One night after nearly losing its first conference match of the season, the Penn State men’s volleyball team won in more convincing fashion Saturday night.
The No. 8 Nittany Lions defeated George Mason in Fairfax, Va. 3-1 (21-25, 25-19, 25-16, 25-20).
Like Friday against Princeton, the Lions dropped the first set, but they recovered better this game, winning the next three sets rather handily.
A large factor was the outstanding play off the bench of sophomore Jace Olsen. Olsen entered the game in the first set, replacing fellow sophomore Peter Russell.
He finished with 12 kills on .500 hitting for the evening, both season highs.
Freshman Aaron Russell, who had 14 kills against Princeton, finished with 12 on .647 hitting against George Mason.
The Lions had six attacking errors in the first set but settled down to have just eight over the remaining three sets. They hit .176 in the first set but finished the game with a hitting percentage of .376
The Lions will return home for their first match in Rec Hall since March 3, when the face Sacred Heart Friday night.
After jumping out to an early two-run lead, the Purdue Boilermakers (20-9, 4-0) fended off the Penn State softball team to hold on for the 2-1 win in the series’ first game.
The Lions (7-19, 0-4), who have played all 26 of their games so far this season on the road, played well and kept the game tight against the Boilermakers, but weren’t able to get over the hump.
While she surrendered two hits in the first inning, including a two-RBI double to Purdue’s Ashley Courtney, Nittany Lions' pitcher Lisa Akamine settled in on the hill and finished the game solidly.
Going six of the game’s seven innings, the senior hurler allowed only five more hits and struck out nine batters overall in a quality performance.
At the plate, the Lions mustered seven hits and had multiple opportunities to drive more runs, but were unsuccessful most of the time, stranding a total of seven runners on base.
The team’s best opportunity came in the top of the fourth inning when Lauren Yao led off the inning getting hit by a pitch.
With Yao on first, Kailyn Johnson smacked one of her two hits up the middle for a single and advancing Yao to second base.
Following a sacrifice bunt by Kasie Hatfield, designated hitter Morgan Long stepped up to the plate with runners on second and third and delivered for her team.
Long singled up the middle and advanced to second on the throw in, scoring Yao and pushing Johnson over to third base.
With two runners in scoring position and now a 2-1 ballgame, the Lions could have struck gold and taken the lead, but the threat was squandered when Liz Presto and Danee Collett grounded out in consecutive at bats.
One highlight of the first game was the hitting of centerfielder Cassidy Bell, after going 3-for-4 with three singles.
Bell has arguably been the Lions’ hottest hitter, batting .462 in the team’s last four games.
Just when you thought you’ve seen it all, Penn State faced match point at Princeton tonight. Not once, not twice, but eight times.
However, after losing two of the first three sets, the No. 8 Nittany Lions ultimately won the fourth set 37-35 in overtime, and overcame a valiant effort from the Tigers in five sets (23-25, 25-22, 23-25, 37-35, 15-12). This was the first EIVA match to go into a fifth set this year for Penn State, which is 17-3 overall and now 10-0 in conference play.
Penn State struggled with errors throughout the match, but this was especially the case in the first-set win for Princeton.
“We did not hit the court,” head coach Mark Pavlik said after the match. “I think in game one, we made 14 unforced errors, serving and hitting. It really gave them the opportunity to sneak out game one and they did.”
In all, Penn State committed a startling 40 attacking errors en route to a .277 hitting percentage, much lower than the Lions tend to hit against EIVA teams.
Penn State bounced back in set two with a solid .320 hitting percentage. Junior Tom Comfort, who replaced redshirt freshman Nick Goodell off the bench, recorded five kills in this set to lead the Lions.
But, Penn State’s worst attacking set of the night followed, as the Lions hit a lowly .077 in the third set with 11 attacking errors. Led by Cody Kessel with six kills, Princeton made Penn State pay in this set and took a 2-1 lead in the match.
This was the first time Penn State had trailed in an EIVA match all year.
The fourth set turned out to be one of the most exciting games of the year for Penn State. The Lions faced eight different match points, starting at 24-25, all the way up to 32-33.
“It was one of those things where it would have been very easy to lose your composure, especially when they’re not playing well and [we could] start to press,” Pavlik said.
But rather than falling prey to pressure, Penn State clawed back to eventually take the set 37-35, leading the match to a decisive fifth set.
Pavlik said Sunder, who had 12 hitting errors in the match, didn’t have a good night overall. However, after having just nine kills in the first three sets, Sunder led the Lions with an incredible 14 kills in the extended fourth game.
Penn State wasted no time in fifth set, when Pavlik said sophomore Jace Olsen started the game off with six excellent serves to jump out 6-0.
Once again, Princeton made a game out of it — it was just 14-12 when the Lions succeeded in attaining match point — but Penn State ultimately won the match on a kill from freshman Aaron Russell.
Pavlik said Russell, who hit .722 on 18 attempts, was the lone standout player for the Lions. This was a match in which four of Penn State’s main contributors hit below .100 — Nick Goodell, Peter Russell, Nick Turko and Tom Comfort.
Still, despite many down nights for Penn State players, the Lions escaped with a win.
Pavlik credited this effort in large part to the competitive instincts his team displayed.
“When you look at that and you still win in five?” Pavlik said. “Then it means we competed pretty hard, so I’ll take that.”
Do you like free candy, posters, and Easter egg hunts? If you enjoy said items and activities, then you’ll want to make your way out to brand new Beard Field this year for some Penn State softball.
On Wednesday, Penn State Marketing announced its promotional schedule for the 16 home games the softball team will have this season.
The home opener for the Lions (7-18) is a doubleheader next Tuesday, April 3 against the Pittsburgh Panthers, beginning a 10-game home stand at Beard Field.
In anticipation of all this free stuff, I’ve taken the liberty of ranking the top five giveaways and events the softball team will be promoting at their home games this year. And since no one can resist free stuff… here we go.
5. Saturday, April 7 vs. Michigan St.
Have you ever walked into the classroom about to take an essay test and realize you forgot a pen? Well if you come to the game against the Spartans you won’t need to worry about that. All attendees will receive free PSU softball pens, this way you don’t have to be that guy and you’ll always be prepared.
4. Wednesday, April 3 vs. Pitt
If your refrigerator is looking rather plain or your walls are looking barren then swing by to the doubleheader against the Panthers for a free softball poster and magnet. Also, a portion of all the tickets bought for the game will go to THON.
3. Sunday, April 15 vs. Indiana
Unless you are a child or play Merion Walker Little League you won’t be able to the run the bases after the contest. However, all fans will receive a free softball hats and some Lions will be available for post-game autographs.
2. Sunday, April 8 vs. Michigan St.
Unable to get home for Easter? No problem, as Penn State softball
brings the Easter bunny to you with an Easter Egg Hunt and free candy after the Lions take on Sparty. And if you’re not too embarrassed, you can always take a snapshot with the Easter bunny.
1. Saturday, May 12 vs. Ohio State
This will certainly be a special day at Beard Field, not only because the Lions are taking on the Buckeyes, but because it will be the final regular season game of the year. While celebrating the careers of five softball seniors, the team will be promoting its Pitch for Pink Day. All attendees will be given pink wristbands and are encouraged to wear pink to the park in honor of the fight against breast cancer.
The rankings are out for the week and the Penn State men’s gymnastics team finally got what they deserved.
After setting the top score in the nation twice, the Nittany Lions surpassed previous No. 1 seed Oklahoma Tuesday to take their position at the top of the NCAA weekly rankings.
Watching them the past few weeks in competition, it was only a matter of time. Since their only loss to Michigan on Jan. 21, the Lions have really stepped it up.
Head coach Randy Jepson said he yelled a lot at practice the week after that meet. He said they were better than that. Meanwhile, senior captain Miguel Pineda said the gymnasts needed the motivation, and he hoped it would work.
Well, needless to say, it worked.
After their only loss, the guys seemed to never stop breaking records, accumulating season-highs and winning. On top of that, they've earned a long list of awards, including numerous Big Ten Gymnast and Freshman of the Week honors.
Despite its long list of accomplishments just in the regular season, the team isn’t cocky. However, they do show more and more confidence in every meet they perform in. If I were any other coach in the Big Ten, and in the nation, I would say they’re a force to be reckoned with.
The last time the Lions won Big Ten Championships was in 2008, when it was hosted at Penn State. The last time they won the NCAA Championships was in 2007. Since then, they’ve been building up to what they are now: a team to fear.
Don’t be surprised if you see them at No. 1 once again, not only at Big Ten championships but at NCAA championships too.
Lady Lion guard Maggie Lucas was named an Associated Press honorable mention All-American Tuesday, while guard Alex Bentley was left off the list and the Big Ten received little love.
Lucas' recognition as an honorable mention is the first time a Lady Lion has brought home such honors since Trya Grant in 2010. It's the 15th time a Lady Lion has been recognized in some All-American fashion by the AP. Lucas averaged 19.5 points per game (20th in the NCAA) and a 41.0 3-point field goal percentage (8th) in a career year.
This award comes after she was named to the first team All-Big Ten.
However, only one player from the whole Big Ten was placed on a team, Ohio State guard Samantha Prahalis. She was named to the second team.
Bentley recorded 14.1 points per game to accompany 4.7 dimes in an excellent season and was on the first team All-Big Ten.
Still, those numbers weren’t enough in the Big Ten, which had seven teams make the NCAA Tournament but only seeded as highly as fourth.
The AP first team is composed of Nnemkadi Ogwumike (Stanford), Notre Dame’s Skylar Diggins (Notre Dame), Elena Delle Donne (Delaware), Brittney Griner (Baylor) and Alyssa Thomas (Maryland).
To see the second and third teams, follow this link.
The Lady Lions talked about having experience heading into this season’s NCAA tournament and how it could benefit them to make a deep run.
Well it did, as the program got back to the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2004, but following the 77-59 loss to No. 1 Connecticut, it seemed as though the Lions did not have enough of the right kind of experience.
They did not have the experience of making deep tournament runs and that type of inexperience seemed to hurt the squad tonight.
When addressing her team after the game, head coach Coquese Washington said explained that to her squad.
“UConn played like a team that had experience playing at this level and our kids came into this game ready, they were prepared, I think they were probably a little too prepared, too eager for the game and played uncharacteristically fast,” Washington said. “Because sometimes when you want the win so much, you can play too hard and I thought UConn played relaxed because they’ve been here before. So next year when we get into this situation next year, we’ll be better for it. It’s a great experience that we’ve had. You don’t want to lose any games, but there’s a lot we can take from this and grow as a program and they can grow as players.”
Growth will be essential if the Lions want to make a deeper run in next season’s NCAA tournament and a deeper run is definitely possible. They are only losing one player this season—lone senior Zhaque Gray—and have the potential to be a very good ball team next winter. With the addition of Dara Taylor to next year’s squad after sitting out this season due to NCAA transfer rules, the Lions starting lineup could look like this.
Guard: Senior Alex Bentley
Guard: Senior Dara Taylor
Guard: Junior Maggie Lucas
Forward: Senior Mia Nickson
Forward: Senior Nikki Greene
That would allow veteran leadership and should no doubt lead to a repeat of a Big Ten title and a good chance of winning the first national title in program history.
There’s no doubt that Uconn is one of the top teams in the country and the No. 1 seed Huskies are giving the No. 4 seed Lady Lions all they can handle in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Kingston Regional.
The Huskies are up 43-29 at recess and have built that lead due in part to excellent shooting in the first half. Thanks to 50 percent shooting from the field, the Huskies have been able to build the lead back up to 14, after being up only five with just under eight minutes to play.
The Lions have distributed the wealth around and have seen productive numbers from six players. Junior forward Mia Nickson leads the team with nine points and sophomore guard Maggie Lucas has seven tallies to lead the way for the Lions.
Two Huskies have scored in double figures already as guards Bria Hartley and Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis have 11 and 10 points respectively.
A saving grace for the Lions so far is definitely the foul situation as the Lions enjoy a plus-four margin in fouls, only committing six, while the Huskies have committed 10. That has enabled the Lions an advantage at the free throw line, where they have knocked down 7-of-9 from the charity stripe. Four Huskies have two fouls, including three starters and Mosqueda-Lewis, who leads the team in scoring at 15 PPG.
The Lions are losing the rebounding battle 22-16 and are going to need to shoot better than 10-of-31 if they want to come back and advance to the Elite 8. They are going to also need to see production out of junior center Nikki Greene, who has yet to score in the game because she only played six minutes, thanks to her two fouls she picked up in the first frame.
Prediction: 76-55, Connecticut
What to watch for: If Connecticut is able to thoroughly shut down Maggie Lucas like Purdue was earlier in the year, when she only scored nine points against them in the semifinals of the Big Ten Tournament.
Prediction: 71-58 Connecticut.
What to watch for: If Penn State is able to stop UConn’s transition game.
Prediction: 81-64, Connecticut.
What to watch for: Maggie Lucas is shut down by UConn's defense as Penn State struggles to find ways to score consistently.
Here’s all the basic information you need to know for the No. 4 seed Lady Lions’ game against No. 1 seed Connecticut today at 4:34 in Kingston, R.I.
The tale of the tape
Penn State is 26-6 (13-3 in the Big Ten). It won the Big Ten’s regular season crown before bowing out of the Big Ten Tournament in the semifinals to Purdue. The Lady Lions downed Texas El-Paso and LSU en route to the Sweet 16, scoring an average of 87.5 points per game.
Connecticut is 31-4 (13-3 in the Big East). It won the Big East Tournament. The Huskies defeated Prairie View A&M and Kansas State to get to the Sweet 16, allowing an average of 36.5 points per game.
