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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Westbrook outduels Battle as Lions fall in Big Ten opener

MINNEAPOLIS – Penn State found its touch from the field and overcame a double-digit first-half deficit to come within grasp of an impressive road win to open its Big Ten slate.

Lawrence Westbrook erased that possibility down the stretch.

Minnesota’s senior guard tied a career-high with 29 points as the Golden Gophers (10-3, 1-0) rode a strong finish to upend the Nittany Lions, 75-70, Tuesday night in front of a packed house at Williams Arena.

Westbrook shot 11-16 from the floor and drained four three-pointers, three of which came in a late second-half flourish to ultimately bury PSU.

Talor Battle scored 23 points and added 6 rebounds for Penn State (8-5, 0-1). The junior nailed a three-pointer to give the Lions a 53-48 lead with 9:37 to go in the game, but Westbrook and the Golden Gophers took over from there.

Westbrook provided the impetus for the Gophers by notching 18 points after the break as Minnesota connected on six three-pointers overall in the second-half.

Penn State outscored Minnesota 43-41 in the second-half and kept it close by shooting an impeccable 9-18 from behind the arc in the game, but turnovers and sloppy execution in the final minutes plagued the Lions as the team committed 14 turnovers to Minnesota’s seven on the night.

Damian Johnson scored four of his seven points on two key buckets from point-blank range in the final two minutes to put the icing on the cake as Minnesota won its second conference home opener in three seasons under Tubby Smith. Blake Hoffarber converted on three three-pointers on seven attempts for 11 points in the game.

The Lions’ supporting cast picked up the slack for Battle as forward Andrew Jones had a strong outing on the low block. Jones’ presence was lacking in the majority of Penn State’s non-conference campaign, but the junior asserted himself Tuesday as he put forth 12 points on 6-10 shooting and 8 rebounds in the loss.

Both teams were tied at 10-10 when the Gophers embarked on a time-consuming 11-0 run to gain the upper hand early in the opening half. Westbrook extended Minnesota’s lead to 34-27 at halftime after his jumper found the bottom of the net with only two seconds remaining.

Jones’ lay-up with 15:22 remaining in the second-half gave PSU its first lead since it led 7-5 early in the opening frame, but the Lions could not hold on to what was a seven-point lead with 13:54 to go.

David Jackson registered 11 points on 4-5 shooting as PSU’s third scorer in double figures. Jeff Brooks added nine in the Lions’ second loss in their last four games.

Penn State has dropped four of its five losses by five points or less this season. The team will resume conference play Jan. 3 at the Bryce Jordan Center for its Big Ten home opener against Wisconsin (10-2).

-Pete Jensen

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Penn State vs Minnesota LIVE BLOG:

Penn State takes on Minnesota in Minnesota as both teams will face off in their first BigTen match-ups of the season. Members of the staff will conduct a live blog below:

Final Stats - Click to Enlarge

:00-Well, the Nittany Lions hung in tough, gave Minnesota more of a fight than perhaps they were ready for and expecting, but in the end, the Gophers pulled away as time ran down and knocked off the Lions 75-70. Lawrence Westbrook was the difference in this game, scoring essentially at will. The senior made 11/16 of his field goals for 29 points, and simply was too much for Penn State. Today, the Lions showed how desperately they miss last year's senior guard Stanley Pringle. Pringle would shut down scorers like Westbrook on a nightly basis. Does Frazier have the ability to follow in his footsteps? He has played just 13 games at the collegiate level so far, and we will find that out with time. Overall a solid performance by the Nittany Lions. They finally seem to be establishing some sort of inside presence as Andrew Jones had his best game of the season. Penn State will have New Year's to spend with their friends and families but will head back to Happy Valley to take on Trevon Hughes and the Wisconsin Badgers on January 3. Once again, Penn State falls to Minnesota 75-70. Thanks for sticking with us through the entirety of this great game.

-Ryan Staloff-

4:22- Let's be honest, Penn State vs. Minnesota is all well and good, but the fans would much rather see eight of the ten players on the court find the bench. This has turned into the Talor Battle and Lawrence Westbrook show, as they just exchanged long three pointers. These two players are arguably the two best in the Big Ten, and are the clear leaders of their respective teams. (RS)

6:30 Where is Stanley Pringle when you need him. Penn State cannot stop Lawrence Westbrook. The senior guard now has 19 points and simply cannot miss if he tried. He is 8/11 from the field, and just answered a D.J. Jackson three pointer with a long field goal of his own, to give Minnesota a two point lead. If Tubby Smith's team comes away victorious, the coach can thank his senior guard. (RS)

7:30 We have just reached the third media time out of the second half, and Penn State has begun to revert back to their play early on. The Nittany Lions are trying to run with Minnesota, leading to sloppy play and turnovers. Lawrence Westbrook just hit a three to give the Gophers a three point lead. Penn State needs to find a way to break the press, as that has been there major flaw all game long. If they can find a way to slow the game down and turn this into a half court game, they can still win this. (RS)

9:23-Talor Battle just hit a shot from the moon. He was at least 3 feet beyond the three point arc and hit it like it was a free throw (or in his case...) Battle has been rather quiet in the second half before knocking down that huge 3. The Lions now lead by two points. This game is going to be close to the final whistle. Stay right here as we take you to the final whistle and beyond. (RS)

12:00-Just 12 minutes separate Penn State from their 9th victory on the season as they now lead Minnesota by four points with Battle going to the line for two free throws. DeChellis is currently playing a huge lineup with D.J. Jackson playing the shooting guard position on the defensive end. It appears DeChellis is making a determined effort to sit Tim Frazier, as he has yet to play in the second half. Look for Penn State to continue to go inside to Andrew Jones, as he has been the focal point of the offense in the second half. (RS)

