In the second to last week of the season, the top of the standings cleared up a little bit. Sports editor Steve Hennessey, who had been in contention the whole season, had a miserable 5-11 week (probably trying to pick some upsets to make up ground on the leaders), leaving assistant sports editor Paul Casella and Nittany Lion Fund President Jim Regan to fight it out for the top spot.
Casella and Regan posted identical 9-7 weeks, leaving Regan ahead by one game. Krieger is within striking distance, but he would need a huge week and for both Regan and Casella to falter big in week 17.
With some teams resting players, though, and other teams trying to play the role of spoiler, anything could happen in these week 17 games, so it should be a fight to the finish.
The Penn State men's basketball team will open its Big Ten slate when it takes on Indiana at 6:30 p.m. Monday at Assembly Hall. Here's a preview of what to expect:
Bloomington blues: Penn State is 1-15 all-time at Indiana. The lone win actually came in the Nittany Lions' last appearance there — a 65-55 victory in 2009.
Road woes: Penn State is still searching for its first road win of the year. The Lions are 0-2 on the season away from the Bryce Jordan Center, with losses to Mississippi and Virginia Tech. Assembly Hall might be a hard place for the Lions to find that first elusive road win — the Hoosiers are 9-0 at home so far this season.
Starting strong? The Lions have won three of their last four Big Ten openers. The lone loss in the past four seasons came last year when Penn State fell to Minnesota, 75-70.
Hot Hoosiers: Penn State will definitely look to contain sophomore forward Christian Watford, who leads Indiana with 18.3 points and 5.8 rebounds per game. Six-foot-5 junior guard Verdell Jones is also a threat as he is averaging more than 12 points per game on the young season. The Hoosiers are a hot-shooting team as a whole. They lead the Big Ten and are fourth in the country in field goal percentage (51.3 percent).
Quotable: Indiana coach Tom Crean talked about the matchup at his weekly press conference in Bloomington. Here's what he had to say about Penn State's senior guard Talor Battle:
"They have one of the premiere players in the Big Ten in Talor Battle. There's no doubt about that. From end to end, his speed is amazing."
Crean also said Indiana will not have just "one guy or one situation that can neutralize Battle," so the Hoosiers will have to focus on playing "great team defense."
State of the Hoosiers: Indiana won its first six games to open the season but has gone 3-4 in its last seven games, including a pair of losses to Northern Iowa and Colorado at the IBN Las Vegas Classic.
As the NFL races toward the playoffs, the Collegian NFL Pick 'Em is winding down as well, with a two-man race shaping out. Nittany Lion Fund president Jim Regan is holding onto a one-game lead over assistant sports editor Paul Casella heading into the final two weeks of the season.
The competition could be decided this week, with some crucial games on the docket for Sunday and Monday.
We also have a guest athlete picker this week: women's fencer Monika Aksamit, a junior from Matawan. Past athlete pickers include Talor Battle and D.J. Jackson of the men's basketball team, Frank Molinaro and Brad Pataky of the wrestling team and Christine Nairn of the women's soccer team.
Here's a look at our updated standings, followed by each competitor's picks for Week 16:
Regan: 133-76 (63.6%)
Casella: 132-77 (63.2%)
Kreiger: 118-75 (61.1%)
Hennessey: 126-83 (60.3%)
Ragland: 108-73 (59.7%)
Cohen: 107-73 (59.4%)
Athletes: 78-55 (58.6%)
Dallas vs. Cardinals
Christian Ragland, UPUA president: Dallas
Alex Cohen, Paternoville president: Cardinals
Jim Regan, Nittany Lion Fund president: Dallas — Dallas has been great recently, I think the trend continues and they take it to a horrible cardinals team on the road
Monika Aksamit, women's fencing: Dallas
Paul Casella, assistant sports editor: no pick
Steve Hennessey, sports editor: Cardinals — Kitna and Co. can't win out, can they?
Giants vs. Packers
Regan: Giants — It's all I want for Christmas...please Santa?
Hennessey: Giants — Somehow find a way to put the Miracles at the Meadowlands Pt. II behind them.
Patriots vs. Bills
Regan: Patriots — Another lop-sided matchup... Patriots win easily on the road
Hennessey: Bills — This game was really close in the first couple of weeks..look for an upset here in Buffalo. Patriots are all banged up.
Jets vs. Bears
Regan: Bears — Great game here, but I like the home team that is in need of a win
Hennessey: Jets — Not a must-win for either team and hesitant to pick New York with Sanchez banged up, but the Jets are going to kick it up a gear and put their best foot forward.
Ravens vs. Browns
Regan: Ravens — Definitely continuing to like my Ravens, time to move toward that elusive home field advantage
Hennessey: Ravens — Sorry Cleveland.
Titans vs. Chiefs
Regan: Chiefs — I love the way the Chiefs are playing, and they need to win in order to block the Chargers late-season rally.
Hennessey: Chiefs — This one's a big win for Kansas City as they fend off the Chargers.
49ers vs. Rams
Regan: Rams — Shout-out to Casella... pivotal game in the worst division ever, giddy up Rams
Hennessey: 49ers — Just to spite Casella.
Lions vs. Dolphins
Regan: Dolphins — Solid matchup, but the Dolphins still have hope and are at home so I give them the nod
Hennessey: Dolphins — Wow, it'd be nice to be in Miami right now.
Redskins vs. Jaguars
Regan: Jaguars — Tebow Effect? I don't think so... time to come back down to Earth, Grossman
Hennessey: Jaguars — This game is gonna be an ugly one.
Chargers vs. Bengals
Regan: Chargers — Owens out, Ochocinco likely out, Chargers in desperate need of a win... need I say more?
Hennessey: Chargers — Might win by 35 points.
Texans vs. Broncos
Regan: Texans — Denver may have some swagger now, but the Texans are going to abuse this first-start QB on the road
Hennessey: Texans — Arian Foster goes off as he tries to put the rushing title on lock.
Colts vs. Raiders
Regan: Colts — Tempted to pick the home team, but the Colts are somehow still are in need of wins this late in the year (*smh*)
Hennessey: Raiders — Upset special. Oakland at home over the underperforming Colts.
Seahawks vs. Buccaneers
Regan: Buccaneers — All signs point to a Bucco's smackdown, say goodbye to the division Seattle.
Hennessey: Buccaneers — 'Hawks keep it close but Bucs come up with the win.
Vikings vs. Eagles
Regan: Eagles — ...we'll get 'em next time... we'll get 'em next time...
Hennessey: Eagles — See Regan above..
Saints vs. Falcons
Regan: Saints — I'm feeling the overrated Saints here based on them needing a win a lot more.
Hennessey: Falcons — How could you go against Matty Ice at home?
With a strong week 15 showing, Jim Regan has taken over the lead with only two weeks to go. Entering last week trailing by one win, Regan outpicked assistant sports editor Paul Casella by two picks, taking over the lead by the slimmest of margins.
Week 16 picks will be up as soon as we get the picks in, and before Sunday's games start, at the latest. Last week's standings and the overall records are below.
When the Penn State women's volleyball team captured its fourth-consecutive national championship last week, it did more than just solidify the Nittany Lions as the No. 1 team in the country.
The win -- a 3-0 victory against California at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo. -- also placed Penn State as No. 1 on a different rankings list: The Capital One Cup women's standings.
The Capital One Cup is awarded annually Division I college athletics programs in the nation. There is a separate award for the top men's program in the country, as well as the top women's program in the country. The winners each receive $200,000 to fund student-athlete graduate-level scholarships at their school.
The cup is determined by a points ranking system. With the national championship and final No. 1 ranking in the AVCA's coaches' poll, the women's volleyball team earned 60 points for Penn State, putting the school in first place.
Blair Brown became the 10th Penn State player to be named a finalist for the women’s volleyball Honda Sports Award, which is given to the top athlete in the sport.
The other finalists include Texas’ Juliann Faucette, Southern California’s Alex Jupiter and California’s Carli Lloyd. The Nittany Lions defeated both Faucette and Lloyd’s teams in the Final Four.
Last season, Penn State’s Megan Hodge was the recipient and also shared the award for Woman Athlete of the Year with Connecticut basketball player Maya Moore.
If she were to win this award, Brown could add it to her list of accolades this season. The 6-foot-5 senior was named Big Ten Player of the Year and an AVCA First-Team All-American. She was also named a member of the National Championship All-Tournament team for helping to lead the Lions to a fourth consecutive NCAA title.
The Purcellville, Va. native led the Lions with 521 kills. She was second on the team with 281 digs and 113 blocks.
Here’s how the finalists match up in a few statistical categories*^:
Kills: Jupiter (532); Brown (521); Faucette (465); Lloyd (114) Assists: Lloyd (1,384); Faucette (27); Brown (24); Jupiter (19) Blocks: Lloyd (126); Brown (113); Jupiter (77); Faucette (71) Digs: Jupiter (304); Faucette (299); Lloyd (295); Brown (281) Points: Jupiter (625.0); Brown (603.0) Faucette (536.5); Lloyd (196.0)
*Matches Played: Brown (37); Lloyd (34); Faucette (33); Jupiter (33)
^Lloyd is a setter while the other three finalists are hitters.
Great players step up on the biggest of stages. Freshman outside hitter Deja McClendon did exactly that in this year's Final Four en route to helping Penn State to a fourth straight national title and being named the tournament's most outstanding player. Here's a comparison of McClendon's stats from the final two matches with the other outside and opposite hitters from Cal and Penn State in the Final Four.
