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November 2014 Archives

A Foundation Built on Loyalty

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seniors_blog.jpgUNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Loyalty means more to the small group of Penn State seniors on the 2014 team than it would to just about any other class in the program's iconic history.

Alongside its two predecessors in 2012 and 2013, the 2014 senior class will go down as a group of individuals who deserve more recognition than they have gotten credit for.

In July of 2012, this group, more than any other, had a distinct opportunity to leave the challenges following the NCAA sanctions announcement. The players in this group of seniors could have walked out the door and played three full seasons anywhere in America.

Anyone in the class could have left without any repercussions to attend a school that could compete for a conference title, post-season berth or a national championship.

The entire group faced open recruitment by dozens of schools across the country.

No student-athlete signed up for the challenges and scrutiny bestowed upon them starting in November 2011 and magnified the following July, so it would have been easy to leave. And some of their teammates and classmates did just that.

But knowing the road would be a challenge unlike any other student-athletes had ever faced, this small collection of men refused to leave their family behind.

A bond had been forged inside the locker room and in their residences, and this resilient group refused to break it.

The players knew they couldn't play in a bowl game. They knew they couldn't compete for a national championship. They knew the deck was almost insurmountably stacked against them.

They didn't care.

For this group, the sanctions, hurdles and hardships brought the group closer together. The situation reaffirmed their passion for the University they had committed to.

The Penn State community embraced the group of players with open arms, and the group is forever grateful for the support from the thousands of Blue and White faithful worldwide.

But for the past three years, their actions have spoken louder than any words. These seniors played for one another. They played for their families. They played for the players who wore the blue and white before them. They played for Penn State. And they did everything with class.

"You always want to leave a legacy with your peers where they remember you as a group that set an example," guard Miles Dieffenbach said. "We all tried to be a role figure, and it means a lot to leave here knowing we did that."

It's impossible to imagine what it might have been like to walk in the shoes of men like safety Adrian Amos, running back Bill Belton, linebacker Mike Hull, defensive end C.J. Olaniyan or running back Zach Zwinak. Despite the odds of competing in the Big Ten with a roster of limited scholarships, the group's confidence never wavered.

"I think we have been able to be so successful against the odds because Penn State is so special," Hull said. "Everyone understood the importance of upholding the legacy of this University and the football program."

This group's college experience has been unique to any other in the history of Penn State Football, which is why the group deserves the utmost respect from any supporter of the program or intercollegiate athletics. They worked hard for one another in the toughest of circumstances because that is the only thing they knew how to do.

"I just wanted to enjoy it and cherish every moment," Amos said. "This process helped develop me as a person and made me stronger as a man. There were a lot a chances to quit and get angry, but I came here for a reason."

It was clear two years ago that the current seniors weren't playing for accolades or a bowl game. The quest for success was far bigger than wins and losses on the field. The group saw the situation not as a challenge, but as an opportunity to grow together.

"Whether it is in life or in football, this is something that you had to adapt to," Belton said. "We found a way to make things work."

But that doesn't mean the 2014 seniors weren't more deserving of a chance at a post-season game than anyone else in college football. When the NCAA lifted the ban on post-season play on Sept. 8, head coach James Franklin called every member of the team who was on the roster in July of 2012 to the front of the meeting room to stand before the rest of the team.

Franklin and the underclassmen gave the collection of players standing in the front of the room a rousing, standing ovation and pleaded with the young players in the room to play the rest of the 2014 season for the men who had been through never ending adversity, especially the seniors.


"We are so appreciative of all the things you guys have done," Franklin said.

Behind a dominant defense, the Nittany Lions reached a sixth win and bowl eligibility with a 30-13 victory over Temple. And while the seniors never suited up for the right to play in a bowl game, they deserved the moment they shared with one another inside the winning locker room on Nov. 15.

"I think the bowl game is just a great reward because of everything we have gone through," Hull said.

"It's a sense of accomplishment that we stuck together," Amos said. "It's rewarding that we will have this opportunity that we have worked hard for."

Penn State's season will extend beyond the Michigan State. The extra practices and additional game will pay huge dividends for the nation's second-youngest team. But more importantly, this group of seniors will have an opportunity to be together as a family for one more month.

The 2014 senior class is a rare group that embodies loyalty beyond any words.

Prior to the season, nine members of the senior class had already earned their degrees. Amos and Tyrone Smith are on schedule to graduate in December, along with six redshirt juniors, for a total of 11 seniors and 17 players who have earned their degrees prior to Penn State's bowl game.

Despite all the obstacles, the 2014 seniors have been instrumental in the Nittany Lions earning a 30-17 record the past four years, with three winning seasons and an opportunity for a fourth during their careers.

"It's just a great group of people," Amos said. "This is a group that wanted to be a part of building something. I just love this senior class."

"We talk about it all the time as a group about how we stuck together as a family," Olaniyan said.

The seniors may not leave with all the victories and championships they had hoped to win when they committed to Penn State, but the group's battle through adversity gives success a far different meaning than wins and losses. In a situation that few thought would be possible for the program to survive, this group stood tall with dignity, class and an unrivaled work-ethic.

"The legacy we want to leave is that we kept fighting. We stuck together," Amos said. "There is always light at the end of the tunnel. If you keep fighting, you will find that light."

It's a group that let its actions set an example for individuals in all facets of life. It's a group that has earned the respect from everyone who supports the Blue and White. And it's a group summed up best in one statement from Mike Hull.

"I love Penn State so much."

VIDEO: James Franklin Postgame vs. Michigan State

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Head coach James Franklin talks with the media following Saturday's Senior Day game against No. 10 Michigan State.

VIDEO: Postgame Player Interviews - Michigan State

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Several Nittany Lions talk with the media following Saturday's Senior Day game against No. 10 Michigan State.

2014 Photo Blog - Penn State vs. Michigan State

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Welcome to GoPSUsports.com's coverage of the 2014 football season. Check back often for an inside look at the Penn State's final regular season game of the season against Michigan State.

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2014 Game Blog - Penn State vs. Michigan State

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Welcome to GoPSUsports.com's live, interactive coverage of the 2014 football season. Tune in for live blog coverage from all 12 games on the schedule. Penn State closes out the season with a matchup against Michigan State inside Beaver Stadium.



Live Blog 2014 Game Blog - Penn State vs. Michigan State
 



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2014-'15 Men's Hoops Blog - Penn State at Bucknell

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Welcome to GoPSUsports.com's live, interactive coverage of the 2014-'15 men's basketball season. Today, the Nittany Lions are in Lewisburg to face intrastate foe Bucknell.

Live Blog 2014-'15 Men's Hoops Blog - Penn State at Bucknell
 

Lions Head to NYC for the Frozen Apple

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By Julie Bacanskas, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - As the Penn State men's hockey team takes the ice Saturday for its game against Cornell, it will once again cross off another program first, playing at Madison Square Garden, the world's most famous arena.

"We're really excited," said senior captain Patrick Koudys of the opportunity to play in the Frozen Apple. "First off, it's such a huge venue, arguably the biggest venue in the world, but it's going to be probably the biggest venue we've ever played in. To play against a team like Cornell, they're a great team. It's a good hockey program there, so we're just really excited to get to NYC and play some hockey."

Following a disappointing end to their series with Michigan, the Lions spent the week regrouping and getting back to playing their style of hockey.

The team hopes to step into the Frozen Apple looking like the dangerous, skilled squad that took down then-No. 4 UMass Lowell on the road.

"We have a lot of things to improve on, and it's not new things," head coach Guy Gadowsky said. "It's refocusing. We focused on a few team aspects that really allowed us to get better and to play great at UMass Lowell, and those things are very difficult to do. They take a lot of effort and a lot of commitment, and if you just relax your focus a little bit, you can be exploited. For us, it's refocusing our commitment in certain areas of our game."

Commitment and putting forth a high level of effort day in and day out are key for the Lions right now as the team battles a number of injuries.

With so many key individuals out of the lineup, the remainder of the team has had to step up and work toward the continuation of positive results.

"It's hockey," said Gadowsky. "Very seldom do you go into a game 100 percent after the first few weekends of the season. Any time you lose a Dylan Richard, a David Glen and an Eric Scheid, and remember we're down Zach Saar as well, at the forward position it's going to hurt. Right now Connor Varley is out for us on D, so it's part of it. Part of improving as a program and getting better is improving your depth, and we have faith in all the people we have on our roster."

The numerous team injuries have forced the Lions to work on filling voids on the team, giving them more experience and adding a new dimension of depth to their squad.

"It obviously sucks that guys are out and guys are injured, but it does give other guys more opportunities to play in spots that they're maybe not normally playing in or to get more time in those situations," Koudys explained. "It's good and it's bad. It's good that guys get to try new thing and play a little more, but then again we do love those guys who are injured. We want them healthy. Right now I think we're all just focusing on what we need to do as a team, and we're looking forward to this weekend."

With Saturday quickly approaching, Penn State (7-3-2, 1-1-0 B1G) will continue to prepare for the highly defensive Cornell (3-4-1, 3-3-0 ECAC) team. This season, the Big Red have given up an average of 1.6 goals per game, which is significantly lower than the 3.5 goals per game average the Lions have scored.

Cornell is accustomed to playing low-scoring games, which may call for a bit of an adjustment by Penn State.

"That's really an indication of their team and their team systems and how they play the game," Gadowsky said of Cornell. "Our staff is very familiar with Cornell. They're very, very well coached, and they're a very tough team to play against in the sense that they play a tremendous defensive game. If you're waiting around for them to give you opportunities, it's going to be a long night. You really have to make your own opportunities because they don't give you much at all."

The Frozen Apple between Penn State and Cornell is scheduled to begin at 8 p.m. Saturday in Madison Square Garden.

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2014 Gameday Preview - Lions Host Michigan State on Senior Day

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GAME BLOG - Penn State vs. Michigan State

Game Notes | Gameday Central | Michigan State Scouting Report | Coach Franklin Wednesday

Press Conference Roundup | Coach Shoop Q&A | Player Q&A Video | Community Service

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Nittany Lions (6-5, 2-5) will host No. 10 Michigan State (9-2, 6-1) on Senior Day inside Beaver Stadium. Kickoff is slated for 3:30 p.m. on Saturday with television coverage on ABC (ESPN2 outer markets).

10578368.jpegPenn State will pay tribute to a special group of seniors prior to Saturday's game. The program will honor a collection of 17 players who have exhibited unrivaled commitment to Penn State during some of its toughest times. A senior class that has seemingly gone through everything during its time in the Blue and White is deserving of a standing ovation from the Beaver Stadium faithful on Saturday.

The list of players who will be honored includes: Adrian Amos, DeShawn Baker, Brad Bars, Bill Belton, Drew Boyce, Jesse Della Valle, Miles Dieffenbach, Sam Ficken, Mike Hull, Ryan Keiser, Jesse Merise, C.J. Olaniyan, Devin Pryor, T.J. Rhattigan, Tyrone Smith, Deron Thompson and Zach Zwinak.

The Nittany Lions are coming off a tough 16-14 setback at Illinois last week after the Fighting Illini made a game-winning field goal with eight seconds left. The Lions enter the final week of the regular season having held nine of their 11 opponents to fewer than 20 points in regulation this season.

Penn State is the only FBS team in the top five in rushing defense, total defense, pass efficiency defense and scoring defense. The Nittany Lions are No. 1 in the nation against the run (81.7 ypg.), No. 3 in the nation in total defense (267.2 ypg) and No. 4 in the nation in scoring defense (16.2 ppg) and No. 3 in pass efficiency defense (94.78).

Additionally, Penn State is second in third down conversion percentage defense (27.6 percent), is third in the nation in first downs defense (156 total), is 15th in passes intercepted (15) and is No. 17 in passing yards allowed (185.5 ypg).


Penn State is also one of just two teams in the nation to have not allowed a rushing play of 30 or more yards (Syracuse). The Lions also lead the nation with fewest plays of 30 or more yards allowed this season (7).


Saturday's game will pit one of the Big Ten's top defenses against one of the top offenses. Michigan State enters the final week of the season
ranked No. 1 in the Big Ten in total offense (514.5 ypg) and the No. 3 in the Big Ten in total defense (299.0 ypg). Rated as the Big Ten's top passing offense, Michigan State has scored 27 or more points in every game on the schedule this season and is averaging 43.9 points per game.

The Senior Day game is also a Blue Out. Fans are encouraged to wear blue attire to support Prevent Child Abuse PA. Official Blue Out shirts have been available for purchase at the Penn State Bookstore and other downtown outlets since the summer, with proceeds going to Prevent Child Abuse PA.

The Penn State Blue Band will pay tribute to retiring director Dr. Dick Bundy with a halftime performance featuring music that he arranged and the formations he designed during his career, including music and formations used in the 1983 Sugar Bowl and 1986 Orange Bowl.

