opener in East Lansing, with Michigan State winning by a slim 193.925-193.900.
Here is a complete list of Michigan State's 2010 results:
Jan. 15: at Iowa with Illinois-Chicago- 194.925 (1st)
Jan. 20: at Michigan- 193.750 (Loss)
Jan. 23: at Minnesota- 193.350 (Loss)
Jan. 30: Ohio State- 194.875 (Win)
Feb. 7: Eastern Michigan, Central Michigan, Western Michigan- 194.550 (2nd)
Feb. 14: at Illinois- 195.500 (Loss)
Feb. 20: New Hampshire- 194.175 (Win)
Feb. 26: Oklahoma- 194.125 (Loss)
March 12: at Cal State Fullerton- 194.850 (Win)
March 14: at UCLA with Cal State Fullerton- 195.950 (2nd)*
March 20: Pittsburgh- 194.975 (Win)
Season Record: 12-6, 3-3 Big Ten
Season Average: 194.538
Season RQS: 194.950
If any team outside of Michigan, Illinois or Penn State has a chance at cracking the Top 3 it's the Spartans, but they will have to have their best performance of the year and hope that one of the Top 3 teams falters.
Ambrose gets his turn right before match point, and after a nice cheer, the Lions seal the sweep and clinch the EIVA regular season title. We're headed down to the floor. Check Above the Net and Collegian Web site for complete coverage.
Now, it's Lipsitz's turn. He's replaced by Alan Mars and again, a huge applause for the senior.
Lions up 26-21 and Pavlik subs frosh Tom Comfort in for Price.
The senior opposite gets a loud ovation. He salutes the crowd on the way to the bench.
23-21 Penn State up. Princeton wins a long rally to come within two. But in the middle of that point, Del Valle slides nearly 10 feet across the court for a beautiful diving dig. The crowd, who seems to have a little personality here in the third set, claps immediately in appreciation.
Lions are clearly relaxed. With a 18-16 lead, they're called for double contact. Instead of frustration, they're just laughing. Goas, who has been smiling for most of the third set, looks to be teasing Turko who had the last touch. This match seems to be all but over.
Sunder just ripped the ball past the Princeton backcourt to give the Lions a 16-14 lead. I swear I could hear the swish of that ball all the way from the press box.
With the score knotted at 11, Ambrose jumps up towards the far left side of the net and solo blocks a Princeton kill attempt.
"Aaaambrose!!!" shouts P.A. announcer Dean Devore as the Rec Hall crowd erupts in perhaps the largest cheer of the night.
Third set underway and the Lions have an early 4-3 lead.
Jason Ambrose subbed in for Ryan Wolf to begin the set. And the senior, making his second appearance of the season, is already showing why he is important to this team. A Michael Dye hit floats to the Lions' baseline and the 6-foot-5 outside hitter runs back to track it down, diving just inches away from the cheerleaders' feet.
He didn't get the ball, but he did get a nice ovation from the crowd, and his teammates.
Max Lipsitz closes out game two with a strong block that finally gets a bit of a rise out of the PSU faithful.
Penn State takes the set 30-24 and is one set away from the EIVA Tait Division title and from winning the right to host the EIVA Championship.
I have to sympathize with Will Price, who said last week he thinks Rec Hall, in more words, could be a much more energized environment. After a powerful Joe Sunder kill, the crowd politely claps. No hollers, no cheers. Just a round of light applause for what looked like a shot out of a cannon.
Either way, Penn State looks to have its foot on the Tigers throat, up 27-23 and looking to take a 2-0 lead.
Another one-handed dig from Del Valle goes in vain after the resulting swing gets blocked. Still, Penn State continues to dominate in the stretch, and they are up 24-20.
Penn State does just what Pav expects from his players and goes on a 3-0 run. 20-18 in PSU's favor and the Tigers will try to regroup during a timeout.
Princeton is on a bit of a run, 15-15. A block by Jeff McCown falls to the floor on the Lions side of the net, and Princeton takes a lead, 16-15.
A Will Price kill draws the score back even. A real back-and-forth battle here in the second. This is where coach Mark Pavlik has said he expects his team to step up the energy to pull away from opponents.
A net violation on Princeton brings the score to 15-13 in PSU's favor.
Del Valle shows why many consider him one of the most talented defensive players in the nation. On a Princeton swing, Del Valle falls sideways onto his hip and throws out his right fist for a successful dig. It took a second for the crowd here to realize the libero was able to save that one.
Penn State up 14-11.
A soft Price swing falls onto the center of the Tigers side of the court, 8-6 Penn State.
An interesting note: in the first set, it was freshman middle hitter Nick Turko, not senior Max Lipsitz, who saw the most sets in the middle. Goas set up Turko six times and he connected on five of those attempts.
That being said, Turko scores a kill here in the second followed by a smash from Lipsitz. 11-9 PSU up.
Joe Sunder smashes a successful kill to draw the score to 4-4, and a point later Goas throws up a block that dribbles over the net onto the Tigers' side of the net. 6-5 now Penn State.
Penn State falls behind quickly 3-1.
Set, Lions. They looked comfortable, they looked happy and they looked like EIVA champs. They out-blocked the Tigers 5-1, out-aced them 4-3 and out-hit them by more than .400 -- .500 to .091.
I'm going to hand things off to my esteemed colleague, Mr. Eddie Gentile, for the second set.
And just like that, Penn State creates that much-needed separation. 28-20 and the Lions look poised for the set -- and maybe the sweep.
It's senior night, but a freshman is shining.
Turko, oft reserved, is having a breakout performance. He's tallied a match-high five kills on five attempts, including a service ace.
On his last point -- a kill to stretch Penn State's lead to three at 18-15 -- the 6-foot-5 Lewisberry native pumped his fist as a grin widened across his face. He clearly looks comfortable out there.
Turko scores three consecutive points -- two kills and a block with Sunder -- to propel the Lions on a 3-0 run. They're up 17-14 and Princeton coach Sam Schweisky calls a timeout looking to keep his guys focused.
So far, the Tigers are doing everything they need to do for the upset. They only have two errors. But the Lions are hot. They're hitting .450 and have yet to a record a service error -- the team's biggest weakness.
The game's still tied, this time at 14, and it looks like neither team is ready to create separation.
Nick Turko tallies a kill to knot the score at eight early in the first set. The Tigers looked pretty pumped up tonight. With a win, they keep they stay in the fight for the conference crown.
But if Penn State takes it -- like it did Feb. 26 when it swept Princeton in New Jersey -- they'll clinch the Tait Division, a quarterfinal bye and home-court advantage throughout the EIVA Tournament.
Emily Kaplan at Rec Hall as the Penn State men's volleyball takes on Princeton it a battle of the top two teams in the EIVA Tait Division.
It's Senior Night and three players -- Jason Ambrose, Max Lipsitz, Will Price -- and manager Chris birch were honored in a pregame ceremony.
Running a little late so I'll just get right into the starting lineups:
Just about twenty minutes until the first serve at Rec Hall. It's Princeton against Penn State in a battle of the top two teams in the EIVA's Tait Division. With a win, the No. 6 Nittany Lions can clinch the division, a quarterfinal bye and homecourt advantage throughout the EIVA Tournament next month.
Here's assistant coach Jay Hosack with a pregame comment:
Penn State starts Big Ten play this weekend when it plays Minnesota at home at 2 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. Sunday from Nittany Lion Field. The Nittany Lions enter this weekend 18-8, leaving them just one win shy of tying last season's mark. Penn State is 16-29 against Minnesota all-time but hasn't played the Gophers at home since 2006. Penn State did split the two meetings against Minnesota last season,
however, with both contests ending 1-0. Jackie Hill struck out a
combined 15 in the split.
Robin Petrini's club has lost its last two Big Ten openers but both were on the road, losing 7-3 to Illinois in 2009 and 5-4 to Purdue in 2008.
The Golden Gophers (14-20) have won a season-best three straight and are led by junior Malisa Barnes (.336-2-12) at the plate and freshman Lacey Middlebrooks (14-9, 2.23) on the mound.
Statistical breakdown (with MIN playing eight more games): Batting: Edge PSU, .282 to .226 Home Runs: Edge PSU, 17 to 14 Extra-base hits: Edge PSU, 54 to 46 Steals: Edge PSU, 26-for-32 to 13-for-19 Errors: Edge PSU, 31 to 50 ERA: Edge PSU, 2.27 to 3.57
Check the Collegian online later for a final game update and be sure to check back for coverage of tomorrow's doubleheader. First pitch is scheduled for 12:05 p.m. at Medlar Field.
Luis Montesinos will pinch-hit to start the ninth inning. Montesinos has just two hits in 20 at bats this season.
Montesinos works the count full and then takes ball four on a pitch low and away.
Another pinch-hitter comes up for Penn State, as Jack Greenberg gets his fifth at bat of the season. Greenberg is 0-4 so far this season with three strikeouts.
Second full count in a row, but this one ends in a strikeout, as Greenberg goes down looking.
The third pinch-hitter of the inning steps up for Penn State with senior Gordon Atkisson getting his first career at bat.
Like the first two batters this inning, Atkisson works the count full before chopping a ball to the right side.
The first baseman bobbles it, but recovers in time to flip it to the pitcher covering for the second out.
Down to their final out, the Lions have Sean Deegan coming to the plate. Deegan has a pair of singles in the game in our at bats.
Deegan draws the walk and the game continues as Louie Picconi steps in with runners on the corners and two outs.
Picconi flies out to right and the game is over. Hofstra wins 7-1.
0 runs, 0 hits, 0 errors, 2 LOB
Alfreno comes out to start the ninth, but leaves after only pitch - a ball - to Eliot Hagburg. Calvin Grumley takes over on the mound for the Lions, who trail 7-1.
It's unclear as of now why Alfreno left the game after one pitch, but we'll look into it after the game and update as soon as we have any new information.
Grumley gets the leadoff man to pop up to second, one away to start the ninth.
After walking Mike Walraven, Grumley gives up a hit to Paquette, his second of the day.
Hofstra has men on first and second with one out for John Kenny, who is 2-4 on the day with a pair of singles.
Kenny goes down swinging for the second out of the inning.
In steps Matt Hancock, who takes over for Michael Beers at DH.
Hancock lines one to center, but it's right at Snyder, who makes the catch to end the inning.
0 runs, 1 hit, 0 errors, 2 LOB
Jeff Guthridge takes over on the mound for Hofstra. Guthridge is making his eighth appearance of the season for the Pride, going 0-1 with a 9.82 ERA over 11 innings of relief.
Picconi strikes out looking to start off the eighth for the Lions. Another inside-corner pitch called a strike by the umpire and another batter not happy with the call. But still, one out, nobody on.
Steranka lines one up the middle for a base hit and the Lions have a base runner on Steranka's third hit of the day.
Heath goes down looking on an inside pitch. Two outs now as DeBernardis steps in.
DeBernardis works a walk and the Lions have two on with two outs for Mario Eramo. Eramo is 0-3 today with a strike out, ground out and fly out.
Eramo gets ahead in the count 3-1.
The 3-1 pitch is lifted into center, though, and the center fielder comes in to make the play ending the inning and the threat.
0 runs, 1 hit, 0 errors, 2 LOB
Alfreno stays in the game to pitch to Michael Beers, who leads off the inning for Hofstra. Beers is 0-3 so far today with a strikeout and a pair of groundouts.
Beers strikes out looking at a pitch on the inside corner. Beers has a short chat with the umpire on his way back to the dugout about the location of the pitch, but it's a strikeout nonetheless.
Matt Ford chops one up the middle, it deflects of Alfreno's barehand for a hit. Hofstra has a man on first with one out.
A 1-1 pitch from Alfreno deflects of Heath's glove and bounces away, allowing Ford to move up to second. The batter, Hammer, hits another one back to Alfreno at the mound, but Alfreno is able to stick with it after it again deflects off him and make the play for the second out.
Ground ball to the right side deflects off Searer at second base and into right field. Hofstra takes a 7-1 lead and has now scored a run in four straight innings.
The next batter grounds out on yet another chopper back to the mound and the inning is over.
1 run, 0 hits, 2 errors, 1 LOB
Heath Johnson set to lead off for the Lions. Johnson is 0-2 so far today, striking out to end the second and grounding out to start the fifth.
After falling behind 0-2, Johnson works the count even before ripping a base hit through the left side. The Lions have their leadoff man on base to start the seventh.
Searer comes up swinging at the first pitch and flies out to right. One away.
Snyder grounds one to short, but it's too slow to turn the double play. Hofstra settles for getting Johnson at second on the fielder's choice.
Snyder on first with two outs now for the top of the order in Sean Deegan.
Deegan rips a pitch down the right-field line, but it's foul. The ball easily cleared the fence, but Deegan was out in front of it just a bit too much.
Deegan strikes out two pitches later on the changeup and the inning comes to an end with Snyder stranded on first.
0 runs, 1 hit, 0 errors, 1 LOB
New pitcher for Penn State as Mike Pierce takes the mound.
Hits Prokopowicz with his first pitch and Hofstra has its leadoff man on base.
Flynn follows that up with a shot to the left side of the infield. Picconi makes the stop, but has no play and the Pride have runners on first and second with no outs.
A shot into left field and Hofstra has the bases loaded with nobody out for its cleanup hitter, Ethan Paquette.
Wine walks out to the mound and that will be it for Pierce. Jesse Alfreno will come on in a bases-loaded, no out jam for the Lions.
Pierce faces three hitters, retiring none after hitting one batter and giving up a pair of hits.
Paquette lines one into left-center, but Deegan tracks it down to record the first out. Prokopowicz tags up on the play and comes into score. Hofstra leads 6-1.
Alfreno quickly falls behind in the count to John Kenny, 3-0. A called strike keeps Alfreno alive, before a ground ball turns into an inning-ending double play.
Kenny bounced one to second, where it was flipped to Picconi covering the base and relayed onto first for out No. 3.
1 run, 2 hits, 0 errors, 2 LOB
Steranka leads off for Penn State.
Steranka hits a liner that clears the right field wall for his third Home Run of the season. Penn State is on the board but trails 5-1.
Heath checked his swing and nearly singled, but he was thrown out on a nice play by the 2nd baseman.
DeBernardis worked the count full before flying out to right field. The ball hung up long enough for Hofstra's Paquette to run it down.
Eramo grounds out to SS to end the inning.
Hofstra 5, Penn State 1 after six innings.
Wanamaker is back out for the sixth. His pitch count must be over 100.
Kenny leads the inning off with a single to right field.
Kenny was running on the 1-1 pitch, but it was fouled off.
Wanamaker is throwing over to first a lot. He may be giving Pierce time to warm up in the bullpen.
Wanamamker strikes out Beers for the first out of the inning.
Kenny continues to barely beat the pickoff attempts and remains put at first.
Ford singles through the hole between 2nd and 1st and Kenny advances to third. Hofstra has runners on the corners with one out. PSU coach Robbie Wine walks out to the mound. He's leaving Wanamaker in. This is a lot of work on such a cold day.
Hammer is up with a chance to extend the lead. He smacked a fly ball down the left field line, but it landed inches foul.
Hammer hit a slow hopper to 2nd, and the Lions couldn't turn the double play. The runner was retired at 2nd, but a run scored. Hofstra now leads 5-0.
Another slow roller is fielded by Searer at 2nd and he throws A'Hara out at 1st for the third out.
Hofstra 5, Penn State 0.
Johnson grounded out to 3rd for the first out.
Searer works a walk on five pitches.
Miley Cyrus is playing, which means one thing. Steve Snyder is coming to the plate.
Searer swipes second, and Snyder is up in the count, 2-0.
Mike Pierce is warming up in the PSU bullpen. Wanamaker should be finished.
Snyder draws a walk. PSU has two men on with one out. Hofstra has a conference at the mound.
Deegan is up. He's 1-2 so far. He singles on a bunt down the third baseline. The pitcher was unable to handle it cleanly.
The bases are loaded for Picconi.
A great catch by Hofstra first baseman Jared Hammer put an end to the PSU threat. He doubled off Deegan at first, who had no chance to get back to the bag. You could call him the Akron Hammer with the ups he showed to snag what looked like a sure double down the line.
Hofstra 4, Penn State 0 after five innings.
Ford hit a liner that tailed back to CF Steve Snyder and was caught for the first out.
Hammer nailed one up the middle out of the reach of Picconi. He's stands at first with a one-put single.
Hammer was caught in no-man's land between first and third. He was tug out by DeBernardis for the second out.
A swining bunt by A'Hara couldn't be fielded in time by Wanamaker and A'Hara is one with a single.
During Prokopowicz' at-bat, A'Hara is nearly picked off, but the umpire declares him safe. The count goes full after several fouls and pickoff attempts. Prokopowicz works a walk. Hofstra has runners at 1st and 2nd with two outs.
Flynn hit a hard grounder up the middle that hit the umpire. Picconi may have had a chance at fielding it, but it deflected into center. A runner crossed the plate, but he was ruled back because you can only advance one bag after it hits an ump. The bases are now loaded.
Walraven works ahead in the count, 2-1, before fouling a ball back. Walraven just gets a piece of one to keep the AB going. The count is full and the runners should be going. Baseball doesn't get any better than this, folks. Walraven is fouling everything back. After a long AB, Wanamaker walks in a run. Hofstra now leads, 4-0.
Paquette grounded out to 2nd on the first pitch to end the top half of the inning.
Hofstra 4, Penn State 0.
A very odd AB. Picconi lined out to 3rd but there was some confusion whether the ball was caught or not. Either way, Picconi was retired to start the inning.
Steranka hit a liner between the infielder on the right side that fell in front of the right fielder for a single.
Heath ripped a ball just inside the 3rd baseline for a double. Steranka advanced to 3rd and the Lions have two runners in scoring position. This is their best chance of the game.
DeBernardis hit a slow roller off the end of the bat that the P D'Errico fielded. He tug DeBernardis out without letting the runners advance. Two outs now with runners on 2nd and 3rd.
Eramo hit a slow chopper that was fielded by the 1st baseman. The Lions fail to get any runners across the plate despite having two in scoring position.
Hofstra 3, Penn State 0 after four innings.
Paquette hits a high pop that DeBernardis caught near the mound for the first out.
Kenny hits a grounder to SS that Picconi charges and flips to first for the second out.
Picconi gets another chance and throws Beers out at first. Wanamaker has really settled down after the 3-run first.
Hofstra 3, Penn State 0.
Elliot Searer flies out to the Hofstra left fielder, who trips up to catch the ball from his knees.
Freshman Steve Snyder softly grounds out for the second out and Sean Deegan grounds out as well to complete a quick inning.
Hofstra 3, Penn State 0 after three innings.
Hofstra leads off the inning with a fly ball that drops in between Penn State's left and center fielder to put one on.
Catcher Kevin Flynn flies out to the right fielder for the first out of the inning.
Ben Heath guns down the Hofstra baserunner on an attempted to steal for the second out.
Wanamaker gets out of the inning, striking out Mike Walraven for his third K so far.
Hofstra 3, Penn State 0 going into the bottom of the third inning.
First baseman Joey DeBernardis grounds out to the Hofstra shortstop for the first out of the inning.
Hofstra's pitcher strikes out Mario Eramo swinging and shows off a nice offspeed pitch.
David D'Errico strikes out another Penn State batter in Heath Johnson. Hofstra responds with a quick inning themselves to wrap up the second inning.
Hofstra 3, Penn State 0 after two innings.
Wanamaker strikes out Matt Ford to open up the second inning.
Scott A'Hara hits a high fly ball to second baseman Elliot Searer for the second out of the inning.
The senior starter gets his second strikeout of the inning by getting Hofstra's ninth hitter down swinging.
Wanamaker looks to be calming down after a rough first inning with a quick 1-2-3 second inning.
Hofstra 3, Penn State 0 going into the bottom half of the second
Sean Deegan shows off his speed after racing out a routine ground ball to the shortstop to start off the inning.
Louie Picconi attempts a drag bunt and appears to beat the throw but gets called out while advancing the runner.
Head coach Robbie Wine comes out to talk to the umpire but jogs back to the dugout after about a minute.
Third baseman grounds out to Hofstra's first baseman for the second out while moving Deegan to third.
The inning ends with one man left on base after Ben Heath lines out to the shortstop.
Hofstra 3, Penn State 0 after one inning.
Wanamaker gets Hofstra's leadoff hitter Matt Prokopowicz to fly out to center fielder Steve Snyder for the first out of the game.
Kevin Flynn ropes a liner above second baseman Elliot Searer's head to drop in for a hit to put one on with one out.
Hofstra gets another hit off a Mike Walraven single up the middle on a sharply hit ball, giving the Pride a man on second and first.
Ethan Paquette smacks a double into the gap for an RBI to give Hofstra the early lead.
John Kenny hits a hard ball into the outfield in between the second baseman and shortstop to bring in two more runs. Ben Heath throws out Kenny trying to sneak into second after the second player scored for the second out.
Shortstop Louie Picconi makes a nice running grab to throw out Michael Beers to get out of the inning.
Hofstra 4, Penn State 0 going into the bottom of the first inning
Good afternoon baseball fans. Alex Angert here to take you through the first three innings of today's home opener from the press box here at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park. A great day for baseball with clear skies and the sun shining down from above, we're minutes away from the first pitch.
Penn State comes into this game with a 6-11 record after an upsetting loss against Pittsburgh on Wednesday but are hopeful to turn things around on its own field. Starting for the Nittany Lions are as follows:
1. Sean Deegan- left field
2. Louie Picconi- shortstop
3. Jordan Steranka- Third base
4. Ben Heath- Catcher
5. Joey DeBernardis- First base
6. Mario Eramo- Designated Hitter
7. Heath Johnson- Right field
8. Elliot Searer- Second base
9. Steve Snyder- Center fielder
And pitching for the Lions is team ace Mike Wanamaker. The senior pitcher, coming off of major injury, has gone 1-1 on the season so far with a 4.50. It will be interesting to see how he fares against Hofstra today. Stay tuned for more updates.
As it stands right now, Penn State would open the season on the road at Pitt on Oct. 1 and 2, with the home opener against Drexel on Oct. 8. Also included is a rematch with the team that knocked the Icers out of the tournament, Central Oklahoma, at Greenberg for two games Oct. 15-16. The weekend following the ESCHL Playoffs is currently an opponent to be determined. Robert Morris filled that weekend this season, but the Colonials are joining the ESCHL for next season.
Some other key schedule dates:
Icers/Ohio - @ Penn State Oct 22-23, @ Ohio Jan. 7-8, 2011
Icers/Rhode Island - @ Rhode Island Nov. 12-13, @ Penn State Feb. 4-5, 2011
Icers/Delaware - @ Penn State Dec. 3-4, @ Delaware Jan. 28-29, 2011
After last night, in which sophomore pitcher Lisa Akamine completely dominated Saint Francis (Pa.) I think it's time we take a look at how Akamine's season has played out.
It's been a very up and down year for the young pitcher, who had some struggles on the hill this season.
vs. Colorado State: ND. 3.0 ip, 8 ER, BB, 7 K
vs. New Mexico State: ND. 0.2 ip, 1 hit, 0 runs,
vs. UTSA: W (1-0). 7.0 ip, 9 hits, 4 runs, 3 ER, 3 BB, 9 K
vs. Nebraska: L (1-1). 2.0 ip, 7 hits, 6 runs, 5 ER, BB, K
vs. Western Kentucky: L (1-2). 6.2 ip, 6 hits, 4 ER, 6 BB, 8 K
As you can see here, Akamine stumbled out of the gate, surrendering 20 ER in just five appearances. The Nebraska game was a major one for Akamine, who allowed six runs in the sixth inning as Penn State blew a 6-5 lead.
Even in Akamine's lone win against UTSA, the sophomore allowed 12 baserunners over seven innings, or almost two baserunners per inning. Not a good average at all.
vs. Utah State: ND. 2.0 ip, 0 hits, 0 runs, 2 K
vs. Towson: W (2-2). 3.0 ip, 2 hits, ER, BB, 4 K
vs. Delaware: W (3-2). 5.1 ip, 1 hit, ER, 5 K
vs. Morehead State: W (4-2). 3.0 ip, 0 hits, 0 runs, K
vs. Florida Gulf Coast: W (5-2). 5 hits, 3 runs, ER, 2 BB, 7 K
vs. FIU: L (5-3). 7.0 ip, 7 hits, 5 runs, 2 ER, 5 BB, 2 K
vs. Central Michigan: ND. 1.0 ip, 0 hits, 0 runs, K
vs. Saint Joseph's: W (6-3). 7.0 ip, 7 hits, 3 runs, ER, 4 BB, 8 K
vs. Boston College: W (7-3). 6.2 ip, 5 hits, ER, 3 BB, 8 K
vs. Saint Francis (Pa.): ND. 5.1 ip, 2 hits, 7 K
vs. Saint Francis (Pa.): W (8-3). 6.0 ip, 3 hits, 7 K
However, as you can see, since then, Akamine has been nothing short of solid for Penn State. The sophomore has gone 7-1 in this span, starting on Feb. 20. Akamine's lone loss was a 5-0 loss to FIU, but other than that, Akamine has had her stuff going for the better part of a month.
Wednesday night was a masterful performance by the sophomore. She was in control and just cruised through the Red Flash's lineup. While Penn State didn't win the first half of the doubleheader, Akamine kept the Nittany Lions in the game and gave them a chance to crawl back into it.
It'll be interesting to see how Akamine carries the momentum over if she pitches this weekend against Minnesota. If recent history is any indication, the sophomore should be solid once again for Penn State.
The junior all-arounder from Schaumburg, Ill., introduced herself to the country at the NCAA Regionals last season when she tied for first on the balance beam with a 9.950. This year, Buckley ranks fourth in the Big Ten with 39.330 regional qualifying score (RQS) in the all-around. On the four events, Buckley ranks fifth on vault (9.880), 13th on bars (9.815), seventh on beam (9.840) and fourth on floor exercise (9.880). Buckley had her best performance of her career when the Illini squared off with Penn State. Buckley recorded a 39.525 in the all-around and won the vault over Penn State's Brandi Personett with a 9.900. She also finished second on beam and fourth on bars and floor.
Illinois coach Bob Starkell: "She's performing better this year than she has her previous two years. She's definitely a leader by example. What she does in practice, she carries in to the competition."
Though Curtis is a senior, her Michigan career is not be over. Because Curtis was injured for most of her freshman year, Michigan coach Beverly Plocki confirmed Curtis will be back for a fifth year next season. Curtis has had a spectacular career. As a sophomore in 2008, Curtis won bars at the Big Ten Championships. Curtis owns a career-high 39.600 in the all-around, which she also set her sophomore season. Curtis' season high this year is a 39.450, which she set against Penn State March 7. Curtis owns a season high of 9.9-plus on every event but beam, which she has a 9.875 on. With a 39.350 RQS, Curtis is third in the Big Ten in the all-around. She's sixth on vault (9.870), fifth on bars (9.860) and seventh on floor (9.860).
Make sure to check back tomorrow night for Beam Me Up's top two gymnasts in the Big Ten this season, just before the Big Ten coaches announce their choice for Big Ten Gymnast of the Year.
For the third installment of our Big Ten scouting reports, we will take a closer look at the Iowa Hawkeyes.
Iowa has the sixth-best Regional Qualifying Score (RQS) in the Big Ten and is coming off two straight losses against LSU and Southeast Missouri State. The Hawkeyes are No. 6 in the conference in each event, except for in the floor exercise, where they are No. 5.
The Hawkeyes are led by Rebecca Simbhudas, who is seventh in the Big Ten with a 39.200 RQS in the all-around. Houry Gebeshian and Jessa Hansen are ranked Nos. 11 and 13 in the all-around in the Big Ten. All three could pose threats to place in the Top 5 on Saturday.
Penn State and Iowa did meet this season on Jan 23. The meet was the Nittany Lions' home opener and was also their first victory of the season. After seeing Iowa's capabilities in that meet and looking at their scores for the rest of the season, it is evident the Hawkeyes will have a tough time placing in the Top 3 in the Big Ten Championships.
Here is a complete list of Iowa's meets this season.
Jan. 9: at Michigan with Bowling Green- 193.200 (2nd)
Jan 15: Michigan State with UIC- 192.225 (2nd)
Jan 23: at PSU with Cornell and Yale- 192.175 (2nd)
Jan 30: Illinois- 192.950 (Loss)
Feb 6: Ohio State- 194.925 (Win)
Feb 21: Iowa State- 193.825 (Loss)
Feb 28: Minnesota- 194.200 (Loss)
March 5: at Iowa State- 195.175 (Win)
March 7: Southern Utah- 195.300 (Win)
March 12: at LSU- 195.400* (Loss)
March 19: at Southern Missouri State- 193.625 (Loss)
Beam Me Up is proud to present the first-ever Daily Collegian video preview of the women's gymnastics Big Ten Championships, which will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday at St. John's Arena in Columbus, Ohio.
Women's gymnastics beat writers Jared Shanker and Jake Kaplan teamed up with last year's writers Kurt Bopp and Eric Book to break down the upcoming championships, discussing topics ranging from postseason awards, to the favorites and eventually predictions.
Here is the first installment of the three-part series. Part two will be released tomorrow night and part three Saturday morning.
Comparing last year's team to this year's
The best- and worst-case draw for Penn State
Musser vs. Beilstein for Big Ten Freshman of the Year
Check back tomorrow as we continue to preview Saturday's meet
Before tomorrow night's men's volleyball team's match with Princeton, the fans at Rec Hall will stand up and clap to honor three players on Senior Day.
All-American Max Lipsitz. All-American Will Price. And Jason Ambrose.
Ambrose's time at Penn State didn't quite go as expected. He came in four years ago as a prized recruit. And as his collegiate career wraps up, he's seldom seen playing time. But the 6-foot-5 outside hitter from Barrington, Ill., has not a single regret.
There's a full-length feature on Ambrose in tomorrow's Daily Collegian. But here at Above the Net, we're bringing you an exclusive sneak peek.
Listen as Ambrose discusses what his life would be like had he gone to another EIVA school:
The Red Storm hold a 2-4 record as a program against Penn State. The two teams first met back in 1939 in a 12-7 St Johns win when current Penn State coach Glenn Thiel's father, Nick Thiel was at the helm. The two teams took a 66-year hiatus from competition until 2005 when they both found themselves in the ECAC Lacrosse League. Last year, Penn State got the best of the Red Storm in a 12-11 overtime thriller.
What they've done so far:
Saturday's match up will be St. John's second game this week, having lost to No. 6 Hofstra on Tuesday, 13-4. All four of the Red Storm's losses this season have come at the hands ranked opponents. No. 10 Georgetown, No. 12 Stony Brook and No. 16 Drexel have all gotten the best of St. John's. Here's a look at some highlights of the game against Georgetown.
Senior midfielder Garrett Mitchell and sophomore attackman Harry Kutner are tied for the team led in points with 13 a piece. The 6-foot-2, 177 pound Mitchell leads the team in goals with ten, and Kutner has a team-high eight assists.
The Red Storm have an experienced group of longpoles, with three players that have each started every game this season. Junior Dan Cremens is tied for second on the team with 23 ground balls, fellow junior Mike Sherry has scooped up 16 of his own and 6-foot-3 senior Jerry Nevin provides strength and size.
Two goalies have shared time between the pipes this season for St. John's. Senior Gavin Buckley has seen the bulk of the action in five starts, but true freshman Jeff Lowman has also contributed recently, having gotten the start against Hofstra. The duo has combined to give up 10.75 goals a game for a .516 save percentage this season.
Key to the game:
-The second half: The Red Storm have scored 47 goals all year. Just three of those 47 have come in the third quarter of play. The Lions need to come out firing in the third quarter and exploit St. John's inability to get things rolling in the second half.
