Summer Season a Period of Growth for Hoops Senior Class

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blog_MBB_summer.jpgUNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Jordan Dickerson, Devin Foster, Donovon Jack and Brandon Taylor will not be looking around for a veteran leader come October when the Nittany Lion basketball team begins official practice.

The group of 2015-16 seniors has already laid the groundwork in taking ownership of the Penn State program thanks to a productive summer season on and off the court.

"I think we've done a good job of establishing ourselves as the guys who set the tone for the younger players," Dickerson said. "We have a lot of new talent on the roster, and we are just trying to set an example to help these guys become contributors."

Dickerson and his fellow seniors pointed to team chemistry and hard work as the driving forces behind what has been a strong preliminary phase of the upcoming season.

"Everybody is working hard right now," Taylor said. "I couldn't ask for more. We need to keep getting better, and we all can't wait for the season."

"The seniors have stepped up to show that we can lead this team," Jack said. "We have really good team chemistry, and the guys have worked really hard. The guys have bought in completely, and it's one of the closest teams I've ever been on."

The good chemistry starts with how the group gets along outside of the gym.

"It begins in our locker room," Taylor said. "We are all friends. We go out to eat together. We go to the movies together. That's where the chemistry on the court starts. You get to know your teammate as more than a teammate."

On the court, the Nittany Lions want to play fast. With the new 30-second shot clock in place for the season, the team wants to get up and down the floor to create more scoring opportunities. So far, the players are encouraged by the results during summer workouts.

"I like the way we are playing," Taylor said. "We are getting the ball up and down the floor, and we are playing unselfish. Our guards can get rebounds and push the ball to get better shots."

The Lions are moving the ball to get better looks at the basket, passing up a good shot for a great shot. The unselfish approach on the offensive end of the floor lends itself to more productivity.

"We are learning that when someone has a good shot, someone else likely has a better shot," Jack said.

"And we are doing it in July. Guys are getting better shots because we have been unselfish," Taylor said. "That just proves we are becoming a better team."

The ball movement aids everyone on the floor, but for a guy like Dickerson, unselfish basketball puts a 7-footer in a great spot to have success around the basket when he moves swiftly up the floor. Dickerson remained on campus during both summer sessions, and he has worked tirelessly to get in better physical condition because he knows how much it can help the team succeed.

"My summer has been really good," Dickerson said. "I stayed both summer sessions. I think the group has worked extremely hard during both sessions to continue improving on and off the court. I think I play the best when I have a clear head and when I'm not fatigued on the court. It's my last year, so I'm just trying to be a force on the floor."

That could not have been more evident than during Tuesday's 5-on-5 workout when Dickerson dove for a loose ball on defense before earning a trip to the free throw line and sinking two foul shots on the offensive end of the floor.

"Those type of plays are very important for our team to be successful," Dickerson said. "I felt really good after that play. It boosts your energy. And if we play like that, we are going to have a very productive year."

Dickerson's off court development and efforts on the floor aren't going unnoticed by his teammates.

"He's working hard for us, and we have to work hard for him," Taylor said. "To see a 7-footer get on the floor, that's not easy for him. That was big for us to see. It makes everybody else want to get that much better."

A play like Dickerson's dive and subsequent free throws equate to tallies in the program's "Attitude Club". Hard work and a positive attitude are the pillars of Nittany Lion Basketball. And while it may only be July, the program's core values are alive and well.

"One thing we are focused on this year is that no matter what happens on the court, we are going to stay positive," Taylor said. "When things aren't going your way and you get negative, that's when you start losing things. We are going to stay positive and stay together."

Follow's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

Goodwin Spends Summer Session in Mexico

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11225807.jpegBy Maria Canales, Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - While many of his teammates have spent their summers relaxing, working out or conditioning for the upcoming season, men's hockey junior David Goodwin spent the first half of his summer studying in Mexico. The forward, who notched 15 goals during the 2014-15 campaign, found his niche while taking classes towards his Spanish degree.

Goodwin stayed with a host family, which he said was one of the most appealing parts about choosing this abroad experience.

