The Takeaway–Penn State–Minnesota

**I’ll be back to regular posts, this week was just really busy**

Well, that is about the only thing that hasn’t happened yet. After spending most of the game in a 6-8 point hole, the Lions battled back to tie the game with 9 seconds left, only to have Lawrence Westbrook nail a 18 foot fade-away with a hand in his face at the buzzer to secure the Gophers a 66-64 victory. This game really was the high point in how much things haven’t gone the Lions way this year, lay-ups not falling, bounces not going their way, we’ve seen it all. It was only a matter of time before they were beat at the buzzer.

Overall there is no denying the effort that the Lions put in today. David Jackson(18 pt), Chris Babb(12 pt), and Talor Battle(20 pt) all scored in double figures which helped balance out the Lion’s offense that dished out 13 assists. The ball movement at times was outstanding and even created oohs and ahhs from the rather rowdy crowd of 10,000 that came out to try to do their part.

It really did look this good at times. For real, it was something else.

The real issues the Lions had today came from the lack of consistent inside play. That has really been the problem all season as neither Andrew Ott or Andrew Jones have been able to produce anything consistently on the inside offensively or defensively. Ott generally does a little better defensively but got called for 4 fouls in 14 minutes of work so he never really got going.

Despite only scoring 3 points Jeff Brooks did a good job staying in the game plan while grabbing 5 boards and 3 assists. His ability to work within the offense even on an off night shooting gave the Lions a dependable defender and ball handler especially in press defense that Minnesota runs. For the most part, Penn State had little trouble breaking the press which was a big part of their ability to hang with the Gophers. A good part of the time Talor was not the primary ball handler up the court which allowed guys like Tim Frazier and Chris Babb to handle the ball which allowed Talor to work off-ball.

If there is one thing to take away from the game it was Penn State finally coming back from being down in a game and not collapsing at the very end. Sure they lost, but the shot was well defended and a fade-away turn-around jumper. You couldn’t have asked the Lions to have defended really any better than they did on the last possession. Sometimes you just catch a bad break, in Penn State’s case, they’ve caught a lot of them.

One thing I really enjoyed about this game was the higher of mental smarts the team showed. In a critical stage of the game Penn State was able to force a jump ball and get the ball back on what would turn into the Lion’s final possession and game tying bucket by Talor Battle. As I mentioned before the ball movement at times was exceptional and really have the Gohpers on their heals. Ed also used timeouts in a much better fashion, moving a little bit away from his stance of believing in his players to get the job done. Although that was still important, his ability to control some of the tempo of the last 5 minutes of so really helped the Lions get back into the game.

When you lose by 2 points you can point to almost anything and find a way you could have picked up a few points. Overall the Lions played one of the most complete games of the Big Ten season and have shown heart and courage in the face of an ugly season. While we might not like the results, it is hard to not have respect for a team that is going out and trying to win like it’s their first Big Ten game. Sooner or later it is going to fall into place.

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~ by blj1887 on February 6, 2010.

4 Responses to “The Takeaway–Penn State–Minnesota”

  1. I don’t know if this team plays better from behind (Ohio St, Minn) or form ahead (Mich, Wisc). I would imagine there’s more of a sense of urgency being behind, especially with this group being 0-11 in conference.

    But I have to wonder how much the thought of losing is getting between the ears of the players at the end of games (oh no, here we go again). Their psyche has got be pretty fragile by now, so I think tying Minn with ten seconds to go after being down the whole game showed something. I don’t know what (no quit may be?) but it was so much more positive than being shut out in OT at Madison.

    May be it was that the players other than Battle, finally realizing that they have to do something (Fraziers’ tie up, Brook’s scramble) instead of watching and hoping Talor makes a play. Whatever it is, they’re going to need that positive “thing” next Saturday when Sparty comes to town. I think it’ll be a game to the end, because this team will refuses to get blown out.

    • Yea, I was really pleased with the way they fought to get themselves back in the game. The Tie-up was the first really good basketball play they had made in a long while.

      As far as mental, I’m sure that this losing streak has sucked, but I also think that if they were going to fold they would have already. Too many losses in a row with them still fighting. I don’t see that changing anytime soon.

  2. By 10,000 you means 1,000 right?

    • haha…you make a good point. It was a pretty decent crowd all things considered. Nothing like The Barn, but if I had to guess there was prob 8,500 or so. Leave it to the BJC to add a few G’s

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