14:40-Penn State takes a five point lead on the Jeff Brooks three pointer. This is easily the best that the Nittany Lions have played all year. Jones is continuing to exert himself in the middle for the Lions, as he now has 12 points on the night. (RS)

15:56-After four minutes of second half action at the Barn, the Lions trail by just two points. They seem to have transformed into a completely different team in the locker room and are playing at a whole new level in the second half so far. Ed has the team running sets, getting the ball inside, and playing defense. Battle is finding Jones inside, and the center is converting on the open shots. If Penn State can keep this up, the team may actually pull this off. (RS)

18:00-We're two minutes into the second half and Penn State has come out on FIRE! The Lions have knocked down their first three shots of the half and Andrew Jones is making his presence felt down low. Jones now has eight points on the night and is not shying away from Ralph Sampson, Damian Johnson, and the rest of the Minnesota forwards. (RS)

Halftime Stats - Click to Enlarge

0:00- We have reached half time at The Barn as the Minnesota Golden Gophers lead the Penn State Talor Battles 34-27. It has been a one man show, as usual, for Penn State, as Talor Battle once again proves to be the only source of consistent scoring. Battle leads all scorers, along with Lawrence Westbrook, with 11 points. Andrew Jones has 6 points for the Lions in one of his better games so far this season. In the second half, DeChellis must go back to playing Tim Frazier. Minnesota is meeting Penn State in the back court. Battle needs a second ball handler to help him in breaking the press. The Lions did a much better job keeping Minnesota off the glass toward the latter part of the first half, and must carry this success over to the second half. If Penn State is able to run their sets offensively, find help for Battle on the offensive end, and continue to rebound defensively, than they might have a chance at defeating Minnesota. (RS)

:50-Penn State takes a time out just before half time as they trail only five points. The Nittany Lions have really gotten after it on the glass of late, and that has been a key factor in the team's recent surge. Penn State now is on a 9-4 run, and will try narrow the deficit heading into halftime. (RS)

3:48- At the four minute mark, Penn State somehow only trails by 6. Talor Battle leads all scorers with 11, with no other Nittany Lion converting on more than two field goals. Penn State is hanging on for dear life right now, and desperately needs to gain control of the tempo, slow the game down, and establish a defensive presence to have a chance. (RS)

6:24-As we reach our third media time out, E Echellis needs to start stressing defense to his players if he wants to get the d's back in his name. Penn State is simply not getting back on defense after each possession, and Minnesota is scoring at will. The team is only trailing by 8, but that difference is sure to expand very soon if Penn State doesn't improve on defense. (RS)

8:40-Talor Battle is single handedly keeping this team in the game. Battle hit his third three of the game to get the Nittany Lions within five points. Someone has to step up for Penn State to have a chance. Otherwise, it appears, at least early on, that the Lions will struggle to come away with a victory. (RS)

15:02-Minnesota continues to bring the full court press, and Penn State is struggling to break it. Bill Edwards just turned the ball over trying to bring the ball up the court. Coach DeChellis needs to go to his bench and put in Tim Frazier, the team desperately needs another ball handler to help Battle. (RS)

15:51-At the first media time out, Penn State leads 7-5. The big bucket came from none other than Talor Battle. Battle caught the inbound pass well beyond the three point arc, but nailed the shot anyway. So far, it appears that Minnesota is trying to expose their advantage in the low post, and should be interesting to see of David Jackson, Andrew Jones and company can defend the Gophers. (RS)

18:00- Penn State starts the game with a bigger lineup, leaving Tim Frazier on the bench. With Minnesota running a full court press, it will be left entirely to Talor Battle to break the defensive pressure as the only ball handler. (RS)

19:05: Penn State coming out in a 2-3 zone to try to defend the bigs of Minnesota. Andrew Jones draws a charge to give Penn State the game. Jones will have his hands full all game long in trying to establish a defensive presence down low for the Lions. (RS)

7:30 PM - Penn State opens up its conference slate with a tough road test at Minnesota. While it is only the first conference game, this game can and will tell us a lot about Penn State. The Nittany Lions are a team with high season. After a 10-8 conference record last year (2nd best in school history) and a 4th place finish, Penn State figures to end this season much lower. It's not that the Nittany Lions don't have the talent. Ed DeChellis' squad is just too young and too inexperienced. Of course, Penn State has its weaknesses, but who doesn't. Even top contenders Ohio State (injury to Evan Turner), Purdue, and Michigan have their faults, granted they are much tougher to find. The Big Ten is just too good for Penn State this season. Purdue is a Final Four team. Michigan State is too. Whether it's these teams veteran leaders (Robbie Hummel, Kalin Lucas), or their tough defenses, Penn State can not compete. Talor Battle is good enough for an occasional upset, but not good enough for another winning campaign in one of the nation's deepest conferences. Besides the front-runners, Minnesota will be tough. It's always difficult to play a Tubby Smith led team, let alone open up with the Golden Gophers in the barn. Ohio State, Illinois, Wisconsin, slow-starting Michigan, and even Northwestern figure to be in the NCAA Tournament hunt. So, sit back, relax and enjoy the ride. If you thought the losses in the Charleston Classic were rough, remember there still may be a few more potholes along the way.

Nittany Lions Have a Tough Road Ahead

The Nittany Lions after 8 days off, head to Minnesota to face the Gophers who are undefeated this year on their home court. It is the BigTen opener for both teams.

Minnesota leads the series history 16-4. Three of the wins for the Nittany Lions were at the Bryce Jordan Center. Minnesota has won 9 of the last 10 games against Penn State.

The Nittany Lions have won their last three BigTen season openers and look for their third straight win with a victory tonight.