Ranked based on hitting percentage in Final Four
McClendon (freshman): 27 kills, only 6 hitting errors and a .381 hitting percentage on 55 swings
Tarah Murrey (Cal junior): 39 kills, 12 hitting errors and a .375 hitting percentage on 72 swings
Adrienne Gehan (Cal freshman): 21 kills, 5 hitting errors and a .348 hitting percentage on 46 swings
Blair Brown (Penn State senior): 30 kills, 10 hitting errors and a .278 hitting percentage on 72 swings
Ariel Scott (Penn State freshman): 17 kills, 5 hitting errors and a .272 hitting percentage on 44 swings
Correy Johnson (Cal sophomore): 6 kills, 3 hitting errors and a .150 hitting percentage on 20 swings
If you add in McClendon's statistics from the regional final against Duke, McClendon has 47 kills, only 9 hitting errors and a .365 hitting percentage on 104 swings in the last three matches of the season. She, followed by Darcy Dorton and Scott, appears to be Penn State's best returning attacker next season.
“I’m still in shock to be honest. Just, I can’t believe what has happened," McClendon said in a telephone interview late Saturday night. "I can’t believe we actually achieved our dream, you know. The biggest goal I’ve ever had, I achieved. And just the fact that people didn’t expect us to get this far, and we’ve won four in a row. I can’t believe that.”
With only three weeks left in the season, this competition is wide open.
For the second straight week, Casella and Regan posted identical records to remain separated by just one game at the top of the standings. But with Kreiger posting his second straight dominating week (14-2 last week, 13-3 this week), he has put himself back in contention, sitting just six picks back of the leader.
The middle of the pack is jumbled, though, with Hennessey sitting in third place, just five picks back and Cohen sitting only one-tenth of a percentage point behind him.
With playoff battles heating up in the NFL, these next couple weeks should be pretty interesting in determining the winner of this league.
Week 14 Records:
Casella: 124-70 (63.9%)
Regan: 123-71 (63.4%)
Hennessey: 119-75 (61.3%)
Cohen: 101-64 (61.2%)
Kreiger: 118-75 (61.1%)
Ragland: 97-69 (58.4%)
Week 15 Picks:
Buffalo @ Miami:
Regan: Miami - Hopefully the good Miami team comes to play this week
Hennessey: Miami - No real interest in this game, but will go with Miami.
Casella: Miami - Despite being from just an hour east of Buffalo, I grew up in a house that liked Miami and hated the Bills, so should be fun watching this one at home today. Dolphins should be in the mix for a playoff spot right now if not for that atrocious call that stole the game from them against the Steelers earlier this year.
Arizona @ Carolina:
Regan: Arizona - I like what Arizona did last week, they keep the mojo flowing here on the road
Hennessey: Arizona - Carolina is just weak sauce.
Casella: Arizona - Both teams are horrible.
New Orleans @ Baltimore:
Ragland: New Orleans
Cohen: New Orleans
Regan: Baltimore - Great matchup here, and I continue to pick the Ravens week by week
Hennessey: New Orleans - -- Drew Brees exploits a Ravens' secondary without Ed Reed. Reggie Bush and Pierre Thomas need to pick up the slack here.
Casella: Baltimore - Still not sold on NO as being back to the level they were at last year or anywhere near it.
Jacksonville @ Indianapolis:
Regan: Indianapolis - Sweet sweet revenge, colts climb back on top of the division
Hennessey: Indianapolis - Jones-Drew and Garrard not at full strength, gotta like Peyton and crew to come out and play with passion.
Casella: Indianapolis - Time for Peyton to quiet the recent critics and propel this team back to its yearly playoff perch.
Detroit @ Tampa Bay:
Cohen: Tampa Bay
Regan: Tampa Bay - The Buccos are still quite underrated, and I think they need this win for playoff purposes too much to lose
Hennessey: Detroit - -- Upset special. If Detroit could pull off the upset over Green Bay (even without Rodgers), I believe their defense can shutdown Tampa's too.
Casella: Detroit - Still not sold on the Bucs being that good of a football team, and Detroit makes it a close game every week.
Philadelphia @ NY Giants:
Regan: NY Giants - Naturally, the best team in the NFL gets the nod even without Steve Smith
Hennessey: NY Giants - Not confident at all in my Giants, but I think they'll find a way to get it done. The loss of Stewart Bradley could be huge in stopping the G-Men run game
Casella: NY Giants
Kansas City @ St. Louis:
Ragland: St. Louis
Cohen: St. Louis
Regan: Kansas City - A tight matchup here, I think the Chiefs get it done to stay a game ahead of the Chargers
Hennessey: Kansas City - With Matt Cassel getting the nod, he should be able to get the ball out to the Chiefs' playmakers, too much for St. Louie.
Casella: St. Louis - Obviously the NFC West is a horrible division, but the AFC West should be thanking them for taking the attention away from how bad that division has been. The weakness of that division is the lone reason the Chiefs are on top of it right now. Chargers will win the AFC West.
Washington @ Dallas:
Regan: Dallas - I think the skins make it interesting and this will be a close one... but the Cowboys are thriving right now whereas Washington's season is ending
Hennessey: Dallas - More low-scoring than everyone will expect. Washington is a mess right now, and even without Roy Williams and Marion Barber Dallas gets it done.
Casella: Dallas - Washington may have had a chance with McNabb. Not with Grossman.
Cleveland @ Cincinnati:
Regan: Cincinnati - I'm thinking that the Browns' charm is overextended and the Bengals proved they have weapons last week
Hennessey: Cleveland - Cincinnati might be the worst team in the league, and there's really no reason to pick them. Don't think they could stop Peyton Hillis.
Casella: Cleveland - Peyton Hillis. End of story.
Houston @ Tennessee:
Regan: Tennessee - Both teams need a victory here, but something needs to stop the 6 game skid the Titans are going through and I think this is the wakeup call
Hennessey: Houston - Jeff Fisher is on the hot seat and might have lost his team.
Atlanta @ Seattle:
Regan: Atlanta - Seattle is certainly more in need of a win, but Atlanta has a huge win streak built up and I don't see the train slowing anytime soon
Hennessey: Atlanta - Sloppy conditions but Atlanta needs this one.
NY Jets @ Pittsburgh:
Ragland: NY Jets
Regan: Pittsburgh - This one should be an unexpected dominate performance by the Steelers, Jets just don't have what it takes
Hennessey: Pittsburgh - No Polamalu makes for a better game for Sanchez, but the Jets have never won a game in Pennsylvania. Those are odds I don't want to mess with.
Denver @ Oakland:
Regan: Oakland - This one should be an unexpected dominate performance by the Steelers, Jets just don't have what it takes
Hennessey: Oakland - The Broncos remind me of the Redskins with the type of turmoil they're going through. Never thought I'd pick the Raiders over the Broncos.
Casella: Oakland - Sorry Denver, I've picked you all year, but can't do it anymore. Tebow Era starts with a loss.
Green Bay @ New England:
Ragland: New England
Cohen: New England
Regan: New England - No question here
Hennessey: New England - Don't know how the line is so close here. Without Rodgers, Green Bay doesn't stand much of a chance.
Casella: New England - No turnovers and 30+ points in each of the last five games? Like I said last week, as much as I hate to say it, the Patriots are easily the best team in football.
Chicago @ Minnesota:
Hennessey: Minnesota -- Somehow the Vikings find a way to get it done in these conditions. I love the dramatics that come along with Favre possibly playing.
Casella: Chicago - Favre getting hurt is the best thing that could have happened to Minnesota. The Vikings are a better team without that turnover machine on the field.
It was over when: Penn State stormed to a 10-1 lead in the first set, forcing Texas coach Jerritt Elliott to burn both of his first set timeouts. “We haven’t given up runs like that in a long time," Elliott said after the match. The Nittany Lions' fiery momentum caught the Longhorns off guard, creating separation that was just too much for Texas to overcome.
Player of the match: Freshman outside hitter Deja McClendon. The rookie was playing on volleyball's biggest stage at the most important time of the season -- and she couldn't have asked for a better debut. The 2010 AVCA Freshman of the Year -- who was a steady force for the Lions all season long -- recorded 11 kills on a blistering .733 hitting percentage. Perhaps even more impressive? McClendon recorded zero errors on her 15 swings.
Did you know? Penn State limited the Longhorns to just 48 points, setting an NCAA record. Texas' 48 points were the fewest points allowed in a three-set match in the rally-scoring era at the Final Four.
Stat of the match: Penn State committed one error on its first 27 swings.
Quotable: “We ran into a buzz saw," Elliott said of his team's 19-match winning streak snapped by a hot Lions squad.
What's next: Penn State is just one win away from sending its three senior starters -- Blair Brown, Arielle Wilson and Alyssa D'Errico -- off with something unheard of in college athletics: A national championship ring for each of their four collegiate seasons. The Lions will face Pac-10 power California Saturday night at 8:30 (ET) in hopes to win an unprecedented fourth consecutive national title.
Scouting Cal: Cal advanced to the championship match by defeating Pac-10 rival Southern California Thursday night in straight sets. The Golden Bears, the only team not to lose a set in this year’s NCAA Tournament, were bolstered by All-American Tarah Murrey's 23 kills. They now stand at 30-3 for the season, setting a school record for victories.
Familiar foes: Penn State beat Cal in the 2007 Final Four en route to its first of three straight national titles. The Lions also defeated the Golden Bears in regional finals in 2008 and 2009.
