Time is quickly running out for Geary Claxton and the rest of the chronically under-achieving Penn State Nittany Lions. Last year, no one expected Penn State to compete for a conference title, but a player as good as Claxton should be able to lead a team to more than 2 conference wins. PSU has already nearly matched last season’s victory total, and team success to match Claxton’s individual success may have finally arrived.
What we know:
Regardless of the soft schedule and a few dubious losses, this Penn State is much better than the Nittany Lions of the last few years. They enter the Big Ten season 8-4 after last years woeful 11-19 record. But even though this a much improved team, they still are’t very good.
Much like the Gophers last year, Penn State’s season nearly unraveled in Orlando at the Old Spice Classic. An acceptable loss to South Carolina was quickly followed by embarrassing losses to Rider and Central Florida, two middle of the road teams in conferences inferior to the Big Ten. Unlike last season’s Gophers, Penn State was able to overcome the post-Disney hang over, and beat Virginia Tech in the Big Ten-ACC challenge. A week and a half later, they beat Seton Hall at home as well. The upper echelon Big Ten teams should be able to leave Happy Valley with a smile on their faces, but the rest of the conference shouldn’t be surprised if they face a tougher than expected challenge at Penn State. Their 8-0 home record isn’t a fluke.
Who to watch:
- Geary Claxton, Penn State’s all-everything forward is already on his way to another monster season. He is averaging 19 points and 8.5 rebounds per game, with season highs of 29 and 12 respectively.
- Jeff Brooks and Stanley Pringle were expected to be impact players at the beginning of the season, but both have had difficulty adjusting to D I basketball. Assuming that both improve throughout the year, Penn State could be dangerous by the Big Ten tournament.
How they’ll do:
Wins: at Northwestern, Purdue, Iowa, Michigan
Losses: at Illinois, Minnesota, Wisconsin, at Indiana, at Iowa, Ohio State, Michigan State, at Purdue, at Michigan, Illinois, at Michigan State, at Minnesota, at Wisconsin, Indiana
Record: 4-14 (12-18)
What we don’t know:
How offensive will the student section newsletter be when Ohio State plays at Penn State?