-Man-up Opportunities: St. John's sports a dismal 16.1 man-up conversion percentage. In 31 opportunities this year, it's capitalized on just five of them. The Lions are converting 30.4 percent of their man-up opportunities and will need to take advantage of any extra-man situations they get.
Elsewhere in the NCAA:
-Game of the week: No. 4 Maryland at No. 3 North Carolina, Saturday, 2 p.m. - It's a battle of ACC powerhouses, unbeaten rivals and stand out junior attackmen on Saturday. The unbeaten Terrapins (6-0) and Grant Catalino head to Chapel Hill to take on Billy Bitter and the undefeated Tar Heels (8-0).
-Player to watch: Hofstra's Jamie Lincoln - The junior attackman leads the Flying Dutchmen with 30 points off 17 goals and 13 assists. Lincoln also has a ridiculous .607 shot percentage and will need to keep that number up this weekend against a surging UMass team.
The Big Ten season starts this weekend, with Penn State one of six conference teams to enter play above .500. Three teams are ranked in the two major polls, the USA Today/NFCA Division I NFCA Poll and the ESPN.com/USA Softball Division I Poll: Michigan (2 USA Today/3 ESPN), Illinois (18/20) and Ohio State (22/22).
The Lions finished seventh in the Big Ten last season but have a recent history of entering conference play well above .500. Here's a breakdown of the team's record heading into the first official conference game since 2005:
The rundown: The Penn State men's volleyball team returns to Rec Hall for its last regular season home match Friday night against EIVA foe Princeton.
Clinched: With the win at Juniata on Tuesday, the No. 6 Nittany Lions claimed at least a share of first place in the EIVA Tait Division. If Penn State ends the season as No. 1, they'll secure a quarterfinal bye and home-court advantage for the semifinal and championship matches.
Going for 12: Penn State has won 11 straight EIVA titles. The last time they lost? Back in 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 39-2 all-time record against the Ivy Leaguers, including a sweep on Feb. 26.
His senior day, too: Penn State will honor three players -- Jason Ambrose, Max Lipsitz and Will Price -- in a pregame Senior Day ceremony. Also being honored? Manager Chris Birch. Birch has been with the team all four years and has been an integral part of the Lions' success.
Scouting the Tigers: Princeton, currently second in the EIVA Tait division standings, has won four of its last five matches. But the Tigers are coming off a long break -- they haven't played since March 12, a 3-2 decision over Springfield College.
Storyline to follow: Does Penn State keep building momentum? After an "embarrassing" loss to Ohio State on Sunday, the Lions have been working hard to stay focused. It began Tuesday in an easy sweep over Juniata. We'll see if they keep it up against the Tigers at home.
Prediction: Penn State 3, Princeton 0. Lions should have no trouble with this one.
Senior Brandi Personett appears poised to win consecutive Big Ten Gymnast of the Year awards. She'll find out for sure later this week.
At the Big Ten Championships banquet in Columbus, Ohio on Friday, the Big Ten Gymnast, Freshman and Coach of the Year awards will be announced. The awards are voted on by the conference's seven coaches.
While it looks as if Personett is as close to a lock as possible to win her second-straight Gymnast of the Year award, her teammate Sharaya Musser is in a tight battle for the freshman honor. Musser and Michigan's Natalie Beilstein have been the conference's top freshman this season.
So, who will leave Columbus with the award? Beam Me Up breaks down each gymnast's resume.
Natalie Beilstein ---------- Sharaya Musser
V: 9.861 (9.890) ---------- 9.866 (9.910)
UB: N/A ---------- 9.830 (9.860)
B: 9.625 (N/A) ---------- 9.653 (9.830)
FX: 9.859 (9.880) ---------- 9.505 (N/A)
All-Around N/A ---------- 38.875 (N/A)
*Season average is the score given and RQS is in parenthesis.
Beam Me Up's vote goes to ... Sharaya Musser. Our reasoning?
Musser's 39.600 in the all-around was the deciding factor. It's an impressive score for any gymnast -- even more remarkable considering it was only the third time Musser competed in the all-around this season. If it wasn't for a preseason ankle injury, Musser would have been in the all-around earlier. Beilstein's lack of a bar routine, in the end, cost her Beam Me Up's meaningless vote.
Tonight, Beam Me Up is posting Nos. 5 and 6. It was a very hard choice, picking between two of the best freshman in the Big Ten. On Friday at the Big Ten Championships banquet, the coaches will make their picks known as one will be crowned Big Ten Freshman of the Year. That battle is between Penn State's Sharaya Musser and Michigan's Natalie Beilstein.
So what do our rankings look like? Let's take a look.
The Butler, Pa., native has won or at least earned a share of the Big Ten Freshman of the Week honors five times in 2010 and is line to be one of the next great gymnasts to don the maize and blue. Beilstein has a season-high 9.950 on vault and has a 9.890 regional qualifying score (RQS) on it, which ranks fourth in the conference. She is also fourth on the floor exercise in the Big Ten, sporting a 9.880 RQS and 9.900 season high. On beam, Beilstein owns just a 9.625 average, but she has not competed it on it very often. Against No.1 Alabama this weekend, Beilstein scored a 9.875 on both vault and floor to help the Wolverines to their best score of the season, 196.875.
The reigning Big Ten Freshman of the Week, Musser is coming off a 38.950 all-around score last weekend against Nebraska. She won the vault (9.950) and bars (9.900) and tied for third on the floor exercise (9.850). This season, Musser is second in the Big Ten and ninth in the country on the vault with a 9.910 RQS. Her 9.860 on bars ranks fifth in the conference, and she is ninth on beam with a 9.830. Musser doesn't have an all-around RQS because a preseason ankle injury cost her the ability to do floor early in the season. When she did break into the all-around, she scored a Penn State freshman record 39.600. It was only the third all-around performance all season for her. Reigning Big Ten Gymnast of the Year and teammate Brandi Personett's career high in the all-around was 39.600 before topping that a few weeks into the season.
For more on the race for the Big Ten Freshman of the Year award, check back later for a breakdown of both Beilstein's and Musser's resumes.
Also, tune back in tomorrow evening as we inch closer towards releasing our top two. Tomorrow, Nos. 3 and 4 will be unveiled.
Here is the second installment of our preview for the Big Ten Championships. Up now: Minnesota.
Meg Stephenson isn't worried about her team's record. She's just glad her Golden Gophers are finally healthy.
Stephenson, whose Minnesota women's gymnastics team owns a 5-11 record, says her team is finally coming into form after preseason injuries to freshmen Jasmine Brown, Janell Campbell and Shannon Golich set the team back early.
With the freshman back in the lineup and contributing, Stephenson saw glimpses of her team's potential last weekend in a loss to Iowa State. The Golden Gophers scored a 195.300, their third-highest score of the year, and received scores of 9.775 or higher from Brown, Campbell and Golich.
"I feel like it's taken a while to get to our level," Stephenson said. "Last weekend, we were able to reach that. We were really impressed with how we did last weekend."
Since 1991, Michigan has won all but three Big Ten championships. Those three years - 1991, '98 and 2006 - the Gophers walked away with the title.
One of the youngest teams in the country, it's unlikely the Gophers will compete for the title this year and are probably a few years away from competing for a conference title.
Alexis Russell is the only senior on the team and has the best chance of any Gopher to win an individual event at the Championships at 2 p.m. Saturday. Russell ranks sixth in the Big Ten on floor (9.875 RQS), ninth on bars (9.835) and eighth in the all-around (39.130).
Kristin Furukawa could place in the top three on beam as she currently ranks eighth in the conference with a 9.835 RQS.
Two weeks after the Penn State victory, the Buckeyes beat then-No. 17 Auburn.
"Upsetting Penn State and Auburn - both teams ranked significantly higher than us - the kids are feeling like they can maybe challenge for Big Tens," Fagan said.
"To have a win against [Penn State] at home, that gave them some confidence, and I could see it building against Auburn. They were ready to compete and had a great meet."
In that meet against Penn State, however, the Lions lost sophomore All-American Whitney Bencsko in the first event. The Buckeyes still were able to take advantage of their opportunities, which is exactly what they will have to do to win this weekend.
This week has been up and down for the Nittany Lions in the win-loss column. The stats weren't too bad, even in the upset loss to Ohio State.
Much has been said about that loss to the Buckeyes, but it's time to move on to the dominating victory against Juniata Tuesday.
It's not often a individual's performance warrants the Stat Book to solely focus on him. But, the Stat Book has been opened up to the Joe Sunder page. Let's take a look.
0: Just to keep the coverage balanced, he didn't record an assist. He's not the setter, though.
1: Sunder only had one attack error all night. He also picked up an ace, a solo block and a block assist.
2: He did pick up two service errors to make a total of three points he scored for the Eagles, which is only a point a set.
5: In a match where it seemed like every Penn State player picked up a lot of digs, Sunder was no different recording five.
15: The redshirt sophomore picked up 15 kills, to lead the match despite two Juniata players being set more than him.
27: Edgardo Goas set Sunder a team-high 27 times. A sentence usually reserved for Will Price, Sunder stepped up and carried the load against the Eagles.
.519: Sunder's hitting percentage was very impressive, despite getting beat out narrowly by "Mr. Consistency" Max Lipsitz for the team lead.
Sunder has battled a little bit of the inconsistent bug while in Happy Valley and the Lions have to hope he continues on this upswing. If Penn State can count on Sunder to bring big numbers each and every night it could go a long way in determining how far this team goes this season.
Recruit Maggie Lucas added another accolade to her already impressive resume, this time being named a fourth team "Parade Magazine" All-American selection.
The 5-foot-8 shooting guard from Germantown Academy will play in the McDonald's All American game March 31 and her fourth-team selection marks the second straight year the Lions had a player receive the honor.
Freshman point guard Alex Bentley was a third-team selection last year and Lady Lion followers saw what type of impact Bentley had on the team. She was the second scorer, averaging 11.8 points per game, and her and Lucas together could be a scary combination for opposing defenses.
While Lucas is known for her ability to shoot the 3-pointer, she scored at will this season averaging 23 points and 4.5 assists per game. She finished her high school career with 2,197 points and since Germantown Academy doesn't compete in the PIAA, she led her team to its second consecutive Pennsylvania Independent Schools state title.
The highly-touted recruit leads next year's class, which is ranked No. 20 by ESPN HoopGurlz.
Tim Tebow is highly religious. Everyone is aware of this, and if you weren't, the Super Bowl commercial with his mother would have enlightened you. Tebow's missionary work is also well known, and he's seen as a good guy. However, not everyone enjoys Tebow's overzealous attempts at spreading his religion. While the Wonderlic test was being passed out to prospective NFL draft picks, Tebow asked the group if everyone would bow their heads and say a prayer. Another player reportedly shouted, "Shut the $#@% up" and everyone laughed. Tebow can enjoy his religion, but he needs to understand not everyone is accepting, and there are people of other faiths. If Tebow wants to pray, he can do it on his own. He doesn't need to force religion on others. If he can keep it to himself, he'll probably do a better job of making friends in the NFL.
Some other things important and not so important:
- The Lions are reportedly interested in Adam "Pacman" Jones. I hope there are some good strip clubs in Detrot or Pacman will be bored from not making it rain.
- Royals pitching prospect Danny Duffy announced he is leaving baseball to reassess his life priorities. Being in the Royals organization will do that to you.
- Broncos coach Josh McDaniels said Kyle Orton will be the team's starting quarterback despite the acquisition of Brady Quinn. Orton's neckbeard wholeheartedly approves.
Video of the week: Some people fail. Some people fail more than others. It's bad enough being a cheerleader for the Knicks, and it's even worse if you're not that good at it.
It Was Over When...: Penn State lost to Ohio State at Rec Hall on Sunday. The Nittany Lions received a harsh reality check when they fell to the Buckeyes in front of a national audience -- it was the first live men's volleyball game ever to be broadcast on the Big Ten Network. Coming into that match, the Lions were riding a high from a successful West Coast road trip.
But after the four-set loss, Penn State realized it was getting a little complacent.
The team used the loss as a chance to refocus. And that began Tuesday night, against an under-matched EIVA opponent.
Player of the Match: Joe Sunder. A match-high 15 kills on .519 hitting. Looks like the redshirt sophomore is starting to heat up.
Stat of the Match: 4. The number of Lions that posted eight digs in the match. It was that solid defensive effort that led Penn State to a sweep.
Surprise of the Match: Tom Comfort got some playing time. The freshman has been buried in the lineup ever since Will Price made the switch to opposite hitter. But after the Lions began to establish separation against the Eagles, coach Mark Pavlik opted to rest his senior captain and let Comfort see some court time. The Orchard Park, N.Y., native was solid, posting six kills on .333 hitting, while picking up eight digs.
Quotable: "That game was just a slap in the face" - Edgardo Goas on how his team felt after the Ohio State loss.
What's next: Senior Day. The Lions return to Rec Hall Friday night to take on Princeton. Three players -- Jason Ambrose, Max Lipsitz and Will Price -- will be honored.
Well, it's nearly a done deal. The NHL governors are close to approving a rule prohibiting headshots in the league.
From The Province in Vancouver:
The board, comprised of the owners of the 30 NHL teams, approved a proposed rule that would punish a player for "a lateral, back-pressure or blindside hit to an opponent where the head is targeted and/or the principal point of contact."
Although reports last week suggested the league would try to implement the rule before the start of the playoffs, no timetable was given as to when, or if, the rule would come into effect. The regular season ends April 11.
It is not official yet, and no punishment has been formally announced. I feel this is necessary. I love big hits and violence as much as the next guy, but headhunting has ended careers early and caused permanent damage to the victims. It's good to see the league putting this in place. My only concern is the league going too overboard with violations and punishments. I feel the attacker should be fined and suspended, but both should be judged on a case-by-case basis. There should be a set minimum penalty, like a five-game suspension. But I just hope an accidental elbow to the face doesn't cause a player to be suspended for a full season. We'll just have to wait and see.
My good friend, Andrew Robinson, wrote a story today outlining head coach Ed DeChellis' season-ending press conference Wednesday. Here are some more odds and ends from the presser:
-DeChellis said one of the team's main points of emphasis was creating a unity similar to the team that won 27 games and the National Invitation tournament. He said his players stressed that unity in a meeting on Sunday during the team's study hall hours.
"There was one thing that came out in our meetings and it was that our players felt like last year they were a closer knit team off the floor. This year they felt like maybe they weren't as close. They didn't do things with each other as much as they would have -- now looking back on it-- wanted to and maybe should have."
-Redshirt freshman Billy Oliver is training again after suffering from major headaches during the season. DeChellis said the training staff is bringing him back to the game slowly. Overall, DeChellis was very positive about Oliver's return to the basketball court.
"Billy's doing really good. He worked out all last week and there's been no symptoms... We're knocking on wood that the break that we gave him, and the medicine has kicked in and he's doing pretty well."
-DeChellis wasn't hesitant talking about the failures this season as both a team and a coaching staff. The staff, he said, struggled to help the team win close games, as the Lions lost 11 games by five points or less or in overtime (they won just three).
"We lost some close games and that's some of the confidence factor, and we gotta try and look at some things in that regard and turn that around and have the kind of season that you want."
-DeChellis' comment when I asked him about the specifics of the Babb/Edwards transfer situation:
"That's all private between Bill and I and Chris and I. I'm not going to bring up their individual situations. Both had their reasons and I respect their reasons and we have to move on."
-DeChellis "points the finger at himself," and said the blame for the team's struggles this season "starts with me." To change that, DeChellis said the team will focus on strength and conditioning in the offseason. Also, DeChellis said he would try and focus more on players' individual games, saying doing so would make the team as a whole stronger.
-On his job security:
"I don't make those decisions. I control what I can control and were trying to work hard as a staff. We're trying to put a team together that can win the Big Ten Championship and get to the NCAA tournament... I worry about what I can control and that's what I focus on."
-Andrew commented on the new schedule in his story. DeChellis noted some of the factors that went into the decision making process, including evaluating the schedules of bubble teams this season based on who made the tournament and who got left out. But DeChellis also noted frustration with the selection committee for constantly changing its criteria for the NCAA tournament.
"If we could ever get the committee to come up with a certain criteria and stick with that criteria and let it be a published criteria, it would help us tremendously in terms of scheduling. This year somebody mentioned that the last 12 games weren't that important. Next year a new committee chairman may say, 'hey the last 12 games are very important.' "
-DeChellis refused to place any expectations on incoming recruit Taran Buie, Talor Battle's half-brother.
"I don't think I put expectations on a young guy who hasn't come in yet. He's got to graduate from high school and get on campus next summer... He's a young guy that we feel good about, and we're excited that he's gonna be here. To put expectations on him, that wouldn't be fair."
-The Lions will not play a Big East team next season, DeChellis said.
-DeChellis is happy with the support he has received from the athletic department. He said any pressure he feels to reach the NCAA tournament is simply pressure he puts on himself as the head coach of a college basketball team in a major conference.
On Monday, Beam Me Up began its countdown of the conference's top 10 gymnasts when we revealed Nos. 9 and 10. Today, we unveil the next two, Nos. 7 and 8 in the second part of our five-part series, which concludes on Friday with the top two.
Schmidt ranks sixth in the conference with 39.230 regional qualifying score (RQS) in the all-around. The senior's expertise is on the floor exercise, where she is tied for fifth in the country with an RQS of 9.920. Her season-high 9.950 on floor is also tied for the second best floor score in the nation this year. She is also third in the conference on the uneven bars with a 9.890, a score that ranks 13th in the country. Though not her strongest events, Schmidt also holds a 9.850 season-high on both vault and beam and a season-high 39.425 all-around. Come Saturday, don't be surprised to see Schmidt make a run at the floor title, which most believe Penn State's Brandi Personett has all but wrapped up.
Illini coach Bob Starkell: "Sarah's what I call kind of our quiet competitor. She just does her stuff, goes in and does her job; she's very even-keeled, nothing really rattles her. Her emotions stay pretty stern throughout competition. She is, by far, having her best year, and it's a nice sign because she's a senior."
Born in Honduras, Fernandez moved to Kansas growing up and is now one of the best gymnasts in the conference on the balance beam. The junior was an All-American on the event last year, the first Illini gymnast to garner the distinction on beam. Fernandez' 39.285 RQS in the all-around ranks fifth in the Big Ten, and she owns a career-high 39.375. She is one of the most improved gymnasts this year, too, as evidenced by her former career-high 38.825 from a season ago. Fernandez owns a 9.925 season- and career- high on beam and bars. Her 9.880 RQS on bars is fourth in the Big Ten. She set a career high on floor this year with a 9.850 and matched her career high on vault with a 9.875.
Illini coach Bob Starkell: [Fernandez is] very consistent ... Melissa's more of your finesse kid. Melissa's strengths are probably more balance beam, and I would say probably the uneven bars."
Before last Saturday's meet against Nebraska, Casey Rohrbaugh's mother, Linda, thought it would be nice if her daughter changed up her routine a little bit in honor of senior night.
Casey listened, and performed her floor exercise routine from her freshman and sophomore years, her mother's favorite. As always, mothers know best, and now Casey plans on using it for the remainder of the season.
The tumbling passes are the same from the routine she performed for most of the season, but the dance and music are from her old routine.
"I only did it once in the gym [during practice] before I competed it," Casey said. "But you never really forget it.
"It's the routine I'm most comfortable and most confident in."
Casey isn't the only senior who switched up routines on senior night. Senior Brandi Personett decided to change her dismount from the uneven bars from a series of backflips to a layout full out. She approached coach Steve Shephard in practice the Tuesday before the senior meet and told him that she was capable of doing the new dismount.
"So I said, 'Well let's take a look at it.' " Shephard said.
On Wednesday, Personett came in and practiced on the hard surface after only trying it in the pit before. By Thursday, she was using it at the end of her routines.
Shephard said it's usually not good to change routines this late in the season, but her former routine had a built-in deduction, so the new dismount would, at the very least, balance everything out.
"It really helps out her routine," Shephard said. "You take out a major release move which is not a good thing necessarily, but it's a way bigger dismount. There's only a handful of kids in the country that can do that dismount.
"Plus, the ginger was a built-in deduction. She was unable to keep her legs together, and we fought it for three years. We feel pretty good now we don't have to worry about it."
The rundown: Just two days after being upset by then-No. 14 Ohio State, the No. 6 Nittany Lions will travel just 30 miles to Huntingdon for an EIVA showdown with Juniata.
A family affair: Coach Mark Pavlik's wife, Heather, is an assistant coach for the Juniata women's volleyball team. The Pavlik's live in Huntingdon. Another local connection? The Eagles' coach, Jeremy Price, resides in State College.
Zach attack: Juniata, the defending DIII National Champion, is lead by opposite hitter Zach Wanner. The 6-foot-4 senior, a Lancaster native, is averaging 4.12 kills per set.
Storyline to follow: Which squad will turn things around tonight? The Lions dropped a 3-1 decision to Ohio State Sunday in a match senior captain Will Price called "embarrassing." Meanwhile, the Eagles have lost four straight, including two this weekend in a road trip to Illinois.
Player to watch: Max Lipsitz. The senior captain earned EIVA Player of the Week accolades after leading Penn State with a .559 hitting percentage this weekend. Mr. Consistency's effort on the court will be crucial in stabilizing the Lions after Sunday's disappointing match -- where mostly all of the starters just looked flat.
Prediction: Penn State 3 Juniata 0. The Lions learned their lesson from the loss to the Buckeyes: they can't be complacent. Look for them to come out with a sense of purpose. They're not walking out of the Kennedy Sports and Recreation Center tonight without a win.
The Big Ten Championships are less than a week away, and some of the best gymnasts in the country will travel to Columbus, Ohio with hopes of leaving with a conference title on one of the four events and all-around.
But who are the best gymnasts in the Big Ten? Luckily, Beam Me Up is here to give you our thoughts on who the top 10 woman gymnasts in the conference are.
Over the next five days, Beam Me Up will be releasing our top 10, revealing two gymnasts each day. The final two will be named on Friday, the day before the conference championships.
So without further ado, here is the first installment of the five-part series: the Nos. 9 and 10 gymnasts in the Big Ten this season.
An Ontario native, the junior is seventh in the conference in the all-around with a RQS of 39.220. She owns a 39.400 career high in the all-around. Simbhudas ranks eighth in the conference on vault (9.850), 13th on bars (9.815), 12th on beam (9.815) and ninth on floor (9.835). She set a career-high 9.900 on vault this season and also owns a career mark of 9.925 on beam. She tied career highs on bars and floor this season with a 9.875 on each.
The sophomore Ettl came to Penn State as walk-on after three high school knee surgeries scared off many of the elite Division I programs. The injuries to her right knee have cost every event but bars, but she has become one of the best in the country on the event. She owns a regional qualifying score (RQS) of 9.895, tied for first in the Big Ten and ninth in the country. She scored a 9.950 twice this season, career highs and the second-highest bars score in the country this season.
The Nittany Lions were on pace to smash their previous season-high score and make a run at the highest score in team history.
Like so many other times this season, though, the balance beam ended any chance of that.
The Lions finished with a 195.575, but that number should have been much higher. So, how did the Lions grade out from Saturday's meet? Let's take a look.
Analysis: The Lions got off to a great start on Saturday, beginning on vault as usual. They had a team score of 49.375, their third-highest vault score this season. Freshman Sharaya Musser, who was named the Big Ten Freshman of the Week today, won the event with a 9.950. Senior Brandi Personett scored a 9.900, and Madison Merriam a 9.875. Casey Rohrbaugh and Danielle Hover rounded out the Lions' scores with a 9.825.
Musser, who finished with a 38.950 all-around score, won the vault (9.950) and uneven bars (9.900) and tied for third on the floor exercise (9.850). Musser's score on vault and bars helped the Lions record their third- and second-highest scores on the events, respectively.
It is the third time this season Musser has been honored. She's also been named the Big Ten Gymnast of the Week this season.
Another Monday means another Monday Minute here at Above the Net.
This week we caught up with redshirt Scott Keggereis. The coaching staff decided it would be best for Keggereis to sit out this season to build up strength. He has done just that, putting on a lot of weight since arriving on campus. His strength and arm speed has him lined up against All-American Will Price at practice.
Keggereis comments on what he thinks of Price, among a few other fun things.
ATN: What is your favorite movie?
SK: Any of movies from the Rush Hour series. Jackie Chan is a pretty funny guy.
ATN: Favorite band?
SK: That's a tough one, I'd have to say "John Butler Trio"
ATN: Favorite class?
SK: This semester or ever?
ATN: Why not both?
SK: This semester Psychology. Ever it would be World History my junior year of high school. I had a really great teacher that made it a lot of fun.
Penn State dropped two spots to No. 17 in Monday's GymInfo rankings. Because the Nittany Lions did not put up one of their top three home scores of the year Saturday night when they tallied a 195.575, their Regional Qualifying Score (RQS) of 195.750 did not change. However, Penn State was passed in the rankings by Auburn at No. 15 and Iowa State at No. 16.
Penn State, which owns an average of 195.461 and a high score of 196.725, has one last chance to raise its RQS at Saturday's Big Ten championships in Columbus, Ohio.
The Lions jumped up two spots to No. 5 in the vault, but dropped one spot to No. 15 on the uneven parallel bars. They also dropped one spot to No. 21 in the balance beam, and two spots to tie for No. 24 in the floor exercise.
Lions' senior Brandi Personett remained at No. 5 in the all-around. She is in a four-way tie for No. 2 in the vault, and dropped one spot to No. 9 in the balance beam. Personett also dropped one spot in the floor exercise and now sits at No. 4.
Freshman Sharaya Musser jumped from No. 20 all the way up to No. 9 in the vault, while sophomore Natalie Ettl dropped one spot to No. 9 in the uneven bars.
Baseball Sports Information Director Justin Lafleur confirmed in a text message Monday that Tuesday's away game against Pittsburgh has been postponed due to weather. The game that was originally slated for 3 p.m. tomorrow afternoon has been moved to 3 p.m. Wednesday as of now. The game is a part of a home-and-away series against the Panthers, and the second game is scheduled for April 13 at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park. The Nittany Lions host Hofstra for four games this weekend in the team's opening home series. We'll have more information to come about the scheduling change.
There's no doubt about the type of legacy Tyra Grant leaves on Lady Lion basketball. With her 23 points Thursday night she finished her career ranked as Penn State's third all time leading scorer with 2,044 points. She was the heart and soul of the program for most of her time here, but now the quest for her professional career begins.
Grant spoke earlier in the season about her desire to play professionally, either in the WNBA or in Europe, but she also likes to talk her ideas over with one of her high school friends as well.
And why not? This person knows a thing or two about trying to take his game to the professional level and that's why Grant and former PSU quarterback Daryll Clark rely on each other's friendship while their careers try and straighten themselves out.
"We know each other very well," Clark said of Grant after his participation in Wednesday's Pro Day. "We were pretty good friends in high school, and once I found out she was going here I was excited about it, because we're pretty tight."
While Clark is two years older than Grant, both athletes found success at Youngstown's Ursuline High School. For Grant, it was leading her team to a state championship in 2004 and finishing her career with 2,292 points and claiming the title of Miss Ohio Basketball during her senior year.
As for Clark, he was named captain his senior season and threw 18 touchdowns while being named to both the all-league and all-area teams in his junior and senior seasons. However, once both stepped foot in Happy Valley, their athletic paths took different turns.
Today, here at Crosse Fire, we will be taking a quick glance around the ALC. The Florida Gators will play a double-header today against Southern California and South Florida at 1 and 3 p.m. Ohio State is coming off a one-goal victory against Louisville last weekend. Today the Buckeyes will square off against George Washington. Northwestern, which has started off the season 5-0, will travel to Syracuse tomorrow to take on the Orange. Outside of Northwestern, the ALC is still up for grabs, and these weekend's matchups can really help certain teams separate themselves.
Sports Information Director passed on that this is the first Penn State loss in Rec hall since the 2006 National Championship match against UCLA.
That's all from Rec Hall, check back with Above the Net and the Collegian Web site for full coverage.
Two very impressive digs by Ohio State and an eventual kill gives the Buckeyes match-point.
Good hustle by Goas to save the ball from the stands and the Lions live for a little while.
Still seven match points left, though.
Make that six match points left as Wolf picks up a kill.
Timeout Ohio State.
OSU 29, PSU 23.
Ohio State now just six points from the upset.
Kyle Mars serves the ball out of bounds and the Buckeyes lead by eight.
Three points away for the Bucks.
OSU 27, PSU19
Out of the timeout, Ohio State records a service error.
Ohio State continues to roll and the Lions are in serious trouble.
OSU 22, PSU 16
OSU continues to hold a three point lead in the fourth set.
Goas serving with the Lions needing to make something happen to extend this match to five.
A Klanac kill extends the Buckeye lead.
Ohio State getting away from the Lions and Pavlik calls a timeout.
OSU 18, PSU 12
OSU starts the fourth set on a 3-1 run.
Penn State responds with a 5-1 run to take a 6-4.
Ohio State goes 5-1 run to take the lead 9-7.
Make that a 6-1 run and a PSU timeout.
OSU 10, PSU 7
Lipsitz trying to take over the match here late in the third set. Another kill gives him 13 and brings PSU back to within one.
An OSU kill and PSU error gives the set to the Buckeyes.
OSU leads 2-1 after taking the set 30-27.
Lipsitz comes out of the timeout and picks up a kill.
Price to serve.
Lipsitz gets a stuff, he lets out a scream and OSU calls a timeout.
OSU 27, PSU 26
Penn State within one.
The teams are exchanging points. Alternating between one and two point OSU leads.
OSU puts together its first two point run in awhile to take the three point lead.
Pavlik calls a timeout.
OSU 27, PSU 24
Another impressive dig by Del Valle, and this time it actually results in a Penn State point.
Penn State on a little run here as it only trails by three.
Goas goes to the Lions go-to guy Will Price and he picks up a kill. We'll see if this stops the bleeding. Turko picks up a huge block sending Rec Hall into a roar.
The Lions run causes OSU to take a timeout.
OSU 23, PSU 21.
Price gets blocked.
Add in a Price hitting error and PSU has its hands full in the third.
Another hitting error, this time by Wolf.
Kyle Mars subs in for Wolf.
Ohio State comes out of the PSU timeout and extends its lead to four.
The Lions can't seem to find any consistency here.
OSU 16, PSU 13
Del Valle dives for his seventh dig, but it goes unrewarded as Ohio State takes a two point lead.
Penn State comes back to tie it up off a Wolf kill.
Ohio State goes on a 3-0 run and Pavlik calls a timeout.
OSU 13, PSU 10
Sunder picks up a kill and the third set is tied at 3.
Sunder gets blocked but its out of bounds for a PSU point.
Wolf misses on the dig opportunity.
Ohio State isn't going way easy today, we are all tied up at 7.
A Sunder kill gives PSU set point.
Goas will serve.
And Sangrey's attack goes long. Penn State evens up the match.
PSU takes the set, 30-20.
Penn State on a big run here and pulling away in the second set.
Lion lead up to seven.
Alan Mars subs in for Wolf.
He serves it into the net, and Wolf checks back in.
PSU 27, OSU 19
Sangrey picks up an ace to bring the Buckeyes within two.
But, Sunder picks up a kill.
Back within two.
Timeout, Ohio State.
OSU 18, PSU 14
Penn State takes a three point.
Sunder's powerful serve resulted in an Ohio State over pass and Wolf put away the kill.
PSU 10, OSU 6.
Lipsitz and Wolf team up for a block to start of the second set.
A Sunder kill gives PSU a one point lead. 4-3.
Price lets a potential dig get away for the Buckeye point.
PSU 7, OSU 5.
The teams exchange service errors and OSU wins the set.
OSU 30, PSU 25
A powerful kill by Sangrey extends the lead.
Another OSU timeout. 26-23.
OSU continues to looks poised to steal the first set here today.
Another Buckeye kill. Two more points for the set.
And a service error by OSU. OSU 28, PSU 24.