The Nittany Lions and Spartans will battle for the Land Grant Trophy on Saturday. Penn State and Michigan State were the nation's first two Land Grant institutions, both founded in February of 1855.

Welcome to the Gameday Preview for the week 12 matchup against Michigan State.


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Pregame Reading:
What to Watch For - Penn State
10578370.jpeg1. Seventeen seniors will be honored for their efforts before kickoff, but one name stands out in the group. Simply put, Mike Hull's impact on the 2014 team cannot be measured in statistics. The Pittsburgh native has been incredibly productive and consistent since the season began in Ireland on Nov. 30. Entering the week as the Big Ten's top tackler (11.0 tpg), Hull has a knack for being in a great position to make plays on virtually every single snap. His work ethic on the practice field is second to none, and Hull has made everyone around him elevate their game this fall. Hull has played a season at middle linebacker among the greatest players in Linebacker U history, and he is deserving of a big game in his final outing at Beaver Stadium.

2. No player has felt the effects of Donovan Smith and Miles Dieffenbach being back in the lineup on the offensive line more than junior running back Akeel Lynch. On the heels of a career-high 28 carries and career-best 137 yards at Illinois, Lynch's confidence is at an all-time high. Lynch tallied his second-straight 100-yard performance in Champaign last week, which included a 47-yard touchdown run. Against a Michigan State defense that has been stingy against the ground attack, the Lions will need another strong outing from Lynch and the running back corps this week.

3. Like Hull and so many of the senior members of the team, kicker Sam Ficken has earned the respect of every single member of the football program for his work ethic and production and ability to overcome adversity. Ficken has been consistent every step of the way in 2014. He is 22-of-26 on field goal attempts (all four misses were blocked) in 2014. Ficken is ranked 11th in the nation in field goal percentage (84.6 percent) and third in the nation in field goals per game (2.00). Ranked second in Penn State history with 52 made field goals, the Indiana native will go down as one of Penn State's most productive kickers.

What to Watch For - Michigan State
10578344.jpeg1. Penn State leads the nation in defending the run at 81.7 yards per game. The unit will face a stiff test on Saturday against Michigan State junior Jeremy Langford. The Spartan running back enters the weekend having eclipsed the 100-yard mark in 14 consecutive Big Ten games (Longest streak in FBS conference games since the stat has been kept in 1996). Langford is a big, physical back with great speed. He will be looking to set a school record of nine-straight 100-yard games.

2. In the passing game, Michigan State junior Connor Cook and wide receiver Tony Lippett have been a formidable duo for the Spartan offense. Cook is the Big Ten's passing leader with 2,720 yards (21 touchdowns and 5 interceptions) while completing 59 percent of his passes. Lippett is the Big Ten's only 1,000-yard receiver thus far. He has made 56 receptions and scored a Big Ten-best 10 touchdowns.

3. Defensively, the Spartans field a talented collection of impact players. Safety Kurtis Drummond leads Michigan State with 59 tackles and four interceptions this season. The Spartans have three players with 11.0 tackles for loss, including standout defensive end Shilique Calhoun. Michigan State leads the nation in turnover margin (+1.73) and is No. 3 in turnovers gained this season (31).

The Final Word:
The 2014 senior class has been instrumental in helping Penn State earning a 30-18 on-field record during unprecedented circumstances in the last four years. The senior class has earned three-straight winning seasons and will have a chance for a fourth on Saturday. Nine of the 17 seniors graduated prior to the start of the 2014 season. The group also includes the No. 3 scorer in school history, one of the program's elite tacklers, a 2,000-yard rusher and six of the seven team captains. Additionally, the Nittany Lions are thrilled to pay tribute to safety Ryan Keiser, whose season was cut short with a season-ending injury prior to the Ohio State game. Keiser's maturity and leadership have been paramount to Penn State's success during the last for seasons. The kickoff is set for 3:36 p.m. on Saturday with Mike Patrick, Ed Cunningham and Jeanine Edwards calling the ABC broadcast.



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VIDEO: NCAA Women's Soccer Quarterfinal Preview

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - GoPSUsports.com talks with senior forward Emily Hurd leading up to Penn State's NCAA quarterfinal match at Texas A&M on Saturday (8 p.m.).




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Happy Thanksgiving from Penn State Athletics

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - 'Tis the season for giving thanks, and the Penn State Athletics would like to take an opportunity to say thank you to the loyal fans on Thanksgiving.

As you sit down with family and friends to eat your traditional meal while the Lions and Cowboys host their annual Thanksgiving day home games, Penn State Athletics would like to thank you, the fans, for the unrivaled support you give every team on campus.  Penn State's teams would not be the same without the greatest fans in college sports.

As a token of their appreciation, several student-athletes from teams on campus would like to say thank you and Happy Thanksgiving for the support you give them throughout the athletic season.

VIDEO: James Franklin Practice Update - Michigan State Week

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Head coach James Franklin provided an update to the media following Wednesday's practice session inside Holuba Hall. The Nittany Lions host Michigan State in Saturday's Senior Day game (3:30 on ABC).

Hoops Notebook: Huge Second Half Fuels Lions

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10578404.jpegUNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Head coach Patrick Chambers normally enters the locker room at halftime with a handful of things he wants to see out of the Nittany Lions in the second half.

Down 45-32 at the break against hot-shooting Akron in the BJC on Tuesday night, he only needed to say one thing to the team at the break. It was a crystal clear message to the Nittany Lions. And it was a message the group took to heart.

"We always like to give them five things that they need to adjust or work on and we didn't need five," Chambers said. "They (Akron) shot 60-percent from two and 42-percent from three, we were throwing the ball all over the place, we were walking around and there was no energy or juice, so sometimes it just comes down to wearing the jersey. Taking pride in wearing the jersey, taking pride in everything we've been through here the last three and a half years. At some point that has to come out, there has got to be a fire in those bellies in that locker room that's tired of it and I think that's what you saw in the second half."

Penn State roared out of the halftime break with a game-altering 16-0 run in the opening 6:55. Ross Travis ignited the surge with a dunk on the opening possession of the half, and the Nittany Lions never looked back in a thrilling 78-72 win over the Zips. Penn State shot 64 percent from the field in the final 20 minutes and held Akron to just 21 percent shooting. The Nittany Lions played with a purpose and were not going to be denied.

"We're tough to play for 40 minutes," said senior D.J. Newbill. "The first half was over. Coach always says, forget what happened in the first half, we have another half to play basketball. Coach made some adjustments in the lineup. He made some defensive adjustments and we went zone in the second half. That helped, because their cuts were getting shots. We came out hitting and getting stops. The stops led to easy offense, which we weren't getting in the first half."

Newbill a Model of Efficiency
Newbill's efforts in Penn State's first six games of 2014-'15 have been nothing short of stellar. The senior guard is averaging 24.5 points per game, which leads the Big Ten. But what's more impressive than Newbill's scoring is how efficient he has been. The Philadelphia native is shooting 49 percent from the field, 50 percent from beyond the arc, 84 percent from the foul line, and he is averaging 5.5 rebounds and 3.3 assists per game. Newbill has been as clutch as he has been efficient, as well. He scored 15 of his game-high 29 tallies against Akron in the final 11:35 of the ballgame. What stands out most to Coach Chambers is Newbill's unselfishness and ability to make those around him better.

Taylor Steps Up

Tuesday night's game may not have been junior Brandon Taylor's best shooting night, but it's hard to remember a bigger sequence of shots in the forward's Nittany Lion career than his back-to-back threes in the second half on Tuesday. Taylor's consecutive triples handed the Lions their first lead in the second half and played a huge role in the dynamic of the game. He finished with 14 points and seven boards.

"Yes, he got hot at the right time. He got hot and they (his teammates) were feeding him too. D.J. (Newbill) passed up a three to give it to him which just shows you what he's all about," Chambers said. "He sees a hot hand and he gives it up. He is a special kid. But he (Brandon Taylor) hit some big ones and I knew he would. I just felt the last two days he shot the ball really well here and he was disappointed with his performance in Charleston, so I felt like he was going to come out and make shots. Now 4-11 is not a great clip (from three), but he made shots when we needed him to make shots."

Bucknell Up Next
After enjoying a Thanksgiving meal with one another on Wednesday, focus has shifted towards a trip to Bucknell on Friday (4 p.m.). The Nittany Lions will wear throwback uniforms to honor Penn State's first color combination - pink and black - against the Bison. The Lions will also wear the throwback uniforms against Virginia Tech next Wednesday (7:15 p.m.) in the BJC during the Big Ten/ACC Challenge. Friday's game at Bucknell will mark Penn State's first trip to Lewisburg since 1976.



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Michigan State Week Q&A - Assistant Coach Bob Shoop

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10578272.jpegUNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State defensive coordinator and safeties coach Bob Shoop spoke with the media on Thursday.  The Nittany Lions host Michigan State in the final regular season game on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. (ABC). Take a look at a Q&A with Shoop.

Q: When you got here in January and looked at all of the personnel, did you think this unit could play as well as it has this year?
Shoop:
"At that time, I didn't know. When I got here, I'd studied all of the personnel and I knew there was potential. I knew there was a nice nucleus of seniors...I knew Deion Barnes. I knew who Austin Johnson was. I knew C.J. Olaniyan. I certainly knew who Mike Hull and Adrian Amos were. The guys are hungry. They are team-first individuals. They play hard. And I think is a group that embodies the thought that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. They've been really neat overachievers."

Q: Were you able to put your finger on what the defense needed to do a little bit better at the end of the Illinois game and how did the unit bounce back?
Shoop:
"It was just a couple plays. (Mike) Dudek and (Reilly) O'Toole made a couple plays. And I think you certainly give them credit. Bill Cubit is an outstanding offensive coordinator. Dudek played a great game on senior day, and O'Toole came up with a couple big plays. We misplayed the first two. We played 72 snaps in that game. You hold them to 282 yards and 14 out of 16 on third down and you don't execute in the two-minute drill. We stepped up at the end and made them kick a field goal, but we needed to block it obviously at that particular point. I think Coach might have said this yesterday; there is a difference between playing well and playing winning football. We need to execute in all situations. We didn't do as well as we needed to at the end of the Illinois game.

"We did a two-minute drill yesterday against the offense, and they executed very, very well. They are a resilient group. They are very confident. We always have a 24-hour rule, good or bad. Twenty-four hours after the game, we have a Sunday meeting to debrief the previous day's game. I show them a good, bad and ugly tape. We evaluate all of the situations to show what we did well and what we did poorly. And then we move on to the next opponent. The players are really excited to play Michigan State this weekend."

Q: What can you say about Ryan Keiser and what he meant to the defense? And how much will it mean to you to see him get honored with the senior class?
Shoop:
"Words probably can't express what it means to me to see him out on the field with his teammates on Saturday. That was really one of the weirdest, flukiest things I've ever gone through as a coach on the Thursday before Ohio State...We thought he had the wind knocked out of him, and then for him to have gone through what he has gone through during the past month has been tough. Someone put it really well to me, there is probably no one in our program more equipped to handle such a thing than Ryan because he is married. He's so mature. He recognizes that football is what he does and not who he is. He's handled it incredibly well and unselfishly. I've gotten to know his wife McKenzie during this period better than I knew her before. What he brought to the team that people don't recognize, he is one of those unique people who can make everyone around him not only a better player, but a better person. I include myself in that...As good of a football player as he is, he is a better person. He can be on my team any day. I can promise you that."

Q: How would you describe the improvement Deion Barnes has made this year and his commitment to get better?
Shoop:
"Deion is awesome. I saw it when I first got on the job here. When I first got on the job here the perception was that in (2013), he took a little bit of a step backwards. I watched a lot of the game film, and I didn't necessarily see it that way. He and Sean Spencer developed an incredible relationship. And he and I developed a really good relationship. He's a man of few words. He doesn't say a whole lot, but his approach to getting better as a person and as a football player everyday was incredible...There is probably not a player who practices more consistently than he does. He has great fundamentals. He has great techniques."

Q: How much of an impact do you think Mike Hull has had on Nyeem Wartman and Brandon Bell through the whole season?
Shoop:
"That is a great question. Mike Hull has had an impact on our entire unit, this entire team, and maybe the entire program. I don't know that I have ever seen a person be more of an ultimate teammate than he is. Similar to Deion, Mike is a person of few words. It's not like he is the most vocal guy. But when he says something, it has a significant amount of substance. To him, it's not talking about it, it's being about it. It's about how he approached winter program, how he approached the new staff with tremendous energy, about how he embraced being the quarterback of the defense. Certainly, he helped Brandon and Nyeem take their games to another level. But certainly he helped a lot of people on the defense take their game to the next level. In some ways, he's like a quarterback on the field. And he has really taken the next step now that Keiser is out."

