What to Expect: Penn State

10612With a week off following a New Year’s Eve win at Carver Hawkeye Arena, the No. 5 Hoosiers will hit the road for State College and a meeting with Penn State. The Nittany Lions (8-5) are coming off a 60-51 loss at Wisconsin on Jan. 3.

The game will be broadcast on the Big Ten Network with Tom Hamilton and Jim Jackson on the call. 

Penn State’s hopes for improvement on last season’s 12-20 campaign were dealt a significant blow when All-Big Ten guard Tim Frazier ruptured his left Achilles in an 85-60 loss to Akron on Nov. 20. Not only was Frazier one of the best backcourt players in the country, he was the essential piece that made Penn State a team that could compete with the league’s best. As a junior, Frazier posted the second best assist rate in the country while averaging 18.8 points per game. Without him, Penn State’s path to wins in the country’s toughest conference appears to be daunting.

So how has Penn State fared without Frazier? 6-3 with losses to Boston College (home), La Salle (neutral) and Wisconsin (road). If there’s a silver lining for Pat Chambers as he works relentlessly to build his program, it’s the fact that his current group will gain a year of experience and will then get the chance to make a jump next season with Frazier back in the fold.

PERSONNEL

Frazier’s absence has forced sophomore guard D.J. Newbill (pictured), a transfer from Southern Miss, and junior guard Jermaine Marshall into larger roles than anticipated. Newbill is the team’s leading scorer at 15.5 points per game and Marshall is not far behind at 14.9 points per game, but neither player is particularly efficient.

Newbill has struggled from behind the 3-point line (7-of-29), but is drawing 6.2 fouls per 40 minutes and is fifth in the Big Ten with a free throw rate (FTA/FGA) of 54.1. The fruits of Newbill getting to the line have been diminished a bit by the fact that he’s hitting just 65 percent of his attempts. He’s also been effective on the glass as he’s averaging 6.3 rebounds per game, good for second on the team.

Marshall has been slightly better percentage wise (32.4) from behind the 3-point line, but is taking nearly 5.5 attempts from distance per game. His steal percentage (3.7) ranks sixth among Big Ten players. Both players are getting little rest as Newbill averages 35.5 minutes and Marshall is at 34.1 per game.

Up front, Penn State is also using Ross Travis for major minutes — he’s playing 31.4 per contest — and he’s averaging a team-high 7.7 rebounds. Travis isn’t much of an offensive threat and is shooting just 43.8 percent on his 2-point attempts. Freshman Brandon Taylor, a 6-foot-7 forward who lost 30 pounds after arriving on campus, is beginning to emerge as one of Penn State’s most reliable scorers. Taylor has an effective field goal percentage of 56.5 and has been the Nittany Lions best 3-point shooter at 39.6 percent.

Nick Colella, who is strictly a 3-point specialist with 48 of his 53 field goal attempts coming from outside, and junior forward Sasa Borovnjak, who averages 5.5 points and 3.5 rebounds, round out the rotation players who could make an impact on Monday.

POMEROY PREVIEW

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Two numbers from the chart above stand out for Penn State. First, the Nittany Lions are the nation’s second best defensive rebounding team. Second, opponents are getting to the foul line at an alarmingly high rate against Penn State. The first statistic shouldn’t be much of a factor for IU as the Hoosiers boast one of the country’s most efficient offenses. Even if Penn State is able to limit IU’s second chance opportunities, their defensive numbers (48.0 percent eFG defense) don’t suggest being capable of holding down IU’s dynamic offense.

The free throws are likely a major concern for Chambers going in and you can be sure that the IU staff is going to stress the importance of getting to the line against a team that can’t stop fouling. Penn State also does a solid job of getting to the line, mainly thanks to Newbill, so you’ll likely see Victor Oladipo trying to keep Newbill out of the lane and off of the foul line.

WHAT IT COMES DOWN TO 

Indiana is heavily favored in this game — Vegas likes the Hoosiers by 17 and Pomeroy likes them by 20 — and State College hasn’t been too unkind for IU in the Tom Crean era. The Hoosiers have won two of three against the Nittany Lions at the Bryce Jordan Center under Crean, including last year’s 88-82 triumph.

