January 18, 2011

Can both Penn State hoops teams hold onto the positive momentum?

Maggie Lucas (Photo: PSU)
Penn State basketball is having quite a nice week.

The men's team fell to No. 2 Ohio State Saturday night, but the 69-66 margin against the now-No. 1 Buckeyes (18-0, 5-0) proves that the Nittany Lions' (10-7, 3-3) back-to-back upsets of ranked MSU and Illinois were no flukes.

On the women's side, coming off 83-62 dismantling of Illinois, the Lady Lions (15-4, 4-1) are now tied with Michigan State (16-2, 4-1) atop the Big Ten standings, with 11 games left in the regular season. But you know the scariest part of this Lady Lions team? There are only three upperclassmen--just one senior, Julia Trogele--on the entire roster.

Two steps forward, but only one step back

The Nittany Lions were riding at their highest since the Eisenhower administration, with riveting upsets of No. 16 Illinois and No. 18 Michigan State. The national media was actually talking about Penn State men's basketball in a positive light going into the big game in Columbus.

Well, now Penn State is knocked down a few pegs following the close 3-point loss. But depending on how you want to look at it, this team is still playing out of its mind, considering where it was before the holiday recess. Also something to note, Ohio State beat Florida State 58-44 earlier this season. You know who was No. 1 before Ohio State took the top spot this week? Duke. You know who beat Duke to knock them out of the No. 1 ranking? Florida State.

Penn State travels to No. 13 Purdue tomorrow night. We'll have something up about that, so stay tuned.

A whole bunch of steps forward

The Lady Lions aren't quite getting the attention they deserve right now. In some ways that is understandable with so many games left in the season. Penn State may be tied with Michigan State for first place in the Big Ten, but there are a number of very tough games left on the schedule before any talk of a championship can start.

Against Illinois, Penn State had little trouble, leading by as much as 30 during the game. But it was the play of the Lady Lions' rising star that stole the show, and earned a nifty Big Ten Player of the Week honor.

Freshman guard Maggie Lucas hit on 11-of-18 shots (61.1%) for a pair of 20-point games. She opened the week with 20 points in a 5-for-10 on 3-pointers in the win over Minnesota Thursday. In Sunday's win over Illinois, Lucas was 6-for-8 from three-point range for a game-best 22 points. Her six three-pointers pushed her past Kelly Mazzante for first place on Penn State's freshman season three-pointers list with 66 triples in 19 games. Lucas also tied her career high with eight rebounds against the Illini.

Penn State still has to face the upper echelon Big Ten teams. Traditional powers Ohio State and Purdue will face the Lady Lions twice before the season is out, while Michigan and Iowa are definitely no gimme wins. It's already been mentioned here, but the regular-season Big Ten title could come down to the only game this season against Michigan State, on February 10 in the Bryce Jordan Center.

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


Post a Comment