Side note: Ohio State coach Pete Hanson is sporting a nice red sweater vest. Most likely, straight out of Jim Tressel's closet.
A Lipsitz service error extends OSU's lead. 23-21.
Sunder is blocked at the net, but the ball barely falls out of bounds for a Penn State point.
OSU calls a timeout. OSU 24, PSU 23.
Penn State comes out firing after the timeout and ties up the score.
A long rally finally results in a Price kill. 17-17.
Penn State continues to play sloppy. Pavlik calls another timeout. OSU 21, PSU 20.
Pavlik calls a timeout.
This match is starting a lot like the match a couple weeks ago in Columbus. OSU battled with Penn State, but in each set the Lions were able to pull away at the end. We'll see if the same holds true today.
OSU 15, PSU 13
Del Valle picks up an impressive dig, his fourth of the match, but Price can't put away the kill as he is blocked at the net.
Ohio State has tied the set at 11.
Another OSU block gives the Buckeyes the lead.
Penn State ties it up, but Wolf serves into the net and OSU retakes the lead.
Overman stuffs Lipsitz and the Buckeyes lead by two. OSU 14, PSU 12.
Price's attack hits the top of the net, but it still falls in for a kill.
And another PSU mistake keeps the score within two.
Price back to serve after a Wolf kill gave the Lions a three point lead.
Del Valle unable to pick up the dig. PSU 11, OSU 9.
Max Lipsitz has been on a tear recently, and he picks up right where he left off with a kill to give the Lions the 1-0 lead.
A Price service error, Ohio State block and an OSU ace give the Buckeyes a 3-1 lead.
Penn State battles back to take the lead of a couple huge blocks.
Penn State leads the first set 6-5 with Goas back to serve.
The Lions are going with the familiar lineup of Del Valle, Sunder, Wolf, Price, Turko, Lipsitz and Goas.
OSU will start with Steven Kehoe, Grayson Overman, Shawn Sangrey, John Klanac, Jason Tobkin, Ted Schoenfeldt and Mike Berzins.
The match is about to get underway.
Hey folks, Eric Book here to take you through this afternoon's match between No. 6 Penn State and No. 14 Ohio State.
The match will start in about five minutes, and it is being televised live on the Big Ten Network. The match between the Buckeyes and Nittany Lions marks the first ever men's volleyball game to be broadcast live.
I'll be back with you in a few minutes with the starting lineups.
The rundown: No. 6 Penn State returns to Rec Hall this afternoon to battle with No. 14 Ohio State at 4.
Familiar Foe: The Buckeyes and Nittany Lions are facing each other for the third time this season. Penn State won 3-1 in the teams' season-opening trip to Hawaii, and it defeated OSU again March 3 in Columbus. This time the Lions were able to sweep the Buckeyes.
Long Break: The match against the Lions will be the first match in two weeks for OSU. Last time out, the Buckeyes defeated Mt. Olive on March 7.
Shawn John: The Buckeyes have go-to players in Shawn Sangrey and John Klanac. Sangrey has been up and down against the Lions this season. He was limited to three kills in the first meeting, but he fired off a match-high 20 kills in Columbus a couple of weeks ago. Klanac has played a little more consistently against the Lions. Klanac has recorded 16 and 13 kills in the matches respectively.
Live: Sunday's match marks the first men's volleyball match to be televised live by the Big Ten Network. The Lions and Buckeyes are the only two Big Ten schools that have varsity men's volleyball, and despite the teams competing in different conferences, they try to keep the Big Ten rivalry alive.
Storyline to follow: Will Penn State continue to roll? The Lions are clearly playing their best volleyball of the season, and they look to continue that against the Bucks. PSU has struggled to bring its best effort consistently against inferior competition. OSU is slightly better than the Lions' EIVA opponents, and the Buckeyes will be poised to pull the upset in front of the TV cameras.
Prediction: Penn State 3, Ohio State 0. Penn State is just too much for the Buckeyes, and the Lions are playing too well for OSU to have a chance at the upset. Expect OSU to keep couple of the sets to be close, though.
Her freshman teammate, Musser, goes fifth and scores a 9.850.
Brandi Personett will anchor the last event of the regular season for Penn State.
Southard's score was just put up on the screen at 9.800.
Rohrbaugh comes with new music accompanying her floor routine. The senior scores a 9.775.
Southard goes next and does another good routine. Rohrbaugh will go third in a moment.
Smith leads off for Penn State. This is the fourth consecutive week the senior co-captain has performed the event after not performing it the first six weeks of the year.
She does a great routine to set the tone early in the event for Penn State.
Smith scored a 9.775.
Penn State moves to the floor exercise, its final event of the evening.
Senior co-captain Allie Southard is up next and recovers nicely for the Lions. Southard tallies a 9.75.
Personett falls off the beam early in her routine. That makes three Lions who have faltered in their beam routines.
The senior scores a 9.100, which is her worst of the season.
Penn State finished with a 47.675 on the balance beam, which is the team's worst of the season. The Lions now have a 146.400 overall.
Jake Kaplan here to take you through the rest of the dual-meet.
Musser is up next on the balance beam. The freshman scored a 9.900 at Utah last Friday night. This time, however, she falls during her routine. Penn State will now be forced to count a fall, and the Lions chances to get a 197.000 now look bleaker.
Hover's score was announced at a 9.800, and Musser scored a 9.250.
Hover performs a good routine, staying on the beam and sticking the dismount. Should be in the 9.8s.
Merriam falls on beam.
Rohrbaugh starts off with a strong routine and sticks the dismount. She was upset with the judges last week at Utah. I have a feeling she'll receive a little more love in the friendly confines of Rec Hall.
Rohrbaugh scores a 9.800
The Lions score a 49.325 on bars and have a team score of 98.700. There on pace to top 197 for the first time all season.
Alexandra Brockway, competing for the first time in a fee weeks, scores a 9.875.
Sporting a new dismount on bars, Personett finishes her routine.
The Lions look good on bars so far during warm-ups.
Alex Stine is leading off on bars. It is the third straight meet she has been in the lineup.
Personett anchors with a 9.900.
As a team, the Lions score 49.375, a strong showing.
It's a good start for the Lions, who still need to continue climbing in the rankings for a better regional seed.
Allie Southard calls for a perfect 10 for Musser. The judges aren't quite as convinced, giving her a 9.950.
Danielle Hover and Madison Merriam both stick their landings on vault.
Casey Rohrbaugh led off with a 9.700.
Introductions are done, and the Lions are doing their touch warm-ups. Four minutes until they get started.
Welcome to Rec Hall and thanks for joining our live blog of the Penn State women's gymnastics team's meet against the visiting Nebraska Cornhuskers.
It is senior night here, and the five seniors on the roster - Alexandra Brockway, Brandi Personett, Casey Rohrbaugh, Rosie Smith and Allie Southard - as well as Lindsey Montross, who no longer competes because of injury, will be honored.
The Nittany Lions are getting set for introductions and the meet should kick off in the next 15 minutes.
Freshman Bill Edwards is the next Penn State basketball transfer reportedly transferring.
Less than 24 hours after reporting Chris Babb would transfer, Harrisburg Patriot News' David Jones reported that Middletown, Ohio native, Bill Edwards, will also transfer.
Edwards played in 26 games for Nittany Lions this season, starting five of them. He averaged 4.2 points per game and 3.3 rebounds a game. The freshman had been hampered by a shoulder injury in the beginning of the season and an ankle injury during the latter half of the team's schedule. The lefty still showed signs of his talent and shooting ability throughout the year.
"I am getting a lot more comfortable," Edwards said after he scored 10 points and grabbed 13 rebounds at Purdue on Jan. 31. "I guess at this point you're really not a freshman anymore. I mean, you're halfway through the Big Ten season. Down on the back-end stretch you have to start playing more mature."
Check back with the Collegian for updates.
You're gonna wish these days hadn't gone by so fast
These are some good times
So take a good look around
You may not know it now
But you're gonna miss this
That is the chorus from Trace Adkins' "You're Gonna Miss This," the song coach Steve Shephard e-mailed his seniors on Wednesday night. Saturday against No. 12 Nebraska, the Nittany Lion seniors will be honored as it will be their senior night.
So, Beam Me Up asked the seniors to "take a good look around" and draw on some of their fondest memories from their four years at Penn State. Here is what they had to say.
What is your favorite PSU gymnastics memory?
Allie Southard: My favorite memory is from Regionals at NC State last year when we qualified to NCAAs.
Rosie Smith: There are too many, I cannot narrow it down to one. However, something I will always remember is how it feels to compete with a Penn State leo [leotard] on. I feel so proud and excited to have had the chance to compete for a school like Penn State.
Alexandra Brockway: My favorite memory by far is traveling to NCAAs last year with the whole team. Our heads were all in the same place, and, not only did we believe we were great, but we all had the confidence that was essential to the success we achieved last year. After two disappointing years, it was glorious to see our hard work paying off ourselves in the midst of the nation's top ranked teams, we had earned our spot together. We undoubtedly had the greatest level of team unity that I had ever had with Penn State gymnastics, and that is why we were so successful. When one of us struggled, we all struggled. When one of us was on top of our game, it lit our entire team on fire. To me, that is what being a "team" is all about; it all goes hand-in-hand.
Brandi Personett: Most definitely my favorite Penn State gymnastics memory was qualifying to Nationals with the team last year. Then almost making Super Six and taking people by surprise was just icing on the cake.
Casey Rohrbaugh: There are too many to pick just one. I would have to say traveling to Nationals last year, because it was our biggest accomplishment of my career so far. Also, beating Alabama last year as well as beating Michigan my freshman and senior year.
Sophomore shooting guard Chris Babb is leaving Penn State, David Jones of the Patriot-News reported. Jones confirmed the transfer through Babb's father Mike Babb.
Mike Babb said he and his son met with Penn State coach Ed DeChellis on Thursday and Friday to discuss the move. Mike Babb would not discuss his son's reasons for leaving with Jones, saying he didn't want to talk about the transfer just yet.
Under NCAA rules, Babb will have to sit out the 2010-11 season should he transfer to a D-I school. However, he still has a redshirt year available, something Mike Babb said could be a benefit.
"He can use that redshirt year and that'll benefit him," Mike Babb told the Patriot-News. "He can improve and get strong and get over some little injuries."
The Nittany Lions are losing their most reliable long-range shooter, his .373 percent shooting from beyond the arc led the team. Babb also hit 69 3-pointers, just two fewer than team leader Talor Battle, and also led the team from the foul line with an .816 percentage.
Mike Babb also declined to comment on his son's reasons for leaving State College.
"Overall, Penn State's a great place," Mike Babb told the Patriot-News. "We don't have anything bad to say about it. But it is what it is. If Chris is going to do this, he has to do it at this point. He'll have two years left.
"It's nothing personal. But you don't want to wait until it's too late."
Mike Babb said he and his son are still in the exploratory phase and decline to name any options but said Chris is still "a Midwestern kid at heart."
Calls by the Collegian to the Babb's house in Arlington, Texas and to Sports Information Director Brian Siegrist were unasnwered as of the publication of this blog post.
Continue to check back at Hardwood Hits and The Daily Collegian Online for more information.
It's NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament time around the country -- a celebration of Cinderellas, buzzer beaters and hours spent in front of the TV watching it all unfold. At Above the Net, we decided to have some fun with the whole March Madness craze.
The NCAA men's volleyball tournament is pretty different than the basketball one. This May, only four volleyball teams will travel to Palo, Alto California for the chance to compete for the national championship. But we wanted to know: what if there was a more comprehensive tournament?
So our very own selection committee -- yours truly, with some guidance from the latest AVCA Top 15 Poll -- came up with this 16 team field. And here's how I see it playing out:
The Breakdown: Penn State's draw isn't too favorable. Its first match is against defending national champion UC Irvine. But the Lions already defeated the Anteaters once this season -- a 3-2 win in Irvine -- and I think they'll advance to the Elite Eight.
I didn't pick too many surprises in first round matchups. No. 1 overall seed Stanford will easily -- with an emphasis on the word easily -- handle St. Francis, the only other EIVA team in the tournament. BYU over San Diego, UCLA over Long Beach and USC over UCSB. Meanwhile, I'm expecting a pretty intense battle between Hawaii and Loyola-Chicago. The Ramblers are scrappy, but they're not as tested as the Warriors, who compete in the ultra-competitive MPSF.
I have a few upsets in the second round, starting with Penn State defeating Cal-State Northridge, a No. 1 seed. The Nittany Lions will be hot coming off their UC Irvine win and the Matadors are definitely beatable. Their strength is in the middle with Kevin McKniff and Jacek Ratajczak. But the Lions have an answer for that in Max Lipsitz. Either way, this one's going to five sets.
But Penn State's run will end in the Final Four, where it will inevitably have to face No. 1 Stanford. The Cardinals are the most complete team in the NCAA, and I have them winning it all. In the finals, I pit them against Hawaii. I think the Warriors -- with Josh Walker and freshman German sensation Jonas Umlaft -- will make a strong run, upsetting Pepperdine in the Final Four. But in the end, it's going to be Stanford who will prevail.
The Nittany Lions (0-5) travel to Durham, N.C. this weekend for a showdown with No. 8 Duke (3-3). This is the win the Lions need to start turning the season around.
Previously against Penn State:
The Blue Devils are 8-0 as a program versus the Lions. The last time the two teams faced was 2005 in Durham. The No. 4 Blue Devils defeated the Lions 12-2.
In six games, attacker Max Quinzani has notched 23 of Duke's 60 goals. The next closest goal scorer for the Blue Devils is attacker Zach Howell with 13 goals. Other than Quinzani and Howell, no Duke player has more than five goals.
The three Blue Devil defenders will be Parker McKee, Michael Manley and either Dan Theodoridis or Tom Montelli. McKee is the longpole to watch. The senior has tallied 18 of Duke's 62 caused turnovers. The next closest Blue Devil is midfielder Sam Payton with eight.
True freshman Dan Wigrizer has started all six games for Duke. He has a .523 saves percentage on 68 saves. Wigrizer also has a 10.33 goals-allowed average. In over 120 minutes less time, Lion Dave Baker has an 11.27 goals-allowed average and a .470 saves percentage on 39 saves.
Key to the game:
-Better possessions: For the Lions, it's cherishing possessions. Both coach Glenn Thiel and the players have emphasized better possessions and not turning the ball over this week.
Elsewhere in the NCAA:
-Game to watch: No. 2 Syracuse (3-1) travels to No. 7 Johns Hopkins (4-2) in a lacrosse powerhouse matchup. The two teams will meet for the 48th time with Johns Hopkins leading the series 26-20-1.
-Player to watch: Steven Boyle's 19 goals, 10 assists and 29 points lead Johns Hopkins in all three categories.
No. 15 Penn State hopes to close out the regular season with a good meet on senior night against No. 12 Nebraska Saturday night. A win against the Cornhuskers would be huge for the Nittany Lions' confidence going into next week's Big Ten Championships.
Here is a brief scouting report of Nebraska:
No. 12 Nebraska: The Cornhuskers began their 2010 campaign at No. 15 but have since worked their way up a few spots with a 195.793 average and a 196.170 Regional Qualifying Score. Though they started the season even slower than the Lions in their first meet, Nebraska has posted scores above 196.000 five times, including against No. 10 Michigan and at No. 2 Oklahoma. Nebraska's Feb. 28 season high was a 196.425, .300 less than Penn State's, at the Master's Classic against Denver, Illinois and West Virginia. Common opponents with Penn State include Michigan, Denver and Illinois, which the Cornhuskers defeated, and Utah who defeated Nebraska in Salt Lake City. Last week, Nebraska beat Iowa State in Lincoln 196.450-196.125.
Nebraska is No. 6 in the vault, No. 19 on the uneven bars, No. 14 on the balance beam and is tied for No. 9 in the floor exercise. Nebraska's best vaulter is Erin Davis, who is No. 4, which is one spot behind Brandi Personett. Davis had a perfect 10 in the event on Jan. 15. Lora Evenstad is No. 12 in the floor exercise for the Huskers.
Penn State and Nebraska faced off twice last season. The first was on Jan. 30 in Lincoln, and the Huskers won 195.875-194.625. The second was at Regionals where Penn State's second-place finish prevented Nebraska from competing in nationals, which the Cornhuskers hosted.
The Lions certainly have a chance to knock off the Huskers again this time around, and as Penn State coach Steve Shephard pointed out this week, his team does better as the underdog.
The rundown: The No. 6 Nittany Lions return to EIVA play Friday night with a Tait Division matchup with St. Francis in Loretto. Penn State swept the Red Flash (30-22, 30-20, 30-20) on Jan. 15 at Rec Hall in their first home match of the season.
Perfect in Pennsylvania: Penn State's schedule features two opponents from the Keystone State. And they both haven't fared very well against the Lions -- at all. Penn State holds a 28-0 all-time record against St. Francis and a 36-0 mark against Juniata.
On a roll: On their spring break trip to Long Beach -- where they posted two wins over ranked opponents -- the Lions attacked at a combined .325 clip. Max Lipsitz was outstanding in the middle, posting a team-high .553 hitting percentage with 5.00 kills per set.
On a slide: After St. Francis started the season 6-1 -- the lone loss at the hands of Penn State -- it has won only two of its last seven matches. And the two wins aren't that impressive. One is 3-1 victory over Juniata -- basement dwellers of the Tait Division -- and the other is a 3-2 decision over Rutgers-Newark of the lower Hay Division.
Ace race: In February, Jordan Varee recorded his 129th career service ace, passing Brad Glouner for first on the career ace list for the red flash. Varee is currently second in the nation with .50 aces per game. Will Price is third with .47.
Storyline to follow: How does Penn State respond from its California road trip? The Lions went 2-1 over spring break, notching two quality wins over two quality West Coast opponents. And they played some pretty good volleyball. Can they keep up the momentum back on the East Coast as they inch closer to their ultimate goal -- the program's third ever national championship?
Prediction: Penn State 3, St. Francis 0. Make that 29-0 against the Red Flash and 65-0 against Pennsylvania teams.
With the Lady Lions' loss to Hofstra the 2009-10 season comes to an end. After squandering the chance to win its last home game of the season against Wisconsin, Penn State was given another chance to defend its home floor. But a key injury to Julia Trogele and some lackluster defense by the Lions led to another loss. This time, though, the Lions will have to until next season to defend their home floor again.
Here's how we grade the Lions in their season-ending loss to Hofstra:
Thursday's game for the most part was a good shooting night for the Lions. Although the shooting percentage was much better in the first half, Penn State still finished the game shooting 41 percent from the field. Tyra Grant led the Lions offensively, going 6-for-18 from the field and finishing the game with 23 points. The one bad spot for the Lions offensively was shooting from beyond the arc. Penn State was 3-for-5 from the 3-point line in the first half. That changed in the second,though, as Hofstra continued to hold the lead late in the game. The Lions started to take longer, more contested jumpers and went just 1-for-9 from three in the second half.
A very poor effort tonight by the Lions on the defensive end. Hofstra finished the game shooting 44.6 percent, but a lot of those buckets came on open looks. Penn State utilized a man-to-man defense for the entire game, but the Pride used a variety of screens and cuts to get open looks for the shooters. The Lions came into the game looking to key in on Hofstra freshman forward Shante Evans, but failed to account for Sam Bigham. Bigham hit big shot after big shot down the stretch fore the Pride and finished the game with 18 points.
For the most part, the intensity was pretty good on the offensive end. The Lions did a nice job of driving the lane and getting fouled. Penn State got to the free throw line 20 times and converted 14 of those chances. But on defense the intensity was non-existent. The Pride outrebounded the Lions 44-33 and grabbed 18 offensive boards. A large part of the lacking intensity was the fact that Julia Trogele went down early in the first half with an apparent shoulder injury and didn't return for the rest of the game. With Trogele, the Lions' leading rebounder, out, Hofstra pounded the glass and picked up 15 second chance points.
Penn State is now in foul mode. Bentley commits the reach and she fouls out of the game. She gets a nice round of applause from the remaining fans as she walks off the BJC floor for what looks to be the last time this season.
Tyra Grant hits a 3-pointer, but the Lions still trail by five. Emily Phillips fouls Bellocchio who hits both freebies.
That'll do it for the game and the Lady Lions' season. Hofstra advances to the second round of the WNIT.
Hofstra 76 Penn State 68
Gray hits both free throws after the timeout, but Hofstra keeps coming back with buckets of their own. The effort has been good on the offensive end for the Lions, but they are still lacking in intensity on D.
Janessa Wolff gets to the line and goes 1-for-2. Hofstra now has three starters with three fouls. The Lions need to continue to attack the basket as the Pride will have to back off a little bit on defense.
Nikki Greene picks up a bad foul. That's her fourth foul and she will be replaced by Marisa Wolfe. Marie Malone goes 1-for-2 from the line and Hofstra leads by seven.
Tyra Grant forces a three, but Wolff grabs the board, hits the bucket and gets fouled. She hits the free throw and the Lions trail by two. Make that four fouls now for Shante Evans.
After the Lions miss about three shots, Nikkie Greene gets her lay-up to fall and the Hofstra lead still sits at two. Nice work by Greene down low as she grabbed two offensive boards in one possession.
Sam Brigham hits another three to give her 16 points for the game and Hofstra a five point lead.
Brigham hits again as the shot clock expires. Brigham has put the team on her back down the stretch. With Evans struggling to get looks, Brigham is is not backing down from the Lions.
Perhaps a bit of frustration on the part of the Lions as Grant takes a bad shot and then Bentley commits a bad foul on the other end.
Timeout on the floor.
56.8 Second Half
Hofstra 63 Penn State 70
Bentley goes out on the break and feeds the no-look pass to Grant. Grant hits the lay-up and cuts the Pride lead to four.
Grant's lay-up sends the crowd here at the BJC into a bit of a frenzy and Hofstra coach Krista Kilburn-Steveskey takes a timeout.
Hofstra seems to have regrouped out of the timeout as they get a quick jumper. Penn State is matching the intensity though as Greene gets the ball in the post, gets fouled and hits the shot. She completes the 3-point play after her free throw bounced around the rim a few times. Penn State trails by three.
Bentley nails a baseline jumper to bring the Lions within one, but Sam Brigham answers on the other end with a 3-ball to put the lead back to four for the Pride.
Shante Evans picks up her third foul after making contact with Gray on rebound.
Timeout on the floor.
7:58 Second Half
Hofstra 57 Penn State 53
Grant hits both free throws to make it a five-point game.
Janessa Wolff receives the nice feed from Gray. Wolff takes the contact from Evans and hits the bucket. Wolff fails to convert the 3-point play and Hofstra's lead sits at five. Penn State getting some nice minutes from Wolff as she has six points.
The Lions get into more foul trouble as Bentley picks up her third. Nikki Greene also has three and the Lions have five as a team.
Grant continues to get to the line and hits both free throws. She now has 18 points and the Lions trail by six.
Timeout on the floor.
11:51 Second Half
Hofstra 50 Penn State 44
Hofstra opens the scoring in the second half as they get two quick buckets and go up by three.
Greene gets an early touch, but it's just out of her range as her jumper rims out. Greene gets the ball back on the next possession and connects.
Some really sloppy play to start the half by the Lions. Nikki Greene picks up her third foul after making contact with Sam Brigham. Brigham hits the bucket and gets the free throw. The Pride go up by seven.
Tyra Grant has her 3-point attempt swatted six rows deep. Penn State keeps possession and narrowly avoids a shot clock violation, but Wolff has her shot blocked and Hofstra gets the ball back.
Candice Bellocchio hits a couple free throws to make the Pride lead nine. Zha Zha Gray hits a jumper on the other end for the Lions.
Tyra Grant gets fouled and once again goes flying into the innocent bystanders under the net. Grant is really working hard to sell the fouls.
She'll shoot two after the media timeout.
15:19 Second Half
Hofstra 45 Penn State 38
Some halftime stats:
Both teams shot very well in the first with Hofstra shooting 43.8 percent and Penn State shooting 52 percent.
The Lions are being led once again by senior guard Tyra Grant who has 14. Shante Evans leads the Pride with nine points.
Penn State is getting absolutely dominated on the glass. The Lions have just 11 rebounds compared to 21 for Hofstra. One of the reasons for the score being so close is the Lions grabbing just one offensive board in the first half.
It appears as if the Lions can score in the paint if they decide to throw the ball in. Nikki Greene is 2-for-2 from the field, it will be interesting to see if the Lions look to her in the second.
Julia Trogele has returned to the bench sporting a arm sling.
Tyra Grant goes out on the fast break and gets absolutely stuffed by Sam Brigham. Grant hit the floor hard after being blocked, but appears to be OK.
After getting the ball back, Penn State gets called for an offensive foul. Nicole Capurso hits a three for Hofstra and puts the pride up by four with just over a minute to play.
Janessa Wolff picks up her second consecutive bucket to bring the Lions within one. Penn State still isn't throwing the ball into the post enough.
Bentley gets a steal and hits a little runner in the lane as the half comes to an end. Nice job by Bentley to get into the lane and avoid the contact. She gives the Lions the lead going into the half.
Penn State 34 Hofstra 33
A couple of quick buckets from Hofstra brings the Pride within three and prompts Coquese Washington to take her first timeout of the game.
Tyra Grant gets to the line and hits a couple of free throws to put the Lions back up by five. Hofstra answers on the other end with a bucket from Evans. Penn State looks to getting a bit lazy on defense. The Pride are using screens to get wide open looks.
Hofstra nails a three to tie the game and we have a timeout on the floor.
3:55 First Half
Penn State 27 Hofstra 27
After the timeout, Grant launches a bomb from the right side and it falls. Grant was guarded, but that didn't stop her from shooting a 25-footer.
Some nice ball movement by the Lions as Grant feeds Greene down low. The Lions need to Greene more involved and start working the ball into the low block. They've been settling for long jumpers and contested shots, but still hold a six-point lead.
Still no sight of Julia Trogele. She went back to the locker room after falling hard floor and has yet to return to the Lions' bench.
Studevent spots up for the baseline jumper and now has six points. The Lions are getting some nice production from the freshman with Trogele out of the lineup.
Timeout on the floor.
7:27 First Half
Penn State 23 Hofstra 14
Penn State gets out on the break again, but they turn it over on a carry by Bentley. That's the second carry called on Bentley thus far. She normally uses a bit of a cradle dribble when bringing the ball up the floor, but the referees don't seem to be allowing that tonight.
Tyra Grant dives out of bounds for a loose ball and nearly kills a cheerleader, but everybody appears to be OK.
Hofstra finally starting to get things going on the offensive end as they cut the Penn State lead to two.
The Lions being a bit careless on offense. Grant drives but has the ball stripped. A jump ball is called and the Lions will have possession after the second media timeout.
11:57 First Half
Penn State 12 Hofstra 10
The Lions control the tip. Trogele drives but loses control of the ball and possession goes to the Pride.
Tyra Grant gets the first bucket of the game after flashing to the high post and hitting the fall-away jumper. Alex Bentley follows suit and the Lions open up a quick 4-0 lead.
Penn States starts the game in a man-to-man defense. Hofstra having some trouble early as they miss the Pride miss their first two shots and turn the ball over on a back-court violation.
Trogele goes to the floor hard. Coach Washington and and assistants go over to take care of her. Trogele could be heard screaming from the pain and appears to be favoring her right shoulder. It looks like she may have dislocated it, but we'll follow up on that after the game.
The Lions get out on the fastbreak and Bentley feeds a streaking Grant for the lay-up. Penn States has a 6-0 lead as Grant and Bentley have handled all of the scoring.
After a Greene bucket, Hofstra takes a timeout.
16:08 First Half
Penn State 8 Hofstra 2
G Tyra Grant
G Alex Bentley
F Julia Trogele
F Meredith Monroe
C Nikki Greene
G Candice Bellocchio
G Aamira Terry
G Sam Brigham
F Shante Evans
C Jess Fuller
Welcome to the Bryce Jordan Center where tonight the Lady Lions take on the Hofstra Pride in the first round of the Women's National Invitation Tournament.
This game marks the first ever meeting between Penn State and Hofstra. The Pride come in with a record of 19-13 (11-7 Colonial Athletic Association).
Hofstra is lead by freshman forward Shante Evans. Evans comes into this game averaging just under 14 points per game and just over nine rebounds. While the Pride aren't a particularly potent offensive team, they do have a balanced attack.
The Pride have three players averaging just over nine points per game to compliment the scoring of Evans. The Lions will need to key on Evans, but keep in mind that Hofstra has other players that can get to the bucket.
We should have a nice battle down low between Penn State freshman center Nikki Greene and Hofstra senior center Jess Fuller. Both Greene and Fuller stand at 6-foot-4 and should be battling it out in the post for the majority of the game.
The team's are just finishing their pre-game warmups. We'll be back with starting lineups.
With Penn State looking to snap its seven-game losing streak, Inside the Dugout takes a look at this weekend's Coca-Cola Classic hosted by Winthrop University.
The Nittany Lions will play four games in three days starting with Friday's matchup against the Kent State Golden Flashes. That game and the first game of a double-header Saturday both start at 11 a.m.
Penn State plays the Columbia Lions Saturday morning before taking on the Winthrop Eagles at 6 p.m. Saturday. Depending on the results of the round-robin games, Penn State will play in either the championship game (2 p.m.) or consolation game (11 a.m.) Sunday.
The pitching matchups for this weekend are:
Friday vs. Kent State:
Penn State: Mike Wanamaker (0-1, 4.50 ERA)
Kent State: Ryan Mace (0-1, 5.79 ERA)
Breakdown: Wanamaker will make his second start of the season after giving up two earned runs on three hits over seven innings of work in his much-anticipated return from injury this season. Mace is a sophomore, who posted a 7.27 ERA over 43.1 innings in nine starts as a freshman last season.
Series history: Penn State leads the all-time series with Kent State, 2-1. Penn State beat the Golden Flashes 9-3 in 2007 and then won 9-2 in the first of two meetings last year before dropping a 4-3 contest at home.
Saturday vs. Columbia:
Penn State: Neal Herring (1-1, 5.40 ERA)
Breakdown: Herring will make his team-leading fourth start of the season already. As a freshman, Herring has earned a spot in the rotation for now by posting a 5.40 ERA over 16.2 innings this season.
Series history: The teams have split the only two games they have played against each other, with Columbia winning the first meeting back in 1933 and Penn State winning the more recent matchup in 2000.
Saturday vs. Winthrop:
Penn State: Ryan Ignas (1-1, 4.26 ERA)
Winthrop: Dom Patterozzi (0-1, 8.64 ERA)
Breakdown: Ignas will look to improve on his team-leading 13 strikeouts when he takes the mound in Saturday's nightcap. Patterozzi, a redshirt junior, is making his third start of the season in a situation similar to Wannamaker, as he is coming off a season-ending injury last year. He got off to a 3-2 start with a 5.64 ERA before missing the rest of the season last year.
Series history: This series is also split with each team winning four of the eight matchups. All eight of the games were played at Winthrop between 1996 and 2000.
Penn State coach Robbie Wine said he would wait to see how he uses the pitching staff in the first three games before announcing a starter for Sunday's game.
With the NCAA Championships set to begin Thursday, here's a look at the Nittany Lions' first round matchups.
PSU - Brad Pataky (26-8)
Oklahoma - No. 9 seed Jarrod Patterson (28-9)
Breakdown - Pataky won by decision, 8-6, in the regular-season matchup. However, that was just the sixth career bout for the Sooner freshman. Patterson is now entering NCAAs as the Big 12's champion at 125. Like the first matchup, this one should be close but don't be surprised if Patterson comes out on top.
PSU - No. 5 seed Frank Molinaro (29-5)
Binghamton - Donald Vinson (32-11)
Breakdown - Vinson has clearly gained some experience in his redshirt freshman season after competing in 43 bouts. He better hope he has the energy left to face Molinaro. The Lion sophomore is hungry for wins and enters the tournament with an 11-5 record against NCAA competitors. Molinaro should get off to a good start in this one.
