The home loss Penn State suffered versus Minnesota on Sunday could have been a lot worse considering the Lions shot just 30% from the field compared to 55% for the visitors. The good news for Penn State was that it grabbed 15 offensive rebounds and as a result only actually made three less field goals than Minnesota.
Another reason for the difference in field goal attempts was that Minnesota did a lot of their damage at the foul line. Freshman guard Joe Coleman has the best game of his career and shot 13 of 14 from the free throw line en route to 23 points. Joining in on the free throw party, veteran forward Rodney Williams hit on 8 of 11 freebies and finished with 14 points and 8 rebounds. The 44 free throws attempted by Minnesota for the game was one short of a Big Ten record.
Penn State was able to get to the line themselves, as Cammeron Woodyard surprisingly led the team in scoring with 8 of his 22 points coming at the free throw line. Tim Frazier put up 20 points, 5 assists and 4 steals, but only converted 2 of 10 two-pointers on the day (3 of 5 on threes). Jermaine Marshall struggled even worse with his shot and is quickly becoming PSU’s irrational confidence guy who will jack up shots no matter how his game is going. Marshall scored 12 points, but was 4 of 19 from the field.
Head coach Pat Chambers was not happy with his team’s effort.
I have to do a better job getting these guys ready to play. I feel like we looked like we’re in slow motion out there. This just wasn’t the same Penn State basketball team that competed against Nebraska, competed against Indiana, competed against Purdue. Maybe I’m asking too much. Maybe I’m getting a little greedy. That’s on me. Somehow and some way we have to get back to our roots and our habits.
I love that Chambers is making himself culpable for how the team is playing, but really it would be difficult for anyone to get such an inexperienced team to play with much consistency. It was nice to see the senior Woodyard step up and be a major factor, but on the other end, Penn State got next to nothing from front court players Billy Oliver, Jon Graham, and Sasa Borovnjak. That’s especially disappointing considering that Gopher big man Ralph Sampson III played only 20 minutes and fouled out.
It will probably continue to be a tough year for Penn State basketball fans. The important thing is to look for meaningful trends to develop. Billy Oliver going ape in a win over Purdue is not going to help if he is going to disappear for the next couple of games. It’s great that Jermaine Marshall wants to take some of the scoring load off of Frazier’s shoulders, but can he actually become an efficient scorer? Can Borovnjak and Graham develop their offensive games, or will Penn State be forced to run with four guards in the future?
Hopefully we’ll get closer to some of the answers to these questions when Penn State hosts Illinois at 9 PM on Thursday. The game will be nationally broadcast on ESPN2, so hopefully PSU puts on a good show.