Q: Remarks on the Michigan State offense...
Shoop:
"Michigan State will certainly provide as tremendous of a challenge that we have faced all year. Connor Cook is an outstanding quarterback who is playing really well. (Jeremy) Langford is a tremendous running back. They have great depth at running back. They've got good tight ends. They've got a stable full of wide receivers. And their offensive line is really very, very good."



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2014 Opponent Previews - Michigan State

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10578006.jpegMichigan State | Beaver Stadium | 3:30 p.m. | ABC
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State hosts No. 10/8 Michigan State on Saturday in the final game of the regular season. Get to know the Spartans in this week's scouting report.

Mark Dantonio is in his eighth year leading the Spartans. Dantonio is 73-31 at Michigan State and 91-48 overall. The Spartans went 13-1 overall and 8-0 in the Big Ten in 2013, winning the Big Ten Championship and defeated Stanford, 24-20, in the Rose Bowl. Michigan State returned 46 lettermen and 12 starters from last year.

The Spartans improved to 9-2 overall and 6-1 in conference play with a 45-3 win over Rutgers last Saturday. Michigan State's offense gained 520 yards, including 242 on the ground. Quarterback Connor Cook completed 16-of-24 passes for 254 yards and two touchdowns. Running back Jeremy Langford gained 126 yards and scored twice on 16 carries. Fellow back Nick Hill contributed 61 yards and two touchdowns on 12 carries. Tony Lippett caught five passes for 72 yards and a touchdown. R.J. Shelton had three receptions for 39 yards and a score.

Michigan State allowed only 234 yards and 95 yards rushing. The Spartans also forced three interceptions, with safety Kurtis Drummond, linebacker Riley Bullough and cornerback Arjen Colquhoun all recording picks. Drummond added six tackles, including five solo. Linebacker Ed Davis led the Spartans with seven tackles. Defensive tackle Joel Heath added five stops, two for loss and a sack.

The Spartan offense averages nearly 44 points per game, ranking second in the conference. They lead the conference averaging 514.5 yards and 269 passing yards per game. They also rank fifth in the Big Ten in rushing offense, averaging 245.5 yards.

Junior Connor Cook sits atop the Big Ten with 2,720 yards passing. He has completed 59 percent of his passes and thrown 21 touchdowns and five interceptions. Cook also has two rushing touchdowns.

Jeremy Langford, a 6-foot-1, 208-pound junior, has 1,242 yards, averaging 5.7 yards per carry, with 17 touchdowns. Langford has rushed for 100 yards in 14 straight Big Ten regular-season games. It is the longest 100-yard streak in the FBS for regular-season conference games since STATS began tracking records in 1996. Langford also has eight catches for 55 yards. Five-foot-eight, 196-pound senior Nick Hill has contributed 596 yards and nine scores, while 6-foot-1, 228-pound sophomore Delton Williams has 314 yards and five touchdowns.

Senior Tony Lippett leads the Spartan receivers with 56 catches for 1,071 yards and 10 touchdowns. The 6-foot-3 Lippett averages 19.1 yards per catch. Junior Macgarrett Kings Jr., 5-foot-10, has 336 yards and a score on 24 receptions. Tight end Josiah Price, 6-foot-4, has 23 catches for 347 yards and five touchdowns.

The physical Michigan State offensive line includes two redshirt seniors, two juniors and a sophomore. The five combine for 109 career starts. Center Jack Allen and left tackle Jack Conklin were named midseason first team All-Big Ten by Phil Steele.

The Spartan defense ranks in the Top 25 in the nation in virtually every major statistical category. They rank 22nd in scoring defense, allowing 20.8 points per game, and eighth in total defense, allowing 299 yards per game. They give up 103 rushing yards per game, ranking eighth, and 196 passing yards, ranking 25th. Michigan State leads the nation in turnover margin and has forced 31 turnovers. They have returned three interceptions for touchdowns.

Defensive end Shilique Calhoun leads the line with 11 tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks. Calhoun has 33 tackles, tied for the lead on the line with fellow end Marcus Rush, who also has 8.5 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks. Calhoun also has a fumble recovery and Rush forced a fumble.

Davis leads the linebackers with 54 stops, 11 for loss and six sacks. Senior Taiwan Jones has recorded 52 tackles, with 11 for loss and four sacks. He also has an interception and a fumble recovery. Darien Harris has 44 tackles, with three for loss, two fumbles and an interception.

In the secondary, Drummond leads with 59 tackles, 41 solo, and three for loss. He also has four interceptions and nine pass breakups. Fellow safety R.J. Williamson has three interceptions and has returned two for touchdowns. Williamson also has 46 tackles and five pass breakups. Cornerback Trae Waynes has two interception and six breakups, while Darian Hicks has two picks and three breakups.

Kicker Michael Geiger has converted on 12-of-19 attempts, with a long of 42. Punter Mike Sadler averages 41.3 yards per kick. R.J. Shelton handles the kick return duties, averaging nearly 23 yards per return. Kings is the Spartans' punt returner, averaging six yards per return.

Penn State leads the all-time series 14-13-1, on the field. The teams last met in 2010, with the Spartans winning 28-22 at Beaver Stadium.


What Mark Dantonio is saying about Penn State:

"A great environment Penn State has. Very exciting to go over and play. I think Penn State itself, Coach Franklin has a football team that's been extremely close in a lot of games."

"When you look at them defensively, they're No. 1 in rushing defense. They are top five in scoring defense, pass efficiency and total defense. So an excellent defensive unit."

"They have a quarterback that can throw it and a very productive wide receiver in [DaeSean Hamilton]."


Contributions on all of the 2014 Opponent Previews provided by GoPSUsports.com Student Writer Paul Marboe.

2014-'15 Men's Hoops Blog - Penn State vs. Akron

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Welcome to GoPSUsports.com's live, interactive coverage of the 2014-'15 men's basketball season. Tonight, the Nittany Lions face Akron inside the Bryce Jordan Center.

Live Blog 2014-'15 Men's Hoops Blog - Penn State vs. Akron
 

VIDEO: Michigan State Week Player Q&As - Mike Hull & Akeel Lynch

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - GoPSUsports.com catches up with senior linebacker Mike Hull and junior Akeel Lynch leading up to the Michigan State game.

Week 11 Press Conference Roundup - Michigan State Week

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10575585.jpegJames Franklin Transcript - Nov. 25

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State (6-5, 2-5) returns home for the final regular season game of 2014 on Saturday against No. 8 Michigan State (9-2, 6-1). The Lions and Spartans are set to collide in a Senior Day showdown at 3:30 p.m. (ABC).

Head coach James Franklin previewed the matchup against the Spartans on Tuesday afternoon inside the Beaver Stadium Media Room.

Saturday will be a special day for 17 seniors on the roster. A group that has been through seemingly everything during its time on campus will be honored prior to kickoff. A senior class that stuck with the program during some of its toughest times deserves a tremendous ovation from the Nittany Lion fans.

"I think what we've been through the last three years and what these guys have meant, how they've stuck with this university and the football program and the community as well have been tremendous leaders, have been tremendous ambassadors both on and off the field and in the classroom," Franklin said. "It's significant. I think everybody in our program, all the players kind of look up to them, which is typically the case in most programs. But I think it's magnified, obviously, from what they've been through."

Six of Penn State's seven captains for 2014 are seniors. The lone exception is sophomore quarterback Christian Hackenberg. Coach Franklin said that the captains met with him in his office on Saturday evening following the Illinois game. It's a group of senior players that is incredibly passionate about the program in every sense of the program.

"We sat there for probably at least an hour talking about a lot of different things," Franklin said. "They've been awesome. I think it's probably like this in a lot of professions, but you get frustrated or disappointed and you're going through some challenges or adversity. As long as you're surrounded with really good people that care and are committed, you can talk through it, you feel better. I know they made me feel better. Gave me some perspective on some things, really valuable. I think these seniors have been unbelievable. I know myself as well as the rest of the staff and the young guys look up to him and are very, very thankful."

Mike Hull will be one of the 17 players honored on Saturday. With every fiber of his body, Hull embodies what this class and Penn State Football stands for. A tremendous individual off the field, Hull has put together one of the best seasons by any linebacker in school history. Hull enters the final week of the regular season with 121 tackles (11.0 tpg), which ranks seventh in the nation.

Hull is excited for the challenge to compete against a superb offense in his final game at Beaver Stadium.

"Yeah, it's definitely going to be a fun atmosphere. It's going to be a great challenge," Hull said. "That's what we like especially defensively. Want to keep our team in this game and give us every chance of winning. We're just going to have to step up and it's going to be a really fun time."

While every game on the schedule is treated the same when it comes to the squad's preparation, this week's Senior Day buildup adds an extra element of anticipation for Franklin and the underclassmen. The Nittany Lions want to send the group of 17 on a high.

"We're focused on playing Illinois this week at the end of the year," said Franklin. "If people tell us we have an opportunity to go somewhere, we'll be excited about going there. But we're focused on Illinois, and that's how you make sure that you're able to come out and play as consistent as you possibly can week-in and week-out, by taking it one game at a time."

The Nittany Lions and Spartans will meet for the 29th time on Saturday.

Press Conference Notes
- Franklin on the Michigan State offense:
"Great experience, seven starters, multiple pro offense, very balanced. Again, one of the things that jumps out to you, their quarterback is having a great year, but he's playing behind a really, really strong, physical, massive offensive line that does a great run game and also does a great job protecting them as well. That allows them to be balanced. No. 6 in the nation in scoring offense, No. 7 in the nation in total offense, No. 11 in fewest turnovers. No. 1 in the Big Ten in passing offense. Connor Cook is having a great year. Running back Jeremy Langford is having a really, really good year, and then you've got wide receiver, No. 14, Tony Lippett is having a great year as well."

- Franklin on the Michigan State defense:
"They're a 4-3 team. Quarters in the secondary with two run support safeties and they press you on the outside. You're pretty much one-on-one because those safeties are run players. Probably the most similar defense that I've seen to Alabama in terms of body-type and model. Their offense, defense, and special teams are very specific about what they're looking for, long, athletic guys. D-line is really long, linebackers are long. You look at the DBs and almost everybody is over six-foot. They run to the ball extremely well. They're very physical. They're No. 1 in the nation in turnover margin, number three in the nation in turnover gains recovered. No. 8 in the nation in rushing defense, and No. 15 in sacks. No. 1 in the Big Ten in defensive touchdowns. They've forced 61 three-and-outs. This is a good defense we're facing."

- Franklin on the Michigan State special teams:

"
Special teams in Coach Tressel. They're number 8 in the Big Ten in punting. Long, rangy, consistent with their schemes. Been very, very impressed with what they do as well."


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VIDEO: This Week in Penn State Wrestling - Nov. 25

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Nittany Lion wrestling team moved to 3-0 over the weekend with road victories at Pittsburgh and Clarion. GoPSUsports.com caught up with sophomore Jimmy Gulibon for a weekly update on the Lions.





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VIDEO: Lions Looking to Build on Charleston Trip

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10573218.jpegUNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - On the heels of back-to-back wins to cap off a trip to the Charleston Classic, the Nittany Lions (4-1) will continue their stretch of seven games in 14 days on Tuesday night when they take on Akron (3-1) inside the Bryce Jordan Center.

Penn State bounced back from a heartbreaking 106-97 double overtime setback against Charleston last Thursday with a pair of victories. D.J. Newbill's game-winner at the buzzer sealed a 72-71 win over Cornell on Friday. Penn State finished off the trip to Charleston with a gritty 63-61 win against USC.

"Obviously, we wanted to win that first game so we put ourselves in a little bit of a hole, but I thought we competed against Charlotte," head coach Patrick Chambers said. "I think Charlotte is a really good team. We competed. We played hard. We left everything out on that court...We've got to just continue to develop and continue to get better."

Newbill was tremendous for the Nittany Lions in Charleston. The senior guard set a tournament record with 83 total points in three games (27.7 ppg). That mark included a 35-point effort against Charlotte. The scoring numbers speak for themselves, but Newbill played with great efficiency. He shot 50 percent from 3-point range, 47 percent from the field and 85 percent from the foul line over the weekend.

While the senior guard was tremendous, Chambers noted on Monday that he is looking for more consistency from the post players as the Lions prep for two games this week.

Akron enters Tuesday's game after knocking off South Carolina to finish its trip to Charleston. The Zips defeated USC (66-46) before a setback to Miami (79-51) sent them to the third-place game in the consolation draw. Freshman Noah Robotham leads the Zips in scoring at 12.0 ppg.

Penn State and Akron have met six times prior to Tuesday's matchup (4-2, PSU). Tip is slated for 7:30 p.m. following the Lady Lions' matchup against St. Bonaventure at 5:30 p.m.

