This regularly scheduled preview has been replaced by a conversation with Eric from Battle Does It Again, has answered a few pressing questions about The Fighting Talor Battles and tomorrow night’s game.
Golden Gophers vs. Penn State Nittany Lions
8:00 pm (CST) at Williams Arena (Minneapolis, Minnesota)
Radio: WCCO 830 AM
TV: ESPN 2
Tickets: Best available- Row 15 upper deck, behind the basket
Liveblog: We’ll have a chatroom up
FTB: Every conversation about Penn State basketball this season begins and
ends with Talor Battle. How is he doing this year, and how is handling the attention (including, of course, your newly re-named blog?)
BDIA: Talor’s doing great. He’s a special player. I really think his experience with Bo Ryan and the USA World team over the summer really helped his game. He’s still pulling down a ton of boards for a 6’0″ guard. The one problem I think Talor (and the rest of the team) is working on is his trust in his teammates. There have been some games where Talor has tried to do too much. But losing Pringle and Cornley, I think chemistry issues on the court was to be expected early. It doesn’t help either that no one has really stepped up to help him.
FTB: Last season Penn State did everything they needed to do in conference to make the tournament, but their non-conference season held them back. Is that going to happen again this year?
BDIA:Well frankly, I’m not even considering the NCAA tournament with this team, but the answer to your question is yes. I think we all thought the schedule was improved going into this season, but it’s actually worse than last year’s. Part of it was because they absolutely sucked it up in their exempt tournament in Charleston. They’ll need to win 11 conference games again if they want to go dancing. Not gonna happen.
FTB: The Nittany Lions had unprecedented fan support, especially during their NIT run last season. How has that carried over?
BDIA:Very well, actually. Season ticket sales have been great, and the marketing team has done a fabulous job reaching out to the students. We’ve had some great crowds so far. I think Battle won a lot of hearts of fans last year, so more people are at least paying attention. We’ll see how the bandwagon jumpers handle what appears to be a long conference season, though.
FTB: Talor Battle is the only Nittany Lion scoring in double figures. Who figures to step it up on Tuesday in the Big Ten opener? Who needs to step it up?
BDIA:Anybody. It doesn’t matter who, we just need someone. We have 7 guys who are going to log big minutes every night. There’s Battle, then the other 6 who are all averaging an inconsistent 7-8 PPG. No one has stepped up as being a reliable second scoring option. You’d prefer someone inside to step up, but I couldn’t tell ya who it’s going to be. Jeff Brooks has the highest potential to be a scorer in the paint, but he still likes to float around the perimeter. Andrew Jones and David Jackson are fourth year players, so if they haven’t stepped now, is it ever gonna happen? True freshman Bill Edwards might be the best bet. He’s played very well for a frosh, and he still isn’t 100% (partially tore his MCL and missed the first 4 games of the year).
FTB: In what areas do you think the Gophers will have the advantage on Tuesday? Where will Penn State have the advantage?
BDIA:Minnesota is bigger, deeper, more balanced and experienced. They have played a tougher schedule and are playing at home. I’d like to say PSU has an advantage on the perimeter, but I’d just be kidding myself. Especially considering how well Minnesota has shot the ball against PSU in recent history (I’ll go on record and say the Gophers don’t shoot 100% from 3 this year), and how poor PSU has shot this season. The only advantage for the Nittany Lions is they’ll have the best player on the floor, but last I checked, basketball is a team game.
FTB: What is your prediction for the outcome of Tuesday’s game?
BDIA:I’m not looking forward to this game. Minnesota big.
FTB: Your predictions for Penn State’s conference record and NCAA tournament seed (if applicable)? Your Big Ten tournament and regular season champion predictions?
BDIA:5-13. We only play Indiana and Iowa once. I don’t think we’ll even get invited back to the NIT to defend our crown. As far as the Big Ten, I liked Purdue before the year and I still like them now to win the regular season. But I’ll switch it up and go with OSU to win the tournament, with the expectation that Turner is back healthy and tearing up like he was earlier. That guy is in a league of his own. It was unfortunate to see him get hurt.