"I stayed with a Mexican family who was only able to speak Spanish," said Goodwin. "It's a little bit different from other programs where you get to stay in an apartment or a dorm. I really thought that staying with a Spanish speaking family would be the best for me to immerse myself in the culture and in the language."

Although his host family hadn't heard of Penn State hockey before they met Goodwin, they quickly learned about the program. Goodwin taught the family everything they needed to know about the famed Hockey Valley.

11225828.jpeg"I don't think they knew I was on the hockey team, but they definitely figured it out since I wore a lot of Penn State hockey stuff around the house," said Goodwin. "Eventually I was showing them videos of our games and they were just in awe. They thought it was really cool and they're going to try to come up for a game in the next couple years."

Goodwin talked about his favorite cultural aspects of his time abroad. He emphasized that the slower pace of life was what he enjoyed most, especially when it came to bonding with his host family. Mealtimes in Mexico, Goodwin learned, were the cornerstone of family interaction, and the time around a meal is valued as a vital part of a family's relationship.

"After the meals, sitting at the table and just chit chatting in Spanish, in Mexico that's a big cultural thing called 'sobre la mesa' where you stay at the table afterwards for an hour, hour and a half, and just talk with each other," said Goodwin. "That was a great experience for me."

No stranger to living with host families, Goodwin spent his years in junior hockey, before playing for Penn State, staying with host families. Goodwin explained that he felt he had an advantage when it came to getting used to living with a host family, since he had done it many times before.

"I felt like I definitely had a leg up on the other students that were with me because this was probably my fifth time kind of going in to a situation where I was going to be living with a host family who I didn't know before," said Goodwin. "The first few hours and couple days are a bit awkward but I definitely felt I was more comfortable because I had done it so many times prior."

Since his time in Mexico was part of a study abroad experience, Goodwin had the opportunity to take classes and learn more about Mexican heritage and culture. Goodwin took two Spanish classes, one on Mexican literature and another on Mexican history.

"I also took an art class on Mexican art, but that was taught in Spanish so I basically took three Spanish classes," said Goodwin.

11225831.jpegHis time learning and experiencing a new culture didn't confine the All-Big Ten Honorable Mention hockey player to just a classroom. During his final weekend in Mexico, Goodwin and others in his study abroad program traveled to the state of Puebla.

While in Puebla, Goodwin and his fellow students spent a full day at a local school, immersing him further into a culture he had started to become familiar with. This experience resonated with Goodwin in a life-changing way.

"We did some tourist things, but we volunteered at a school for a little over a day," said Goodwin.  "We brought them some food and worked with the kids in the classroom, talked to the kids a lot, and we played a lot of soccer at recess. It was pretty powerful, so I was really happy we did that."

The students at the school taught Goodwin some new soccer tricks, which he believes will come in handy by the time the 2015-16 Penn State men's hockey season rolls around.

"When [my teammates and I] are warming up before the games and we're playing soccer, I'll show them some of my moves I learned in Mexico," said Goodwin.

Goodwin's time in Mexico was a transformative experience, both educationally and personally. Having started out with his own preconceived ideas of the Mexican culture and peoples, Goodwin quickly learned that not everything he had in his head was a proper portrayal of such a wonderful country.

Goodwin explained that the people he met and lived with, along with the beautiful countryside, including mountains and waterfalls, have changed how he will forever look at the country he called home during his summer.

When asked what aspects of the Spanish culture he would bring back to Penn State, Goodwin highlighted that the most important things he learned were about prioritizing time and relationships.

"I think just the awareness of how other people live in the world, experiencing that there's way more to life than the material things, there's way more to life than hockey," said Goodwin. "To see the joys the families had in each other and spending time with each other was something that I felt had been lacking in my life in America, so just bringing back that joy and appreciation for the smaller things in life I think Americans take for granted." 


Nittany Lions Deliver Season Tickets and 2015 Posters

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Nittany Lion football team spent Thursday interacting with fans around State College distributing the 2015 "Black Shoes. Basic Blues. No Names. All Game." posters. The team boarded four Blue Buses and spread out in different locations in State College and on the University Park campus. Additionally, head coach James Franklin hand delivered several sets of season tickets.