Jr. G Alex Bentley (First Team All-Big Ten, 14.3 PPG, 4.8 APG)
Soph. G Maggie Lucas (First Team All-Big Ten, 19.6 PPG, 4.7 RPG, .418 3FG% .894 FT%)
Sr. G Zhaque Gray (10.7 PPG)
RS Jr. F Mia Nickson (8.0 PPG, 7.9 RPG)
Jr. C Nikki Greene (Third Team All-Big Ten, 10.1 PPG, 8.0 RPG)
6th: Soph. F Ariel Edwards (7.1 PPG, 4.4 RPG)
Coach: Coquese Washington
Sr. G Tiffany Hayes (First Team All-Big East, 14.8 PPG, 5.7 RPG, .510 FG%)
RS Jr. G Caroline Doty (5.1 PPG)
Soph. G Bria Hartley (First Team All-Big East, 13.8 PPG, 4.0 RPG)
Jr. G Kelly Faris (6.3 PPG, 5.3 RPG)
Soph. C Stefanie Dolson (10.1 PPG, 5.9 RPG)
6th: Fr. F Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis (15.0 PPG, 5.2 RPG .808 FT%)
Coach: Geno Auriemma
7th in NCAA in PPG (76.2)
178th in overall defense (allows 62.0 PPG)
16th in scoring margin (plus-14.2)
6th in NCAA in PPG (76.3)
1st in overall defense (allows 45.1 PPG)
1st in scoring margin (plus-31.2)
Penn State is 3-6 all-time against UConn. The Lady Lions lost their most recent matchup to the Huskies on December 14, 2008. Coquese Washington is 0-1 against Auriemma as a head coach, and 4-6 as an assistant. Auriemma has seven national championships.
The Penn State men’s volleyball team defeated Rutgers-Newark on Saturday night 3-0 (25-9 25-20, 25-23) to move to 16-3 on the season and 9-0 in EIVA play.
The No. 8 Nittany Lions were led offensively by redshirt senior Joe Sunder and junior Nick Turko. Sunder had 11 kills and 2 errors on 19 attempts to hit .474 for the match. Turko had 7 kills on .750 hitting to go along with 4 service aces.
Junior middle hitter Ian Hendries started in place of freshman Aaron Russell at middle hitter and he finished with 3 kills 2 assists 1 block and 1 block assist.
Russell was given the night off by head coach Mark Pavlik.
The Lions were more efficient offensively against Rutgers-Newark compared to Friday night against NJIT. They drastically reduced the amount of attacking errors, finishing with 9 compared to 20 on Friday.
They also hit .397 for the match to go along with 7 service aces and 9.5 blocks.
The 16-point margin of victory in the first set was the second biggest for the team this season. Its largest margin came against Mount Olive on Feb. 3 when the Lions finished with a 25-6 second set victory.
Penn State is back in action next weekend when it travels to Princeton and George Mason.
Things didn’t start out well for Elliot Searer on Saturday, as he forgot to bring his jersey to the ballpark. But the Searer’s afternoon ended on a high note with his teammates swarming him after he hit a walk-off single.
Searer — who donned No. 26 instead of his usual No. 10 on Saturday —sent a line drive into left-center field which fell in for a hit with two outs in the 10th inning, and second baseman Luis Montesinos scored on the play to lift Penn State (5-15, 1-1 Big Ten) over Indiana, 4-3.
After the game, Searer said he accidently forgot to put his jersey in his bag before he left for the stadium and added he doesn’t plan to switch jersey numbers, despite hitting the game-winning single wearing No. 26.
The game was postponed from a 2:05 p.m. start time to a 5:15 first pitch due to rain, but it didn’t seem to matter to Penn State starter Joe Kurrasch. The lefty hurled seven innings, and allowed only two runs — both coming via sacrifice flies.
Kurrasch was in line for the win, but didn’t get it as the Hoosiers (9-14, 1-1) tied the game in the top of the ninth inning on a Chad Clark RBI double. Kurrasch wasn’t overpowering, but was effective and also got some great help from his defense as both center fielder Steve Snyder and Montesinos made diving plays in the fifth inning. Neal Herring, who threw a scoreless tenth inning, ended up getting the win for the Nittany Lions.
Offensively, Snyder led the way for Penn State with three hits and the Lions had a balanced attack with eight of their nine starters getting a hit on Saturday.
Penn State and Indiana wrap up their three-game series at 1:05 Sunday afternoon at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park.
9.7 - The difference between the total points per game of Penn State’s three guards that play most often and Connecticut’s. Lady Lions Alex Bentley, Maggie Lucas and Zhaque Gray score 44.6 PPG, while the Huskies’ Tiffany Hayes, Bria Hartley and Kelly Faris score 34.9.
4 - The amount of players that made their conference’s First Team between these two squads. Each team has two; it’s Bentley and Lucas for Penn State and Hayes and Hartley for UConn.
17 - The difference in the scoring margins of UConn (plus-31.2, best in the NCAA) and Penn State (plus-14.2, 16th-best).
.862 - Connecticut coach Geno Auriemma’s career winning percentage. No active coach has a better one.
4-7 - Penn State coach Coquese Washington’s career record against Auriemma as a both an assistant coach and a head coach. To be more specific, she’s 0-1 as a head coach, losing to him in 2008.
19 - The number of years it has been since Connecticut hasn’t made the Sweet 16. They haven’t lost a Sweet 16 game since 2005.
1 - This is both the number of games UConn freshman forward Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis has started this year and her rank on the team in points per game.
Countless - The number of times members of the Lady Lions have said they’re just trying to take things “one game at a time” this season.
Let me preface this by saying I'm no Coquese Washington. She is the coach of Penn State, and she knows better than anyone else how the No. 4-seeded Lady Lions can beat No. 1 UConn in the Sweet 16 on Sunday. Still, it's fun to speculate. Based on my observations of Penn State all season and my knowledge of UConn, here are five ways the Lions can overtake the Huskies tomorrow and advance to the Elite 8. They should probably try to hit at least three of them if they want to have a shot.
1. Play naturally, but enter the game with multiple strategies. Move the ball quickly down the court, but still be patient at the same time. Don't take unnecessary or contested jump shots with time on the shot clock. It's a waste of a possession. Wait for the best look, and then take it. Don't get frustrated if UConn foils some possessions. If a strategy doesn't seem to be working, try something else. Too many times this season that has happened, and the Lions' offense has fallen into anarchy. The offense needs to know exactly what they're going to do before most possessions because most of the time they're not going to outrun UConn.
2. Don't let the first half get away. If UConn is ahead by more than 10 at the first buzzer, the game will be all but out of hand. Analyzing a team's gameplay in realtime is a luxury Penn State can't really afford with UConn. The Huskies are too explosive of an offense and too stifling of a defense to allow for any extreme comebacks. With that in mind, don't be afraid to call two timeouts in the first half. If the Lions look rattled, settle them down. They haven't really seen a team like this all season, and the initial shock of playing the Huskies in what is essentially a home game for them may come fast.
3. Use Maggie Lucas as a dagger for UConn, not as life support for Penn State. Lucas adds energy to this team and this fan base like nobody else. Even if she is shut down for most of the game, she will find a way to score some points. Chances are those points will come at an ideal time. This time cannot panic if Lucas is ineffective for the majority of this game. Geno Auriemma is fully aware of how good of a shooter she is. There is a good chance he will have someone drape her and she will be unable to get off a decent shot. But if Penn State can stick with the Huskies without Lucas being the go-to option early, she will find a shot eventually. Then... well, a dagger only needs to be used once. Until then, as Washington said earlier in the week, "Distribute the wealth."
4. Have faith in Bentley as point guard, and Bentley, ascend. She is one of the best point guards in this game. Her speed is incredible and she is an extremely talented passer. She has struggled to make the jump shot at times in recent games, however, but that has never stopped her from trying. There is no doubt she can do it, but if she's cold from that range early then she needs to limit her attempts until her shots start falling. Bentley knows how good UConn is, and she is a leader of this team. With that in mind, it would help greatly if she just exploded Sunday and had the best game of her career. It could potentially set the upset in motion.
5. Keep Nikki Greene in the game and find her. Another major player who could be a game changer with an explosion. First, she needs to stay in the game. Her potential replacements are Marissa Wolfe, Talia East and Tori Waldner. None of those three will be able to match up with UConn sophomore center Stefanie Dolson as well as Greene. It's hard to ask Nikki Greene not to foul occasionally because (based off the look on her face whenever a foul is called against her) she rarely agrees with the ref. When Dolson has the ball, she's going to post up hard on Greene. Greene has been going straight up on this type of offense to prevent personals. She wants to Dolson to drive into her or fadeaway, which would constitute legal defense. But if Dolson can nail the acting gig to an extent, the refs are going to side with her and call the foul on Greene. In conclusion, there's going to be a certain aspect of luck involved in keeping Greene on the floor. But it's essential for Penn State to maximize her minutes.
It’s no secret that Connecticut coach Geno Auriemma is about as quotable as they come.
We got a taste of that at Saturday’s press conference.
Actually, a taste might be an understatement.
A reporter asked Auriemma (whom I honestly feel like I should refer to as “Geno” because he’s so down to earth and has a Philadelphian accent) if he used his 58th birthday this past Friday to reevaluate where his life stands, like the rest of us might do. The reporter wanted to know if Auriemma still enjoys his job as much as he used to 10 years ago.
It was a loaded question, and a bit disarming considering the magnitude of Connecticut’s upcoming game against the Lady Lions on Sunday.
So was Auriemma’s long-winded and pensive answer.
It starts a little slow, but gets better. Here’s the gem, as unedited as I could make it. Enjoy.
Here, there’s laughter from the media as Auriemma examines the name card in front of him to make sure it wasn’t facing us the wrong way.
“No, the reason I did that was because it’s upside-down on my end, so I thought they weren’t saying anything because they didn’t care.
“Nah, I really don’t do that. I’m normal, you know? In a sense that I’m like everybody else. I think when you get to reflect a little bit on where you are and what you’ve done and how long you’ve been doing it, you do naturally question if this is still what you want to be doing. Do you still get the same enjoyment out of it that you used to? Are you still having the same impact on the players that you used to have or that you want to have? Do you still get the same response that you want to get?
“You know, I really don’t…I’ve never been one to think that much about the future. And I’ve not generally been one to look at the past and think that that should be an indicator of anything that’s gonna happen in the future, other than that I’m lucky. And I just continue to think that I’ll always be lucky. That’s the one thing that I’ve kind of held on to. But I don’t get to an age, really, and start to do that self-evaluation thing that people talk about and take stock of my life and all of that.
“I was playing with my grandson the other day and I just said, ‘Boy, I wonder…We’re looking at buying a playscape for him, you know, and there’s all these elaborate things that you can get. You know, they have these forts, you know, and a slide, and nine swings, and this thing you climb up on, and I’m saying to myself, ‘Man. Whatever happened to when you had a tree and a rock, and you find a way to amuse yourself all day with a tree and a rock?’ Things have changed a lot in 40 or 50 years for me. But, other than that, I don’t really worry too much about the basketball part of it or any of that stuff.”
The reporter then asked if coaching a 17-year old freshman girl, for instance, is different now than it was then.
“I have less patience for these guys now than I did when I was 30-something. I used to try and see things from their standpoint, and now I’m like a lot of old people - they [that is, old people] don’t really give a s--- about anybody but themselves. Have you ever been to a place where I’m giving out autographs? There’ll be, like, nine 8-year-olds in line to get an autograph and some 75-year old will just knock them all over and go, ‘Hey, get out of my way. I want an autograph,’ to get an autograph. And just bulldoze those little kids. Because you know? ‘I’m 75, and you got the rest of your life to wait for that [gosh darn] autograph. So get out of my way.’
“It’s the same thing when they’re driving, or they’re in the store. So I’m getting to an age where I have less patience for these guys. If I say do this, then do it! Don’t look at me, like ‘why?’ When I was 35, I would say, ‘OK, here is why we want to do this.’
“So I guess the difference is, I have less patience and they have less attention span. That’s not a good combination, you know? I’m trying to teach them to have better concentration for longer periods of time and they’re testing my patience.”
And that just about does it for Auriemma’s legendary rant.
Maggie Lucas and UConn guard Caroline Doty both went to Germantown Academy in high school and they are both really good friends. Here are some of their thoughts on playing each other tomorrow.
Lucas on her relationship with Doty...
Me and Caroline, we’re both close. She was great to play with. She was an awesome teammate. We stay in touch. I had a text from her after the [LSU] game congratulating us, saying ‘I’m looking forward to seeing you.’ I’m excited to play against her, but once you get on the court, it’s just another opponent. I think her [trick shot video] is probably better, but I’m coming up with a new one. We’ve actually started working on one together.
Lucas on their pranking lifestyle...
We had prank wars. Somehow I would get a cake thrown in my face and I would get in trouble with my coach. We would cause a little trouble.
Doty on seeing Lucas again...
It’s going to be great. We worked out over the summer together, shooting and being in the gym. We were on the court running and stuff. We would go out to lunch after our workout. To see both of us in the Sweet-16, it’s awesome.
Doty on what they did in high school...
We ran track together. We both shot put. We’d go out to track and throw the shot together. Then we’d go to the gym and shoot some hoops. We’d have these prank wars that were just a riot. It would make going to school everyday so much fun.
Doty on playing against her friend and former teammate...
It’s going to fun. We’ll probably have our smirks here and there during the game. But we have our fun off the court. It’s all business on the court.
Indiana jumped out to a lead with a 7-run second inning, and the Hoosiers cruised to a 14-2 win against the Penn State baseball team.
The Lions were one out away from escaping the second inning with a scoreless tie, but seven consecutive Indiana batters reached base with six hits and one walk.
John Walter took the loss for Penn State, but he gave the Nittany Lions five innings after a rough second inning. He allowed eight runs total, and seven of them were earned runs.
Even though Walter settled down in the next three innings, the Hoosiers’ offense did not let up as the game continued. After tacking on one run in the fourth and sixth innings, the Hoosiers put a 5-spot on the scoreboard in the seventh inning to grab a 14-1 lead.
