The season of brackets has begun. As college basketball reporters, we see it as our duty to predict every bracket available to us. The NCAA Tournament is coming in a few weeks, but until then, the Big Ten Tournament will have to whet our appetites. Here is the Lady Lions beat's prediction of what will happen in Indianapolis this weekend. Note: Winners in bold.
Although the start of the Daytona 500 was delayed over 30 hours, a large crowd stuck around to see an unfortunately dull ending.
The drivers barely completed a lap before five-time Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson spun and made hard contact with the wall off the front bumper of Elliott Sadler. The crash collected Kurt Busch and David Ragan, both of whom were ousted from premier rides in the offseason along with defending race winner, Trevor Bayne. The crash also put a damper on the highly touted debut of Danica Patrick.
The wreck created a tone for the drivers to just ride along until the race neared its conclusion and it affected the level of competition. There were only 25 lead changes among 13 drivers, which is significantly down from last year’s race that featured 74 lead changes among over half of the field.
A bizarre moment occurred with 40 laps to go when something broke on Juan Montoya’s car that sent him sliding into a jet-dryer that was on the track cleaning up after David Stremme’s engine broke and dropped liquid on the track. A fire ignited with the fuel that was stored in the jet-dryer that red flagged and delayed the race for another two hours.
The race restarted just after midnight with a little over 30 laps remaining. However, the outside line could not develop and no body could contend with Matt Kenseth. Kenseth went on to lead the final 37 laps to take home the trophy.
The drivers seemed content with riding along until it was time to make a race-winning move. But, no one could work the high line and led to a single file line among the front cars, which made for a boring finish.
Dale EarnhardtJr. and Greg Biffle had the potential to make the race interesting and make a last lap pass, but much like the rest of the race; it fell short.
The 2012 Daytona 500 couldn’t upstage the previous race. It wasn’t even the most thrilling race of the weekend since both the Camping World Truck Series and Nationwide Series races featured fantastic finishes and first-time winners.
Today, redshirt senior Edgardo Goas was named EIVA Offensive Player of the Week.
The All-American setter paced his team this weekend in consecutive wins against EIVA opponents Princeton and George Mason.
Against Princeton, Goas set up 37 assists as Penn State went on to rack up 46 kills and a .462 hitting percentage. Goas contributed threw his serving as well with three service aces. He also provided two kills of his own.
On Saturday against George Mason, Goas provided 30 assists and Penn State hit a .316 percentage. Goas also led the match in digs with nine and added two blocks and a service ace.
This is the first Player of the Week honor for Goas so far this season. Two other Nittany Lions have won this award so far this season, including sophomore outside hitter Peter Russell and redshirt freshman outside hitter Nick Goodell who has won the award twice so far this season.
On Monday night, the Big Ten Women’s Basketball awards were announced on the Big Ten Network.
The Lady Lions cleaned up.
Coach Coquese Washington won Coach of the Year by both the coaches and the media for the first time in her fifth year as head coach of the Lady Lions. She claims the award on the heels of a Big Ten regular season championship despite battling through injuries and other distractions (such as the Jerry Sandusky scandal and death of Joe Paterno), having led Penn State to a 23-5 (13-3) record.
Also, guards Alex Bentley (14.0 points per game, 4.8 assists per game) and Maggie Lucas (19.3 PPG, .423 3-point field goal percentage) were named to the First Team All-Big Ten by both the media and coaches. It’s a first for Lucas, who won Big Ten Freshman of the Year last season, but the second consecutive year it’s happened for Bentley. She becomes the ninth Lady Lion to win the award twice.
Bentley also grabbed All-Defensive Big Ten honors for the first time.
Center Nikki Greene (10.0 PPG, 8.2 rebounds per game) was named to the third team All-Big Ten team by the media.
Finally, guard Zhaque Gray (10.4 PPG) and forward Mia Nickson (7.4 RPG) were named to the Honorable Mention All-Big Ten Team.
It’s been a good year for the Lady Lions ever since they started Big Ten play 1-2. Washington led them to a 12-1 record from that point on. With those accolades under their belt, the Lady Lions look even more impressive come tournament time.
Despite a 10-game winning streak, the Penn State men’s volleyball team has fallen to No. 6 in the rankings after sitting at No. 5 for the past four weeks.
After a weekend that saw top-ranked Stanford and No. 3 BYU lose, it appeared likely that the Nittany Lions would move up in the rankings. However, playing weaker EIVA competition appears to have hurt them.
USC, which was ranked sixth last week, jumped to No. 4 after impressive road wins at then No.11 Pacifc and Stanford. Stanford dropped to the second spot while BYU fell to No. 5 after splitting a weekend series with No. 12 UC Santa Barbra. UCLA moves into the top spot, while UC Irvine moves up to No. 3 after being ranked fourth last week.
With three top-15 opponents coming up in the next two weeks, the Lions have some big opportunities to prove the doubters wrong and move back into the top five.
Despite the Penn State softball team’s 1-3 performance this weekend, infielders Alyssa Renwick and Kailyn Johnson were recognized for their individual success this weekend by being named to the Carolina Classic All-Tournament team on Sunday night.
The junior South Carolina native Renwick was one of the strongest performers at the plate this weekend for the Lions. Contributing with a .500 batting average in the four games, Renwick was extremely consistent and had a total of seven hits in the tournament. She also tallied four runs on the weekend, one in each of the team’s games. After starting the tournament further down in the batting order, her play earned her the number two spot because of her consistent average and ability to put the ball in play.
A fixture at first base, Johnson earned her spot on the team with a solid .307 batting average and for working three walks on the weekend. She also exploded with offense in the loss to North Carolina on Sunday afternoon with a 2 hit performance, including a solo homer. The dinger was the tenth of her career and the first home run of the season for Penn State.
These two will be leading the Lions in the upcoming Citrus Classic in Kissimmee, Fl., which begins this Friday with a doubleheader against University of Virginia and Long Island.
The 2012 Big Ten Women’s Basketball Tournament bracket was released today after the culmination of Big Ten play, and Penn State sure likes the position they’ve wound up in.
It can’t get any better for the Lady Lions, who are the No. 1 seed in the tourney. They will have a bye in the first round of the tournament for the first time since 2004 after finishing 13-3 (23-5 overall) in the Big Ten in the regular season. They won the conference by 2 games over all of the second place finishers. This is the first time in coach Coquese Washington’s tenure at Penn State that the Lady Lions have earned a first round bye.
The Lady Lions are looking at a second round battle with either No. 8 Minnesota (14-16, 6-10 Big Ten) or No. 9 Wisconsin (9-19, 5-11). Penn State is 2-0 against both of them. They’ve beaten Wisconsin by an average of 24 points and Minnesota by an average of 13, with one of those games a 3-point win on the road.
The three remaining top four seeds are No. 2 Ohio State, No. 3 Iowa, and No. 4 Purdue. Ohio State and Purdue both limped to the season’s finish line. The Buckeyes went 4-4 in their last eight games, with two bad road losses to Minnesota and Illinois (11-18, 5-11). The Boilermakers, meanwhile, went 3-5 in their last eight games after starting Big Ten play 8-0.
On the other hand, the Hawkeyes are on fire and a dangerous tournament team. They lost their star guard Jamie Printy (16.9 points per game) to a torn ACL on Feb. 3, but haven’t lost a game since. Go figure - with Printy active, the Hawkeyes went 4-5 in Big Ten play. With her out, they’ve gone 7-0.
To see the rest of the bracket, follow the link at the end of this article. The astute Lady Lion fan will notice the possibly of a rematch with Michigan State, who Penn State is 0-2 against this year.
The U.S. Army sitting volleyball team competed in two exhibitions Saturday night at Rec Hall after the men's volleyball team defeated George Mason.
The Army is preparing to field a team for this April's upcoming Warrior Games held in Colorado Springs, Colo. The warrior games is a competition between the five branches of the military that competes in over 20 sports.
The team first faced members of Penn State Ability Athletics and it was the first time that Penn State Ability Athletics had played in a volleyball match. The program has athletes from Penn State and the surrounding area that compete in track & field, swimming, power lifting, weightlifting, and wheelchair basketball.
The Army squad then faced seven members of the women's volleyball team.
The Nittany Lions were able to keep their hot streak alive.
For yet another night, Penn State was able to best an EIVA opponent defeating George Mason 3-0 (25-13, 25-22, 25-20), the Lions are currently 6-0 in the EIVA and 12-1 overall. They have not lost a set to any of their league opponents this season.
George Mason is one of the toughest EIVA teams Penn State has faced this season, and though most of the starters stayed in the game throughout the match, Penn State was able to maintain control, trailing only four points the entire game and by no farther margin than one point.
“I think so far George Mason has been our toughest EIVA opponent,” said coach Mark Pavlik. “It will be an interesting second half of the EIVA season.”
After struggles with their blocking the previous night, the Lions were able to step up with 10.5 blocks against the Patriots.
“I think the hitters on the other side of the net tried to challenge our block a little bit more,” Sunder said. “It’s kind of a pride thing, last night we let a few too many balls past us and we’re not going to do that two nights in a row.”
Top performers for the Lions were Joe Sunder with 13 kills and a .500 hitting percentage, as well as Nick Goodell with 13 kills and three service aces.
“It all starts with our passing, said Goodell. It gives me an Joe the opportunity, the way Edgardo sets to us is fast paced and makes it difficult for the defense to set our balls.”
For a second night in a row, Penn State was able to dictate the pace of the match through their serving. The Lions combined for five service aces, including, three by Goodell. The Lion’s serving has prevented opponents from building momentum.
“Anytime you can push the setter of the net, their offense slows down,” said Pavlik. “The teams we’ve been playing in the EIVA know that they have a big block in front of them so 80 percent of the time they’re trying to avoid our block. If they avoid our block they are either hitting at someone in that area or they’re hitting out of bounds.
The Lion’s will not have a match against another EIVA opponent until March 17th against Saint Francis (PA.) but will tested next week home against Ohio State. Penn State was able to sweep the Buckeyes in their first match this season.
Penn State won its ninth straight match Friday, with another outstanding offensive performance for the Nittany Lions in Rec Hall.
But the offensive success wasn’t the main focus of the post-game press conference.
