The Takeaway–Penn State–Wisconsin
Can you blame me?
Playing in the Big Ten isn’t easy, and any illusions of the Lions shooting a 50% or higher clip from the field against Wisconsin should have been left at home. It was a possibility, but a Bo Ryan coached team isn’t going to let you get very many good looks at the basket and they’re going to make you pay for your mistakes on either end of the floor. Beating Wisconsin takes hitting free throws, making smart plays, and playing solid defense for 40 straight minutes, not to mention a nice helping of luck.
Let’s be real here for a second, this Wisconsin team beat a stacked, veteran Duke team, a team that itself will be found somewhere in the bracket come march. Not to mention a recently played game where they made Ohio State look like a JV squad. No amount of positive energy or happy thoughts really removes from the fact that Wisconsin is currently playing some of the best basketball in the country.
This isn’t to suggest the Lions didn’t stand a chance, with the attitude of “oh-they’re-playing-really-well-so-we-dont-have-to-try” you’ll never win a single game in the conference. It is however a realization that these sorts of losses happen and that you should keep the pitchfork at home because this isn’t necessary an indication of how Ed is going to do this season coaching. A Nittany Lion win would depend on their shooting, their execution, and intensity for a full 40mins, all doable things, but not simple by any stretch.
The box score tends to speak for itself, but there were a few positives to pick out of the game that was somewhat expected, yet just as painful to watch.
David Jackson— Say what you will about DJ, but he is turning out to be the most statistically dependable player on the team. He generally doesn’t take shots he shouldn’t and he is hitting the ones he should shooting 49% from the field and 42% from the arc. That didn’t change today as David shot 62% from the field and scored 13 points, had 5 rebounds, an assist, and 1 steal. All of which he achieved while giving up only one personal foul to a referee unit that didn’t know what traveling looked like and thought every piece of contact was a push-off or a charge.
If DJ can keep up his level of play it could be huge in getting some of the load off of Talor. The fact of the matter is that the team doesn’t win when Talor trys to carry them. The team wins when Talor scores and the rest of the team chips in. If DJ can score 10 or more points a game then he’ll be doing the team, my head, and the general population of the Jordan Center a huge favor.
The Freshman are Freshman— Tim Frazier and Bill Edwards are going to be really good basketball players. Frazier might be better than Talor in the long haul from a court vision standpoint, but right now, they both look their age. Edwards shot a dismal, (if you can even can call this dismal) 0-7 from the field and committed 4 personal fouls. Frazier also put up a no-no but managed to grab 3 rebounds. Both of them look a little lost in the grand scheme of the game plan, but as the season goes along they should grow into much better, and much smarter players. Right now it is about getting them involved with easy shots, getting Frazier and open look and a basket could be pretty huge in a few games down the stretch. Edwards has a big body so it is more about him finding his true role on the floor when it comes to shot selection; sometimes he seems so eager to contribute that he forces things when he doesn’t need to.
Edwards has the scoring mentality that this team needs, he’ll just need to figure out where he should be trying to score from. He wasn’t a huge three ball shooter in high school and seems to want to take that shot. Getting himself to the rim and bumping elbows might be the best thing for him right now in his development.
Free Throws– I hope it was just a blip in the road, but the Lions went back to their old ways and hit just about every part of the basket but the net when they were at the free throw line shooting 36%. There were several points in the game when Wisconsin went on mini droughts that the Lions couldn’t capitalize on and get back into the game. Free throws are key to getting into a game and staying in one but you’ve got to make the shot. The Lions did a excellent job getting John Leuer to the bench with his 2 quick fouls and kept attacking bodies, but it didn’t matter because they couldn’t get the free ones to fall.
Free Fallin’ just not today..
Generally speaking this game was a throw away game. Not in the sense that it didn’t count, but in the sense that sometimes you can only do so much when you’re young and you’re playing a great team. If anything the Lions showed that they wouldn’t let a lead get so large than a comeback was impossible. Several points in the second half they were in a position to stage a comeback, but it never happened. Many many teams from the past would have let a 12 point hole turn into a 30 point hole. Up next is Michigan who just picked up a win against a struggling Ohio State team. Should be a good chance for the Lions to pick up their first Big Ten W.