2010-2011 ITH Season Preview: Penn State Nittany Lions

  • 11/08/2010 1:32 pm in

INDIANAPOLIS - MARCH 11: Guard Talor Battle #12 of the Penn State Nittany Lion stands on the court during the game against the Minnesota Golden Gophers in the first round of the Big Ten Men's Basketball Tournament at Conseco Fieldhouse on March 11, 2010 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)It’s time for Inside the Hall’s team-by-team breakdown of the Big Ten Conference. Today: The Penn State Nittany Lions.

If I asked for the five longest-tenured coaches in the Big Ten, (and you weren’t, you know, reading a post entitled “2010-2011 ITH Season Preview: Penn State Nittany Lions) would it take less than 10 minutes to realize Ed DeChellis is on that list? What’s that? You knew that? Oh. Well it took me 10 minutes.

Either way, isn’t that sort of baffling? Ed DeChellis, he of the 200-216 career record, he who has been to exactly one NCAA Tournament — with East Tennessee State in 2003, the same year he made the switch to Penn State — has been in his job longer than Matt Painter at Purdue or Thad Matta at Ohio State.

It was never made clear to me how DeChellis was a good call for Penn State, beyond his links to the program as an assistant under Bruce Parkhill. His record at ETSU (proud alma mater of Kenny Chesney, by the way) was rather underwhelming, with the lone NCAA appearance counting as one of his four winning seasons in seven years in Johnson City.

All this historical rambling is a way of covering for the fact that there’s not much to talk about for the Nits this year. Outside of the outstanding Talor Battle, Penn State returns no scorers that averaged better than 10 points per game last year. Andrew Jones brings experience down low, but a senior who averaged just six and five last year in the post hardly breeds optimism.

There’s some hope in the freshman class, particularly with point guard Taran Buie. Half-brother of Talor Battle, Buie was recruited by the likes of Georgia Tech, Maryland, Syracuse and Xavier, and it’s certainly plausible that Buie and Battle could create a rather dangerous backcourt together. (Buie hasn’t quite been on his best behavior, though, in recent months.)

Realistically, that’s probably Penn State’s best hope, for better or for worse. Battle is a lethal scorer that can hurt opponents from almost anywhere on the court. In fact, it’s probably fair to say Battle is the Big Ten’s best pure offensive player. He’s also proven rather tough, playing through various maladies last season when his team needed him.

Buie’s bio page on the Penn State website calls him “one of the most highly sought after recruits in Nittany Lion basketball program history,” which is probably apt. What that means, though, is that he’s going to have to shoulder a heavy load early, because unless DeChellis knows something we don’t and is just full of surprises, Penn State is awfully short on talent. The only other player who could break 10 points per game, based on past results, is senior forward David Jackson.

The bottom line: Realistically, it’s probably another year in at or near the bottom of the Big Ten for Penn State.

Quotable: “We are very happy and excited to have Taran joining our team,” Penn State coach Ed DeChellis said, speaking about Buie’s commitment. “With his brother, Talor, being here and that relationship, we feel like he has been a part of our Nittany Lion family for awhile now and fits in perfectly with what our program is all about. We are thrilled he has decided to bring his considerable athletic ability and basketball skills as well as his competitiveness and drive to our program.”

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  • MillaRed

    We are talking about how Penn State will be worse than IU this season. (Cody) Things must be getting back to normal. (Zeller) It just goes to show you the difference in our basketball programs. (Cody Zeller) We refuse to accept mediocrity. (where are you going Cody Zeller?) That’s what makes us special. (We want Cody Zeller right now).

    But right now I just have other things on my mind…………

  • Glawton12

    Having spent the 2009-2010 school year at Penn State, I’ve got to say that your post captures the mood most students have toward basketball at the school. It’s really as if football season never ends at that school, and basketball is treated as this sort of “oh hey, they have a game tonight?” program. It really is a shame as they have a pretty nice facility in the Bryce Jordan Center, but I think the lack of support is really due to the mentality of sports fans in central PA. Most of them relate to Pittsburgh, which has no NBA team or strong basketball history to speak of, and most of the people in that area don’t really have any strong affinity for basketball. It’s almost like something that’s tolerated until the next football season. After having won the NIT the season before, you’d have thought heading into last season there would be some big push to get people out in support of a team that appeared to be moving in the right direction, but there wasn’t. Nobody cared. They didn’t care more when the Lions started 8-4, and they didn’t care less when they started the Big Ten season 0-12. I was probably half as loud as the whole student section when I was there cheering on the Hoosiers to their first conference road victory in the Tom Crean era. Rereading what I just typed makes me even more grateful to be back in the Hoosier state.

  • cooper

    The reason their coach is there is the same reason Lynch is still at IU.

  • BaseballBuc

    Since Zach was writing on his twitter about no love to this thread, I’d like to leave some thoughts. Battle is overrated. Penn St. will be bad very bad……again.

  • BaseballBuc

    These are going to be the longest 2 days of our lives. And thats if it’s true he’s committing on Wednesday.

  • 11th and Done (Dunn)

    anyone want a free student ticket to tonights game? girlfriend is out of town.

  • 11th and Done (Dunn)

    penn state basketball = indiana football.

  • Guest

    Anyone see Austin Rivers tweet about Tom Crean…spelled his name wrong and called him a joke

  • LTTelamon

    To me, DeChellis’ tenure is not all that unsurprising. While never tournament level, Penn St has historically been fairly scrappy under DeChellis. Really, though, Zach, we’re talking about a basketball coach at a football dominated school. They probably prefer not to shell out a huge salary for a bigger name and a bigger commitment to basketball at that school. As Glawton notes above, the apathy of the fan base is pretty telling.

  • millared

    Someone hacked into his account. Wasn’t Rivers.

  • LTTelamon

    I don’t buy that for a second. He may say that… doesn’t make it true.