Penn State (11-1, 5-0 in EIVA) swept its fifth straight EIVA opponent to get the 3-0 (25-18, 25-15, 25-18) victory over Princeton, a win anchored by an impressive .462 hitting percentage. Head coach Mark Pavlik and two of its standout players from the match mentioned being pleased by this but focused more so on the need for the team’s blocking to improve.
The match against the Tigers was highlighted by several successful outputs from different players.
Fifth-year senior Joe Sunder and redshirt freshman Nick Goodell led the team with 10 kills each, Sunder on a .643 hitting percentage and Goodell on .471.
Fellow fifth-year senior EdgardoGoas paced the offense with 37 assists, also adding five digs and two kills.
“Overall, I really like the offense. I thought Eddy [Goas] ran a great offense tonight,” Pavlik said. “He got great swings from everybody.”
Pavlik said Goas’ ability to be in sync with Goodell, especially, made a big difference for the Lions tonight, helping Goodell to have another solid offensive game.
“Certainly he and Eddy [Goas] are developing a real nice tempo and relationship between them,” Pavlik said. “We’re gonna need that. That’s something that we saw outta [Goodell] last year and he just keeps getting better and better.”
However, even when asked about the team’s offense, the team harped on the fact that in order to win, it will need to have a better blocking performance than it did against Princeton.
Penn State had just three blocks total in the match, and the players realize this cannot be a pattern if they want to succeed by the end of the year.
“I think tonight’s match was probably more of a tribute to our serving and our offense,” Pavlik said. “The disappointing part was our blocking.”
Goas added the team must improve in this aspect of the game, or else Penn State will be looking at an early exit in the national tournament at the end of the year.
“We blocked three balls. That’s not enough,” Goas said. “If we look at the big picture, coming in May, we definitely need to get better at those things.”
So although Penn State held Princeton to a low .234 hitting percentage, it knows that its defensive performance needs to improve.
Pavlik said the team’s blocking must progress because when the matches mean the most in May, the opponents will be better in virtually every aspect of the game.
“What we’re trying to achieve is probably being as efficient at the net as we can with our block, and we’re gonna run into teams that can pass our serves. We’ve gotta make sure we’re ready for that type of offense.”
Depth, however, was once again a bright spot for Penn State, with reserves making steady contributions against Princeton.
Tom Comfort, for example, came off the bench in the third set to tally five kills on a .364 hitting percentage.
In the words of Princeton’s head coach, Sam Shweisky, having substitutes of Penn State’s caliber makes any hope of a comeback even slimmer.
“Depth is a big deal. Especially since a lot of times, maybe they win the first two, maybe they put in some subs, and that’s your chance to kind of go for it,” Shweisky said.”
“They put in the subs and it’s Tom Comfort. It’s like, okay, that’s a hell of a sub.”
At this point, it’s getting fairly easy to project where the No. 11 Lady Lions will wind up in the Women’s NCAA Tournament.
With only one regular season game left, they stand at 22-5 (12-3) and have clinched at least a share of the Big Ten title. According to NCAA.com, their RPI (ratings percentage index) is 24th in basketball, but those rankings don’t take the Lady Lions’ Monday win over No. 8 Ohio State into account. If they did, I think Penn State would be solidly in the top 20.
It’s a fact Penn State will make the NCAA Tournament with at least a 6 seed. They would need to get obliterated by Minnesota at home on Sunday and lose in their first game of the Big Ten Tournament for a 6 seed to even have a chance of being out of reach.
Rather, the more likely scenario is a seed from 2-4. I would estimate that the likeliest of those three possible outcomes is a 3 seed. A 2 seed would probably require a title in the Big Ten Tournament, while a 4 seed would be necessitated a quick exit.
So, using the RPI rankings on NCAA.com as tools, and with a little help from Charlie Creme’s “Bracketology” on ESPN.com, I’ve ranked the 5 most likely opponents of the Lady Lions.
Keep in mind I’m no expert on this stuff, and with the vicissitudes of college basketball, the Lady Lions’ opponent could just as likely be none of these teams. But speculation is always interesting.
1. Idaho State Bengals (20-6, 12-1 Big Sky)
I placed the probable winners of the Big Sky conference number one because I liked the way their RPI matched up in the set of teams that seem likely to place the Lady Lions.
2. Hampton Pirates (20-4, 12-1 MEAC)
The only problem with putting Hampton here is that they’re currently in a tie with Florida A&M and Howard for their division lead, with Coppin State not too far behind. If Hampton holds on to win, it though, I think they have a good shot to play the Lady Lions. If FAMU comes through to win it, they would probably be seeded a bit too low for PSU. Howard, on the other hand, would also be a likely matchup for PSU. Only problem? They’re 0-2 against Hampton this season.
3. Albany Great Danes (19-9, 13-2 American East)
The Great Danes are .5 games behind Boston right now, but I think they’re better suited to win it than the Terriers. If Boston takes the division, replace Albany with their name here; I won’t rank Boston fourth for the good of variety.
4. Davidson Wildcats (20-7, 16-2 Southern)
They’re tied with good ol’ Appalachian State for the Southern lead, but they hold a 2-0 tiebreaker against them. I feel like I should mention that none of the teams listed here should pose any semblance of a threat to the Lady Lions.
5. Liberty Lady Flames (18-8, 13-2 Big South)
This is a letdown. I personally want Winthrop to make it just because I love saying “Winthrop” so much. Unfortunately for lovers of cool-sounding college names everywhere, it seems like this is Liberty’s conference to win.
For the first time in a while, the Lady Lions were released from basketball related activities Tuesday. Coach Coquese Washington did not hold practice after the Lions clinched the regular season Big Ten championship and the No. 1 seed in the Big Ten tournament with a win over Ohio State on Monday. Knowing practice would start back up Wednesday afternoon, nearly everyone used the time off to do... well, as little as possible.
As you might expect at this point in the year, this isn’t exactly a true depiction of the hierarchy of EIVA teams.
Many teams have yet to get into the thick of their EIVA schedule, meaning one loss could put them down way farther than they should be (George Mason for example.)
Conversely, a team such as Princeton is sitting in the top three according to the current standings. The Tigers are benefiting from playing two basement-level teams, and by the end of the year will most likely return to the bottom half of the league where they finished last year.
Thus I have compiled Power Rankings for the conference, based on how I believe the conference will truly align. These beliefs are based on how teams have done so far this season (in and out of conference) and could very well change by the end of the year.
But for now, this is the fairest way to settle it. By far.
You're gonna like the way they look, I guarantee it. (Okay maybe not, but still....).
WEEK 7 POWER RANKINGS
1. Penn State…..10-1 (EIVA 4-0)
As previously noted, the Nittany Lions are undefeated in conference play so far this year (4-0) and haven’t even dropped a set through these matches. The talent disparity between Penn State and its conference opponents so far has been extremely noticeable, as the team has played mostly lower-level EIVA teams. Penn State has also shown itself to be an EIVA powerhouse by winning matches against non-EIVA teams ranked in the nation’s top 10 (No. 4 Stanford and No. 8 Ohio State). George Mason will be the team’s first real conference test this weekend. However, once again, I strongly expect Penn State to go undefeated in EIVA play for the fourth straight year.
2. Saint Francis….. 6-7 (3-1)
The Red Flash are a team to look out for in the EIVA this year. Although Saint Francis is under .500 overall, it has challenged itself by playing talented schools across the country early on (including an impressive win over Ball State) and this will certainly pay off in the long run.
3. George Mason….. 4-8 (1-1)
Same story for George Mason, the Patriots have played higher-level schools in their non-conference schedule. This tough non-conference play has resulted in seven losses but also two impressive wins against Ball State and IPFW. Look out for the Patriots to rise the ranks of the standings as their EIVA schedule heats up. A match to watch for this weekend is George Mason vs. Saint Francis, which will certainly shed light onto who the second best team in the conference is.
4. Harvard….. 2-2 (7-2)
Opposed to the previous two teams, the Crimson haven’t had a difficult non-conference schedule whatsoever so far this season, leading to five non-conference wins (only one of which against a Divison I team - Cal Baptist). However, Harvard does have an impressive win against Saint Francis (a 3-0 sweep) which shows that teams 2-4 on these rankings are not far off each other at all.
5. Princeton….. 2-1 (3-3)
Though Princeton finds itself third in the official standings, this is merely due to two easy wins against the bottom two teams in the league. The Tigers were swept by Harvard and face Penn State this Friday (meaning another sweep may be on their horizon….).
Coquese Washington is one of those head coaches that journalists really appreciate for a variety of reasons. For one thing, she’s very respectful and doesn’t act like she knows a lot more about basketball than you even though she does. For another thing, she actually answers the questions she’s asked instead of deflecting them.
She’s also known to drop a gem of a quote every now and again. I’ve complied some of them here in no particular order.
1. October 20, 2011: Riding Alex Bentley
Question: As a former point guard, how have you been able to help [point guard Alex Bentley] grow?
Washington: “I yell at her all the time, all the time. From the minute she walks in the gym and picks up a ball in pre-practice, I am riding her like we're at the Kentucky Derby.”
This one was so good, that I’ve used it in the paper twice this season. Heck, I could use it a third time by the time I’m through. Washington and Bentley have a fun dynamic, and this quote shows it.
2. January 22, 2012: Remembering Joe Paterno
“I used to call him my big brother on campus. When I first got here he would take care of me. Sue Paterno came over and got me involved in the Special Olympics as soon as I got here. Our program has continued that relationship with the Special Olympics. She would bring her grandchildren to our games. Coach Paterno and I were friends. It wasn’t like we had Sunday dinner every week, but the times that we spent together, he always gave me advice and inspiration. He always had a great memory. That was one of the things I remember. He would ask me where I’d been traveling and I would tell him that I was in Tulsa. He would say "I know a guy from Tulsa." I would always say, `You know everybody from everywhere.' When I first got here he asked where I was from. I said Flint, Michigan. He said, `Booker Moore!' And he started telling me about how he recruited [former PSU running back] Booker Moore out of Flint Southern. He was a fantastic man and a great inspiration. He meant so much to this community. We will miss him.”
It was cool to get Washington’s take on Paterno on the day the legend died. To the public, it may come as a surprise that Washington, who has only been here for 5 years, and Paterno had a relationship like this.