PSU - No. 4 seed Cyler Sanderson (28-4)
Northern Illinois - Bryan Deutsch (20-6)
Breakdown - Sanderson has been one of the Lions' hottest wrestlers since the start of 2010. His focus appears to be good coming off the Big Ten title, so don't expect a letdown. Sanderson beat Deutsch 9-6 in the first round of last season's NCAA championships, and the Penn State senior should be able to make it two in a row against Deutsch Thursday.
PSU - No. 6 seed Dan Vallimont (26-7)
Virginia Tech - Matt Epperly (24-9)
Breakdown- Vallimont defeated Epperly, 4-3, during the regular season. The Lion senior hasn't been flashy, but he's been consistent all season. Epperly won the 2008 ACC championship at 165, but he had a rocky year last season. Look for Vallimont to control the bout and get the win.
PSU - No. 11 seed Dave Erwin (29-8)
Oklahoma - Erich Schmidtke (16-17)
Breakdown - Erwin has a considerable advantage in records. The Penn State senior is making his appearance in the national tournament and should be ready to make some noise. Schmidtke is coming off a 1-1 showing at the Big 12 tournament and should have a tough time against Erwin.
PSU - Cameron Wade (20-9)
Lehigh - No. 3 seed Zach Rey (28-4)
Breakdown - Wade has the toughest draw of any Penn State grappler. He dropped a decision, 5-2, to Rey in his first bout of the season. However, 23 of Rey's 28 wins have come by decision, so the Lehigh heavyweight isn't blowing the competition away. Expect Wade to keep the bout close and possibly come away with an upset.
At this point last year, the Penn State men's lacrosse team already had a loss to Ohio State in Eastern College Athletic Conference play. With the regular season deciding the conference champion and the automatic bid to the NCAA tournament, the Nittany Lions found themselves at an extreme disadvantage. Now that the Lions have joined the Colonial Athletic Conference, starting 0-1 in the conference would not hurt as much because four of the six teams make the conference playoffs, deciding which team will represent the CAA at the national tournament.
The CAA regular season won't start until April 3 in a home showdown with Massachusetts. Between now and then, Penn State has three nonconference games, including one at Duke this Saturday. With nine automatic qualifiers, seven NCAA participants will be at-large bids. It looks as though the Lions will have to win the conference for a tournament bid. This is all to say their 0-5 record doesn't mean the season is over. Instead, the real season hasn't officially started.
With spring break in the books, I'm back with this week's Stat Book.
In the matches over the past week, Thomas Pereira and Ryan Wolf split time at outside hitter.
Pereira was granted his first career start in the Nittany Lions' sweep of then-No. 6 Long Beach State.
We will dig into the Stat Book and compare the numbers of the two.
-.333: Wolf attacked at a negative percentage against BYU.
-.200: His numbers versus UC Irvine weren't much better.
0: No kills against BYU or sets played against Long Beach for Wolf.
.050: Pereira's percentage against BYU wasn't exactly high, either.
1: Just one total kill for Wolf on the whole trip.
5: Wolf saw action in just five sets all week.
10: Pereira played in double the amount of sets as his counterpart.
11: Number of times Wolf was set for the whole trip.
16: Kills for Pereira in California.
41: Pereira attacked 41 times on the trip.
.444: Pereira's hitting percentage against Irvine.
The numbers clearly point toward Pereira, but it should be noted that he got many more opportunities than Wolf. Wolf had been playing pretty consistently leading up to the trip, and he said he was ready to compete against MPSF competition. The coaches ultimately decided to give Pereira the opportunity, and he played well. Regardless of who gets the time in the future, one of them will need to be consistent come tournament time for the Lions to be successful.
Here is a region-by-region look at this year's tournament.
Home wins over Kentucky and Kansas skewed the nation's perception of the Volunteers. Going up against the MWC Champion San Diego State Aztecs, the Volunteers will face an immediate threat in Kawhi Leonard and Malcolm Thomas up front.
Underrated: Georgia Tech
The Yellow Jackets' talent is by no means indicative of their record. Gani Lawal, Derrick Favors and Iman Shumpert are three of the ACC's best players. Why the Yellow Jackets struggled during the regular season is a mystery, but they are playing well at the right time, and their run to the ACC title game will carry over.
Winner: Kansas over Ohio State (Sweet 16: Michigan State and Georgetown)
Sorry for the simple pick here, but frankly Ohio State and Kansas are two of the best teams in the nation. For them to be placed in the same region is an atrocious job by the committee but it will make our lives better with one of the most thrilling Elite 8 matchups in recent memory. The Jayhawks depth will ultimately get the best of the Buckeyes.
Sure, the Bulldogs went 18-0 in conference, but it was the Horizon League. Their matchup with UTEP is the perfect 5-12 first-round matchup where an upset wouldn't really be much of an upset. The Bulldogs may have four players who score in double figures but are unlikely to match the athleticism and size of Randy Culpepper and Derrick Caracter.
Ignore the Gophers' blowout loss to Ohio State on Sunday -- playing their fourth game in as many days was the cause of that shellacking. Lawrence Westbrook has made big play after big play for Minnesota and Colton Iverson and Ralph Sampson III provide an inside presence that will carry Minnesota to the Sweet 16.
Winner: Syracuse over Kansas State (Sweet 16: UTEP and Minnesota)
The Orange's road to the Elite 8 may be the easiest of all the No. 1 seeds. Once they get there -- as long as Arinze Onuaku is healthy -- the freshness of Syracuse, and Jim Boeheim's 2-3 zone, will limit KSU's incredible guard play and carry the Orange to Indianapolis.
Talent-wise, the Golden Eagles have no business in this NCAA tournament, but Buzz Williams has been able to get the most out of his team. In the tournament, however, the Marquette lineup, which features no one taller than 6-foot-7 will have trouble containing Quincy Pondexter and the Washington Huskies.
Don't expect the Owls to knock off Kentucky, but Temple will certainly give the Wildcats fits if-and-when they meet in the Sweet 16. The Owls -- specifically Juan Fernandez -- are hot right now, so don't expect the trendy 12-over-5 to happen in this region.
Winner: West Virginia over Kentucky (Sweet 16: Temple and Washington)
The Mountaineers' dream run will continue into the NCAA tournament, solely because of the grit WVU has. Kentucky-West Virginia will be a game of two teams that have made plays down the stretch all season, so if it is close late in the game, expect a John Wall-Da'Sean Butler duel. In the end, it will be the recently improved guard play of Truck Bryant and Joe Mazzulla.
Because the Blue Devils play in the ACC, they received a No. 1 seed over more deserving West Virginia and Ohio State squads. The only problem: It has been a very down year for the ACC. Duke hasn't faced the quickness of a team like Louisville or Cal, and it will get one of the two in the second round. Don't be shocked if the Devils bow out then.
Underrated: Texas A&M
Okay, maybe the Aggies aren't underrated, but based on the fact that this may be one of the easiest regions in tournament history, there will be someone who takes advantage. With Donald Sloan -- who averages 18 points per game -- running the show, the Aggies could be that team.
Winner: Villanova over Texas A&M (Sweet 16: Louisville and Baylor)
In most of the other regions I wouldn't have given much consideration to these two squads, but someone has to win, so I'm taking the Cats. The winner of this region is like the Big East team that makes the BCS each year -- deserving of a bid solely because someone has to get it.
Title pick: Kansas over West Virginia
If this is the title game, there is just one word: Enjoy. And enjoy the rest of the tournament, too. Aside from the South region, it'll be a good one.
Thanks again to ESPN.com's Dana O'Neil who called me Monday night to discuss Penn State's disappointing season.
O'Neil also chimed in about Ed DeChellis' job and her thoughts about the Nittany Lion coaching position.
She addressed the recruiting difficulties that Penn State faces. Currently, the Lions have only signed one recruit -- State College Area High School guard Taran Buie, rated as the No. 96 best recruit in the country by ESPNU's Recruiting service.
"Getting players is how you win, and at Penn State, you're not going to get kids from Chicago, because why would they leave to go to Penn State?" O'Neil said. "You're not going to get kids from Philly.
"They're not going to go out and get top 25 recruits yet. They just aren't. They have to hit the ground a little bit harder and it has to be more than just one guy. Talor Battle is a terrific player, but they need more than just Talor Battle. They need two or three Talor Battles and they need them scattered across the class levels."
Athletic Director Tim Curley recently said in a statement that DeChellis' job is safe. Here was O'Neil's take on it:
"I think he's a good coach, but at the end of the day, unfortunately a lot of coaches' success and failure...is about the players," she said. "I think he's trying. I think that's what's got to be done. He needs to just get players. And I don't know how you do it because it is hard and no one has been able to. But I think that's got to happen. Like I said, I think he can coach. I think he's a good man. I just think he's got to find a way to get kids. That's the hardest part right now."
Minor league outfielder and top Red Sox prospect Ryan Westmoreland underwent surgery after doctors discovered a cavernous malformation in his brain. It's an unfortunate turn of events for Westmoreland, who was ranked as a top 10 prospect in Boston's system by Baseball America. He also suffered a broken collarbone and missed much of the 2009 season. The 19-year-old can't catch a break, and you really feel bad for him. Now he has a long road to recovery. There's no doubt he wants to play baseball again, but he should take as much time as necessary to regain his health. Then when the time comes, baseball can be his healing power to top off his recovery. He has a world of talent and potential. It'll be nice too see if the youngster can overcome this and play in the big leagues.
Some other things important and not so important:
- Texas Rangers manager Ron Washington tested positive for cocaine last year. It sounds bad, but hey, coaching the Texas Rangers isn't exactly a walk in the park.
- The guy who illegally videotaped Erin Andrews was sentenced to 2.5 years in federal prison. It's fair, seeing as how Donte Stallworth killed a guy and only got one month in jail. No big deal.
- The Redskins signed former Bears QB Rex Grossman. Good. Now they have someone who can ignore Chris Cooley wide open and say, "@$#% it, I'm throwing down field."
Video of the week: Johnny Bench was one of the all time greats. The Hall-of-Fame catcher was an inspiration to young catchers everywhere. But I have no clue what is going on in the first few seconds of this recent interview he did.
Molly Fernandez continued her fantastic freshmen season by winning her third ALC Rookie of the Week award. The attacker scored a goal and three assists in Penn State's win over Delaware and has notched a point in every game this season.
The freshmen leads the Nittany Lions in assists (6) and points (11).
Coach Suzanne Isidor confirmed today that senior captain Margo Josephs will miss the remainder of the season. The defender was recovering from an anterior cruciate ligament injury suffered last year, and she has decided not to jump in half-way through the year. Isidor hoped Josephs would be ready for the opener, and then expected her each week since. Penn State's defense adjusted to losing Josephs earlier in the season by switching Jackie Eastman and Katy Wick to defense.
In this week's edition of Tuesday Timeout, we caught up with senior middie Charley Henneghan. The Beverly Hills, Mich. native boasts the second-best face-off percentage on the team, sitting just behind his little brother Danny. Which doesn't make big brother too happy ...
Crosse Check) Finish this sentence. Little brother Danny is...
Charley Henneghan) Annoying, but also really good.
CC) Favorite sport other than lacrosse?
CH) Football. I played it in high school and could've played it in college but decided to go with lacrosse.
CC) Really? What position?
CH) Wide reciever.
CC) What kind of stick do you use?
CH) A Nitrous. But they actually don't make them anymore, I just can't find any more of them. I only have two left, and if I break them, I'm out of luck. I think I might have to order them from the Czech Republic. They might be the only people that have actually have them.
CC) Favorite place to eat at Penn State?
CH) Probably Cozy Thai Bistro.
CC) What do you get there?
CH) The Chicken Pad Thai. It's the standard procedure.
CC) Favorite class at Penn State?
CH) I'm actually taking it right now. It's called "Life After Sports" and it's a one-credit, pretty awesome class.
CC) Joe Britt's described you as the team jokester. Do you agree? If so, why?
CH) I do have to agree. I try to keep things light, try not to take things too seriously, and try to keep everyone laughing.
CC) Have you filled out an NCAA basketball tournament bracket yet?
CH) I have not, but I have an idea of what's going down. Final Four's gonna be Kansas, Syracuse, Kentucky ... and Ohio State? Does that work?
CC) I don't think it does, actually.
CH) Yeah, I don't think that does either. I have to look at the bracket.
CC) Well who's your national champion?
CH) Kansas. I'm taking Kansas. They're just too good.
CC) Favorite TV shows?
CH) Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations. Best show on TV.
CC) How is your hometown Beverly Hills, Michigan, different from Beverly Hills, California?
CH) Well it's a little bit colder in the summer and the winter. No palm trees, but I have to say that Beverly Hills, Michigan is much cooler than Beverly Hills, California.
CC) And why's that?
CH) I don't know (laughter), cause I'm from there. I'm biased.
That's what Penn State men's volleyball coach Mark Pavlik talks about in this edition of his weekly Collegian podcast. First, Pavlik recaps last week's road trip where the Nittany Lions faced off with No. 11 UC Irvine, No. 4 BYU and then-No. 6 Long Beach State. Then we ask the coach why he won't be filling out an NCAA Tournament bracket this month -- and his answer is nothing that you would expect.
The Nittany Lions recorded a season-high 196.725 last week and were hoping to take that momentum on the road, where they have struggled for most of the season.
Though the Lions didn't score close to last week's mark, their 195.700 at Friday's quad meet at Utah was markedly better than three of their four road-meet scores this season.
But how did the Lions grade out from their trip to Salt Lake City? Let's take a look.
Analysis: The first thing that stuck out when perusing through the scores was that not a single Lion scored in the 9.9s, only the second time that has happened this season. Brandi Personett, who has two 10s on the vault this season, scored a 9.775. It was freshmen Madison Merriam and Sharaya Musser who led the Lions on the event, each scoring a 9.875. Danielle Hover scored a 9.800, and Casey Rohrbaugh had a 9.775.
With the Lady Lions reaching the postseason for the first time since 2005, there's certainly a lot of excitement surrounding this team. While a first-round matchup with Hofstra stands in the Lions' way of advancing into the second round, there's a lot of elite talent that the Lions have a very reasonable shot of facing. The way the bracket is set up, the Lions could eventually face the likes of Delaware, Saint Joseph's, Syracuse and Pitt.
So this is supposed to be a tournament with 64 teams that weren't good enough for the NCAA tournament, and in many regards it is. But the individual talent in this region is pretty elite.
Who would have thought two years ago that the former No. 1 recruit in the country and former UConn signee, Elena Delle Donne, would one day be playing for the Blue Hens in the WNIT? I know I certainly didn't. But just as quickly as Delle Donne changed Delaware's program, the same can be said for some of the other impact players in this region.
Hofstra's freshman forward is one powerful ballplayer. This physicality Evans plays with made her a force in the Colonial Athletic Association and, if it wasn't for the previously mentioned Delle Donne, Evans would have been the CAA rookie of the year. She's six feet tall, but her play in the post makes her seem a lot bigger than that. She finished the season with 15 double-doubles and averaged 13.5 points and 9.3 rebounds.
She's one of the most talented freshman in the country with a lot of upside and, after having the chance to watch her numerous times throughout her high school career, there's one thing she's always done, and that's take over games. She averaged a double-double in each of her four years at Henderson High School, and this was while opponents tried to double-team her.
If looking for a specific example of her strength and explosion, I'll mention that she was a state champion shot putter and threw the rock more than 43 feet. If that doesn't tell you something about her power, then I don't know what will.
Elena Delle Donne
The red shirt freshman was arguably the most highly touted recruit since Candace Parker and Delle Donne was expected to change the face of women's basketball.
After its second-best road score of the season Friday at Utah (195.700), Penn State jumped up three spots to No. 15. The Nittany Lions' Regional Qualifying Score (RQS) jumped up from 195.390 to 195.750.
RQS is calculated by taking a team's top six meets, three of which must be road meets such as Friday's. Then the top score is taken out and the remaining five are averaged. This is how Penn State's RQS of 195.750 is calculated:
Top Six Meets
PSU vs. Michigan, Bridgeport and Maryland (March 7): 196.725*
PSU at Pittsburgh (Feb. 13): 196.450
PSU vs. Illinois (Feb. 6): 196.425
PSU vs. Alabama and Minnesota (Jan. 30): 196.025
PSU at Denver with Air Force (Jan. 16): 194.150
PSU at Utah with Oregon State and Southern Utah (March 12): 195.700
One of the coolest things about the Penn State men's volleyball team is the unique relationship between its current players and alumni. The program has a rich history -- dating back to the early '70s when the team didn't have varsity status, drove to local tournaments and paid for their own equipment -- and the current guys definitely recognize that.
But the older guys still love to keep their younger counterparts in line.
Coach Mark Pavlik sends a regular e-mail newsletter to friends of the program. Recently, his update included some commentary on the team's "unglamorous travel."
"The six hour ride in the bus to, let's say, Columbus, OH is filled with studying, watching movies or Direct TV or surfing the web as the miles and minutes roll by...usually at night so the landscape is just black as the oncoming traffic looks like a line of owls to your left," Pavlik wrote.â€¨
This sparked some serious feedback from Nittany Lion alumni. Many read the e-mail and reminisced on old times and their old travel woes. Don "Turkey" Weyel (class of '73) -- along with George Guch, Jeff Keller, Ron Smith and Gary Strawbridge --- went as far as writing out one of the team's favorite stories. It's called "The Milroy Chronicles," and it's this week's Monday Minute.
Click the link to read the full typed out story. It will take a little longer than a minute to read. But trust me, it's worth the time.
While everyone is frantically filling out their brackets for March Madness after the men's teams were announced, fans of the women's side of the game are eagerly awaiting tonight's selection show at 7 p.m. And though Penn State is expected to be on the outside looking in after a late season collapse, a number of other Big Ten teams are sitting anxiously waiting to see if its names are called. Here is ESPN Bracketologist Charlie Creme's most recent take on which teams in the Big Ten he thinks are set to lace up their dancing shoes this week according to his final bracket.
The Big Ten champs were a lock to make the tournament regardless of how they did in the conference tournament. The only question was how high they would be seeded, and, after taking the conference crown, Creme thinks the Buckeyes will be awarded a No. 2 seed. He has Ohio State slated to face St. Francis (Pa.) in the first round in Louisville on March 30. With a 30-4 record and two high profile stars in Jantel Lavender and Samantha Prahalis, it would be surprising if Ohio State was ranked anything lower than a two or a three seed.
As predicted at the start of the season, the Spartans wound up being the second best team in the Big Ten after Ohio State. A strong late season push propelled Michigan State to a No. 2 seed in the Big Ten tournament, and despite losing in the semifinals to Iowa, Creme has the Spartans as the second highest seeded Big Ten team, giving them a No. 6 seed in the Sacramento region. The Bracketologist has the Spartans set to face Princeton in Tallahassee in the first round but warns that Allyssa DeHaan's back spasms could be a problem area.
With a 21-10 record, Creme has the Badgers as a No. 7 seed going into the tournament and has them facing Southern California in the first round. He has the two high profile teams opening up the tournament at Notre Dame on March 21, and it would present an exciting first round game as the Trojans have four wins against tournament teams this season. After dominating Purdue in the second round of the Big Ten tournament and witnessing the Badgers thrash the Lady Lions a few weeks ago, it is not a big surprise to see Wisconsin predicted as the third highest ranked team in the conference.
A bubble team going into the Big Ten tournament, Iowa got the results it needed to possibly push itself into the tournament. Creme has the Hawkeyes as a No. 11 seed, and Iowa could be a scary lower seeded team in the tournament if selected after nearly defeating Ohio State in the conference title game. However, if Creme is right, a predicted first round matchup against Texas in Austin could be too much for the Hawkeyes to handle.
A surprising prediction, Creme has the Wolverines as the last team selected into the NCAA tournament. While it would be big for the Big Ten to get a fifth team into the tournament, this would be very bittersweet for Penn State. Creme has Michigan as a No. 12 seed playing Oklahoma State in the first round, a spot the Lady Lions could have easily been predicted to hold if they didn't stumble to the finish line. Penn State was ranked higher going into the Big Ten tournament than Michigan and also defeated the Wolverines during the last week of the regular season. However, there is no looking past how awful Penn State played at times during the last month and a half of the season, and that is why Creme probably has Michigan in a spot that could have once belonged to Penn State.
It's somewhat surprising to see five Big Ten teams predicted by Creme to be in the NCAA tournament after we predicted only three or four would make it going into the Big Ten tournament. The Bracketologist has the Big Ten as the fifth most represented conference after the Big 12, Big East, ACC and SEC, but two of those teams were among his last four teams in. For Penn State, it would have to be hard to see this many conference rivals make the tournament, knowing that it could have easily been one of those teams after how well the conference season started. Stay tuned tonight to see if Creme's predictions are correct, and we'll keep you posted on the Lady Lions' postseason fate.
It Was Over When...: Penn State took the second set. Long Beach was favored in this match, but for most of the night it sure didn't look that way. Statistically, the Lions didn't dominate -- the teams were basically even in service errors, blocking and digs. But Penn State's ability to close out at the end of a set was the difference. Once the Lions did it twice, the 49ers lost any hope for a comeback.
Player of the Match: Max Lipsitz. 15 kills on a match-high .650 hitting and three blocks. Mr. Consistency shows why he's one of the nation's top middle blockers.
Stat of the Match: 9. The number of digs junior Thomas Pereira recorded in his first career start. The Brazil native got the nod Saturday night over sophomore Ryan Wolf. And though Pereira didn't put up spectacular numbers offensively -- he had five kills on .167 hitting -- his impressive defensive performance may have won him the starting spot.
Surprise of the Match: Long Beach didn't put up a fight. The sixth-ranked 49ers weren't lifeless, but they allowed Penn State to take all of the points that mattered.
Quotable: "We've been doing this stuff on a weekly basis at practice, now we finally did it in a game." - Edgardo Goas
What's Next: The Lions return to their EIVA slate with a trip to St. Francis Friday night.
With the wrestling season winding down, it's safe to say Penn State wrestling fans have become familiar with the coaching style of Cael Sanderson.
That doesn't mean the Nittany Lion supporters necessarily know how he interacts with the wrestlers, but they've seen how he operates during dual meets. Usually, it's a lot of sitting as his tie dangles down from his neck while he leans forward and observes the bouts.
Occasionally, he'll stand up and appeal for a takedown or question a referee's call. But, overall he appears calm in his outer appearance.
That changed at the Big Ten Championships during a bout between Lion heavyweight Cameron Wade and Iowa's Dan Erekson. Sanderson showed his willingness to step in and defend his grappler in a dispute with Iowa coach Tom Brands.
The video below shows the altercation that took place between the two coaching staffs. The situation begins at the 7:50 mark.
The Lady Lion's dreams of making the NCAA tournament died last week in the second round of the Big Ten tournament when Iowa defeated Penn State, 82-75. Nevertheless, Penn State's postseason chances are still alive. Like the men's team last season in the NIT, the Lady Lions will have a chance to make a statement in the 2010 WNIT if invited to participate. However, the team will have to wait another couple of days to find out if it will have a chance at postseason play, which would be the first time for the team's graduating seniors. This year's WNIT teams will be announced late Monday night, and with a final record of 17-13 as well as a star-caliber player in Tyra Grant, Penn State is expected to be in the running for a bid. If selected, the Lions are expected to be asked to host a first-round game at the Bryce Jordan Center on March 17 or 18. More to details will come in the next few days about Penn State's postseason chances.
The Rundown: After falling to No. 4 BYU at Long Beach, the No. 9 Nittany Lions take on No. 6 Long Beach State in the final match of the Active Ankle Challenge at LBSU's Walter Pyramid.
Go-to Guys: LBSU's Dean Bittner leads the 49ers attack with 309 kills on 618 attacks. The 618 attacks are 28.1 percent of the 49ers attacks on the season. The Lions' Will Price leads PSU with 278 kills on 575 attacks. Price's 575 attacks are 28.9 percent of Penn State's attacks this season. Adding on to the similar stats for the teams' leaders, Bittner's hitting percentage of .328 narrowly edges out Price's .327.
Friendly EIVA: The Lions are rarely tested by their EIVA counterparts, and Long Beach State got first hand experience last night. The 49ers handled Saint Francis 3-0 in their opening match of the challenge.
Story Line to Follow: The obvious choice here is who plays better between Bittner and Price, but I'm going to go in a different direction. Will the Lions get production from the outside hitter position not occupied by Joe Sunder, and who will play? Thomas Pereira and Ryan Wolf have been splitting time during the Lions west coast swing, but Wolf has rarely been set at all when he's in and Pereria has seen more opportunities in his time. Will Pereria get his first start of the season? The main thing for the Lions is to get production from whoever coach Pavlik decides to go with. An opponent like LBSU will be tough to beat with an unproductive player on the court for PSU.
Prediction: Long Beach State 3, Penn State 2. Look for the Lions to come out strong and eager to rebound from yesterday's defeat and steal the first set, and then the 49ers to recover and take two of the next three to go into a decisive fifth set where big match experience and home court advantage will propel LBSU to the win.
It Was Over When...: Back-to-back Cougar kills broke a 31-31 tie in the second set. It gave BYU a 2-0 lead in the match and pretty much sealed the Lions' fate. Though Penn State showed life in the third set -- winning it 30-25 -- there was a slim chance it could bounce all the way back for a win.
Player of the Match: Will Price. 21 kills and 13 digs. There's not much the returning All-American can't do. Another dominating performance from the senior captain.
Stat of the Match: BYU out-blocked the Lions 18-6. Yes, the Cougars are a fantastic blocking team -- "They're very physical, very very physical," coach Mark Pavlik said. -- but Penn State is usually pretty strong at the net, too. This lopsided statistic was the difference-maker in this match.
Surprise of the Match: Could this be the end of Ryan Wolf's run as a starter? The sophomore outside hitter struggled for the second night in a row and was replaced early by junior Thomas Pereira. Wolf's contributions to the team were pretty surprising -- he went from walk-on to starter in a matter of weeks -- but his quick decline could be even more of a surprise. It'll be interesting to see who gets the nod tonight.
Quotable: "I'm not jumping for joy about it, but I am happy with our performance," - Pavlik.
What's Next: The Lions take on No. 6 Long Beach State tonight in their final match of the Active Ankle Challenge.
It's a little past midway through the season, which usually means it's time to look back. We decided to look way back -- all the way back to last year.
We wanted to compare and contrast the first half of the 2009 season with the first half of 2010. To do it, we enlisted the help of former beat writer Tom Kinslow (now a softball reporter) for some analysis. Here's what he had to say about the beginning of '09 and what we have to say about the start of '10:
Will Price and Joe Sunder
Kinslow: While Will Price has emerged into an alpha male for the team this year, he didn't break out until the tail end of the season, especially in postseason play. Sunder also showed flashes but experienced bad stretches from time-to-time as he settled into his role on the team. The two were still maturing and working out kinks in their game and their maturity over the next couple of months were a big story and focus for the team last year.
Kaplan: The way Sunder and Price ended 2009 -- with poise and maturity -- is how they started 2010. The two of them, along with Max Lipsitz, make up the Lions' go-to-trio -- guys the team can count on night after night. They've been consistent, they've been dominant and they've rarely had an off match. I think that stability has really benefited the Lions, steering them to their 14-2 start.
Kinslow: The team had a set lineup every night. Max and Max, Will, Joe, Edgardo, Dennis and Sweitz. You could always count on Jon Sherrick and Jay Stauffer off the bench too. Penn State ran nine deep every night and you knew what you were getting. Twice Sherrick stepped up in the middle and had huge games for Penn State in a starting role to replace each of the Max's. Jay was tremendously consistent with his serve off the bench. Not to mention they were senior leaders who knew what it took to win a championship. You can't coach any of that stuff.
Kaplan: Stability with this year's lineup? Not quite yet. The Lions have three guys on the bench -- Tom Comfort, Alan Mars and Ian Hendries -- who started at one point during the season. Pavlik gets a little streaky and definitely plays off who's hot. Comfort started in January and had a huge match against Hawaii. But then he fizzled out and has barely seen court time since. Hendries was the team's golden boy at middle hitter for about a month. But then he had a few bad games and fellow frosh Nick Turko stepped in to steal the starting spot. Meanwhile, Ryan Wolf, a former walk-on, came off the bench for one start in early February and is now a regular contributor. Of late, it's seemed the Lions have finally found some consistency -- they haven't made major personnel changes in the past six matches. It'll be interesting to see if that continues.
Setter Edgardo Goas
Kinslow: Goas' progression in steering the offense was something that was an ongoing story all season with the team. This time last year, Goas was still trying to make everything second nature. He would have good stretches and drop off and get stuck feeding some of the hitters more than others. While he had progressed mightily in his limited amount of playing time, running crisp plays and putting sets on the money and getting everything down as second nature was still somewhat of an issue for the young setter.
Kaplan: It seems Goas has matured a lot since the beginning of last year. He sees the court well, looks poised on the court and has been vocal, too. His main area of improvement, though, has been set distribution. It's nearly flawless. Yes, he tends to set Price a little more than the others. But it's Will Price, what would you expect?
Kinslow: As I mentioned with Stauffer, serving was big for Penn State. Max Holt was one of the best servers in the history of the program and would go on streaks of aces to just bury teams. Not many teams could handle Holt's serve and he'd get Penn State off to huge runs and would just cruise through sets on Holt's arm. Price was coming into his own with his serve and other than the occasional error-filled performance (it happened with the hitting too. Errors happened in short spurts that did hurt Penn State, but nothing where you'd start to worry), you could pretty much count on a solid service game to set up the defense.
Kaplan: Definitely not the strongest aspect of the Lions' game. In fact, it probably is the weakest. A few weeks ago I asked Price if he noticed any trends in the first half of the season. His response: "Besides our inability to serve well?" Serving has been a team-wide problem. None of the Lions have found consistency from behind the line. Penn State started its home slate with 21 service errors against St. Francis on Jan. 15. Though there have been some improvements since, there's still plenty of room for progress.
When I sat down with Brandi Personett earlier this season, she told me Utah was one of the several schools the highly touted gymnast visited her senior year of high school, and her final decision came down to Utah and Penn State. The current Nittany Lion senior said her mother came with her on the trip to Salt Lake City and really liked Utah co-coach Greg Marsden and was rooting for her to choose Utah. Ken Personett, Brandi's father, was rooting for Penn State, according to the gymnast. Neither of Personett's parents visited Happy Valley with her, so Penn State coach Steve Shephard flew down to Katy, Texas to meet the gymnast's parents, which is when Brandi committed in her high school cafeteria.
Several years have passed, and it is obvious Personett has had an extremely successful career at Penn State. Though Greg Marsden could not be reached for comment, I spoke with his wife and co-coach Megan Marsden Wednesday and asked her about Personett and Utah's attempt in recruiting the gymnast.
"Well, I mean she was definitely one of our top recruits that year," Marsden said. "We knew she could come and make a difference in our program, and I think as she has gone onto Penn State, she has proven that. Even when they have not been a team to qualify for the championships, Brandi's gotten herself there on her own. So I think her actions have spoken loudly with why she was atop on our list in recruiting, no question about it. Any program would have been lucky to get her. She's very talented."
Here is a quick scouting report of tonight's three opponents:
No. 9 Utah: Utah is one of just four teams to win a national title since 1982 and is a powerhouse in collegiate women's gymnastics. At the start of this year, however, Utah sat at No. 2 and has steadily dropped to where it ranks now at No. 9. The Utes are coming off their best performance of the season, though, when they put up a 196.575 against Nebraska. Utah owns a 196.014 average and an Regional Qualifying Score (RQS) of 196.220. Three Ute all-arounders hold rankings in the nation's top 20. Senior Daria Bijak is No. 13, and senior Jamie Deetscreek and junior Kyndal Robarts are Nos. 19 and 20, respectively. Robarts is also No. 5 in the vault.
