Penn State Back in Action in Philadelphia

Story posted December 19, 2015 in Sports, CommRadio by Mike Wszolek

The Penn State Nittany Lions will be returning to the court in search of their eighth win come Saturday night. The Lions will travel to Philadelphia to take on Drexel at the historic Palestra before heading out west to Las Vegas. This is an opportunity to provide the team with extra competition before Big Ten play starts.

“A week like this to close out the non-conference season is going to prepare us for the Big Ten,” said Penn State head coach Pat Chambers.

Drexel has had one of the worst starts in recent years with a 1-7 record this season. The Dragons didn’t win a game until December 5th when they defeated rival La Salle. Of Drexel’s seven losses, five have been by 10 points or less, so the Dragons have been hanging around with teams. A Drexel win against Penn State would be monstrous moving forward for the team.

If Drexel wants to have any success on Saturday, guard Tavon Allen will have to be near perfect for the Dragons. The senior has been the one player who has played extremely well for the Dragons. Allen is averaging over 15 points a game and has a combined 42 points in his last two games. He also is third on the team in minutes played and is starting to heat up just at the right time.

In addition to Allen, guard Rashann London is another explosive player that Penn State needs to be aware of. Just a sophomore, London is hovering at 11 points a game, but was shut down in the team’s last game against South Carolina. Penn State will have to contest Allen and London’s shots and be aggressive on defense when they have the ball.

The Nittany Lions last lost against George Washington in early December and are coming off two straight wins at Rec Hall. The energy and effort was present in the team’s last two games, however, it can definitely be better. Penn State only scored 54 points against the University of Louisiana at Monroe in their last game and if they want to take down Drexel, they need to shoot the ball exceptionally well.

Brandon Taylor and Shep Garner have been the Nittany Lions go to players so far this season. Taylor has consistently put up double-digit points in all but one game this season. The senior has already hit 17 three pointers this year and in his previous game against ULM, Taylor led all players with 16 points.

Another bright spot for the Lions on offense is Shep Garner. The sophomore has hit 25 three-point shots already and has been a huge spark in the offense. Against ULM, Garner had a quiet eight points, but Taylor picked him up. If both Taylor and Garner can heat up on Saturday, the Lions should take care of the Dragons. Garner is especially looking forward to playing at the Palestra because he played a game there while he was in high school.

“There is just so much history there with the Big 5. Just the history of how many guys came through there and played on a Big 5 team or all of the Catholic League teams. It’s just great,” said Garner.

Drexel’s defense has not been very good this season, so the Lions should have plenty of scoring opportunities come Saturday night. The difference in this one will be if Penn State can shoot the ball effectively and get out to an early lead. Even though Drexel has one win, they can hang around with anybody and it’s important to put them away early in the game.

“Regardless of what Drexel’s record is, it’s going to be a fist fight,” said Chambers.

Mike Wszolek is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email mewszolek@gmail.com.