3. November 5, 2011: Thank God it’s November
After the Lady Lions’ exhibition against Bloomsburg in which they surrendered 81 points to the D-II team, Washington said:
“We look like it’s November 5, and thank God it’s November 5. I’m not jumping off Mount Nittany or anything like that. We know that we have work to do, but we have time to get better. We will get better.”
A suicide reference can quickly liven up a story.
4. November 9, 2011: Playing through the Sandusky scandal
“I don’t think any human being on earth has been able to be insulated from all this stuff. But, I think our kids…you know, they’re students, so they’re doing the best they can with balancing academics, athletics, and…current events. They balance that stuff all the time and they’re doing the same thing now.”
About seven hours after Washington said this, Joe Paterno and Graham Spanier were fired.
5. February 20, 2012: Solving Greene’s foul trouble
Q: After Nikki Greene’s first foul [in the Ohio State game] she said you talked to her on the sideline. What did you say to her?
Washington: “I said, ‘You know, just stop reaching,’ and she said, ‘Okay.’ I don't know why I didn't say that game two of the season but it was pretty much that brief of a conversation. I said, ‘You know, you don't really have to reach for those,’ and she said ‘Okay, I won't. I won't do that.’ Sometimes it's nothing miraculous. It's unbelievable.”
After that foul was called on Greene just over a minute into the game, she only fouled two more times for its remainder. She also had 25 points and 15 rebounds. Talk about coaching her up.
6. February 9, 2012: Shoot it, Mia
Question (from Dan Norton): Mia, it looks like they were playing you pretty loose defensively when you were out there on the perimeter in the motion offense. Have you ever thought about shooting the jump shot?
Washington: “GREAT QUESTION!”
Washington was sitting in a desk to the side while the players were getting interviewed after a home win over Wisconsin, and she butted in with this, resulting in hilarity.
1. Michigan State (22-5, 11-3 Big Ten) —The Spartans picked up two big road wins in the past week. After earning a tough win in Madison over Wisconsin on Thursday, Sparty used a strong second half to beat Purdue on Sunday. And with Ohio State falling to Michigan on Saturday, MSU is now alone in first place in the Big Ten standings.
2. Michigan (22-7, 10-4) —If you go to the state of Michigan in the Big Ten, don’t expect to win. Michigan and Michigan State are a combined 31-0 in their own gyms this season. The Wolverines latest victim in Crisler Arena was their arch rival, Ohio State, as Michigan slipped past the Buckeyes at home 56-51 on Saturday night.
3. Ohio State (22-5, 10-4) — After falling to Michigan, the Buckeyes are now a game back of Michigan State for first-place. The good news for the Buckeyes: they get to play Michigan State again on March 4th, bad news: that game is in East Lansing.
4. Wisconsin (20-7, 9-5) — The Badgers couldn’t beat Michigan State in the Kohl Center on Thursday and now they’ll have to hope for other teams at the top will lose if they want even a share of the Big Ten title.
5. Indiana (20-7, 8-7) — Though the Hoosiers don’t have a chance of winning the Big Ten crown, their seeding for the NCAA tournament took a hit on Sunday when they lost 78-66 to Iowa. IU still has a chance to improve its seeding with a game against Michigan State in Bloomington still on its schedule.
6. Northwestern (16-10, 6-8) — There are four games left on Northwestern’s regular season schedule. If the Wildcats can win three of them, they’ll probably make it to the Big Dance. Northwestern can’t avoid letdowns on the road at Penn State or Iowa and it will have a chance to pick up a big home win against either Michigan or Ohio State.
7. Purdue (17-10, 7-7) — The biggest news for the Boliermakers this week came off the court. After an incident at a nightclub early Friday morning, junior guard Kelsey Barlow (8.3 ppg, 3.7 rpg) was dismissed from the team and junior guard D.J. Byrd (8.0 ppg, 44.8 3-pt. %) was suspended from the team. Despite losing two key members of its team, Purdue can still crack the field of 68, especially if it can get a resume-building win against either Michigan or Indiana down the stretch.
8. Iowa (14-13, 6-8) — After falling to Penn State in State College on Thursday, the Hawkeyes surprised Indiana on Sunday in Iowa City. Iowa’s six Big Ten wins are more than many expected, but the team has struggled on the road lately and it hasn’t won a game away from Carver-Hawkeye Arena since Jan. 4.
9. Minnesota (17-10, 5-9) — After the Gophers’ 0-4 start to Big Ten play, they won five of their next seven games. But Tubby Smith and company have lost their last three and their schedule is not about to get any easier, Minnesota’s next three games are all against ranked opponents (vs. Michigan State, vs. Indiana, @ Wisconsin), and those games should make or break its NCAA tournament hopes.
10. Illinois (16-11, 5-9) — The Illini are reeling. Things went from bad to worse for Illinois in its 80-57 loss to Nebraska on Saturday. It was the Illini’s fifth straight loss and their eighth L in nine games. If this team can’t make a surge down the stretch (and it doesn’t look like it will), Bruce Weber could be out of a job.
11. Penn State (12-16, 4-11) — After rare back-to-back wins, the Nittany Lions ran into a hot shooting Wisconsin team in Madison and despite a spirited run, lost by 10 to the Badgers. Penn State will have a chance to play spoiler to some bubble teams in the final weeks of the season with Northwestern visiting the Jordan Center on Saturday and a road trip to West Lafayette for the Lions next week.
12. Nebraska (12-13, 4-10) —Bo Spencer is quietly putting a pretty nice season in Lincoln. The senior guard is averaging 15.5 points per game, good for seventh in the conference, and he also dropped 27 in the Huskers’ big win over Illinois on Saturday.
The good times just keep on rolling for the Lady Lions. On Monday, they clinched at least a share of the Big Ten title. On Tuesday, guard Maggie Lucas earned her first Big Ten Player of the Week award.
It’s a bit surprising Lucas has never won the award before. She’s been in the Big Ten’s top five players in points per game almost all season, and she set the record for most 3-pointers from a Big Ten player last year.
Still, this is a first for the sophomore. She won the award on the heels of a week in which she averaged 20.0 points and 6.0 rebounds per game in a pair of big wins over then-No. 17 Purdue and No. 8 Ohio State.
The guard is having a great season. She’s currently fourth in the Big Ten in points per game with 19.1 and second in 3-pointers made with 67.
Tonight, the Lady Lions play in their biggest game of the season by far in the BJC at 7 p.m. against Ohio State. Here’s everything you need to know.
No. 11 Penn State (21-5, 11-3) vs. No. 8 Ohio State (23-3, 10-3). The Lady Lions are first in the Big Ten, and they lead the Buckeyes by a half-game in the Big Ten.
How they match up
Points per game: Ohio State leads the conference with 77.1 Penn State is a close second at 75.5.
Opponents’ PPG: Again, the numbers are close. Penn State is fourth in the conference at 60.3, while Ohio State is seventh at 61.7.
Scoring Margin: Ohio State is first, with a plus-15.4 margin. Penn State is second, with a plus-15.2 number. The point is, these teams are very similar.
For Penn State, it’s the usual. Guards Alex Bentley (14.4 points per game and 4.8 assists per game) and Maggie Lucas (19.4 points per game) will have the biggest impact on the Lady Lions’ game.
For Ohio State, it’s all about their incredible 1-2 punch at the top of the key: Guards Tayler Hill and Samantha Prahalis. Hill leads the Big Ten in scoring (21.3 points per game) and Prahalis is second (19.8 points per game). Stopping these two is critical to success. Unless, of course, the Lady Lions just go out and score 100 points.
If Penn State WINS
They clinch at least a share of the Big Ten regular season title. If they proceed to beat Minnesota on Feb. 26 or if Ohio State loses another game, the Lady Lions are Big Ten champions. A win would make the Lady Lions no worse than a 2 seed in the Big Ten tournament.
If Penn State LOSES
If the Lady Lions lose, the only way they could win a share of the Big Ten title is by beating Minnesota and having Ohio State lose one of their remaining two games. To win it outright, Penn State would have to beat Minnesota and Ohio State would have to lose both of their remaining games.
The game is scheduled to be a whiteout, and the first 300 students to go will receive a white Lady Lions shirt. The first 100 to go will get a free Domino’s Pizza voucher and a $5 gift card to McLanahan’s. Students get in free.
A Friday night in Florida wasn’t enough to push Penn State over the hump in their season opener.
Though the Lions’ pitching allowed just three hits, seven walks and five errors came back to bite as they dropped Game 1 of three by a score of 6-3 in the Big Ten / Big East Challenge in St. Petersburg, Fla.
Lions leadoff hitter Steve Snyder plated two with a fifth-inning double, while Elliot Searer brought home the third run of the game with an RBI groundout in the seventh.
One bright spot for the Lions was relief pitcher Greg Welsh’s 3.1 innings of work against the Pirates, allowing just one hit and one run to help keep the game close.
The Lions will take the field again Saturday at 4 p.m. for Game 2 of the Challenge. This time, the Lions will take on West Virginia.
On senior night, the second to last game of the season, the Icers had a night for the record books.
No.1 Penn State (26-3-1) tied its home win record after an 8-1 victory over Duquesne, on Friday night.
With its 18th home win this season, Penn State tied the home win record set by the 2004-05 Icers team that also went 18-0-0 at home.
Six seniors were honored prior to the game and all five seniors who dressed for the game: Chris Cerutti, Kurt Collins, Paul Daley, Dan Loucks and Dan Petrick started for the Icers.
The three senior forwards, Cerutti, Collins and Daley all recorded goals with Cerutti leading all scorers with two goals.
Captain Dan Loucks returned to the lineup for the first time in nearly a month after suffering a bone bruise to his hip in January.
Next Friday, the Icers will play their final regular season game of the season. They will play Kent State for the chance to set the Icers home-win record and get a final tune-up before traveling to the ACHA national tournament, where they have earned the No. 1 seed.
It was another match, another sweep for the Penn State men’s volleyball team Friday night.
This time the victim was Harvard, a team coming into the match in third place in the EIVA with a record of 6-1.
The Nittany Lions swept their third straight EIVA opponent, winning the match against the Crimson 3-0 (25-20, 25-13, 25-17). Redshirt freshman Nick Goodell led the team with a match-high 15 kills, which helped Penn State, now 9-1, cruise to its seventh straight victory.
Goodell got Penn State’s offense off to a blistering start with a whopping seven kills in the first set, without any attacking errors.