"It was great in Charleston, but there is no place like home," Newbill said.




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Monday Notebook: Lions Open Thanksgiving Week By Lending a Hand

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10257695_10152609037848198_8015578236614393127_n.jpgUNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Nittany Lion football student-athletes have a lot to be thankful for as the calendar approaches the Thanksgiving holiday.

An opportunity to attend a world-renowned institution like Penn State and compete on the gridiron at the highest level is something the group takes very seriously. As figures in the community, the student-athletes understand the importance of giving back to the loyal supporters and those less fortunate whenever the schedule permits.

With the academic calendar on Thanksgiving break for the week, Monday's off day was a terrific opportunity for the Nittany Lions to serve the community. More than 60 members of the football team spent time in the community on Monday at three different locations around Centre County.

"It's very important for us to get out and be with the community, especially since it is Thanksgiving week," linebacker Jason Cabinda said. "People here care so much about our football team. To be able to give back and thank those people for what they do every day is really great. We just want to thank them and let them know how much we appreciate them."

Two buses of players traveled to the State College Food Bank in the morning hours on Monday to help move more than 1,000 pounds of food. In 2013, alone, the State College Food Bank helped nearly 800 unique households receive approximately 3,300 food distributions.

An additional group of players visited The Village State College during the middle part of Monday, as well. The Nittany Lions helped serve food, take photos, eat lunch and visit with the elderly.

"It was really cool," Cabinda said. "They were just so joyous to see us. They have been fans of the program for so long. I feel really great that our games can be like a mini family reunion for so many people. Everyone comes together, and this group is a really cool part of that."

A collection of student-athletes also traveled to Bellefonte on Monday afternoon to spend time at the Bellefonte Youth Center. The Lions served food and visited with the children at the Centre County Youth Bureau's Bellefonte Youth Service Center. The Center provides meals to approximately 25-30 children daily.

"Spending time with kids helps us relax and have some fun," said Chasz Wright. "The kids look at us as role models; they want to be like us. That's eye opening and humbling."    

The team will resume football duties on Tuesday with meetings and practice in preparation for the Michigan State game.

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Nittany Lion Defense Remains Among Nation's Best
The Nittany Lion defense remains among the top units in the nation. Penn State is the only FBS team in the top five in rushing defense, total defense, pass efficiency defense and scoring defense. The Nittany Lions are No. 1 in the nation against the run (81.7 ypg.), No. 3 in the nation in total defense (267.2 ypg) and No. 4 in the nation in scoring defense (16.2 ppg) and No. 3 in pass efficiency defense (94.78)

Additionally, Penn State is second in third down conversion percentage defense (27.6 percent), is third in the nation in first downs defense (156 total), is 15th in passes intercepted (15) and is No. 17 in passing yards allowed (185.5 ypg).

Penn State is also one of just two teams in the nation to have not allowed a rushing play of 30 or more yards (Syracuse). The Lions also lead the nation with fewest plays of 30 or more yards allowed this season (7).

Lions in the Stat Rankings
Several Nittany Lions remain among the leaders in national and conference statistical categories. Here is a weekly breakdown of Penn State players in the stat rankings:

QB Christian Hackenberg - Hackenberg is third in the Big Ten in passing yards (2,411) and passing yards per game (219.2 ypg). The sophomore is second in the conference in completions per game (19.55).

WR DaeSean Hamilton - Hamilton is 23rd nationally (first in the Big Ten) in receptions per game (6.3). He ranks fifth in the Big Ten in receiving yards per game at 72.1.

LB Mike Hull - Hull leads the Big Ten and is ninth in the nation in tackles (11.0 per game). He is second in the Big Ten and 18th nationally in solo tackles per game at 6.0.

K Sam Ficken - Ficken is third in the nation and first in the Big Ten in field goals made per game at 2.00. He is also 11th nationally in field goal percentage (84.6 percent).

Early Look at the Spartans
The 11th-ranked Michigan State Spartans enter the final week of the regular season on a two-game winning streak. Michigan State's only losses this season came at the hands of then-No. 3 Oregon on the road (46-27) and then-No. 14 Ohio State (49-37).

The Spartans are ranked No. 1 in the Big Ten in total offense (514.5 ypg) and the No. 3 in the Big Ten in total defense (299.0 ypg). Rated as the Big Ten's top passing offense, Michigan State has scored 27 or more points in every game on the schedule this season.

Quarterback Connor Cook is the Big Ten's leading passer (2,720 yards). Running back Jeremy Langford is ranked seventh in the nation in rushing touchdowns (17). Receiver Tony Lippett is 10th in the country in receiving touchdowns (10).

Penn State and Michigan State will collide for the 29th time on Saturday. The Nittany Lions lead the series, 14-13-1. The two schools met annually on the final week of the regular season from 1993-2010.


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By Astrid Diaz, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The 2014-15 women's multi-event and jumps group is looking more confident and ambitious than ever. In the final piece of Penn State track and field season previews, GoPSUSports.com hears from Coach Fritz Spence and his group of women on their difficult preseason and their record-breaking goals for the year.

Senior Sarah Palmer is the stand-alone senior of the group and is taking this year to embrace the role of a leader as she hopes to earn some medals and break personal records.

"I definitely feel a big responsibility being the only senior in the jumps group, but I kind of enjoy it, being older." said Palmer. "[My goals are] to make it to Regionals again, outdoor. I'd really like to get on the medal stand at [the Big Ten Championship] again."

Junior Ahmenah Richardson hopes to break some personal records and surprise fans as she plans to "no doubt about it" break the six-foot mark in the high jump.

"I came in at 5 feet, 7 inches now I'm at 5-9 and for sure this year I'll be jumping six feet, no doubt about it," said Richardson.

Sophomores Tal Ben-Artzi and Dannielle Gibson hope to make their names memorable as they aspire for collegiate record-breaking performances.

Ben-Artzi took home a sixth-place finish in the indoor pentathlon in 2014 with 3,861 points, the fourth-best all-time score at Penn State. In 2015, she is more than prepared mentally and physically, she said, to surpass those performances.

"I'm very excited about being fourth-place in the record book right now. I'm definitely looking forward to breaking the school record [in both the] pentathlon and heptathlon outdoor," said Ben-Artzi. "I've been working towards it...and I really want to improve in each of the events."

For Gibson, the sky is the limit as she is 'most definitely' looking to see her name up high in the record book. She will be going after the Penn State records in the triple jump and the long jump as she currently hold sixth (42-2) and 10th-place (20-1), respectively.

"Those records are meant to be broken and someone's name will be there and hopefully, it's mine," said Gibson.

Freshman Megan McCloskey is looking to have a break out, smooth freshman year.

"First off, I want to make my transition smooth. Everyone always talks about your freshman year in college just kind of adjusting to the weightlifting, the different running...I definitely don't want to go backwards in my jumping, I want to go forward," said McCloskey. "I really want to be jumping at [the Big Ten Championship] and on the medal stand."

Coach Spence is excited about the progress and talent the group has this year.

"We have a group of great student-athletes that are very talented," said Spence. "I keep saying everyone is going to do good and if we can all do good we will have a good year."

For more information on Penn State track and field visit www.GoPSUsports.com and follow the team on Twitter @PennStateTFXC.

Weber's Header, Superb Team Defense Send Lions to NCAA Quarterfinals

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10569097.jpegUNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - A header from junior Mallory Weber in the 71st minute and a standout defensive performance lifted the Nittany Lion women's soccer team (20-3-0) to a 2-1 victory against Virginia Tech (16-6-0) in the NCAA Third Round on a warm Sunday afternoon at Jeffrey Field.

With the triumph, the Nittany Lions are headed to the NCAA Quarterfinals for the 10th time in program history and the second time in the past three seasons.

"Obviously it is a fantastic feeling (to get back to the quarters)," head coach Erica Walsh said. "That was a very good Virginia Tech team, well-coached...Obviously they gave us everything we could handle today. It certainly felt like we had to bend at times, but we never broke."

Weber will be credited with the game-winner. And senior Raquel Rodriguez's goal in the 40th minute was a crucial momentum boost for the Nittany Lions late in the first half, but the day belonged to the defense. Penn State's effort against Virginia Tech's relentless attack was exceptional.

"That unit has been very good all season," Walsh said. "But the great thing about them is that they have been getting stronger as the season has gone on and becoming more of a unit, and led by Britt Eckerstrom, who was great today. You look at Kori Chapic and you look at Whit Church. They have freshmen on either side, who are no longer playing like freshmen. They believe they are as good as they are because of the leadership."

Chapic and Church spearheaded a tremendous 90-minute performance against a Virginia Tech squad that came into the game averaging 2.90 goals per game.

"It was definitely a tough task that we had today," Church said. "They were bringing it to us. Like Coach said, we would bend at times and kind of give them things away at times, but we never broke and we stayed strong. It was really great."

The Nittany Lion back line was outstanding with the ball in the air during Sunday's victory. Virginia Tech delivered a number of balls into the box during both halves, but the Lions yielded just one scoring play from the Hokies. Defending in the box, along with the midfield's work rate and ability to track down balls were Walsh's keys to Penn State advancing into the round of eight.

The visiting Hokies nearly struck first in an entertaining opening half. Virginia Tech's scoring leader, Murielle Tiernan (14 on the season), delivered a shot towards Penn State keeper Britt Eckerstrom in a one-on-one opportunity in the 27th minute. Eckerstrom managed to get a hand on the drive, but it was sophomore midfielder Salina Williford's foot that directed the ball away from the net as it rolled freely into the 6-yard box towards the goal line.

Penn State broke the scoreless tie on a blast from Rodriguez at the 39:59 mark. A great feed from Katy Keen set Rodriguez up with a breakaway opportunity. The Nittany Lion midfielder dribbled to the edge of the 18-yard box before ripping a shot that careened off of the post into the back of the net.

But the Hokies were far from done. Virginia Tech threatened on two occasions in the opening eight minutes of the second half before midfielder Ashley Meier tapped a ball home to set the score at 1-1 as the clock read 52:42.

Nevertheless, Penn State went right back to work on both ends of the field. The Lions earned a free kick in the 71st minute of action from 30 yards out. Midfielder Emily Ogle delivered a flawless set piece into the box where Weber elevated for the eventual game-winning header.

"We work on them in practice day in and day out," Weber said. "(Ogle) played a great ball in and the goal came out. I just need to get a touch on it."

The Jeffrey Field crowd willed the Lions on from there as the Hokies looked for the equalizer. Limiting Virginia Tech to just two shot attempts in the final 10 minutes of play, the Lions held strong en route to raising their all-time postseason record at Jeffrey Field to 33-6-1.

"The crowd was super pumped and energetic out there today," Church said. "It makes that much of a difference. Hearing the crowd behind us, that gets us going and helps us a tremendous amount. That was a very special day out there to hear all of them behind us."

Focus now shifts towards a quarterfinal matchup against No. 1-seeded Texas A&M (21-2-2). The Nittany Lions will play the Aggies in College Station on Saturday with a spot in the College Cup semifinals on the line.

"I think this is a very good soccer playing team this year, but even more importantly, they've got a ton of courage," Walsh said. "We've talked a lot about that it is our family, and we live to fight another day and play another day together."

Despite Outcome, A Game of Firsts For Young Lady Lions

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10565481.jpegBy Gabrielle Richards, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - It has been 14 years since the Lady Lions and the Seton Hall Pirates have battled it out on the court. In the 10th meeting of the series on Saturday evening in the Bryce Jordan Center, the Lady Lions came up on the short end of a seesaw 75-70 decision.

The Lady Lions are a young team. With only one returning starter, Penn State is starting a sophomore-heavy team, a reality that head coach Coquese Washington believes was clear in Saturday's game.

"I think our youth showed tonight," Washington said. "We need to get more confident and comfortable playing with one another at this pace."

Despite the loss, there are some major takeaways from this game that the Lady Lions can use to their advantage heading into their matchup against St. Bonaventure on Tuesday.

Notables
The Lady Lions got off to a slow start, with their first bucket coming three minutes into the game after the Pirates put nine on the board. Penn State cut into the deficit, but the Pirates pulled away with a 21-8 lead with 10 minutes before the half.

"I feel like it got away from us from the jump," junior Candice Agee said. "We fought hard to stay in the game and get back in it, but at the end Seton Hall got the better of us. We have to give it up to them for that."

Agee was superb for the Lady Lions, leading the team with 21 points in Saturday's contest, along with five rebounds and two blocks. Agee took command inside the paint for the 17 minutes she was on the court, helping the Lady Lions stay in the game until the very end.

"I just want to play hard," Agee said. "I want to be able to do what needs to be done for my team and what is asked of me. If some nights it looks like a 20 point game, then that is alright with me."

