#78 Penn State: 2010-11 Basketball Preview
Overall Rank: #78
Conference Rank: #8 Big Ten Conference
2009-10: 11-20, 3-15
2009-10 postseason: none
Coach: Ed DeChellis (95-123 at Penn State, 200-216 overall)
Penn State had much higher expectations than an 11-20 record during the 2009-2010 campaign. The good news is that after losing their first 12 conference games, the Nittany Lions managed to muster three victories in February. And even their losses at the end of the season included two point defeats to Minnesota and Michigan State and a four point loss to Purdue. With four starters returning, this group should win more than three conference games.
Key Losses: G Chris Babb, G Bill Edwards. F Andrew Ott
However, there is a large need at the shooting guard spot and Coach Ed DeChellis hopes Tre Bowman and Jermaine Marshall can help fill that void. Marshall has a year in the program and the ability to attack the basket, but it will likely be Bowman who turns into the shooter of the bunch. Point guard Taran Buie will add some more much needed depth on the perimeter. The lone newcomer up front is Jonathan Graham. The 6-8, 218 pound power forward may have to see some quality minutes as a freshman, but that will depend on the development of a couple slightly more experienced big men.
There is no doubt who the star of Penn State has been over the last few years. Talor Battle is back for one more try at a trip to the NCAA Tournament. However, this will not be the same backcourt without Chris Babb. Babb averaged 9.3 points per game during his senior campaign and was the only other shooter on the team besides Battle. As if Battle did not do enough, he may have to do more now. Coming off of a season in which he led the team with 18.5 points, 4.2 assists, 5.3 rebounds, 1.1 steals and 2.3 three-pointers made per contest, it is hard to expect him to do much better. Battle will fill up the stat sheet, but perhaps more importantly for the team is how he gets the youngsters in the backcourt involved in the game and at least makes the opposing defense guard somebody else besides him on the perimeter.
The frontcourt is full of talent. David Jackson put up the best numbers last year, averaging 9.5 points and 4.5 rebounds per contest. At 6-7 and 210 pounds, he is pretty big for a small forward, but he definitely has the athleticism to play solid defense against most opposing small forwards. And on the other end of the floor, he can back down smaller defenders or simply shoot over them. Jeff Brooks hit some long balls as well and will stretch out the defense from the four spot. However, Brooks will do most of his scoring around the basket and he and Jackson are a couple relatively dynamic scorers in the frontcourt. Andrew Jones is the more traditional big man of the bunch. He will not put up big numbers, but he does hit the glass hard and is occasionally a threat to score some points. The development of Sasa Borovnjak and oft-injured Billy Oliver, who has been around for a couple years but is still a freshman, will need to provide the depth up front this year.
Who to Watch:
The battle to join Battle in the backcourt starts with sophomore Tim Frazier. The 6-1 Houston, Texas native started ten games last year and had some decent outings, but it remains to be seen if he can hold off the newcomers. He rarely shot from the outside last season, but connected on 37.5 percent of his attempts. If he can stay that consistent and shoot a lot more, Frazier will be a very productive shooting guard. Cammeron Woodyard is a bigger guard who can score around the basket, but his very poor outside shooting has severely limited his playing time. Yet, Woodyard may still have to play ten to 15 minutes per game while the newcomers learn their roles.
Despite the issues at shooting guard, Penn State has options. The bigger issue is the depth in the frontcourt. Borovnjak barely played last year and Oliver was not playing much at all before going down with his injury. If the unknowns on the perimeter start producing, a player like Woodyard or Marshall can spend time at the small forward spot, allowing Jackson to move to the four on occasion and that may be where Penn State has to get their frontcourt depth.
Projected Post-season Tournament: NIT
Projected Starting Five:
Talor Battle, Senior, Guard, 18.5 ppg
Tim Frazier, Sophomore, Guard, 5.0 ppg
David Jackson, Senior, Forward, 9.5 ppg
Jeff Brooks, Senior, Forward, 7.4 ppg
Andrew Jones, Senior, Forward, 6.0 ppg
Next Top 144 Teams