It won't be an easy task for the Nittany Lions. Some argue rest is good, others argue rest creates rust. A potential rusty team on the road against an undefeated home team will be tough. However, with winter break still on, the Nittany Lions may not need to deal with as many rowdy fans in Minnesota.

As usual, Talor Battle is going to need to step up along with his other starters. But the big key for the Lions will be their bench. Andrew Ott has played really well in the last 2 games. Against Gardner-Webb, Ott managed 12 points, 8 of which came from the foul line. The Lions will need to continue to get the ball inside, be physical, and draw fouls. Ott managed 7 points in the win over American.

The Lions are shooting 73% from the foul line this season.

The Gophers leading scorer, Lawrence Westbrook, averages 12.9 points per game compared to Nittany Lions' Talor Battle who is averaging 18.8 points per game.

Penn State is 8-4. Minnesota is 9-3. The game can be watched on ESPN2 at 9pm ET. Follow the game here on the Hoops Blog as well as members of the staff will be conducting a live blog throughout the game. Comments are welcome.

--Mark Elliot Wishnia--

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Talor Battle and Company Hitting Stride (and Shots) Just in Time

He's heard the skeptics, and he refused to buy it.

Leading scorer Talor Battle has often had to carry the team on his back to compensate for his inexperienced teammates.

Many questioned whether the new cast of characters could replace the departed seniors in Jamelle Cornley, Stanley Pringle, and Danny Morissey. Time and time again, the team was unable to hit open shots when given the opportunities this season. Despite these struggles, Battle had confidence in his teammates..

After a couple of sub-par performances, Battle has flourished of late, averaging 23 points over the last three games.

However, Battle was not the only one to elevate his level of play in the latter part of the team's non-conference season. Freshman forward Bill Edwards showcased his limitless potential in the victories over Gardner Webb and American, scoring a total of 25 points and shooting 6 of 9 from the three point land.

Sophomore Chris Babb appears to have found his shooting touch, as he hit 5 of 7 from behind the arc over the past two games. Babb also has made noticeable strides in his midrange game and has grown to be a force on the glass, corralling 6 or more rebounds in each of the past four contests.

Combine the performances of these two budding underclassmen with the spark provided by freshman guard Tim Frazier and the steady play of David Jackson and Jeff Brooks, and it appears that Battle may have found the right supporting cast just in time for Big Ten play.

---Ryan Staloff

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Thoughts on Penn State's non-conference performance

Here are a few quick bits to take from the 12 non-conference results for Penn State (8-4) this season:


-With Penn State's RPI hovering over 200, the team's four non-conference losses are poised to prevent the Lions from an at-large tournament appearance. A weak non-conference schedule last year hindered PSU from an NCAA Tournament berth and this year, with a mediocre November tournament, only two road games and only one challenging home game on the slate in non-conference play, Ed DeChellis and Co. could not afford to lose many games.

-Penn State, for the most part, has taken care of business against bottom of the barrel teams. As a matter of fact--Pennsylvania (0-7, #345), UMBC (1-9, #337) and American (2-10, #340) are three of the worst eleven teams in the country. Penn State defeated all three, but not very convincingly for the entirety of each respective game. Add close calls against Sacred Heart, Virginia and Davidson and you really begin to worry as a Penn State fan. Anyway, wins are wins.

-However, the losses to Tulane and UNC-Wilmington in the Charleston Classic are inexplicable losses that are bound to cause irreparable damage to a teams resume. Barring a 10-12 victory Big Ten campaign or a magical run in the BTT, Penn State will not be playing in the NCAA Tournament. The Big Ten is top-heavy with Purdue, Michigan State and Wisconsin leading the pack, but those three teams are followed by hungry teams like Northwestern, Minnesota and Ohio State who have done their part so far this year to prove that they are high-caliber teams. Penn State, who lost two of its top three scorers from 08-09 (Jamelle Cornley and Stanley Pringle) has clearly not proved that and, thus, there is little room for error from this point forward--especially in winnable games.

-The Lions have looked shaky in many games this year, as the coaching staff continues to feel out the rotation and get young players like Chris Babb, Tim Frazier and Bill Edwards more reps in the rotation. However, three of Penn State's four losses this year have been by three points or less (Temple, Tulane and VT). If the coaching staff can refine the rotation and develop some consistency in these players, those crucial mistakes down the stretch would decrease, and more of those situations would result in conversions and, more importantly, wins. The Big Ten season is a clean slate that will ultimately determine everything for these Lions, and a hot start for PSU could catapult them right back into the national spotlight. And don't forget, ladies and gentlemen, that once the Big Ten Tournament rolls around in early March, records are again erased and each conference's team that puts together the most impressive run can grab an automatic bid. Just saying. The improbable has happened in the past, and can certainly happen again.

-Talor Battle is Penn State's scoring, rebounding and assist leader and is a bonafide impact player for PSU. The country knows it. He has the experience necessary to lead a team and he has demonstrated that this season with 27+ point efforts in games against UPenn, UNCW, Virginia and Virginia Tech. Two of those supreme efforts by Battle resulted in wins, while the other two ended in disappointing defeats. If Penn State turns it around in the next few months, it will be solely due to the fact that other players on this team increase their productivity.

-Coming into the season, I personally expected either Chris Babb, David Jackson or Andrew Jones to establish himself as the second option for this team, averaging double figures. However, 12 games into the year, there is no clear consistency from anyone on this team. Battle leads the team with 19 ppg, but no other Lion averages in double figures as Jeff Brooks and DJ Jackson both average 8 ppg apiece. Brooks started the season strong registering numerous double figure point totals. Now, he seems to have vanished. D.J. exploded for a career-high 26 points vs. Sacred Heart and has been Penn State's grittiest player, but has proved to be as inconsistent as anyone from a scoring standpoint. Babb and Edwards looked strong in the past two games and seem to be on the upward swing. Penn State as a team shot 55% from the field tonight. Will it continue? We shall see.

