In addition to our preview of tomorrow’s game, Eric Gibson of Black Shoe Diaries was kind enough to answer a couple questions about the Penn State basketball team. Black Shoe Diaries is a SBNation blog dedicated to all sports from Happy Valley and they do a great job covering the oft-overlooked basketball team. We hope that you’ll check them out for their coverage as well.
1) Last season, La Salle handled Penn State winning 82-57 with Tyreek Duren scoring 29 points at the Palestra. What has changed in the last year for this Penn State team?
The most obvious change is definitely the return of Tim Frazier. There was massive turnover to the roster after last season, but no addition is more important than Frazier. I recall in last year’s matchup, Tyreek Duren was able to blow by PSU’s bigger, slower guards all game long, forcing PSU into a 2-3 zone that the Explorers carved up from the perimeter. With Frazier back (and the additions of Allen Roberts, Geno Thorpe, and Graham Woodward), the Lions should be able to defend Duren and Garland off the bounce with much more effectiveness.
Tim is best at creating scoring opportunities, whether for himself or others. His quickness is still there post-injury and it’s difficult for anyone to keep him out of the paint. He has always been a tremendous passer, but he can finish in an array of ways around the cup – either hand, floaters, mid-range pull ups. Plus he draws fouls at an incredible rate. He’s a very complete offensive player, and he ain’t half-bad defensively either. He really doesn’t get the credit he deserves nationally.
This sounds like superficial analysis, but Bucknell simply made their open shots against PSU’s defense. They not only made them, they were lights out all night to the tune of 90 points. Penn State’s defense has struggled defending ball screens, particularly their bigs, but only Bucknell so far has been able to take advantage. The Lions’ offense, however, has been very productive through 3 games, which has been a huge turnaround from their ineffective attack last season.
Frazier and DJ Newbill will have their hands in everything Penn State does and will produce most of the points for the Nittany Lions. Wing forward Ross Travis looks poised for a breakout year, as well. The Lions’ offense is guard-oriented with the bigs being capable of playing on the perimeter to open up the floor and create driving lanes. Defensively, Penn State will play mostly man defense that generally switches on screens. However, if their foul troubles continues, you can see different looks based on how the game plays out.
Chambers comes from Jay Wright and his Villanova model, so the Lions are definitely guard-oriented. Penn State boasts one of the best group of guards not only in the Big Ten, but in the country. However, the frontcourt is severely inexperienced and unproven, nor is there a lot of size or bodies down low. Brandon Taylor has been stellar offensively through 3 games, but is incapable of staying on the floor for extended run without picking up fouls. Ross Travis and Taylor should be a solid matchup against Jerrell Wright, but I expect PSU to struggle with Zack’s size and high IQ all game long.