If Ed DeChellis, Talor Battle, and the rest of the Penn State Nittany Lion basketball team was trying to put last year's NIT championship season in the past, than they are doing a pretty good job.
After losing consecutive games to UNC Wilmington and Tulane, this year's squad is developing a whole new identity, one that is quite different from the NIT Championship squad of a year ago.
Without Jamelle Cornley’s toughness, Pringle’s defense, and Danny Morrisey’s resilience, this year’s squad has turned into a one man show.
Battle is once again leading the team in scoring, but not in the way that fans have hoped. The junior point guard is forcing shots at an alarming pace. Unable to get consistent contributions from his teammates, Battle is heaving an excessive 15.6 shots per game, of which he is shooting an abysmal 35%.
Last season, Battle had the luxury of playing with the aforementioned seniors. Due to graduation, huge holes were left in the Nittany Lion squad this off-season, which still have yet to be filled.
Jeff Brooks has stepped up in a considerable way, averaging a career best 11.6 points per game, but no one has matched the low post presence and leadership Cornley brought to the court every night.
DeChellis challenged center Andrew Jones to lead the conference in rebounding, a feat at which he has failed miserably thus far. In the two Charleston Classic losses, Jones shot just 3 of 16 from the field, and was benched in the 80-69 loss to UNC Wilmington.
Chris Babb showed flashes of brilliance from the three point line, shooting 5 of 9 from long distance in the 80-61 victory over Robert Morris, but has struggled mightily in every other game so far, shooting just 17% in those games.
Bottom line, Penn State needs another player to contribute on a nightly basis if the team has any chance at a successful season. D.J Jackson, Jones, Brooks, Babb, and freshman guard Tim Frazier all have the ability to post double digit scoring nights, but none have shown they can provide a consistent low post presence.
Highly touted freshman forward Bill Edwards is back after missing time with a partially torn MCL, scoring eight points and grabbing six rebounds in limited action in his debut against Davidson. A healthy Edwards could be the low post presence this team desperately needs.