When Indiana has struggled on the road, the Hoosiers have typically gotten off to poor starts. That shouldn’t be the case on Monday as the Hoosiers are clearly the superior team in this matchup. And while Penn State has a formidable backcourt duo, stopping Cody Zeller in the frontcourt could prove troublesome.

CREAN ON PENN STATE

“Marshall and Newbill are handling the ball. They are taking most of their shots. Their teammates feed off of them. They are really dangerous when they’re in the same action, whether they are on the same side, which they seem to be a lot. They both have things that they really, really do well. They have strengths that you really have to go into and try to attack those. I think the fact that Brandon Taylor is there, that [Nick] Colella is there, and make shots. I mean, Colella’s shots have almost been all 3’s. Sasa [Borovnjak] is also really improving. He’s really good. He’s as good a pick and roll defender as there is in the league right now. I mean, he’s good. They’re doing a great job of playing off of him. He sets great screens and he’s a tremendous help to them defensively.

“Watching the game the other night, if they had beat Wisconsin, it wouldn’t have been a shock at all. They just keep going. We learned that last year. You have to play every second of those 40 minutes against that team because they never stop going. The thing that they are doing a great job right now with is their transition offense. They do well with the delayed break and their drag actions are really good. Those guys are a big part of that.”

  • http://www.facebook.com/john.cole.750331 John Cole

    Take nothing for granted. Ask Illinois after losing @ Purdue.

  • IUMIKE1

    I know everyone says every road win is a good win in this conference regardless of the final score. I don’t disagree with that completely, but if we are going to realistically contend for the B1G championship than I think we have to come away with a convincing win in this one. I would call convincing in this one 1) We will see WS & RA in the first half but have a big enough lead, early enough, that we see some combination of HMP, JH, & DE, as well in the first half. 2) We see those players for reasons other than have to cases and 3) We pretty much cover the spread.

    Penn St’s players have always seemed to play hard and for the full 40 minutes for Chambers so winning big enough to cover the spread may be a considerable challenge.

  • HoosierPat

    I think winning this game, hopefully by a large margin, will be a big confidence booster moving forward. Road wins are going to be tough to come by in the B1G season, so two wins on the road to start the conference play would be a great start.

  • MPmike

    Still the verdict on IU is out until they get a BIG conference road win. So, we cannot be too confident on IU winning these games with ease; however, IU sure clearly win these games without a doubt. I am still waiting for a breakout conference game for a few players even thought IU has only played just one game.

  • marcusgresham

    The Penn State fans are the most apathetic in the B1G when it comes to basketball, so other than the fact that you have to take a mule train to get to Happy Valley, the home court advantage is negligible.

  • HannerTime Hoosier

    I have 2 words for our integrity/victory: Joe Paterno. Seriously, we should destroy them!

  • Miamihoosier

    If Penn State starts Calvin Booth, and Jeff Brooks down low, with Jamelle Cornley, Taylor Battle and Geary Claxton……..they might have a chance to win tonight….but barring that, it should take a miracle…

  • SCHoosier

    I don’t think IU is on a moral crusade..the PSU b-ball staff/team had nothing to do with that tragedy..so let’s just keep the motivation to winning a B-10 game..huh?

  • SCHoosier

    Been saying all year that the UM match ups are a nightmare for us unless Vic can find a way to guard both Haradway and Burke. I’ll take my chances with MN and MSU..altho ..as you point out..the mach-ups there are no picnic.

  • SCHoosier

    The way the B-10 is going this year..to make IU a 17 pt favorite at PSU is nuts. They had a good shot at beating WIS…until Berrgren took over the game for WIS in the final 3 min. Lions have two big athletic guards who will pose a problem. Don’t get much from their 4 and 5 spots. Cody should be able to operate in this game if we can get him the ball.

  • WatchingYogi_atYogis

    This is either the second time you’ve asked this question or you are repeating someone else’s question. Whichever it is, let’s keep it up, because I’m interested to see if it’s true that we cannot win with Yogi and Hulls playing together. I think we can, but it’s a fair question. I’ve started posting in “The Minute After” our plus/minus with Yogi and Hulls playing together versus our plus/minus with other lineup combinations. In the game against Iowa, Hulls and Yogi together were plus 2 for the game (and plus 5 for the second half). All other lineup combinations (including when just one of them was in the game at a time) were plus 2 for the game (and minus 9 for the second half). And we will see how it turns out against Penn State and then Minnesota and so on.

