Penn State Nittany Lions
Big Ten (22-11, 10-8)
NIT Seed: #2
Big Wins: 1/6 Purdue (67-64), 2/1 at Michigan State (72-68), 2/18 at Illinois (38-33)
Bad Losses: 11/28 vs Rhode Island (72-77), 2/5 at Michigan (51-71), 3/7 at Iowa (67-75)
Coach: Ed DeChellis
Talor Battle, Sophomore, Guard, 16.8 ppg, 4.9 apg, 5.4 rpg
Stanley Pringle, Senior, Guard, 12.9 ppg, 2.8 apg, 3.0 rpg
David Jackson, Sophomore, Forward, 4.1 ppg, 3.1 rpg
Jamelle Cornley, Senior, Forward, 14.3 ppg, 6.2 rpg
Andrew Jones III, Sophomore, Forward, 5.6 ppg, 5.4 rpg
Chris Babb, Freshman, Guard, 2.4 ppg, 1.0 rpg
Jeff Brooks, Sophomore, Forward, 3.1 ppg, 3.0 rpg
Danny Morrissey, Senior, Guard, 5.2 ppg, 1.6 apg
Why They Can Surprise:
Penn State has not been very consistent during Big Ten play and the offense is occasionally stagnant, but the Nittany Lions can stay in most games due to their ability to hang onto the ball. Coach Ed DeChellis’ team rarely turns the ball over and those extra possessions have proven to be very useful. Point guard Talor Battle deserves much of the credit. The 5-11 sophomore is dishing out 4.9 assists per game and commits just 2.4 turnovers. Battle is more than just a point guard though. He is the most dynamic scorer on the team and one of three quality long range shooters on the team.
Along with Battle, Stanley Pringle and Danny Morrissey will also hit the occasional three-pointer. Pringle, who is averaging 12.9 points per game, shoots an incredible 46.4 percent from beyond the arc. Morrissey, who is usually the first player off the bench, lacks the consistency of Pringle on his outside shot, but he is an effective shooter and will provide a spark. When those three are hitting their shots, Penn State is a good offensive team.
Why They Can Disappoint:
Despite the decent shooting from beyond the arc, Penn State as a whole is not a good free-throw shooting team. Battle spends a lot of time at the charity stripe and he shoots a decent 70.4 percent, but Jamelle Cornely also spends a lot of time there and he barely hits over 42 percent of his attempts. The other issues are the lack of steals and blocked shots. The Nittany Lions do not have a presence in the paint and, thus, the opposition will have a relatively easy time scoring around the basket.
Who To Watch:
Cornley is the largest scoring threat in the paint, but he has emerged as a dynamic scorer inside and out. Cornley does a lot more than put points on the board and is the team’s best rebounder. However, Andrew Jones III is not too far behind Cornley in the rebounding department. Jones is not much of a scorer, but he does do the dirty work in the paint. With David Jackson and Jeff Brooks, both of whom have starting experience, ready to contribute, Penn State has some quality options in the frontcourt. Neither Jackson nor Brooks will find the bottom of the net very often, but if they can hit the glass and add the occasional bucket, the Nittany Lions are a good team that can win a game or two in March.
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 66.0 (206th in nation, 6th in conference)
Scoring Defense: 61.9 (44, 8)
Field-Goal Percentage: 43.9 (163, 9)
Field-Goal Defense: 43.0 (151, 8)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 7.4 (64, 4)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 36.6 (75, 5)
Free-Throw Percentage: 65.3 (263, 10)
Rebound Margin: 2.1 (108, 4)
Assists Per Game: 12.8 (181, 8)
Turnovers Per Game: 10.8 (6, 2)
Joel’s Bracket Says: First Round loss to George Mason