Column: A Win Could End the Frustration
Basketball in the Big Ten has been known to drag on teams, as the season moves along. Repeated matchups against marquee programs like Michigan State, Ohio State and Wisconsin are enough to cause a team to struggle.
Penn State’s (9-8), problem in recent years has been getting off to a good start in conference play. With the Nittany Lions 79-76 loss to Indiana this past weekend, it marked the third season in five years that they started 0-4 in the Big Ten.
The four losses to Michigan State, Minnesota, Indiana, and the lone road loss to Illinois, aren’t necessarily bad losses by any means. The total record of those teams is 52-14, but that’s not the whole story.
The nagging around Happy Valley hasn’t been who Penn State lost to, but how they lost these games.
The Nittany Lions seem to have taken a step back, regardless of the additions of now-eligible transfers John Johnson and Jordan Dickerson.
Anyone in the Bryce Jordan Center on New Year’s Eve will contest that the first half against the Spartans was probably the best half of basketball all year by Penn State, leading the the top 5 opponent by as much as 11 at one point.
Illinois was a travesty from the opening tip. Penn State didn’t score their first points until the 13:00 mark in the first half and allowed Illinois to go on 9-0 runs to open each half.
Minnesota looked like the game to be had, despite the worst effort by junior guard D.J. Newbill during his time in a Penn State jersey. The Gophers did jump out to a 12-2 lead to begin the game, but the Nittany Lions at least had somewhat of a chance to win at the end.
On Saturday, Penn State had a 31-16 lead with 9:51 to go in the first half, only to see the Hoosiers claw back to within four by the end of the half and eventually hang on to win.
Head coach Pat Chambers mentioned a, “weak team” as part of the reasoning to why Penn State has yet been able to notch its first Big Ten victory.
That really doesn’t sit well, given the fact that Penn State lost 14 in a row last year, before getting their first Big Ten win.
It’s as if this team is content with being average and maybe the stage got too big. It amazes me how can a team who ran off to a standing ovation against the fifth ranked team in the country, with a seven point lead, can be fine with lying down night after night.
Now though, all the pressure is off the men’s basketball team. A new football coach is in town, the women’s volleyball is National Champions once again and more and more people are flocking next door, to watch ice hockey.
With growing frustration, and decreasing interest, it’s now the time to get the season back on track. The Nittany Lions have two home games in the next 26 days and have games in that span that can be envisioned as wins.
A win at last year’s national runner up Michigan (11-4) tonight is a long shot, but so was last year’s court-storming victory. Remaining off the radar can help some teams, but if Penn State aims to reach the status their head coach wants and thinks the program can be, the losing has to stop. Now.
Ryan Stevens is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the Contributors
Senior / Broadcast Journalism
Ryan is a senior from Bloomington, Illinois majoring in broadcast journalism with a minor in english. He has been involved with numerous radio shows, play-by-plays, beat writes and producing various Penn State athletics events since his first days of being on campus in the fall of 2012 with ComRadio. Since the fall of 2013, Ryan has been involved with State College’s ESPN Radio 1450 as an assistant producer intern and high school football reporter.
During the summer of 2014, Ryan co-hosted Sports Central with Cory Giger streaming over Altoona, Pa. and State College Pa. markets. Ryan also assisted USA Basketball media coverage in New York for World Cup of Basketball exhibition games.
Ryan was the marketing & communications intern for USA Track & Field at the national office in Indianapolis, Indiana. He was the media contact for the 2015 USATF Hershey Youth Outdoor Championships as well as the 2015 National Junior Olympics.