-Jones, who was such an instrumental part of several of PSU's postseason victories last year, has not asserted himself on either end of the fall this season as much as the Lions need him to. Jones had nine points and four rebounds tonight, but he needs to bring more to the table in order for Penn State to contend with the hierarchy of Big Ten competition. In the Lions' 66-64 loss to Virginia Tech, Jones stacked up against a team with many gifted athletes fairly well in the first half, but then was nowhere to be found in a tightly-contested ballgame in the second half. That is what needs to change. He has demonstrated a knack for scoring in the post in his career.

-Asst. coach Lewis Preston has seen the highs and lows of Jones over the past two years since he left Florida's staff and came to Penn State. Jones' presence or lack thereof in the the coming weeks and months will be an indication of Penn State's chances this year and Preston has to make it a priority to make sure Jones picks up the intensity. The Big Ten prides itself on physicality, and a lack of an inside game will put PSU at a major disadvantage this year in conference play. The fact that a 5'11" guard, Battle, leads this team in rebounding this deep into the season really exploits the weakness in the front court for PSU.

Lots of questions still to be answered. Lots of games still left to be played. Conference play is on the way and--as I'm sure all of you know--no one can write off anyone at this juncture of the season. That's the beauty of college basketball.

-Pete Jensen

Monday, December 21, 2009


ComRadio men's basketball producer Pete Jensen will be complementing ComRadio's broadcast of the game ( right here as Penn State is set to tip with two-time Patriot League Champion American University at 5:00 p.m. Ryan Staloff and John Walk have the live call from the Jordan Center.

American (2-9) is coming off a narrow 59-57 home loss Sunday night to lowly UMBC. The Eagles are led by junior Vlad Moldoveanu, a transfer from George Mason, who sat out AU's first nine games because of NCAA transfer regulations. Moldoveanu posted 26 points and eight rebounds in a 62-57 win at Big East foe Depaul on Dec. 16. The 6'9" Romania native did not play in the Nittany Lions' 77-73 victory over his former school, Mason, in the first-round of the Postseason NIT last March at the BJC.

The Lions (7-4) look to wrap up their non-conference slate this evening with a win beforing heading home for the holidays and eventually kicking off Big Ten play a week from tomorrow (12/29 @ Minnesota - 9 pm). Talor Battle continues to be PSU's most viable option, as he storms into this game averaging 19 points, 6.1 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game. Keep it here this afternoon for all the action as the AU Eagles, straight out of Washington, D.C., tango with Penn State.


20:00 - 1st half is underway at the Jordan Center...

19:14 - Vlad Moldoveanu breaks the ice with a three after a couple of sloppy possessions by both teams to start the game. Amercan leads 3-0

18:58 - Talor Battle drains a three of his own to knot things up at 3-3.

17:10 - Big mishap defensively to start the game as David Jackson fouls Moldoveanu from behind the arc. He hits all three FT's to give AU an 8-5 lead. Giving a your opponent's best player easy opportunities at the line early on in the game is adding fuel to the fire.

16:07 - Jackson compensates for his defensive blunder with a beautiful move to convert plus the foul. He nails the free throw to tie things up at 8-8 early on in this first half.

15:02 - Moldoveanu makes it 10-8 and continues to be a mismatch favoring AU. He is clearly the Eagles' primary source of scoring.

14:38 - Media timeout. American still leads 10-8.

14:18 - Moldoveanu nails a three-ball right off the break. Vlad is 3-3 from beyond the arc. and has already accounted for 11 of AU's 13 points tonight. 13-8 Eagles.

13:54 - Bill Edwards responds quickly with a three on the ensuing Penn State possession to get the Lions back within two. 13-11 in favor of American.

12:15 - Edwards nails 1/2 FT to give PSU its first lead of the ball game at 14-13.

11:43 - Sophomore guard Chris Babb converts on his first attempt from three-point land off the nice feed from DJ. 17-15 PSU.

9:24 - Battle lays it in plus the foul on a pretty drive in which he really absorbed the contact and looked poised. 22-17 PSU.

8:48 - Battle picks a pocket and drives for another off-balance bucket to give Penn State its largest lead of the game at 24-17.

7:45 - Media timeout after a nice finish by Steve Luptak cuts the PSU down to five at 24-19. American's transition game is posing a serious threat to PSU's defense. Penn State's woes continue in terms of their forwards and centers not looking to score down on the block.

6:59 - Edwards keeps it going with a smooth mid-range jumper to extend PSU's lead to 26-19. The freshman is coming off a career-high 11-point effort in the blowout win over Gardner-Webb. His problem early this season was the lack of consistency but he is starting to change his course as he already has six points in this afternoon's game.

4:03 - Ed DeChellis beginning to implement Tim Frazier into the offense. After an agile move to the bucket, he grabs a steal and is fouled. Frazier nets 1/2 FT to give PSU a 31-19 advantage.

3:13 - Media timeout. Penn State has embarked on a 12-4 run since AU's switch from a 2-3 zone to a man-to-man defensive set. AU may want to avert back to their initial plan before this half concludes so they don't let things slip away.

1:47 - Moldoveanu continues to be AU's most lethal weapon. He slices to the bucket for two to give him 13 points on 4-8 from the field today. What a find he is proving to be for this young American U team. This team lost a lot from its Patriot League title team from the past two seasons and will need efforts like this from this transfer from CAA power George Mason to stay competitive this season.

1:19 - Battle three-pointer gives Penn State its largest lead of the game at 36-25 lead. Battle kicked off his junior season with some alarmingly poor shooting percentages but over these past three games against VT, GWU and now American, he has been nothing short of unconscious from deep.