Along with getting Penn State coach CaelSanderson's comments on the Nittany Lions' dual with Ohio State this weekend, we spoke with Buckeyes' coach Tom Ryan about Sunday's clash between the Big Ten foes.
Ryan, the 2009 National Coach of the Year, is in his fifth season with the Buckeyes, and has his team sitting at No. 22 in the country after a 1-2 start.
Here are Ryan's thoughts on Sunday's match.
On the rivalry between Ohio State and Penn State:
"Penn State’s always a big match, regardless of what we’re ranked or what they’re ranked. Bordering states, great tradition,
"So we’re looking forward to the dual. I love going to the football games, too. Regardless of the sport, Ohio State and Penn State are natural rivals. So we’ve been fortunate enough to win the last three and we’re looking forward to this one."
On No. 3 David Taylor vs. No. 13 Colt Sponseller at 157 pounds and No. 11 Ed Ruth vs. No. 13 Nick Hefflin at 174 pounds:
"Between these four student athletes, they’ve all won a lot in their lives and they’re all in it to be the best. When you’ve got two people standing across from each other on a mat that want to be the best, it’s a lot of fun. We have a tremendous amount of respect for David Taylor. We know him very well and got to watch his high school career. And Ed Ruth as well. So we know they have two great young men in those weight classes. Those will definitely be the key matches of the night."
On what's made Sponseller and Hefflin so successful this season:
"A desire. The internal fire to stand out. And we know both of those guys have it."
On what CaelSanderson's done at Penn State:
"Cael is such an icon in this sport. Young people growing up, they watched this guy do something that no one else has ever done, go undefeated and win an Olympic gold medal. With that, I think a lot of young people will aspire to wrestle for him. He’s just done a great job there and always represents himself with class. And he’s in a state that cares about wrestling. I thought it was outstanding that Penn State when after him and got him, and we look forward to the rivalry for years to come."
Despite Ohio State's 1-2 record this season, Penn State coach Cael Sanderson and the No. 5 Nittany Lions aren't taking the No. 22 Buckeyes lightly.
Last season, Ohio State defeated Penn State, 21-14, in Columbus. And though the Lions hold the all-time series by a slim margin at 13-11, the Buckeyes have taken the last four duals between the two teams.
When Ohio State visits Rec Hall at 2 p.m. Sunday, a lot will be on the line. The match will be the Lions' conference-opener and there will be true tests at 157 and 174-pound weight classes.
Here's what Sanderson had to say about the Buckeyes.
On the rivalry between Penn State and Ohio State:
"We’re obviously in close proximity with Ohio State and they’re trying to do the same things that we’re trying to do here with their wrestling program. They’re a little ahead of us as far as coach Ryan being there maybe four years and the success that they’ve had. They’re definitely one of the teams that we want to beat and we’re going head to head with those guys all the time. Not only in our conference, but they’re one of the best teams in the country so it’s one of the teams that we’re constantly recruiting against. So we compete with Ohio State at all levels and I have a lot respect for their program and what they’ve done and their coaching staff and the kids in their program. They’ve had a lot of great recruiting classes and that’s obviously going to go on. So the future of the two program’s is bright and the rivalry will grow as the programs grow."
"I had a lot for respect for the coach before coach Ryan. But anytime there’s a change, it brings in a new excitement and new enthusiasm and coach Ryan definitely capitalized on that. He had a lot of success with Hofstra right before his move to Ohio State, and he’s done a lot of great things there. He really has gotten the state behind him, and not necessarily just him, but the program which is one in the same. He’s done a phenomenal job. I think Ohio State’s one of those programs that everyone looks at and thinks,”Man, these guys should be one of the best programs in the country on a year-to-year basis.” And Tom Ryan has made that a reality."
On David Taylor taking on Colt Sponseller, the No. 13 ranked 157-pounder in the country:
"I think David’s gonna do what he does. Sponseller is a tough wrestler, and he wrestles hard. He has a lot of strengths. Conditioning’s been a factor for him throughout his career. He’s experienced, in that he’s a senior and he’s been in the mix since he was a freshman. It’s a great opportunity for David to see one of the more experienced kids in his weight class and I’m excited for him. We’ll see what’s gonna happen but we know what David’s capable of and he’s going to go out there and he’s gonna wrestle hard and that’s just what the does. That’s the consistency that you see with David Taylor that’s pretty remarkable."
On Ed Ruth taking on Nick Hefflin, ranked No. 13 at 174 pounds:
"Ed Ruth will be at 174 and we know that Hefflin is a tough opponent. He was a big recruit and he’s a solid kid, so it’ll be nice for Ed. I think the better Ed’s competition, the more we’ll see out of him. His potential is just unlimited, and the better his competition, the more we’ll see him just jump leaps and bounds. So I’m excited for him. He’s seen some great wrestlers but the more quality opponents he sees, the better he’ll get, so this is a good thing for him. It’ll be a good test for Ed, but Ed’s goal is to be the national champion this year, so all he’s trying to do is make progress with every match and go out there and compete the way he wants to at the national tournament."
The Nittany Lions are vying to make history — again.
Penn State is just two wins away from winning an unprecedented fourth consecutive national championship. The Lions' first obstacle? They will square off with a hot Texas squad Thursday in Kansas City, Mo. — a rematch of last year's national title match. Here's a few notes about what to expect from that match, and also some information about the other two teams still standing in the 2010 NCAA women's volleyball tournament — USC and California.
Not the favorites: For just the fourth time in the past 13 years, the team that held the No. 1 ranking in the AVCA poll heading into the tournament will not end up winning the championship. No. 1 Florida was upset by Purdue in Sweet 16 play.
Going streaking: When the Lions square off against Texas in the Final Four, it will be a collision of two teams on a hot streak. The Longhorns, who started the season out 8-5, have won 19 straight matches. Meanwhile, Penn State has won 17 of its past 18 matches.
Top 10: Ten players participating in the Final Four this week are AVCA All-Americans this season. That list includes Lion seniors Blair Brown and Arielle Wilson who were first team selections, and also Penn State freshman Deja McClendon who earned second team accolades. McClendon was also named the AVCA National Freshman of the Year. Juliann Faucette and Rachael Adams of Texas were also first team selections.
Scouting the field: Penn State is quite familiar with the other three squads who made the trip to Kansas City. The Lions defeated California in the national semifinals in 2007 and defeated Texas in last year's national title game. Overall, Penn State is 9-6 against Texas, 3-0 against California and 1-2 against USC.
Role model: Texas coach Jerritt Elliott said he has a lot of respect for Lions coach Russ Rose. Here's what the Longhorns' coach had to say about his counterpart at Penn State at the semifinal press conference Wednesday afternoon: "Russ is one of the coaches that I really looked up to when I got into this profession and I am actually one of the younger coaches. He has always been there for me and we've great conversations. We continue to talk. He is one of the coaches that does it the right way. I think his players have a good time and they work extremely hard."
Self-proclaimed underdogs: Texas middle hitter Rachael Adams doesn't think of her team as the favorite in the Final Four match against Penn State. This is what Adams had to say at a press conference Wednesday afternoon: "This team has come a long way and we may be the hottest team coming in, but we still see ourselves as the underdogs. We still have a lot to show and a lot to give. It's going to be a challenge with these four teams and it's not over until it's over."
In this week's Tuesday Timeout, we spoke with redshirt sophomore Bryan Pearsall. The Lititz, Pa. native is 8-4 on the year and made had his most impressive showing of the season this past Sunday against Lehigh. The 133-pounder pinned his opponent in just one minute and eleven seconds. We talked a little MMA with Pearsall, and found out who he's most looking forward to seeing over the upcoming winter break.
Mike Still) What’s your favorite thing about Penn State?
Bryan Pearsall) I like the atmosphere of the town. Where I live is a really small town. This is a small town but it kind of has a city feel because the college is big even though it’s in a small town. And I like being in the mountains and the whole setting and the atmosphere the Penn State has.
MS) Favorite class you’ve taken here?
BP) Soc. 005 with Professor Clemente. It’s a really popular class, a lot of people take it, and a lot people say it really changes their lives. It’s pretty much just him giving his insight on a lot of different perspectives and teaching life lessons, so it’s a really fun class. But he actually just retired, so no one can take it anymore.
MS) Favorite type of music?
BP) I like a lot of different things. The one thing I don’t like is country. I like pretty much anything other than country. But it depends. If I’m warming up for a match, I like something a little more high-paced.
BP) Yeah that’s an ode to Ricky Bobby. It’s one of my favorite movies. I quote it all the time.
MS) Favorite sport other than wrestling?
BP) Probably mixed martial arts, I’m a really big fan of that. I follow it pretty closely.
MS) So who’s your favorite MMA guy?
BP) It kind of depends on the weight class. GSP (Guy St. Pierre) used to be my favorite guy but he’s been getting kind of boring. Probably Phil Davis right now, just because he’s a Penn State alumni, he’s undefeated and he’s pretty exciting.
MS) What are you most looking forward to during winter break?
BP) Just spending time with my family. I don’t get to go home all that often. I have two older brothers and I don’t really get to spend too much time with them. And my parents, they come up pretty often to see the matches. But I just don’t get too much time with my brothers so I’m really looking forward to that.
Regan: Indianapolis - Colts are a bounceback team and I think that the Titans aren't as sound as their record shows.