Sophomore Sierra Moore posted a career-high game, tallying 14 points, 10 rebounds, five assists and a block. Moore was a major asset during the game playing for 37 minutes, the most on the team.


"Whatever is asked of us, we do." Moore said. "We all take turns in practice (playing point guard); that's what practice is for."

Takeaways
Regardless of the slow start, it is obvious that this young Lady Lion team is hungry. Coach Washington took her team to the locker room at half time trailing the Pirates 37-29.

"We talked about playing a little bit faster and moving the ball (in the second half)," Washington said. "We had a lot more energy in the second than the first."

The Lady Lions turned on the offensive strategy taking the lead, 40-39, five minutes into the second half. The Lions closed to within one at 71-70, but that is as close as they would get down the stretch. Fouls and turnovers in the last 30 seconds hindered the Lions in the 75-70 loss, an issue coach Washington believes will work itself out.

"We have to do a better job at the free throw line," Washington said. "I think that if we can fix a few small things, we aren't that far away. We are three games in and I am still getting to know this team. We rallied back and put ourselves in a position to tie it, even possibly force overtime. This is the learning curve, the growing pains of a young team."


Up Next
The Lady Lions take on St. Bonaventure on Tuesday at the Bryce Jordan Center. Following Tuesday's contest, they will travel to Atlanta, Georgia, for the Georgia State Thanksgiving Tournament Nov. 28-30. 

VIDEO: James Franklin Postgame at Illinois

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CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Head coach James Franklin addresses the media following Saturday's game at Illinois.

VIDEO: Postgame Player Interviews - at Illinois

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CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Several Nittany Lions address the media following Saturday's game at Illinois.

2014 Photo Blog - Penn State at Illinois

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CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Welcome to GoPSUsports.com's coverage of the 2014 football season. Check back often for an inside look at the Penn State's final road game of the season against Illinois.

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2014 Game Blog - Penn State at Illinois

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CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Welcome to GoPSUsports.com's live, interactive coverage of the 2014 football season. Tune in for live blog coverage from all 12 games on the schedule. The Nittany Lions meet Illinois in the penultimate game of the season.



Live Blog 2014 Game Blog - Penn State at Illinois
 



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Nittany Lions Advance to the NCAA Sweet 16

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10569493.jpegBy Miranda Kulp, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Nittany Lion women's soccer team (19-3-0) used an early goal and a determined defensive effort to defeat UConn, 1-0, in the second round of the NCAA Tournament at Jeffrey Field on Friday night.

The NCAA Tournament is full of surprises, but the Lions wasted little time getting on the board in the second-round matchup. Penn State scored in the seventh minute and never looked back.

The goal was scored by freshman Frannie Crouse and assisted by veteran Kori Chapic. Crouse got the ball and headed in the back post.

"
I wasn't really sure if it went in or not at first, but as soon as I heard my teammates and the crowd cheer I knew," Frannie Crouse said.

The Greensburg, Pennsylvania, native is currently the team leader with 10 goals for the Lions, despite this being her first year at the collegiate level.

"
I just always remember what coach preaches, believe. We need t o believe in ourselves and believe in our team and that's how we'll score," Crouse said.

Both teams were aggressive and had opportunities to score throughout Friday
's game. Penn State had 19 shots in total while UConn trailed with 10 shots.

"
We knew they would come out strong and so did we, I couldn't be prouder of the way the girls played," said head coach Erica Walsh.

With an aggressive offense from both teams, the Lions
' defensive line made sure to not to let UConn get on the board.

"
As a defense we're all playing really well together right now," goalkeeper Britt Eckerstrom said.

"
We're all communicating constantly and we're so connected right now, we really are playing as one backline," Eckerstrom added.

As the starting goalkeeper, Eckerstrom helped lead the team to victory on Friday night with five saves for her eighth shutout this season.

Eckerstrom was also in goal for the regular season match against UConn back in August, but she acknowledged that since the last meeting both teams have improved.

"
Although we play some of the same teams in this tournament it's always different every game," Eckerstrom said. "When we played UConn earlier we both were just different teams, we both have grown so much with our regular seasons. It's cause in the beginning of the season everyone is still trying to find their place on the field. We both have grown so much so re-playing them today was like two brand new teams playing."

With the NCAA Tournament in full swing, Penn State will take on its next challenge by facing Virginia Tech on Sunday.

"
The best thing about this tournament is its unpredictability," Walsh said. "We are exposed to both familiar and new teams and we get to see what each team can bring. I'm excited to see what Virginia Tech can do."

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- The Lady Lions close out the Preseason WNIT on Saturday against Seton Hall, a matchup that has been on hiatus since 1998. With one exhibition game and two preseason matchups under its belt, the young Lady Lion basketball team is ready to place another 'W' in the win column.

Seton Hall's style of play is something similar to what Penn State demonstrates on the court; attack in transition.

Heading into this Saturday's game, head coach Coquese Washington and her staff are firm that if the team can attack the paint in transition, the Lady Lions will come out on top.

"We've got to get more free throws," said coach Washington. "We've got to get more pressure on the defense by attacking the paint."

The Lady Lions are known to be a fast-paced team that can sink baskets on transition. This season, the key to execute just that is point guard Lindsey Spann. A newcomer to the starting lineup, the Laurel, Maryland native is leading the Blue and White in scoring after posting 14 points against Albany and 17 against Towson last week.

"She's a fantastic point guard," said coach Washington. "She has a really high basketball IQ. She sees the floor and has a knack for scoring."

Spann isn't only focusing on her offensive contributions but how she can further aid on defense.

"I'm working on hustling, being more aggressive on defense, getting deflections and steals," said Spann.

Washington knows that the Lady Lion defense will have to be prepared when the Pirates come to University Park.

They're a pretty aggressive team," said Washington. "They've got really quick guards who do a great job attacking the basket. They're going to put pressure on our defense with their dribble penetration."

Senior Tori Waldner's experience and height is no secret for the Lady Lion defense. Waldner has tallied 20 rebounds in two games. However, the Lady Lion defense is looking to increase its total boards across the roster tomorrow.

"Seton Hall throws up a lot of shots," assistant coach Itoro Coleman said. "We have to rebound. They move very quickly in their offense and there will be plenty of opportunities for us to rebound. How well we are able to get the 50/50 balls will determine who will win this game."

The Lady Lions will tip off with Seton Hall on Saturday at 7:00 p.m. in the Bryce Jordan Center. 

By Astrid Diaz, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Head coach John Gondak and two members of the Penn State cross country teams are headed west to Indiana this weekend to compete in the 2014 NCAA Cross Country Championships.

Freshman Jillian Hunsberger is making her National stage debut after qualifying at the Mid-Atlantic Regional with an 11th place (20 minutes, 49 seconds) finish in the 6,000-meter run.

The freshman has had a great 2014 season posting competitive times in all her races.

As most athletes would be, she is excited, nervous, and ready for the challenge.

"I don't event know what to expect I'm just going to go and try my hardest. Just thinking about the race, making sure I have it planned out," said Hunsberger. "I [mostly] mentally preparing, I will be excited on Saturday.

Fifth-year senior Matt Fischer has had an exemplary year. He finished first in both races he competed in at home and was named second team All-Big Ten at the Big Ten Championships.

Fischer, the Mid-Atlantic Men's Athlete of the Year, is making his second trip to the NCAA Championships this weekend after a phenomenal first-place finish at the Regional meet with a time of 30 minutes, 16 seconds.

"I was pretty excited and just to see how well the team did was exciting. It was a bit of a let down when we found out that we didn't make it [to Nationals]," said Fischer. "Personally, it ended up working out and I think it set me up well for this week."

As Fischer looks to end his senior year in the best way he can, his second trip to Terre Haute, Indiana provides opportunity for preparation.

"Last year was my first time there and I wanted to go out there and get All-American but there were 70-80 guys that at any given day could fall in there too," said Fischer. "I'm just more mentally and physical ready [this year] and I'm more confident."

In 2013, Fischer posted a 78th place finish in 31 minutes, 6 seconds, a 10,000-meter time.

"I feel that I still have work to do and I'm not satisfied at all and I want a big result this weekend," he said. "Making sure I feel good is all that matters at this point. There's only one left and I have to put all my energy into that one."

This weekend will see Fischer final collegiate cross country race, however, he doesn't fear the end quite yet as he stays focused on the mission.

"I'm really excited. I feel like I'm in the best spot I've been all season at the right time and as long as I can put that together on Saturday and I can walk away happy with what I did, it'll be a good end to the season," he said.

Hunsberger will represent the Nittany Lions in the 6,000-meter run set to kick off at noon on Saturday followed by the men's 10,000-meter run slated for 1 p.m.

2014 Gameday Preview - Nittany Lions Travel to Illinois

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Game Blog: Penn State at Illinois

Game Notes | Gameday Central | Illinois Scouting Report | Coach Franklin Wednesday

Press Conference Roundup | Coach Huff Q&A | Player Q&A Video

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State (6-4, 2-4) will play its final road game of the 2014 season on Saturday when it travels to Illinois (4-6, 1-5) for a noon kick (ESPN2) inside Memorial Stadium.

10554078.jpegThe Nittany Lions earned their sixth win of the season last weekend with a 30-13 victory over intrastate foe Temple. The running back duo of Akeel Lynch and Bill Belton powered the Penn State offense behind a strong outing from the offensive line. Lynch and Belton combined for 222 rushing yards and a pair of scores in the victory. Lynch tallied a career-high 132 yards in the winning effort.

Defensively, the Nittany Lions forced five turnovers and limited the Owls to just 248 yards. Freshmen Christian Campbell and Grant Haley each snagged their first career interceptions in the contest. Haley returned his interception 30 yards for a touchdown, marking the first time a true freshman has scored a touchdown since Nov. 15, 2003 (Paul Posluszny).

Penn State is ranked in the top five in three of the four major defensive statistical categories. The Nittany Lions are No. 1 in the nation against the run (83.1 ypg.), No. 3 in the nation in total defense (265.6 ypg) and No. 4 in the nation in scoring defense (16.2 ppg).

Additionally, Penn State leads the nation in team pass efficiency defense (96.89), is sixth in third down conversion percentage defense (29.2 percent), is second in the nation in first downs defense (140 total), is 10th in passes intercepted (15) and is No. 16 in passing yards allowed (182.5 ypg).


The Nittany Lions have held their opponents to an average of 15.4 points and 139.9 yards below their season average this year. In the last three games, Penn State foes are 7-of-47 on third down (14.9 percent).

The Fighting Illini will look to snap a two-game losing streak on Saturday after back-to-back losses to No. 16 Ohio State (55-14) and Iowa (30-14). The Illini defeated Minnesota on Oct. 25 (28-24) for their first Big Ten victory of the season. Illinois is averaging 25.6 points per game on offense and is ranked No. 2 in the Big Ten in passing (255.6 ypg).

Welcome to the Gameday Preview for the week 11 matchup against Illinois.

PreviewGraphic_ILLINOIS_2014.jpg
Pregame Reading:
What to Watch For - Penn State
10554080.jpeg1. Senior safety Adrian Amos said that the Nittany Lions set a goal of forcing at least two turnovers per game. Through 10 games, the Lions have forced their opponents into at least two miscues on five different occasions. That includes each of the last four games. Penn State has forced 11 turnovers in the last four contests. Head coach James Franklin often talks about the importance of playing complementary football. The turnover picture speaks to that in clear details. Since the Ohio State game, Penn State has scored 41 points off of turnovers, including two defensive touchdowns. Simply put, the defense's ability to create turnovers has put the Nittany Lion offense in a good position to capitalize on short fields and score more points.

2. Thanks to a season-high 254 rushing yards against Temple, the Nittany Lions have gained 416 yards on the ground during the past two games. Junior left tackle Donovan Smith returned from injury against the Owls and senior captain Miles Dieffenbach played extensive snaps for the first time this season last week, as well. The addition of two veteran players up front is a significant boost to the offensive line and its ability to create running lanes for Bill Belton and Akeel Lynch.

3. Penn State is the nation's second-youngest team with 76 underclassmen (49 freshmen/27 sophomores). Only Pittsburgh entered training camp with more underclassmen on its roster (81). In all, 11 players on offense, two players on defense and two players on special teams (15 total) have made their first career starts this season. Nine true freshmen have played for the Nittany Lions in 2014, including five on defense, three on offense and one punter. All nine freshmen - Marcus Allen, Troy Apke, Saeed Blacknall, Christian Campbell, Jason Cabinda, Mike Gesicki, Chris Godwin, Grant Haley and Daniel Pasquariello - have been instrumental in helping the Lions secure six victories.

