The Takeaway–Penn State–Northwestern
This game wasn’t about going to the big dance, it wasn’t about winning the Big Ten, it wasn’t even about capping off a good season. It was about finally getting it all done for the guys next to you, for the hours of watching film, and for all of the practices the day after losing another close one. This season has been a lot of things if not painful, so that made last nights win even better. For most of the season there has been an argument between fans about how good this team really is.
For at least one game, we found the answers to some of those questions. This team can be pretty good when it spreads the ball, passes well, and plays smart. It is true that Northwestern isn’t putting out top of the line basketball, but when you’re 0-12 it isn’t like you can be that picky about where your wins are coming from.
Talor Battle played a limited scoring role, and was the last of 5 different players to hit double digits. Generally speaking, the less Talor has to score, the better off the team is. His role as a decoy, as well as his ball distribution really opened up the Lion’s scoring and allowed Chris Babb and David Jackson to both score 20 points.
Maybe the best thing about the game (minus winning) was the constant inside game the Lions showed. The biggest issue Penn State has had is getting the ball down low and scoring in the paint, last nights game was a non-stop barrage of shots inside of 15 feet with a smattering of 3 ball shooting from Chris Babb, Jeff Brooks, and Talor Battle. This lead to a 56% FG shooting average and 41% behind the arc. The Lions also really helped themselves out boatloads by making 20 of 23 free throws. In short, everything they should have been doing all year long…they finally did.
All in all this game was a show of what this team could do if it puts it’s mind to it. It remains to be seen how things go from here, but it was without a doubt, a huge game for the Lions on a mental level. They’ve played hard all year, it is about time they had a win to show for it.