Cleveland @ Buffalo:
Regan: Cleveland -I like cleveland here despite the tight spread, I see no problems with Hillis continuing to dominate the ground game
Green Bay @ Detroit:
Ragland: Green Bay
Cohen: Green Bay
Krieger: Green Bay
Regan: Green Bay - Spread is 6.5 in favor of the road team and the Pack has been solid all season
Hennessey: Green Bay
Casella: Green Bay
NY Giants @ Minnesota:
Cohen: NY Giants
Krieger: NY Giants
Regan: NY Giants - Obviously picking my g-men here like I do every week... tough matchup but I think we can manage
Hennessey: NY Giants
Casella: NY Giants
Cincinnati @ Pittsburgh:
Regan: Pittsburgh - Pittsburgh did a good job coming back against the Ravens last week, I say the success continues at home
Oakland @ Jacksonville:
Regan: Jacksonville - Jaguars face a formidable foe... the Raiders have been much better than anticipated and haven't let up. Still... Jacksonville grabs a W at home
Atlanta @ Carolina:
Regan: Atlanta - Totally thought I had the falcons loss against the buccos in the bag last week... ah well, can't make that mistake twice in a row
Tampa Bay @ Washington:
Ragland: Tampa Bay
Cohen: Tampa Bay
Krieger: Tampa Bay
Regan: Washington - Tampa and Washington BOTH are in desperate need of a win to keep a shot at a divisional title alive. I'm sure the bucs will be favored here but I'm taking the home team on a gut call
Hennessey: Tampa Bay
Casella: Washington - Bucs are an overrated football team with an overhyped QB. Depends which Redskins team shows up, but I'll take my chances.
St. Louis @ New Orleans:
Ragland: New Orleans
Cohen: New Orleans
Krieger: New Orleans
Regan: New Orleans - Saints aren't awesome, but they need a win and they are at home against a mediocre rams team that just so happens to be in one of the worst divisions in NFL history
Hennessey: New Orleans
Casella: St. Louis - No need to explain my pick here. C'mon Rams.
Seattle @ San Francisco:
Ragland: San Francisco
Krieger: San Francisco
Regan: San Francisco - 49ers must have a win here to stay alive
Hennessey: San Francisco
Casella: San Francisco
New England @ Chicago:
Ragland: New England
Cohen: New England
Krieger: New England
Regan: New England - Very tempted to pick the bears again this week, but betting against Tom Brady isn't smart
Casella: New England: As much as I hate to say it, Pats are the best team in football right now.
Miami @ NY Jets:
Ragland: NY Jets
Cohen: NY Jets
Krieger: NY Jets
Regan: NY Jets - Jets continue to pick up lame duck wins over teams in the fourth quarter... here comes another one
Hennessey: NY Jets
Casella: Miami: Always pick the Dolphins anyway, but I'm just happy the Jets finally proved Monday night what I've been saying all along this year: they're extremely overrated.
Denver @ Arizona:
Regan: Denver - Well Arizona showed signs of life last week, but I think Denver can take this one even on the road
Casella: Denver - New coach for Denver and the arm of Orton should be enough to get past the lowly Cardinals
Kansas City @ San Diego:
Ragland: Kansas City
Cohen: San Diego
Krieger: San Diego
Regan: San Diego - KC might be without Cassel and the Chargers have been great all season, let's go with the home team
Hennessey: San Diego
Casella: San Diego: Neither of these teams is very good (even KC), but San Diego has more talent overall, they just need to find a way to show it.
Philadelphia @ Dallas:
Regan: Philadelphia - With Marion Barber out, it might be tough for the cowboys to pace themselves and the Eagles have pretty good pass coverage that should make things interesting
Baltimore @ Houston:
Regan: Baltimore - I seem to be picking the Ravens every week too... let's not change that, rematch of the 2001 superbowl is much needed
Lock Haven coach Robbie Waller prepares his team the same way for every match. The Bald Eagles (3-2) can hang with anyone as long as they stay positive and wrestle tough, he said.
Waller and company went 1-1 last night in a pair of dual matches while dealing with numerous injuries last night, rolling over Millersville, 37-3, and falling 33-6 to Ohio University. 125-pounder Nick Hyatt and 133-pounder John Trumbetti returned to the line-up Thursday after dealing with injuries.
This Sunday, when Lock Haven travels to Happy Valley to take on No. 5 Penn State in a dual meet at 2 p.m. in Rec Hall, Lock Haven will have its hands full with the Lions.
But Waller said his team isn't intimidated at all, just excited.
Waller on taking on a team as talented as Penn State:
"First, we’re excited about wrestling a top-10 team. The better teams you wrestle, the more you find out where you’re at in terms of with the rest of the nation's. So we’re just excited about it and ready to wrestle hard. We’re all Division I, so we love the opportunity to wrestle those guys. Hopefully that’s something that they want to continue for the future. It’s been a long-standing rivalry and we want to continue it. No doubt."
Waller on his team's injuries:
"We’ve got some guys banged up but we wrestled last night and we’ll reassess and reevaluate those injuries today and see where we’re at for Sunday. Mostly lighter weights."
Waller on Trumbetti, ranked No. 18 and a national qualifier at the 133-pound weight class last season:
"If he can wrestle, granted he hasn’t had a lot of mat time this year, but he’s a competitor. So I know that if he can go, he’s going to give it his all."
Waller on CaelSanderson:
"Obviously he’s getting a lot of good recruits and the expectations are very high there. So I’m assuming that he and his staff are doing everything that they can to get to the top of the national podium because they all have the resources and the intangibles to make that happen."
Sweet 16 play kicks off Friday night, and at Thursday's press conferences with the four teams in the University Park region — Missouri, Duke, Penn State and Oklahoma — the consensus was the same: Everyone is excited to be playing at this time of year.
Duke and Missouri will square off at 5:30 p.m., followed by a match between Penn State and Oklahoma.
Here's a few highlights from the press conferences:
The Duke players talked about an inspirational meeting they had with Blue Devils men's basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski. Coach K spoke with the women's volleyball team when it had about three weeks to go in the ACC season. Senior middle hitter Becci Burling said there was a few nuggets of advice the legendary coach gave the team that resonated with her. "Something that's still ringing in my head is that he wanted us to finish out," Burling said. "We won an [ACC] championship, we celebrated, and now we're here. We're going for the same exact championship, and now we know how to play through these matches to get a championship. So that's something that struck a chord with me."
Penn State coach Russ Rose is very familiar with Oklahoma coach Santiago Restrepo. In fact, when Restrepo was applying for his job with Oklahoma, Rose called the Sooners' athletic department to offer his endorsement.
Make sure to check track and field reporter Stephen Pianovich's article in tomorrow's paper on the All-Americans comprising the Penn State men's track and field team this season.
Pianovich also talked to Joe Kovacs, an All-American thrower for the Nittany Lions who placed 18th in the shotput at the 2010 NCAA outdoor Championships, about how it feels to earn the All-American honor.
The Lady Lions moved to 8-2 with a 95-65 win against Army. Here’s a breakdown of each player’s performance, graded on a 10-point scale:
Zhaque Gray: 6.0 - Gray handled the ball well and made some good decisions on offense. She didn’t have any turnovers, but her shooting wasn’t where it was in the early games of the season.
Alex Bentley: 8.0 - It wasn’t a flashy performance, but Bentley pushed the ball and helped create some plays. She shot well and got into double figures with 10 points.
Julia Trogele: 9.0 - Coach Coquese Washington said Trogele was the best player on the court during that key run to begin the second half. She finished with a double double, 11 points and 11 rebounds.
Mia Nickson: 9.5 - Nickson was the most consistent offensive threat from start to finish. She showed good presence in the post and converted a few 3-point plays. Her 23 points led the Lions.
Nikki Greene: 4.0 - Greene got in foul trouble early and wasn’t a factor for much of the game. She did grab five rebounds in only eight minutes on the floor.
Maggie Lucas: 9.0 - Lucas had some streaky shooting and helped put the game out of reach early in the second half with her long-range baskets. She had a solid night with 20 points, eight rebounds and four steals.
Renee Womack: 8.5 - Womack’s work may get overlooked, but she played a big part in the 18-0 run to start the second half. She is known for her defense, and she helped shut down Army just long enough to let the Lions build a commanding lead. She had two steals and seven rebounds.
Marisa Wolfe: 4.0 - She didn’t get in foul trouble, but like Greene, Wolfe struggled to make an impact against smaller Army forwards.
Ariel Edwards: 7.0 - Edwards hit some timely 3-pointers that contributed to the expansion of Penn State’s lead.
Gizelle Studevent: 6.0 - She played well in limited minutes and had four points and two rebounds.
We're applying the mercy rule to the blog. Updates will be limited to scores. Penn State leads, 78-45, with 9:23 remaining.
Army gets its first points of the half with 13:14 remaining. Edwards hits a 3-pointer, Army airs a three attempt, and Lucas comes back and hits a 3-pointer. It's suddenly 72-37, as Penn State has turned a somewhat close contest into a blowout. Army hits a three out of a timeout, but Lucas responds with a steal and layup. After a solid stretch, Lucas now leads the Lions with 19 points.
11:44 Penn State 74, Army 40
Out of the timeout, Trogele scores on a well executed inbounds play. Bentley pulls up at the foul line and banks a shot in to give her eight points. Womack gets her first bucket of the game, and Army take a timeout. Womack gets an offensive rebound and puts it back in. Lucas follows that up with a 3-pointer. Lucas will be on the line after she's fouled. She makes the first, and Edwards enters the game for Trogele. Lucas makes the second.