What to Watch For - Illinois
10554098.jpeg1. Illinois quarterback Wes Lunt returned to the field last week after missing three games due to injury. Prior to getting hurt, Lunt was among the top signal-callers in the Big Ten. Lunt has completed 65 percent of his passes and thrown for 1,671 yards and 14 touchdowns with just three interceptions this season. Senior Reilly O'Toole stepped in for Lunt when he was injured, and he will likely see action on Saturday. O'Toole has thrown for 745 yards and five touchdowns with his arm. Additionally, he has playmaking ability with his feet. Freshman receiver Mike Dudek has been very productive for the Illini with 51 catches for 787 yards.

2. Junior linebacker Mason Monheim is the leader of the Illinois defense. A Butkus Award Watch List member, Monheim is ranked 16th among all active FBS players and first in the Big Ten with 8.26 tackles per game (Minimum of 24 career games played). Monheim is second in the Big Ten behind Mike Hull with 9.8 tackles per contest this season. He equaled his career-high with 15 tackles against Iowa last week.

3. Illinois is ranked 10th in the nation in net punting thanks to a 44.9-yard average from Justin DuVernois. The Illini have averaged 40.85 net yards on 60 punts this season. DuVernois has kicked 17 punts of 50 or more yards this season and has forced 15 fair catches.

The Final Word:
Saturday's game marks the final road game of the 2014 season. The Nittany Lions are 3-1 in games away from Beaver Stadium this season, which includes a 2-1 mark in Big Ten games. Penn State topped UCF to open the season in Ireland. In Big Ten play, the Lions have victories at Rutgers and Indiana. Since 2000, the Nittany Lions have tallied four on-field wins away from home just three times. The list includes the 2008, 2009 and 2011 seasons. Saturday's contest in Memorial Stadium will mark Penn State's 12th visit to Champaign. The Nittany Lions own an 8-3 on-field mark in games held at Illinois. Kickoff is set for 12:01 p.m. on Saturday with Bob Wischusen, Matt Millen and Quint Kessenich calling the ESPN2 broadcast.




Follow GoPSUsports.com's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

VIDEO: One-on-One with Micha Hancock - Nov. 21

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - GoPSUsports.com catches up with senior setter Micha Hancock. The Nittany Lions will take an 11-match winning streak into Saturday's contest at Maryland.

By Matt Allibone, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.-Less than a month ago, Brett Gravatt was a bench player trying to fight his way into the lineup for the Penn State men's soccer team.

Now, he's the player that sent the Nittany Lions to the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

During Penn State's first round game against Hartwick Thursday night, the reserve midfielder scored the first goal of his career with 16 minutes remaining to give the Lions a thrilling 2-1 win.

"Wow," Gravatt said afterwards. "I felt excitement, I guess. I'm glad I could help."

Although the feat may seem impressive itself, it doesn't give complete justice to the beauty of the sophomore's goal. 

Taking the ball on the right side of the box, Gravatt separated himself from a defender with a quick move to his left, then fired a rocket that curled past goaltender Tom Buckner and into the top left corner of the net. 

As teammates engulfed him in celebration, Gravatt simply turned and walked towards the Penn State sidelines. 

"One of my strengths is [one-on-one] so I like to go at people," Gravatt said. "I was able to beat him inside and got the shot off and I got lucky and it went in. I curled it pretty well and I guess I hit it pretty well."

Not only did the goal give the Nittany Lions a lead they wouldn't relinquish, it was a moment that Gravatt had spent the entire season working towards. 

After coming back from a torn meniscus in the offseason and playing just 84 minutes in Penn State's first 16 games combined, the Dunn Loring, Virginia native finally got into the starting lineup during the Lions' previous two games against Akron and Michigan State.

While the sophomore didn't enter the game until the second half against Hartwick, he made sure his presence was felt when the opportunity arose.

"The message to the guys before the game was, 'don't blend in, standout'" head coach Bob Warming said. "When the game is over with, know that you've stood out in some manner, that you made a big play, that you helped your team win and obviously Brett did that. He took advantage of a moment and helped our team come through."

It may have been Gravatt's first tally of the season, but it didn't come as a surprise to any of his  teammates, who are used to seeing such plays from the midfielder in practice.

"Yeah, we've seen him do that a lot," senior forward Mikey Minutillo said. 

"All the time," midfielder Brian James added.

However, the goal was more than just a big moment for Gravatt. It was also proved that the Nittany Lions were capable of coming from behind in the second half with their season on the line. 

After playing the Hawks to a draw in the first half despite outshooting them eight to two, Penn State fell behind less than a minute into the second when a scrum in front of the net produced a goal by Jhevaughn Beckford.

Down 1-0 and with only 44 minutes remaining to salvage their season, the Lions didn't roll over and quit. Instead, they responded by continuing to create chances in the Hartwick zone. 

Just over 13 minutes after Beckford's goal, Minutillo answered for the Lions, beating Buckner to a ball from midfielder Drew Klingenberg and tapping it past the goalie to knot the score at 1-1. 

Afterwards, the 6-foot-1 forward admitted he was nervous as he watched a Hawks defender nearly prevent the ball from ending up in the net. 

"To be honest, I was a little doubtful that it was going to go in," Minutillo said. "That center back came in sliding and he got a piece of it, but luckily it had enough pace, but as it was rolling I just wanted it to go faster and faster and thank god it did."

In total, the Nittany Lions outshot the Hawks 17 to seven in a hard fought, physical game. What impressed Warming the most though, was seeing the fortitude of his players after they fell behind.

Soccer is a low scoring game, and one goal can often be enough to determine a winner. But on Thursday, the Nittany Lions overcame that and found a way to chip away at the Hawks' defense until the game was won.

The NCAA Tournament is now in full swing, and Penn State is sure to see another challenge when it takes on Syracuse on the road on Sunday. Still, wins like this prove the team will not go away without a fight. 

"You know what I liked the most, is that we've had games this year where we had a goal scored on us and for the next few minutes we were a little poor," Warming said. "[Tonight], I thought we stepped it up a little better. We just kept going, kept going at them. I was really excited about that because it means that your team has confidence and they feel they're going to win it. I think not having that self doubt anymore is going to help us."


Coach Brandwene Update


By Tyler Feldman, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Those close to freshman forward Aly Hardy know that she is a well-rounded individual. She is not only a dedicated hockey player, but also a saxophone player and dancer.

Her smooth saxophone and dance abilities translate well onto the ice where she displays orchestrated skating with her line mates, as well as a unique barrel of stick handling skills.

She is making the most of her opportunities and impacting play through her constant progression, feisty play and work ethic.

The St. Albans, Vermont native has seen playing time in the past four games has jazzed up the program and was a contributor to three Blue and White wins during that four-game span.

Her hard work even translates into the players lounge at Pegula Ice Arena where she enjoys competing in 'Just Dance' on Xbox and at the Ping-Pong table, as well.

"Well I play ping pong mostly with [Hannah] Bramm because I can't play against Jill [Holdcroft] anymore because she makes me mad," said Hardy.

In fact, according to Hardy, the aforementioned statement is her favorite aspect of the state-of-the-art Pegula Ice Arena.

"I'd probably have to say the lounge," said Hardy. "The couches are really comfy, and I really like how we have Xbox and we play 'Just Dance' sometimes and the ping pong table definitely."

Music, dancing and ping-pong aside, Hardy intends to continue to jazz up Penn State as she progresses into a more experienced performer on the ice. 

Illinois Week Q&A - Assistant Coach Charles Huff

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10553346.jpegUNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State special teams coordinator and running backs coach Charles Huff spoke with the media on Thursday.  The Nittany Lions travel to Illinois on Saturday at noon (ESPN2). Take a look at a Q&A with Huff.

Q: The running backs have talked about the "chin" concept that you have taught them. What kind of impact has that had on them in terms of good ball security?
Huff:
"A lot of times coaches ask kids to do something, but they don't tell them how or why. When I got here, that was one of the first things that was brought to my attention that the backs in the past had a problem putting the ball on the ground. Going back and looking at all of the film from last year, the same problem would come up (holding the ball). A lot of times, coaches assume kids know how to hold the ball. You've got to really teach them from ground one. We started it with where you put your hands, where you put the ball on your chest, where it goes on your forearm and biceps. Chin is kind of the acronym that puts it all together so that you aren't yelling five different things when a kid is running down the field. But the key of it is that you want to kind of keep the ball as vertical as possible as long as possible because that limits the area defenders can put their helmet on and the area defenders are able to grab on it. And when it comes to getting hit, the vertical angle reduces the chances of the ball coming out. When I first got here, they thought it was a little awkward, but as things went on and we continued to show them the importance of it and how it helps them, and I really think the biggest part was that as the season went on and they were doing it and they didn't fumble the ball they started believing in it. And now that's kind of who they are. They take pride in being a group that doesn't put the ball on the ground. It will continue to grow."

Q: What did you see from the running game last week that helped create such a productive day?
Huff:
"I think it's a true testament to the O-line. When the O-line goes well, the running back goes well. It's a true case because we were able to put either back in there, and they were able to do well because we got some guys back from injury, which creates a little more depth. As they go, we go. Both Akeel and Bill have done a good job being patient. When the opportunities have shown up, they have taken advantage of it. There is more continuity up front, and the result is a bigger running game and the offense is able to roll a little more efficiently if you can run the ball."

Q: What do you think has allowed your young gunners (Grant Haley and Christian Campbell) to be so successful on punt coverage this year?
Huff:
"The one thing that is big when you talk about the maturity and growth of developing young talent is that you have got to be on the field and you've got to play. A lot of times it's difficult to get on the field on offense and defense as fast because there is a lot more learning. There is a lot more new learning and scheme things that go into it. Special teams is kind of one of those things that is the same across the board. One thing I wanted to do when I got here was keep it as simple as possible so that they can do the things they have been doing on the field their entire life. There is not a lot of thinking and checks. It's just letting you play fast and let you use your ability to be successful. And with that comes repetition. And now these guys are used to being out there. They are used to the speed of the game. They are used to running down the field and making plays. And what happens is, on offense and defense the game slows down for them. And now they are able to think because the game has slowed down. I think that comes from them being on special teams and having some success on special teams. They kind of see that it's the same game they have played their entire life."

Q: What have you seen from Daniel Pasquariello during the past couple weeks at practice that has translated into better results in the games?
Huff:
"I think it's just him being out there. A lot of people need to remember that he had never played in an American football game. So this is his 10th American football game. Of course as the season goes, it's going to be new. It would be like you or I riding a bike for the very first time. We'd probably be a little wobbly. Over time, he's gotten more comfortable. On the first day of practice, he wasn't sure where all of his pads went. That was only a few weeks ago. So to go from that to where he is, and you help him understand that it is the same game that he has been playing. It's the same technique that you were using in Australia. It's the same technique of how to kick. We are just adding some things around him. Maybe things are a little bit different from a schematical standpoint, but it's just maturity and growth within the process. He still has a long way to go as far as maturation and development. As you become more comfortable, you become more confident. As you become more confident, you are able to take some more risks and do some things that may not be normal in your non-confident ability. And that's where he is at. The one thing he has really done is that he has worked his tail off to be more consistent. A lot of times you work with specialists and they try to kick their way out of it. And then they end up kicking their leg out. He's worked with his fundamentals. He's worked on his drops. He's gotten with snappers. He goes out on off days and works on his fundamentals, and it shows. He knows that we are looking for more from him, but he is getting to become who we expected him to be."

Q: How close do you think Grant Haley is to breaking off a big return for the special teams unit?
Huff:
"I think he is a lot closer than people think he is. The one thing about a kickoff returner is that you need to have natural vision. That's why a lot of times, you love for your running back to be that guy. Even though you may scheme it up and say that things are going to hit here, when things are flying at 100 miles per hour, you've got to have a guy who can make one move and go at 100 miles per hour. The thing about Grant is that he' doesn't play running back. So for him reading blocks and him constantly being able to lean away from people and making people miss that's not something he does naturally because he doesn't do it everyday. He has that ability, but that's not something he does every day. The thing for Grant is that we don't change the return direction drastically every week, so that the picture is kind of consistent in his mind. Now, where that hurts you is that every team doesn't line up the same every week. So you are tweaking your return to help Grant without putting him in a spot where you say, it's going to split here every time. I think with Grant continuing to see the game and slow down that interception and return for a touchdown was kind of the a'ha moment. I'm looking for big things from him in the return game from here and definitely into the future."



Follow GoPSUsports.com's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

Bailey and the Lions Set to Open Big Ten Play

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By Julie Bacanskas, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - With 10 games under their belt, the Nittany Lions are ready to start the next portion of their season, Big Ten play, against an opponent they have history with, Michigan.

During the teams' last meeting, the Lions defeated Michigan in double overtime and advanced to the second round of the Big Ten Tournament. Not only did the Blue and White take down the Wolverines in that specific game, but they also emerged victoriously in three of the five matchups last season.