Penn State hit .625 in this set and Goodell was a big reason why.
Goodell sustained this offensive eruption over the next two sets as well, finishing with a fantastic hitting percentage of .750. He produced only one attacking error on a hefty 20 attempts in the match.
Although Penn State had just three blocks in the match, the Lions’ defense held Harvard to a hitting percentage of just .227. This isn’t to say the Crimson handed the match to Penn State with countless errors, though — Harvard had just 11 attacking errors.
One of the main reasons Penn State’s defense succeeded was its back-row defense. The Lions had 24 digs in the match, led by freshman libero Connor Curry with nine.
Besides Goodell, other standout performers on offense were sophomore outside hitter Peter Russell with eight kills on .462, freshman middle hitter Aaron Russell with seven (.778), and redshirt senior outside hitter Joe Sunder also with seven (.133).
Redshirt senior setter Edgardo Goas paced the offense with 38 assists, and also added six digs on defense.
Penn State’s next match is tomorrow at 8 against (4-8) Sacred Heart in Connecticut.
Penn State is heading to the Northeast for the weekend, taking on Harvard and Sacred Heart. These are two teams it has not played in several seasons.
Penn State is 8-1 on the year, riding a six match win streak and lots of momentum heading into this road trip. Harvard is 6-1 on the year, sitting at third place in the EIVA standings, while Sacred Heart is 4-7, placing the Pioneers seventh in the league.
The Nittany Lions haven’t dropped a set in their two EIVA matches so far this year, and if we had to guess, we’d predict this trend to continue this weekend.
The following are player of the weekend and bold predictions for each match courtesy of men’s volleyball reporters John Stuetz, Kevin Byrne and Jake Somerville.
Player of the weekend predictions
John- Redshirt senior Joe Sunder (83 kills with a team-high 3.61 kills per set so far this year).
Kevin- Freshman middle hitter Aaron Russell (53 kills on .409 with 1.25 blocks per set so far this year).
Jake- Redshirt freshman Nick Goodell (61 kills with a .336 hitting percentage)
Bold predictions for match vs. Harvard
John’s prediction- Joe Sunder will have seven kills in the first set.
Sunder hasn’t played a full match since Jan. 28 against Pacific, partly due to a knee injury but mostly because the team has dominated enough to get him rest. Because of this, it is unlikely to predict he will get 15-plus kills for the match overall like he is capable of. However, I could certainly see Sunder helping Penn State get out to another early lead by tallying an impressive seven kills early on.
Kevin’s prediction- Penn State will hit over .550 for the match.
So far, the team’s season high for hitting percentage is .507, which it posted against Mount Olive on Feb. 3. The team approached .500 in both matches this past weekend and now that the offense is getting into a consistent groove, it’s not too crazy to say the team might break the .550 mark.
Jake’s prediction- Penn State will block 15+ balls
Penn State has a considerable height advantage over Harvard. The team's season high for blocks so far this season has been 11.5, but they've shown steady improvement in their defensive game and will put on a solid defensive performance led by middle hitter Aaron Russell.
Bold Predictions for match vs. Sacred Heart
John’s prediction- Goas will have his warm-up pants on by the end of set two.
Sacred Heart, although with four wins on the season (4-7), has just one win versus a Division I opponent. It’s safe to say that Penn State should control this match handily, as it has all of its other EIVA opponents so far this year. With this in mind, I expect Penn State to jump out to an early lead, allowing its starters to watch the rest comfortably from the bench. I predict starting setter Eddy Goas, who is known for wearing his warm-ups as much as possible when not playing in the match, will be nice and toasty on the sidelines by set three.
Kevin’s prediction- Penn State will have less than six attacking errors in the match.
So far, the team’s season low for attacking errors is six, which the Nittany Lions posted against Rutgers-Newark last weekend. Although having this small amount of errors is extremely rare across the country, Penn State has averaged just 7.5 attacking errors in its last four matches, making this surprisingly doable for the Lions.
Jake’s prediction- Penn State will hold Sacred Heart to a negative hitting percentage
Penn State has been able to overpower weaker opponents through their physicality, holding teams to as low as a .016 percentage (Mount Olive). They will do even better against Sacred Heart holding them under zero.
The Icers are at the top of the American Collegiate Hockey Association rankings.
This marks the eight consecutive ranking Penn State has hit the No. 1 spot.
The Icers will receive a first-round bye in the upcoming 2012 ACHA Men's Division 1 National Tournament. Twenty teams will compete at Hoover Arena in Strongsville, Ohio from March 2-7. Penn State's first game is March 3 at 5 p.m. against the winner of the Rutgers and West Virginia contest.
"I think the guys should be very proud that they were able to achieve the No. 1 ranking," Gadowsky said. "Although what it means is that they've had an excellent regular season. It means absolutely nothing going into the tournament."
It took them almost all season to get back where they started.
The Lady Lions are currently No. 12 in the AP Poll, the same spot they were in before they played a single game.
They have never gone higher than No. 11 in the Poll this year, but they’ve been unranked at times. At 20-5 (10-3 in the Big Ten), the Lady Lions lead their conference and are the second-highest ranked team in it behind No. 9 Ohio State (22-3, 9-3).
The Lady Lions are one of the hottest teams in women’s basketball in the year 2012. They’re 10-2 since the calendar changed, with both of their losses coming to Michigan State.
Penn State has three games remaining on their schedule, with the next two absolutely critical. On Thursday, the Lady Lions will play at No. 17 Purdue (19-6, 9-3), who is a half-game behind Penn State in the Big Ten.
After that, the Lady Lions will welcome Ohio State to the Bryce Jordan Center on Monday. Ohio State is also a half-game behind Coquese Washington’s team.
When the season started, it seemed that both of these games would be big, but it’s hard for them to be any bigger than they have turned out to be. If Penn State wins them both, they clinch the Big Ten. That scenario would make their season finale, a home game against Minnesota, only relevant for NCAA Tournament seeding.
Purdue is on an ice-cold streak, having lost three of their last four games after starting Big Ten play 8-0. However, they have the best defense in the Big Ten, and teams that can shut down outside shooters tend to give the Lady Lions trouble.
Ohio State is cold too, having lost two of their last four. One of those losses was a 66-65 shocker at 10-16 Illinois.
If the law of averages tells us anything, it’s that Purdue and Ohio State are going to bounce back. It’s going to be exciting to see how the Lady Lions perform in the crunchiest of crunch time.
With its season more than one-third complete, the Penn State men’s volleyball team is sitting pretty with a No. 5 ranking and 8-1 overall record. The Nittany Lions have defeated four top-15 opponents all away from home and have received contributions from nearly every member of the team.
Let’s look at why the Lions have been so successful this season and some areas they can improve upon.
This team is one of the deepest in Mark Pavlik’s 18-year tenure as head coach and it shows every week, as a different player every match seems to lead the team in kills. To be exact, the team has had five different players lead the team in kills in a match this season.
The Lions have 17 players on the roster and with the exception of freshman Matt Seifert and Taylor Hammond, who are redshirting, Pavlik feels that each player can make an impact if called upon. Several key players, including outsider hitter Jace Olsen and opposite Tom Comfort, have seen playing time decrease simply because guys like Peter Russell and Nick Goodell emerged off the bench and outplayed them. For what it’s worth, the Lions haven’t lost since Russell and Goodell have been in the starting lineup.
The depth is also beneficial because it allows fifth-year seniors Joe Sunder and Edgardo Goas to have more rest in anticipation of a deep postseason run.
Penn State has done a good job forcing its opponents to earn its points. After winning despite 87 attacking errors through the first five games of the season, the Lions have tallied just 30 in the past four games. The Lions also are hitting the ball consistently. They rank seventh in the country with a hitting percentage of .345 and they rank sixth in the country with a kills per set of 13.46. When a team as loaded as Penn State hits the ball efficiently and doesn’t make mistakes, opposing teams need to play a perfect game to have a chance at beating them.
The Lions haven’t been tested in too many matches this season, but when they have been, they’ve been able to dig deep and earn the crucial points to win a set or match.
After trailing 24-23 in the third set on the road to Loyola on Jan. 20, they dug deep to score three unanswered points and close out the match. The next week against No. 4 Stanford on Jan. 27, they were down set point to the Cardinal in the first set, but rallied with three unanswered points to earn the victory.
Last Saturday against NJIT, with the second unit on the floor for the entire third set, the Lions trailed for the majority of the set. However, they battled back to take a 20-19 lead and hold on for a 25-23 win. The team’s poise and composure will certainly come in handy when it comes time for high-pressure matches later in this season such as when they travel to Utah to face No. 3 BYU on April 13 and 14.
Areas for improvement
First set struggles
While the team has been very impressive in most facets of the game this season, the Lions have made it a habit to struggle early in matches this season. After the win against Rutgers-Newark last Friday, Pavlik said he would like the team to come out with more energy and focus in the first set. The Lions did just that against NJIT on Saturday by hitting .647, easily a season high for first-set hitting percentage. While it will be tough to maintain that high level of hitting in the beginning of the match every week, the main idea is for the team to come out more focused especially against teams they know they can beat.
Although the Lions have piled up a good number of service aces (54), service errors are still a bit high and have been increasing over the past couple weeks. They had 27 service errors combined against Rutgers-Newark and NJIT last weekend and have 131 for the season.
What to watch for
When will this team lose a set?
The team hasn’t lost a set since Jan. 28 against Pacific and they have only lost five on the season. They face four more EIVA opponents before they have a home showdown with No. 8 Ohio State on March 3. The Lions swept the match in Columbus, so it’s very likely the Buckeyes will come into the match with a lot of motivation to give Penn State more of a fight this time around.
One potential slip up before the Ohio State match could be at Harvard this Friday, as they have not faced the Crimson since the 2009 season. The Crimson are currently third in the EIVA standings.
The Lions have owned the EIVA in their history and after just one week, it’s a safe assumption that they will be the No. 1 seed in the EIVA Tournament this April.
NJIT coach Ryan McNeil said after his team lost to Penn State this past Saturday that Penn State is always at the top and it’s up to everybody else in the conference to catch up to them.
Obviously, the Lions are going to lose a set again this season but in my opinion, it’s not going to happen for a few more weeks.