Penn State scored its first run on a double by Joey Debernardis in the fourth inning with no outs. Debernardis advanced to third on an error, but he was stranded there after the next three batters failed to score him.
Sean Deegan added another run on a solo home run in the bottom of the seventh inning. It was Deegan’s first of the season.
Those were the only bright spots for Penn State, but the team will try to quickly forget the loss when they take the field again on Saturday.
“It’s baseball,” coach Robbie Wine said. “We just talked about this, you flush this one … I wasn’t happy with our offense and making adjustments.”
Other than the two runs for Penn State, everything went Indiana’s way. The Lions also struggled defensively, as the team committed three errors in the loss.
As the weekend continues, Wine said the team needs to work on its situational hitting in order to improve.
“We’ve got to do a better job of putting balls in play when we need to,” he said.
Despite losing a set in EIVA play for the first time this season, it was business as usual for the Penn State men’s volleyball team.
The No. 8 Nittany Lions defeated NJIT for the second time this year, winning the match 3-1 (25-15, 25-21, 22-25, 25-20.)
With the win, the Lions moved to 15-3 on the season and 8-0 in the EIVA.
The Lions played a strong defensive game recording 26 digs. Connor Curry once again was a strong presence on the floor, leading the team in digs with 13.
The Highlanders made Penn State earn the victory tonight. When the Lions appeared on the verge of putting the match away at several points in the game, NJIT would make a little run to close the gap.
After the Lions got out hot and cruised to an easy first-set victory, NJIT stayed close. The Highlanders didn’t trail by more than four in the second set and were able to win a back-and-forth third set that saw five lead changes.
After losing the third set the Lions replaced junior Tom Comfort and senior Ryan Wolf, with regular starters Nick Goodell and Peter Russell which allowed the Lions to close out the game.
Redshirt senior Joe Sunder led the way offensively for Penn State. He had a big night with 19 kills on .441 hitting.
Penn State coach Mark Pavlik said the team didn’t pass the ball well but he was pleased with its defensive effort.
It was Penn State’s first visit to NJIT in three seasons so Pavlik said the team had to get adjusted to the gym.
The Lions resume action tomorrow night when they travel to Rutgers-Newark for a 7 p.m. match.
The Penn State men's volleyball team is on the road again this weekend in North Jersey. It faces NJIT tonight and Rutgers-Newark tomorrow. Here are our bold predictions for the weekend.
Player of the weekend: Nick Goodell
Bold prediction for NJIT match: Look for redshirt freshman Nick Goodell to jump out of his three-match midseason slump. Although he’s hit under .200 in three straight matches (including a sub-.100 performance at St. Francis), I predict the opposite to come out with avengence and hit over .500 vs. NJIT, as he gets back into a groove this weekend.
Bold prediction for Rutgers-Newark match: Setter Eddie Goas will tally three kills. Although, as the main distributor on the team, he’s averaged just 1.18 kills per match, he’s increased this average as the year has gone on. Surprising defenses with a second-touch attack is used by West Coast setters often. Watch for Goas to attempt kills more and more as the year goes on.
Player of the weekend: Peter Russell
Russell missed last week’s game against Saint Francis due to suspension and will be eager to get back on the floor and make an impact.
Bold Prediction for NJIT: The Nittany Lions will lose a set. Yes, I said it. Penn State will lose a set in EIVA action for the first time this year. My guess is it will be in the third when the Lions have removed some of their starters. NJIT nearly won the third set against Penn State but the Lions made a late comeback to win 25-23.
Bold Prediction for Rutgers-Newark: The Lions will set a season high in blocks. Blocking has been an issue all season for Penn State and against a team like Rutgers-Newark that has smaller middle hitters, they should really have no problem getting blocks. Rutger-Newark has three players that stand six-foot-five. I expect freshman Aaron Russell to continue his strong play and have a big game blocking the ball. Penn State had 7.5 blocks against Rutgers-Newark when they met at Rec Hall earlier this season.
The Lions’ season high is currently at 11.5 blocks which they recorded against Mount Olive on Feb. 3 so I don’t think 12 or 13 is out of the question.
Player of the weekend: Nick Goodell
After some struggles over the past two weeks Goodell will return to form against weaker EIVA competition
Bold Prediction for NJIT: No service errors through the first set.
The Lions have been up and down with their serving, but started out well last week opening with a 6-0 run. Solid serving from Nick Turkoand Edgardo Goas will set the pace early for a good serving match for the Lion's.
Bold Prediction for Rutgers-Newark: Over .500 hitting percentage for the team.
Last time the Lions took on Rutgers-Newark, they hit an astounding .475. They will step it up a level after already seeing this team and will hit above .500 in each set.
No. 1 Connecticut (31-4, 13-3 Big East), whom the Lady Lions will be playing in the Sweet Sixteen on Sunday in Kingston, RI., are one of the three or four best teams in women’s basketball, and that’s not a point that can be argued.
And here are the many reasons why.
- They haven’t been ranked lower than fourth in the nation in any of this year’s 19 AP Polls.
- They’ve defeated a whopping ten ranked teams this season, including wins over then-No. 3 Stanford, No. 5 Duke, and No. 3 Notre Dame by an average margin of 10.7 points. Their four losses have come to teams that are at least a No. 3 seed in the NCAA Tournament. By comparison, the Lady Lions have defeated six ranked teams, with the highest-ranked one of them then-No. 9 Ohio State.
- You know the saying “defense wins championships”? Well, UConn has a lot of that. They’ve held opponents to 45.7 points per game, the best number in the game. The nearest team in a major conference to that number? South Carolina, which frankly isn’t close at 50.4.
- UConn has the best scoring margin in basketball at plus-30.7. Consider how tough their Big East schedule was this year (4th in RPI). Now consider that the team with the second-best scoring margin is undefeated Baylor at a full 3 points away (plus-27.7). Oh yeah this all means they have the 7th-best points per game number in basketball at 76.4.
- The coach of the Huskies is kind of a big deal. Some guy named Geno Auriemma. He has seven national championships under his belt, including three in a row from 2002-04, and six Coach of the Year awards. His career record of 802-128 gives him the best winning percentage among active coaches. He also led the longest active winning streak in the history of college basketball at 88 games, a run that included two straight undefeated seasons.
- Every non-freshman player on Connecticut is coming off a Final Four appearance last year, and all the upperclassmen have fresh memories of national championships in their heads. Meanwhile, no Lady Lion has played in a Sweet Sixteen game, and coach Coquese Washington has never been the head coach of a Sweet Sixteen team.
None of this is to say the Lady Lions have no chance against the Huskies. But boy, oh boy, they have their work cut out for them.
Building on an already impressive year, members of the Penn State women’s
gymnastics team pulled in some hardware before even leaving for the Big Ten
Tied for second in the conference, the nationally-ranked No. 12 squad totaled
three gymnasts worthy of All-Big Ten honors this season.
Junior standout Sharaya Musser was the only Lions selected on the All-Big
Ten First Team, the third time she has garnered this recognition in her illustrious
In order to make the first team, the gymnast had to be ranked in the top
three of at least one event.
The six-time Big Ten Gymnast of the Week didn’t have any problem completing that criteria. At the end of the regular season, Musser ranked first in conference in the all-around and balance beam, tied for first on floor routine, second on vault, and third on uneven bars.
Two other Nittany Lions, junior Madison Merriam and senior Whitney
Benckso, earned All-Big Ten honors for earning top six overall scores in the
conference in at least one event.
For Merriam, this is the second time receiving this recognition, earning
All-Big Ten second team in 2011. The junior has been consistent all year long,
especially on floor (4th in conference) and vault (7th in conference).
Senior leader Whitney Bencsko captured her second All-Big Ten second
team honor after earning her first as a freshman. This season Bencsko
has competed in the all-around in all of her meets, finishing in the top five nine
After a brutal 3-14 road record to begin the year, the Penn State baseball team got its home schedule off on the right foot on Wednesday with a 5-3 win over Pittsburgh at Medlar Field.
Senior corner infielder Jordan Steranka had quite a game, going 4-4 with a three-run bomb in the first and three singles. The homer was his third of the season.
Senior pitcher Mike Franklin, making his second spot start of the season, danced in and out of trouble but picked up his first win. Franklin allowed 11 baserunners on five hits and six walks through 5.2 innings, but limited the damage to three runs. He struck out three and threw 101 pitches.
Lefties Greg Welsh and Casey Kulina shut down the Panthers (10-8) for the final 3.1 innings of the game, and Kulina picked up his second career save.
Penn State improved to 4-14 with the win. Next up is a three-game home series against Indiana this weekend.
After a first half of the season where the top team in NCAA men’s volleyball changed weekly, UC Irvine has asserted itself as the top squad in the land.
After two more MPSF victories, the Anteaters are 14-3 within the best conference in the country.
The rest of the top five teams are also from the MPSF and remain contenders to win it all in May. I expect the MPSF tournament winner to become the No. 1 seed in the Final Four and I also see the at-large bid coming from this conference, likely becoming No. 2.
Next in the rankings is MIVA-leading Lewis, a suprising standout so far this year. Owner of Penn State’s first defeat this year, Lewis is primed to make a run in this year’s Final Four, but will have to win the conference tourney of the competitive MIVA first. If Lewis wins the end-of-year tournament, this team will likely receive the No. 3 seed in the Final Four barring any major changes to the rankings.
Penn State remains at No. 8 in this week’s rankings after a 3-0 sweep of lowly St. Francis. It will likely take a win at one of Penn State’s two matches at No. 4 BYU next month for the Nittany Lions to rise back up the totem pole.
In the grand scheme of things, Penn State will probably have to jump Lewis in the rankings to get anything other than the No. 4 seed in the Final Four (unless Lewis loses in the MIVA tournament). This is huge because having to tackle the No. 1 overall seed in the tournament is a tall task to say the least.
Here are the up-to-date rankings:
1 UC Irvine (16) 18-3
2 Southern California 15-4
3 UCLA 19-4
4 BYU 17-4
5 Stanford 14-5
6 Lewis 18-4
7 Pepperdine 11-10
8 Penn State 14-3
9 Long Beach State 10-11
10 Ohio State 13-7
As the men’s volleyball team approaches the stretch run of its regular season, it will be increasingly important for Penn State to consistently succeed. This must take place both for the team overall but also for players on an individual basis.
Recent matches have been highlighted by some players statistically on the rise; however, other players have been experiencing midseason slumps.
Listed below are three players in each of these two categories.
1. Joe Sunder
The fifth-year senior was named the EIVA offensive player of the week after carrying the Nittany Lions to a 3-0 sweep of St. Francis on Saturday. He absolutely recovered from a rough West Coast trip the weekend before, tallying a team-high 13 kills on a hitting percentage of .500 against the Red Flash.
2. Aaron Russell
Although often times riding under the radar, this true freshman has been a true example of consistency throughout the year. Russell demonstrated his offensive prowess against the Red Flash on Saturday, having a hitting percentage of 1.000, hitting a perfect eight-for-eight in the match.
3. Nick Turko
Turko has recently been excelling in all facets of his game. In the St. Francis match he had three kills, hitting .500, but left his mark more so in blocking and serving. The junior played a part in four of Penn State’s seven blocks, and also helped the team jump out to a 6-0 lead with three aces early in the match. After his four-ace match, Turko is now fourth in the country in serving, averaging .46 aces per set.
1. Nick Goodell
The redshirt freshman has certainly been experiencing a mid-year slump of late. After hitting a team-leading .381 in the first 14 matches of the season, Goodell has averaged less than two kills per set in the past three matches, having a hitting percentage of just .154. In the St. Francis match, Goodell hit under .100 for the first time all season (7/21 with five errors).
2. Jace Olsen
Olsen got a great chance to prove himself in the St. Francis match when he was given the start due to a team-rule violation by Peter Russell, the usual starter. Unfortunately, the sophomore came up short in this one with just five kills on 14 swings, leading to a sub-par hitting percentage of .071. Furthermore, Olsen added four of the team’s 10 serving errors.
3. Penn State’s EIVA opponents
In Penn State’s seven EIVA matches so far this year, the Lions are 7-0. That doesn’t even begin to tell the story of how superior Penn State is to its conference opponents. Penn State has averaged an impressive hitting percentage of .391 in route to seven straight sweeps in EIVA play. So yeah, it’s safe to say Penn State’s conference opponents are, collectively, "down".
With much occurring in the world of Pennsylvania sports this past weekend, men’s volleyball coach Mark Pavlik, a true sports fan at heart, had much to discuss with the Daily Collegian’s three volleyball reporters during our weekly meeting today.
First on tap was a discussion concerning the incredible finish of the Flyers/Penguins NHL game on Sunday that the Flyers won with a goal in overtime with .9 seconds remaining.
Pavlik, a die-hard Pens fan, texted the three of us, all Philly natives, about the great game as soon as it ended in an attempt to “wave the white flag,” he said. (We still gave him a hard time nonetheless.)
Although he was disappointed with the Penguins’ gut-wrenching loss, Pavlik said he would look forward to a first-round playoff matchup between the two teams: one that he sees as a definite possibility given the current standings.
Next, we asked Pavlik how he felt about the Penn State wrestling team earning the national championship this past weekend in St. Louis.
He was visibly overjoyed by the topic and looked forward to congratulating head coach Cael Sanderson upon his arrival back in his Rec Hall office.
Here are some of his thoughts:
“Our Rec Hall mates are doing great. I think the world of that wrestling staff and all the guys that I’ve met on our way down South gym when they’re heading down to practice. Just great guys. I’m really impressed with what they’ve done back-to-back. It’s what Penn State is all about.”
“I’m thrilled. I was trying to have my Twitter on for [Wrestling SID] Pat Donghia’s tweets.”
“I’m so happy for those guys. It’s so cool.”
Elsewhere, the topic of March Madness naturally came up and we discussed how Scoop Jardine has been carrying Syracuse so far. Pavlik has a personal attachment to this player for one main reason.