    We will have some objective evidence of whether this lineup is effective, not just from a theoretical level in terms of matchup defense, but incorporating all aspects of the game, including creating turnovers and scoring (that is, do we win in terms of points with this lineup- the way the game is truly judged).

    Also, predicting we will have some losses on the road is real bold. Have you watched the Big Ten so far this year? Everybody is going to have some road losses. I think 4 losses wins the Big Ten outright this year. So let’s not try to hold the team to some impossible/absurd standard.

  • CreamandCrimson

    The closest thing I can think of is the 2006-2007 Florida Gators backcourt. Taurean Green was 6’0″ and Lee Humphrey was a 6’2″ relatively unathletic lethal shooter.

    Tom Crean loves Will Sheehey as the 6th man and Sheehey seemed to be far more comfortable coming off the bench last season than he was starting. I think the minutes distribution will change as needed but I don’t see the starting lineup changing.

  • CreamandCrimson

    Great post. I enjoyed the +/- stat you put into the Iowa recap and I think the further we get into the Big Ten, the more telling and statistically significant that stat will become.

  • http://twitter.com/IUMitchell Deon M

    Did i miss the PTC

  • azhoosier

    15.5 current spread says take PSU…..also IU can’t have another…”Nebraska”…game !!!

  • ChefDan

    I’m looking for it too!

  • DeeLyle

    For what it’s worth, I completely agree with Andrew.

  • DeeLyle

    I’m not questioning your stats, but how do you come up with the +/-? Are you just making notes as the game goes along?

  • NotTheRealSteveEyl

    So I think what you’re saying is we need two road wins? Cuz we already got one.

    Honestly, beating PSU by 20 in their gym wouldn;t mean much when Minny comes to AH Sat. Just win and avoid injuries.

  • NotTheRealSteveEyl

    So I think what you’re saying is we need two road wins? Cuz we already got one.

    Honestly, beating PSU by 20 in their gym wouldn;t mean much when Minny comes to AH Sat. Just win and avoid injuries.

  • NotTheRealSteveEyl

    What? Doing actual research? Haven;t you heard, this is the internet, home of baseless speculation stated as fact.

    Seriously, interesting stuff. +/- can be a little weird, especially when applied to a single player, but applying it to eqivalent situations like that seems like a good excercise.

    I’m predicting 5 losses ties for the league championship. Can’t see anybody sweeping all their home games, or winning more than 5 on the road.

  • azhoosier

    Alex….Probably already been answered but are you Rick Bozich’s brother ? Same last name and both are White Sox fans.

  • Guest

    I use a play-by-play summary from the school’s website that keeps track of player substitutions along with the score and time. It allows a pretty quick and easy calculation of start score and end score for each stretch they are either in together or not. Also, they played together for roughly 15 minutes against Iowa versus 25 minutes not together.

  • http://twitter.com/MasterBango MasterBango

    Being from Madison I was at the UW vs. PSU game. UW was almost as terrible as PSU. Neither team has anyone that creates their own shot and half the time PSU’s offense seemed to be NBA-esque, ie. one guy with the ball while everyone else stands and watches until he makes a play, except that player cannot make a play. This should be a 15 point win. The UW game at home should be the same if not more with the loud Assembly Hall crowd behind us

  • IUMIKE1

    Andrew, hate to break it to you, but you aren’t breaking anything to me. I didn’t imply that the margin of victory decides how many wins it is worth and nor did I say that being 2-0 after tonight’s game would be a bad thing under any set of circumstances. What I did say was beating Penn St convincingly makes us winning the B1G outright look a lot more realistic than if we go up there and eek out a win. Just my opinion but one I stand by none the less. Granted we are still trying to incorporate 2 or 3 guys into things, and hopefully we will get better as the season progresses, but then again anyone that will be contending for the conference title will more than likely be getting better as the season progresses also. As far as a convincing win having nothing to do with contending for / winning the conference, I would be willing to bet more than a dollar or two that whoever ends up winning this conference, as well as the runner-up and / or co-champion I would say, will have convincing road wins against the teams that finish in the bottom two or so. Nothing against Penn St but that is where I expect them to be when the conference schedule ends.