The Lions and Utes have not faced off since 1997, when Utah came out on top, and the two teams have just one common opponent this season in Michigan. On Feb. 19, Utah lost at Michigan, a team Penn State defeated on Sunday. If Penn State scores anywhere close to where it did last meet, the Lions definitely have a chance to come away with the upset victory on the road against the Utes.
Ed DeChellis will be Penn State's coach for at least one more year.
As reported by David Jones of the Patriot News, Penn State athletic director Tim Curley has endorsed DeChellis for 2010-11. Curley confirmed DeChellis's retainment in a text message to the Patriot News Friday afternoon.
"Yes, Ed will continue to be our head coach," Curley said in the text to Jones. "I like the way he runs our program, the assistant coaches and the players in the program."
Despite failing to win a game in the Big Ten tournament and compiling a 3-15 record in conference, DeChellis will have one more chance to capture an elusive NCAA bid. The team retains all of its players in addition to incoming recruit Taran Buie.
The coaches have been out scouting over the last few weeks and may add a late-signee should a current roster player leave the team.
While public support for DeChellis wavered over the course of the season, he does have the support of the one man whose voice matters.
"I believe we are better than the record indicates. Ed and I share the same vision for the program. I have complete confidence in Ed and his staff," Curley said in the message. "No one will work harder or bring greater passion to making the necessary progress."
The rundown: Just two days after edging UC Irvine in a five-set thriller, the No. 9 Nittany Lions take on No. 4 BYU Friday night in the Active Ankle Challenge at Long Beach State's Walter Pyrmaid.
Impressive resume: Eight of the Cougars' 10 wins this season are against Top-15 teams.
Recently tested: BYU enters Friday night's game coming off a weekend split with No. 1 Pepperdine. The Cougars handed the nation's top-ranked team a 3-1 loss on Friday -- with Russell Lavaja recording a career-high .714 hitting percentage -- but were swept by the Waves Saturday night.
BYU blocks: The Cougars are fourth in the nation with 3.22 blocks per game. They are led by a pair of sophomores -- 6-foot-7 Lavaja and 6-foot-8 Futi Tavana -- who are each averaging 1.35 bpg.
Storyline to follow: How does Penn State bounce back from a physically and emotionally draining game against Irvine? The Lions had to grind out a win against the defending national champions Wednesday night. Coach Mark Pavlik was disappointed with the way his team dropped a two-set lead, yet was pleased with the end result. He said for the Lions to be successful, they'll have to play at a high level for an extended period of time. To beat a physical Cougars squad, the Lions will need to be on from tip-off to the final point. They can't afford another lapse in the middle of the match. An experienced team like BYU will just exploit that.
Prediction: BYU 3, Penn State 2. The Cougars are balanced, physical and talented. But mainly, they're tested. And that's where they have the edge over Penn State.
It Was Over When...: Will Price recorded two solo blocks to end the match. It took 2 hours, 35 minutes for this one to conclude -- and at times, it really could have gone either way. Penn State jumped to a 2-0 lead but No. 11 UC Irvine climbed right back into it. UC Irvine evened things up and forced a fifth and decisive set. The fifth set was tight, and it wasn't until 14-14, when Price tallied a pair of blocks, that Penn State finally sealed the win.
Player of the Match: Max Lipsitz. Mr. Consistency proved he really is among the nation's elite. Yes, Lipsitz can put up blocks and kills galore against EIVA competition. But his career-high 25 kills against the defending national champions shows exactly how talented the 6-foot-7 senior middle hitter is.
Stat of the Match: 4. The number of Lions that posted career-high numbers in the match. Along with Lipsitz's 25 kills, Price tied a career-high with 30 kills. Meanwhile Dennis Del Valle and Edgardo Goas also posted personal bests Wednesday night with 25 digs and 81 assists, respectively. Coach Mark Pavlik said these records are somewhat inevitable in a five-set match against top competition. Still, the numbers are pretty impressive.
Surprise of the Match: Penn State won. After relinquishing a two-set lead, it took real guts for the Lions to come back and close this one out.
Quotable: "I hope it's a wake up call." - Pavlik on his team's lackluster performance in the third and fourth sets.
Fun fact: Pavlik said of the 813 in attendance at the Bren Center Wednesday night, about 30 of them were Penn State fans. Among them? The school's only Heisman Trophy winner, John Cappelletti.
What's Next: The Lions take on No. 4 BYU Friday 5 p.m. PT at the Long Beach State Active Ankle Challenge.
So our blog was suffering some technical difficulties during the day yesterday, and I never got to post a tournament preview section.
Aside from the part where I say Penn State has a 1 percent chance of winning the title, the rest is still very relevant.
Here it is:
The Big Ten tournament tips at 2:30 today with three play-in games. The Lions take the floor at 7:30 tonight, looking to avenge a pair of close losses to Minnesota. Here is a look at some of our favorites and longshots to win the title.
Ohio State: 50 percent chance to win the Big Ten tournament
The Buckeyes are the hottest team in the conference and maybe the nation, so they have to be the favorite heading into the Big Ten tourney. There has been much talk around the country about Ohio State earning a possible No. 1 seed in the tournament, so the incentive is there for them to win. Since Evan Turner returned to his Player of the Year form, the Buckeyes have lost two games, and don't be surprised if they get a chance to avenge their loss to No. 6 Purdue in the Big Ten title game.
Purdue: 20 percent
The Boilers likely would have been the favorites had first-team all conference forward Robbie Hummel not gone down with a knee injury. That said Purdue still impressed in their final two games without Hummel to earn a share of the conference crown. Center JaJuan Johnson will have to continue to step up both defensively and on the glass if the Boilers want to repeat.
Michigan State: 20 percent
Tom Izzo's intensity alone gives the Spartans a shot at winning the conference tournament this year. Izzo is one of the best tournament coaches because of his constant preparation and his ability to get his team motivated almost instantly. To win three games in three days, there is no coach in the country I'd rather have than Izzo - the man probably gets no sleep at all during conference tournament week. But the Spartans have had some internal problems and could be without guard Chris Allen for the tournament.
Wisconsin: 5 percent
The Badgers have a roster full of players who were on the 2008 Big Ten Tournament Championship team, so they certainly have experience on their side. They also have Jon Leuer back from injury, and have won their last four games. Leuer's impact on the Badgers could decide exactly how far they make it both this weekend and for the remainder of March. He is averaging 15 points and six boards per game and has scored in double figures four times since his return.
Illinois: 2 percent
Think that rating is too low? Just take a look at Illinois' resume. The so-called "bubble team" has looked far from tournament-caliber in late February. The Illini have lost five of six games and a loss to Wisconsin in the first round would seal their fate. Many experts have Illinois as one of their last teams in or last first teams out. If the Illini don't win the Big Ten they will have 14 losses - two more than Big East outsiders Seton Hall and South Florida and only two quality wins - Vanderbilt and at Wisconsin.
Minnesota: 2 percent
If the Gophers have a chance at getting back into bubble talk, they will have to make a run in the Big Ten Tournament. They may not have to win it, but three wins and a trip to the title game is probably the minimum required for Minnesota to have a chance at avoiding the NIT. They have the talent to do so. Lawrence Westbrook is one of the conference's most clutch players, and despite a 1-5 record against the conference's "Big Three," the Gophers have lost two of those games by just one point. Along with Purdue, they are also one of two Big Ten teams to beat Ohio State with Evan Turner this year.
Penn State: 1 percent
The reason the Nittany Lions get a 1 percent chance, while Northwestern, Michigan and Indiana are left with nothing is because of the Lions' form in the last two weeks. After getting off to an 0-12 start, they are 3-3 in their last six. But the proof of their slim chances lies beyond the wins. In two of the losses, Penn State held its own against a pair of teams - Ohio State and Purdue - vying for a regular season conference crown and an overall No. 1 seed. It's a slim chance, (one in a hundred) but the Lions' recent form - specifically the much-improved, aggressive play of Jeff Brooks - makes it impossible to say they have no shot.
Here are the key points of Penn State coach Cael Sanderson's weekly radio show.
Adam Lynch didn't receive an at-large bid to nationals. Six Penn State wrestlers -- Brad Pataky, Frank Molinaro, Cyler Sanderson, Dan Vallimont, Dave Erwin and Cameron Wade -- will travel to Omaha, Neb. for the NCAA championship. "It doesn't take away from the tremendous impact," Sanderson said of Lynch's season.
Sanderson said Penn State wrestled well at the Big Ten tournament but not to full potential. "We just didn't wrestle lights out like we needed to," Sanderson said.
Sanderson said Erwin has the ability to make a national championship run, as seen by the coaches, but it is up to the 184-pounder to take on the aggressor attitude needed to win.
When Cameron Wade wrestles to the best of his ability... "He is not a guy people want to wrestle," Sanderson said. "He's hard to score on."
The emphasis leading up to the NCAA tournament will be gaining confidence and feeling physically ready. Sanderson said the Nittany Lions need to see the national tournament as an opportunity to fulfill something they've always looked forward to.
Sanderson said Brad Pataky, who has his cheek stitched up because of wrestling at the Big Ten championship, will need to compete with the same aggressive mentality, but the coach acknowledged the 125-pounder sometimes forces moves, allowing opponents to take advantage of his vulnerability.
After closing out a four-game homestand with a loss to No. 9 Virginia, No. 13 Penn State is spending its spring break preparing to hit the road for the next three games. The first of the stretch is against Delaware this Saturday.
Coach Suzanne Isidor said the team struggled pull out of an early 8-0 hole in Sunday's game, and she said her team will be focusing on finishing plays both on offense and defense. Though she prefers staying at home, Isidor said she thinks the team is ready for the roadtrip and hopes getting away from Happy Valley can help the Nittany Lions come together.
The Nittany Lions are entering the home stretch of their season when they face three ranked teams Friday at Utah. Through nine meets, with just two regular-season meets before the Big Ten championships, I thought this would be a good time to examine the top three Penn State gymnasts in each of the events and in the all-around. Below are the rankings based on the gymnast's average and the gymnast's ranking on that event. Rankings for individual gymnasts are determined by Regional Qualifying Score (RQS), which takes the gymnast's top six meets on that event, three of which must be road meets. The top score is then eliminated and the remaining five are averaged to get the RQS.
The rundown: The No. 9 Nittany Lions kick off their California road trip with a visit to No. 11 UC Irvine.
Getting hot: The defending national champions are having a bit of an off year. The Anteaters are 11-10 with a 6-9 mark in the MPSF. However, they've won three of their last four, including victories over No. 8 UCLA and No. 15 Lewis.
Attack mode: Opposite hitter Carson Clark leads the Anteaters' offense. The 6-foot-5 sophomore is averaging 5.07 kills per game, good for third in the nation. Clark has recorded 20 or more kills in 11 matches this year.
Their Dufault guy: Junior Jordan DuFault has been clutch of late for Irvine. The 6-foot-4 outside hitter has recorded double-digit kills in each of the last 11 matches, including 25 kills against UC Santa Barbara and 20 against UCLA.
What's cool about this match? Irvine and Penn State account for the last three national titles. The Anteaters were champs in 2007 and 2009 while the Lions outlasted perennial power Pepperdine in 2008 to claim the program's second-ever title.
We compiled some YouTube highlights from the last three years:
Prediction: Penn State 3, Irvine 2. I think the Lions come into this week's road trip -- matches against No. 11 Irvine, No. 4 BYU and No. 6 Long Beach -- with no expectations. They'll be disappointed if they return to Happy Valley without any wins, yet they'll probably be just as surprised if they come home with two or three victories. The Lions are playing good volleyball right now, but they haven't been tested.
This week, they will be.
Their best bet for a win is against the Anteaters, who aren't having a particularly strong year. If the Lions come out, play confident and minimize careless errors, they have a good chance of taking this match.
Talk of the Big Ten Championships is winding down, and people are beginning to look ahead to the national tournament. Penn State coach Cael Sanderson was one of just two wrestlers in NCAA Division I history to win four national titles. Roger Moore (not the man who played Bond, James Bond) looked at which current freshmen could be the next to win four championships in an article on NCAA.com.
Here's a list of the freshmen in the Big Ten with the best chances of winning an NCAA championship this season.
5. Cache Quiroga (Purdue) - The 125-pounder finished the season with a 19-6 record and was ranked No. 18 in the country by Intermat. He had a rocky Big Ten tournament but was able to finish in sixth-place. Quiroga struggled against some of his top opponents and will be a long shot to win the 125-pound title.
4. Ian Paddock (Ohio State) - Paddock ended the regular season by nearly shocking Iowa's Daniel Dennis in a 3-2 defeat. The 133-pounder was mediocre in the conference championships but was able to finish fifth. Paddock will need to take some major steps to take the title.
3. Mario Mason (Minnesota) - Don't look farther than the Big Ten to see the obstacles Mason faces. While the 149-pounder is ranked No. 17 by Intermat, four Big Ten wrestlers are in the top five so don't be fooled by his fifth-place finish at the conference tournament. However, he'll have to get by some of those elite Big Ten 149-pounders if he wants to be a national champion this season.
2. Tyler Graff (Wisconsin) - Graff was 24-5 in the regular season and went 7-1 in Big Ten dual meets. He finished the season ranked No. 6 among the nation's 133-pounders. Graff finished fourth at Big Tens, behind the three conference grapplers who are ranked above him. With an entire season under his belt, Graff could make some adjustments and make a run at the NCAA title.
1. Matt McDonough (Iowa) - No Big Ten freshman was as impressive in 2010 as the Iowa 125-pounder. That was made clear when he was named the Big Ten Freshman of the Year after the conference tournament. McDonough narrowly missed winning the 125-pound title at Big Tens when he lost the title bout, 6-4. With a No. 3 rank in the nation, McDonough should be a serious contender at the NCAA Championships.
Following up on the hand tie, we'll now focus on the collar tie. Brad Pataky touched on the technique Monday, but today, 197-pounder Clay Steadman (right) will delve into more detail. Here is a clip explaining what Steadman is looking to do in a collar tie.
How many career wins does coach Mark Pavlik have? Don't ask him -- he doesn't know the answer. Pavlik does know, however, that one of his peers just reached a historic milestone. Pepperdine coach Marv Dunphy, a legendary figure in the MPSF, just recorded his 500th career victory as a coach.
Here, Pavlik reflects on what that means to him and the rest of the volleyball community:
Oh, and for the record, entering tomorrow night's match against UC Irvine, Pavlik has 391 career wins.
Coming off their worst score of the season, the Nittany Lions posted a season-high 196.725 to take home first place at Sunday's quad-meet against Bridgeport, Maryland and No. 12 Michigan.
It was a shocking turnaround for the Lions considering they were competing without sophomore All-American Whitney Bencsko.
So how did the Lions grade out? Let's take a look.
Analysis: The Lions received the same grade last week despite scoring a 49.275 compared to this weekend's 49.100. So what gives? The Lions received the same grade because of Sharaya Musser, who was able to step up her game in the absence of Whitney Bencsko and perform a near flawless routine. Musser scored a 9.975 and received a 10.000 from one judge. Individually, she lifted the Lions' grade by at least one. Usual vault winner Brandi Personett scored a 9.925. The rest of the team struggled a bit on vault as they counted two 9.725s.
The Nittany Lions are midway through their Texas road trip. Up next for the Penn State baseball team is a short two-game series with Texas A&M. The Aggies broke into the NCBWA Division I Poll Monday and are ranked No. 29. This should prove to be the Lions' toughest test yet. Here are the statistical leaders of each team.
Penn State (4-3) at Texas A&M (9-2)
PSU- Joey DeBernardis (.323), Michael Glantz (.313), Mario Eramo (.313)
A&M- Joe Patterson (.500), Brodie Greene (.452), Kevin Gonzalez (.394)
PSU- Ben Heath (4), Jordan Steranka (2), Mario Eramo (1)
A&M- Caleb Shofner (4), Three tied at 1
Runs Batted In
PSU- Ben Heath (9), Jordan Steranka (6), Two tied at 5
A&M- Caleb Shofner (15), Brodie Greene (10), Two tied at 8
PSU- Sean Deegan (5), Three tied at 2
A&M- Scott Arthur (5), Joe Patterson (4), Brodie Greene (4)
Today we are meeting Junior Maggie Dunbar. The Cockeysville, Md., native played defense for Penn State for most of her career, but this year she has made the transition to midfield. Her quick feet and speed have opened doors on the Nittany Lion attack.
1.What is your biggest pet peeve?
When people chew with their mouth open.
2. Favorite place to eat in State College?
Otto's on Atherton
3.Favorite class you have taken at Penn State?
4.Favorite to sport to watch?
Ed Reed of the Baltimore Ravens
6.If you had a million dollars, what would you do with it?
I would travel to as many places as I could.
7.Name three famous people (dead or alive) you would like to have dinner with.
Dr. Laura Schlessinger, George Bush, Aristotle
8. If you could have gone on Spring Break where would it have been?
For the sixth time this season, a Penn State gymnast is the Big Ten Gymnast of the Week. For the first time this season, however, that gymnast is not Brandi Personett. It is freshman Sharaya Musser. And not only did Musser take home one award, but she swept the weekly laurels as she also took home Big Ten Freshman of the Week honors.
The pair of accolades come after the highly-touted freshman was a key component in putting together Penn State's best score since March 16, 2007 and an upset of No. 12 Michigan. Musser posted a 39.600, a Penn State freshman record, in just her third meet performing the all-around. It was the first time this season a Nittany Lion gymnast scored higher than Brandi Personett in the all-around as Musser edged out her teammate by .025 for first-place in the meet. Musser either set or tied career highs on each of the four events. Musser placed first in the vault in the quad-meet with a 9.975, which means one judge scored her a perfect 10. The gymnast also took home an individual title on the balance beam with a 9.925. She finished fourth on bars with a 9.875 and was sixth in the floor exercise with a 9.825.
Musser also cracked the vault rankings this week and sits at No. 23.
If you've followed this segment since the start (and I certainly hope you have), I'm sure you've seen a certain theme in my writing.
I'm not a fan of Allen Iverson. At least, not anymore.
I won't lie. I may not have loved the Sixers, but I loved watching Iverson play. I remember watching him just fill up the stat sheet at will. I had a jersey, and I certainly had the sneakers.
Then he was traded to my team, the Detroit Pistons. He, along with then-head coach Michael Curry, general manager Joe Dumars and bickering between the team led to the downfall of one of the more prolific runs in our lifetime. Six-straight Eastern Conference Finals appearance, two Finals appearances and an NBA title.
It all ended with Iverson's arrival and subsequent abandonment of the team. While not fully responsible, once again his actions did not live up to his words, and Pistons fans hated him as the symbol of the end of the era.
Now, less than a year removed from his last game as a Piston, I sit here feeling sorry for Allen Iverson, the man.
As reported by Stephen A. Smith in today's Inquirer, The Answer is in big trouble.
Iverson is dealing with major gambling and alcohol issues, made worse by the health of his ill daughter and his wife filing for divorce.
With the Big Ten Conference Awards show airing on the Big Ten Network tonight at 7:30 p.m., the Harwood Hits writers still in the U.S. offer up their thoughts, or in AJ's case, the "guaranteed to be right" picks.
In preparation for the NCAA championship in two weeks, Back Points is going to break down the ins and outs of wrestling moves, techniques and terminology. This is a chance for all you wrestling novices to learn about the sport before its culmination in Omaha, Neb. Today, we'll start with the hand tie. In the following clip, Brad Pataky explains the hand tie and talks about the effectiveness of the technique as opposed to the collar tie.
Penn State's Regional Qualifying Score (RQS) increased by .100 but Missouri, which scored a 196.200 on the road Sunday, jumped the Lions all the way up to No. 14.
RQS is calculated by taking a team's top six meets, three of which must be away meets. Then the top score is taken out and the remaining five are averaged. This is how Penn State's RQS of 195.390 is calculated:
Top Six Meets
PSU vs. Michigan, Bridgeport and Maryland (March 7): 196.725*
PSU at Pittsburgh (Feb. 13): 196.450
PSU vs. Illinois (Feb. 6): 196.425
PSU vs. Alabama and Minnesota (Jan. 30): 196.025
PSU at Denver with Air Force (Jan. 16): 194.150
PSU at Michigan State with West Virginia and Western Michigan (Jan. 8): 193.900
*Not factored into RQS
Though the Lions have now defeated Michigan and Illinois this year at Rec Hall, they still sit behind both in the conference rankings at No. 3. On a national scale, the Wolverines and Fighting Illini sit at Nos. 12 and 13, respectively.
On the specific events, Penn State dropped three spots to No. 7 in vault and No. 15 on the uneven parallel bars. The Lions moved up two spots to No. 21 on the balance beam but dropped four spots to No. 22 in the floor exercise.
Brandi Personett dropped to third in the all-around but remained the No. 2 vaulter. The senior also remained No. 8 on the balance beam but dropped one spot to No. 4 in the floor exercise.
After a 9.975, meaning one judge scored her a perfect 10, freshman Sharaya Musser cracked the vault rankings tied at No. 23. Sophomore Natalie Ettl, who scored a 9.950 on the bars Sunday, jumped up five spots to No. 12 in the event.
Here are some key things to take away from Saturday's loss and to take into Tuesday's matchup with Villanova.
Penn State finds itself in the same 0-3 hole as last year. After an 11-10 overtime loss to Ohio State, the Nittany Lions will face Villanova Tuesday -- the only Penn State opponent, out of its first four, not to receive votes in the latest United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association Division I Coaches Poll. The game should be a needed break from top-tier competition.
Dave Baker was the only Lion goalie to play Saturday. He tallied eight saves in more than 61 minutes of play opposed to seven saves in about 39 minutes against Notre Dame. Baker hasn't necessarily taken over the goaltending spot so look for John Nichols to get some time Tuesday.
Penn State shot the ball 55 times opposed to Ohio State's 31 shots. The Lions tripled the Buckeyes' shot total in the fourth period, 21-7, but scored only one more goal than Ohio State in that period. Either the Lions need to work on shooting higher percentage shots or the goals are bound to come.
Penn State, winning 17 of 25 face-offs, dominated that area Saturday. Its face-off percentage has now reached .570.
A huge win for Penn State. Check back later in the day for complete coverage of all the day's happenings.
This is Jared Shanker signing off. Thanks for joining me this afternoon.
9.725 for Merriam.
Personett scores a 9.925.
Personett is done, wrapping up the meet for all four teams.
Personett is performing now.
The Wolverines are finished with the meet, scoring a 196.575.
Merriam also steps out of bounds.
Musser wraps up her routine, leaving Merriam and Personett left.
Personett finally takes off the sweats and starts preparing for her routine.
The injured Whitney Bencsko is talking to Merriam before her routine.
Rohrbaugh falls out of bounds. The Lions will need to be near perfect the rest of the way.
Personett has her sweats back on and continues to play with her ankle while Rohrbaugh performs.
Konsevick scores a 9.825 to start it appears.
Personett appeared to land awkwardly in her touch and is paying close to attention to her left ankle.
I'll keep you updated at home if there is anything more to this. I'll keep a close on her eye.
The Wolverines' and Lions' lineups for the final events:
The Lions lead the Wolverines by 0.475 with one event left. The Wolverines struggled on bars, going 48.750, and they have the toughest event - beam - left.
The Lions have answered the bell in a big way.
They stand at 147.675 with just the floor exercise left. A 49.325 on floor and they are at 197 today.
Southard sticks. Six for six on beam for the Lions.
This is what Shephard said this team was capable of all year. They are going to go 49.350, by far the best score on beam this season.
Michigan's Martinez may have fallen on the bars. She scores a 9.275. Her score will count, which puts Pen State in great position to win.
Personett follows suit with a stick.
Allie Southard now anchors for the event.
Musser makes it four straight gymnasts to stay on as she also lands the dismount perfectly.
I said it on Friday: this is a critical meet for the Lions.
And the Lions have risen to the occasion through 2.5 events.
Merriam also stays on and sticks the dismount.
Michigan's Maureen Moody falls on the bars and scores a 8.425. The Wolverines have no room for error now on bars.
Hover finishes her routine without a fall and sticks the landing.
This should give the Lions a lot of confidence two gymnasts into the event.
Merriam is up.
Rohrbaugh stays on the beam to lead things off for the Lions.
And, it's a 9.850 for the Lions. Great start on beam.
Hover is up.
Hover will perform on beam for just the second time this year today. She'll replace Daryl Konsevick.
The Lions are on pace for well over a 196 and a very outside shot at 197.
But, they step up to the beam, which has been a horror show of sorts for them at times this year.
Will the 49.175 beam team show up or the 47.875 one from a week ago?
Correction, Michigan has a 98.450, not a 99.450.
Not quite for Ettl, who scores a 9.950.
Lions score a 49.225 on bars, putting them at 98.325, just behind Michigan's 98.450.
Ettl finishes and Personett approaches her screaming "10."
Personett goes 9.825 and Musser scores a 9.875 on the bars.
Sophomore bar specialist Natalie Ettl is set to finish off the event for the Lions.
The Wolverines are doing extremely well on the vault. They have a 49.325 with anchor Natalie Beilstein's score still waiting to be posted.
49.400 for the Wolverines.
One of the Maryland floor exercise performers dances to a medley of Michael Jackson. This reporter approves.
Michigan's Katie Zurales may have began the Wolverines' vault with a 9.900. Trying to get confirmation.
The Lions' Alex Stine is really struggling on the bars right now. Emotions of competing for the first time in a year may have gotten to her.
Penn State and Michigan fans get into a battle of chants from across Rec Hall.
Penn State fans start with the "We are ... Penn State," and Michigan fans answer with "Let's go blue."
And event No. 2 has started.
Sophomore Alex Stine is making her debut this year as she will be performing on bars, replacing the injured Bencsko.
All-American Alexandra Brockway is not competing on bars. I'm not sure why. I'll be sure to ask coach Shephard after the meet.
Wolverines score a 49.050 on the event, giving the Lions a slight lead through the first event.
Scores through one:
Penn State 49.100
Scores starting to come for Michigan. With the exception of Martinez' fall, the Wolverines have been great on floor. A 9.800, 9.875 and 9.900 have been posted thus far with all-around star Kylee Botterman's score still not posted and anchor Jaclyn Kramer performing now.
Musser's 9.975 marks the first time Personett hasn't finished tops among the Lions on the vault this year. The two tied on the event last week with a 9.900.
Musser has been dynamite the last few weeks. If she can stay on the beam, she could hit 39.450.
Musser nearly records a perfect score, going 9.975. Personett also tops 9.9, scoring a 9.925.
A great end to the vault for the Lions. Not a great overall score (49.100), but tons of momentum heading into the uneven bars.
Scores have yet to be posted for any of Michigan's floor performers. Not sure what the hold up is.
Personett follows suit with a stuck landing of her own.
Musser sticks her landing and brings the crowd to its feet for the time this afternoon.
The crowd might as well stay up with Personett set to perform.
Lions not off to a great start on vault. Rohrbaugh scores in the 9.6s and Merriam scores a 9.725.
Michigan freshman Brittnee Martinez falls early in her floor routine for the Wolverines. Bad start for the Wolverines.
It looks like the Lions will put out a vault lineup of Casey Rohrbaugh, Madison Merriam, Danielle Hover, Rosie Smith, Sharaya Musser and Brandi Personett.
The Wolverines will start on floor, adjacent to the Lions.
The National Anthem has been performed, the introductions have taken place - it's time for the meet to start.
A number of the Wolverine faithful have made the trip down to Happy Valley as the visitors' side of Rec Hall is littered with fans draped in the famous maize and blue.
A few members of the Nittany Lions' team are playfully getting into it with the Wolverines' fans. As the fans are doing the "Go Blue" chant, the Lions are chiming in and interrupting it.
Good afternoon, gymnastics fans.
This is Jared Shanker reporting live from inside Rec Hall as the No. 17 Nittany Lions face off in a quad-meet against No. 12 Michigan, Maryland and Bridgeport.
I can't imagine a better way to spend the first beautiful afternoon in six months than here with me, following the best (and only) live blog of Penn State women's gymnastics action.
It was over when...: the Nittany Lions scheduled a trip to California right after this match. The upset-minded Patriots didn't have a chance in this one with the Lions poised to use the match as tune-up for their looming battles with top-15 competition.
Player of the Match: Joe Sunder. Just three days after the redshirt sophomore outside hitter struggled in the Lions' win at Ohio State, Sunder led the team with 14 kills on .542 hitting. Against the Buckeyes, Sunder was the only PSU attacker to hit below .400, but Saturday he had the highest hitting percentage of Penn State attackers seeing significant playing time. A role usually reserved for Will Price, Sunder got the most sets of any Lion and took advantage.
Stat of the Match: 14. The number of digs recorded by Penn State's star libero Dennis Del Valle. Most EIVA teams hit away from Del Valle to force other Lions to play defense. Thus, Del Valle's digs have been down recently. The digs by Del Valle show the Patriots didn't hit away from him as much as most do, and he showed why most teams stay away from him.
The Icers got an early scare Saturday but advanced through to the ACHA quarterfinals to face the Central Oklahoma Bronchos in the ACHA Quarterfinals this afternoon.
Central Oklahoma, the No. 10 seed, is one of two lower seeds to advance past the first round, with No. 11 Arizona State being the other low seed to advance. The Bronchos are coming off an 5-4 double-overtime upset of No. 7 Oklahoma. This is also the first ever meeting between the two programs.
With that, here's a brief scouting report on the Bronchos.
No. 1 Lindenwood vs. No. 8 Minot State - 5 p.m. EST
No. 2 Penn State vs. No. 10 Central Oklahoma - 2 p.m. EST
No. 3 Ohio vs. No. 11 Arizona State - 8 p.m. EST
No. 4 Illinois vs. No. 5 Iowa State - 11 a.m. EST
Yesterday's Prediction Records
Copain's Second-Round Predictions
Lindenwood over Minot State
Penn State over Central Oklahoma
Arizona State over Ohio
Illinois over Iowa State
Casella's Second-Round Predictions
Lindenwood 6, Minot State 2
The Lions are the top-seeded team for a reason. They rolled over No. 16 Rutgers yesterday and should do the same with Minot State today. The Beavers have had a good season and deserved to be here, but Lindenwood won't be challenged until at least Tuesday's semifinal game.
Penn State 7, Central Oklahoma 4
On another day, the Bronchos might put up more of a fight, but the circumstances just aren't in their favor. Sure, the double-overtime win over their rival Oklahoma yesterday might give them momentum coming in to today, but I look at it a different way. This team will be tired. Not only did the Bronchos play into double OT yesterday, but goalie Justin Sgro faced 49 shots. There will likely be some effects from yesterday on today's matchup.
Ohio 5, Arizona State 2
Look for the Bobcats to bounce back from yesterday's lackluster performance with a big game today. Ohio needed a third-period goal to escape the No. 14 Colonials, who had a sub-.500 record coming into the tournament, 2-1. Arizona State pulled off the 7-4 upset of No. 6 Liberty, but look for Ohio to respond today by showing everyone why they were considered one of the favorites in this tournament by many.
Iowa State 5, Illinois 4
Iowa State already played a close game yesterday and are in tournament mode, whereas Illinois' 7-0 romp against overmatched Stony Brook might come back to hurt them. Illinois wasn't tested yesterday and that could play a role in today's game if it comes down to the wire. Iowa State pulls the day's only upset today.
