Saturday, January 3, 2009

UW-Penn State thoughts

Good win. Penn State is much-improved this year, obviously, with three legit players who can carry them. Their improvement is a microcosm of the Big Ten's improvement on the whole, as only Indiana right now looks like a team that will definitely not be playing in the postseason.

Marcus Landry carries the day with a brutally efficient game. Now you can see what he is capable of when not saddled by foul trouble -- 38 minutes of significant play. He has really found the spots on the floor he needs to get to in order to be effective, and his lower-body strength allows him to catch the ball further out than ideal but still back his guy down.

Of Landry's 10 field goals, how many do you reckon were turnaround jumpers? Eight? He had one 3-pointer and that late dunk. Jamelle Cornley was too small to bother his shot without leaving his feet, and the other guys they put on him weren't strong enough to push him out.

I'm surprised Ed DeChellis didn't do more to double team Landry in the post. One time they brought a guy over late for a shot block attempt but to no avail. Marcus's post move is slow and deliberate, so the opportunity is there to double off, say Krabby. Expect to see some Big Ten team do that throughout the course of the season, and Marcus will have to be decisive about passing out of the double.

-Overall, we did a nice job of touching the post on offense. Only a few possessions where Hughes took early jumpers did not touch the post, and that's why Landry and Leuer consistently got good shots.

-If we had lost this game, I would have pointed to Krabby's three missed bunnies in the first 2:14 of the second half, and four overall in the second half, as the turning point. If he makes those the lead gets to double digits and Penn State gets out of what they're doing. Instead, Stanley Pringle gets unconscious and it's nip and tuck all the way until the end. Credit Joe for making some nice shots late and playing his typical lockdown defense. And oh by the way, he had 10 points, 10 boards, and five assists. Can't stay mad at Krabby.

-The defense on Pringle was fascinating, maybe the best illustration to date of how much we miss Mike Flowers. J-Bo wasn't doing a bad job on him, per se, but he was still getting clean looks with his feet in good position, and getting the ball in the first place. Remember what Flowers did against Drew Neitzel in Madison last year? It's all about the feet.

Couldn't really move Pop over on Pringle, because then Battle would have been freed up. Bo made a nice move to bring Jordan Taylor in to guard Pringle, and Jordan did more to bother Pringle, but by that point the basket must have looked like a hula hoop to Pringle, who made two tough 3-pointers over Jordan.

For those last few minutes Bo was doing an offense-defense switch with J-Bo and Taylor, can't remember the last time I saw us do that.

-Funny thing about Penn State is that of their three good players, only one of them seemed to be capable of doing damage for any given stretch of time. In the first half it was Cornley, Pringle in the second, but when one was hot the other, and Talor Battle, were non-existent. Cornley's first half was a lot like the entire game Landry had. I would have liked to see Nankivil take a turn trying to stop him, he's longer and his energy isn't as necessary on offense as Landry's.

-Did you see that fast break where Krabby made a nice bounce pass ahead to J-Bo? Couldn't we do that two or three times per game in selected instances?

-Who watches Entourage? I got a brief look at Penn State guard Danny Morrissey's face, and thought he looked like a cross between Seth Green and Kevin Connolly. As you know, Connolly's character Eric "E" Murphy has an ongoing feud with Green (playing himself) on the show, which made the resemblance even more funny. Yo Danny, tell Sloan we said What up.

-Spencer Tollackson did a pretty good job as the Big Ten Network's color analyst, first time I'd heard him. He astutely pointed out that many times Penn State was getting caught in defensive switches where Battle was guarding either Landry or Leuer in the post.

Perhaps the most interesting thing he said was that his coaches used to pipe in crowd noise during practice to prepare the Gophers for the Kohl Center crowd. Never been to a game at Williams Arena, but I'd guess it's louder than the Kohl, at least when the home team is playing well.

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