14:06 Penn State 66, Army 35
The Lions are working on getting around screens while playing man-to-man defense while warming up for the second half. Army is simply working on shooting. Who would have guessed?
The Lions have possession to begin the second half, and Womack is in to begin the half. Clearly, Washington isn't happy with the Lions' defense, as the move to Womack is likely to improve that area. Nickson continues to be the hottest offensive player on the court, as she hits a tough, fading bank shot and draws the foul. She hit the free throw to put the Lions up 51-35. Womack gets caught in the corner after running down a loose ball and the Washington calls a timeout from the bench.
Nickson leads the Lions with 14 points, while Lucas has eight. Trogele had a strong half with seven points, five rebounds and three assists.
Greene enters the game with her two fouls. Lucas is back in, too. Lucas makes two foul shots to put the Lions up 44-32. The freshman steals a cross-court pass and is immediately fouled. She'll shoot a 1-and-1, and she makes both shots. Lucas has a shot blocked with about 35 seconds left, and Army's coach yells for his team to take the last shot as they bring the ball up the floor. Greene won't have any of that, as she picks up her third foul. Army makes one of two free throws, and Trogele drives down the right side of the paint and scores.
Halftime- Penn State 48, Army 35
Trogele is back in, and Gizelle Studevent makes her first appearance. On a break, Bentley gets a layup and is fouled. She missed the free throw, and Army's Erin Anthony hit an unconventional three from the top of the key. She banked it in, but I don't believe she called "bank." Yardley hits another 3-pointer for Army, as Penn State has gone to a zone defense. Nickson comes back with two more points. Gray re-enters the game for Womack. After missing a three, Gray sinks an elbow jumper. The Lions go back to man (or woman) defense and allow a 3-pointer to Army. Studevent gets her first points of the game with a mid-range jumper.
3:30 Penn State 42, Army 30
Nickson goes over a double-team and gets a five-footer to roll off the front of the rim and in. Gray hits a 3-pointer from the corner to extend the Lions' lead to 30-18. Wolfe and Womack enter the game for Nickson and Trogele. Womack steals an entry pass to the post, and Bentley splits the Army defense to score on a nice drive with the shot clock winding down. Lucas comes up with a steal soon after and lays it in uncontested.
7:15 Penn State 34, Army 18
Nickson leads the Lions with eight points so far. Army scores out of the break, but Nickson banks one in off the glass for the Lions. Trogele takes the ball to the basket for two, and Army responds with a layup at the other end. Another quick basket by Army forces coach Washington to call a timeout.
10:15 Penn State 25, Army 18
Nickson completes the 3-point play by making the foul shot. Nickson grabs an offensive rebound on the next offensive possession and gets another 3-point play. Penn State leads, 13-7. Wolfe grabs an offensive rebound and gets two more second-chance points for the Lions. Maggie Lucas gets her first points of the game with two free throws. Nickson gets the ball in the post, squares up the defender and makes a move to the right for two points. Coiffard hits a 3-pointer for Army, and the two teams exchange quick baskets afterward.
11:53 Penn State 21, Army 12
Bentley scores right off the tip for the Lions, but Army counters with a bucket on its first possession. Trogele hits a 3-pointer, but comes out on the next defensive possession. She got her right ankle looked at, but she's back on the bench and looks OK. Renee Womack is in the game for Penn State. Anthony banks one in from the middle of the paint to pull Army within one, but Greene responds with a bucket of her own at the other end of the floor. Lucas, Wolfe and Trogele sub in for the Lions. Greene has two fouls already. Mia Nickson will be shooting free throws after the timeout.
15:54 Penn State 9, Army 7
Penn State starters:
G Zhaque Gray
G Alex Bentley
G Julia Trogele
F Nikki Greene
F Mia Nickson
G Nalini Hawkins
G Jessie Coiffard
G Molly Yardley
F Erin Anthony
F Laura Baranek
Tonight's game between the Lady Lions and Army is about to begin. The Black Knights enter the game with a 3-5 record after beating Penn, 53-44, in their last game. Penn State handed Texas Tech its first loss of the season in the Lions' last game Sunday. The Lions are 7-2 on the season, led my guard Alex Bentley who is averaging 16.6 points per game.
Having never lost a match at the collegiate level, CaelSanderson doesn't have a whole lot of experience when it comes to dealing with losses.
But as coach of the No. 5 Nittany Lions, Sanderson has to do what he can to help his wrestlers cope with the hardships of losing.
This past weekend at the Nittany Lion Open, both No. 12 Ed Ruth at the 174-pound weight class and No. 6 Frank Molinaro at 149 pounds lost in the championship match of the Open.
This week at practice, we spoke with Sanderson about what it will take for Ruth and Molinaro to bounce back heading into the Lions' match against Lock Haven this Sunday, and what the two can take from their performances at the Open.
On moving on from the losses: "They're self-motivated. Both Ed and Frank hate losing. And they'll take what they need out of those losses and it'll end up benefiting them quite a bit. But our excitement and enthusiasm for those two hasn't changed at all. Things happen and you keep moving forward and you make progress. There's nothing that will help you make progress, under the right mindset, as much as a loss. "
On Ruth: "Ed has some areas that he just needs to focus on. We've known that and he knows that, but there's nothing like an actual loss to put it in your face."
On Molinaro: "For Frank it's the same thing. He's coming back and he's going to get better every match. He's still cleaning the cobwebs just like everybody else. He'll be perfectly find, and I'll guess much stronger after that weekend."
Penn State coach Russ Rose usually points out the flaws of his team after each match, win or lose.
But no matter what happens during home matches, there's usually one group Rose is always happy with: the band.
Gregory Drane, assistant director of athletic bands, is responsible for building up the Pride of the Lions volleyball pep band to what it is today. I sat down with Drane a few weeks ago to talk about his job at Penn State. Here's what he had to say:
Q: How do you determine what to play and when to play it?
Drane: "Quite frankly, our main job is supporting our team, so I try to choose songs that may help to get the crowd behind the team at different times. At different times, we're just being the entertainment for the crowds."
"A lot of the times that is dependent upon what is going on at that event. We’re pretty flexible as far as that is concerned. There are particular things that are traditional. For instance, being at a football game, after the third quarter everybody is waiting to hear ‘Hey Baby.’ And quite frankly, at a volleyball match after the intermission, when the volleyball team comes back out to warm up, they also expect to hear ‘Hey Baby’ as well. So, there are certain things that are tradition, that we’ve plugged into certain spots where there’s an expectation for the crowd to hear particular songs at particular times."
Q: If you notice the team is struggling, do you try and get the band to try and get the crowd back into it? For example, having a drummer start a beat.
Drane: "I try to always try to have a sense of what’s going on. If the other team is on a roll, then I feel like it is my job to get the crowd back behind our team, once again, to energize our team in any way we can. Throughout my years of being here, there are a number of things we’ve developed that has solicited fan engagement into those things that we’re trying to accomplish."
"The drum beat thing, yes, is one of those tools that we’ve developed. Also, fans kind of know what to do once they hear that drum. We’ve done it so much that now, when they hear that drum beat a lot of people are like, ‘Oh yeah, we need to get behind our team.’ There is a certain psychology behind it that most people may not even recognize."
Q: What's your favorite athletic event you've directed at?
Drane: "I would say I had the pleasure of being at the women’s volleyball championship last year. That was an amazing feat for them to come back from 0-2 in the match, and to just take over the game the way they did. When that game was over, every Penn State fan was so overwhelmed with emotion."
"There were people crying everywhere, and I was sitting there in disbelief like, ‘Oh my gosh, did this just happen in front of me?’ And the answer was yes, it did. That was, to this point, that is one of the most amazing feats I have seen to date. I’m sure that it won’t be the last thing that I see here from a Penn State athletic team. Quite frankly, every year there’s something we do where people have counted us out, but Penn State always comes back and says, ‘Hey, we still got it,’ in some way or shape or form. To date, that would have to be it."
Q: Coach Rose has mentioned the band after a few matches. Do coaches ever let you know they appreciate what the band is doing?
Drane: "With volleyball and coach Rose, he has more accessibility to me. We’re more accessible to each other considering his office is right down the hallway in Rec Hall. Most of the coaches, I do hear from indirectly from their assistant coaches who are passing along the word. They might have the opportunity to directly say it, but they make sure that the word comes down from those who are available."
"I know that Coach [Coquese] Washington did take the time. Once, she came to our first basketball game rehearsal. She also warmed up the band. Coach [Ed] DeChellis, one day, came over, and he brought breakfast for the Blue Band. There are different times when they have the opportunity to do that, which is pretty cool. With coach Rose, he has more opportunities. As soon as we walk in, he’s sitting right there where the band will be sitting. He always says, ‘Hey Greg, go get ‘em.’ I make sure I pass that along to the students. We do appreciate it when different coaches pass along their appreciation. Coach Rose is very good at making sure we know that we’re appreciated."
Q: Did you ever have to decide between music and playing sports?
Drane: My uncle played professional football. Right now, I have a cousin that plays for Indiana. I have another cousin that plays for Cincinnati. Most of my family members are athletic, it’s just that I chose band. All of us, when we get together, always talk about each one of us having to make that decision – music or athletics. I’m fortunate that I get to be a part of both at the same time. I get to be a part of music at athletic events."