1. Michigan State (20-5, 9-3 Big Ten) — The Spartans are riding high after knocking off Ohio State on Saturday, giving the Buckeyes their first home loss since 2010. Draymond Green is looking like a serious B1G POY candidate (15.0 ppg, 10.5 rbg).
2. Ohio State (21-4, 9-3) —Thad Matta knows that Jared Sullinger is going to produce, but if Ohio State wants to win a conference (or national) title, it will need more from its supporting cast, specifically William Buford. While Sullinger dropped 17 points and snagged 16 boards against MSU, Buford had just four points on 2-of-12 shooting in a 58-48 loss.
3. Michigan (17-9, 9-4) — After dropping three of five, the Wolverines have won two straight and now find themselves just a half game out of first place in the conference. Michigan also has a pretty favorable schedule the rest of the way, but its showdown with arch rival Ohio State this Saturday in Ann Arbor will be pivotal in the Big Ten race.
4. Wisconsin (19-6, 8-4) — The Badgers have rebounded after dropping three straight games early in the conference schedule. And with games with Michigan State and Ohio State still on the schedule, Bucky is certainly a major player in the chase for the Big Ten title.
5. Indiana (19-6, 7-6) — The Hoosiers’ six losses will prove to be too many for Tom Crean and company to capture the conference crown, but the Hoosiers are still a very good team and will be a tough out come tournament time. Indiana also has bragging rights as it’s the only team to hand No. 1 Kentucky a loss this season.
6. Purdue (16-9, 6-6) — If the season ended today, the Boilermakers would most likely make the field of 68. But with Michigan, Michigan State and Indiana still on the schedule, it wouldn’t hurt Purdue to pick up a resume building win and solidify its spot in the big dance.
7. Minnesota (17-8, 5-7) — The Big Ten is riddled with 5-7 teams, but at least right now, Minnesota seems like the best one of those teams. The Golden Gophers will have their hands full the rest of the way with Ohio State, Michigan State and Indiana making trips to the Barn and they also have to travel to the Kohl Center to face Wisconsin.
8. Northwestern (15-9, 5-7) —Every year it seems like people are asking the same question “Is this the year Northwestern makes the tournament?” Two weeks ago the answer was “no” after the Wildcats dropped three straight contests and five of seven. But now, after winning three of their last four, the answer is, “eh, possibly.”
9. Illinois (16-9, 5-7) — Remember when Brandon Paul dropped 43 and the Illini beat Ohio State? Yeah, me neither. Since that win, Illinois has lost six of seven, the only W being an ugly 42-41 victory over Michigan State. Ugly wins or not, Illinois needs to pick up some more victories if the Illini want to hear their name called on Selection Sunday.
10. Iowa (13-12, 5-7) — After winning three straight, the Hawkeyes got blown out in Evanston on Thursday. Good news for Iowa fans: If the Hawkeyes finish the season strong, they will play some postseason basketball. Not as good news for Iowa fans: That postseason basketball will be in the NIT.
11. Penn State (11-15, 3-10) — The Nittany Lions find themselves now tied with Nebraska for the conference’s worst record after beating the Huskers on Saturday in Happy Valley. I think that if the Lions played Nebraska 10 times this season, the home team would win every time, but Penn State has something that Nebraska doesn’t, Tim Frazier, who’s been nothing short of brilliant this season.
12. Nebraska (11-13, 3-10) — The Huskers have dropped four in a row and coach Doc Sadler’s seat is getting warmer by the minute. The good news for Nebraska, it only has one ranked opponent (Michigan State) left on its schedule.
Why am I ranking the Twitter accounts of the Lady Lions, you ask?
Anyway, there are many ways to determine the strength of someone’s Twitter presence. After minutes and minutes of thinking, this is what I came up with. I call it…the Gilbertian Twitter Theorem.
(follower-to-following ratio) + (number of tweets * 0.0001) + (.25 if their account is protected) + (1 if they follow @TimGilb)
Obviously, follower-to-following ratio is the most important aspect of someone’s Twitter. Any of us can get 1,000 followers by following 3,000 people, but you need a good ratio as proof that people want to follow you. So there’s a good deal of weight on that.
Of course, you deserve credit for being an active tweeter. However, I had to multiply the number of tweets per account by 0.0001 so that it doesn’t have more weight than follower-to-following ratio.
Now, if your account is protected, you’re going to have fewer followers since you have to approve all of them. Clearly, you aren’t on Twitter for the followers if that’s the case and probably shouldn’t even be considered in these rankings (but that isn’t stopping me). To make a feeble attempt at adding fairness to these rankings, I’ll give the Lady Lions with protected accounts an extra .25.
And since I’m the one making these rankings, I’ll throw the Lady Lions that follow @TimGilb a whole extra point. They deserve it.
Is this equation fair? Of course not! Judging by how I grabbed numbers out of thin air and give a whole point for whether or not they follow me, these rankings should not be taken seriously…at all. I’m just having a little fun here.
So, without further ado, your 2011-12 Lady Lions by Twitter accounts (the number in parentheses is their score, and all statistics are as of Tuesday night at 10 p.m.):
1. Maggie Lucas (@MaggieLucas33; 3.2538)
The breakdown: 803 followers, 261 followed, 1,772 tweets (3.0766 + .1772)
It makes sense that the Lady Lions’ most prolific scorer has the best ratio. She’s also one of the more active Tweeters on this list, and therefore takes the cake.
2. Zhaque Gray (@Godexample; 2.3935)
The breakdown: 167 followers, 95 followers, 3,857 tweets, protected account (1.7578 + .3857 + .25)
The lone senior on the team, who is more commonly known as ZhaZha, maintains a very solid ratio despite having a protected account. Props.
3. Dara Taylor (@d_taylor; 2.3428)
The breakdown: 402 followers, 438 followed, 1,750 tweets, protected account, follows @TimGilb (0.9178 + .1750 + .25 + 1)
See that? A follow of @TimGilb can earn you some serious love on this list. Taylor, who is ineligible this year after transferring from Maryland, hasn’t played a minute and still clocks in at number three.
4. Talia East (@teast5; 2.2060)
The breakdown: 295 followers, 395 followed, 2,092 tweets, protected account, follows @TimGilb (0.7468 + .2092 + .25 + 1)
East and Taylor don’t even have positive ratios and they’re still third and fourth on this list, respectively, because they follow @TimGilb. This is totally fair.
5. Tori Waldner (@ToriWaldner44; 1.7783)
The breakdown: 247 followers, 154 followed, 1,744 tweets (1.6039 + .1744)
Waldner owns a very solid ratio, especially for a freshman who’s yet to start a game.
6. Gizelle Studevent (@BellaLatina25; 1.7308)
The breakdown: 298 followers, 243 followed, 5,045 tweets (1.2263 + .5045)
Studevent tweets quite a lot and has a solid ratio.
7. Mia Nickson (@SwiftNick24; 1.1903)
The breakdown: 119 followers, 103 followed, 350 tweets (1.1553 + .035)
Keeping the ratio down is a popular way to tweet, as Nickson does.
8. Nikki Greene (@XxNik_NakxX; 1.0261)
The breakdown: 106 followers, 141 followed, 243 tweets (0.7517 + .0243 + .25)
Clearly, Greene isn’t a big Twitter user.
Alex Bentley, Marisa Wolfe and Ariel Edwards couldn’t be found on Twitter, and therefore receive only honorable mentions on this list.
Finally, would a Lady Lions’ social media article be complete without mentioning the Twitter account of their sports information director, Kris Petersen?
@ladylionsid comes in with a score of 5.8276 (629 followers, 117 followed, 4,515 tweets). She pretty much tips the scale.
So, there you have it. See where you fall on this list if you feel like it. Or, if you think you have a better way to rank Twitter accounts…well, you probably do.
If you are assuming baseball is my favorite sport because I’m a stat nerd, you’re right.
So, when people try and tell me Ivan Nova was a great pitcher last year because he had 16 wins in only 28 starts, I point to the 8.82 amount of runs the Yankees scored for him per game (second-most in baseball) and say think again.
When people try and tell me Joe Saunders was an effective pitcher in 2011 because of a solid ERA, I point out the facts that his FIP (4.78) was 1.08 points higher than his ERA (3.69), his strikeouts per nine innings was an atrocious 4.58, his swinging strike rate was a laughable 6.2 percent, and prove to you he isn’t good.
If you don’t know what any of those statistics mean and have some free time…well, a lot of free time, you should Google “sabermetrics” and do some reading. Baseball has hundreds of sabermetrics — advanced, often-algorithmic stats that tell you how good a player is much more accurately than batting average and ERA.
So, throughout the course of this Lady Lions’ season, I’ve found myself wishing that college basketball bookkeepers kept similar stats. Like ERA, a statistic that heavily depends on the ability of a pitcher’s fielders and other luck-based variables, something like rebounds per game is very influenced by the average height of your opposition and amount of minutes spent on the court.
A few popular, easy-to-calculate basketball sabermetrics are Pythagorean record, effective field goal percentage, and points per minute.
I stayed up really late one night and applied those stats to some Lady Lions to display the effectiveness of what I like to call “real stats.”
Here’s what I found.
1. Pythagorean Record
This one was invented by the father of sabermetrics himself, Bill James. It isn’t a perfect stat, but definitely a sensible one. The formula takes how many points a team has scored and allowed to develop a record that is a bit more luck-free than a team’s real record.
Think about it: It’s entirely plausible that a team could be first in points scored and points allowed and not have the best record because of bad breaks in certain games.
Daryl Morey adapted it to basketball, and came up this formula.
Don’t ask me how Morey came up with these numbers; the guy is probably a genius. Still, the basic idea holds that if a team is scoring a lot and not letting their opponents score much, they should be really good.
Anyway, I’ve been thinking all year that the Lady Lions (20-5) have been getting bad breaks, and I was very right. According to Pythagoras, the Lady Lions should have a Big Ten-best .959 winning percentage. That would give them a record of about 24-1, second-best in the entire NCAA.
On the other hand, take a team like Northwestern. Though they sport a 13-12 record, they’ve been aggregately outscored by their opponents this season. The Pythagorean formula tells us their record should actually be a measly 9-15.
Real wins and losses are obviously all that matters, but if you’ve scored fewer points than your opponents in a season and still have a record above .500, you should probably never take that four-leaf clover out of your pocket.