:54 - Nick Hendra big three-point bucket from long range cuts the PSU lead back into single digits. AU needs a stop here.

:18 - A stagnant Penn State offensive sequence results in a timely steal for Hendra. He then gives it up to Riley Grant on the break for the emphatic slam. Buckets plus forced turnovers is the best recipe to get back into a ballgame. PSU lead down to 36-30.

:00 - Battle three-ball no good at the buzzer as Penn State limps into the half leading by only six against a 2-9 basketball team in American.

Full Halftime Stats - Click to Enlarge

20:00 - The final half of Penn State's non-conference campaign has commenced.

19:49 - Bill Edwards has a world of versatility and is making quick work early on in the 2nd half. He steps outside the arc once again to put Penn State up 39-30. Nine points for the freshman. Close to another double digit scoring output. This is the type of consistency we are starting to see from PSU's bench.

16:43 - Chris Babb has the hot hand as he nails a three to extend PSU's lead.

16:02 - Edwards is heating up as he converts on another three off the pass from Jackson. What a game this kid is having. The Ohio player-of-the-year adds to what has been a 12-1 PSU run to kick off a pivotal 2nd half for these Lions. Edwards chose PSU over schools like Oklahoma State, TCU and Miami (Ohio) because he was told he would get significant playing time. Not only is he getting the time but he is contributing on the scoreboard now as well. Penn State in control at the moment, leading 48-31.

15:23 - Battle continues his strong play from the perimeter with a three to give PSU a 20-point lead at 51-31.

14:38 - PSU's lengthy run finally comes to a close as Maldovenue hits a long ball to make it 51-34 PSU. Penn State used a 15-1 run to gain the upper hand, right from the start, in the 2nd half.

14:11 - Battle goes back to work with a layup to put PSU up 53-34. Battle has 16 points to join Edwards, who has 12, in double figs.

13:47 - DJ Jackson down on the floor with an injury. The junior appears to be favoring his knee, but he gets up and seems to be fine. It would be wise for DeChellis to sit him out for the remainder of this ballgame, which has evolved into a blowout at the BJC.

12:59 - Riley Grant's bucket down low cuts into the PSU lead, which now stands at 53-36.

11:24 - Babb steps inside the arc off the pass from Battle and drains a jumper from the foul line to make him PSU's third scorer in double figures with 10 points tonight. 57-38 Lions.

8:38 - Babb continues to thrive from the outside as he nails another three, posting a career-high 13 points tonight. He was all about the three-ball in high school in Texas and during his freshman season at PSU. That's his bread and butter. Babb has bounced back from a slow start to 09-10, as he looks to be hitting his stride just in time for Big Ten play. 64-38 PSU.

6:58 - Costly foul by Andrew Ott against his undersized AU counterpart, Steve Lumpkins. Lumpkins puts in the bucket but fails to convert on the ensuing FT. 66-40 State. Mishaps like those are the ones that need to be eliminated on the Penn State side before next Tuesday's Big Ten opener at Minnesota in the Barn.

6:27 - Daniel Munoz turns it over. No chance for the AU defense as the swift Tim Frazier slams it home all alone on the break. Lions lead 68-40.

4:07 - Moldoveanu hits 1/2 from the stripe after the foul by Edwards. The Mason transfer has 17 points on the afternoon turned night at the BJC.

3:57 - Media Timeout. 70-48 Lions. This game has been in the bag for quite some time. Impressive showing tonight for Penn State in front of another weak showing from Nittany Nation. The atmosphere is just so different with students home for break. It may not make a tremendous difference in games against inferior opponents in GWU and AU, but once Michigan and Wisconsin storm into the Jordan Center in early January before students return, the Lions will have no one to turn to for an energy boost outside of themselves.

2:27 - AU's Nick Hendra hits his third three in a row. He is clearly heating up, but a bit too late. PSU still ahead convincingly 72-54. Nittany Lions will soon improve to 8-4 on the season after another win over an 250+ RPI opponent.

:00 - Put it in the books! Penn State defeats American, 76-57, and improves to 6-1 at the Jordan Center this year. Moldoveanu and Hendra lead AU with 17 points apiece in the losing effort, as the Eagles drop to 2-10. Penn State (8-4) now storms into the Big Ten season after two convincing wins over AU and Gardner-Webb in the past three days. Talor Battle is again PSU's leading scorer with 16 points, adding 7 assists in the win.

Penn State's next game is set for Tuesday Dec. 29 at 9:00 p.m. on the road at Minnesota. The Lions matchup with Tubby Smith and the Golden Gophers will air on ESPN2. Then, as the new year arrives, the Lions will be in action at home on Sunday Jan. 3 against Trevon Hughes and Wisconsin at 2:00 p.m. ComRadio will have the call. Also, ComRadio will have the live coverage of PSU's matchup with Manny Harris and Michigan on Thursday, Jan. 7 at 7:00 PM.

So, again, for Ryan Staloff, John Walk and our board-operator Dan Landers-Nolan, this is Pete Jensen saying so long from University Park. The night is still early. Enjoy it everybody and be safe. Thanks for following and tuning into the broadcast. Peace out from Happy Valley.

Final Stats - Click to Enlarge

- Pete Jensen

Saturday, December 19, 2009


ComRadio men's basketball producer Pete Jensen takes you from tip-off to the final horn as Penn State battles Gardner Webb at the Bryce Jordan Center in snowy University Park, PA. Be sure to follow along here while listening to ComRadio's broadcast of the game on Ryan Staloff and John Walk have the live call.

Final Stats - Click to Enlarge

20:00 - Penn State corrals the opening tip. First half is underway.

19:32 - "Tiny" Tim Frazier comes up big on PSU's opening possession with a three ball. 3-0 State.

17:40 - Andrew Jones slams it home to make it 8-0 Nittany Lions. PSU is exploiting the mismatch down low early on in the first half.

