March 17, 2011

Annnd...It's Gone - Penn State Loses a Heartbreaker To Temple, 66-64

You know, for all the celebrating, hootin', and hollerin' we had been doing since the Fighting DeChellises beat Michigan State in the Big Ten Tournament semifinals last weekend to seal an NCAA bid, it sure felt like this magical ride was over before it even had a chance to really get going. I guess this is what feels like to be the fan of a Louisville, Kansas, or any other school that is a yearly fixture in the NCAA Tournament, and seeing your team get knocked out after just one game...

Talor Battle showcased why the entire fanbase dreamed of seeing him play in the tournament someday: He lit up Temple for 23 points on 5-of-11 3-point shooting, including a clutch game-tying bomb from NBA range with 11 seconds remaining in the game. Unfortunately for Battle, Temple's Argentinian superstar Juan Fernandez nailed an improbable shot as time expired, despite the fact Tim Frazier guarded him like a glove and forced Fernandez to lean to his left in order to get the shot off. Nine times out of ten, Fernandez's shot clanks and we're headed to overtime and perhaps a more positive outcome for PSU. Such moments like these though, are what make March Madness the exciting spectacle that it is, and this team has no reason to hang their heads in shame.

Finally, to those of you who are already beating the "Fire Ed" dead horse: Go play in traffic. No, making the tournament does not suddenly mean Ed is off the hook, he now must use this tournament appearance as leverage for recruiting greater talent and not allow things to slip into the depths of pure suckage like Jerry Dunn did when he posted back-to-back seven-win seasons following a magical Sweet 16 run in 2001. However, Ed does deserve some props for getting his kids to continue to believe they were NCAA Tournament material when everybody else felt otherwise, and getting them to make their deepest run ever in the conference tournament. Not to mention, he was forced to compensate for Jeff Brooks' re-dislocated shoulder most of the game. He's here for at least two more years whether we like it or not. Deal with it.

We'll have more Jack Handey-style deep thoughts about the season, Talor Battle, and the state of PSU basketball up in the coming week, but for now, let's give these kids a round of applause. They deserve nothing less.

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