"I grew up playing organized football and basketball. It’s just that when I got high school I had to make that crucial decision. I remember asking my uncle, who played for the Buffalo Bills at the time. I was like, ‘Hey, how did you make that decision.’ He did exceptionally well in football, so he went and decided to play football. I remember him telling me, ‘Whatever you do, you have to want to wake up and go do that thing.’ For me, that was music. I still go play basketball at the IM [Building] all the time now. I was a little more gifted at the music part, though. That’s something that’s been a part of my family always, music and athletics."
Here's what senior defensive specialist Cathy Quilico said about Drane and the band's influence:
"The band is our greatest cheering section. They’re awesome. At the end of every match, we make a point to definitely wave to the band and say thank you. We love them. They’re amazing, and Greg is amazing. He’s so fun and an awesome band director. He looks like he’s having a great time out there, and so does the band. The band, over the past couple years, has really expanded. I think there’s something special about our band. I always say that we have the best band, and it makes for the games here and the atmosphere amazing."
With the game tied and only one possession left, Battle redeems himself for the previous 39 minutes and 59 seconds with a last second 3-pointer. After it appears he passes up the shot, he gets the ball back and drains a long shot. Penn State wins this one and escapes a nerve wracking finish.
It's going to come down to the final minutes here tonight. Neither team is doing much to help its chances. The Lions are really missing D.J. Jackson out there and Talor Battle has been unable to find his shot tonight.
Penn State leads 50-48 with 1:44 left.
From the looks of it, we might have a back and forth game on our hands from here on out. The Lions have played pretty poorly in the second half but Mount St. Mary's hasn't played too great either. Up until a few minutes ago, Penn State had made only two baskets in the half. Things have picked up a little bit more but overall the Lions have scored 13 points in over 12 minutes this half. Battle still hasn't done anything offensively. Buie leads all Penn State scorers with 10 points. After a strong first half, DeChellis hasn't put Woodyard back in the game after taking him out to begin the second half.
Lions lead 44-42 with 7:50 left in the game.
Battle continues to struggle from the floor as he is shooting 1-for-7 on the field. After missing a layup that rimmed out and then committing a foul, DeChellis pulls the star senior. With Battle on the bench, the Mountaineers drain two straight baskets to cut the Lions lead to only one point. Let's see how a frustrated Battle responds as soon as DeChellis brings him back (which is likely to be real soon).
Nittany Lions lead 37-36 with 11:15 remaining.
The Lions are struggling so far in the second half as their defense has been picked apart and their offense has done nothing. Battle was quiet all first half and he has been quiet again so far in this half. He has two points and has only taken five shots- none this half. Neither team is playing rather good but neither team is playing horrible. It's simply just a boring game with not many highlight moments. If either team can go on any sort of run, it could build a solid lead. However, neither team has done that yet.
Penn State is up 35-29 with 15:30 remaining.
In his first career start, Woodyard leads all Penn State scorers with eight points after hitting a buzzer beating 3-pointer. So far through one half, Penn State leads 31-22 behind a team effort. Talor Battle is having another tough shooting game going 1-for-5 through the first half but the Lions' rebounding advantage has been the difference. With nine offensive rebounds and 11 more total rebounds, PSU has controlled the glass. A consistent second half by the Lions should be enough for the victory. If Penn State doesn't attempt to get too fancy or shoot too many 3-pointers, a win appears to be in sight assuming Battle can pick up the pace a little bit.
Lions up 31-22 at the half.
This game has gone by extremely quick as there has been very few fouls and stoppages of play. The main difference so far tonight for Penn State though has been its ability to outrebound the Mountaineers 20 to 10. Nine of those rebounds for Penn State have been on the offensive glass as well. Jeff Brooks leads the way with five as Drew Jones is next with four. No Lion has taken over the game as it has been a team effort so far, which is exactly what DeChellis said the team needed at his press conference yesterday.
Penn State is up 24-19 with 2:15 in the half.
Penn State's offense stalls as soon as DeChellis brings in his bench. Other than a Taran Buie basket on a jumper, the Lions haven't done much in the last few minutes. They are dribbling the ball too much and unable to find an open shot or lane to the basket. Luckily, Mount St. Mary's offense isn't exactly setting the world on fire. Since the last update, Penn State's shooting percentage has dipped from 50 percent to 36.8 percent.
Lions lead 16-12 with 7:56 to play in the half
Cammeron Woodyard drains an open 3-pointer from the wing after Mount St. Mary's picked up some steam on offense. The basket gives Penn State a six point lead about nine minutes in. The Lions have shot fairly well from the floor at 50 percent while holding their opponent to 28.6 percent. Every Lion starter now has at least one basket as it looks like DeChellis is about to dip into his bench and bring in Taran Buie and Steve Kirkpatrick.
14-8 PSU leads with 11:24 in the first.
A real nice start here tonight by Penn State. Brooks starts things off with an emphatic dunk on the Lions' first possession that he got fouled on. From there, Penn State ran the ball often and worked its transition offense with a three-guard lineup. Frazier has looked impressive running the point while Woodyard has made a couple nice hustle plays in his first start of the season. Brooks leads the way with five points for PSU while Frazier and Battle each have a basket.
Penn State leads 9-4 with 15 minutes left in the first half
Good evening Lions fans out there. I'm Alex Angert and I'll be taking you through tonight's game with updates on how Penn State is playing against Mount St. Mary's. Likely due to the embarrassing loss to Maryland last week and the frigid weather outside, we have a small turnout here tonight at the Bryce Jordan Center. Both D.J. Jackson and Billy Oliver are out for this evenings showdown and it will be interesting to see how PSU responds without them. Oliver is out after suffering a headache against Duquesne while Jackson is recovering from a neck stinger. Both players are sitting because of precautionary reasons and seem to be okay, coach Ed DeChellis said. Starting tonight for Penn State is Talor Battle, Drew Jones, Jeff Brooks, Tim Frazier and Cammeron Woodyard. The keys to tonight's game will be how seniors Battle and Brooks step up in Oliver and Jackson's absences as well as the performance from the Penn State bench. Stay tuned for more updates throughout tonight's major stoppages of time...
This week, we bring you Back Points' first edition of the Tuesday Timeout, your chance to get to know the Penn State wrestlers a little better.
For this week, I spoke with two-time All-American Frank Molinaro. The redshirt junior is 6-1 on the season and took second place at 149 pounds in the Nittany Lion Open this past Sunday. Molinaro spoke about his career that could have been in football and his new found liking for the Eagles.
BP) What’s your favorite thing about Penn State?
FM) That’s a tough one, there’s a lot of good stuff. I really like the campus. I think it’s a really nice campus because everything’s close, you can walk everywhere, everything’s a short drive. And it’s not really a city-type school, it’s really clean.
BP) What’s your favorite class you’ve taken here?
FM) Probably one I’m in now, Crim 453, it’s definitely one of my favorites. You debate about topics and it’s really fun. It keeps me interactive the whole time.
BP) Do you have a favorite sport other than wrestling?
FM) Definitely football, it’s awesome. If were bigger I’d play for sure.
BP) Did you play at all growing up?
FM) Yeah I played Pop Warner and freshman year of high school. Then my coach made me quit because he didn’t want me to get hurt.
BP) What position?
FM) Linebacker and running back.
BP) Favorite NFL team?
FM) Giants, definitely.
BP) Oh yeah? I was actually at their Sunday night game a few weeks ago in Philly against the Eagles.
FM) You like the Eagles?
BP) Yeah man, I’m from Philly.
FM) I used to hate the Eagles, but I kind of like them now. I like Vick and I think they’re pretty tough. They’re doing a really good job this year.
After a great showing at the Nittany Lion Open this past weekend, the Penn State wrestling team stayed at No. 5 in the latest USA Today/NWCA Coaches Poll. The team has seven wrestlers individually ranked as well.
The rest of the top-5 remained the same as Cornell, Oklahoma State, Minnesota and Wisconsin precede Penn State, in that order. Six other Big Ten teams are in the top 25 this week as Iowa (7), Illinois (9), Michigan (19), Northwestern (20), Purdue (21) and Ohio State (22) all stayed in the rankings.
Redshirt freshman David Taylor (pictured at right) leads the Lions in the individual rankings, moving up to No. 3 after taking the 157-pound crown at the Nittany Lion Open and improving to 11-0 on the season.
Also moving up in the rankings were heavyweight Cameron Wade to No. 6 after taking first for heavyweights at the Open on Sunday, true freshman Andrew Alton moved up to No. 10 after pinning five of his six opponents Sunday en route to the 141-pound championship, redshirt freshman Ed Ruth moved to No. 12 at 174, and despite losing by default in the 184-pound championship match of the Open after suffering a left shoulder injury, and redshirt sophomore Quentin Wright moved up to No. 5.
Two-time All-American Frank Molinaro dropped to No. 6 at 149 pounds after losing to Rutgers' Mario Mason on Sunday in the 149-pound championship. And redshirt freshman Jake Kemerer, 7-3 on the year, dropped out of the rankings at 165.
The Lions are back in action Sunday, hosting Lock Haven for a dual-meet in at 2 p.m. in Rec Hall.
With the Big Ten having the most NCAA Tournament success of any conference through the first two rounds, we asked Penn State coach Russ Rose on Tuesday afternoon his thoughts on how the conference has fared.
"I think the fact that there is six teams remaining is a reflection of the quality of teams and players and coaches that exist in the conference," Rose said. "There's also four left from the Big 12 and there's also four left from the Pac 10. Some people want to point out that it's teams from the BCS conferences. And I think you can make an argument for that but I don't think that's what it's all about because Hawaii has won national championships and Long Beach State has won national titles and there was a time that Utah State was one of the great teams in college volleyball."