“Is there a better name than Scoop?” Pavlik said, quite seriously.
“That’s the nickname that can be used in any field. You can be a Scoop in Journalism!”
After jokingly saying I wanted to name my kid this, Pavlik said: “I know! That’s why I told Heather, ‘Next pet we get is gonna be named Scoop.’”
Lastly, on a more serious note, Pavlik expressed his wish for the NCAA men’s volleyball tournament to be expanded from the Final Four to an eight-team tournament.
“There always has been talk [of it].”
Pavlik expects there to be more serious talk of expansion when the Conference Carolinas applies for an automatic bid in the tournament in 2014.
He also thinks another conference, the Big West, could come together in the next few years.
“[Expansion of the tournament] will be especially better for these [smaller conferences]. Not just EIVA, but Conference Carolinas also.”
Pavlik thinks it would be better for the sport because promoting expansion at the NCAA tournament would thus be promoting the expansion of the sport overall.
UTEP is no slouch, but they aren’t in the Lady Lions’ echelon. I think the Lady Lions will start off a little slowly, but lead by about six at halftime and go on to win. Watch out for Maggie Lucas; she’s as motivated as she’s ever been right now. Twenty points is not an unreasonable expectation. Also, Nikki Greene and Mia Nickson might end up having an Ohio State redux, as they match up really well with UTEP’s bigs. This one shouldn’t be a problem for the Lady Lions.
Aaron Dunlevy- 71-57 Penn State
I think we'll see a big performance from Ariel Edwards. She has 10+ points and makes an immediate impact. Also, look for Nikki Greene to have a strong first half performance en route to a double-double.
Dan Norton- 84-66 Penn State
Look for a high-scoring, fast-pace game where both teams try to take advantage of their opportunities in transition. I don't think there will be a lot of offensive play calling. However, I think the Lady Lions will win this one because they are just a more talented team. Alex Bentley thrives in transitions opportunities, so this could be a huge assist day for her finding Maggie Lucas on the outside for open 3's. However, I said this before, but history is not in the Lady Lions' favor. Their last away tournament game came against Liberty. They were a No. 4 seed and Liberty was a No. 13, and Penn State lost. However, now Penn State has a different coach and an entirely different team.
UTEP is short for the University of Texas at El Paso
The Penn State - University Park campus is located approximately 1,507 miles from the Mexican border. The UTEP campus is located approximately 1,507 feet from the Mexican border.
In case you didn't know UTEP's mascot, they are the Miners, represented by the one and only Paydirt Pete.
UTEP has played one major conference opponent all season, losing to Arizona State 47-45.
UTEP's best player is senior forward Gloria Brown. Brown hasn't started a game all season. She averages less than 20 minutes per game. However, she leads the Miners in total points, blocks, steals and rebounds. According to UTEP coach Keitha Adams, Brown is just more comfortable coming off the bench.
UTEP has three players on its roster from Latvia and a fourth from France. Keitha Adams has recruiting connections overseas through her Polish assistant coach Ewa Laskowska. There have been five international Lady Lions in the program's history: Pia Edinson (1986) from Sweden, Em Clements (1997-98) and Melanie Croser (2003-04) from Australia, Burcu Turan (2003), and Romana Vynuchalova (2005-06) from Slovakia.
UTEP is a team that runs up and down the court in transition. This is also Alex Bentley's preferred offense, so it could be a quick tempo game with less set plays than usual.
The film Glory Road chronicles Texas Western's (now known as UTEP) journey to the 1966 NCAA men's basketball championship as it fielded the first all-black starting lineup NCAA history. Part of this movie was filmed in none other than Baton Rouge, La.
The Lady Lions took some time off Saturday to stroll the streets of New Orleans.
The Lady Lions are not allowed to eat Louisiana gumbo this weekend. It messes with their diets for some reason.
UTEP will play 15 players deep Sunday. Penn State will play 10, and the Lions are the healthiest they've been all season.
Ariel Edwards is cleared to play. Both Washington and Edwards said they wouldn't be surprised if there was some rust, though. Her first full practice didn't come until after they arrived in Baton Rouge.
Penn State hasn't played an NCAA Tournament game on the road since 2005, when the Lady Lions lost to Liberty in College Park, Md., 78-70. Penn State was the No. 4 seed that day. Liberty was No. 13. Coquese Washington was an assistant coach at Notre Dame during that time.
In case you didn't already know this, Coquese Washington is a lawyer. She earned her Juris Doctor from Notre Dame law school is 1997. On a random note, click here to watch a (heavily edited) video of Coquese's son interviewing her about last season, courtesy of the Lady Lion basketball official Youtube channel. Psh, I'm a better reporter than that guy.
The Nittany Lions experienced a home atmosphere away from home Saturday night.
Penn State enjoyed strong fan support for their away match against EIVA opponent St. Francis, they swept the Red Flash 3-0 (). With the win, Penn State continued their undefeated streak in the EIVA, Penn State has also not lost a set to any of their conference opponents.
Although not hitting their best early on, the Lion’s controlled the match through their service game. The Lions hit nine aces throughout the match and were able to build streaks through their exceptional serve placement. Nick Turko opened the match with three aces and Penn State began on a 6-0 run.
“I knew we were going to be back to our serving as soon as Turko ripped off five or six in a row to begin the match,” said redshirt senior Joe Sunder. “That’s a huge confidence boost, takes a little bit off every other part of the game and we can focus on other things a little bit more.”
After experiencing their first losing streak of the year after facing Pepperdine and USC last weekend, the Lions were able to come back and set a tone that they would not their struggles keep them down.
There were a couple times we let the ball get away from us a little bit, but much better than last weekend,” Sunder said. “We can definitely get better.”
Fan support played a part in Penn State’s momentum. A relatively short distance from Penn State’s campus (64 miles) the St. Francis stands were filled nearly half way with Nittany Lions’ fans. The fans at one point started a “Thunder Sunder” chant cheering on Sunder after a streak of three straight aces. The Penn State fans gave a standing ovation to their team on the match point, which was won after a St. Francis hitting error.
“We had enough Penn Staters and our fans make the trip to kind of balance things out,” head coach Mark Pavlik said. “On top of that, the way we started with Nick [Turko]’s run to start off the game with his serving really put them on their heels to begin with and they never really recovered.”
Top performers for Penn State included Aaron Russell with 8 kills and a perfect hitting percentage, as well as the dominant Sunder who provided 13 kills on .500 hitting along with the three aces. Starter Peter Russell sat out of the game due to a “violation of team rules” according to Pavlik.
The confidence of the Lions along with their physicality allowed them to dominate over the weaker Red Flash, frustrating St. Francis’s head coach Mike Rumbaugh
“It’s team mentalilty, Penn State comes out knowing their going to win and we think we can win but still in the back of our mind, it’s Penn State,” said Rumbaugh. “I think the first eight points for Penn State were total mentality.
The Lions continue action next week against another pair of EIVA opponents NJIt and Rutgers-Newark.
Penn State actually is one of the best three teams in this region, despite being a No. 4 seed. The Lady Lions, along with No. 1 Connecticut and No. 2 Kentucky, are all major threats. What even needs to be said about Geno Auriemma’s Connecticut squad? Year in and year out, the Huskies are a major national championship threat, and things are no different this time along. The Huskies have four losses, but all four have come to either Notre Dame, Baylor or St. John’s (two No. 1 seeds and No. 3 seed). They have the best defense in basketball (allowing 45.7 points per game), and the best scoring margin by far, at plus-30.6 (Notre Dame is second at plus-27.5). Consider that they posted that number playing in the Big East, basketball’s best conference, and you should be impressed. Kentucky, meanwhile, has a nice resume too. They finished the regular season 25-6, with all but one of those losses coming to an NCAA Tournament team. Finally, perhaps it’s because I’ve seen much more of them than No. 3 seed Miami, but I put the Lady Lions as the third-best team in this region simply because of their explosive offense (eighth in the NCAA; 75.5 points per game). They’ve also lost a few games mainly because of injuries. Now fully healthy, I expect them to win at least two games.
In the Big Ten
There are seven Big Ten teams in the tournament, but Penn State is the only one in this region.
I’ll go with No. 6 Rutgers here. They have the 13th-highest RPI in basketball, better than No. 4 and 5 seeds PSU and LSU. They were a bit forgotten about in the college world after a brutal four game losing streak in the beginning of February, but they managed to finish the regular season 22-9 and 10-6 in the Big East. They haven’t defeated any of basketball’s elite teams, but they had the toughest schedule of any No. 6 seed and are battle-tested.
Connecticut, of course, who loses to Baylor in my Championship. Their resume and experience is simply too much to ignore.
I think there are a handful of upset specials in the Raleigh regional first round, but I’ll get to those in a bit. No. 1 Notre Dame, No. 2 Maryland, and No. 3 Texas A&M all seem to be safe. The Fighting Irish are coming off a strong season in the Big East with only three losses. Their offense is sparked by the well-balanced attack of speedy point guard Skylar Diggins. What makes Diggins so dangerous is she can do it all. The junior is closing in on 100 boards, and she leads the team with 189 helpers and 17 points per game. The Irish’s losses come to Baylor and UConn, and one less-excusable to West Virginia. But that last one may have been a fluke because Notre Dame crushed the Mountaineers in the Big East Tournament. Maryland owns Delaware’s sole loss this season, but the Terps’ schedule wasn’t mind-bogglingly difficult. Their only other significant win came against Duke, and they split the season-series with the Blue Devils. After an easy matchup with Navy in the first round, it gets much harder for the Terps. The NCAA Tournament is where they will prove how long they can balance on the edge of a cliff. Texas A&M is the defending champ, but at 22-10, the Aggies aren’t the team they were last year. They are poised to stumble at any point after the first round. However, they may show a hunger to defend their title that leads them into the late rounds of the tournament.
In the Big Ten
No. 9 Iowa finished off the regular season on fire, but did not impress in the Big Ten Tournament. I think the Hawkeyes have gone cold, and I don’t expect them to beat No. 8 Cal in the first round. No. 10 Michigan State, on the other hand, I believe is favorably seeded. The Spartans have four wins in nine attempts against the AP top-25. Taylor Alton and her ability to make 3’s is the key for this Spartans team down the stretch. When Alton is on fire beyond the arc, she has the ability to at least keep Michigan State in a game, and oftentimes win it (as Penn State knows all too well).
No. 6 Arkansas has a very favorable draw in a bracket not characterized by many super-strong 2- or 3- seeds. The Razorbacks are looking at potential matchups with Texas A&M and Maryland, both of which are completely beatable. Also keep an eye out for No. 5 St. Bonaventure at the top of this of regional. Beating Notre Dame would be an upset of epic proportions, but as we’ve seen in the men’s tournament, it’s about which team shows up to play. With some questionable high seeded major conference teams in this bracket, watch out for the strong mid-majors this year.
Who will win?
Notre Dame, but I don’t think it will be easy. There are some good middle-seeded teams in this region of the bracket, and some of them may have the element of surprise. Still, Notre Dame is the one and only powerhouse of this regional, and at least in this season of NCAA women’s basketball, there is a large gap between the powerhouses and everyone else.
Fresno is the least top-heavy of the regions. Arguments could be made for more than three teams to be placed in its top three but I’ll go with the top three seeds, Stanford, Duke and St. John’s. The Stanford Cardinal has only lost one game this season, and it was to fellow No. 1 seed Connecticut. They are led by the owner of the best name in basketball, 6-2 F Nnemkadi Ogwumike (21.8 points per game), and she’s the type of player that can carry a team. The only knock on Stanford is they’ve only defeated two ranked teams this season and come from a very weak Pac-12 conference. Still, their RPI is second in the NCAA. Duke doesn’t have a star, but they just don’t lost very often. With a plus-19.6 scoring margin in the regular season (7th in the NCAA), the Blue Devils can ball; the question is how far they can go without a star player. Meanwhile, St. John’s has quite an accomplishment under their belt this season. On Feb. 18, the Red Storm defeated Connecticut in Bridgeport, snapping the Huskies’ 99-game home winning streak. With six ranked wins to boast, this Big East team could be a major sleeper. After all, President Obama has them in his Elite Eight.
In the Big Ten
No. 4 Purdue and No. 11 Michigan represent the Big Ten in the Fresno region. Purdue, who won the Big Ten Tournament, has a very solid defense and has shown that they can hang with the best of them. They defeated Texas A&M when they were ranked No. 4 in the country and knocked off the Lady Lions in the Big Ten Championship when they were No. 9. Michigan, on the other hand, hand their fingers crossed on Selection Monday. They snuck into the tournament as a No. 11 seed, and get a tough draw with No. 6 seed Oklahoma. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if Purdue makes it to the finals of this region, but Michigan is probably going to lose in the first round.
A No. 4 seed making a run probably wouldn’t qualify as a Cinderella story, so let’s talk surprises here. Purdue, which only allows 58.5 points per game, has shown that they can handle the better teams in the league. Their possible Sweet Sixteen matchup would be a game against Stanford, who hasn’t really shown that. In this region, there are several teams that could make a run, but I think Purdue has a good shot.
I won’t go with Stanford, mainly because the chances of four No. 1 seeds making the Final Four are slim and they have the worst chance of the four. I’m following the lead of Obama and picking St. John’s. They’re a hot team, having won nine of their last ten. They match up well with Duke and Stanford. Maybe there’s a little Big East bias involved but there’s just a good chance of this happening as Stanford or Duke winning the region.
125-pounds - Nico Megaludis - Win by decision, 7-4
In terms of giving his team momentum, Megaludis has been absolutely fantastic in his first three NCAA matches. In his third match on Friday morning, the true freshman stunned the 125-pound No. 2 seed Zach Sanders in one of the day’s first matches. Megaludis avenged two losses to the Minnesota senior earlier in the season to become an All-American and a semifinalist. If Megaludis can pull one more upset, he’ll find himself wrestling in Saturday’s final.
