February 10, 2010

Confessions Of A Penn State Basketball Fan: The 22,000+

I'm sorry, did you expect me to recap the Minnesota game from last Saturday? Well, so sorry to disappoint, except:
  • I didn't watch the game, due to work obligations
  • Because I didn't watch the game, it's difficult for me to give a solid take on what happened outside of Lawrence Westbrook's superb LeBron James impersonation at the end of the game.
  • I've given up on any serial analysis of what has become a season to forget (outside of November).
Given that the Fighting DeChellises are on hiatus until Saturday however, I have been desperately scrambling for some blogging material, and what better way to fill that void than to grieve with another one of the 50 self-proclaimed PSU basketball fans? Thus, I decided to do a little blogger questionnaire exchange with Ben Jones, a longtime Happy Valley resident, current PSU student, active member of the Paternoville and Nittany Nation committees, and most importantly, author of the blog The 22,000+. You can find my answers to Ben's questions here. In the meantime, here are Ben's waterboarding-free confessions:

LBU: So, you're a Penn State basketball fan: What the hell is the matter with you? Were you not loved enough as a child? How far back does your fandom go (i.e. your earliest memories)?

22k: Well, I've lived in Happy Valley for most of my life so I've been brought up on a solid diet of all things Penn State. My first real memory of Penn State basketball was probably Penn State at Kentucky in 2000. Seeing the Crispin brothers just go off was a lot of fun. Seeing them lose later on in the Sweet 16 was pretty heartbreaking, I only wish I had known that I wouldn't see that sort of thing again..at least, not yet.

As far as my current allegiances, I can't help it, I love Penn State, and I know how much the program can use support. For the record: Both my parents hugged me a lot as a child, so my delusions aren't their fault.

LBU: In a season full of vast disappointments, what do you feel as been the most disappointing development (0-11 in the Big Ten aside)?

22k: I would say the general lack of inside play. It has been sort of like the offensive line for football this year. Good, but not great enough to get the job done against everybody. I think we were all pretty excited when Andrew Jones played so well in the NIT, but he never really got it going again this year. If they could get some sort of inside game going that would take a lot of the pressure off of having to hit every jumper. It has however, forced players like David Jackson and Jeff Brooks to play better which is a blessing in disguise, I suppose.

LBU: I admittedly, have not been able to watch the team as much as in years past and have only been to a few home games. From my observations though, it appears that the loyally sadistic Nittany Nation student section attendance has been holding rock-steady all year long. How do you explain such commitment?

22k: I think it is the fact that the team doesn't give up. If we were getting blown out every game you might see something different, but for the most part the team is in the game with under 10 minutes left. Seven games have been decided by six points or less, so you know you're in for a good game for the most part. Plenty of old Penn State teams would get blown out all the time, this team might not be winning, but they aren't getting crushed which makes going to the game a little less painful.

At this point you just want to be there when we win one. Ed does a good job preaching the family aspect of the program to the team, I think that has rubbed off on us a little bit, you can blow off your NFL team but it isn't as easy to do that to the guys you sit in line for an hour for..they'll know if you aren't there.

LBU: You're on the record as suggesting Ed DeChellis should get another year as coach. Let's pretend for a moment though, that PSU is on the coaching carousel after this season: Who does the first phone call go out to?

22k: I know I tend to be in the minority with that opinion, and for the record I'm not a massive Kool-Aid drinker, I just think that next year will truly be the test of what he can do with maybe the most talented group on paper he has ever had. After an NIT championship and some real positive momentum in the recruiting field I think Penn State owes him a chance to coach the team he will have built. Not a lot of people know how many big time recruits were in town for basketball Ohio State weekend because of Ed, he really should get more credit for that than he does.

If you look back to two seasons ago, the team didn't win a lot, but they bonded and became mentally tough by learning how to play without Geary Claxton. This arguably led to a 27 win season the following year. I feel that you're seeing a similar situation this season, perhaps it will lead to a NCAA berth next year? I can't say, but I do want to see what Ed can do with one more year.

Back to the question though: If the team tanks again next year (and I think a season under .500 could be considered tanking, barring some serious injury), the first person I would call would be Brad Stevens from Butler. Stevens is young, and has coached Butler to a 77-14 record in his three years. Playing in the Big Ten would be a good change for him, and a young guy could really be what the program needs. If you're looking for a Big Ten guy, I would go with Michigan State assistant Mike Montgomery. MSU has a good history with assistant coaches, Tom Crean being just one example. Getting a guy from a winning program and a good knowledge base for Big Ten ball could be a big help.

LBU: Talor Battle, Joe Crispin, or Pete Lisicky?

22k: I'm gonna have to say Battle. I'm a big fan of Crispin's shooting, but Penn State really hasn't seen a guy like Talor, he makes things happen in ways a lot of the players in the country can't. I think Battle could have a good shot at Player of the Year if he was on a Duke or Texas-caliber team, he might not be a automatic shooter, but some of his struggles this year have come from inconsistency around him, I imagine that you give him four other good players and he could really go to town. Lisicky and Crispin both make it a tough call though.

Follow LBU on Facebook and Twitter. Subscribe to Linebacker-U.com by Email


Post a Comment