The Takeaway–Penn State-Michigan

Something about being successful makes failing even worse. Not two years ago a loss like the one last night would have seemed pretty par for the course. A 16 point lead, turning into a 9 point loss was something your average Penn State fan had grown used to, heck a 16 point lead in Big Ten play wouldn’t have even happened two years ago but I digress. After winning the NIT expectations went through the roof and last night’s struggle was a good example of when expectations and execution don’t come together.

Finding the source of a collapse of that size isn’t as easy as it might seem, you can blame the coaches for taking the foot off the gas, but that doesn’t explain why DeShawn Sims was left wide open. You can blame the players for waiting so long to shoot the ball, but that doesn’t explain why the coaches called for offensive sets that take so much time to unfold and seem to have little to no structure. Ultimately it is a combination of both problems. Ed told the players to slow down the game and play smart, meanwhile the team made bad passes and turned the ball over 17 times.

One of the biggest problems this team currently has is its leadership. A very long time ago Ed had a team meeting and talked to the upperclassmen about filling the roles of Jamelle and Co. As much as we love Jamelle, his leadership style wasn’t anything we hadn’t seen before. All over the country, great teams have those one or two players that really lead by example, show emotion, and set the tone for the rest of the team. Apparently nobody got the  message at the meeting because you can’t really find yourself one guy on the court who is really leading the team.

What we need is a leader..

When it comes to offense, it is honestly a guessing game as to who will show up. The Lions have 7 players who average more than 6 points a game, but only one of them averages more than 10 a game (5 bucks which one.) The worst part about it is that all 7 of those players have had games over 10 points. Despite the apparent depth on paper, nobody shows up on a consistent basis as a legitimate second scoring option. If they’re going to have any shot at a turnaround in the Big Ten somebody has to step up. Twice last night the Lions didn’t get a shot off during their possession, not because of Michigan’s defense, just because nobody would step up and shoot it.

I personally am not one to coach from the armchair, it’s isn’t that fair, and it doesn’t change anything. That being said, there were some serious issues with the second half gameplan. DJ played maybe a few possessions in the second half, and while Andrew Ott was going to town in the start of the first half, he hardly saw the floor in the second half of the game. Penn State has this idealology that we only need to score 1 more point than the other team. You see it on the football field and all across campus…(minus Womens Volleyball, they’ll pound you into the ground because they like it.)..Joe Paterno would win every game 3-2 if he had the option. While I have no objection with winning with class and playing with honor, the basketball team doesn’t have the option to sit on a 16 point lead and hope they don’t lose.

The game was a microcosm of the problems facing this years team. Plenty of skill but lacking execution. A game plan, but questionable changes in personnel. It would be easier to watch if you didn’t know that the team had what it takes to play with the rest of the Big Ten. The painful part comes from watching a collapse occur from bad playing and poor situational coaching. But we live on to play another game…

~ by blj1887 on January 9, 2010.

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