133-pounds - Frank Martellotti - Loss by major decision, 19-9 (Consolation bout)
Martellotti did a good job to win his first consolation match and give himself a chance to wrestle on the second day, but his tournament life did not last much longer. Martellotti fell behind big in the first period, but to the sophomore’s credit, he stayed tough and scored some points to stay in the match. In his first NCAA tournament, he finished 1-2, and he was able to give Penn State some help in the team standings before being eliminated.
149-pounds - Frank Molinaro - Win by major Decision, 10-2
On Thursday night, Molinaro fought in his closest match of the season, and he squeaked out a 6-5 win. He wrestled with a wrapped knee on Friday, an indication that he injured it during Thursday’s last match. Even with the wrap, Molinaro rebounded to wrestle like his dominant self, and the senior became Penn State’s fifth four-time All-American. And with Oklahoma State’s Jamal Parks losing in another quarter Friday (Parks was the No. 2 seed at 149-pounds and was also undefeated), Molinaro’s path to a title got a little easier.
157-pounds - Dylan Alton - Loss by decision, 3-1
Another match against Derek St. John, and another overtime. In the Big Ten and NCAA tournaments, Alton and St. John have met, and St. John has walked away with 3-1 overtime wins each time. Alton just missed a takedown early in overtime and it led to a counter shot from his Iowa opponent. Alton may not have reached the semifinals, but he can still gain All-American status with a win tonight, and the redshirt freshman could make a push for third place in the tournament’s final day.
165-pounds - David Taylor - Win by fall (0:30)
In his first two matches, Taylor recorded pins about two minutes into the first period. He didn’t feel like waiting that long on Friday. He grabbed his opponent for a standing cradle and quickly brought him to the ground to record a pin at the 30 second mark. Taylor has the advantage of being fresh and rested since out of a possible 21 minutes on the mat in three matches, Taylor has been on the mat for just four minutes.
174-pounds - Ed Ruth - Win by decision, 11-4
The pin streak ended when Ruth wrestled in the 174-pound quarterfinal, but he still worked his way to an easy win. Ruth actually allowed an early reversal as he was working for a turn, and that tied the match 2-2. Ruth then escaped and never gave up the lead. Of the four wrestlers remaining at 174-pounds, three are undefeated, but fortunately for Ruth, he can only face one of them in a potential final. Ruth gets Storley of Minnesota, who Ruth has beaten twice this season, in the semifinals.
184-pounds - Quentin Wright - Win by fall (2:35)
The defending national champion Wright seems to be getting stronger with every match. He used a powerful burst to secure a first period takedown and Wright took control. After Wright got on top, he secured three near fall points but just missed getting the pin. Wright kept pushing, however, and he turned his opponent again and finally got the call. Wright has a tough semifinal opponent in Robert Hamlin of Lehigh, but Wright is more than capable of getting another win to make the final.
197-pounds - Morgan McIntosh - Loss by decision, 8-3 (Consolation bout)
A promising season for the true freshman ended in disappointing fashion, as McIntosh lost his final two NCAA matches and was sent home early. Based on the grimace on McIntosh’s face after he was taken down for the last time, his knee is not fully healed. He may have been healthy enough to wrestle, but the knee injury ultimately derailed what was still an impressive freshman campaign. He will learn from the experience and be ready to make some noise at 197-pounds next season.
Heavyweight - Cameron Wade - Loss by decision, 7-0
Facing the No. 3 heavyweight seed, Wade never got his offensive game going. The senior will still have a chance to become an All-American with a win tonight, and falling short would be a disappointing end for Wade. Last season, Wade found himself in the quarterfinals, one win away from All-American status, but he got hurt and lost that match. He wrestled in the consolation match after and lost that as well. This season, Wade is still healthy and he will look to finish strong and possibly make a push for third place.
The Des Moines Regional might be the deepest in the NCAA Tournament, and I have all the favorites making it through the first round. With Baylor, Tennessee and Delaware as the top three seeds, respectively, there are bound to be some interesting matchups. Baylor has Brittany Griner, one of the most dominant players in women’s basketball history. At 6-foot-8, she has completely marginalized every player who has tried to defend her. For your viewing enjoyment, click here to watch her dunk at around 55 seconds in. Tennessee has been far from top form this season, and it’s odd that they are a No. 2-seed with eight losses, four of which to unranked teams. Still, coach Pat Summit is a seasoned veteran when it comes to tournament play, so you can never count her team out of contention. Delaware plays in mid-major conference, but the Blue Hens have earned their No. 3-seed. Elena Delle Donne is the most valuable player in the country, as the Hens' entire team is built around her success. At 6-foot-5, she is Dirk Nowitzki of women’s basketball. She leads the country with 27.5 points per game, not to mention she shoots 40 percent from 3-point land. Because of her versatility on the court, she may be even harder to guard than Griner.
In the Big Ten
No. 6 Nebraska and No. 8 Ohio State are both unfortunately seeded, as they are each likely to be fighting for their tournament lives in the round of 32. Assuming the favorites win the first round, Nebraska will face off against Delaware on Tuesday. I think Delaware will win this game, but Nebraska is an extremely talented team that always has the element of surprise. Jordan Hooper is a similar player to Delle Donne, and it will be fun to watch them go shot for shot. To do that, point guard Lindsey Moore will need to keep the ball moving and span out the Huskers’ attempts. If Delle Donne and Delaware know where the ball is going, the Blue Hens will feast.
No. 8 Ohio State is even worse off, as the Buckeyes are looking Baylor straight in the eye in a potential second-round matchup. I think they should beat No. 9 Florida pretty handily in the first round, however, as the Gators aren’t very impressive on paper and the Buckeyes are essentially playing a home game in Bowling Green, Ohio. But if they draw Baylor, home-state advantage shouldn’t do them any good. Stopping Brittany Griner in the paint would be a near-impossible task for the Buckeyes. Their only player tall enough to do it is 6-foot-5 Ashley Adams, and she is one of the slowest players in the conference. Griner should have no trouble scoring on her.
Penn State fans will hate me for doing this, but No. 7 DePaul. The Blue Demons are looking at a potential matchup with Tennessee in the second round following their infamous second round victory in Happy Valley last year. I don’t think this is the Lady Volunteers’ year, and the Blue Demons should be ready to pounce on that. Don’t expect the them make an extensive run in this tournament, but remember they play in the stacked Big East Conference, not to mention they’ve beaten a very good St. John’s team by 17 points.
Baylor. It’s an easy pick. I think the Lady Bears will stroll to Denver, even if they end up facing Delaware. Women’s basketball fans would drool to watch Delle Donne face-off with Griner, but a game like that would come down to the supporting casts, and Baylor wins that matchup every time. Here are the numbers to prove it.
Baylor minus Griner
Delaware minus Delle Donne
**Griner herself has 175 blocks. The entire Delaware team, including Delle Donne, has 121.
125-pounds - Nico Megaludis - Win by major decision, 13-5
It took a couple minutes for the scoring to start, but the true freshman found used two takedowns to gain a 4-2 lead after the first period. After the score doubled to 8-4 in the second, Megaludis stepped up to score four more points plus a point for riding time to secure a bonus team point. The freshman will be an underdog as the No. 10 seed in his next match, but his strong start could give him momentum for an upset.
133-pounds - Frank Martellotti - Loss by Fall (2:07)
Unfortunately for the sophomore, who snagged an automatic bid with a 7th place finish in the Big Ten, Martellotti drew the top seed Jordan Oliver in the first round. After the opening whistle, Martellotti took a quick shot at the leg of Oliver, but was unable to secure a grip. Oliver countered for a takedown, and things went downhill after that. Martellotti was able to fight off Oliver’s attempts at a turn for two minutes, but he could not escape and was eventually pinned. Martellotti will look to rebound tonight in the wrestleback (consolation) bracket.
149-pounds - Frank Molinaro - Win by major Decision, 9-0
It’s hard to lose when you don’t allow any points. The senior started the NCAA tournament the same way he finished all three of his Big Ten wins: with shutouts. Along with not allowing any points, Molinaro amassed 4:27 of riding time, which is more than half the match. He said early in the week that this has been the best he’s wrestled all year, and he continued to show it today.
157-pounds - Dylan Alton - Win by major decision, 12-4
The redshirt freshman saw the scoreboard in the third period, and he saw a ride-out would give him a major decision. So that’s precisely what he did. Alton kept his opponent under control for the majority of the third period until the clock hit zero, and his riding time gave him an 8-point victory. All four points allowed by Alton came from escapes, and if he can score and play defense, he could make some noise in the 157-pound bracket.
165-pounds - David Taylor - Win by fall (1:40)
Why wrestle for the full seven minutes if you don’t have to? At least that’s what David Taylor appeared to be thinking, as he wasted no time in scoring a takedown and turning his opponent for a first period pin. The sophomore remains undefeated and will look to continue winning big as the tournament progresses.
174-pounds - Ed Ruth - Win by fall (1:43)
Ruth stepped on to the same mat Taylor wrestled on just minutes later, and the result was nearly identical. Ruth scored a quick takedown and then pinned his opponent less than two minutes into the match. Ruth will need to continue wrestling well if he wants to finish the season undefeated and claim an individual national championship. Of the eight Division I wrestlers who are currently undefeated, three of them weigh in at 174-pounds.
184-pounds - Quentin Wright - Win by major decision, 11-0
In his final three matches of the Big Ten tournament, Wright didn’t wrestle as well as is capable of, and it resulted in a low scoring loss and two narrow victories. Thursday was a different Wright. His defense was great, as he didn’t allow a single point, and he picked his spot late in the match to score big points. The score was 3-0 entering the third period before a takedown and six near fall points put the match out of reach. If Wright wrestles like that every time, he could be preparing to make another run at a title.
197-pounds - Morgan McIntosh - Win by decision, 9-3
The match appeared to be destined for a low final score, but the final period changed that perception. McIntosh led 3-1 entering the third, but he started the period on top and quickly gained six near fall points. The true freshman should have had an easy major decision, but he got sloppy and allowed a reversal to move the score to 9-3. It was still an impressive victory, but McIntosh will need to be sharp when he faces No. 1 seed, Cam Simaz of Cornell, Thursday night.
Heavyweight - Cameron Wade - Win by technical fall, 17-2 (7:00)
Wade was cruising to a victory in the third period, but the senior then put a scare in hearts of Penn State fans. Wade got taken down and signaled for an injury timeout, and the heavyweight stayed on his back for a couple of minutes. The concern from fans was unnecessary, however, as Wade was merely poked in the eye prior to the takedown. He continued to wrestle and used a last second takedown to earn the tech fall. It’s a strong start for Wade, who will look to continue building momentum in his final tournament.
Former Penn State men’s basketball coach Dick Harter passed away on Monday from cancer at the age of 81.
Harter coached the Nittany Lions for five seasons, from 1979-83, and while at Penn State, Harter compiled a 79-61 record and appeared in the 1980 NIT.
In addition to coaching at Penn State, Harter coached collegiately at Rider, Oregon and Penn and in 18 years of college coaching he finished with a 295-196 record.
After leaving Penn State, Harter, a Pottstown, Pa. native, went on to have many coaching stops in the NBA.
Harter got his start in the NBA as an assistant coach with the Detroit Pistons, and he also was an assistant for the Indiana Pacers, New York Knicks, Portland Trail Blazers, Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers.
When the Charlotte Hornets became an expansion franchise in the NBA in 1998, the team’s front office chose Harter to be its inaugural head coach. But Harter struggled in two and a half seasons at the helm in Charlotte, with the Hornets winning just 23 percent of their games and went back to being an assistant coach in the NBA after leaving Charlotte.
Harter was also a U.S. Marine Corps. Lieutenant and he is in the Philadelphia Big Five Hall of Fame, University of Oregon’s Hall of Fame and the Pennsylvania (Pottstown Chapter) Hall of Fame.
A view from behind as the Lady Lions watched the ESPN Selection Special in the Founders' Room of the Bryce Jordan Center on Monday to see where they would be seeded in the 2012 NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament. The players and coaches celebrate as they learn Penn State will be a No. 4 seed. The Lions will play No. 13-seeded UTEP in Baton Rouge, La., on Sunday at 5:15 p.m. in the first round of the tournament.
It was revealed Monday night that the Lady Lions will be a No. 4 seed in this year’s NCAA Tournament. Coquese Washington’s squad was placed in the East region and will take on No. 13 seed UTEP in the first round in Baton Louge, LA, on Saturday at 5:15.
If the Lady Lions (24-6) can handle UTEP (29-3), they will play either No. 5 LSU or No. 12 San Diego State in the next round. The immediate goal for Penn State is to move on to the Sweet Sixteen, where the regional games will be played in Kingston, RI. The Lady Lions are looking at a potential matchup with perennial powerhouse Connecticut (29-4), the No. 1 seed of the East region.
The Lady Lions were widely expected to be either a No. 3 or No. 4 seed. Though they were projected to be a No. 3 seed in ESPN Bracketologist Charlie Creme’s bracket, they wound up a spot lower.
The No. 1 seeds in this year’s tournament are Connecticut, Notre Dame, Stanford, and undefeated Baylor, who is looking to make history by becoming the first 40-0 team in women’s basketball history. They would have to win the tournament to do so.
The fourth seed represents the highest placement in the tournament under Washington, the fifth-year coach. The Lady Lions have never won a national championship, but they’ve reached eleven Sweet Sixteens and a Final Four in 2000 under former head coach Rene Portland.
To see the entire bracket with game times and locations, click here.
After two tough losses to No. 4 Southern Cal and No. 10 Pepperdine in California last week, the Penn State men’s volleyball team (13-3, 6-0 EIVA) fell to No. 8 in this week’s AVCA Division I-II Coaches’ Poll.