Three of the four games played on the East Rink yesterday could have qualified for our "Game of the Day," but the Oklahoma vs. Central Oklahoma contest takes the honor. Copain picked the No. 5 Iowa State vs. No. 12 Kent State game to be the day's best and it didn't disappoint, going to overtime before Iowa State advanced in a 7-6 thriller. Kinslow's pick of No. 6 Liberty vs. No. 11 Arizona State lacked any overtime drama, but did provide the day's biggest upset with the Sun Devils moving on after a 7-4 victory. But Casella's Oklahoma vs. Central Oklahoma pick provided a double overtime game in which No. 10 Central Oklahoma beat the No. 7 Sooners for the first time in five tries this season. The Sooners overcame a 4-2 third period deficit, scoring two unanswered goals to get the game to overtime. But after both teams went scoreless in the first overtime, COU notched the game-winner on its 32nd shot of the game. The Bronchos were outshot by OU 49 -32.
Only two lower seeds advanced out of the first round, No. 11 Arizona State and No. 10 Central Oklahoma. Though both games were technically upsets based on seeding, both of those games were basically toss-ups going in. The No. 3 Ohio Bobcats avoided a first-round stunner, however, just barely escaping the host team, No. 14 Robert Morris (Ill.) with a 2-1 victory.
No. 1 Lindenwood scored five first-period goals en route to an 8-3 rout of No. 16 Rutgers. The Lions outshot Rutgers 58-19 and wasted no time reminding everyone that they are the defending champions and No. 1 seed.
No. 2 Penn State overcame yet another rocky second period and dismissed the No. 15 SUNY-Canton Kangaroos by a score of 7-3. After a first period in which each team scored one goal, the Icers opened the scoring in the second period before giving up two straight goals to the Kangaroos, falling behind 3-2. Penn State, however, responded with three more second-period goals of its own, and added two more in the third for the 7-3 final.
No. 4 Illinois shutout No. 13 Stony Brook 7-0, despite a scoreless first period. The Illini scored two goals in the second, before putting away the Wolves with a five-goal third period.
No. 8 Minot State eliminated No. 9 Oakland with a 3-2 overtime victory. The Beavers blew a 2-0 lead before eventually winning the game in overtime.
Penn State will get its second chance at Lamar on Sunday. Junior lefty Calvin Grumley will start the game for the Nittany Lions, Penn State athletic communication assistant Justin Lafleur confirmed in a text message Saturday.
Grumley started against Notre Dame last weekend, lasting four innings. The Johnsonburg native scattered 10 hits and gave up five earned runs, two walks and a strikeout through 85 pitches.
I watched him throw during an intrasquad scrimmage before the season started and his stuff looked very solid. He was working on a nice breaking ball and an off-speed pitch.
As a sophomore last season, Grumley started eight games and threw 44.1 innings for an average of 5 & a half per outing. The Lions have gotten good performances from their last three starters, so the bullpen pitchers' arms are relatively fresh I'm sure. Still, with six games in eight days, every pitcher will be asked to eat up innings. The Lions need more than four innings out of Grumley.
Lamar's ace pitched Saturday, so the Lions are not likely to be dominated they were in Saturday's late game. Lamar (9-2) has used four starters so far this season and three of them have pitched in the last two days. Blake Ford pitched in Lamar's 12-9 loss to McNeese State on Saturday night and Jonathan Dziedzic pitched Friday.
That leaves Eric Harrington, who has an 8.64 ERA through two games this season. Harrington was the Cardinals' opening day starter, holding Maine to one run over six innings. He followed that performance up with a brutal showing versus North Dakota State. His stat line from that game: 2.1 innings pitched, seven earned runs and eight hits allowed.
I'm not sure if he's injured, but Harrington was voted the SLC Freshman of the Year last season, posting a 3.01 ERA and an 8-1 record. The kid can pitch. Still, with the way Penn State was swinging the bats before Saturday's Lamar game, they should be salivating at Harrington's stat line from Feb. 27.
Check the Collegian for coverage of Sunday's rubber match against the Cardinals.
Jackson did his part - as he always does - on the rebounding end, but his six-point effort probably could have been a little higher. Jackson played solid defense and contributed with a pair of steals, but with Battle leaving the game early because of stomach cramps, the Lions could have used more from Jackson down the stretch.
Jeff Brooks: B+
Brooks has been playing the best basketball of his career in the last three weeks, and that continued into Saturday's contest. He had 12 points, but more importantly - with main big man Andrew Jones in foul trouble - Brooks pulled down seven boards. He was smart with shot selection, too, shooting 63 percent from the floor, and he hit the one 3-pointer he took. JaJuan Johnson constantly beat Brooks and the Lions' defense down low, but that was more of a result of a matchup problem with Jones out of the game.
Drew Jones: B-
Jones played one of the better games of the conference season - when he was playing. The junior center picked up two early fouls, and fouled out of the game in the final minutes. His absence allowed Purdue's big man, JaJuan Johnson to abuse the Lions for 21 points and 10 boards. But despite the foul problems, it is obvious that Jones has been working on his footwork. He is much more agile around the basket and a much better finisher than when the year began.
Chris Babb: B+
Babb's 17 points equaled the team-high tonight for the Lions. He had a typical Chris Babb performance, hoisting 11 shots - 10 coming from beyond the arc. Babb's miss with seven seconds remaining ultimately would have tied the game. Penn State turned to Babb once Battle went down, and the sophomore guard pulled the Lions close but couldn't get them even in the final moments of the ballgame.
Talor Battle: Incomplete
Battle was on pace for one of his better games of the year, but then he left the game with eight minutes to go. See Andrew Robinson's story for details.
Tim Frazier: B
Frazier was the only bench player to score, and even then he only scored two points. The Lions have struggled to find scoring from the pine in their last two contests. That said, Frazier had five assists and stepped in nicely after Battle went down. The lack of bench production is hardly Frazier's fault.
Tonight marks the Big Ten tournament semifinals and so far there has been nothing too mad about March for the conference through the first seven games. While last year's tournament saw seventh seeded Wisconsin upset No. 2 Michigan State in the second round, this year's top four seeds have advanced. No. 2 Michigan State takes on No. 3 Iowa at 5 p.m. and No. 1 Ohio State faces No. 4 Wisconsin afterward at 7:25 p.m. Here is a look at what happened during Days one and Day two as well as what you can expect tonight.
No. 6 Penn State- 63
No. 11 Minnesota- 52
As you read on Friday, things started to finally click for Penn State in the first round. Tyra Grant struggled at first with her shooting but picked things up at the right time in the second half as Penn State knocked off the Golden Gophers. Nikki Greene was the only other Lady Lion in double-digit scoring with 12 as Penn State's offense struggled. However, the defense was enough to hold off Minnesota. The Lions forced 21 turnovers off of 11 steals and forced Minnesota to shoot under 30 percent from the field.
No. 9 Illinois- 59
No. 8 Indiana- 53
Illinois' Jenna Smith and Indiana's Jori Davis battled it out in this first round matchup with Smith's Fighting Illini coming out on top. Smith had herself a stellar performance to fuel the victory, finishing with 23 points and 19 rebounds. On the other side, Davis chipped in 20 points, but not too many others added scoring. Jamie Braun added 13 points but the other three Hoosier starters combined for just two points. Illinois grabbed 46 rebounds and held Indiana to less than 28 percent shooting from the field en route to victory.
No. 7 Michigan- 67
No. 10 Northwestern- 54
This was Michigan's victory from the start. Outscoring the Wildcats 38-16 in the first half, the Wolverines held on in the second half to defeat Northwestern. Both teams held onto the ball as neither had more than 10 turnovers but the difference was Michigan's ability to get to the free-throw line. Northwestern shot a perfect 10-for-10 from the charity stripe, but Michigan got to the line more than twice as the Wildcats, which proved to be just enough for the victory.
No. 3 Iowa- 82
No. 6 Penn State- 75
The Lions got a superstar performance out of Grant but couldn't find an answer for Iowa's sharp shooting in this high scoring second round showdown. The Penn State senior finished the game with 32 points and nine rebounds while freshman Alex Bentley picked things up for 18 points. However, though Penn State shot a better field goal percentage and finished with more rebounds, it was Iowa's 11 3-pointers and near-perfect 21-for-22 free-throw shooting that knocked the Lions out of the tournament.
No. 2 Michigan State- 61
No. 7 Michigan- 50
The Spartans handled the Wolverines in their first game of the tournament thanks to four players finishing in double-digit scoring for Michigan State. MSU only allowed Michigan to pick up 22 rebounds the entire game as they shot a successful 40 percent from the floor. However, the Spartans six-foot-nine center Allyssa DeHaan left the game in the first half with back spasms and didn't return.
No. 1 Ohio State- 66
No. 9 Illinois- 55
As it has all season, Ohio State relied on its two stars, Jantel Lavender and Samantha Prahalis, to ease past Illinois. While neither player lit up the boxscore, Lavender had 19 points and Prahalis had 13, a dominant performance wasn't needed by either in this one. Illinois hit only two free-throws, turned the ball over 17 times and lacked the necessary big game by Smith to pull off the upset.
No. 4 Wisconsin- 73
No. 5 Purdue- 51
A potential darkhorse in the tournament, Purdue saw its NCAA tournament chances shot down Friday night against the Badgers. Wisconsin shot over 50 percent from the floor, hit eight threes and got four starters to finish in double-digit scoring to defeat the Boilermakers by 22 points. Purdue's players struggled mightily shooting the ball as the team was unable to find a consistent scoring threat on the entire team. As it did against Penn State at the end of the regular season, Wisconsin shut down Friday's opponent in the first half, going into halftime with a 16-point lead.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR TONIGHT
1. Ohio State's dynamic duo- Neither Lavender nor Prahalis showed what they are capable of doing against Illinois, but, against Iowa, at least one of them will have to have a big game tonight. Look for the speedy Prahalis to camp out beyond the 3-point line and launch a few from downtown as she did against Penn State earlier this year.
2. Iowa's 3-point shooting- Call it bad luck or just poor 3-point defense, but Penn State couldn't catch a break in big games from beyond the arc. Ohio State hit a Big Ten record against them during the regular reason and Iowa made 11 of them against the Lions yesterday. To keep up with Ohio State's offense tonight, Iowa will need to carry over that success from 3-point land.
3. Allyssa DeHaan's health- Will she play or won't she? The recently named Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year is questionable going into tonight's game. Offensively, Michigan State can probably survive without her but on the defensive end her presence would be greatly missed. If she's in the lineup tonight, it will be interesting to see how successful she can play. Earlier this year against Penn State she was under the weather and her impact was limited.
4. Wisconsin first half defense- As we saw a couple weeks ago against Penn State and yesterday against Purdue, Wisconsin likes to bury its opponents early. If the Badgers' defense is on its game and forces early turnovers, the offense will find ways to score and create a hole for Michigan State to have to climb out of tonight.
Babb misses a three off the side of the rim. Frazier chases it down and fumbles it out, giving it back to Purdue. Horrifying thought - AJ predicted that perfectly.
Jones called for his fifth and final foul.
3.3 seconds, 63-60 Purdue
He makes it. Jones called for the foul and puts Moore at the line with 16.7 seconds. One and one.
Moore makes the first and PSU takes time.
16.7 seconds 2nd half, 62-60 Purdue with one FT left.
Have to wonder if DeChellis has Babb miss on purpose and try to tie, or try and get the make and foul.
Brooks hit for a foul, the team's seventh, finally putting Purdue at the line. One and one for Grant.
He misses it and PSU gets the rebound. On the three, Grant fouls Babb, who goes to the line.
That's one. That's two. That's a timeout.
18.9 seconds 2nd half. 61-59 Purdue
Still no sign of Battle out of the timeout.
Ball into Frazier who finds Babb. Babb misses the shot and despite the best efforts of Jackson and the arrow pointing PSU's way, it goes to Purdue.
Crowd up again, and Moore hits a three. That could be the dagger, or at the very least a severed artery. Frazier fouls Kramer and the crowd is starting to make their way out.
Frazier for his second foul. Ball gets in to Moore, who is fouled by Babb.
Frazier swipes the inbounds, but has no idea what to do, eventually finding Brooks for a dunk. PSU really needed a three there, but its a four-point game with 30.6 left.
Have to give credit to Tim Frazier. With no Battle, it's all on him and he is playing very well.
BJC is UP right now, this place is bumpin'. Purdue miss and Jones rebounds, prompting the loudest cheer I've heard here all year. PSU takes a full timeout with the ball.
1:48 2nd half, 58-55 Purdue
2:40 left here and its a 58-55 Purdue lead as Steve's favorite techno song, Sandstorm, attacks the speakers. I'm still having nightmares from Crisler Arena and this isn't helping.
Babb for three.
Battle has been out for a while now, much longer than his usual breaks, and he isn't even on the bench at this point. We'll keep you updated.
Lions force a turnover. Jones scores and I'm informed the Big Ten Network is saying Battle has cramps.
Battle misses a tough layup, but Jackson able to draw contact on the putback an goes to the line. Makes the first and second, and Brooks on for Battle.
Jones tries to defend Johnson. Jones called for a foul. That's the fourth time that happened today. Johnson makes his first and second. Yeah, he's good.
Frazier gets tangled up underneath and whatever he was trying to do doesn't work. E'Twaun Moore throws a pass to Matt Painter however, and PSU gets it back.
Again, Frazier gets in, but blocked by Johnson this time. Johnson on the other end gets an offensive board and scores on the putback.
Brooks and-one. Foul is on Johnson, only his second. Hart for Barlow. Brooks makes the foul shot and it's a six-point game.
Grant open for three. Grant hits for three. That's easier than basic math, and I'm terrible at math.
That's three fouls on Johnson and Jackson will shoot. Matt Painter with some words for Hart, probably telling Hart he is no Robbie Hummel. Jackson makes one of two.
Ball gets deflected up and over the basket and we have a timeout.
3:48 2nd half. 58-50 Purdue
"UConn came back. Notre Dame and Marquette are in overtime! What a day of Big East hoops" - AJ Cassavell. Guy loves his college basketball.
We're back. Grant is not as he misses a pretty open three.
Tim Frazier with the bucket for PSU.
Awesome. Little kid in the front row, probably like 5, just got at the ref for missing a holding call. Ref predictably did not see it.
Battle with a dirty basket after the whistle. That will count and Battle goes to the line for one. He was off balance falling down and got it to go, unlike his FT.
Did that happen? JaJuan Johnson missed a shot, but nobody called a foul. Jones scores on a good feed from Battle.
Purdue is really, really good at boxing out. They're definitely getting away with some holds, but they are just clearing Lions out of the way.
DJ Jackson on for Battle. Grant with his fourth 3-pointer today. Purdue up by 12, make that nine as Babb hits a three.
Late foul on Edwards and it puts Moore at the line for two. Moore misses the first and it brings Kramer back on for Hart, who was not hurt it seems. Moore hits his second.
Jones backs down Johnson and gets the basket to go. Penn State is not folding, but they're also not stopping Purdue.
Timeout on the floor.
7:23 2nd, 51-44 Purdue
Gotta love the breakneck pace at which this game is clearly not being played at.
Wow this is a really long timeout, must be an infomercial or something.
That's a dunk. JaJuan Johnson gets up for a two-handed slam.
And then, Chris Babb hits a three. Which Kramer answers with a mid-range jumper.
Jackson drives in on Kramer, which is usually not a good idea. I'm right, as Kramer strips the ball and finds Johnson for a dunk.
Lewis Jackson called for a foul and it put Battle at the line. The junior hits his first, which brings Frazier on for the Lions replacing Jackson. Battle hits the second as Purdue makes some subs - surprise.
Hart called for a travel and he goes down grabbing his knee. He gets up with a grimace and comes off the floor. On the travel, he stopped awkwardly and appeared to twist his knee the wrong way.
Moore tagged up for a foul, but this just results for an inbounds. Purdue with more subs.
Ball goes out off Brooks' foot and we have a timeout
11:58 2nd half, 44-33 Purdue.
Teams back out and it's time to get this 30-22 debacle going again. Boilermakers get the rock to start the half.
If you haven't already, get over to our Twitter feed and follow AJ as he tweets in between checking the score of every other NCAA game being played today. Currently, he is enamored by a UConn fail against South Florida.
Jackson comes up with a steal and gets it to Babb who, unlike on Thursday, dribbles the ball down the court only to get called for a travel. Can't catch a break.
Moore hit for his second foul. Brooks with a three to get the second half scoring started. Yes it took that long, I told you this was an ugly game, but you didn't want to listen.
Kramer called for his second foul after a Purdue miss. But Purdue's all time steals leader comes up with another one and it leads to a tip-in for the guard.
Talor Battle is keeping Penn State in this as he hits another three. DJ Jackson hit for a foul and puts JaJuan Johnson at the line, again. He hits his first and second and now has 12.
Travel called on Purdue after the ballhandler got tripped up and couldn't throw the ball away. Jeff Brooks blocks Kramer, but in recovering the ball, flies out of bounds and passes it to ... Chris Kramer, who scores easily.
Moore follows up with a score and Purdue leads by ten. Ball appears to go off a Boilermaker and the ball goes back to Purdue anyway. Gotta love very attentive refs.
timeout, 15:01 2nd half, 38-28 Purdue
YES! I knew the BJC wouldn't leave me hanging. That super annoying Daughtry ad I hate so much just played. It's not a PSU home game without it.
Pretty sick/intimidating PSU baseball ad too, so I'm going to fire a shout-out to Steve and his partners on the baseball beat. They're doing a nice job so far, so check the Inside the Dugout blog over break for updates.
At the half, here are some numbers to peruse, or do whatever it is you do with numbers.
PSU 8-of-26 shooting for 30.8 percent. (Talor Battle 4-of-6 shooting)
Purdue 10-of-22 shooting for 45.5 percent
Purdue is winning the turnover and rebounding battle. 4-5 turnover edge and 18-15 margin on the glass.
Battle leads PSU with 10 points, while Grant leads all scorers with 11. JaJuan also with 10.
Chris Babb is the Lions' second leading scorer with five, but is shooting 1-of-5 from the floor, all from three.
Mind-numbing halftime today provided by the State College drumline, who have brought old paint buckets as their instruments. Awesome... if you're into really dumb things.
Play resumes with Brooks still on the floor. Battle tagged for a foul and it puts Kelsey Barlow at the line. He hits the first but bricks the second. Barlow responds by comitting a foul and putting Battle at the line. Mirror effect there.
Except Battle misses the FT.
Wow, Purdue lost the ball out and instead of turning to the random arrow "rule" they gave the ball to Penn State.
This is, to be honest, not a pretty game. Like, it's probably not even a 4 on the 10 scale. Lots of missed shots and more bad shots.
Grant gets inside for his first non-three basket. Jackson scores a three just before the buzzer and we go into the half here at the BJC. I need some caffeine, this game is sooooooo boring.
Purdue leads at half, 30-22.
Now there's a cluster of Boilermaker fans behind the Big Ten Network guys calling the game. State College has fallen into utter chaos. We have opposing fans dominating a home TV broadcast, that's just wrong.
Oh look, JaJuan Johnson is at the line and makes both. Dude's up to 10 points by the way, might want to guard him.
There's that Battle guy again. 3-ball is good, he also has 1o and Purdue may want to guard him.
You know what, guard Grant too, the guy just hit another triple. He has 9, on three made 3-pointers.
Shot clock runs out on Penn State but they get the ball back and Brooks draws a foul on Hart. Jones and Jackson back in for PSU and we're back to starters.
Brooks got hit in the eye on the last play and is down on the floor. He sits up and gets up under his own power, but the refs have called a stop to the game.
Timeout, 2:58 1st half. 28-19 Purdue.
Sasa called for a foul. JaJuan Johnson has gotten every call so far today. Or that foul was on Woodyard, despite the fact Sasa was all over Johnson. Guess the refs know best...
5:45 1st half, 23-16 Purdue.
There is an alarmingly large amount of Purdue fans here. Add an E'Twaun Moore jersey to the collection and a group of fans has cutout heads of the entire roster. That's only slightly creepy.
Frazier comes up with a steal and finds a sprinting Battle who dunks it despite what JaJuan Johnson wanted to say. Kramer and Babb back in the game. Scrum under the bucket leads to a PSU ball and the random possesion arrow back to Purdue for some reason. I don't get that rule. If that rule even exists.
Ok, Purdue. Stop subbing, we get it you have a deep team.
Penn State's favorite Serbian, Sasa Borovnjak in. And he is promptly called for a foul, which I think was just Serbian toughness.
JaJuan Johnson at the line...again. He hits the first and his second and the absurd number of substitutions continues.
It's Babb, Battle, Frazier, Brooks and Sasa for PSU. Kramer, Patrick Bade, Moore, Grant and John Hart for Purdue.
Babb with a big time three.
Cam Woodyard on for Babb. Sasa with a Serbian-esqe rebound. No idea what that means, but I had to do it.
Count that one for Jeff Brooks, nice play inside.
See, I told you, the number 32 makes everyone better. John Hart with a corner 3.
Brooks scores over Kramer. In Kramer's defense, his teammate got in the way. Moore misses a long ball and so does Babb while getting knocked down. Whistles stay silent.
Woodyard drives inside and bricks the lay-in. Purdue timeout.
5:51 1st half, 23-16 Purdue
Matt Painter paces his bench about as much as Tom Crean. Unlike Crean however, I doubt Painter is looking for Dwyane Wade.
E'Twaun Moore (heck of a first name) scores his first.
Offensive foul on DJ Jackson and we have a TV timeout.
11:24 first half. 18-7 Purdue
AJ has rejoined us in watching this game. That is until he finds another tantalizing college game to watch on his computer. I mean, it was West Virginia - Villanova, which is apparently a good game. I don't know, I watch real basketball in the NBA.
JaJuan Johnson misses his first FT but hits the second. The junior is handling Jones so far. Tim Frazier entered the game at the last pause, replacing the two-fouled Jones, so we'll see in Purdue tries to exploit their size.
John Hart, instantly Purdue's best player because he wears 32, in and scores.
Brooks gets inside and makes a nice play under the basket. Except he walked at the top of the key and the ref saw it fit to allow Brooks to get clobbered underneath. NCAA refs -- finest the country can offer.
Johnson with a basket, he has six of Purdue's 10. Battle responds after a feed from Brooks.
Grant, who just came back in, drains a 3. Kramer called for a foul. Bill Edwards on for PSU. I can hear Matt Painter telling his guards to pressure the ball.
Grant hits another three after a bad shot by Edwards and DeChellis calls time.
12:24 1st half. 16-7 Purdue
Before this game tips, I'm going to come clean. Chris Kramer trails only Scottie Reynolds on my favorite college players list. So if it seems like I'm really for this guy, I am.
Alright, this game is underway. PSU comes up with the tip, which like the rest of this game will be, was physical.
Babb misses a three on the first possession after 34 seconds of movement.
JaJuan Johnson makes the game's first basket and we have our first foul. It's on Lewis Jackson and Brooks will inbound to Battle. Again, my powers of premonition fail me, as Lewis Jackson is guarding Talor Battle, not Chris Kramer. Bye, bye story idea.
Jones misses an contested 18-foot and the Lions have yet to get on the board. Then the center is called for a foul on JaJuan Johnson who will shoot two.
Purdue's big man hits the first and rims out the second, which Jones boards. Battle puts the Lions on the board and ties the game with a 3-ball. Lewis Jackson answeres after ball rattles around the rim.
Grant called for a foul and puts Babb at the stripe. The sleeve-wearing sophomore hits the first and second as the rather large contingent of Purdue fans chanted something. Apparently Villanova just lost, seeing as AJ tapped me on the shoulder.
Jones called for his second foul and we have our first timeout.
15:54 1st half, 5-5 tie
Epic music and lights time. Every time they do this, I have this uncontrollable urge to go fight someone. Luckily AJ stepped away for a minute.
And here we Julez Santana's "Second coming." Also epic. If this doesn't get you fired up, you don't have a pulse. Sorry, it needed to be said.
Talor Battle with a simple "it's game time." Thanks, Talor.
On to real matters, here are today's starting lineups:
Lewis Jackson - G
Chris Kramer - G
E'Twaun Moore - F
Keaton Grant - G/F
JaJuan Johnson - C
Talor Battle - G
Chris Babb - G
D.J. Jackson - F
Jeff Brooks - F
Drew Jones - C
Ed DeChellis is wearing the now 3-1 Big Ten Victory jacket. Maybe there's a little magic left in those threads.
Live from Press Row at the Bryce Jordan Center for the last time this year, it's a Hardwood Hits live blog.
Purdue is on the floor right now warming up and there's a very distinct black and gold vibe in the crowd today as well. So far I've spotted the standard Robbie Hummel and Chris Kramer basketball jerseys as well as a bit of a surprise -- a Mike Alstott football jersey.
The Nittany Lions have just come out as I, A-Rob, your very sarcastic host, bring you a few things to watch.
1. No Hummel - for the second year in a row, the Lions take on Purdue at the BJC without Robbie Hummel. The junior Boilermaker is out for the season with a torn ACL and is a huge loss for the No.6 team in the land.
2. The Kramer effect - Chris Kramer is a beast defensively. The senior is Purdue's all-time steals leader and will likely spend most of the game chasing Talor Battle around. Kramer is a big dude, measuring 6-foot-3 and 214 lbs. and his length could be a problem for the smaller Battle
3. You guys have splinters? - Two games ago, PSU's bench carried the team to a win. Last game, the subs provided one whole point -- and the Lions still almost beat Michigan State. If Penn State wants to beat Purdue today, they have to play good defense, rebound and get some production off the bench.
Liberty vs. Arizona State - The Sun Devils are a very curious case. They've had a very up-and-down season against top competition in the ACHA and it will be interesting to see what Arizona State team shows up. Will it be the Arizona State that defeated Robert Morris (Ill.) and Minot State in back-to-back contests or will it be the Arizona State that lost its last five games against tournament teams. Only time will tell.
Arizona State. I'm sticking with the Arizona State theme. They're not getting much respect (See Casella, Paul), but they could get hot and knock a couple unsuspecting teams off if those teams look past the Sun Devils.
Team Most Likely to Stop Lindenwood
Ohio. The Bobcats swept Lindenwood in early December and clearly found a formula that works against the defending champs. Ohio is big, strong and physical and could go toe-to-toe with Lindenwood. They have the guns, let's see if they can make it happen.
No. 1 Lindenwood over No. 16 Rutgers
No. 2 Penn State over No. 15 Canton
No. 3 Ohio over No. 14 Robert Morris (Ill.)
No. 13 Stony Brook over No. 4 Illinois
No. 12 Kent State over No. 5 Iowa State
No. 11 Arizona State over No. 6 Liberty
No. 7 Oklahoma over No. 7 Central Oklahoma
No. 8 Minot State over No. 9 Oakland
Best First Round Matchup
Iowa State vs. Kent State - Very even matchup between two conference rivals that could go either way. Both the Golden Flashes and the Cyclones have impressive wins against tournament teams and the winner of this game could very easily make a run in the tournament. There's also an element of familiarity, as this is the fourth meeting between these two teams this season. Kent State won both regular season games, with Iowa State beating the Flashes in the CSCHL Playoffs last month.
Kent State. Casella's been talking up Kent State all season. After impressive wins against Iowa State, Illinois, Ohio and Lindenwood, Kent State needed a little bit of luck to sneak into the tournament. But as I mentioned before, if they can get past Iowa State, they can be a real threat to the top seeds.
Team Most Likely to Stop Lindenwood
Ohio. I have to agree with Kinslow here and take the Bearcats. They have a style of play that can be disruptive to any team and they can be dangerous offensively. When Penn State swept Ohio back in January, the Icers did it because Teddy Hume was their best player that weekend. Don't be fooled by the up-and-down end to the season, this is a team that won 15 in a row at one point. This team can play.
Lindenwood over Rutgers
Penn State over Canton
Ohio over Robert Morris (Ill.)
Illinois over Stony Brook
Kent State over Iowa State
Liberty over Arizona State
Central Oklahoma over Oklahoma
Minot State over Oakland
Best First-Round Matchup
Oklahoma vs. Central Oklahoma - It was hard not to pick the potential upset in the matchup between No. 5 Iowa State vs. No. 12 Kent State game, but this game just had too much to pass up. Not only are these two teams very evenly matched, but the Sooners and Bronchos are in-state rivals that have already met four times this season. Oklahoma won all four games this year, including three of them in convincing fashion with the other one going to a shootout. But don't count out the Bronchos, they have some big wins this year against teams playing in this tournament, and they couldn't ask for any more motivation than playing against an in-state rival in the first round of the ACHA tournament.
Oklahoma. I really wanted to go with Kent State here, but people would have laughed at that pick when the Flashes get knocked out in the first round by Iowa State. Kent State is one of those teams that can go out and knock off any team on any given night and then show up to the rink the next night and get blown away by a team that has no business beating a top-tier team. As Copain mentioned, Kent State has already beaten Lindenwood, Ohio, Illinois and Iowa State this year, but the Flashes have also lost to teams like Western Michigan and Stony Brook. But the Sooners have been the definition of consistency all year long. With the majority of the teams in this tournament being from the North, not a lot of attention has been paid to teams like Oklahoma that have showed up and won a lot of games against good teams down South. Oklahoma has the potential to make a very deep run in this tournament. Maybe then the Sooners will get some much deserved attention.
Team Most Likely to Stop Lindenwood
Penn State. The reason for picking the Icers is not necessarily because they are the team with the most talent or the best chance to beat Lindenwood, it's simply because they haven't had a chance to play against the tournament's top-ranked team. Penn State didn't play Lindenwood at all this year or last year during Lindenwood's title run. These other top-ranked teams have played LU a few times, and some have had success against Lindenwood (like Ohio), but the Icers would like nothing more than to have a chance to knock off Lindenwood and return to the top of the ACHA rankings.
- That's it for day one. Sanderson is the only Lion who will be wrestling for a championship. Penn State ends the day in fifth place but will have a chance to move up with six wrestlers having the opportunity to finish as high as third through consolation matches.
- Wade loses to 2-seed Erekson. So, six Lions will be in tomorrow's consolation semifinals.
- Judging by the results, it looks like Minnesota may have passed Penn State and Iowa is pulling away from everyone. As of 157-pounds, PSU is in fourth, behind Iowa, Minnesota and Ohio State.
- Erwin drops 4-1 decision to Iowa's Keddy. He'll move on to the consolation semis tomorrow as well.
- Vallimont falls to No. 1 Howe in his semifinal bout. He's the fourth Penn State wrestler into the consolation semifinals.
- SANDERSON ADVANCES TO FINALS- Cyler Sanderson became the first Lion to earn a spot in the championship bout. He won his semi against Jones of MSU, 6-0. The win also qualified him for NCAAs.
- Frank Molinaro fell 12-3 to Metcalf of Iowa. He's the third Lion to lose in the semis so far.
- Lynch fell 14-4 to No. 1 Reece Humphrey of Ohio State. He'll be wrestling in the consolation semis tomorrow.
- Pataky trails 8-1 heading into the 3rd period. Pataky ended up losing 14-1 to top-seeded Escobedo of Indiana. He'll be in the consolation semis tomorrow morning.
- The Semis are now underway.
- Steadman lost to Patrick Bond of Illinois. His season is now over.
- All No. 1 seeds advanced to the semifinals. Penn State grapplers Pataky, Lynch, Molinaro and Vallimont will all face the top seed in the semis. Those bouts should be underway soon.
- Ortega was pinned by Justin Zeerip to end the Lion 174-pounders season. Steadman is the only remaining PSU grappler in the wrestle-backs.
- Purdue is off to a hot start in wrestle-backs. The Boilermakers are 3-0 in the consolation matches so far.
- Bryan Pearsall was just eliminated after dropping his consolation bout to Zac Stevens of Michigan. Pearsall's loss ends coach Cael Sanderson's chances of advancing each of his wrestlers to NCAAs for the fourth straight season.
- Session II is about to begin shortly. There will be three Penn State grapplers wrestling in the consolation matches and seven looking to earn a spot in the finals. In other news, this wrestling reporter made weight because of a haircut that chopped a good pound of hair off his head.