This year the two teams are ready to rekindle that competitive edge, starting with this weekend's series.

"We don't need any added sense at all," head coach Guy Gadowsky said. "This is Michigan. This is the most successful program in college hockey history that we get to compete against, and we do it a Yost Arena, which is a tremendous environment. It's a very tough environment, and it's something I think our guys are now starting to look forward to, so we don't need any added incentive to play the University of Michigan, believe me."

Last season's results are something neither team has forgotten after the offseason months. Penn State remembers victory, while Michigan remembers the pain that came along with defeat.

"Anytime that you develop a history with any team, I think that contributes to it," said Gadowsky. "I know that at media day, some of their reporters already told me, 'Michigan has you circled,' stuff like that, so I can't comment from what they're thinking. From our standpoint, we're excited to play all Big Ten teams. I mean they're all monsters in this game, and a big part of why we come to Penn State is to compete against the very best. Certainly this weekend is the epitome of that."

The Lions are coming into these games with momentum on their side. The team is fresh off its split with UMass Lowell, a series in which forward Casey Bailey tallied three goals and one assist.

Bailey currently leads the team with eight goals and is only one shy of tying the nation's leaders in goals scored. Clearly, the junior has entered this season with big expectations, and thus far, he has been fulfilling them.

"I have to give a lot of credit to my linemates," said Bailey. "Taylor Holstrom is playing incredibly, and David Goodwin has been great. I'm just having a lot of fun playing with my linemates. I think as a team, when you create offense, it really opens up space for other guys. You've got to give a lot credit to everyone on the team. I don't think it's anything personally that I'm doing special. I just think the team's playing well. I'm a shooter and when I get those chances, it's nice when the puck goes in."

Bailey's 54 shots on the season are a team high, and his 12 points having him trailing only Holstrom.

"With Casey, I think his physical strength and conditioning is at a much higher level than it's ever been, I think in his life," Gadowsky said of the junior. "He started this season playing to play good hockey, not playing to score goals.

"He loves scoring goals, and that's part of what makes him a good hockey player. He loves scoring goals in games. He loves scoring goals in practice. He loves scoring goals in street hockey. He just loves scoring goals, but I don't think that's what he's concentrating on. I think he's concentrating on playing good hockey."

With multiple forwards, including Bailey, producing game in and game out, the Lions have an added sense of confidence right now.

The team knows what to expect of Michigan, and the trip could not have come at a better point in the season for Penn State.

"We've played them [Michigan]," Gadowsky said. "We know there are certain things they're going to do that are different from UMass Lowell, but the bulk of this is certainly our preparation and how we play. Really for our program, it's always going to be like that. We really try to just get as good as we possibly can at our game."

The Lions and Wolverines will open their series 7:30 p.m. Friday at Yost Ice Arena.

Michigan Graphic.jpg

Lions Looking to Feed Off of Jeffrey Field Crowd as Postseason Continues

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8288514.jpegBy Miranda Kulp, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Penn State women's soccer team has called Jeffrey Field home since the program's inception in 1994.

Located in the heart of the Penn State athletic facilities at the corner of Park Avenue and University Drive, the stadium was named in honor of the late Bill Jeffrey, legendary head coach of the soccer program from 1926-'52, and has carried a winning legacy since it opened.

To the student-athletes who have spent countless hours playing on Jeffrey, it will always hold a special spot in their lives.

"It's crazy this being my last year, I've always said that Jeffrey field is the greatest place to play soccer," senior Kori Chapic said. "Everything about this place is magical, with the location, Park Avenue Army, and roar of the stands, just everything ties in so perfectly that there truly is no other place I rather of spent the last four years."

The current team holds an 11-1 record at home for this season. Historically speaking, the Nittany Lions have been dominant on their home pitch. The Lions own a 202-23-9 all-time mark at Jeffrey Field, including a 103-5-4 mark in Big Ten matches. The Jeffrey Field history includes a 39-match unbeaten streak stretching from 2001-''04.

Earning the No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament, the Nittany Lions have the opportunity to again host their second and third round matches in the 2014 postseason. With so much history, tradition and support on Jeffrey Field, it's easy to see why the Nittany Lions are eager to host UConn on Friday night (7:30 p.m.).

"I absolutely see a difference in the team when we're playing here compared to on the road," head coach Erica Walsh said. "It's a comfort zone when it comes to playing at Jeffrey Field. We get to sleep in our own beds, go out to eat at our own restaurants and most importantly play in front of our home crowd. It's really a secret advantage we have right now," she said.

From the Park Avenue Army student section to the friends and family that travel countless miles to watch the girls play, there is never a silent moment in the stands during the game.

"I look at the Army and crowd and I'm so thankful for their dedication. It can be absolutely freezing and you''ll still see everyone come out and support the team," Walsh said. "As a coach that is an amazing feeling seeing the support from the fans and seeing how it causes the team to always put on a show for them by playing their best."

Not only do the fans create a powerful atmosphere for Jeffrey, the grass surface is something that separates Penn State's soccer home from other places in America.

"The field is a true role, down to the length of the grass and the bounce this is the type of field we play our best on," Walsh said.


Widely regarded as one of the best grass fields in college soccer, Jeffrey Field was honored as the 2006 Collegiate Soccer Field of the Year by the SportsTurf Managers Association.

For the seniors on the team, this is the time in their collegiate career when they can reflect on all the time they've spent on Jeffrey Field. And it is their mission to finish on a high.

"Some of the greatest memories I have were made on this field, it's been a great experience that wouldn't be the same without Jeffrey," Chapic said.

Needless to say, the Lions' season and storied history of success wouldn't be the same without Jeffrey Field and the crowd's impact during the matches. To all the players who have played on this field, it has become more of a second home to them.

"Every time you step onto this field it strikes you and gives you an indescribable feeling of both joy and determination," Chapic said.

VIDEO: James Franklin Practice Update - Illinois Week

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Head coach James Franklin provided an update to the media following Wednesday's practice session at the Lasch Football Complex. The Nittany Lions travel to Illinois at noon (ESPN2) on Saturday.

VIDEO: Nittany Lions Eager for Challenge at Charleston Classic

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Following a pair of wins to open the season, the Nittany Lion basketball team (2-0) is set to embark on its first challenge away from the Bryce Jordan Center.

Penn State will kick off a span of three games in four days at the Charleston Classic on Thursday against Charlotte (ESPNU, 5 p.m.). While the Nittany Lions are pleased to notch two victories to begin the 2014-15 campaign, head coach Patrick Chambers knows what type of test lies ahead.

"Charlotte is going to be an incredible test for us," Chambers said. "They have a group of seniors, a great point guard, a great coach. I just want to see us go down there and compete, compete at a very high level against some of the best talent."

Penn State's depth played a big role in the opening two games on the schedule. No fewer than nine players enter the Charleston Classic averaging 11 minutes of playing time or more. Playing three games between Thursday and Sunday is something the Lions are looking forward to. And the schedule plays into the strength of the Lions' deep bench.

"It takes us all back to the good old AAU days where we play back-to-back games each and every day," senior forward Ross Travis said.

"When the opportunity presents itself that you can play more than one basketball game in a span of a few days, it's a lot of fun," guard John Johnson said.

The Lions enter the second weekend of the season with six players averaging at least 5.0 points per game. That list is topped by senior D.J. Newbill, who enters the Charlotte game averaging 17.5 tallies per contest. Freshman guard Shep Garner is averaging 13.0 points per game after his first two games in a Penn State uniform.

"I'm definitely pleased with the contributions that we have been getting from different guys," Chambers said. "That's a good thing. But now, we go on the road to a neutral site. We've got to see where we are. We will see who can step up in that type of environment."

The added depth has given the players on the floor a great deal of confidence.

"During the past three years, we haven't had that much depth," Travis said. "This year is different. We've got a whole bench that we can go to. We have guys ready to come in and contribute right away."

Communication is a big point of emphasis for Chambers and the Nittany Lions this week, particularly on the defensive end of the floor.

"I think our communication has been alright in the first two games," Travis said. "There is always room for improvement. I feel like communication is the key to our success this year. The more that we can communicate, the more of an impact we can have on a game."

Looking ahead to Thursday's contest, Penn State will meet a Charlotte team that is 1-0 after knocking off Elon (73-60) on the road. The Nittany Lions and 49ers have met just twice before (1981 and 1983).

"They have four starters back. They have a great coach," Chambers said. "They are tough, physical basketball team. They play in a great conference, so they know how to be successful. They had a successful year last year, so I expect a veteran team to come at us hard and try to take advantage of a neutral court game."

The winner of the Penn State-Charlotte game will play the winner of the South Carolina-Cornell contest on Friday at 7 p.m. (ESPNU). The two losing teams will meet in consolation action on Friday at 9 p.m. (ESPN3). Each team will also play on Sunday regardless of the outcomes on Thursday and Friday.


Follow GoPSUsports.com's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

2014 Opponent Previews - Illinois

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10549939.jpegIllinois | Memorial Stadium | 12 p.m. | ESPN2
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State heads to Champaign on Saturday for a matchup with the Fighting Illini. Get to know Illinois in this week's scouting report.

Tim Beckman is in his third year as head coach at Illinois, with a record of 10-24 at Illinois and 31-40 overall.  The Illini finished 2013 with a 4-8 mark, including 1-7 in the Big Ten. They returned 47 lettermen and 18 starters from last year.

Last Saturday, Illinois dropped to 4-6 overall and 1-5 in the Big Ten, falling 30-14 against Iowa.  The Illini gained 235 yards, including 147 passing.  Quarterback Wes Lunt completed 14-of-25 passes for 102 yards and a touchdown. Reilly O'Toole also saw time at quarterback, completing 3-of-6 passes for 45 yards and a score, while also rushing for 29 yards.  Josh Ferguson gained 29 rushing yards on nine carries, while Donovonn Young had 25 yards on five attempts.  Mike Dudek caught six passes for 80 yards and two touchdowns.

The Illini defense allowed 587 yards, with 304 coming on the ground.  Linebacker Mason Monheim was one of three Illinois players to have double-digit tackles, leading the team with 15 stops.  Safety Zane Petty recorded 13 tackles, including 0.5 TFL. Fellow safety Taylor Barton had 12 tackles and forced a fumble.  Cornerback V'Angelo Bentley and tackle Jarrod Clements each had a sack.

Illinois averages 25.6 points per game, ranking ninth in the Big Ten.  The Illini average 360.2 yards of total offense, ranking eighth.  They gain 255.6 yards passing and 104.6 yards rushing, ranking second and 13th in the conference, respectively.    

Lunt, a sophomore, and O'Toole, a senior, have split starts at quarterback this year. Lunt has started six games, completing 65 percent of his throws for 1,671 yards, 14 touchdowns and three interceptions.  O'Toole has started the other four games, connecting on 55 percent of his pass attempts for 745 yards, five scores and six interceptions.  O'Toole also has 106 rushing yards and a touchdown.

In the backfield, Ferguson, a 5-foot-10, 195-pound junior, averages nearly five yards per carry, with 581 yards and six touchdowns.  Ferguson is also second on the team in receptions with 39, adding 318 yards and two scores.  Young, a 6-foot, 220-pound senior, has contributed 248 yards and five touchdowns, while averaging 3.8 yards per carry.  He also has 16 receptions for 82 yards. 

Dudek, a 5-foot-11 freshman, leads the Illini with 51 catches for 787 yards and five touchdowns.  Geronimo Allison, 6-foot-4, has 515 yards and five touchdowns on 34 receptions.  Junior Justin Hardee, 6-foot-1, has contributed 18 catches for 230 yards and a touchdown, while senior Martize Barr, 6-foot, has added 17 receptions for 234 yards and two scores. Senior tight end Jon Davis, 6-foot-3, has 12 catches for 128 yards and two touchdowns.

The Illinois offensive line includes two seniors, two sophomores and a redshirt freshman.  They have combined for 79 career starts.   

The Illini defense allows 36 points per game, ranking 14th in the Big Ten and 111th in the nation. They also allow 493.5 yards per game, also 14th in the conference and 114th in the NCAA.  Opponents average 266.9 yards rushing and 226.6 yards passing, ranking 14th and 11th in the conference, respectively. Illinois has forced 12 turnovers.

Tackle Austin Teitsma leads the defensive line with 41 tackles, including 7.5 for loss and two sacks.  End Jihad Ward has made 37 stops, with four for loss, two sacks and a forced fumble.  Fellow end Dejazz Woods has 25 tackles, three for loss and two sacks.