With their wins, USC and Pepperdine moved up in the poll to No. 3 and No. 7 respectively.
There is a new No.1 this week as UC Irvine overtakes UCLA after defeating them in five sets at UCLA on Saturday. You can see the full rankings here.
While the Lions struggled against two elite teams, Connor Curry may have had his best defensive weekend of the season.
Curry recorded seven digs against Pepperdine on Thursday and notched 10 against USC on Friday.
This is the second EIVA Defensive Player of the Week award of the season for Curry, who also won the award on Feb. 20.
Flying to Florida for Spring Break is normally a relaxing trip for many, a chance to take in the Sunshine State's beautiful weather and gorgeous beaches.
But the Penn State men's tennis team had their hands full for their trip, with matches to be played against the Central Florida and Southern Florida. Both schools had struggled to begin their seasons, with records of 4-8 and 3-8 respectively, so Penn State looked for a hopeful Florida sweep.
In the end, the Nittany Lions split their two matches, defeating UCF 5-2 but losing a tight one to USF, 4-3.
The UCF match was a good one for the Lions' No. 29 ranked doubles tandem Russell Bader and Jason Lee continued their hot streak, earning an 8-6 victory in doubles, while senior Taylor Cohen and junior Bryan Welnetz sealed the doubles point with a close 8-5 victory soon after.
The Lions would then go on to take four of the six available singles points. Bader, Lee, Cohen and Welnetz all earned singles victories for Penn State. Aside from a dropped set by Cohen, the other three victors did not drop a single set, showing signs of domination against UCF throughout the afternoon.
"We have been working hard to get the team ready for road and outdoor matches," assistant coach Chris Cagle said. "That hard work seems to have paid off. UCF is a strong team."
Unfortunately, the Lions could not complete the Florida sweep, narrowly losing to USF on Friday, 4-3.
Penn State was able to win the doubles point again (with Lee and Bader earning their 64th doubles win in their careers, moving up to seventh all time on Penn State's list), but were overcome by strong singles play from the South Florida Bulls.
The momentum swung in USF's favor when South Florida's WaelKalani defeated Jason Lee. Kalani won the first set easily, but endured a difficult second set out of Lee that saw a tiebreaker victory. Kalani would finish Lee off in the third set however, winning the match 6-2, 6-7 (7-2), 6-2, tying USF up with Penn State at 2-2.
The remaining three singles matches became an intense affair with the entire match on the line. Welnetz would go down in straight sets to give USF a 3-2 lead, but Bader would not let the Bulls off the hook so easily, defeating his opponent Juan Carlos Acuna in a tough three set match (6-7 (7-5), 6-0, 6-2) to even the score.
The final match would be the defining one for Penn State however, as sophomore Chris Young would lose to USF's Oliver Pramming in three sets, 6-4, 5-7, 6-2, earning USF the hard-nosed victory.
Although two road victories would have been nice, the Lions will be happy to take one down South, and now head back to much colder Ohio to open up Big Ten conference play.
In a quest to prove themselves against two top-ten teams this weekend, the No. 6 Penn State men’s volleyball team came up short.
After a hard-fought five-set loss to No. 10 Pepperdine on Thursday, the Nittany Lions were swept in a match for the first time this season losing 3-0 (25-19-25-15, 25-20) to No. 4 USC Friday night in Los Angeles.
It was the first time this season that Penn State seemed outclassed on the floor and with the loss, the Lions fell to 13-3 on the season.
The Lions hit a dismal .069 for the match, easily a season low and had 25 errors.
Junior Tom Comfort got the start at opposite for the Lions for the first time since Jan.27 against Stanford. Comfort started strong and finished with a team-leading nine kills despite being replaced midway through the second set by Nick Goodell.
Redshirt senior Joe Sunder struggled mightily in the match. He had just seven kills on just 29 attempts which was good for a hitting percentage of -.102, his first negative hitting percentage of the season.
The Lions lead for almost the entire first set but once USC tied it at 18, with the exception of a brief 1-0 lead in the second set, Penn State did not lead again in the match.
The Lions resume their EIVA schedule with a match at Saint Francis next Saturday night.
Traveling to a new coast meant new results for Penn State Friday night.
The No. 6 Nittany Lion’s were riding an 11 game win streak going into their match against No. 10 Pepperdine, but that changed after they were defeated in five sets by the Waves (26-24, 20-25, 21-25, 25-20, 15-10).
The effects of travel took their toll Friday night and errors piled up for the Lion’s. The team gave up 30 hitting errors along with 28 service errors and struggled to build momentum even in the sets that they won.
“Travel is a factor that you got to learn to deal with and overcome,” coach Mark Pavlik said. “It was our worst serving match of the year, so we had to rely on other parts of our game.”
After controlling the first set, the Lion’s allowed Pepperdine to jump them early in set two opening with a 6-1 lead. This early run allowed the Waves to build a rhythm and win the set, and they carried this rhythm into set three.
With their backs to the wall, The Lion’s came out in set four much more settled. They had control of the lead for the vast majority of the set.
Unfortunately for the Lion’s their hitting and serving woes reappeared in the final set and though they kept it close, Pepperdine was in control for the entire time.
“There’s nothing else out here that is the issue, we play these teams and we know what to expect,” Pavlik said. “We were not good at some of the things that we control, and a lot of that stems from the travel part of it.”
The length of Pepperdine’s lineup played a major role in the match and hurt Penn State considerably. The Waves’ starting lineup boasts four players over 6-foot 7 and they were able to utilize their size and physicality.
Pepperdine’s block killed the Lion’s, the Waves out-blocked Penn State 15-4.
“Marv Dunphy his teams block very well,” Pavlik said. “[Matt] Pollack when he was in the front row he did a real nice job, they have good players and they run Marv’s blocking schemes really well.”
Standouts for Pepperdine were junior Maurice Torres who led the way for Pepperdine with 21 kills on a .529 hitting percentage, as well as senior Pollock on the defensive end with an astounding 12 blocks.
“Maurice played very well, we really didn’t slow him down until the end of the match. He had his damage done to us in games 2, 3 and 4”
Redshirt senior Joe Sunder led the way for the Lion’s with 21 kills and 9 digs on .469 hitting, but in the process gave up 14 points on errors.
Fellow redshirt senior Edgardo Goas paced the offense with 56 assists and also contributed three blocks but his efforts were not enough to stop a talented Pepperdine squad.
“You look at the guys on the court, Eddy and Joe have been here, they know what it takes to be ready to play after you travel,” Pavlik said. “You look at some of the [younger players] and it’s the first experience like this for them.”
Penn State continues its West Coast stint tomorrow against USC at 10 PM. They look to be adjusted to the travel fatigue.
After winning four of its last six contests this past weekend and outscoring the last five opponents by a combined score of 20-9, the Penn State softball team (6-9) cooled off with a loss to Miami of Ohio on Wednesday.
Despite a seventh inning rally where Penn State loaded the bases with one out, the Nittany Lions fell to the RedHawks, 5-2.
The resurgent Alyssa Renwick continued her tear from the left side of the plate, pacing the team with three hits and one RBI. The shortstop stayed in the No. 2 spot in the lineup, as her batting average has steadily climbed since head coach Robin Petrini placed her there over one week ago.
Ace Lisa Akamine took the hill for the Lions, allowing a two-run home run to Miami's Bree Lipscomb in the first inning. With the loss, Akamine falls to 4-5 on the season.
The fourth inning appeared to be the backbreaker for the Lions. Kailyn Johnson doubled home Lauren Yao after Yao reached on an error, to pull Penn State within one run. The Lions then stranded two runners on base and the RedHawks capitalized with an RBI groundout in the bottom half of the fourth.
Penn State appeared to pick up steam in the bottom of the fifth when Akamine shut opponents down for her first 1-2-3 inning of the day, but RedHawks pitcher Jessica Simpson countered with her own 1-2-3 inning in the sixth.
Jordan Wheatley, Alyssa Sovereign and Renwick packed the bases in the seventh with no outs, but all three would end up stranded as the next two batters respectively struck out and grounded out.
The achilles heel for Penn State seemed to be shallow bloop singles, as the RedHawks had four such hits on the day.
The Lions will play this weekend at South Florida for the USF Under Armour Challenge. Among the opponents are South Florida, Virginia Tech and Rutgers, all of whom sit outside the Top-25 with Penn State.
The Lady Lions’ season has finally hit its “win or go home” portion. As they await the Monday announcement of their seeding in the NCAA Tournament, I’ll help pass the time by handing out some regular season accolades.
Most Valuable Player: G Maggie Lucas
This decision is the no-brainer of the century. Lucas averaged 19.1 points per game (fourth in the Big Ten) while draining 41.4 percent of her 3-pointers (third) and 88.7 percent of her free throws (fourth). Without the explosive play of Lucas, who is the heart and soul of the Lady Lions and a First Team All-Big Ten member, Penn State probably wouldn’t have won the Big Ten’s regular season crown. The sophomore is on pace for historic things; after scoring 552 points in her freshman season, she notched 574 this year to become only the third sophomore in Penn State to score 1,000 career points as a sophomore. If she simply scores eleven points in the NCAA Tournament, she will have scored the second-most points ever at Penn State after two seasons, trailing only legendary Kelly Mazzante (who has the most points in the history of the Big Ten). Honorable Mention: G Alex Bentley, who was also named to the First Team All-Big Ten, helped Lucas score many of those points with excellent court vision that led to 4.8 assists per game (third in the Big Ten). Bentley was also named to the All-Defensive Big Ten squad.
Most Underrated Player: C Nikki Greene
Because Greene started the year slowly and plagued by foul trouble, she seemed to become a bit forgotten. Then, when she exploded for 25 points and 15 rebounds in the Big Ten-clinching win against Ohio State, everyone seemed to remember how effective she can be. She still remains relatively overlooked because fans notice the high-octane play of the guards before the consistent, steady play of the bigs, but Greene is among the top ten in nearly all of the Big Ten’s power categories. For instance, she’s fourth in overall rebounding, with 8.0 boards a game. Without Greene’s big influence down low, the Lady Lions are two wins worse; take notice. Honorable Mention: F Mia Nickson, for the same reasons. She also missed nine games because of injury.
Most Improved Player: F/C Talia East
A tweet from Lady Lions’ sports information director Kris Petersen (@ladylionsid) today says it all. East’s scoring production has increased by 875 percent (from 12 points to 105) and rebounding numbers by 826 (19 to 157) from last season to this one. After missing 13 games in her freshman year with a torn ACL, the sophomore has provided a worthy replacement of starting center Nikki Greene when she gets in foul trouble. She’s also the best quote on the team, so that should count for something, too. Honorable Mention: G/F Ariel Edwards, whose PPG went from 2.9 to 6.8 and RPG from 1.9 to 4.5.
Best Bench Option: Ariel Edwards
Edwards played so well as the Lady Lions’ sixth man this season that coach Coquese Washington had to field questions about whether or not she would take the place of senior G Zhaque Gray in the starting lineup earlier in the year. Edwards is versatile as they come. She can shoot the jumper and 3-ball like a guard, post up like a forward, and crash the boards like a center. Honorable Mention: East.
Finally, the top five most important players to the Lady Lions’ success in the Tournament, in order:
1. Lucas. Duh.
2. Bentley, whose consistency is vital.
3. Greene, who provides a big presence.
4. Nickson, who I couldn’t find an award for.
5. Edwards, whose bench threat is even more important than how Gray performs as a starter.
Penn State (12-19, 4-14 Big Ten) will face No.5 Indiana (24-7, 11-7) at approximately 2 p.m. today in Bankers Life Fieldhouse, in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament. The Nittany Lions are the No. 12 seed in the tournament, while the Hoosiers are the fifth seed. The two also met in the first round of the conference tournament last year, with Penn State prevailing, 61-55. But that was then, this is now.
Indiana comes in winners of four straight and seven of its past eight games and the Hoosiers are looking to improve their NCAA Tournament seeding this weekend in Indianapolis. Meanwhile, Penn State enters today’s contest losers of four straight and is playing with nothing to lose in the conference tournament. Indiana also won both meetings with the Lions this season (88-82 in the Bryce Jordan Center and 73-54 in Assembly Hall).
Keys to the game
- Contain Tim Frazier: This is pretty self-explanatory. Frazier has been Mr. Everything for Penn State this season (18.6 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 6.3 apg) and if the Hoosiers can keep the 6-foot-1 stat stuffer in check, they should have no problem winning this game.
- Get Cody Zeller involved early and often: In the teams’ first meeting, Zeller was held to 10 points and Indiana won by just six. In their second meeting, Zeller scored 18 and the Hoosiers won by almost 20. Zeller — who was named the Big Ten’s Freshman of the Year by conference coaches — is one of the Big Ten’s premier big men (15.4 ppg, 6.4 rpg) and Penn State is not exactly deep in its front court, so Zeller should be able to have his way against the Lions.
- Jermaine Marshall: Like pretty much every Penn State player that isn’t Tim Frazier, Marshall had an up and down regular season. His year started off with a suspension, but it ended with him scoring career-best 27 against Michigan on Sunday. The Lions lost by only six to the Wolverines on Marshall’s career day and Frazier had an un-Frazier like day. If Penn State wants to pull off the upset, it’ll need Frazier to play like himself and Marshall to be able to score somewhere in the 15-20 point range.
- Defend the perimeter: Penn State has had trouble defending the 3-pointer all season. It showed on Sunday when Michigan went 10-18 from distance. And it also showed on Jan. 8 when Indiana drained 16 treys against the Lions. IU also has the conference’s two sharpest shooters from long range in Matt Roth and Jordan Hulls, so if PSU can’t defend the arc, it doesn’t stand much of a chance against the Hoosiers.
Now that their series with No. 23 Mississippi State is finished, here’s an update of how the 2-9 baseball team is faring during their Spring Break road trip:
Sat., Mar. 3: 7-4 win at Samford
W: Cody Lewis (1-2)
L: Kyle Putkonen (0-2)
Third baseman Joey DeBernardis had a big three-run homer in this one to seal the Lions’ lone win thus far on the trip.
