2007 Penn State Nittany Lions Basketball Preview
The last time the Nittany Lions of Penn State (11- 19 overall, 2- 14 Big Ten) were included in NCAA tournament betting was 2001. Last season, coach Ed DeChellis’ (42- 76 in four years at Penn State, 147- 169 in 11 years) team tied for tenth in the conference. But there is hope for the Lions as this year they look more athletic and sport greater depth than they have in recent seasons.
The team was ranked last in the Big Ten in scoring defense, giving up an average of 67.9 PPG, while they scored a mere 65.4 PPG. State moved the ball around well with 15.1 APG, tying them for second. The team was a mediocre .687 from the free throw stripe and their .360 rate got them a fifth-place finish for hitting threes. Ball handling was a concern as they committed 14.1 TPG, putting them at eighth in the Big Ten.
Although former Big Ten Freshman of the Year Jamelle Cornley (13.5 PPG, 6.7 RPG, 50.5 FG%) is only 6’ 5” tall, he’s a powerhouse under the rim. Cornely brings tenacity and emotion to the court every night. Upfront, two redshirted freshmen, D.J. Jackson and Andrew Jones III, look to contribute, adding depth. Senior center Brandon Hassell (5.6 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 60.3 FG%) showed signs of breaking through last season.
Senior guard Geary Claxton (16.3 PPG, 8.0 RPG, 42.7 FG%), who can hit from the perimeter and inside, is a steady presence. He’s a tough player with rebounding skills and smarts. Guard Mike Walker (6.3 PPG, 1.1 RPG, 38.6 FG%) is a fine ball handler with some good defensive moves. He hits threes at 37%. Junior college transfers Stanley Pringle and Schyler King will give this crew depth. Look for defensive minutes from these guys both of whom are agile and quick.
With go-to returning starters, State looks better than it has in years for the NCAA basketball picks. The Nittany Lions also offer solid freshmen players. Look for better “D” from the team as DeChellis has added some athletic defenders. This team’s possibility for success hinges on returning players and new guys stepping up and pushing their potential and the NCAA point spreads.