About PSU: How's The Athleticism?

The Gophers' opponent today, Penn State, has some size and strength, but the Nittany Lions may lack the athleticism of the Big Ten's top teams. Get the report from inside PSU.

Even though Penn State has shown some significant improvement this season, head coach Ed DeChellis knows that there will be some nights in the Big Ten season when his team is in way over its head.

The Nittany Lions had one of those nights in their conference opener against Michigan State.

The Spartans were fairly unimpressive in building a 40-30 halftime lead and their attitude and demeanor earned them a nasty lecture from head coach Tom Izzo. As a result, they came out and played with fire in the second half and buried Penn State 84-58.

The biggest issue for Penn State was the Spartans' edge in athleticism. When Michigan State turned up the defensive heat, Penn State simply could not handle it and ended up turning the ball over 20 times — resulting in 33 Michigan State points.

The Nittany Lions have some size and strength, but DeChellis and his coaching staff knows the team will have a hard time competing with the more athletic teams in the Big Ten. However, losing by 26 points at home is simply not acceptable.

Penn State needs to do a better job of taking care of the ball and then making solid passes on the offensive end. That did not happen against Michigan State.

DeChellis will continue to work on those fundamentals in practice. He'll need a better effort in the team's second conference game at Minnesota.

  • The Nittany Lions are averaging 70.3 ppg — ranking seventh in the Big Ten. However, they have failed to reach the 70-point mark in any of their last four games.

  • Penn State's lack of athleticism is apparent in the steals department. The Nittany Lions are averaging 6.2 per game — ranking just ninth in the Big Ten.

  • Penn State is shooting 43.1 percent from the field, a figure that ranks ninth in the conference.

    PROBABLE LINEUP: Guard Mike Walker, shooting guard Marlon Smith, swingman Geary Claxton, power forward Aaron Johnson, forward Travis Parker.

    QUOTE TO NOTE: "They got 33 points off our turnovers and there's the game. We just can't continue to turn the basketball over and we continue to do it every night. We work hard in practice, we worked hard on rebounding the last couple of days. We worked hard on pressure, but when it comes to game time we just can't execute." — Ed DeChellis on the problems Penn State had holding on to the ball against Michigan State

    UPCOMING GAMES: at Minnesota, Jan. 8

    KEYS: Penn State has lost six of its last seven games and Ed DeChellis is desperate to turn things around. Guard Geary Claxton and forward Aaron Johnson are the keys to this team and are both solid leaders. However, there may not be enough talent on this team to get it over the hump in the Big Ten.

    ROSTER REPORT: Guard Geary Claxton is averaging 11.1 points and 6.1 rebounds per game. He is shooting 48.1 percent and is a very solid option for the Nittany Lions.

  • Forward Travis Parker is becoming a major factor, averaging 11.9 ppg and shooting 48.0 percent from the field.

  • Forward Aaron Johnson is pounding the boards every night. He is leading the Big Ten by collecting 10.8 rebounds per game.

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