16:20 - Talor Battle continues to light it up at home from deep as he converts on a long three-ball. PSU leads 11-2.

16:05 - GWU's C.J. Hailey counters with a long two. PSU still on top 11-4.

MEDIA TIMEOUT: Quick PSU Women's Volleyball national title game update: Texas leads two sets to none early. Not a good sign for Penn State as the team tries for a record 3rd straight national championship.

14:21 - Shot clock winds down but a poised Talor Battle finds the bottom of the net from downtown.

13:56 - Easy finger roll for Jackson. Too easy. Penn State looks well-rested and in control in the friendly confines of the BJC. 17-4 Lions.

13:05 - Chris Babb gets in on the action. He surprisingly came into the game as PSU's worst three-point shooter. Starting to show his prowess once again. Good signs all around as PSU is in front 20-4.

11:03 - Andrew Ott goes 3/4 from the charity stripe and then forces a turnover on Brandon Jackson's errant pass.

9:57 - GWU's Jonathan Moore ends a horrific scoring drought for the Runnin' Bulldogs with a three to end a 19-0 Nittany Lion run spanning over six minutes. 30-7 Penn State.

7:32 - Nits lead 32-10 as we reach another timely media timeout for Gardner-Webb. This team is out of sync right now and needs a spark. Plenty of time for GWU to narrow the deficit before recess. As of now, Battle and Frazier lead PSU with eight points apiece.

6:03 - Talor Battle's steal plus the flush gives PSU a 26-point advantage at 36-10. It's fair to say we are witnessing a first-half blowout for the first time this season at the Jordan Center. Battle has 10 points on 4-6 from the field. Team overall is showcasing its resilience after a lot of criticism after a poor shooting display from the field and the line in the 66-64 loss to VA Tech a week ago. Penn State looking good right now at 59% from the field and 9-11 from FT.

3:36 - The story of this first half has been runs. These so-called "Runnin' Bulldogs" have been letting the Lions run all night. Penn State put together a 19-0 run early and GWU's Anton Silver just nailed two FT's to end a 9-0 Lion run. 41-12 PSU. It was essential for PSU to come out strong after already suffering four losses in non-conference. With only GWU tonight and American left to go prior to Big Ten play, Ed DeChellis needed to set the tone this week at practice. Looks like his team has responded as it currently sports a 29-point lead.

1:36 - Quick 7-0 GWU run put the sparse Nittany Lion crowd on their heels for the first time of the night, but Battle provides the reassurance that Penn State has a handle on this one. Another Battle three gives PSU a 44-17 advantage.

HALFTIME is upon us at the Jordan Center. Snow is falling outside and the shots have been for Penn State (50%) as well. Not so much on the Runnin' Bulldog side (27%). Nittany Lions claim a 20-point lead at the break after GWU's Silver connects on a three with only four seconds to go. Here's some quick numbers from the first half:


Penn State Nittany Lions:
BATTLE: 5-9 from field, 3-6 from three, 13 pts, 1 reb, 1 ast
FRAZIER: 2-6 from field, 5-6 from FT, 10 pts 3 ast 2 reb
JONES: 2-2, 5 pts
BABB: 2-3, 5 pts 6 reb
BROOKS: 1-1 from 3pt, 3 pts 5 reb

Gardner-Webb Runnin' Bulldogs:
SILVER: 2-2 from 3pt, 8 pts
HAILEY: 2-3, 6 pts 1 stl 1 blk
HENLEY: 2-4, 4 pts 6 reb 2 ast
FLITTNER: 1-6, 3 pts 1 reb
MOORE: 1-3, 3 pts, 3 turnovers


Phenomenal job by ComRadio's own John Walk and Ryan Staloff on the call. Chances are...if you are listening to this game, snow is falling on the other side of your windows. Just kick back, relax and tune in to for the 2nd half call and follow this blog for the next hour or so. I can guarantee you will like what you see from our side of the deal...will Penn State hold their end of the bargain. Listen in and find out!


20:00 - Second half underway.

19:49 - Silver hits double figures as he nails a jumper to give him 10 points and cut the PSU lead to 18. GWU will need to work quickly if they intend on getting back into the ball game.

18:42 - Battle counters with a back-breaking three ball to give him 16 points on the evening. The Bulldogs can ill-afford to trade buckets. 47-26 PSU.

17:17- Frazier adding to the misery of GWU as he draws the foul and converts on both the layup and the ensuing FT. Penn State comfortably in front, 52-26, as Frazier has netted 13 points thus far.

15:58 - Official TV timeout. ESPN-U probably expected a better showing from the PSU crowd than the team (not saying much) but is getting the polar opposite. Penn State has been money all night on the court.

15:23 - Drew Jones persevering on the floor as he corralled Battle's missed three pointer for the easy putback. Easy buckets galore for PSU tonight. Christmas come early? 58-31. Gotta feel for these Bulldogs. GWU getting shellacked again tonight and on its way to its 7th straight loss after starting the 2009-10 campaign 3-0. Just a note: five of those six defeats for GWU have been by double digits.

13:15 - More points off turnovers for Penn State as a Tim Frazier steal leads to an Andrew Ott finish on the other end to give PSU a 63-31 lead. Largest lead of the game at 32 points! Didn't think this team had it in them.

12:57 - Lone bright spot for Gardner-Webb tonight has been Anton Silver, who has put together a nice outing with 15 points on 5-6 shooting off the bench. He just nailed another jumper but his admirable effort will most likely not be enough as PSU still leads 65-33. Official attendance for tonight's game is 4,697. Looks to be a lot less than that.

10:41 - Ott coming into his own a bit on this night. Arguably his best offensive output in his career so far with the Lions. The Villanova transfer just converted on a three-point play to help Penn State hit 70 on the scoreboard. 37 point lead. Ott has eight points.