Sun., Mar. 4: 4-1 loss at Samford
W: Charles Basford (2-0)
L: Neil Herring (0-1)
Despite a strong outing from Lions’ starter John Walter (6.0 innings, one run, seven strikeouts), there wasn’t much they could do against the dominance of Basford. The Samford senior pitched a complete game, with this sparkling line: 9.0 IP, six hits, one run, no walks, eight strikeouts.
Mon., Mar. 5: 7-3 loss at Samford
W: Josh Martin (3-0)
L: Steven Hill (0-2)
Penn State starter Steven Hill got lit up in this one, giving up seven runs (six earned) through 7.1 innings of work, throwing 111 pitches. Just like the last game, a Samford starter was lights out; Martin went 7.0 innings and allowed no earned runs while fanning ten. A lone bright spot for the Nittany Lions came with a Steven Snyder hit that extended his hitting streak to eight games.
Tue., Mar. 6: 7-3 loss at No. 23 Mississippi State
W: Tanner Gaines (1-0)
L: Mike Franklin (0-1)
Gaines pitched 4.2 innings of no-hit ball in relief to earn the victory. The Lions’ offense, their biggest weakness this season by far, mustered only five hits against the MSSU pitching. It was their sixth straight game scoring four runs or less.
Wed., Mar. 7: 10-6 loss at No. Mississippi State
W: Jacob Lindgren (1-0)
L: Evan Dixon (0-1)
It looked like PSU would pull off the big upset in this one, as they led 6-3 in the middle of the seventh. But relievers Dixon and Casey Kulina would combine to allow 4 runs in 1.2 innings of work to send the Lions packing.
The Lions get a day off Thursday before traveling to Birmingham, Al., for a three game series with UAB.
Penn State is reaching the midpoint of its season with a nation-best 13-1 record.
Although the Nittany Lions play in the nation's weakest major conference, they have asserted their prowess by utterly dominating the EIVA. Penn State has jumped out to a 6-0 record in its conference, having not lost a set once in these matches.
However, the East Coast/ West Coast bias still remains, hindering the Lions from approaching a top-three ranking where many in the east may argue they belong.
Last week, Penn State swept two of the higher-level EIVA teams in back-to-back days. Furthermore, the Lions, then slotted at fifth in the country, saw two teams above them (No. 1 Stanford and No. 4 BYU) suffer losses.
Yet, Penn State not only didn't rise in last week's rankings — they fell to No. 6. A little harsh for a team in the midst of a 10-game win streak, the longest in the country, wouldn't you say?
So here, Penn State found itself with a chance to prove all the haters wrong: a treacherous three-game stretch, all against top 10 teams.
The Lions started this stretch off on the right foot this past Saturday when they outlasted No. 9 Ohio State in a five-match slugfest, winning 3-2.
(To be read sarcastically): So now Penn State will at least be ranked in the top five this week, right?
Even with Stanford losing again, Penn State still remains 13 points behind No. 5 BYU in this week's AVCA Coaches poll.
I theorized that Penn State should be ranked several spots higher than their current No. 6 slot.
With this anomaly in mind, I decided to put these rankings to the test by creating my own Men's Volleyball RPI-style top ten rankings.
To do so, I combined five different ranking devices: the Coaches Poll, Volleyball Magazine Poll, overall record, record vs. top 10 teams, and Off the Block Relative Strength Factor Rankings.
The latter is a ranking created by Vinnie Lopes' national volleyball blog, offtheblockblog.com, and according to the site, is "a mathematical equation created by Off the Block to give an accurate representation of the best Division I-II men’s volleyball teams in the nation."
Below are each of these five rankings, followed by my personal RPI rankings for NCAA men's volleyball, which I created by averaging the spots of teams in each of the first five rankings.
1. Penn State — .929
2. UCLA — .895
3. Harvard — .846
4. Lewis — .824
5. UC Irvine — .824
6. Stanford — .765
7. BYU — .765
8. USC — .714
9. Quincy — .706
10. Ohio State — .684
RECORD VS. TOP 10
1. UC Irvine — .800
2. Penn State — .750
3. UCLA — .750
4. BYU — .667
5. Stanford — .600
6. Lewis — .600
7. IPFW — .500
8. USC — .423
9. Long Beach State — .250
10. Pepperdine — .222
COACHES POLL RANKINGS
1. UCLA — 268 points
2. UC Irvine —249 points
3. Stanford — 225 points
4. USC — 209 points
5. BYU — 202 points
6. Penn State — 189 points
7. Lewis — 167 points
8. Long Beach State — 130 points
9. Ohio State — 129 points
10. Pepperdine — 116 points
VOLLEYBALL MAGAZINE POLL
1. UCLA — 99 (9) pointsâ€¨
2. UC Irvine — 91 (1) pointsâ€¨
3. Penn State — 72 pointsâ€¨
4. Stanford — 70 pointsâ€¨
5. USC — 66 points
â€¨6. BYU — 48 pointsâ€¨
7. Lewis — 44 pointsâ€¨
8. Ohio State — 31 points
â€¨9. Pepperdine — 18 pointsâ€¨
10. Long Beach State — 11 points
Off the Block Relative Strength Factor rankingsâ€¨
1. UC Irvine — 2.629â€¨
2. Stanford — 2.558
â€¨3. Lewis — 2.504â€¨
4. UCLA — 2.231â€¨
5. Penn State — 2.079
â€¨6. USC — 2.078â€¨
7. BYU — 2.004â€¨
8. Ohio State — 1.848â€¨
9. Loyola — 1.654â€¨
10. Long Beach State — 1.563
OFFICIAL RPI RANKINGS
T1. UCLA — 2.2
T1. UC Irvine — 2.2
3. Penn State — 3.4
4. Stanford — 4.0
5. Lewis — 5.4
6. BYU — 5.8
7. USC — 6.0
8. Ohio State — 10.0
9. Long Beach State — 10.4
10. Pepperdine — 11.8
After averaging the five rankings, I found that Penn State should be ranked higher in the Coaches Poll — third place to be exact.
More than halfway through its regular season, the No. 6 Penn State men’s volleyball team has drawn lots of praise from opposing coaches.
Whether it’s Penn State’s depth, offensive prowess or historical dominance of the EIVA, coaches have not held back in their respect for the Nittany Lions.
Here are six coaches who have shared their thoughts on the Lions after losing to them this season in Rec Hall.
Feb. 3. Cole Tallman - Mount Olive head coach
On facing the Lions without Joe Sunder in the lineup:
“The great thing about having an outstanding player like that, is that if a volleyball match is a banquet table, they’re bringing a main course and usually a side salad as well. When they’re not there, it’s just simply that somebody else has to have that opportunity. “
“The opportunity is just for other people for Penn State to step up and do some great things. You just gotta have to make more contributions from either here or there. The coaching staff here does a fabulous job at that."
Feb. 4. Allan Vince - Cal-Baptist interim head coach
On comparing Penn State to powerhouse West Coast Programs:
“We’ve definitely played some tough MPSF teams so far this year, but this team’s been by far the strongest at just whittling us away with serves and getting us out of system.”
"I thought Penn state was probably one of the better teams that we’ve seen so far. Every team has their strengths and I think Penn State is stacked and no matter who you put in there’s going to be a good play coming out of it.”
“I thought [redshirt senior setter Edgardo Goas] did a great job at creating opportunities to score [he] took a look, knew what he was running [and] knew the type of offense he was running based on what type of defense he saw.”
Feb. 10. Pedro Trevino - Rutgers-Newark head coach
On preparing for a match against Penn State:
“Penn State, as we all know, has a history of playing great volleyball and Rutgers-Newark does too. So, coming into [the match] you try to keep the guys’ spirits high because Penn State is the type of team that doesn’t make mistakes. So in practice, the whole thing is, ‘alright, if they go on their run, you just can’t let that get to you’ and you just have to prepare and try to sideout and play the best volleyball you can.”
Feb. 11. Ryan McNeil - NJIT head coach
On how EIVA teams can catch up to Penn State:
“Pray,” he said jokingly. “Recruit and hope you can find a stud that’s slipped through the crack that [Penn State] missed, that’s what you can hope for. Sometimes it comes down to luck. We don’t have, say, the facilities to woo certain kids. NJIT and what I do, we try to go out and get international kids."
Feb. 24. Sam Schweisky - Princeton head coach
Facing a team as deep as Penn State:
“Certainly depth is a big deal especially since you know 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. They put in the subs and it’s Tom Comfort, it’s like ‘OK, that’s a hell of a sub.’”
“They’re deep and that’s something that they haven’t been as deep in the last two years, so they’re pretty formidable for sure.”
March 3. Pete Hanson - Ohio State head coach
On where Penn State ranks against other top teams he’s faced this year such as No. 1 UCLA and No. 8 Long Beach State:
“Clearly, I think Penn State’s a better team than Long Beach State, they’re a more balanced team I think they’re a bigger, more physical team than Long Beach. UCLA’s pretty good. They’ve got a bunch of big guys and they run a really fast offense and I think you’ve gotta be good from the service line to drive UCLA out of system. I mean, UCLA’s been ranked what, one or two all season long and that’s pretty legit. But I think Penn State’s clearly a top-five team. “
Tim Frazier was named to the All-Big Ten first team by the media and the second team by Big Ten coaches as conference honors were announced Monday night.
The junior guard averaged 18.6 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 6.3 assists over the course of the regular season — leading the Nittany Lions in each category.
Frazier becomes the sixth different Penn State player to be named a first-teamer in the Big Ten (both media and coaches team), the most recent being Talor Battle last season.
Jared Sullinger (Ohio State), John Shurna (Northwestern), Robbie Hummel (Purdue) and Draymond Green (Michigan State) join Frazier on the media’s first team.
Jordan Taylor (Wisconsin) and Frazier switched spots between the coaches team and media teams, with Taylor being on the coaches’ first team and the media’s second team.
Green was named Player of the Year and his coach, Tom Izzo, was named Coach of the Year by both the media and coaches.
The Freshman of the Year award was split by Michigan's Trey Burke and Indiana's Cody Zeller, Burke was named the conference's best rookie by the media, while Zeller was selected by the coaches. Ohio State's Aaron Craft, who just edged out Frazier for most steals in the Big Ten, was named the conference's Defensive Player of the Year.
Frazier, who averaged 2.3 steals a game, was also named to the Big Ten All-Defensive team.
The only other Lion to be honored on Monday was redshirt junior Billy Oliver, who was Penn State’s recipient of the Big Ten All-Sportsmanship award.
Penn State will travel to Indianapolis later in the week for the Big Ten Tournament. The 12th seeded Lions will face fifth-seeded No. 15 Indiana on Thursday in Bankers Life Fieldhouse. The game is slated to start at about 2:30 p.m.
End of the year awards for the Big Ten will be handed out tonight (the award show can be seen at 7 p.m. on the Big Ten Network), but before the coaches and media selections are announced, here are my picks for Player of the Year, Coach of the Year, Freshman of the Year and 1st and 2nd team All-Big Ten teams.
Player of the year: Draymond Green, Michigan State — Green was the heart and soul of the Spartans all season and the senior forward was the only player in the conference to average a double-double for the season with 16.2 points and 10.3 boards per game. Green really did it all for Michigan State — which shared the Big Ten regular season crown with Ohio State and Michigan — as he lead the team in blocks, steals and minutes played as well as points and rebounds.
Coach of the year: Tom Izzo, Michigan State — This pick isn’t quite as easy as it would’ve been a week ago — as Izzo and the Spartans had two opportunities to get a W in the last week which would’ve given MSU the outright regular season conference title — but Izzo has still done a phenomenal job in East Lansing this season. This wasn’t supposed to be the year for the Spartans, who started the season unranked, but Izzo and company fought their way to the top of the Big Ten standings. Izzo pulled a lot of the right strings on a team that returned only two starters from a season ago. After kicking former starter Korie Lucious off the team after he repeatedly broke team rules and Izzo instilled a lot of trust in Draymond Green which panned out well. And who knows, another one of those Michigan State Final Four runs could be in the works again in 2012.
Freshman of the year: Trey Burke, Michigan — Burke emerged as a star for the Wolverines in his first season in Ann Arbor. The 5-foot-11 guard averaged 14.6 points per game and was second in the conference in assists, dropping 4.6 dimes a contest. Many would argue Cody Zeller should win this award since he has better numbers (15.4 ppg, 6.4 rpg and a 63.5 shooting percentage), but Burke was the best player on a Michigan team that shared the Big Ten regular season championship and he made big shots in big moments.
First Team All-Big Ten
Draymond Green (senior forward, Michigan State) — See above.
Jared Sullinger (sophomore forward, Ohio State) — Entering the season, Sullinger was in POY talks for not just the Big Ten, but the entire country. While the sophomore didn’t have the breakout, monster-type season that some were expecting, he still posted big numbers for a good Ohio State team. His stats were actually a little bit down from last season (2010-11: 17.2 ppg, 10.2 rpg; 2011-2012: 16.9 ppg, 9.3 rpg) but getting 16 and nine in the Big Ten is still quite an accomplishment.
Trey Burke (Fr. guard, Michigan) — See above.
Tim Frazier (Jr. guard, Penn State) — I don’t care that the Nittany Lions had only four conferences wins, Tim Frazier deserves to be recognized for the outstanding season he had. His numbers alone speak for themselves (18.6 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 6.3 apg), and Frazier is either first or second in the conference in scoring, assists, steals and minutes played. Frazier led the league in assists with his teammates combining to shoot 38.4 percent from the floor and on top of that he was second in the Big Ten in scoring. I may be a little biased here because I had the privilege to watch Frazier all season, but there is absolutely no doubt in my mind he should make the first team.
