2009-2010 Penn State Nittany Lions Basketball Preview
The Penn State Nittany Lions (27- 10 overall, 10- 8 Big Ten), under coach Ed DeChellis, managed a fourth place finish in their conference and then went on to win the NIT by defeating Baylor 69- 63 in the final round. That was the first post-season tournament appearance for the Lions since 2006. Oddly, if there was ever a season that Penn State should have gone to the NCAA Tournament in was 2008- 2009. Unfortunately, they simply got passed over.
Last season Penn State was third in the Big Ten in scoring, putting up an average of 67.0 PPG. They were eighth in defense, allowing 62.6 PPG. Their rebound margin, which placed them third, was a healthy plus-3.1. Although they were good from the floor 44% of the time, which ranked them fifth, and hit threes 36% of the time, which was fourth, the Nittany Lions were deficient at the charity stripe. On foul shots, the team was rated 10th, sinking 66% of their attempts.
The frontcourt will miss the play of forward Jamelle Cornley and his 14.4 PPG and 6.3 RPG. Cornley wasn’t just good, he was tough and determined: a true leader by example. However, State does have some fine players in the paint. Junior power forward Andrew Jones (6.2 PPG, 5.7 RPG, 0.4 APG) is a seasoned player with fine scoring chops. Junior Jeff Brooks (3.3 PPG, 3.1 RPG, 0.8 APG) returns with some starting experience. Freshmen Billy Oliver and Sasa Borovnjak will see playing time.
Junior point guard Taylor Battle (16.7 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 5.0 APG) is the court general of this team. The versatile Battle can hit from outside, take the ball to the rim and dish it off with aplomb. Battle, a workhorse, played more minutes than any player in the U.S. last year. Giving him a break, when he takes one, will be sophomore Chris Babb (2.8 PPG, 1.1 RPG, 0,5 APG). Look for Cammeron Woodyard (2.2 PPG, 0.9 RPG, 0.3 APG) to man the two guard spot.
Penn State will miss the play of Cornley and will have to rely on some newcomers to get the job done. Last season, the Lions won their first national title after establishing a new school record for victories. The next step will be a NCAA, which is ironic considering the snub last season. This year, Penn State will have a tough time qualifying for March Madness. Then again if they play well enough perhaps the selection committee will make up for last year’s error? If not, it’s off to the NIT again.