The rundown: The No. 9 Nittany Lions return to Rec Hall's South Gym today for an EIVA Tait Division matchup against George Mason. It's the Lions' last match before their three-game California road trip where they'll be playing three top-15 teams.
Familiar foe: George Mason is Penn State's second-most common opponent -- the schools have faced off 97 times since 1977. The Lions have won seven of the last eight meetings with the Patriots, including three wins in 2009. George Mason's last win was March 7, 2008 -- the Lions' only EIVA loss in their national championship season.
Former foe: Penn State's senior captain Will Price -- who currently leads the Lions with 218 kills -- began his career at George Mason. Price had a stellar rookie campaign with the Patriots before transferring to Penn State in fall 2007. The 6-foot-5 Gaithersburg, Md. native was the EIVA Newcomer of the Year after posting double-digit kills in all 20 matches he played in.
Storyline to follow: How do the Lions look in their final tune up before California? Of late, Penn State has been playing some pretty good volleyball. Dennis Del Valle said, "It's finally like we're coming together. And it's fun." Can it use this one match to build on that momentum before it's really tested against No. 4 BYU, No. 6 Long Beach and the defending national champions UC Irvine?
Prediction: PSU 3, George Mason 0. Mason's having an off year -- the Patriots lost last night to EIVA Hay Division's Rutgers-Newark. Penn State is finally clicking -- the Lions have won eight straight, including a-better-than .400 hitting percentage in each of the last four matches. Sounds like a recipe for another Penn State sweep.
The 2010 season has been nothing more than a roller coaster ride for the Penn State women's gymnastics teams.
A win this weekend and the Nittany Lions will be on the way back up, possibly propelling them to the highest point they have been all season with the postseason quickly approaching.
A loss, however, and the Lions could be asked to watch their step as they exit the ride.
Sunday presents a critical point in the Lions' season. With all that has gone wrong in the last two weeks, the Lions need something to go right for them. And No. 12 Michigan couldn't have come at a better time.
That all seemed possible - maybe even likely - two weeks ago. The Lions were coming off their third-straight 196 and just posted a season-high 196.450 against intrastate rival Pittsburgh.
It appeared that momentum was being carried into a meet against West Virginia Feb. 20 when the Lions had a good chance of topping the 197 mark for the first time since 2001. But the balance beam - once again - put a premature end to that.
Now, there are only a few weeks left in the season to build scores. The Lions need to get back on track starting this week if they hope to reach the lofty goals they set this season of a conference and regional championship and a spot in the Super Six.
A win, or even a solid performance, this weekend would do wonders for the Lions' psyche as they travel to Salt Lake City March 12 for a quad-meet against No. 9 Utah, No. 6 Oregon State and No. 20 Southern Utah. The Lions need to score high next weekend to raise their regional qualifying score (RQS), which is comprised of at least three road scores.
The three lowest scores of the year for the Lions have come on the road, two of which - a 193.900 and 194.150 - are being counted in their RQS. The Lions only have two road meets remaining, at Utah and the Big Ten Championships in Columbus, Ohio. RQS directly effects the seeding for regionals.
Coach Steve Shephard said at practice this week he doesn't believe the season is hanging in the balance this weekend. His players echoed the same sentiment, but they also mentioned it would be a great confidence boost to beat the Wolverines.
A win and some confidence is exactly what the Lions need to get out of their current funk. Another poor performance, however, and the season could be irreconcilable.
While we do not have the exact answer to this question, we are always willing to speculate. For a team that has so much youth and entered the season with so many question marks, any type of post-season play will be a huge accomplishment. Just getting past the first round of the conference tournament was something the Lions hadn't done since the 2006-2007 season, so anything beyond this point is more than what we anticipated.
I believe the Big Ten will have at least three teams make the NCAA tournament. While No. 10 Ohio State and No. 25 Michigan State are locks, I look for Iowa and Wisconsin to challenge for the third (and maybe even fourth) spot. So what does all this mean for Penn State? The Lady Lions have a realistic shot of being one of the 64 teams playing in the WNIT, but they still have to wait until Selection Monday for that answer. The WNIT would be a great opportunity for the Lions to compete for a championship, even if it isn't the post-season tournament they initially wanted to be a part of. It would give the four seniors a chance to play for a little while longer and allows the talented freshman to gain post-season experience. Even for Lady Lion fans, it would most likely allow them to see Tyra Grant play at the Bryce Jordan Center one last time.
The WNIT selects the field of 64 by having 31 teams that earn automatic bids and then the other 33 teams are chose at-large. The first round games are slated to start Wednesday the 17th and schools are encouraged to host games. The extra game or games would all be part of a single-elimination tournament and at least one team per conference is chosen.
The Lady Lions exited the Big Ten tournament after falling to third-seeded Iowa, but a closer look at the stat sheet shows Penn State turned in one of its better performances. While the final score didn't go Penn State's way, let's take a look at this game by the numbers.
2-number of fouls Iowa starter Kachine Alexander picked up during the first four minutes of the game. She didn't return until the second half, but still finished the game with 17 points.
3- number of lead changes experienced in this game. Penn State was up by two points at the half.
4- number of Lady Lions in the 2,000 point club. Grant now joins the likes of Kelly Mazzante, Susan Robinson and Kahadeejah Herbert.
7- number of points scored by freshman Gizelle Studevent. She played 19 minutes, turned in a career high for points and gave the Lady Lions a glimpse of what she can do in the near future.
10- number of points Penn State scored off fast breaks. The Lady Lions executed their up-tempo offense, but during the second half the Lions looked spent. Perhaps two games in two days was too much for the Lions.
The Lions (0-2) will travel to Columbus this weekend for what will essentially be the Big Ten Men's Lacrosse championship. Well...the Big Ten only has two D-I teams but an opportunity for potential bragging rights over the Buckeyes? Yes please. Let's take a look at what OSU (2-1) will bring to the table on Saturday.
Previously against Penn State:
In last year's meeting, the Nittany Lions found themselves on the right end of an 11-5 victory in University Park. But back in 2008, the Buckeyes got the best of PSU in a 17-11 shootout in Columbus. Since 2004, Penn State leads the overall series 4-2 but has just barely outscored OSU, 58-56.
What they've done so far:
Head coach Nick Myers and company are coming off dominating performance against Detroit Mercy last weekend, punishing the Titans 16-7. The Buckeyes also picked up a big 10-8 win against a strong Villanova squad in their first game of the year on Feb. 13, but fell to the No. 15 Bucknell Bison, 11-5, a week later.
Leading the OSU attack is a pair of talented freshmen. Logan Schuss, a Delta, British Columbia native, leads the team in points and goals with 10 and six and was named ECAC Rookie of the Week after notching six points against Detroit Mercy this past weekend. Fellow frosh Jeff Tundo is second on the team with seven points, five of those coming from goals. Senior James Green, who also has five goals on the year, will provide a spark from the midfield.
Handling the defensive duties will be d-pole Matt Kawamoto. The junior is tied for second on the team in ground balls with six. Joining Kawamoto in the effort are senior Scott Foreman and sophomore Keenan Ochwat, who've each picked up six groundballs of their own this year.
In between the pipes for the Buckeyes is senior Brandon Freeman. Short in stature at just 5'8, 160, Freeman uses his quickness to his advantage. The senior boasts a .551 save percentage on the year and has given up 8.08 goals per game in three games.
Key to the Game:
-Faceoffs: Ohio State averages a dismal .409 percent in the face-off circle. The Lions should have the clear-cut edge in this one, winning just under 53 percent of face-offs through their two games this year. If Charley Henneghan and crew can keep this percentage up, they'll dominate the time of possession.
Elsewhere in the NCAA:
-Game(s) to watch: The annual Konica Minolta Face-Off Classic is this Saturday at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore. The event officially "kicks off" the 2010 NCAA lacrosse season and features six teams in the top ten of the Nike/IL top 25 poll. ACC rivals No. 7 Maryland and No. 9 Duke kick off the festivities at 11 AM. No. 4 Johns Hopkins vs. No. 8 Princeton and No. 5 Notre Dame and No. 10 Loyola will follow.
-Player to watch: Dan Wigrizer - Goalie - Duke - Wigrizer, a two-time U.S. Lacrosse High School American, has stepped into the starting spot as a true freshman, and he's held his own. The freshman has turned away 40 shots and sports a .548 save percentage. But can he handle a big stage like the Face-Off Classic against a Final Four caliber team like the Terps? We'll see.
Here's a look at where the rest of the Big Ten will be this weekend and how each conference member fared in its last meet:
No. 13 Illinois:
Last meet: Feb. 27 vs. No. 15 Michigan - L 196.775-196.175
Next meet: March 6 vs. Ohio State at 2 p.m.
Analysis: The Fighting Illini have been on a little bit of a role as of late, topping 196 in three of the last five meets and have risen 10 spots in the polls over that period. The Buckeyes are coming off a big win against the Nittany Lions, scoring a 194.950. It was their second-highest score of the season, the season high coming last week. It's unlikely the Bucks can secure another top-15 upset, but they should put up a good score against the Illini.
Much like the first two match ups between these teams, this game has been close. The lead continues to change as each team has taken over for moments, only to stand by as the other goes on a run.
For Penn State, Coquese Washington must be pleased with the intensity and hustle her team displayed during the last 20 minutes. Junior Julia Trogele continues to put together an impressive tournament as she's been all over the floor scrapping for loose balls, but with three fouls, Trogele will be limited early in the second half. Alex Bentley put together a solid half with six points and two assists, but Penn State's play in the paint is a major reason why they've kept pace with the Hawkeyes. Nikki Greene has six rebounds and consistently followed her shots to help contribute to the Lions' 18 points in the paint.
The Lions' defense did a solid job in the first half by being very disruptive in the 2-3 zone and also using the press. However, they need to do a better job of defending the three as the Hawkeyes attempted 14 first-half 3 pointers. While Iowa made just five of those shots, Washington told the Big Ten Network right before heading into the locker room that her team needs to focus on stopping the Hawkeyes' 3 pointers.
"They can shoot it from deep," Washington told the Big Ten Network. "They're really good at putting the ball on the floor too, but we just got to guard them, without picking up the foul."
The Lions had 11 first-half fouls and with Iowa's Kachine Alexander ready to go in the second half after playing just four minutes during the first half due to foul trouble, the Lions will need to be disciplined.
Here is a brief scouting report of the three opponents:
No. 12 Michigan: The Wolverines (10-1, 4-0 Big Ten) have won 32 straight meets against conference opponents since Penn State defeated Michigan in Ann Arbor on Feb. 16, 2007 when Penn State's current seniors were freshman. Michigan is coming off its best competition of the season, scoring a 196.775 to beat Illinois and also upset then-No. 5 Utah two weeks ago. Michigan ranks No. 8 on the uneven bars, No. 9 on vault, No. 13 in the floor exercise and No. 20 on the balance beam. The Wolverines' leading all-arounder is Kylee Botterman, who averages a 39.284, is No. 1 in the Big Ten on the uneven bars and got a perfect 10 on vault earlier this season. Michigan also has one of the nation's top freshman, Natalie Beilstein, who has won the Big Ten Freshman of the week five times this season. When the Lions and Wolverines faced off last season in Ann Arbor, Michigan won 195.800-194.925.Comments
Penn State's senior star Brandi Personett always has a little extra motivation when she faces the team that could have, and maybe should have, been hers.
In high school, Personett received serious interest from the Michigan, but the Wolverines were hesitant to offer her a scholarship. Personett was coming off an Achilles tendon injury and the Wolverines were playing a wait-and-see game with her. Immediately, Personett told them she was no longer interested. She didn't want to go to a school that was unsure about her ability to come back.
Personett let the Michigan coaching staff know right off the bat it made a mistake slow-playing her.
Through the first three games, senior attacker Erica Mihm remained relatively quite on the offensive side of the ball. However, all of that changed last weekend against Colgate when Mihm exploded for a career-high four goals in helping the No. 13 Nittany Lions grab their third win of the season.
Scoring is not something new to the Maryland native. Last season, Mihm led the team in goals with 25 and started all 17 games for coach Suzanne Isidor. Despite Mihm's early struggles, Isidor was not worried about her senior. She said Mihm has been helping out a huge part on the draw and has done a great job in creating for other teammates.
Since Mihm draws so much attention from opposing defenses, she has been able to rely on her teammates while remaining patient for opportunities to attack. Teammates such as freshman attacker Molly Fernandez and senior midfielder Theresa Bucci have helped pick up the slack left by Mihm. If the Nittany Lions are going to continue their success this season they will need Mihm to stay hot, especially against No. 10 Virginia, which the Lions will face this Sunday. The high-powered Cavaliers will present many problems to the Lions and having Mihm active will help strengthen their chances going forward.
I predictedTyra Grant would need at least two games in the Big Ten tournament to reach 2,000 points, and after Thursday afternoon's game she is poised to pass that milestone. Grant sits at 1,989 points and with 11 points Friday she could become just the fourth Lady Lion to join the 2,000 point club.
There's no doubt Grant's impact on the program is something that will have a lasting effect, but she said during last week's press conference that she is more concerned about winning than reaching the milestone. While there's no doubting Grant's competitiveness, and her desire to end her collegiate career on a high note, I'm sure she must know that she's creeping up on 2,000 points. But does that really enter her mind during the game?
"I don't want that to enter my mind," Grant said before the team's game with Wisconsin last Thursday. "I don't like to really talk about it at all because sometimes even when you don't want it to, that stuff can creep in your mind and kind of control what you're doing.
"That's not something I want to do because it's not just about me. It's not just Tyra. I don't play one against five, so it's about the team and if we win the NCAA tournament and we become Big Ten champs and I'm still at 1,500, or whatever I'm at, that's all that matters. But I'm appreciative though."
While there will surely be a stoppage in play once she gets the needed 11 points, this is the type of accomplishment that Washington said Grant probably won't fully appreciate until after the season is over. Even if the Lions can't surpass third-seeded Iowa Friday afternoon and have to wait and see if they will play any more games this season, Washington said it's something to surely be celebrated.
"Heck, you celebrate when people get 1,000 and she's scratching and itching her way up to 2,000," Washington said before the Wisconsin game. "I firmly believe she's gonna get it at some point and she'll crack the 2,000 point barrier and she'll be only the fourth player in history.
When you think about all the great players who have come here and played here, for her to be able to do that is just a big statement about her will and her ability to put the ball in the hole."
Photos courtesy of gopsusports.com and The Daily Collegian
The Lady Lions did just enough to edge the Gophers and now advance to the second round of the Big Ten tournament for the first time since the 2006-2007 season. While it was a game that the Lady Lions should've won, considering Penn State was the No. 6 seed, in the Big Ten tournament anything goes. The Lions entered the game with little momentum after slumping during the month of February, but they responded to the added pressure of the tournament, and do so in a big way.
Once again Tyra Grant struggled with her jumper, shooting just 5-for-19. Like many teams have done to her during the second part of the season, she consistently faced double teams and was held scoreless in the first half. However, she responded with 15 points in the second half and hit a remarkable shot with two defenders in her face to extend Penn State's lead to eight points as the game clock ticked down to two minutes. Alex Bentley went 4-for-12 from the floor, but as the Lions' top two scorers didn't turn in their best shooting performances, Meredith Monroe, Nikki Greene and Julia Trogele picked up the slack. It will take better than a 42 percent shooting effort to get the job done against Iowa, but against Minnesota it was good enough.
The Lions came within a late-game turnover of knocking off Michigan State in East Lansing for the second consecutive season. Here is a look at the Lions' individual performances in their 67-65 loss to the Spartans.
Chris Babb: B
Babb played a heck of a game that will be marred by his turnover in the final minute. For as good of a scorer as the sophomore guard is, Babb - not a great ballhandler, and a much better player off the ball than with it in his hands - was probably head coach Ed DeChellis' last choice to have the ball in the open floor in crunch time. Unfortunately for Babb, his fumbling of the ball makes his 16-point, five-assist performance B worthy in our grade book.
Drew Jones: B-
After Jones fouled out, DeChellis elected to go with a small lineup to fulfill his 2-3 zone. The loss of Jones proved critical as the Spartans began to take advantage down low. Jones had a solid effort when he was available, scoring seven points and grabbing five boards. But even with the decent line, the Lions were outrebounded 39-26, and Jones is the heart and soul of the Lions on the glass.
Talor Battle: A-
Battle tied for the team-lead in points with 16 and led the Lions in rebounds and assists. It was just a typical night for the junior guard who does it all for the Lions. But Battle couldn't get a final shot off in time, and the final sequence in which Battle heaved up a prayer after the buzzer typified the Lions inability to win close games.
D.J. Jackson: B+
Jackson knocked down some big shots late in the game, but his 3-pointer that would have given the Lions a lead in the final minute hit back rim. Nonetheless, Jackson continues to be one of DeChellis' most reliable options. His line of 12 points and five boards should be no surprise to Nittany Lion fans, who have seen Jackson put up similar numbers in almost every game this season.
Jeff Brooks: B
At one point in the game, ESPN commentator Steve Lavin said, "Michigan State has no answer for Brooks." The junior forward was held scoreless from that point on. For the first 28 minutes Brooks was difficult to contain, and for the final 12 he was silent. His 13 points could easily have been more had he not gone into a shell, but those in-game inconsistencies have typified Brooks' season.
Bill Edwards: C
Edwards didn't play much of an impact in the contest but missed an important 3-pointer in the final few minutes. Edwards' hustle play after Babb's turnover - he prevented an easy Spartan layup by sprinting back and committing a foul - almost saved the Lions, but Raymar Morgan made both free throws. The freshman swingman Edwards finished scoreless.
Tim Frazier, Cammeron Woodyard, Andrew Ott and Sasa Borovnjak: N/A
None of these four played the minimum of 10 minutes required for a Hardwood Hits grade. But the overall grade for the bench would probably be pretty low. After the Lions bench practically carried them to a win over Northwestern on Sunday, they were held to one point - an Andrew Ott free throw - on Thursday.
I talked with former Penn State coach Rich Lorenzo and current Michigan coach Joe McFarland about the upcoming Big Ten Championships. Here's what they had to say about the tournament.
Lorenzo on Cael Sanderson's ability to get the team ready:
"The results from this year by Cael and his staff definitely demonstrates he is going to get the maximum out of the guys he has representing Penn State. Therefore, opponents better be ready to wrestle when they're wrestling a Penn State wrestler. It's a great, exciting time for Penn State wrestling."
Lorenzo on the way other teams perceive the Nittany Lions under Sanderson:
"I don't think having Cael Sanderson as their coach is going to get the wrestlers an extra point along the way. His knowledge and attitude that he's passed on will be reflected in the way the guys wrestle. That's a reflection back on him and his staff and the outstanding job they're doing. He has them ready to give 100 percent effort. It takes more than just Cael. There's Casey and Cody and Troy Letters and everybody else that helps out. They pay attention to all the little details. They've put our guys in the right kind of condition and the right kind of mental attitude. It doesn't mean you're going to go in and win the Big Ten, but you know that you're going to get 100 percent effort out of them."
For this week's edition of the Stat Book we are going to take a closer look at No. 9 Penn State's sweep of No. 13 Ohio State.
The Nittany Lions played very smart and used an efficient, balanced offense and took what the Buckeyes gave them. When you look at the Stat Book you'll see that what Ohio State gave them was a lot of points.
1: The number of hitting errors Will Price had on the match. Price committed just one error while taking the most swings and recording the most kills for the Lions.
1: Number of Penn State players who hit below .400
3: How many serving errors both Joe Sunder and Max Lipsitz recorded. The three service errors were the most any Lion recorded.
4: Joe Sunder and Ohio State's Mike Stefani each committed four hitting errors Wednesday. Sunder's four errors were the most for any Lion. Unfotunately for the Buckeyes Stefani had the least amount of errors of the Buckeyes who took at least 15 swings.
5: Number of Ohio State attackers who hit .400 or below. That would be all Ohio State attackers.
8: Hitting errors by the Lions.
11: Service errors by Penn State.
12: Combined hitting and service errors by Ohio State's star Shawn Sangrey.
17: Service errors by OSU.
19: Hitting errors by OSU.
27: Percentage of Ohio State's 71 points awarded to the Buckeyes via PSU error.
40: Percentage of Penn State's 90 points the Buckeyes scored for PSU.
These numbers separate the two teams and show why Penn State appeared so dominant. Ohio State made too many errors to compete with the consistent Lions. This is an improvement from the beginning of the season for Penn State. Though the Lions were defeating inferior EIVA competition they were giving their opponents points by committing lots of errors. Against the Buckeyes, Penn State limited its errors and attacked efficiently. The Lions weren't going to beat themselves, and the Buckeyes showed they couldn't either.
The NHL trade deadline has come to pass. Let's do a quick recap of which teams succeeded and which teams failed.
Capitals: They picked up some solid veterans for the playoff stretch in Scott Walker and Joe Corvo. They're not stars, but the team has Alexander Ovechkin and Mike Green. These new additions are role players who add a veteran presence and playoff experience to a young team.
Coyotes: Arguably the busiest team of the day. Wojtek Wolski, Lee Stempniak, Derek Morris and Mathieu Schneider add a lot of firepower to the Coyotes. It was a need, and they didn't have to give up much, either.
Penguins: They could've used another forward, and they got a good one in Alexei Ponikarovsky. One of the best deals of the deadline. The Penguins are an increasingly tougher team in the conference.
Canucks: They could've used some help, but when adding a fourth line center in Yan Stastny is your biggest move, something went wrong.
Flyers: Didn't do enough to add more firepower. And they're fools if they think Michael Leighton is a quality starting goalie. They've could've upgraded in net and didn't.
Bruins: They needed another scorer and instead used resources on Dennis Seidenberg. He's a good defenseman, but he's not what the Bruins needed.
1. Battle v. Lucas, part VI: The two All-Big Ten guards meet yet again with Kalin Lucas holding a 3-2 edge over Talor Battle. Penn State and Michigan State have split the season series the last two years and Battle would love to keep that trend going this year. Lucas is one of a few players that can match Battle's speed in the open floor and both are more than capable of taking over a game, especially one of this magnitude.
2. Do you believe in miracles...that happen twice? Last year, Penn State rolled into the Breslin Center and 40 stunned minutes later, they left with a 72-68 upset win. In last year's contest, Battle dropped in a then-career high 29 points on 11-of-19 shooting. As my associate Steve Hennessey noted today, the Lions have a chance to dictate who wins the Big Ten conference and another win over the Spartans would knock Michigan State out of the title race.
3. Rebounding war. In their last game, the Spartans waxed Purdue on the boards -- in Purdue's building no less. With a high-speed offense, if Michigan State dominates the backboard again, they can get the ball to Lucas and open up the transition game. If the Lions want a chance to win, they have to keep Michigan State off the glass and prevent the fast break from initializing.
The wrestling team was loose before practice Wednesday, along with the coaching staff. Coach Cael Sanderson spoke about topics ranging from pre-seeds to Clay Steadman's readiness at his Big Ten press conference. At the end of the clip, you can hear Sanderson joke with assistant sports information director Pat Donghia about getting on the mic next, highlighting the team's high spirits going into the weekend.
As everyone gears up for this afternoon's match up, here's a quick look at how we see things shaking out in the Big Ten tournament. Included are our predictions, audio from Coquese's press conference and much more. Hope you enjoy it!
Sophomore All-American Whitney Bencsko, who had an MRI Tuesday night to examine the damage of her injured left knee, told me the results are in and she is going to review them with the doctor Thursday.
Bencsko said at practice on Tuesday that after initial visits, the doctors feared she may have a tear in her posterior cruciate ligament (PCL). The gymnast was in a full leg brace and was using crutches to help walk around the gym.
Be sure to check Thursday's edition of The Daily Collegian to read about the progress third-year coach Coquese Washington has made with the Lady Lions since replacing Rene Portland. When Washington was hired by Penn State, both the president Graham Spanier and director of athletics called Washington a "rising star" and spoke highly of what Curley called "her tremendous resume." Here is a closer look at Washington's background before taking over as the leader of the Lady Lions.
1. Eight seasons as an associate head coach and assistant at Notre Dame, helping lead the Fighting Irish to an 188-69 record. During those eight seasons, the Irish made eight NCAA Tournaments, four Sweet 16s and one National Championship in 2001.
2. Recruited eight-straight Top 25 recruiting classes while coaching at Notre Dame. Since taking over Penn State, Washington has carried over her recruiting success and the Lions' future looks bright because of it.
3. Played out a highly successful four-year career as a player at Notre Dame as well. A four-year starter, Washington excelled at the point guard position. She led the team in steals all four years and in assists for three of them. Her name is etched atop the Notre Dame record books as she is second in career steals, fifth in assists and 10th in 3-pointers made. Washington graduated from Notre Dame in 1992.
4. Washington also attended Notre Dame Law School, and she earned a Juris Doctorate in 1997. A highly intelligent coach, Washington has been able to use both her education and experience playing from Notre Dame as the Lions' coach.
5. The third-year head coach had a successful WNBA career playing for both the New York Liberty, Houston Comets and Indiana Fever. In 2001, Washington helped lead the Comets to a WNBA title from the point guard position. In 2002, she became the first-ever player in WNBA history to guide three different teams to postseason play. Washington was also the founding president of the WNBA Players Association while playing professionally.
Photo by Peter Tesoriero at a press conference following the 2008-09 season
It Was Over When...: The Lions jumped out at 3-1 lead in the first set behind three kills by sophomore Ryan Wolf. Wolf is not exactly the go-to guy in the lineup, and Penn State always plays with more energy when he is playing well. Setter Edgardo Goas set up Wolf and freshman Nick Turko early in the match, and it set the tone for a dominating balanced attack by the Lions that Ohio State had no answer for.
Player of the Match: Edgardo Goas. The redshirt sophomore setter led the offense like always, but this performance stands out. He dished out 43 assists and had the team firing on all cylinders with all components of the starting lineup performing well. That all comes back to Goas. He used great decision making in establishing the lesser-known Lions early in the match in order to force the Buckeyes to play balanced defense and allowed powers like Will Price and Max Lipsitz to do what they do best. The team's .444 hitting percentage (only one attacker hit below .400) proves that Goas was setting the right guys at the right time.
Stat of the Match: 8. The number of hitting errors the Lions had all night. Those eight errors came on 90 attempts. To put that in perspective, in their last match against Princeton the Lions committed 11 errors in just 77 attempts and actually hit at a higher percentage. Not to take away from the .444 percentage at all, it just goes to show the Lions were making smart decisions with their offense and keeping the ball in play.
Surprise of the Match: Penn State looked like a complete team. It's not really that much of a surprise because the team has been showing signs of its potential to put it all together on one night, and it was just a matter of time. With all the lineup changes the Lions have made this season, this looked like its best lineup and each player showed why he is on the court. Turko showed why he reclaimed the starting spot. Wolf played well again, which shows he is getting more consistent. The other five starters did as they always do and were solid.
Quotable: "I thought we played well tonight. It was great preparation for our trip to California." -Jesse Wagner. OK the quote isn't really anything special. It's who said it. I called Will Price's phone, and the always humorous Wagner answered the phone and pretended to be Price. It took me awhile to realize this, and I asked him his thoughts on the match. The above is his answer before I cut him off and asked if it was Wagner. When Price got on the phone we had a good laugh. That situation pretty much summarizes how relaxed and fun this team is.
What's Next: The Lions take on Will Price's former team, the George Mason Patriots, Saturday night at 7 in Rec Hall's South Gym.
Now that the regular season is over, the real fun begins. But before the Lady Lions take on Minnesota in the first round of the Big Ten tournament Thursday, lets take a look a look at some stats. Here's how Penn State ranked among the rest of the conference from scoring offense to scoring defense and everything in between. And while we're at it, we'll also include how the Lions' first round opponent finished in each category.
Welcome to the first annual Penn State women's gymnastics Oscars, where Beam Me Up celebrates the best the season has had to offer.
With the "real" Oscars (personally, I feel gymnastics is more popular than movies) set for Sunday night, I, your host, am here to offer my awards to members of the Nittany Lions based on their accomplishments this season.
So without further ado, let's get to the Oscars.
Best original musical or comedy score: Danielle Hover.
There wasn't much competition for this award as Hover had it locked up since the first home meet of the season. Entering the final event of every home meet - the floor exercise - the Lions all get in formation and dance along to the "YMCA" song. Nobody seems to enjoy that part of the home meet as much as Hover, who is always bouncing around and dancing with teammates. At the last home meet against West Virginia, Hover pretended to shoot baskets with teammate Natalie Ettl as the theme from Space Jam blared from the speakers.
Darcy Dorton suffered an unspecified injury, women's volleyball sports information director Susan Bedsworth confirmed Wednesday.
Bedsworth said the team could not comment further on her status or on the injury because of the Health Information Portability and Accountability Act. The act is in place to ensure privacy between doctor and patient. Dorton was seen on campus this week sporting crutches and a knee brace.
Some quick hits from Dorton's 2009 season, in which she won Big Ten freshman of the year:
-38 matches, 19 starts, 276 kills, 2.38 kills per set, 66 blocks, .57 blocks per set, .285 hitting percentage.
-Dorton's play is characterized by her enthusiasm, as my fellow volleyball reporter, Jocelyn Syrstad, pointed out in an Oct. 30 story.
All season long, the showdown in the Big 12 was supposed to be Kansas-Texas. But it's becoming very clear that the top two teams in the conference hail from Kansas. Tonight, the Jayhawks and the Wildcats square off in Lawrence, where KSU will be looking to avenge an overtime loss at the end of January.
In order to pull off the road victory, K-State will have to play like it did in the first contest: balanced. Sure, Jacob Pullen had 22, but six Wildcats had at least nine points. Pullen by himself won't be able to beat Collins, Aldrich and Henry. Then again, he got help on Jan. 30 and Kansas State still couldn't grab the win.
In Lawrence, expect similar results.
Prediction: Kansas 77, Kansas State 67
Player to watch: Tim Abromaitis, Notre Dame
Since Luke Harangody went down, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish have turned to Abromaitis to fill the void scoring-wise. The junior forward has done just tha,t averaging 22.3 points in the last four contests.
Abromaitis also led Notre Dame to wins over Pittsburgh and Georgetown, which catapulted the Irish back onto the bubble -- a prospect that looked bleak once Harangody went down. Tonight, Abromaitis and the Irish face UConn, another bubble team relying on its next few games to decide its fate. Each of the teams has a strong case for March Madness, but a loss tonight would give that team a stronger case for an NIT bid.
How Abromaitis fares against a team that held him to eight points and clearly out-physicaled him two months ago could go a long way in determining which team earns a berth in the field of 65.
The rundown: The No. 9 Nittany Lions travel to Columbus tonight to take on Ohio State, marking the second of three matches in their Big Ten schedule. All three matches, of course, are against the Buckeyes. Penn State has won the last seven meetings with Ohio State -- including a 3-1 win this January at the Outrigger Invitational -- and 11 of the last 13.
Home sweet home: Well, sort of. Penn State holds a 66-22 all-time record against Ohio State. However, the Buckeyes are 17-11 in matches against the Lions at St. John Arena.
Check it: Here are some video highlights (courtesy of Juniata College) of Ohio State when they beat the Eagles earlier this year:
Dual threat: Two Buckeyes are hot entering tonight's game. Shawn Sangrey -- a Pennsylvania native -- garnered MIVA Offensive Player of the Week recognition after posting a career-high four aces in Ohio State's sweep over George Mason last week. Meanwhile, 6-foot-7 middle hitter Grayson Overman is the reigning MIVA Defensive Player of the Week after recording a school single-match record 14 blocks against the Patriots.
Storyline to follow: Does Ryan Wolf level out? The sophomore outside hitter has been streaky since cracking the starting lineup Feb. 5, but he comes into tonight's game off a stellar performance in the Princeton sweep last Friday. The former walk-on recorded 11 kills, a team-high nine digs, two aces and two block en route to picking up his first career EIVA Player of the Week distinction. Can he keep up the momentum and provide the Lions the consistency they need from him? Penn State travels to California next week to face three Top 15 opponents. The Lions don't need Wolf to be spectacular -- just solid. Tonight's match could be a bench mark for Wolf to see if he's on the right track.
