Since Pat Chambers arrived on campus at Penn State in May of 2011, he has made no secret what the lifeblood of his Nittany Lions hoops program will be: Philadelphia. That isn’t just finding the best players in the high school basketball hotbed, but adopting the attitude of the city, tough and hardworking. A certain “Philly Swagger” (that’s to Chad and BSD). Penn State takes their Philly swagger to the home of college hoops in the city tonight, taking on one of the “Big 5″, LaSalle, in The Palestra.
The game will be PSU’s first true road trip of the season, after playing their first seven games in either the Jordan Center or in Puerto Rico. The Lions enter the game 4-3, having yet to win back-to-back regular season games, and trying to find their offense. The early season has been defined by an inability to put together a consistent performance on the offensive end. Penn State averages just 59.1 points and 7.6 assists per game, while shooting just .365 from the field. 13 turnovers per game and .250 from 3-point range do not help either.
Tim Frazier’s absence surely will play a role throughout the season, but perhaps no more than right now is it noticeable. D.J. Newbill is still adjusting to the point guard position, while Jermaine Marshall works his way into a go to scorer. Freshman Brandon Taylor has shown flashes of being that third scorer, but has struggled on the defensive end to stay out of foul trouble. In last weekend’s win over Ross Travis showed flashes scoring 7 points, but more importantly, playing much more aggressively on the offensive end. All told, State got to the line 23 times vs. the Quakers.
LaSalle enters the game 4-1, including an impressive overtime win vs. Villanova. The Explorers are lead in scoring by junior guard Tyreek Duren and senior guard Ramon Galloway, averaging 16 and 15 points respectively.
The key to the game, as it will be all season for the Lions, will be offensive efficiency. PSU cannot afford to waste offensive possessions with turnovers, and take advantage of opportunities from the foul line and off of offensive rebounds. The hallmark of Chambers’ first season was the energy of every player, which quite honestly, has been missing at times this season. Moreso now with Frazier’s injury, PSU needs all five guys on the floor scrapping and clawing for everything, and playing with that Philly swagger.
The game airs at 9:00 on the NBC Sports Network.
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