2. Effective Field Goal Percentage (eFG%)
This statistic makes a lot of basic sense. It takes into account the fact that 3-pointers are worth more than 2-pointers, and weights a player’s field goal percentage accordingly.
For instance, say a player goes 6-for-6 for a game, having made exclusively layups for 12 points. During the same game, another player goes 3-for-6, having made exclusively 3-pointers, also for 12 points. The first player has a field goal percentage of 100 percent, while the second stands at 50 percent. However, they were equally efficient scoring-wise, both having made 12 points.
Therefore, eFG% attempts to rate the shots equally and is found using the following formula:
[Field Goals Made + (.5 * 3-Pointers Made)] / Field Goals Attempted
Let’s apply that formula to the Lady Lions. Keep in mind that, as a rule of thumb, eFG% is higher than FG% if a player has even made one 3-pointer.
Currently, sharpshooting three-baller Maggie Lucas has an already-impressive .447 field goal percentage. She’s made 155 of 347 shots. From 3-point land, the sophomore has gone 61-for-146. When you plug those numbers into the formula, her eFG% is a very impressive .535. That’s an excellent number, one that would put her in 11th place in the NBA.
On the other hand, let’s consider forward Ariel Edwards. Edwards has been a good jump shooter this year, going 65-for-151 from the floor for a .430 percentage. However, she’s floundered from 3-point range, making only 5-of-22 deep balls. Her eFG%, therefore, is only .447. By comparison, that number would place her 72nd in the NBA. Not bad, but certainly no Maggie Lucas.
Of course, this formula does not address the issue that a player who misses three 3-point shots is potentially giving the opponent three extra possessions. Still, eFG% is important to consider when you think a player is shooting 3’s willy-nilly.
3. Points Per Minute (PPM)
Yeah, it’s exactly what it sounds like. It also makes much, much more sense than points per game.
Take the case of Penn State forward Mia Nickson. She has scored 6.9 points per game this season in 16 games.
However, when Penn State played Indiana at home this year, Nickson only managed ten minutes on the court due to injury concerns. When Penn State played at Michigan, she could only stay on the court for 4 four minutes for the same reason. Against Illinois on the road, Nickson only played 2 minutes.
Do you see the problem? In those 3 games, the junior scored one, zero, and zero points, respectively. Still, each one of those appearances counts for an entire game.
Obviously, the fairer way to determine point efficiency is discovering how many points a player has scored per minute than per game.
Here’s the formula:
(Points Scored / Minutes Played) * 40
Since there are 40 minutes in a college basketball game, multiplying the points per minute by 40 is the only way to make the statistic applicable.
Nickson’s points per minute is 11.5, a far cry from the 6.9 PPG she has averaged.
This stat also helps bench players. Freshman Tori Waldner averages only 2.5 points per game because she also averages only 9.8 minutes per game. Her points per minute number is 10.3.
In my opinion, basketball should seriously consider using points per minute as opposed to points per game. It’s simply way more indicative of a player’s scoring efficiency.
There you have it. Sabermetrics are an always-interesting way to approach things. If you have a TI-84 lying around somewhere, have some fun with these.
On Sunday, the No. 18 Lady Lions (20-5, 10-3 in the Big Ten) made quick work of Northwestern (13-12, 3-9) in Evanston, Ill., beating the Wildcats 77-63.
Point guard Alex Bentley led the scoring charge, dropping 18 points and going 7-for-12 from the floor. Guard Zhaque Gray wasn’t far behind, adding 17 points of her own. Guard Maggie Lucas only had 11, but she flirted with a triple-double by grabbing 9 rebounds and picking up 7 assists.
This one was never in doubt for Penn State, mostly due to their efficient shooting. They never trailed and made 46.8 percent of their shots compared to Northwestern’s weak 32.9. The Lady Lions also sank 16 of their 19 free throws, while the Wildcats only made 12 of 20.
The Lady Lions are really on their stride now. They are undefeated in 2012 when they don’t play a team named Michigan State. They’ve won 10 of their last 12 games, and if No. 16 Purdue loses tonight to No. 10 Ohio State, the Lady Lions will have sole possession of first place in the Big Ten.
Thursday begins a crucial series of games for Penn State, when the Lady Lions travel to West Lafayette to take on Purdue. After a weekend off, Penn State will return home to take on Ohio State.
If the Lady Lions win all three of their remaining three games, they will be regular season champions of the Big Ten.
Perfection has been the theme for the Penn State men’s volleyball team lately.
The Nittany Lions were able to get their second win against an EIVA opponent on Saturday, sweeping NJIT, 3-0 (25-15, 25-15, 25-23). The Lions are undefeated throughout their past 12 sets and are undefeated at home (4-0) so far this season.
“Our goal is winning the EIVA, hosting the EIVA Championships here, and we have to protect home court,” coach Mark Pavlik said. “This is a big first weekend for us to establish that not much is going to change this year no matter who is on the court for us, we’re ready to defend our EIVA title.”
The Lions were able to get into a rhythm early in the match tonight, especially through their serving. Penn State committed only three service errors in the first set, and also had a service ace from freshman Aaron Russell. The team was able to ride its early momentum through the rest of the match holding NJIT to a lowly .182 hitting percentage. Redshirt senior Joe Sunder explained how a new warm up attested to the team’s serving.
“When we served to warm up we tried a different thing this weekend, we had starters serve from one side to get good reps,” Sunder said. “Something as little as that just helps our serves get in at the beginning and gets us going a little bit quicker.”
Sunder and junior Tom Comfort led the way for the Lions with seven and nine kills, respectively. Sophomore Peter Russell was able to step up big for the Lions once again with nine kills and four digs.
“Edguardo [Goas]’s sets have been in good spots lately and it’s almost like we don’t even have to think about it,” Sunder said.
Penn State was able to capitalize against a shorter defense that struggled with blocking.
“We were able to take advantage of the high balls, we tried to go over top of shorter blockers and we were able to get points,” Russell said.
For another match, the Lions were able to go deep into their bench. With the majority of bench players in for the third set, the Lions struggled and were down for a while to NJIT. But through the play of Comfort and other reserves, they were able to fight back to win the set.
“I’m pleased with the way we responded,” Pavlik said. “We went on a 6-1 run that allowed us to shift momentum.”
Even after an impressive start in conference play, Pavlik stressed the team must go about their play as “business as usual”.
Penn State will attempt to keep this same mindset next week against EIVA opponents Harvard and Sacred Heart.
Despite upsetting No. 22 LSU on Friday night, Penn State softball dropped consecutive games to Louisiana Tech and LSU Saturday.
More than 1,000 fans were in attendance to watch Nittany Lions catcher Kasie Hatfield’s bases-clearing double in the fifth inning which sparked the victory on Friday night.
Hatfield’s double to right-centerfield plated Kailyn Johnson, DaneeCollett and Alyssa Sovereign, all of whom reached base either by way of being hit by pitch or walk. The fifth inning rally gave Penn State a three-run lead, which would prove to be enough, as the Lions won, 5-3.
Starting pitcher Lisa Akamine pitched all seven innings, allowing just three runs on five hits. Akamine helped her own cause in the fifth inning rally, as she singled and later scored for the Lions’ second run of the evening.
Saturday morning’s game in the Tiger Classic matched the Lions against Louisiana Tech, and the Lady Techsters squeaked out a 4-2 victory over Penn State.
Penn State starting pitcher Marissa Diescher was roughed up for three runs in the first five innings before the freshman was relieved by Jordan Wheatley. Johnson continued her hot streak, going 3-for-4 in the losing effort, tying her previous career high for hits.
The final matchup on Saturday for the Lions paired them against LSU once again.
In an extra inning showdown, the Lady Tigers came out on top, 1-0.
Wheatley got the start for the contest, pitching 3.1 scoreless innings before being replaced by Akamine, who went on to pitch 4.1 innings. The pair went toe-to-toe with LSU’s RacheleFico, who dominated Penn State all day, striking out 10 Lions in eight scoreless innings.
Wheatley and Johnson were the only Penn Staters to attain base hits before LSU’s Tammy Wray ended the game on a fielder’s choice.
After the first three games of the season, Johnson is hitting .500 with a double and four walks, while Akamine sports a 1-1 record and 1.85 ERA.
After the results of Friday and Saturday, Penn State rests at 1-2, with one more chance for redemption Sunday morning against Michigan.
The Penn State men's tennis team picked up a pair of victories on Saturday at the Indoor Tennis Center, defeating Buffalo 7-0 in the first match of the day before taking down Bucknell 7-0 in the second match.
Russell Bader, Taylor Cohen, Bryan Welnetz, Tomas Hanzlik, and Christopher Hasyn all picked up two singles wins each on the day. The Lions also won five of their six doubles matches, with the pair of Jason Lee and Bader suffering the only defeat, a 9-8 loss against Bucknell in a tiebreaker.
The win improves Penn State's record to 6-2 on the season. The Lions will play their last match of February next Saturday against Binghamption at 4 p.m. back at the Indoor Tennis Center.
Be sure to check Monday's edition of The Daily Collegian for full coverage of the match.
The No. 17 Penn State men’s lacrosse team (0-1) lost its season opener to No. 6 North Carolina (1-0), 14-10, in Kennesaw, Ga.
The Nittany Lions struggled early to get into a rhythm, losing the first seven faceoffs of the game and falling into a 5-1 deficit in the first quarter. In the second quarter, the team was able to fight back, taking advantage of a North Carolina foul, the Lions scored with 0:19 remaining and trailed only 8-5 going into the half.
Penn State’s defense was unable to take control in the second half. The Tar Heels, led by Davey Emala with four goals, scored six more to give Penn State its first loss of the season.
Goalie Ausin Kraut, a preseason honorable mention All-American, had 15 saves in his first game of the year. On the offensive side, Kyle VanThof, Matthew Mackrides and Nick Dolan, all contributed two goals for Penn State, and Jack Forster led the team in points with three assists.
That's the only time the Penn State Icers found themselves down to Mercyhurst on Friday night at the Ice Pavilion.
Mercyhurst notched the first goal of the contest, but Icers junior forward George Saad tallied a power-play goal just 34 seconds later off a rebound.
And from then on, it was all Penn State.
Brian Dolan's slapper from the top of the right circle hit the crossbar and went behind Mercyhurst's goalie, putting the Icers ahead 2-1.