Prediction: Penn State 3-0. Coach Mark Pavlik noted that St. John Arena is a tough road venue -- but that shouldn't faze the Lions. They've already been tested away from Rec Hall. See: 3,233 fans at the Stan Sheriff Center Jan. 8 or a rowdy crowd of 2,035 packing Alumni Gym Jan. 30. Bottom line: the Lions are playing solid volleyball right now, and if they maintain the same intensity and composure they've shown in the past six matches, they'll have no problem handling a young Buckeye squad.
Frank Molinaro said the underhook was his downfall when Brent Metcalf pinned him earlier this season. With a possible rematch taking place this weekend, Molinaro said he has found a way to beat the underhook. Here is a video of Metcalf's pin.
Rising star and first overall draft pick Stephen Strasburg will likely start the season in the minor leagues. Some might argue he should join the big league club out of camp (as if the Nationals qualify as a big league club), but I think he should open in the minors. Strasburg is a talent, a pitcher with a cannon of an arm. Last March 26 I did a blog on Strasburg and how he could quickly become the best pitcher in baseball. He's the future of the team and will likely be the face of the team for years to come. That's why it is wise to let him work his way up from the minors. If the Nats decide to rush him to the majors, he could fail, which would be a hard hit to his confidence. Rushing him also increasing the chance of injury and arm wear and tear. Give him a few months or a year to leisurely perfect his game in the no-stress situation of the minor leagues. If he tears it up, then by all means promote him. But don't rush him. Or he'll be making a Biggest Bust list instead of an All-Star team in the future.
Some other things important and not so important:
- Some fan decided to take out a full page ad in a local paper professing his love for Brett Favre and asking him to return to the Vikings next season. After reading it, I'm surprised he didn't propose to Favre immediately after.
- Apparently John Daly's PGA Tour personnel file is 456 pages, covering all his mishaps and incidents over the years. They'll need to add a few more if he goes to Hooters to celebrate his next Tour win.
- Tiger Woods is now home and getting in shape for golf. Are you like me? Are you thinking of John Daly's beer belly when you think of golf shape?
Video of the week: This fan went for a dunk. And then painted the rim red with his head blood. At least he got the ball in the hoop.
With the loss of sophomore All-American Whitney Bencsko, coach Steve Shephard is going to be forced to make some changes to his lineups. Bencsko was a mainstay on all four events, competing in the all-around in every meet of her career but one.
After talking with Shephard at practice on Tuesday, here's what he had to say about who will be competing for the spot made open by Bencsko's absence.
Floor: The Lions have struggled a bit on floor all season and lack depth on the event, so the loss of Bencsko really stings. There were already some lineup changes planned for the event last Saturday as Sharaya Musser was inserted into the lineup. Now with Bencsko out, Daryl Konsevick, Rosie Smith and Allie Southard, who is already in the lineup, will compete for two spots.
Bars: The loss of Bencsko may be least felt on the uneven bars with a great deal of depth at the position. Shephard said Alex Stine, who hasn't competed all season, is "ready to go" on bars. Stine, a bars specialist, owns a 9.825 career high. Smith, who has competed on bars this season, is also in the mix, as well as Konsevick and Danielle Hover.
Vault: With her 9.850 on vault last weekend, Madison Merriam will likely remain on vault, at least for the next week or so. Vault has been a problem for Merriam all season, but it appears she may have turned the corner.
Beam: The balance beam has been the Lions' biggest problem this season, scoring 48.200 or less in five meets this season. Bencsko was averaging a 9.813 over the last four meets, so the Lions may have some trouble bouncing back from two straight poor team performances on beam. Konsevick, who supposed to be out of the beam lineup last week, was put back in to make up for the loss of Bencsko and is an option this week. Heather McElwee, who hasn't competed all year due to an ankle injury, is almost 100 percent and could crack the lineup this weekend.
Terrelle Pryor shined in some of the biggest games of the second half of last year's college football season.
Then, he had surgery on his left knee.
Pryor's achievement in the Rose Bowl win against Oregon and throughout much of the season showed the toughness of the Ohio State quarterback.
Going against the stout defenses the Big Ten season throws at him on weekly basis, Pryor played through the pain -- probably had to shoot up a couple of pain killers to go along with sucking on Gatorade -- and performed at a high level, especially in the Bucks' biggest games.
Now with both knees healthy, Pryor is set to lead the Big Ten favorite in 2010, and that should make every defense very, very afraid.
* * * * *
It seems Pittsburgh fans are more patriots than Penguin die-hards.
And that's not a bad thing.
Tuesday night was Pittsburgh's first game since its star and captain Sidney Crosby won a gold medal for Canada against America's stud goalie Ryan Miller. By odd coincidence, the team the Pens were hosting was none other than Miller's own Buffalo Sabres.
Before the game, the folks at Mellon Arena announced all the Olympians playing in the Buffalo-Pittsburgh game. And by an even odder occurrence, Miller received a stronger and longer ovation than local phenom Crosby.
Now obviously Pittsburghers love Sid the Kid. He's the best player on the reigning Stanley Cup champs at the tender age of 22. He's going to be the face of the franchise for the next decade, probably more.
But it's nice to see the Pens fans show some respect for their fellow countryman. Miller didn't even play Tuesday in Buffalo's loss, but he was the biggest man in the Igloo regardless. He was the Olympic hockey tournament MVP, even though his team came up short. In between the U.S.' two games against the host Canadians, Miller didn't allow a single goal. Simply put, he was the man.
Will all this be forgotten once the Pens get rolling again? Probably. But never forget the respect Pittsburgh fans showed for their country. Even if it came at the expense of their favorite player.
* * * * *
Here's to you, Mark Titus.
You could have seen serious floor time at Harvard. Instead you saw nearly nothing at Ohio State.
So here's to you, Mark Titus. You proved the most telling stats don't show up in the box score. The number of people wearing Club Trillion shirts in Columbus, Ohio, right now is evidence of that.
The Penn State women's lacrosse team moved up in the IWLCA rankings this week from No. 14 to No. 13. The Lions started out the season with the No. 18 spot locked up, but with wins against Loyola, Bucknell and Colgate, Penn State has climbed five spots.
The Lions will face No. 10 Virginia on Sunday, Mar. 7. The Cavaliers were previously ranked No. 12, but moved up when they won games against Syracuse and Richmond. The Cavaliers will play the undefeated No. 2 powerhouse Maryland on Friday before traveling to Happy Valley on Sunday.
No. 14 Vanderbilt (1-2) dropped in the ranks from No.13. The Lions will travel to Nashville to play the Commodores on Mar. 21.
So tomorrow's the trade deadline. It's an exciting time. Ilya Kovalchuk has already been dealt to the Devils, so the really big name is gone, but there are still some interesting names to be had. Here's a rundown of who could go in the next 24 hours:
Alexei Ponikarovsky: The winger is possibly on his way to Pittsburgh, though it hasn't been confirmed yet. He's a nice scorer who could add more spark to an already decent scoring team, like the Penguins.
Scott Niedermayer: The veteran defenseman has been a cog on the Ducks blueline for the past few years. But with the team's struggles this year, he could be moved for a prospect.
Anybody on the Oillers: The team has been the worst in the NHL this season and a fire sale could happen. Anybody needing a scorer like Dustin Penner or a veteran blueliner like Sheldon Souray could acquire them at a relatively cheap price.
Here's a quick rundown on what teams could look for something:
Devils: Kovalchuk is a nice scorer, but the team is built around defense and adding another blueliner isn't out of the question.
Flyers: They're teetering on the edge of playoff contention. What they have is a good, but another scoring winger could be the push they need.
Lightning: In the same position as the Flyers. Lecavalier could be on his way out, but getting the center a winger to work with could help him and the team.
Red Wings: It's been a disappointing season for the usually strong Wings. Adding a young scorer could be a priority, especially with the team just on the cusp of playoff contention.
Canucks: They need to hold off the Avalanche to take the division. Adding a lockdown defender would be a good move in that direction.
That's all for now. Let's see what the next 24 hours bring. Look for a trade deadline recap soon.
Will Price, whose brother Andrew played for the Nittany Lions from 2004-07, began his collegiate career at George Mason. Wonder how the 6-foot-5 explosive opposite slipped past Penn State's radar the first time around? Well, he didn't. Mark Pavlik had recruited Price when he was a senior at Laytonsville High School in Maryland. Price told the coaching staff he wanted to be a setter.
"We already had Luke Murray and Danny O'Dell," Pavlik said. "So we said, 'Will, we think you'd be a great opposite.' "
But Price was persistent and really wanted to be a setter.
"So he went to Mason," Pavlik said. "Where he was an opposite."
Max Lipsitz thinks Price is a clutch player.
"In big matches, he comes to play," Lipsitz said. "And people expect him to perform when it counts."
Lipsitz said Price's best career performance was perhaps in the Lions' loss to Southern California in last year's NCAA Semifinals. Price tallied 17 kills on blistering .640 hitting.
"Looking back at our Final Four, Will just had a great match," Lipsitz said. "If everyone played like that it, it would have been a different story."
Not everyone is on the Will Price bandwagon.
IPFW legendary coach Arnie Ball thinks Price is a "very athletic individual," but has the potential to be inconsistent.
"He's really streaky," Ball said after Price had 12 kills but recorded just .240 hitting in the Lions sweep of the Mastodons Feb. 20. "Sometimes he's really really good. Sometimes he's not quite as good."
Pavlik, too, recognizes that trend. But he said it's simply Price trying to be an overachiever.
"Will does have some issues where he tends to be his own worst enemy," Pavlik said. "He over-analyzes and tries to make his swing better than one before it. But at the end of the day, he's an elite attacker. And we're going to ride that puppy as long as we can."
Sophomore All-American Whitney Bencsko will undergo an MRI on her injured left knee Tuesday night.
Bencsko said at practice Tuesday afternoon that doctors fear she may have torn her posterior cruciate ligament (PCL). Bencsko was in a full leg brace at practice.
Bencsko, who competed in the all-around in the first seven meets of the season, injured the knee Saturday night in a meet at Ohio State. Bencsko suffered the injury when she landed awkwardly on her dismount from the uneven bars, a routine she had only been practicing for a little more than a week.
At the very least, Bencsko is certain to miss this weekend's quad-meet against Bridgeport, Maryland and Big Ten rival No. 12 Michigan.
The injury comes at an inopportune time for Bencsko, who was coming off an all-around score of 39.300 against West Virginia, her best all-around score since Mar. 8, 2009.
Here at Crosse Check, we want to give you the fans an opportunity to get the know the team a little better than just their stats and jersey numbers. We're starting up a little segment for you that we like to call Tuesday Timeout. We'll ask one of the guys on the team a few questions and see what's on the minds of the Lions. In TT's inaugural post we spoke with defender Matt Bernier. The junior told us a little bit about the campus and what his plans are for the rest of the season.
Crosse Check) What's your favorite thing about Penn State?
Matt Bernier) The facilities. You can't get these facilities anywhere else. I like the large campus and having a ton of kids in my classes. And I'm from Philadelphia so I'm not really that far from home. And I definitely like my teammates, my teammates are great.
CC) Finish this sentence, teammate Joe Britt is ________.
MB) A caveman.
CC) Who's the most entertaining guy on the team?
MB) Matt Shankoff, easily.
CC) What game on coming up on your schedule stands out for you?
MB) Duke. They've been to the Final Four the last couple years, and they're a really good team. I can't wait to go down there and play an ACC team.
CC) What are your goals for the rest of the season?
MB) To keep the defense on track, make sure that whichever goalie is in there is getting all the help that he can to play the best I can and to stay healthy.
CC) Where's your favorite place to eat on campus?
MB) Rotelli's, love the Margarita Chicken special.
I guess the Knicks were just trying to show LeBron just how much they needed him.
At least I was hope that was their intention, because what happened last night was an abomination. Multiple times the Knicks just stood around as LeBron went sprinting down the court for an easy jam on an outlet pass.
There was no inspiration, no effort, nothing. Just pitiful basketball. And this.
While every Knicks fan in America seems to be under the delusion that LeBron wants to come to New York, the question is, after what happened last night, why in the world would he want to play for that joke of a franchise?
I know New York is a major media market and by far a more attractive place than Cleveland, but it doesn't mean it should be the reason LeBron throws the prime of his career away wasting away in Madison Square Garden, trying to make the Knicks into a contender again.
While LeBron may not stay in Cleveland, there certainly are more attractive markets out there. Chicago comes to mind, having cap space to play with and Derrick Rose at point guard.
Heck, even the Clippers, with Baron Davis, Eric Gordon and Blake Griffin would be more attractive than the Knicks.
While it's nice to photoshop Knicks colors on LeBron photos and create fansites for this summer's free agency period and to cheer James like he's one of your own as he tears your team apart, the truth of the matter is, LeBron wants to win. Winning is something the Knicks have been downright allergic to for the past few years.
Not only has the futility of the Knicks been hilarious to watch, even funnier is their draft failures -- when they actually have a draft pick. They don't have one this summer, could switch with Houston next summer and don't have one the year after that. But LeBron won't notice that they have no way to help him out. It's New York man! Who cares if they have no discernible pipeline of young talent for two out of three years?
But topping all that will be when they realize that LeBron isn't coming to New York. All those years of pining and lobbying will be for naught and I will laugh. I will laugh over and over again. Then the Knicks will re-sign David Lee and ink Joe Johnson to a deal and it'll be even funnier to watch Knicks fans convince themselves they can build around it and be a contender.
Then before you know it, it will be December, the Knicks will be floundering somewhere below .500, and Mike DiAntoni will be so frustrated and disgusted he actually rips his mustache off his face as Knicks fans look forward to LeBron's latest contract expiring.
For the second-consecutive week, freshman attacker Molly Fernandez was named the American Lacrosse Conference Rookie of the Week. Fernandez was recognized once again after a strong performance against Colgate last weekend in which she recorded two goals and an assist in No. 14 Penn State's 17-7 rout against the Red Raiders. Fernandez, who has started all four games this season, leads the team in points (11) and is tied for the lead in goals (8). The Baltimore native has been extremely impressive thus far and has not let coach Suzanne Isidor question her decision to insert the freshman into the starting lineup. Fernandez will look to continue her hot streak this Sunday as No. 9 Virginia will visit Happy Valley in matchup of two top 15 teams in the country.
Game of the Night: No. 19 Vanderbilt vs. Florida, 7 p.m.
It's a gut-check game for Vanderbilt -- and Florida.
The Commodores beat No. 2 Kentucky on Saturday to move within a game of the SEC lead. That's huge news because who would have thought the Wildcats would not win the SEC crown? The answer is not many.
If Vanderbilt has any shot of winning the conference, it must take care of business tonight in Gainesville, Fla. Even though the Gators aren't the most talented they've been in recent seasons, they're playing without regard to that fact. They beat Tennessee
last week. ANd things aren't getting any easier for Billy Donovan's group.
Florida plays Vandy tonight, then travels to No. 3 Kentucky this weekend.
The Gators might not be a better team than Vandy, but they'll be better at home tonight.
Tonight is Nik's night. It's Senior Night for Raivio and his teammates. The Pilots started the year off as one of the nation's hottest teams, beating UCLA and Minnesota. I wonder if Nik secretly wanted to inflict revenge on UCLA for knocking his brother out of the tournament.
Anyway, the Pilots now find themselves in third place in the West Coast Conference behind Gonzaga and St. Mary's. They will have to win the conference tournament to make it into the NCAA Tournament. It starts tonight against Louis and Clark, obviously not a formidable opponent, but it's more about Portland playing as a team than the opponent they're playing against.
We've seen teams like Portland, with a lot of senior leadership, push and make the NCAA Tournament, stealing a spot from a bubble team.
All I'm saying is watch out for Raivio (he's 6-foot-4 and 205 pounds as a guard) and his teammates. His brother, Derek, was no stranger to the March spotlight. The leading scorer on the Pilots should embrace the pressure.
David Taylor has wrapped up his redshirt season. I talked to Taylor and coach Cael Sanderson about the freshman's abilities.
Here is what Sanderson had to say about Taylor's love of the sport:
"He loves wrestling. He loves the lifestyle. He loves training. He comes to practice to get better. He competes to get better, which is unusual. He has fun. He's real tough mentally. He loves competing. He's a real special kid. It's nice having him in here. He's a good student. He lives the lifestyle that it takes, and he's a great example."
Sanderson said this of Taylor's physical build:
"I think wrestlers know that everybody is different and everyone has their strengths. A lot of great wrestlers have that long, skinny body type. Leverage is power. Leverage is strength. If you wrestle him, he doesn't look strong, but the way he scrambles and wrestles, he's going to feel real strong."
Here is an audio clip of Taylor talking about the start of his wrestling career. (He was wearing a camouflage cap, which led Cyler Sanderson to call him "Metcalf." You hear that in the beginning, followed by a pause as Taylor threw the cap down.)
Here are some interesting stats on what Penn State has done well this season but also on what may be keeping the Nittany Lions from their first win.
The Penn State lacrosse team wants its face-off percentage to reach the high 50s to 60s. So far this season, the Nittany Lions have a .529 percentage.
The Lions shots-on-goal percentage is .613, opposed to opponents' .703.
With all the goalie talk, the clear percentage for the Lions is .857. Through its 14 games last year, Penn State had a .817 clear percentage.
The Lions seem to end games strongly. They have scored five goals in the first period opposed to nine fourth-quarter goals. As for their opponents--16 first-period goals opposed to six fourth-period tallies.
The preliminary seeds were released today for the upcoming Big Ten Championships. These seeds are voted on by the conference coaches based on how the wrestlers performed during the Big Ten regular season.
There are no Nittany Lions with a No. 1 seed. The top spots were awarded to three grapplers from Iowa, two from both Indiana and Michigan, and one each from Illiniois, Ohio State, and Wisconsin.
The Lions have a total of seven seeded wrestlers, with each securing a spot in the top four. Senior 157-pounder Cyler Sanderson and senior 184-pounder Dave Erwin are both No. 2 seeds, while sophomore heavyweight Cameron Wade is a No. 3 seed.
Brad Pataky (125-pounds), Adam Lynch (141), Frank Molinaro (149) and Dan Vallimont (165) are all No. 4 seeds.
Penn State's seven wrestlers with top four seeds is second only to Iowa (nine).
Here are some details about each Penn State wrestler who is seeded.
Brad Pataky- The Lion 125-pounder faced just one of the top three opponents at his weight, which was a 7-2 loss to Iowa's Matt McDonough. He'll have to prove he can beat the best and have a couple of upsets if he wants the title.
Adam Lynch- Lynch was 2-1 against the top three grapplers at this weight. While his one win was in sudden victory, he was downed by technical fall and fall in his losses. He'll need to remain scrappy to get the wins.
Frank Molinaro- Top-seeded Brent Metcalf of Iowa appears well ahead of the competition. Metcalf pinned Molinaro in their regular season meeting. The Lion 149-pounder went 1-1 agains the No. 2 and No. 3 seeds, which gives him hope to get a rematch with Metcalf.
Cyler Sanderson- Sanderson was tearing through the Big Ten before a slip up in the last dual meet agsint No. 1 seed Dustin Schlatter of Minnesota. If Sanderson can make some minor adjustments, he'll have a shot at the title.
Dan Vallimont- The Lion senior faced the top three 165-pounders in consecutive bouts during the season and lost all three. Vallimont must take care of the lower-seeded opponents and come away with an upset or two to win it all.
Dave Erwin- This may be Penn State's best chance to crown a conference champion. Erwin dropped his bout to top-seeded John Dergo of Ilinois in sudden victory, but he rolled through the rest of the conference.
Cameron Wade- Wade didn't face the top seed, but he fell to the No. 2 seed, Dan Ereckson of Iowa. The Lion sophomore's athleticism could translate to several wins in the two-day tournament.
It's the first week of March, and this is our weekly Pavcast: Jack Pavlik edition.
First, we have Penn State men's volleyball coach Mark Pavlik talking about tomorrow night's match with Ohio State and what a Big Ten conference would mean to the Nittany Lions.
But then it's all about Jack, the coach's energetic 8-year-old son. Pavlik discusses watching the Olympic gold medal hockey game with his son -- a die-hard Sidney Crosby fan -- and then explains Jack's special relationship with one of the stars of Penn State women's volleyball team. Check it out:
Pavlik on tomorrow night's match in Columbus:
Pavlik on what a Big Ten men's volleyball conference would mean to him:
Pavlik on watching Canada beat USA in OT to capture gold last Sunday:
Pavlik on his son Jack's Valentine/babysitter/best friend Alisha Glass:
Offering grades for the Nittany Lions this week is going to be a little bit tougher than usual, as the Lions suffered a potential season-threatening injury to sophomore All-American Whitney Bencsko on the first event of Saturday's meet at Ohio State.
In addition, Danielle Hover didn't make the trip to Columbus and Natalie Ettl was sick but competed. With all of that combined, the result was a 193.850, the Lions' lowest score of the season, and a loss to Big Ten rival Ohio State.
With all things considered, let's take a look at how the Lions graded out.
Analysis: Though it wasn't one of their highest scores of the season, give credit to the Lions for still scoring a 49.275 just one event after Bencsko's ugly spill from the uneven bars. Allie Southard, who has not vaulted all year, was forced into the lineup with the absence of both Bencsko and Hover. Each of the five counted scores were 9.800 or above, including 9.900s from Brandi Personett and Sharaya Musser.
For the third week in a row, the defending champion Washington Huskies sit atop both national polls.
In the ESPN.com/USA Softball Division I poll, three new teams made the poll in Kentucky, Oklahoma State and Baylor, all appearing at 23-25 respectively. The biggest drop was Michigan, which dropped from No. 4 to No. 7 in this week's poll.
Dropping out of the poll completely was Northwestern, Massachusetts and BYU.
Here is the complete ESPN.com/USA Softball Division I poll.
The top-ranked Huskies continued their defense of their national title with five wins this weekend at the Cathedral City Classic. Washington defeated BYU, No. 12 Oklahoma, No. 19 Fresno State, Oklahoma State and UC Davis.
Not only did the Huskies beat Fresno State, they pummeled them 10-2 in five innings. The Huskies, minus their slip up against Utah State, have proven they are more than capable of defending their national title.
Also playing at the Cathedral City Classic were the second-ranked Wildcats, who also went 5-0 in their competition this weekend defeating BYU, Fresno State, Hawaii, Baylor and Cal Poly. While not as impressive as Washington's resume this weekend, Arizona only allowed eight runs over the five games, including two shutouts against BYU and Fresno State.
Taking care of business this weekend were the Gators, who swept Northeastern State in three games this weekend. Florida did what a good team should do when it faces lesser competition -- dominate it.
The Gators outscored their opponent 30-1 over the three games, scoring double digit runs in two of the games. However, Florida must get up for this week's schedule as it will take on No. 10 Stanford as part of the DeMarini Tournament.
Another set back for the Wolverines this week as they fell to No. 9 Alabama 10-6 on Saturday. It was the second loss to top competition in as many weeks as Michigan fell to No. 6 Missouri last week. However, the Wolverines won't have to wait long for a shot at revenge as they will take on the Crimson Tide twice next weekend as part of the Easton SEC/Midwest Challenge.
The Bruins had a rough weekend, also taking part in the Cathedral City Classic this past weekend. UCLA fell to Baylor and No. 17 Ohio State over the weekend. In the latter contest, the Bruins left 10 runners stranded on base leaving the bases loaded in the fifth and two on in the first, fourth and sixth innings. A disappointing loss for sure, UCLA will have to regroup to take on UC Riverside on Wednesday before taking on No. 19 Fresno State this weekend.
Things have been going pretty well for junior Ben Heath this week. Over the weekend, Heath hit three clutch home runs, drove in four runs and scored six of his own. He batted .333 over the three games, and his performance was a major reason why Penn State won its first two games. Heath's week got even better on Monday as he was named to the Johnny Bench Award Watch List, one of only five Big Ten catchers to be placed on the list that honors the best Division I catchers.
The current list of 53 Division I catchers will be slimmed down to only 10 semifinalists on May 19, and if Heath's season is anything like his opening weekend then there is a decent shot at him making the cut. Through three games, the catcher has already equaled his total of extra base hits from last season and his three home runs match his career high. Heath was also named to to the Big Ten/Big East Challenge All-Tournament team, only adding to his stellar week.
Here's what the modest catcher had to say on Sunday about his performance over the weekend- "It feels good to get off to a good start. For me personally, but not only me. We were able to get two wins for the team. You come out, you play hard. I had a good weekend, but they won't all be like that. I enjoyed today and then I just have to forget about it. But more importantly, going 2-for-3 in the first weekend, that hasn't happened a lot since I've been here. It's tough going down to play when you haven't been outside, but overall, like I said, it's good to get off on the right foot."
With the No. 9 Nittany Lions on a five-game winning streak -- including three consecutive matches of a better than .460 hitting percentage -- the team is racking up some pretty nice numbers. Here's a look at the nation's Division I statistical leaders and where Penn State's top players fit in:
Penn State dropped from first to third in the Big Ten behind Michigan. The Wolverines, who travel to Happy Valley for a quad-meet this weekend, jumped up to No. 12 overall and have an RQS of 195.610. Illinois, who lost to the Lions at Rec Hall on Feb. 6, are No. 2 in the conference with a 195.540 RQS.
In terms of specific events, Penn State is No. 4 in vault, No. 12 on the uneven bars, No. 18 in the floor exercise and No. 23 on the balance beam.
Individually, Brandi Personett is No. 2 in the all-around, the No. 2 vaulter, No. 3 in the floor exercise, and No. 8 on the balance beam.
Sophomore Natalie Ettl is tied for No. 17 on the bars.
Despite the Lady Lions dropping eight of their last nine games, the individual play of Tyra Grant and Alex Bentley was too good to be overlooked. Or at least that's the consensus coming from the coaches and the media.
Grant was named to the All-Big Ten first team while Bentley was named to the All-Big Ten third team. Grant, Penn State's leading scorer, was selected by both the coaches and the media, while Bentley was selected solely by the coaches and was an honorable mention by the media. Bentley also was selected to the All-Big Ten freshman team.
It's the second straight year that Grant was a member of the first team and Bentley is just the ninth Penn State player to be named to the All-Freshman squad.
As for the rest of the conference, Ohio State's junior Jantel Lavender was named Big Ten Player of the Year for the third consecutive season. The Buckeyes, who are the No. 1 seed heading into the Big Ten tournament and are ranked No. 10 by the Associated Press, also had point guard Samantha Prahalis make the conference's first team. They were the only team with two members selected to the conference's first team.
To win the Big Ten title, Dan Vallimont may have to defeat No. 1 Andrew Howe of Wisconsin. The Badger sophomore defeated Vallimont 7-2 earlier this season and 3-2 last season. Here's a preview bout of Howe in which he decides Alex Meade.
Vallimont will need to be a better bottom wrestler this time around. Howe received a riding time point and held Vallimont in a bottom position for 1:46 going into the third period. Though Howe is the stronger wrestler, the Penn State coaching constantly pushes the can-do attitude no matter the situation. Teammate Cameron Wade broke down the mentality needed to escape from the bottom.
"The coaches... preach pressuring back and standing up. It's all about fighting. They say if you want to get out of the bottom, you'll get out from bottom. It's a whole mindset and technique all together."
This week we catch up with sophomore goalkeeper Dana Cahill. Cahill has seen action in two games this season and is Penn State's goalie of the future.
1. Favorite TV show?
Keeping up with the Kardashians
2. Favorite movie in the past year?
I like spending time with my family and friends
4.Favorite sport to watch?
I like to watch basketball
5.Favorite pro sports team?
6.Coach Isidor in one sentence.
Coach Isidor always gives everyone a chance.
7.Dream vacation spot?
I'd love to go to Hawaii
8.Dream job when you were younger?
I wanted to be a doctor
9.Favorite class you've taken at Penn State?
Carrie Underwood. She's one of the only country stars I like
We here at CF have decided to retire the "favorite pro sports team" question due to the majority of the team coming from Maryland and all picking the Ravens. Check back next week for another edition of Meet the Team Monday.
Game of the Night: No. 20 Georgetown at No. 8 West Virginia, 7p.m., ESPN
A big game for the Georgetown Hoyas as they travel to Morgantown to face the Mountaineers. While neither team can clinch the Big East regular-season title, the winner of the game can improve its standing going into the conference tournament.
Georgetown is sputtering and a big-time win over a quality opponent on its home floor would be a huge boost, as well as give it a secure bye into the second round of the Big East tournament.
Hoya leading scorer Austin Freeman will miss the game due to the flu, and his loss will impact what Georgetown can do offensively. However, West Virginia is lacking production from its star as well. Da'Sean Butler has been struggling, and the Mountaineers need the forward to come around if they want to make a run in the tournament.
While Georgetown will be limited in what they can do on the floor, it will certainly win the best-dressed award. But, in the end, it will be Bob Huggins and his tracksuit (yes, he wears a tracksuit to coach in) that come away with the win.
Prediction: WVU 65 - G'Town 59
Player to Watch: Jameer Nelson, Orlando Magic point guard
Another NBA player? When A-Rob does the hits, absolutely.
Nelson leads his Magic back to his hometown to take on the less-than-stellar Sixers tonight at 7p.m. in Philadelphia. Nelson, a former guard at St. Joe's and 2004 Wooden Award winner as best player in the nation is finally rounding into form after missing parts of the season while recovering from surgery.
An All-Star last year, Nelson is the engine to Orlando's unique offense. While trying to make sure All-NBA center Dwight Howard and outside scorers Rashard Lewis and Vince Carter each get his share of touches, Nelson will look to score himself on the Sixers'
Philly fans are loyal to hometown guys, so there should be a fair amount of cheers for the player that captivated the city during St. Joes' epic Elite Eight run in 2004. However, with it being Philly, expect those cheers to turn to boos once Nelson drains a 3-pointer in
We're back with the Monday Minute segment this week -- sorry for the brief hiatus -- and we have Orchard Park, N.Y. native Tom Comfort.
Comfort, a freshman opposite hitter, may be the most easygoing guy on the team-- he can start up a conversation with just about anyone. In this candid interview, he tells us his favorite Adam Sandler flick, what his pregame ritual is (or isn't) and explains which of his Nittany Lion teammates he looks up to the most. Check it out:
Darling has tried working with her own line of hair care products and she has worked hand and hand with inner city girls through a class she created called "Uniquely Made."
She has also given birth to three triplets named Je-Juan, Jalen and Nevaeh, and she has been a spokesperson for the March of Dimes.
However, what Darling is most passionate about is literature and getting children to read. Currently working toward a degree in childrens literature at Penn State, Darling now devotes her time not playing basketball to reading childrens books.
She runs a website called www.mydarlingtots.com and she has written a number of books like, "Hide N Seek Monday," "Yummy Tummy Tuesday" and "Free Frog Football Friday."
Darling, a big supporter of the Read to Achieve program, based the books off her three children and also created an eight-page coloring book she passes around at schools and parenting workshops.
The former Lady Lions' Web site is a colorful one for parents and kids with different activities, games and learning tools for families to do together. Her mission is a simple one, "To promote children's literacy and strengthen parent-child communication via creative, entertaining, and interactive learning programs."
Darling is also still a talented basketball player, and she has played for WNBA teams the Cleveland Rockets, Minnesota Lynx, Charlotte Sting and San Antonio Silver Stars.
On top of her long lasting WNBA career, Darling was one of the Lady Lions greats. She was named Big Ten Player of the Year in 2000, the same season she helped lead Penn State to the final four. She ranks third on the all-time Lady Lion assist list and second in steals as well.