Take a look through some highlights.

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VIDEO: 2015 Football Jersey Press Conference Remarks

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Penn State football program announced on Thursday that names would be removed from the jerseys to rekindle a longstanding tradition of "Black Shoes. Basic Blues. No Names. All Game." Head coach James Franklin, along with letterman and current assistant coach Terry Smith and some of the current players met with the media on Thursday evening met with the media to discuss the jerseys.

James Franklin

Terry Smith

Nittany Lion Players

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VIDEO: Black Shoes. Basic Blues. No Names. All Game

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2015 Football Preseason Watch List Central

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - With the start of preseason practice for the Nittany Lion football team just around the corner, July is filled with news pertaining to watch lists for college football's national awards. Follow along with a preseason award tracker below.

July 7 - Bednarik Award & Maxwell Award

July 8 - John Mackey Award & Rimington Trophy

July 10 - Nagurski Trophy & Outland Trophy


July 14 - Rotary Lombardi Award

July 15 - Biletnikoff Award

July 16 - Davey O'Brien Award & Doak Walker Award
Hack_Daveyobrien_Blog.jpgAkeel_Doak Walker_Blog.jpg

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Football Team Visits Penn State Hershey Children's Hospital

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hershey_15_3.jpgUNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Maintaining a positive attitude is the name of the game for Penn State Football at all hours of the day.

Head coach James Franklin and the team live by core value No. 1 - positive attitude - to ensure that every member of the program and every member of the community that the program touches have a upbeat attitude and experience during each interaction.

hersehy_15_2.jpgWith that in mind, the entire team boarded three buses on Wednesday afternoon on a mission to make a positive impact on a visit to Penn State Hershey Children's Hospital. For the second-straight year, the Nittany Lions received a rousing cheer from the medical center staff members, patients and their families when the group walked in the front door.

Upon arrival, the team broke into smaller groups and walked through different sections of the hospital to spread enthusiasm and uplifting energy. In room after room, the Nittany Lion players and staff members were greeted with smiles from patients and families. The hospital staff members in each wing posed for photos and thanked the team for taking time to visit the immaculate facility.

"We are really excited about being here," Franklin said. "This is turning into a tradition. We talk all the time with our guys about being men for others. That's a term we use all the time in our program to teach our guys about service...A lot of times all of us get caught up in our day-to-day lives, but coming to the Children's Hospital, it puts things in perspective. You realize how blessed you are. I've been inspired."

Several groups of players visited with non-ambulatory patients in their rooms in the Hematology/Oncology, Pediatric Intermediate Care, Medical/Surgical and the Emergency Room of the hospital. Other groups spent time engaging with ambulatory patients in the Tree House Cafe where they signed autographs and played games.

hershey_15_1.jpg"Coming here and getting to see all of these kids and make an impact is an experience that I can't really put into words," senior Matt Zanellato said. "It's an experience that all of us look forward to. And it's something that all of us embrace and enjoy making an impact on the kids."

Penn State Hershey Children's Hospital is a 263,000-square-foot, five-story facility. The nearly $207 million facility was built adjacent to Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center's main entrance.

"Our guys have a great platform, and they embrace the platform," Franklin said. "It's awesome when you can bring 125 guys (here), you can spread out and touch a lot of different people in a positive way."

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VIDEO: 2015 Lift For Life Highlights

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The 2015 Penn State Uplifting Athletes Lift For Life raised more then $120,000 for kidney cancer awareness and research. The offense topped the defense, 31-30, with a late rally to win Saturday's event. Take a look through some highlights from 2015 Lift For Life.

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VIDEO: 2014-15 Year in Review with Sandy Barbour

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - talks with Director of Athletics Sandy Barbour to review a superb 2014-15 season for Penn State Athletics.

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VIDEO: 2014-15 Season Highlights

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State's 2014-15 season was one marked by excellence on the field, in the classroom and in the community. takes a look back at the campaign in a season highlight reel.