9:18 - Freshman Bill Edwards drains a three to give him six points tonight. 73-36 Lions.

7:54 - Media timeout. Penn State is on cloud nine right now as it leads 78-42. Only one question looms: Does Penn State have 100 points in them for once?

5:14 - Final Update from Tampa: Penn State, despite falling into an 0-2 set deficit, finds a way to hold off No. 2 Texas for a five-set victory. Third-straight National Championship and second-straight undefeated season. This team truly exemplifies perfection. Props to them. Nittany Lion basketball not too shabby either this evening, up 93-50. 100 is within the realm of possibility. Sasa Borovnjak hits two FT to get on the board.

4:31 - Two straight buckets on consecutive possessions for PSU reserves Billy OIiver and Cam Woodyard. Eddie is emptying the bench.

3:44 - Penn State out in front 99-54 after a make by Sasa. It will be pretty sad if PSU fails to reach the century mark now.

3:31 - Edwards nails one from behind the arc to help Penn State register its first (and likely only) 100-point showing of the season. The last time PSU dropped 100+ on an opponent was nearly three years ago; on December 30, 2006, the Lions downed VMI at the BJC 129-111.

:00 - No contest. Penn State (7-4) thrashes Gardner-Webb, 104-57 behind a stellar shooting performance. Six Lions (Battle, Frazier, Jones, Ott, Edwards and Babb) hit double figures as PSU shoots 53% from the field, 46% from three-point land and 88% from the stripe. GWU's Anton Silver leads all scorers with 26 points on 9-13 shooting. Battle registers another strong effort with 21 points and 5 boards in the win over the Runnin' Bulldogs (3-7).

So--for John Walk, Ryan Staloff, our board operator Dan-Landers-Nolan and our entire ComRadio crew, this is Pete Jensen saying so long from Happy Valley. Truly an eventful evening for the Nittany Lion faithful. Penn State reaches the century mark for the first time since 2006 and women's volleyball takes home national hardware for the third straight season. Thanks for following. Be sure to tune in this Monday night as Staloff and Walk have the call once again as Penn State takes on American (2-8) at 5:00 p.m. EST. Pregame gets underway at 4:30.

Good night everybody. Stay warm out there.

- Pete Jensen

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Back in the Saddle Again: The Jeff Brooks Story

I came to Penn State in 2007-2008 being told that the basketball team was going to be better than expected. The big reasons why were Jamelle Cornley and Geary Claxton leading the charge, along with Mike Walker and Danny Morrissey. Also, the much-heralded freshman Talor Battle was going to be a big reason why they could succeed. Someone else that was supposed to be a big star was former Mr. Kentucky Basketball finalist himself, Jeffrey Brooks, straight out of Louisville, Kentucky.

According to, Brooks was the #14 ranked power forward in the 2007 recruiting class. His top 3 choices were between Penn State, Arkansas, and Clemson. Brooks visited Arkansas and Penn State, eventually choosing the Nittany Lions as his destination. Brooks averaged 21.3 points per game in high school and really made his mark on his AAU team, the Derek Smith All-Stars.

So, when he came into PSU, the 4-star recruit was supposed to be a big deal, someone who could finally give PSU a versatile 6-8 big man that can bang inside, but also step outside and score some points. Instead, the Lions had to watch one of the more disappointing scenes in Penn State basketball.

In his first year, Brooks averaged almost 15 minutes a game, only averaging 3.1 points per game and 2.6 rebounds. As a freshmen, that's not that bad of a year, at least you're getting time. But, as a big recruit, that's NOT the effort you want to see. Brooks was a liability defensively, had no energy, and was the butt of many a joke among Penn State fans that year, that wanted to see him succeed, but saw him flop time and time again early. He was a woeful 11-for-31 from the free throw line (35 percent!) and shot only 25% from beyond the arc (Although, in his defense, he only took 16 shots).

Year two didn't get much better for Brooks. He played 138 more minutes than in his freshmen year, but managed only 8 more made field goals. He shot 36 percent from the field, 25 percent from three, and 50 percent from the free throw line. He had a penchant for making a big play (dunk, blocked shot, big bucket, nice pass) and following it up with simply unforgivable mistakes (passes out of bounds, ticky-tack fouls, blown defensive assignments) that would, ultimately, cost PSU. While everyone else was breaking out (Battle, Cornley and Jones towards the end of the year), Brooks was stagnant averaging only 3.3 points per game and 3.1 rebounds per game. His Big Ten peers continued to get bigger, but he just didn't have the size and strength to compete.

Third time must be the charm.

Brooks has come out on FIRE this year, averaging 9.7 points per game. He's shooting 55 percent from the floor, 35 percent from three and 71 percent from the foul line, on pace for by far his best year. Brooks has scored in double figures 5 times this year (PSU is 4-1 in those games) and has really made an impact, gaining over 25 pounds of muscle since his freshmen year. His play has improved tremendously, and we're finally seeing the player that was a 4-star recruit. His basketball IQ is blossoming and he's making smarter and smarter plays this year.

The biggest improvement I see with Brooks is his demeanor. His first two years were marred with sloppy play and deer-in- the-headlights looks. This year, he's laughing it up with teammates, fooling around at press conferences and then going out on the court and playing with a swagger that I've only seen from Talor Battle on this team. His confidence is through the roof and it's showing this year for the Nittany Lions. He already has 87 points this year, 35 away from tying his season record already, and we're only 9 games in. He has 20 personal fouls this year, but they're good hard fouls, not the ones that give the opponent a fresh shot clock or send someone to the line for 3 free throws, like they would have been last year.