  • WatchingYogi_atYogis

    Agreed, about everything really. In terms of using the +/- stat, I will, hopefully, have to make some adjustments to the non-Yogi and Hulls lineups, if we get into a blowout scenario and the deeper bench players get their chance to shine. It really shouldn’t matter one way or another how the Raphael Smith crew does in garbage. But other than that, I think it will be a pretty good indicator.

  • WatchingYogi_atYogis

    Absolutely. I thought of doing this earlier, but as we marched down cupcake row, I figured it was both a waste of my time and wholly irrelevant to the discussion. Starting with Big Ten play should be a fair indicator. And I realize that the feared matchups many had in mind are more like Michigan than Iowa, but this will give us a chance to look at both the conference as a whole and those individual games.

  • DeeLyle

    Interesting. Thanks for taking the time to provide us with the insight….

  • DeeLyle

    I think Rick is Alex’s dad.

  • DeeLyle

    Maybe he meant to include the word “convincing” before “B1G conference win”.

  • Cory Robinson

    I think we all are trying to look at the B1G weaker teams like we do the weaker teams we play during preseason. We always feel better when we blow those teams out and it gives us a better sense of where we stand overall. I think that is a HUGE mistake in our thinking and overall in the teams’ thinking. There just are not any easy wins in the B1G. I have tried to use this comparison in the past and it will always come back to bite you. On ANY given night ~ ANY team (when they are home) can beat ANY visiting team! Watch and you will see…..

  • Andrew

    I hear ya. There are just too many variables as far as I’m concerned to get hung up on margin of victory. What if PSU hits a bunch of 3s? What if Cody is hampered by foul trouble? We are 17-point favorites, so obviously we are expected to win easily. But no matter how good or how bad IU looks, the only thing that matters is walking out of there 2-0.

    (As an aside, I always worry about environments like tonite’s. Place seats well over 15k and there will prob be btwn 5-8k in the building. Often very difficult for teams like IU, who is used to playing in front of packed houses, to “manufacture” some of the emotion that is lacking. Also think I hate Patrick Chambers more than any other B1G coach (yes, even Bo Ryan). He is a maniac on the sidelines and his teams play borderline dirty.)

  • Bob

    Was going to ask if Rick was his father but didn’t want to make anybody mad…LOL…Would be a connection beings Rick is an IU grad but poor Rick has spent to much time in Kentucky…I think he is brain washed…!!

  • Bob

    Was going to ask if Rick was his father but didn’t want to make anybody mad…LOL…Would be a connection beings Rick is an IU grad but poor Rick has spent to much time in Kentucky…I think he is brain washed…!!

  • WatchingYogi_atYogis

    For the sake of the discussion, I did go back and look at two other very relevant games from the non-conference schedule.

    Against Georgetown, a game we won by 10 points in overtime, for the entire game Yogi and Hulls were +22 together, other lineups -12. In the second half, Yogi and Hulls were +4 together, other lineups -8. In OT, Yogi and Hulls were +10, other lineups even. All together, Yogi and Hulls played just short of 30 minutes together, while other lineups played just over 15 minutes (45 minutes total including overtime). Georgetown does not have a player under 6′ on their entire roster, so that seems pretty telling.

    Against Butler, a game we lost by 2 points in overtime, for the entire game Yogi and Hulls were -3 together, other lineups +1. In the second half, Yogi and Hulls were -3 together, other lineups -1. In overtime, Yogi and Hulls were -2 together, other lineups even. Yogi and Hulls played just over 27 minutes together, while other lineups played just short short of 18 minutes (again 45 total here). So the complaint does seem at least marginally vindicated by the Butler result. I’d like to mention specifically some key stretches of the game. In the second half, starting with 9:00 minutes to go and ending with 4:48 to go, Yogi and Hulls were in together for a terrible eleven point swing toward Butler, beginning with a 57-50 lead and ending trailing 59-63. In the final 2 minutes and 10 seconds overtime, they finished on the court together, entering the game trailing 64-71 and ending tied at 76, a plus 7 swing (that many of us remember well). They were in together for the entire 5 minute overtime, which we of course lost by 2 (and a dramatic 2 over Hulls).

    Not sure where any of that gets us. Georgetown, they worked very well together against a bigger defensive-minded team. Butler, they came up a bucket short.

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