Nittany Lions Get Past Jitters, LHU

Ed DeChellis' rebuilt squad cruises to an easy exhibition win over D-II program, but only after some nervous play early in the game. The coach said he expected that from a squad featuring five true freshmen and a junior college transfer.

The Penn State basketball team launched a new era at the Jordan Center Thursday night, as a roster crammed full of five true freshmen, a junior college transfer and a newly eligible Division I transfer took on Lock Haven in exhibition action.

The new-look Nittany Lions scalped the Division II Bald Eagles 89-43, in a game that was as much about the PSU players getting to know one another in a competitive situation as anything else. Third-year coach Ed DeChellis ran a basic motion offense throughout the game and a simple man-to-man defense, played 11 different athletes at least 11 minutes each and limited star sophomore forward Geary Claxton to 16 minutes.

Which was a good thing for LHU, considering Claxton tallied a game-high 15 points and nine rebounds during his brief appearance.

But not all of the Lions were so comfortable. Even though the crowd, which was admitted free, was generously listed at a modest 2,200, this was a new experience for most of the first-year players. And it showed early, as Penn State led 13-10 at the second media timeout and 21-17 at 7:39 of the first half before finally going on an 18-0 run before the break.

“I thought we got the jitters out,” DeChellis said. “We were a nervous bunch. We had a lot of new guys out there playing, and that was important for us. … But I thought our young kids did a nice job.”

“It's a different atmosphere right now and it takes some getting used to,” added freshman forward Jamelle Cornley, who missed his first four free throws. “It's a matter of getting used to the atmosphere and getting used to our players.”

The Lions have plenty of time to do that. They face Edinboro in another exhibition next Thursday and then open the season at home again Cornell Nov. 19.

In the meantime, here is a rundown of what each Nittany Lion did (and did not do) Thursday night. They are listed alphabetically by class:


F Travis Parker: Has had a strong preseason, according to DeChellis. But he missed a meeting with the coach Thursday and did not play in this game. “Hopefully he learned a lesson,” DeChellis said.


G David Jackson: Was admittedly nervous early on after starting at shooting guard and didn't do much in the first half. Picked it up in the second, finishing with 15 points and coming through with a 3-pointer in transition.

G Ben Luber: DeChellis indicated he will be the starter at the point. Got the nod in this game but played only 19 minutes as the coach said he didn't need to see much of his veterans. Struggled from the field early but finished 3 of 7.

G/F Cilk McSweeney: Replaced Claxton at the three and did some nice things in the second half, scoring six points (a triple and a conventional 3-point play off a smooth move the hole).


F Geary Claxton: Bald Eagles had no answers for PSU's best player, who had four offensive rebounds in limited action and went to the line seven times (making them all). Slammed home a Luber miss for State's second bucket.

F Brandon Hassell: Started at center and is Penn State's most active big man since Gyasi Cline-Heard. LHU coach John Wilson called him “an animal” after he grabbed nine rebounds. But he remains raw offensively and missed a pair of easy jams.

G Danny Morrissey: Is out for the year with a left knee injury that required surgery a week ago. He was at the game and sat on the bench.

G Mike Walker: Still does not look completely comfortable playing shooting guard. Got in the flow when he swung to the point in the second half. Looked better defensively, with three steals.


C Milos Bogetic: A real surprise. Runs the floor well and showed a usable drop step. Also had 10 rebounds in 19 minutes. Will be interesting to see if he can play a similar style against more legit comp.

F Jamelle Cornley: Got the nod at four in place of Parker, and is every bit as tough as advertised. Muscled his way into the paint multiple times early only to be fouled, but missed five of his first six free throws. To his credit, PSU SID had to get him out of the South Gym, where he was shooting free throws, to attend postgame press conference.

G Maxwell Dubois: Logged only 11 minutes but was way too quick defensively for the Eagles, grabbing five steals. Has an awkward shot but did hit one of two treys.

G Nikola Obradovic: Had four assists in 16 minutes. But he missed his only two shots, both of them wide-open looks. To earn time, he'll have to be a more dependable shooter.

C Joonas Suotamo: More mechanical than expected but definitely strong in the paint. He also had a nice-drop step move for a score. Has a rep as a good outside shooter but was way off on his first two jumpers before nailing a 3-pointer.


F Keith Hardin: Has a minor knee injury. Did not play.

G Clay Scovill: Turned and ankle in practice this week. Did not play.


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