Aside from the six Big Ten teams, the four Big 12 teams and the four Pac 10 teams, the other two school's in the Sweet 16 are No. 1 Florida (SEC) and the ACC's Duke, which plays in the University Park Regional this weekend.
For comparison, only a quarter of last year's Sweet 16 teams were from the Big Ten (Penn State, Minnesota, Michigan and Illinois).
The Big Ten tied a conference record by sending eight teams to this year's NCAA tournament. And through the first two rounds, Big Ten teams did not disappoint, establishing their a reputation as one of the most talented conferences in the country this season.
Of the 16 teams left in the tournament, six are from the Big Ten. In comparison, the Pac-10 has the second-most representatives left, with four teams still in play.
Here's a look at where each Big Ten team stands when the Sweet Sixteen kicks off this weekend:
Purdue, the tournament's No. 16 overall seed, has the toughest challenge of any Big Ten team this weekend. The Boilermakers will square off with No. 1 Florida on Friday night. The Gators have a 29-1 overall record so far this season. Their only defeat? A loss to Penn State on Sept. 10.
The Fighting Illini have one of the more intriguing Sweet Sixteen matchups. They'll face Texas -- on the Longhorns' home court. Texas has only one loss at Gregory Gym this year -- it was to Illinois, back on Sept. 3. Texas currently has a 17-match winning streak, and are in the Sweet Sixteen for the fifth straight season. The Longhorns were last year's national runners-up. They took a 2-0 lead on Penn State in the national championship match, before dropping the next three sets -- and the national title.
The Hoosiers pulled off an upset at their own gym Saturday night when they defeated No. 11 overall seed Tennessee. Indiana gets to stay close to home for Regionals -- they'll play No. 6 overall seed Southern California in Dayton, Ohio. Indiana is one of just five unseeded teams left in the tournament.
The Buckeyes pulled off perhaps one of the biggest upsets of the second round Friday night. Ohio State won a five-set match against No. 13 Dayton in Dayton. The win snapped a 23-match winning streak by Flyers. It also snapped Dayton's 25-match home winning streak. The Buckeyes now face No. 2 and third-seeded Stanford in the Sweet Sixteen.
The Golden Gophers had a fairly easy road to the Sweet Sixteen. Minnesota swept back-to-back matches against unseeded North Dakota State and Creighton to set up a regional matchup with sixth-seeded California.
The Nittany Lions also completed two sweeps in their first weekend of play, defeating Niagara and Virginia Tech. The Hokies were playing in their program's first-ever NCAA tournament. Now, Penn State will face Oklahoma at home Friday night in hopes to continue its quest for an unprecedented fourth-consecutive national championship.
Standing in Rec Hall, seeing the Penn State fans in the crowd, Kerry McCoy couldn’t help but feel a bit strange in his red and black Maryland jacket.
The Terrapins’ head coach and three-time All-American wrestler at Penn State from 1994-1997 returned to Happy Valley Sunday to guide his team in the Nittany Lion Open.
Forever a Nittany Lion, McCoy found it difficult not to cheer for his alma matter, but also knew what he was there to do.
“I have to be careful because I watch the Penn State guys and as an alum, I have to be proud of what they do but in competition, but I don’t want to get too excited,” McCoy said. “It’s just great, that’s one of the best things about wrestling, competitors can be friends except for when they’re facing each other. That’s what’s so great about coming back to a place like this, my alma mater, so many that were here that helped me and supported me and even the kids that I don’t know, I still have a connection with them. As an alum, it’s great to see things, competition, I have to be a little bit tougher when it comes to that.”
Since taking over the head coaching job at Maryland in 2008, McCoy has led the Terps to new heights.
Last season, McCoy guided his team to a 19-4 record, setting a school-record for dual meets in a season and coached Maryland to back-to-back top-20 finishes at the NCAA Championships and produced All-Americans.
After spending time on the coaching staffs of Penn State, Lehigh and Stanford, McCoy feels he’s finally settled in with the Terps.
“I love it,” the coach said. “It’s great. I’m going into my third year there. We have a lot of support, we have a pretty good team, some tough individuals, we’re getting better everyday so it’s great to be able to come here and see this level of competition and continue to march toward our goals at the end of the year.”
Two Maryland wrestlers won their respective weight classes on Sunday. No. 3 Josh Asper pinned Penn State’s Dirk Cowburn at 165, and No. 8 Mike Letts won a 9-4 decision over Nittany Lion Ed Ruth at 174.
The two wins made McCoy’s return to his alma matter even sweeter.
But there was something else that highlighted his homecoming – the people that made his time at Penn State so great.
“You can’t beat coming back here,” McCoy said. “The atmosphere, the competition is all great, but it’s really about the people. There’s so many people that I owe for the success that I had that are here supporting the program, so it’s just great to be able to shake a hand, give a hug and just really know that they still appreciate everything that I did here and for me, to appreciate everything they did for me.”
This is a compilation of several gymnasts doing a floor routine. Each time they compete, they face demanding mental and physical trials. Even when their sight is blurry from exhaustion, these gymnasts must keep the team objective in sight. John Brenkus, host of the ESPN show “Sport Science” sheds some light on exactly what they go through. “Proprioception is your awareness of your body’s position in space. Gymnasts have a very high sense of proprioception. That really is the difference between good and great in sports.”
Womack steals Tech's inbounds pass and Lucas turns it into a cool-looking lay-up on the other end in transition.
Nickson goes up strong and gets fouled. The 20-point woman will go to the line for two. The redshirt sophomore came into the game averaging about eight points per game.
Nickson hits the first, then a bunch of subs come in, and Nickson hits the second.
Lucas drives inside and finds an open Trogele, but the guard collides with a Tech defender and is called for an offensive foul. Tough luck kid.
Wolfe overthrows Nickson, but the co-captain gets to the ball and flicks it back in to Lucas who has it knocked away but out of bounds. PSU ball on the inbounds.
Greene replaces Wofle after Wolfe had another bad pass nearly picked, only to see Smalls lose her handle and drop the ball out of bounds.
Bentley with a basket to stretch PSU's lead to eight. The sophomore gets inside again and scores again to give the Lady Lions a temporary ten-point lead.
Well I missed a timeout, but regardless, there was a pause in the game but now it's back.
Morris hits a three with Bentley running at her and Greene is taken down on the far end and gets two at the line.
The center puts too much on the first one and back-irons the second but Lucas comes up with the ridiculously long rebound.
Nickson goes inside and hits a fallaway jumper, with a little help from the "good roll department" Note: "Good roll department" is a trademark of Andrew D. Robinson and all uses must go through me.
With Tech at seven fouls, Nickson goes to the line for a one-and-one and hits both of them. The forward is up to 26 points in the final minute.
Bentley hits what is probably the dagger with 37.8 seconds left to give the team an 11-point lead. We're going to head down so I'm going to wrap this up, thanks for following along.
Tech hits both from the line, but Lucas responds with a big three from the corner.
Yup, another timeout. Sometimes I hate how many times a basketball game just stops. Spoiled on soccer I suppose
PSU 57 - TTU 52 7:53 left 2nd half
Bokenkamp frees herself up for a look but clanks it siderim and Nickson hits 20 points on the next play.
Lucas hits a three and a two point Penn State lead is now up to seven.
But, Mallard ends the 5-0 run with a turnaround shot inside and we have a timeout.
Bentley slices inside and finds Greene with a nice wraparound pass.
Mary Bokenkamp answers with a three that rattles off everything on the way down.
PSU 50 - TTU 45 11:04 left 2nd half
Greene to the line for one. She is unable to get to go, but Nickson swoops in and gets a put-back.
However, the center gets called for her third foul and is replaced by Wolfe as Tech's Christine Hyde hits two from the foul line.
Smalls gets open in the corner and drains the 3 with no hesitation, drawing her team within one. The guard comes up with a steal on the next play, but has her shot attempt swatted by Wolfe.
Bentley drives in and misses a jumper, but during the play, Nickson collided with Smalls, who was slow to get up and looks a little shaken up. The guard will go to the bench, but I doubt she sits long.
Lucas pulls up with a hand in her face, just missing but Wolfe cleans it up for a basket and Nickson does the exact same thing on a Bentley miss the next time down.
Timeout on the floor.
PSU 44 - TTU 40 14:30 left 2nd half
After a loooooong discussion, Trogele is tagged for her fourth personal foul. Coquese Washington goes to her bench, inserting Womack back in with her senior captain one foul away from sitting out the rest of the game.
Penn State still bucket-less here in the second half, in a stark contrast to the hot start they had in the first half.
Gray finally gets PSU on the board with a floater along the baseline but Morris responds with a triple for Texas Tech. The Lady Lions have lost their lead on a basket by Barncastle, but Greene gets one right back.
Nikki Greene puts up an awkward hook shot as she gets fouled and it somehow goes in. Like, this was the kind of hook you see in a pick-up game from 5-foot-9.5 idiot who thinks he has an inside game. Not that I know anyone like that or anything.
Timeout on the floor.
PSU 38 - TTU 35 17:48 left 2nd half
The second half begins with a Penn State turnover and a Texas Tech basket. Both teams with their starters out to begin the half.
Barncastle with a drive and sweeping layup that hits some iron but drops though to pull the Lady Raiders within three.
Three Penn State possessions, three turnovers and Lucas quickly comes on for Bentley. Of all the ways you can start a second half, this is not the way you want to if you're Penn State.