Robbie Hummel (Sr. forward, Purdue) — Robbie Hummel is one of the more interesting stories in the Big Ten. After having tearing and having surgery on his right ACL twice in less than two years, Hummel returned to the floor in the 2011-12 campaign. Hummel had a solid season and was fourth in the conference in both scoring (16.8 ppg) and rebounding (7.0 rpg). And with the Boilermakers’ NCAA Tournament hopes in question in mid-February, Hummel stepped up when it mattered; averaging 22.6 points per game in Purdue’s final seven contests.
Second Team All-Big Ten
John Shurna (Sr. forward, Northwestern) — 19.8 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 80 made 3-pointers
Jordan Taylor (Sr. guard, Wisconsin) — 14.6 ppg, 4.1 apg, 2.6 assist/turnover ratio
Cody Zeller (Fr. forward, Indiana) —15.4 ppg, 6.4 rpg, 63.5 field goal %
William Buford (Sr. guard, Ohio State) — 15.1 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 2.9 apg
Matt Gatens (Sr. guard, Iowa) — 15.7 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 48.2 field goal %
INDIANAPOLIS—The No. 1 seeded Lady Lions lost a heartbreaker 68-66 in Saturday night’s second semifinal game in the Big Ten conference tournament to No. 4 seeded Purdue.
The Lions only lead once in the game. With 7:32 remaining in the second half, the Lions went ahead 53-52 before the Boilermakers answered on the other end and took the lead right back.
Boilermaker senior guard Brittany Rayburn hit the game-winning layup with less than two seconds to go.
Penn State had tied the game at 66 all with about 16 seconds remaining and the Boilermakers called a timeout. They set up a play that ended up having Rayburn drive to the hoop and make a play. She did just that and helped the Boilermakers upend the Lions.
Junior guard Alex Bentley led the way for the Lions and scored a game-high 22 points. The Indianapolis native also added four dimes as well.
The Lions were outrebounded 54-32 and that proved to be a major factor in the game, as Purdue was able to control the ball more. Of those 54 rebounds, 19 were offensive boards and helped to give the Boilermakers extra possessions.
They utilized that to their advantage and had a 17-7 advantage on second chance points.
Despite not winning the conference tournament, the Lions are going to be heading to the NCAA tournament. Their seed and location of which they play are not certain, but will become known after the brackets are released a week from this upcoming Monday.
What appeared to be another easy victory, nearly turned into a disastrous defeat for the Penn State men’s volleyball team.
The No. 6 Nittany Lions won a thrilling five-set match over the No. 9 Buckeyes 3-2 (25-17, 25-19, 27-29, 22-25, 15-13). It was the first time this year the Lions have played a five set match and with the win, they move to 13-1 on the season.
“I thought that this was one of the best matches that we’ve had and I’d say that whether we won or lost,” Penn State coach Mark Pavlik said.
After cruising to another 2-0 lead at halftime, the Lions appeared well on their way to another sweep. But the Buckeyes had other plans.
The Buckeyes came out and controlled most of the play for the entire third. They made a key lineup change, replacing junior Grayson Overman with redshirt freshman Shawn Herron who made a big difference in the Buckeyes’ offense with two kills on .667 hitting.
The Lions scratched and clawed their way back to even the set at 24, but after they forced five set points, Ohio State eventually won the set on a kill by junior Anthony Hock.
Ohio State head coach Pete Hanson said he challenged his team at halftime.
“I was really proud of the kids, the way they battled back,” Hanson said. “We could’ve easily just packed it up and rolled out of there at the end of game three and said ‘it wasn’t our night.’”
Penn State hit just .273 for the match and had 26 attacking errors. Part of the offensive struggles came because of the Buckeyes’ block as they totaled 13 blocks.
The fifth set went back and forth and at one point, Ohio State lead 13-12, appearing poised to complete the huge comeback.
However, the largest crowd at Rec Hall this season, which was quiet for a lot of the match, woke up and provided energy to the Lions.
Sophomore Peter Russell said the atmosphere inside Rec Hall reminded him of last year’s Final Four and said that they couldn’t let the game slip away with a raucous atmosphere like that.
The Lions were also noticeably calm and collected despite nearly losing the match.
Redshirt freshman Nick Goodell said during the final set, he looked around at his teammates and everyone was smiling and confident despite being down by one.
After a kill by redshirt senior Joe Sunder tied the set at 13, an attack error by Ohio State’s Shawn Sangrey put the Lions up 14-13. Then junior Tom Comfort scored the decisive kill for his only kill of the match to give Penn State the victory.
Goodell continues to enjoy his breakout season as he notched 20 kills on .262 hitting.
He had a huge second set with seven kills and was engaged in a battle for the match lead in kills with Sangrey. Yet he said he didn’t feel like he was in a competition with Ohio State’s All-American opposite who finished with 24 kills to lead all players.
“He’s a great player, he’s gonna get his kills,” Goodell said. “It’s hard for us to stop him no matter who we put on him, so I don’t really compare myself to him.”
With two games next week against No. 10 Pepperdine and No. 4 USC, the match was a good test for the team.
“It was definitely a great match,” freshman Aaron Russell said. “We’ve been playing teams not really on the level of the California teams and before we leave, this is a good [way] to get us back in the rhythm of playing a good team.”
The Penn State baseball team (2-5) got back on the right track Saturday, starting their 8-game Spring Break road trip with a 7-4 victory in Birmingham, Ala. against the Samford Bulldogs (6-4).
Junior starting pitcher Cody Lewis earned his first career victory in a Penn State uniform, with third baseman Joey DeBernardis providing a big 3-run home run to give Penn State a 3-2 lead in the third inning that it wouldn’t surrender.
Lewis had a rough beginning, giving up two runs (one earned) on two hits and a walk in the first inning. From that point on, he was lights out, giving up no more runs. He ended up pitching 6.0 innings, giving up seven hits and two walks with three strikeouts. He improved to 1-2 on the season with the win.
Penn State’s offense, which was coming off a goose egg performance against UNC Greensboro last weekend, had a field day against Samford starter Kyle Putkonen. The Lions racked up 12 hits, with center fielder Steve Snyder collecting a team-leading three. DeBernardis’ home run was the ultimately the biggest difference in the win.
The three-game series with the Bulldogs continues tomorrow. The Lions will send junior John Walter (0-2, 9.00 ERA) to the bump in game two.
The No. 1 seeded Lady Lions are set to take on No. 4 seeded Purdue this evening in the nightcap of the double header today at Banker’s Life Fieldhouse.
This semifinal matchup is expected to be a good one as it pits the No. 1 scoring offense in the Big Ten against the No. 1 scoring defense. The Lady Lions are the top scoring team in the conference, averaging 75.8 points per game, while defeating opponents by an average of 15.1 points per contest. On the contrary, the Boilermakers counter with the conference’s best scoring defense at 57.9 points per game.
These two teams met only once this season, with the Lions coming out on top, 74-63, in West Lafayette, Ind. That win really helped the Lions put themselves in a position to win the regular season conference title and that’s exactly what happened.
What’s on the line tonight?
Ultimately a spot in the conference tournament final tomorrow evening at 4 on ESPN2.
Lady Lions: Searching for a ninth straight win and looking to win 14 of the last 15 games. Head coach Coquese Washington is also seeking to win her first Big Ten tournament title.
Boilermakers: Looking for a fourth straight win and momentum heading into the tournament. Hoping to send senior guard Brittany Rayburn out on top. Rayburn leads the team in points scored per game with 15.1 and was the squad’s leading scorer in 14 games this season, including their last four games.
Predictions for tonight:
Tim Gilbert: Lady Lions win 68-62. Watch for a similar game like the last time these two teams played.
Dan Norton: Lady Lions win by 11. Look for Lucas to make it rain from beyond the arc and put the crowd in a frenzy.
Aaron Dunlevy: The Lady Lions are going to need to come out hot have a very good half if they hope to make it to the finale tomorrow. Assuming they come out and play better than they did in yesterday’s quarterfinal game against Minnesota, I expect the Lions to win in a close ball game. I’m going to say that the Lions win 68-65 and Nikki Greene has a huge game finishing with 20-plus points and 10-plus rebounds.
Baseball, like any sport, is a business. Men with suits and ties and dollar signs are really all that matter in the grand scheme of its decision-making.
So it makes sense why Major League Baseball will be going with a 10-team playoff system next season. It involves more fans, more cities, more games of critical magnitude, and more dollar bills.
If you don’t know the particulars of the new system, read Jayson Stark’s ESPN.com article here.
Now, I’ll admit that this new format is quite a bit more exciting than the current system. There’s no doubt that the new one-game playoff between the two Wild Card winners of each league will be riveting, exciting-as-baseball-can-get action.
That said, I hate it.
The very best teams should be the ones playing in October. Unlike the NBA and NHL, the MLB has always been in accordance with that; the old system, in which eight of 30 teams made postseason play, was the lowest percentage of teams that made the playoffs in any of the big four leagues.
Not only was this system too hastily decided upon, leaving the scheduling a mess, it is brutally unfair to baseball’s elite. Take 2010. The New York Yankees finished a whole six games in front of the Boston Red Sox for the American League Wild Card. The Yankees also only finished one game behind the Tampa Bay Rays for the AL East crown. Had today’s silly system been in place then, the Yankees’ entire 162-game season would come down to one game against a team they were six games better than. Sure, it would be exciting. But even the worst teams in baseball win 60 games throughout the course of a season. If the Yankees weren’t able to start their ace in the one-game playoff because they used him the day before to attempt to win the AL East, they’d be left with an unfavorable matchup, since the Red Sox knew they had no chance to take the division and would have saved their ace for the playoff. Here, you can’t use the argument “the Yankees should have won the division.” The Red Sox “should have won the division” too, but in this scenario, they are in a better position than the Yankees for having lost it.
That’s not the only reason I’m not for this system. Remember last year’s unbelievably exciting, beyond-Hollywood season finale involving the Red Sox and Rays in the AL and Cardinals and Braves in the NL? With this new playoff system, all of those games would have been pretty irrelevant. They would have only decided home field advantage for the one-game playoff. All four of those teams would have been in the playoffs, anyway.
It’s a shocker why baseball didn’t wait until 2013 to implement this system. As Stark points out time and time again in his piece, baseball is looking at a scheduling nightmare if a tiebreaker is needed for a division crown. Now, the team with the “home field advantage” has to play their first two games on the road in their Division Series, and the next three at home. I don’t know about you, but I would much rather have the option of the lower seed.
Baseball, you messed up on this one. It has good intentions for the fans, but the sport just got a lot more unfair. At least add a respectable replay system to counter this.
INDIANAPOLIS--It wasn't the most promising first half for the ninth ranked team in the country, but the No. 1 seeded Lady Lions managed to claw their way out of a first half deficit and sweep Minnesota 3-0 this season.
The Lions 78-74 win over the No. 8 seeded Gophers allows them to continue their quest for a season sweep of hardware and puts them in the semifinals of the Big Ten conference tournament. They will play the winner of the No. 5 seed Michigan State/ No. 4 seed Purdue game tomorrow evening in what will be game 10 of the tournament. Tip for that game will start roughly at 7:30, as the No. 2 Ohio State vs No. 6 Nebraska game will begin at 5 p.m. on the Big Ten Network and the Lions game will start 25 minutes after the conclusion of the first game.
A strong second half helped to propel the Lions past the stingy Gophers. In the first half the Lions found themselves trailing often and at one point, they were down 31-18 with 7:45 remaining until recess. The squad managed to dig themselves out of the hole a little and trailed 36-29 at half.
Something changed for the team at halftime because they came out with tenacity and aggression in the second frame. Thanks to stellar defense-to-offense transitions, the squad quickly sparked a 16-2 run and forced Minnesota to take a much-needed timeout. Less than six minutes into the second half, the Lions had managed to put their seven point halftime deficit behind them and had built a 45-38 lead. After that they closed the game out en route to their 24th win of the season.
The Gophers made it close at the end thanks to a deep 3-point bomb from freshman guard Rachel Banham, but the Lions were able to put the game away in the closing seconds thanks to a pair of made free throws from sophomore guard Maggie Lucas.
Banham led all scorers with 25 tallies on the score sheet, while Lucas led the Lions with 24 points and finished just three rebounds shy of her second career double-double.
Penn State is now two wins away from capturing the Big Ten conference tournament crown and completing the season sweep in conference, winning both the regular season and tournament trophies.
The No. 9 Lady Lions (23-5, 13-3 Big Ten) are less than an hour away before they begin their quest at a Big Ten tournament title. The squad is looking to complete a season sweep of the conference hardware, as they already won the regular season outright, thanks to finishing conference play 12-1. They lost two of their first three conference games—both at home—before running through conference opponents en route to coach Coquese Washington’s first Big Ten championship.
The Lions who earned the No. 1 seed for the tournament will square off against the No. 8 seed Minnesota at 6 pm. The game will air on the Big Ten Network and the Lions look to win their game of tic-tac-toe against the Gophers, winning all three matchups this season. Penn State won both meetings this season against the Gophers, but struggled in Minnesota, before escaping with a 68-65 win.
In the last outing, the Lions thrashed the Gophers 74-51 and clinched the regular season title outright. The Lions were led by sophomore guard Maggie Lucas, who dropped 24 on the Gophers and also chimed in eight dimes. One of the main advantages for the Lions was the 3-point shooting, as the team shot 33 percent from beyond the arc and landed five more bombs than the Gophers.
Tim Gilbert: Lady Lions win 79-51 and advance to the semi-finals. Look for junior center Nikki Greene to stay out of foul trouble and only record two fouls.
Dan Norton: Lady Lions win by 14 points. Watch for Talia East to make an impact on tonight’s game.
Aaron Dunlevy: Lady Lions win 74-66 and advance to play another game. I think that it will be a lot closer than expected and the post players will have huge contributions. Expect the bigs to give the Lions a 15-point plus advantage inside the paint.