The Takeaway–Penn State–Illinois

So here we are, in a place that feels pretty normal, but oh so unfamiliar. Looking down the barrel of a 0-4 Big Ten start the Lions had 3 seconds to get a shot off. This time, it didn’t fall.  Although each loss puts the Lion’s postseason hopes farther and farther away, there are signs that the team is improving and that this season might boil down to a very very long practice to what could be a pretty interesting season next year.

Regardless of their record this team has shown a lot of fight, and while fight doesn’t score points for you, it is going to help you get better. The Lions have lost 3 or their Big Ten games by less than 10 points two of which they lost by a combined total of 6 points. So you really can’t say that the effort hasn’t been there. You might be able to point out moments of lapses in intensity, but for the most part the team is giving themselves a chance to win in almost every game this year.

The biggest problem the team suffers from is playing smart for the a whole 40 minutes . Bill Edwards is going to be a good player, but right now he is just not taking his shots. The farther away from the basket you get, the less Edwards should be shooting. It is true that he can hit the three, but he hasn’t had the consistancy that a three pointer, even more so a three pointer early in the possession shouldn’t be his first choice. When you’re in a close game, playing smart each possession will go a long way. As a matter of fact, it’ll win you games.

Lots of people will point to Talor not passing on the final drive to the hoop as the reason the game was lost, but when you lose by 1 there are 38 other shots that didn’t go in that ultimately could have given you the win. While it is key to play smart with the clock winding down, the loss was a team effort. Uncontested shots, poor ball handling and questionable shot selection were all crippling aspects of the Lions effort last night. It also didn’t hurt that Demetri McCamey went off in the final moments to put the game just out of reach.

Overall I liked the effort that I saw for about 35 minutes of the game. A few dumb plays here and there ended up being the difference between a 1-3 record and a 0-4 record. In the end that is all the game really is, who can make the least mistakes. So far this season the Lions have beaten themselves in 3 Big Ten games, once the mental game is sharper this team could be very very good. Iowa is current sharing the bottom of the Big Ten with Penn State, and while the records might be similar, the Lions look to be a much better team and should come away with win number 9.

~ by blj1887 on January 13, 2010.

2 Responses to “The Takeaway–Penn State–Illinois”

  1. This loss was not as heartwrenching as the Michigan collapse. I mean we did have a shot to win in it the end, unlike being down and having to foul to stop the clock. I hate those kind of finishes, even when we’re up because we suck so bad at the stripe.

    So you’re right about this season being practice for next year. The younger players are improving ever so slightly from game to game, unlike the core of juniors (except Talor) Really, after watching and hoping for three years, Jones, Brooks and Jackson don’t seem to be any better offensively than just bodies on the court ie. no one seems intimidated by any threat of them scoring. And that really handicaps the half court. Talor needs a couple more big guns like he had last year with Jamelle and Stanley. The transition game is fine, but half court offense is, well, offensive.

    That’s where I think Babb and Edwards could step in next year and also Frazer in dribble penetration. Babb need to be the 3 point bomber and Edwards the scorer in the paint, and I don’t mean just a garbage man. Edwards has to create his shot. I loved that steal and dunk Frazer had at Illinois by the way. Next year’s non-con schedule should be enough to prepare Taran for the conference slate. But I’ll tell you what, if these youngsters don’t improve, then all bets are off.

  2. You’re exactly right,a lot of next year success will be based off of the improvements of the younger players. If Edwards and Frazier dont get any better there will be issues. Taran looks college ready, but he can’t do it on his own.

    Edwards and Babb could be the big gun for Talor like you said, and I agree 100% Edwards has the scoring mentality and might be one of 3 guys on the team who really want to shoot the ball.

    Jeff Brooks has been better this year, so maybe he still has room to grow. Otherwise, some of the older players still look maxed out. But then again, you can always learn, and as long as you’re willing to practice hard therre isn’t any reason they can’t get better.

    Good points, thanks for commenting.

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