Paul Daley and Jake Friedman registered goals in the second as well. Friedman finally got back on the scoring sheet after being in a two-month drought with a wrister that went five-hole.
Icers coach Guy Gadowsky said he never talked to Friedman about his scoreless two months.
"I think he’s consistently one of our hardest workers," Gadowsky said about Friedman. "He probably scores as much as anybody in practice. He works really hard at it. He shows us a lot. He’s got a great attitude, and he’s one of the guys that you just hope that it’s going to come. It certainly wasn’t from lack of effort. He puts the work in in practice. I’m very happy to see it, but hopefully this will open the floodgates for him a little bit."
Nate Jensen, Mike McDonagh and Saad added to the Icers in the third period. The No. 1 Icers went to 24-3-1 after the 7-1 victory.
For Saturday's matchup against Mercyhurst, freshman forward Dan Meiselman will return to the lineup after being sidelined with a concussion, Gadowsky said. The first-year Penn State coach also said Matt Madrazo will start Saturday, unlike Friday's game which saw P.J. Musico between the pipes.
Gadowsky said he is going to give Eric Steinour, George Saad and Kurt Collins the day off. In place of the three forwards, Forrest Dell, Dom Morrone and Tim Acker will step into the lineup.
The Icers faceoff at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday for a second game against Mercyhurst.
The Lady Lions’ only recruit thus far for the 2012-13 season is a mighty good one, it seems.
Forward/center Candice Agee from California was named to the 2012 Mcdonald’s Girls All-American game Thursday. She’s the third Lady Lion on the team to receive that honor, joining guards Maggie Lucas and Dara Taylor. She’s the only Big Ten representative on the 24-player roster.
Agee will give the Lady Lions an interesting dynamic at center next year, as they’ll have a senior (Nikki Greene), junior (Talia East), sophomore (Tori Waldner) and Agee the freshman. Greene is the best of the bunch and will receive the bulk of the playing time, but you have to figure that the experience of the older players will be big for Waldner and Agee.
In other Lady Lions news, Thursday’s win over Wisconsin coupled with the losses of Ohio State and Nebraska puts Penn State in a good situation. The Lady Lions’ remaining schedule looks like this:
Feb. 12 at Northwestern
Feb. 16 at No. 19 Purdue
Feb. 20 vs. No. 10 Ohio State
Feb. 26 vs. Minnesota
Meanwhile, the top four teams in the Big Ten look like this:
1. No. 19 Purdue (9-2)
2. No. 18 Penn State (9-3)
3. No. 10 Ohio State (8-3)
4. No. 15 Nebraska (8-3)
Therefore, winning out means the Lady Lions win the Big Ten since they own the tiebreaker against Nebraska. Of course, that’s much easier said than done - Purdue and Ohio State are both excellent teams and Northwestern and Minnesota are on the bubble for the NCAA Tournament.
That doesn’t mean coach Coquese Washington isn’t happy about it, though. When Lady Lions sports information director Kristina Petersen told her that Nebraska and Ohio State were losing on Thursday, Washington smiled and clenched her fists.
Junior Sharaya Musser has earned the honor of Big Ten Gymnast of Week, conference officials announced Monday.
The Colorado Springs native is no stranger to this award, as it is her third time receiving it this season and the eighth in her career.
Musser has been a spark plug for the Lions this season, earning the all-around title in each of the first five meets. Musser led the No. 10 Nittany Lions to a 195.800-195.150 win at Big Ten opponent Iowa on Friday, Feb. 3, placing first in three of the four events.
After two dominating victories against previously No. 7 Nebraska and No. 12 Michigan last weekend, the Penn State wrestling team remained No. 2 in the national rankings released on Tuesday.
The Lions still trail No. 1 Oklahoma State, who received all 10 first place votes in the poll. With Michigan moving up to No. 11 in the country, the Big Ten now has seven teams ranked in the top 11.
Over the course of the next two weekends, the National Duals will take place in several regional locations, although Penn State will not participate. However, with many ranked teams slated to compete, there is a possibility the national rankings could be shaken up prior to the start of the postseason.
In individual rankings, Penn State currently has eight ranked wrestlers, all of whom are ranked in the top 12 in their respective weight classes.
Frank Molinaro and David Taylor maintained their No. 1 rankings, and Ed Ruth and Quentin Wright both remained ranked at No. 2.
Although Penn State remained No. 5 in this week’s updated AVCA Division I-II Coaches’ rankings, many of the top five teams switched around.
After sweeping BYU, the previous top team in the country, twice this past weekend, Stanford moved up three spots to No. 4. BYU consequently dropped two spots to become No. 3. UC Irvine (idle) remained at No. 2.
If it weren’t for Stanford’s outstanding weekend, Penn State very well could have cracked the top four this week for the first time. The Nittany Lions swept both Mount Olive and Cal-Baptist and are currently one of two teams in the country with just one loss.
Rounding out the top ten are USC, Lewis (owner of the Lions’ only loss this season), Ohio State, Long Beach State and Pepperdine.
Penn State has five matches with top ten teams left in its regular season schedule.
Here are this week's latest rankings:
1 UCLA (11-1)
2 UC Irvine (7-2)
3 BYU (6-3)
4 Stanford (7-2)
5 Penn State (6-1)
6 Southern California (5-4)
7 LewIS (7-3)
8 Ohio State (8-4)
9 Long Beach State (5-4)
10 Pepperdine (6-4)
It’s been about three weeks since my last Big Ten Power Rankings. Honestly, not much has changed. There are only eight more days on which Big Ten games will be played, and it’s yet to be seen if any one team will assert its dominance in that time.
Very likely to make NCAA Tournament
1. No. 10 Ohio State (21-2; 8-2; 13 RPI): They might be tied for second place in the conference, but you’d be hard-pressed to find a pundit who doesn’t think they’re the best team in it right now. They led the Big Ten in points per game, have the best overall record and RPI, and would be sitting really pretty had they not slipped up at Minnesota last week.
2. No. 13 Nebraska (19-3; 8-2; 22 RPI): Cornhuskers Jordan Hooper and Lindsey Moore have yet to usurp Ohio State’s Jordan Taylor and Samantha Prahalis as the best 1-2 punch in the conference. But they’re close. Nebraska is a dangerous team. It’s perfect that both the Buckeyes and Cornhuskers finish their seasons in a game against each other on Feb. 26 in Lincoln.
3. No. 16 Purdue (19-5; 9-2; 23 RPI): The Boilermakers really had a stranglehold of things on Jan. 27. Then, the got upset at Iowa on Jan. 28. Then, they lost a 3OT thriller in their own house against Nebraska on Feb. 2. Now, they sit a smidgen below Ohio State and the Cornhuskers in my power rankings. They’re still first place in the conference by record, though.
4. No. 18 Penn State (18-5; 8-3; 28 RPI): Had the Lady Lions not buckled down to beat Minnesota on the road on Sunday, they’d be a spot lower on this list. Of course, they won that game to cap a good week. Since Dec. 30, the Lady Lions are undefeated against teams not named Michigan State (and they’re 0-2 against them).
On the Bubble
5. Michigan (17-7; 6-5; 38 RPI): I think that their roller coaster of a season will eventually land them in the Big Dance. Judging by how inconsistent they’ve been, it could be close. After getting hammered by the Lady Lions in Ann Arbor on Jan. 26, the Wolverines inexplicably went to Madison and lost to a bad Wisconsin team. They recovered by downing Northwestern…and then promptly lost to Michigan State. And, though they’re done playing Penn State (who has defeated Michigan twice by an average of 18 points), they still have to deal with a solid Iowa team twice as well as Purdue and Nebraska.
6. Michigan State (14-9; 6-4; 74 RPI): Michigan State is a half-game better than Michigan, and they own the 2-0 tiebreaker against them, but they have too many losses to be above them in these rankings. MSU has recently recovered from a 4-game Big Ten losing streak that seemed certain to doom its season very nicely with wins against Penn State and Michigan. The Spartans are the kind of team that could make a run in the NCAA Tournament; they just have to get there first.
7. Iowa (14-10; 6-5; 48 RPI): They are still on the precipice of entering the Tournament. Despite several non-conference losses to some only-solid teams, the Hawkeyes are facing five more regular season against four unranked teams. They might be able to afford to go 4-1, but only if that loss comes against Michigan State or Michigan (whom they play twice). If an ‘L’ shows up next to Minnesota or Northwestern, a fork can probably be stuck in Iowa.
Little chance of making the Tournament:
8. Northwestern (13-10; 3-7; 99 RPI): They are one of the few teams in the Big Ten who have six games left (MSU, PSU, Nebraska, Illinois Iowa, MSU), and they could go 5-1 to have a shot at the Dance. The Wildcats have been an underrated team, and could be a spoiler for Michigan State or Iowa down the stretch if nothing else.
9. Minnesota (12-13; 4-7; 132 RPI): They would absolutely have to win out to have any chance of making the Tournament, and with three of those games coming against Nebraska, Ohio State and Penn State, you can kiss their chances goodbye. Still, their Jan. 29 stunner of then-No. 9 Ohio State sent shockwaves through the Big Ten, and they deserve credit for such a win.
All but eliminated from the Tournament
10. Wisconsin (8-15; 4-7; 133 RPI): They might only be a spot lower than Minnesota in RPI, but that’s mainly because they’ve played six ranked teams. They’ve lost to all of them. If they won out, they would need to keep winning out through the Big Ten Tournament to make the Big Dance, just like the next two teams.
11. Illinois (8-16; 2-9; 92 RPI): The Fighting Illini have had a brutal schedule: Seven ranked teams as well as some tough draws from the SEC and Pac-12. Regardless, it’s all about next season for them unless they like playing spoiler.
12. Indiana (5-19; 0-11; 189 RPI): Not much to see here. Indiana is a rebuilding program.
Here are some of the biggest remaining games:
Feb. 9 - Michigan at Nebraska
Feb. 12 - Purdue at Ohio State
Feb. 16 - Penn State at Purdue
Feb. 20 - Ohio State at Penn State
Feb. 23 - Purdue at Michigan
Feb. 26 - Ohio State at Nebraska
Maggie Lucas’ 1000th career point kind of flew under the radar. Not only did it happen all the way in Minnesota during Super Bowl Sunday, but the game in which it happened contained the Lady Lions’ most exciting finish of the season.
