In our second preseason preview, we have Penn State. As I have written on here before, Penn State is in a transition. They have a little bit of talent and a whole lot more of mediocrity. I have discussed the vicious circle of a basketball program constantly losing and the school and its fans becoming indifferent towards the program. Through this cycle Penn State has stayed in mediocrity for most of its time in the Big Ten.
This year is no different for Penn State. In fact, mediocre might be a generous adjective for this team by the end of the season. Last season, their biggest problem, among many, was their lack of efficiency on offense. Other than stud senior guard Tim Frazier and junior Jermaine Marshall Penn State does not have any scoring, again. It is tough to be good with less than four or five guys who can score double digits any given night. With just two guys who can score it becomes an ugly offensive struggle.
Coach Pat Chambers returns more or less the same main group as last year’s losing team. I do think they will be better than last year, just because the players should improve individually, as they develop. These developing players include Jon Graham, a 6-8 sophomore. Graham, who was voted the team’s most improved player last year as a freshman showed a lot of promise late, starting the final 17 games of the season. According to the Penn State athletic website, Graham slimmed down fifteen pounds over the off-season and his bench press is a very impressive 24 reps of 185 pounds. With a great, strong body and a hard work ethic I would not be surprised if Graham took a larger role this year. He can dominate smaller big men inside, but will still likely struggle against elite big men. Fellow sophomore forward Ross Travis is very tough and gritty down low and he could have an improved year.
Overall, though, there aren’t many other bright spots on Penn State. Pat Chambers is a fine coach, but their are built in limitations for this program, it would seem.
At the end of the day, there is not enough talent for Penn State to win consistently in the Big Ten this year. They have an easy non-conference schedule, which will allow them to rack up meaningless wins before they enter the gauntlet of the Big Ten schedule. Big Ten Record: 5-11