The roles have been reversed this year. With Brooks playing so well, we've seen Jones, Jackson and even Babb start to slip and have tough times getting back into any sort of groove. Battle has struggled to get going in a few games, but the Lions haven't needed him a lot...yet. I can't even imagine how great this team can be if everyone's on the same page. But, success for the Nittany Lions will only go so far as Jeff Brooks.

Whether or not that's a good thing, well, that's up to you. Me? Well, I'm just happy to see Brooks translate his skill in high school to the college level, for the first time ever. Here's hoping he's not bucked out of the saddle again. Who knows though, he might just climb back on.

by Tom Ferguson

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Lions Look Their Best in Loss

Even though Penn State lost a close one to Va. Tech, I think they played some of their best ball of the season. Talor Battle scored 32 points which was good. He missed his chance at points 33 and 34 at the end of the game in an attempt to tie at the buzzer. But in addition to that, this game was the most physical the Lions have been all season. For the first time, players did not seem to shy away from contact, and they were much more aggressive going after rebounds. Andrew Ott, who is a gigantic post presence, seems to enjoy just standing still and he seems to have no idea what he is doing. However today Andrew Ott was physical and landed himself 6 rebounds, and deflected a pass.

There are a lot of things to criticize on the team this year and expectations for this team are not very high. But I think playing this well against a solid ACC opponent looks good for the Lions moving forward despite the 66-64 loss. DJ Jackson had another great night scoring 12 points and having 7 boards.

Penn State still is having trouble shooting. They shot just 22 of 65 tonight and free throws continue to be a killer as they hit 13 of 22.

But once again, it was nice to see an up tempo more physical game. It was by far the most aggressive Penn State has been all season.

** As an added note, the 11,237 fans on hand was the largest crowd for a non-conference game in five years.

-Mark Elliot Wishnia

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

UMBC vs. Penn State Live Blog:

Tonight Penn State takes on a winless UMBC. Follow along with a live blog below from tonight's pre-game host, Mark Wishnia and ComRadio men's basketball producer Brian Tripp.

Final Stats - click to enlarge

Penn State wins 58-42 An excellent second half by the Lions. Everything went right and Penn State wins a game they should have won.

3:27 - PSU leads 57-35 Penn State became a little too cocky but atill have a big lead. They are going back to outside shots and are only 4 of 20 on the day from behind the arc. It doesn't appear as though Penn State can lose but they need to stick with what they've been doing well.

7:28 - PSU leads 53-32 Penn State continues to look good. After shooting just 34% in the first half, they have brought that percentage up to 43% here in the second half. Everyone is contributing right now.

11:20 - PSU leads 41-28
Penn State was just toying with us in the first half. They are doing everything well this half. They are driving, shots are falling, they are being physical and UMBC is still playing like the winless team they are. Still nothing falling for UMBC. They have just 5 points in this half so far. A nice recovery so far for State.

Penn State is outscoring opponents by only 17 points in the first half this season. Including tonight, Penn State is outscoring opponents by 30 points in the second half.

15:56 - PSU leads 37-26
Finally Penn State is making this game look a little bit easier. They are doing well in transition, getting rebounds, playing defense and everything seems to finally be clicking as Penn State continues to be a second half team.

18:15 - PSU leads 32-23
Penn State is starting the second half stronger. Good defense and Jeff Brooks off of a DJ Jackson missed shot, as the ball was rolling off the rim, came up and put it back with a backwards slam to get the crowd going. Epic play!

Halftime stats - click to enlarge

Halftime - PSU leads 27-23 Penn State should be driving! They are not being physical and not taking advantage of their height advantage. The shooting is awful, the passing is awful and the fact that this game is close, is an embarrassment on the part of Penn State.

3:29 - Game tied 21-21
Imagine watching kindergartners playing basketball in a gym with a light that is about to burn out. You just see a bunch of kids running back and forth and all you hear is a low sounding buzzing sound. That is the current state of the BJC. Penn State has 5 turnovers, is shooting 10 of 29 and just 1 for 10 from behind the arc. UMBC has 4 turnovers, is shooting 10 of 25, and 1 of 8 from behind the arc. Penn State leads in rebounds. 20-14.

5:59 - PSU leads 21-18
I just don't understand why Penn State is not playing a man to man defense. UMBC has not shown any ability to get inside and they have shown any speed. Instead Penn State is in a zone, and is scrambling all around on defense and it is just unnecessary. This game shouldn't be close... and it is. Battle has 2 points.

7:15 - PSU leads 19-18 Brooks has been solid inside and the most consistent interior presence this season. Whether it is Babb, Woodyard, Frazier, or Battle, someone needs to heat up from the outside. Penn State could be dominating in the post, they've shown flashes, but right now it is an all around struggle to establish an offense. Penn State has been a second half team all season. Let's see if they heat up soon or if we have to wait until the second half.

9:47 - Game tied 12-12 The Lady Lions play more physical than this. Penn State has a huge height advantage and they don't use it at all. When they have used it, they are not hitting shots. They are not hitting shots from outside either. Penn State is just 6 of 20 from the floor and 0-4 from behind the arc. UMBC doesn't look much better.

15:04 - PSU leads 10-8 Penn State early is again making a bad team look like a contender. The games against Sacred Heart and UVA were much closer than they should have been. Early on against a winless UMBC, they are not being aggressive inside and are giving UMBC open looks to keep them in the game.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Next up: Temple, UMBC

Check back for updates as the Nittany Lions head to Philadelphia to take on the Temple Owls this Saturday!

The pregame show returns Tuesday when Penn State hosts UMBC at the Bryce Jordan Center. Listen live as host Mark Elliot will provide complete coverage starting 35 minutes prior to tip. Mark will be joined by Mark Brennan from for an exclusive pregame interview and have our weekly sounds from head coach Ed DeChellis and several other Nittany Lions.