The Takeaway–Penn State–Wisconsin
Taking care of the little things. My mom reminds me of that before each semester. Take care of the little things and the big things will take care of themselves. Today was a prime example of how true that really is. The Lions pulled away from the Badgers and looked like the better team for a decent amount of the game. The ball movement was there, the shots were falling, and for the most part Penn State was doing a good job keeping Wisconsin from getting open looks.
But then things took a turn for the worse, the Lions stopped passing well, made little mistakes, and it cost them a 15 point lead. The stat of the game was clearly the 19 turnovers to Wisconsin’s 5. The worst part was the timing of the turnovers, Bill Edwards looking down the passing lane makes it easy for anybody to steal it, Andrew Ott traveling under the basket will kill you, and taking heavily contested shots will only help the other team. Ultimately the most frustrating thing about this season isn’t that the Lions have fallen to 0-7. It’s how they’ve done it.
Penn State has had a chance to win in every Big Ten game. They’ve held a lead in all of them and have yet to get blown out. The players have the athletic talent to play with anyone, and a good 60% of the game today was an example of why this team could be very good. The biggest problem they have are in complete..mental breakdowns. Penn State has yet to put together a full 40 of solid execution and basketball IQ. Coaching really isn’t helping matters any, the last possession of regulation isn’t exactly how you would draw it up. I figure, if Doc Rivers is going to drive to the hoop on the last play then it probably isn’t a bad idea. Talor has made shots from there many times, but it still isn’t a high percentage shot.
Regardless of the result, there were a few positives to take from the OT loss. Mainly, the Lions took Wisconsin to OT, mostly remarkable because Bo Ryan is now 51-0 against unranked Big Ten teams. Taking the Badgers to the brink is no small task, and while it isn’t winning, it is worth mentioning. Chris Babb seems to have found his shot again scoring 16 points all of which came at rather timely points in the game. Bill Edwards got back to his bread and butter and worked in the paint scoring 9 points instead of shooting long threes.
Penn State has fought to stay in games, but they lack consistent execution to get themselves over the hump. Until the Lions find a way to play a full game with a high level of basketball IQ it could be a even longer haul through the back half of the Big Ten season.