We’ll probably write something in the paper about the milestone after we get to talk to Lucas on Wednesday, but it also deserves some recognition here. One thousand points is a big deal for any player, but Lucas became only the third sophomore in the history of the Lady Lions to achieve the feat in Sunday’s game.
Now, consider this. The only other two players in Penn State history to hit 1,000 during their sophomore season are Kelly Mazzante (2001-04) and Susan Robinson (1989-92). Mazzante is not only the greatest Lady Lion to ever play, she’s one of the best college women’s basketball players ever. She’s scored the most points in the history of the Big Ten for either men or women with 2,919.
Robinson ain’t too shabby, either. She’s second in Lady Lion scoring history with 2,253 points.
So, that consideration alone puts Lucas in some historic company. The thing is, Lucas has already recorded a better freshman season (scoring-wise) than both Mazzante and Robinson. When Lucas was a freshman, she didn’t even start, yet she scored 552 points. Mazzante scored 529 as a freshman, and Robinson scored 503 (they’re second and third in Penn State history in that category).
Now I’m going to speculate a little, but bear with me. The Lady Lions have played 23 games thus far in 2011-12, and Lucas (who has started in all of them) has notched 450 points. When Mazzante was a sophomore, she played in 35 games and scored 872 points. Robinson played in 32 and scored 633.
Let’s assume the Lady Lions play in 35 games this year, since that was their number last season and is a solid estimate. That puts Lucas on pace to score 685 points this season, which would give her 1,237 points at the culmination of her first two years of play. When Mazzante and Robinson were at that point, they had 1,401 and 1,136, respectively.
For those keeping count at home, Lucas is solidly on pace to be the second-most dangerous scorer in Penn State history after her first two seasons. She would have to have worse junior and senior seasons than her freshman year to avoid hitting 2,000 points if she does what she’s on pace for this season.
For the second consecutive week, the EIVA Offensive Player of the Week award belongs to a member of the Penn State men’s volleyball team.
Sophomore outside hitter Peter Russell was the recipient of the award Monday. He led the Nittany Lions in kills for the weekend with 17, nine against Mount Olive on .643 hitting and eight against Cal-Baptist on .353 hitting. Russell also chipped in five digs for the weekend.
Like last week's winner, redshirt freshman Nick Goodell, this is the first time Russell has won the award.
The No. 5 Lions open EIVA play this weekend with home matches Friday against Rutgers-Newark and Saturday against NJIT.
No matter how good a team might be doing, we all know it’s never too early to look to next season. So, I’m going to do just that for the Lady Lions.
This is their projected starting lineup and for the 2012-13 season, with what grade they will be in in parentheses:
PG: Alex Bentley (Senior)
SG: Maggie Lucas (Junior)
SG/SF: Dara Taylor (Junior)/Ariel Edwards (Junior)
PF: Mia Nickson (Senior)
C: Nikki Greene (Senior)
Let’s see. Their youngest starter will be a junior. Alex Bentley is one of the five or six best point guards in the nation. Maggie Lucas is one of the very best shooters in the nation and probably the best in the Big Ten. Taylor, a transfer from Maryland who is ineligible this year, is an elite ball-handler. If coach Coquese Washington opts to platoon her with the versatile, 6-foot-2 Ariel Edwards, fans can expect one of the most dynamic guard combinations in the conference. Meanwhile, Nickson and Greene are already very above-average post players, and they’ll only improve as seniors.
Meanwhile, the bench will have two more seniors, another junior, a sophomore, and one lone freshman. That gives the Lady Lions five seniors, four juniors, a sophomore, and at least one freshman. Keep in mind that they’re currently the 19th best team in the nation and a national titls contender as is.
It’s hard to not see that kind of experience, depth and talent make the Lady Lions the runaway preseason favorite in the Big Ten next year.
Just look at the rest of the conference: Ohio State will be old and talented as well, but they’re losing their best player, Samantha Prahalis. Big Ten powerhouse Purdue should plummet, as they’re waving goodbye to six players. Michigan and Michigan State are contenders, but they’ll need to see a lot of development to compete with the Lady Lions.
Nebraska will be the Lady Lions’ stiffest competition, with Jordan Hooper (junior) and Lindsey Moore (senior) challenging Bentley and Lucas for the title of best 1-2 punch in the Big Ten. However, Penn State has more depth than the Cornhuskers and better post players.
After all is said and done in the 2012 campaign, I think the voters will probably end up placing the Lady Lions somewhere in the top eight preseason teams next year. The odds of either Bentley or Lucas winning a Wooden Award in 2013 are pretty good.
Football season has been over for some time, but that doesn't mean there's a lack of interesting sporting events to attend on Penn State's campus.
Here are some things Penn State students should consider seeing before they graduate. 1. A Penn State wrestling match
Even if you're unfamiliar with the sport, the atmosphere alone in a packed Rec Hall is worth seeing. It doesn't hurt that the Nittany Lions are the defending national champions and boast some of the top wrestlers in the country. 2. Lady Lions Pink Zone game
If you like a Beaver Stadium Whitehouse, then try getting to a Pink Zone game in the Bryce Jordan Center. The crowd is filled with pink T-shirts, and there are memorabilia auctions that help support the fight against breast cancer. This year's event is on Feb. 26. against Minnesota. 3. An Icers game
The days of ACHA hockey being the lone option at Penn State are nearing their end, as the Division I team is quickly approaching its first season. The intimate setting of the Ice Pavilion puts you right near the action. 4. Penn State gymnastics double dual
See two Lions teams for the price of one when both the men's and women's gymnastics teams compete alongside each other in Rec Hall. The next double dual is Feb. 18, when the men take on Illinois and the women host SUNY-Brockport.
Icers’ goalie Matt Madrazo could only watch from the other side of the ice as time slowly ticked away in the third period of No. 1 Penn State’s (23-3-1) game against No. 9 Oklahoma (21-14-0).
With five minutes left in the game, forward Justin Kerchhevel netted Penn State’s first goal after 55 minutes of game play to set the score at 3-1 and the floodgates opened.
In what looked like the Icers’ first loss at home, the Kerchhevel, Tommy Olczyk and Taylor Holstrom line saved Penn State’s perfect home record, scoring all three goals to send the game into four-on-four sudden death overtime.
After the Icers drew a call in front of Oklahoma’s net with three minutes left in overtime, forward George Saad beat the Sooner’s goalie to secure the win.
In a game that was dominated by penalties, the Sooners racked up 18 minutes while Penn State recorded 14 minutes, both teams missed most of their opportunities.
The Icers went zero for eight on the power play but killed all six of their penalties.
After a scoreless first period, Oklahoma’s Ryan Lee scored on a four-on-four breakaway shot.
Forward Shane Vorndran netted a shorthanded goal after Madrazo was caught out of the net.
Madrazo go tripped up between Penn State defenders at the beginning of the third period, leaving the net open for Vorndran again.
Madrazo recorded a 76.9% average after stopping 10 of 13 shots on goal.
The Icers take on Mercyhurst next weekend, in the annual alumni game.
Here are some sometimes-random, sometimes-visionary things that I noticed or thought during and after the Lady Lions’ 76-44 destruction of Indiana on Thursday night.
Nikki Greene smells blood whenever she sees Hoosiers. Let’s see. Tonight, she notched a season-high in points with 17, and she played a mere 25 minutes. Last time out against Indiana (which was last season), Greene scored the go-ahead basket with 40 seconds left in the midst of a 18-5 run that was necessary to take the late, 80-77 win. And, the time before that, the 6-foot-4 junior collected a career-high in rebounds with twenty of ‘em. Not bad.
Maggie Lucas can flat out ball
Like Coquese Washington said after the win, “She’s just a doggone good player.” She’s quite right. The sophomore guard is eight points away from scoring the 1,000th point of her career. Only two Penn State players have ever done that. Though Alex Bentley might be the “energizer bunny” (another Washington quote) of the team, it wouldn’t be where it is right now without Lucas.
Indiana just isn’t a very quick basketball team. They have not won a Big Ten game yet because they’re just so slow to transition. They’re a young team, so there’s some leeway there, but they need to play with more effort and agility.
More classic Washington-Bentley antics
The Washington-Bentley dynamic is so fun to watch. They clearly love each other, but when Bentley isn’t playing to her potential, Washington just burns her for it. Tonight, Bentley had a dirty block-pass to Lucas, who drained a 3-pointer. However, Bentley turned away from the basket after Lucas shot, just to add a little swag. When Indiana immediately called a timeout, Washington was none too happy with her prodigy, getting right in her face. Even in the post-game presser, Washington didn’t mince words. “Up to that point, I didn’t think we were playing very smart basketball on the offensive end,” Washington said. “The biggest advantage we had was inside. It’s her job as the point guard to make sure she manages the team right and manages the team the way we needed it to be managed for that game, so I wasn’t really happy with her management of the team up to that point.” Classic.
The No. 19 Lady Lions (16-5, 6-3 in the Big Ten) are playing the Indiana Hoosiers (5-17, 0-9) tonight at 7 in the Bryce Jordan Center. To be quite frank, this one shouldn’t be close; Indiana has the single-worst record among any women’s basketball team in a major conference and is the only winless team in the Big Ten. The Hoosiers are last in the conference in both points scored per game and points allowed per game. Coquese Washington’s Lady Lions are second and sixth, respectively.
The halftime show, which will pit a team of PSU celebrities and coaches such as Larry Johnson Sr. and Jr. and hockey coach Guy Gadowsky against the Penn State wheelchair basketball team, might be more entertaining than the real game.
Of course, crazier things have definitely happened. And to be fair, the Lady Lions are 4-6 in their last ten games against Indiana. In their last meeting, which came last season, Penn State needed an 18-5 run to best the Hoosiers.
Anyway, here are our predictions for tonight’s game.
Tim Gilbert: Lady Lions win, 94-55. Watch Penn State to play with a chip on its shoulder and avenge its Sunday road loss to Michigan State with aplomb.
Aaron Dunlevy: Lady Lions win, 89-63. Watch for forward Mia Nickson to go off for the second game in a row and record a double-double.
Dan Norton: Lady Lions win, 96-69. Watch for double-digit points from center Tori Waldner.