Trogele looking for Green inside but throws the ball away when the center takes a different cut, and Penn State takes a timeout.
PSU 38 - TTU 31 HALFTIME
Nickson goes to the line for a one-and-one. Words can not express my distaste for that rule. The forward hits both and is up to 14 points so far.
Barncastle drains a 3-pointer just before the buzzer and it's halftime.
Penn State leads 38-31 and Nickson leads all scorers with 14 points.
PSU 36 - TTU 28 1:03 left 1st half
Smalls finished the three-point play, but Bentley answers with a 16-footer on the other end.
Edwards called for a foul, giving Penn State ten for the half. Texas Tech will shoot two the rest of the way. Finally, actual basketball rules apply.
Kelsi Baker makes one of two and the Lady Raiders are still down by six.
Bentley gets just enough of a pass to pick it off, then runs the lentgh of the floor before finding Nickson who gets the lay-up to go.
The pep band is chanting "Block that kick." Are you kidding me?
Nickson with a slick turnaround jumper off the left block, giving her 12 points for the game.
Yup, another timeout.
PSU 30 - TTU 24 3;32 left 1st half
Lucas comes back in and Penn State switches to a 2-3 zone. Trogele is called for her third foul, Penn State's ninth.
Guard Renee Womack enters for the first time, replacing Trogele.
If Penn State has a post game, I haven't seen it yet today. The team is content to just throw the ball around the perimeter and the occasional pass inside.
Wolfe goes to the line for two after she had an awful possession where she kept getting stuck outside the arc with nowhere to pass to.
Womack draws an offensive foul. On the other end, Nickson gets fouled on a jumper and gets it to go. The co-captain misses the and-1 and Tech comes up with the ball off the rebound. It was a nice shot though.
Smalls drives right down the lane and hits a pretty difficult lay-up while airborne.
I think a basketball game just broke out.
Nickson at the line for two, no wait, one-and-one, forgot these are stupid college rules, hitting the first and the second. The redshirt sophomore has been aggressive and definitely sparking the team.
Smalls picks off a bad pass from Womack and banks one off the glass with Bentley all over her. The Tech guard will go to the line after this timeout.
PSU 24 - TTU 14 7:56 left first half
Lady Lions with eight team fouls now, which means Texas tech will be shooting a one-and-one. Only in college basketball does such a rule exist.
Kelsi Baker fouls Nickson, which is only Tech's thrid team foul. Nickson sinks her first FT and also the second.
Chyna Brown, who wears 00, in for Texas Tech after the whistle and we've got another timeout.
PSU 22 - TTU 14 8:47 left 1st half
Out of the timeout, Gray with her first three of the game. After a few misses from both sides, Gray hits a jumper from the wing, giving her five quick points.
Trogele returns after sitting to restart play, her first break of the game.
Nickson with a nice hustle play to dive on a loose ball and call the timeout
PSU 17 - TTU 11 11:38 left 1st half
Out of the timeout, both teams miss inside chances. Penn State is playing strong interior defense, but the speed of Texas Tech's guards, especially Monique Smalls, is giving the Lady Lions some trouble.
Marisa Wolfe picks up her second foul after Trogele had the ball stolen on the other end.
Bentley, Greene and Ariel Edwards enter the game for Penn State, replacing Wolfe, Gray and Nickson.
Lucas with her first bucket and on the other end Smalls again blows through the Penn State defense and gets two from the line. The sophomore makes one of two.
Just glancing at the roster, this is a young Texas Tech team. Aside from Wickett (senior) and Barncastle and Mallard (juniors), every other player is a freshman or sophomore. Penn State is in the same boat though, with a lone senior, Trogele, and two juniors, Gray and Renee Womack, leading a core of freshmen and sophomores.
Texas Tech is fighting back, and trails by six as we have another timeout
PSU 11 - TTU 3 15:44 left 1st half
Mia Nickson getting her first start for the Lady Lions. Sophomore Marisa Wolfe had been the starting power forward in the previous eight games.
Initial tip goes to Penn State and Bentley socres seven seconds into the game.
Lady Lions playing man defense to start the game and force Texas Tech into a bad shot which Trogele converts into two on a short jumper in the lane.
Trogele is guarding junior Barncastle, who if you remember, was the player who got tangled up with Baylor center Brittany Grinor and got punched in the face last season.I don't expect any fireworks like that today, but it would certainly add a little zip to the building.
Penn State is up 9-0 less than three minutes into the game.
Casey Morris hits the floor hard after trying a revese lay-up and getting fouled by Greene. She got up quickly though and made one of two from the line.
Wolfe enters the game, replacing Greene, and Barncastle gets Texas Texch's first basket of the game.
Freshman guard Maggie Lucas enters for the Lady Lions, replacing Bentley at the point.
Timeout on the floor.
F - Jordan Barncastle
F- Teena Wickett
G- Casey Morris
C- Kierra Mallard
G- Monique Smalls
It's Sunday afternoon in State College and this is Andrew Robinson making his Lady Lions home debut.
Today, the Lady Lions take on the 8-0 Texas Tech Lady Raiders in the first-ever, and maybe the last, Big Ten/Big 12 Challenge. Texas Tech enters the game with three starters averaging double figures, but the Lady Raiders resume lacks some punch.
Penn State meanwhile is coming off an overtime loss on Thursday at Boston College. The Lady Lions are 6-2 on the year.
We'll be back in a few with starters and other things
It's only the under-eight timeout, but this one is over, folks. Maryland leads 49-33 and Penn State just doesn't have the offense tonight to overcome the 16-point deficit.
Aside from Battle (18), no other Penn State player has more than four points. The Lions are shooting 24 percent from the field and the Terrapins are playing much smarter basketball; they have just two second-half turnovers.
It's got to be a disappointing evening for the Lions and their fans. This was billed as one of the biggest games in BJC history and the Lions did not play well.
Thanks for joining me tonight.
As we enter the under-12 media timeout, Maryland leads 35-27, but Battle just drew the foul on a lay-up and will shoot a free throw coming out of the break. Battle just came back off the bench the play prior. He left for a minute after his right calf began cramping.
Penn State moving the ball slightly better, but they still aren't getting a lot going inside. Jones keeps calling for the ball in the post but the Lions can't get it to him.
Maryland is doing a good job moving the ball around and feeding it to the open guy in the lane.
Both teams are playing better to start the half.
Brooks has three fouls and has been playing to avoid the fourth. When will he go back to going full hustle?
Well, that was a rough first half for Maryland, Penn State and the fans. There wasn't a lot of bright moments for either team in the first half.
Maryland had five traveling violations and 12 turnovers overall. They only got off 16 shots. I guess the one bright side is they made eight of those and lead 26-20.
Right now, Penn State is on pace for 80 shots ... and just 18 field goals made.
Penn State has no ball movement in its offense. The Lions' shot chart is going to have a lot of shots from the outside. They cannot get the ball inside. Maryland has been very sound on defense closing out on shooters, not that the Terps need to. Open or not, Penn State cannot buy a bucket.
One of the reasons is that Jeff Brooks watched the final 11 minutes from the bench. He picked up his second foul early and never left the bench. DJ Jackson also has two fouls. If Brooks is in foul trouble the whole game and with Talor Battle shooting just 3 of 11 from the field, the Lions will continue to struggle on offense.
Maryland has done well getting the ball inside on occasion, but the Terps also look out of sync on offense. Williams only has a few touches and five attempted field goals.
Still, Gary Williams will be pulling his hair out at halftime. If Ed DeChellis had any hair, he would be pulling it out, too.
This has been a tough half for both teams. Neither look very good. I don't know what's worse: Maryland's 11 turnovers or Penn State's 7 of 34 shooting, including 0 for 12 from 3. And those misses haven't been close.
Maryland leads 18-15, but like I said, if either team wasn't playing the worst it has all season, one of them would be up by at least 15.
Let's just get through these next 3:45 and get to halftime.
Both teams should consider themselves lucky at this points. Maryland has turned it over nine times but lead 17-13.
Penn State only trails four despite shooting 6 of 30 from the field, including 0 of 9 from the 3-point line.
Neither team has looked smooth offensively, especially Penn State. With the exception of a Battle lay-up and Jones dunk, the Lions are relying mostly on jumpers.
There's 6:39 left and both teams can't be happy with how they have played, especially with the opponent playing so poorly. Either team could be leading in a lopsided game right now.
And here comes Maryland. With 11:38 left, the Terrapins cut the lead to two, 9-7.
Jordan Williams, who averages 17 a game, is a bully in the lane. He's got five of the Terps' seven points.
The Lions continue to struggle from the field to start. They couldn't convert a two-on-one break right before the media timeout as Taran Buie was rejected by Cliff Tucker.
The Lions are just 4 of 18 from the field. Maryland only has five shots.
Well, this couldn't be a better start for Penn State and a worse start for Maryland. The Terps have six turnovers and four, yes, four traveling violations. They have also allowed four offensive rebounds to Penn State.
And it's not even five minutes into the game as they break for the first media timeout at 15:09.
Obviously, Maryland won't play this bad the rest of the way. They're too talented, and I don't think it's possible to play this bad for 40 minutes. The Terps are only down seven and it could be worse. The Nittany Lions haven't looked crisp on offense, either.
We're about 10 minutes from tip here at the Bryce Jordan Center as the Maryland Terrapins come to town to square off with the Nittany Lions in what is being called the biggest game in the venue's short history.
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