Monheim, a junior, ranks second in the Big Ten in total tackles per game, averaging 9.8.  He has 97 tackles, 37 solo, 6.5 for loss and a sack. Monheim also has three forced fumbles and an interception.  T.J. Neal Jr. has 77 tackles, 5.5 for loss, an interception and a forced fumble.  Earnest Thomas III, playing the star position, has recorded 47 stops, 27 solo, 8.5 for loss, 4.5 sacks and a forced fumble.

In the secondary, Petty leads the unit with 90 tackles, including 39 solo and 1.5 for loss. Petty has broken up seven passes.  Barton has 88 tackles, 41 solo, two forced fumbles and an interception, which he returned 77 yards for a touchdown against Western Kentucky.  Bentley has 43 tackles and returned an interception 45 yards for a score against Texas State.  Bentley also has a 12-yard fumble return for a touchdown against Minnesota.  Fellow cornerback Eaton Spence has 46 tackles and five pass breakups.

Taylor Zalewski and David Reisner have split time at kicker, with each converting on 1-of-3 attempts.  Punter Justin DuVernois averages 44.9 yards per kick, ranking 11th in the nation. Bentley handles the kick return and punt return duties.  He averages 22.1 yards per kick return, with a long of 67 yards, and 10.2 yards per punt return.   

Penn State leads the all-time series 17-4, on the field. The Nittany Lions won last year's game, 24-17, in overtime, at Beaver Stadium.


What Tim Beckman is saying about Penn State:


"In all phases of the game, they play extremely hard and with great effort. They are very well coached. On defense, you can see a lot of guys that have been involved in that program and college football and play at a Big Ten level."

"[Hackenberg], as he's gone through this conference as a freshman and sophomore has been extremely successful. You see a football team that has played well and understands how to win. It will be a tough game for us, a four-quarter battle."


Contributions on all of the 2014 Opponent Previews provided by GoPSUsports.com Student Writer Paul Marboe.

Keys to a Strong Offense

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10549605.jpegBy Samantha DelRosso, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.-- There's much to be said about a team ranked first in the Big Ten in hitting percentage. How does a young squad like Penn State attack at a .355 percentage? There are many key components that drive the Nittany Lions' offensive success.

Scouting
Before the first ball is served in a match, the Nittany Lions will study their opponents to see what their blocking schemes are like. That way, the team can run an effective offense for that particular opponent. Depending on who they're playing, the Nittany Lions will make adjustments to the offense before the match so they can be as successful as possible.

The team also pays close attention to matchups. Outside hitter Aiyana Whitney said determining the offense for each match comes from who each player is matched up with at the net.

"If we have a favorable match-up and there is someone who is taller on our team, who can hit over one of their smaller blocks, then we capitalize [on that]," Whitney said.

Passing
Although it's on the defensive side of the ball, passing greatly affects the offense.

"When you pass well it gives you a better handle on your first-swing offense. We've been a good first-swing offense to date," head coach Russ Rose said.

Senior middle hitter Nia Grant agreed. She said passing is a very important part of the offense.

"[Getting a good pass] is huge. If we can get a good pass, you can do anything," Grant said.

Connecting and Communicating

Once the ball is passed, it's in the hands of setter Micha Hancock. Rose said the team's hitting percentage is an indicator that Hancock is making good decisions getting the ball to different people at different times.

Grant said the key to the team's offensive success right now is the connection that the hitters have with Hancock.

Whitney said communication with Hancock while on the court is a key factor in the Penn State offense. During the match, hitters can tell Hancock where to put the ball so that they can hit the most effective shot.

Executing
Both Whitney and Grant said the team's quick offense has proven to be very successful for the Nittany Lions.

"Because we have players that can hit different shots and different speeds, we can run a quicker offense. And that catches people off guard," Whitney said.

Grant said there are many players who can hit "quick balls", or balls that take little time to go from Hancock's hands to the hitter's. This has given the Nittany Lions the opportunity to run a faster offense.

"[The quick offense and having different hitting options] is what trips teams up because they don't know what to expect or where it's going," Grant said.

The top three individual hitting percentages in the Big Ten come from Penn State's roster. Haleigh Washington leads the conference with a .491 hitting percentage. Following shortly behind is Grant, hitting at a .476 percentage and Whitney, with a .395 hitting percentage.

Grant said it helps the offense to have three hitters in the front row together who are able to hit in any given play. This gives Hancock the option to set the ball to any number of players with confidence that it will be a strong hit.

"It's nice because Aiyana, since she's an outside, she can be with me and Haleigh in the front row," Grant said.

Having the top three hitters in the Big Ten is a testament to Penn State's strong offense. But Grant said they aren't paying attention to who comes first on that list. 

"We're not really worried about who is doing [the scoring] this year, we just want to get it done," Grant said.

The No. 4-ranked Lions hope to continue their offensive success at Michigan on Wednesday.

VIDEO: Illinois Week Player Q&As - Angelo Mangiro & C.J. Olaniyan

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - GoPSUsports.com catches up with junior offensive lineman Angelo Mangiro and senior defensive end C.J. Olaniyan leading up to the Illinois game.

Week 11 Press Conference Roundup - Illinois Week

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10547614.jpegJames Franklin Transcript - Nov. 18

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Nittany Lions (6-4, 2-4) head on the road for the final time during the Big Ten season on Saturday with a trip to Illinois (4-6, 1-5) for a noon kick on ESPN2.

Head coach James Franklin reviewed Saturday's victory over Temple and previewed the matchup against the Fighting Illini on Tuesday afternoon inside the Beaver Stadium Media Room.

Behind a big day on the ground and another dominant effort from the Nittany Lion defense, Penn State powered past Temple on Saturday (30-13). The running back duo of Akeel Lynch and Bill Belton accounted for 222 rushing yards and two touchdowns behind a strong outing from the offensive line.

"I think the offense goes the way the O-line goes. I think the defense goes the way the D-line goes," said Franklin. "So I'm happy with Akeel (Lynch), and I think Akeel has done some nice things. But we didn't go from Bill (Belton) almost having a hundred yards and Akeel having over a hundred yards in a game because they're doing something different or that Coach Galt got them in the weight room and they're stronger and faster than they were four weeks ago. It's the development and the confidence of the offensive line and getting some of those veteran guys back."

Defensively, the Nittany Lions forced five turnovers and held Temple to 248 total yards. The list of turnovers included a pick-six from freshman cornerback Grant Haley. The defense has been lights out for 10 weeks.
Penn State is ranked in the top five in three of the four major defensive categories. The Nittany Lions are No. 1 in the nation against the run (83.1 ypg.), No. 3 in the nation in total defense (265.6 ypg) and No. 4 in the nation in scoring defense (16.2 ppg).

"It's an awesome thing. We're very proud of the accomplishments that they've made," Franklin said. "But ultimately, it's about wins. If we could finish this season going undefeated one week at a time and trade some rankings on defense, we'd do that. We'd do that. I know our defensive players would do that and our defensive coaches would do that. I think for us to do that, we're going to need our defense playing well. So those things go hand in hand. If the statistics work out that way, at the end of the year we'll be excited."

Fielding the second youngest team in the nation, Penn State has had contributions from a host of young talent in 2014. Through 10 games, nine true freshmen have contributed for the Nittany Lions. That includes five on defense, three on offense and one on special teams. Against Temple, there were snaps on defense with three true freshmen lined up in the secondary. And not only have true freshmen played, the group has been instrumental in the team's success on both sides of the ball and on special teams.

Last Saturday's victory marked a special occasion for the Nittany Lion players who were on the roster in July of 2012. Especially for the group of 12 seniors, the sixth win and eligibility to extend the season with a bowl game is a boost. However, the Lions are solely focused on the task at hand this week. The program lives by the motto of one game at a time, and this week as no exception. The focus is on Illinois.

"We're focused on playing Illinois this week at the end of the year," said Franklin. "If people tell us we have an opportunity to go somewhere, we'll be excited about going there. But we're focused on Illinois, and that's how you make sure that you're able to come out and play as consistent as you possibly can week-in and week-out, by taking it one game at a time."

The Nittany Lions and Illini will meet for the 22nd time on Saturday.

Press Conference Notes
- Head coach James Franklin announced at the beginning of the weekly press conference that senior Ryan Keiser is out of the hospital and on his way back to State College on Tuesday.

- Franklin on the Illinois offense:
"No-huddle, spread offense. I think they've slowed it down a little bit compared to what we saw last year. I think they've slowed it down. They're a balanced attack. They're No. 2 in the Big Ten in passing offense. They're No. 4 in the Big Ten in passing efficiency. They're No. 3 in the Big Ten in completion percentage. Quarterback, Wes Lunt, we've known him for a long time. Actually recruited him. Him getting hurt I think set them back a little bit. He's back now, completing 65 percent of his passes. Excellent thrower."

- Franklin on the Illinois defense:
"They're a 4-3 defense. They'll press you on the outsides. They'll bring inside pressures. They're No. 6 in the Big Ten in fumbles recovered, No. 1 in the Big Ten in defensive touchdowns at three.

- Franklin on the Illinois special teams:

"
They do a wide range of things trying to cause deception. Their coverage units do a really good job, and they're No. 8 in the nation in net punting. So, again, that goes back to us talking about field position."



Follow GoPSUsports.com's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

By Matt Allibone, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- There's not much you can throw at the Penn State men's soccer team that it hasn't seen before.

After all, with every starter on the team at least a sophomore and five seniors seeing regular time in the lineup, the Nittany Lions have the experience to handle any situation. 

This season alone, they've enjoyed plenty highs, fought through a few challenges, and with the NCAA Tournament kicking off this Thursday at home against Hartwick, they feel they have the necessary experience to make a serious run.

"It's going to be great," senior goaltender Andrew Wolverton said. "A lot of guys have been through this before and we know how to prepare, we know what it's going to be like. It's going to be hopefully a great atmosphere here on Thursday."

Last year, the Nittany Lions won twice in the NCAA Tournament en route to a trip to the Sweet 16. They return six starters from that group (Mason Klerks, Drew Klingenberg, Owen Griffith, Connor Maloney, Mike Robinson and Wolverton) as well as Eli Dennis and Kyle MacDonald, who have started for much of the season.

With so many players having not just played in the tournament but also having success there, there won't be much anxiety for the Blue and White leading up to Thursday. For the most part, it will simply be business as usual.

"I think we have enough experience in the NCAA tournament," Maloney said. "We've got a lot of older guys and a few new guys and I think we'll be ready and that'll get us through."

Out of all the players seeing regular time for the Nittany Lions, the only ones without NCAA Tournament experience are sophomore Brett Gravatt and junior Michael Gonzalez, who have both recently seen time in the starting lineup.

When asked what he advice he has given his less experienced teammates, Wolverton kept it simple. You've got to go about your business as usual, even if there is more at stake.

"Treat it as any other game honesty," Wolverton said. "Obviously, it's got that hype and everyone's going to be pumped up but you can't let it affect how you're going to play you've just got to be focused."

At the same time, Wolverton and his teammates know that Thursday's matchup against the Hawks is more important than a regular season game. If the Lions are going to keep playing into November, there can't be any margin for error.

Having been off since Nov. 9, Penn State will also enter the tournament extremely fresh and rested. With no games last week, the Lions spent the time relaxing and participating in light exercises to keep their fitness up. 

After ramping up the intensity of their workouts over the weekend, the plan is spend the next few days going over the scouting report and watching video. 

"This weekend, we had a couple of really tough practices, scrimmaged a lot, put a lot of running on their legs," head coach Bob Warming said. "[This week] we'll do our normal pregame routine that we do. Our guys are still in recovery mode, still got some guys nursing injures so we can't do too much right now. We're not going to lose fitness."

That extra preparation is one thing that Lions have over the Hawks, who played last Sunday when they defeated Georgia Southern 1-0 to win the Sun Belt Conference.

With the Hawks only having three days of rest in between games, the Lions will clearly have the advantage in both recovery and training.

"A lot of rest was key for right now," Maloney said. "We're pretty good right now, we're coming off a lot of rest and I think we'll be ready with practice this week, it'll be pretty light and we'll be ready.

"We've kind of had dinner and just been around each other in the locker room [last week], That just about it. A little bit of mental regeneration last week getting primed for this week."

The other difference between the Lions and the Hawks is the way the two squads made the tournament.

For the Hawks, qualifying required overcoming a 0-6-4 start by finishing the season 6-3 and winning their last three games. 

Penn State on the other hand, has been a force throughout the season and enters the game with a 12-5-1 record. Now that the postseason is finally upon them, the Lions are looking forward to giving their fans a little more to cheer about.

"It never gets old, man, it never gets old," Warming said. "I had a lot of anticipation [waiting for the bracket to be announced]. I'm really happy for our guys, I'm happy for the body of work they've put together this year. 

"The reason they're in is the body of work they've put together this year. Some teams got hot at the end of the year, this team got in because of what they've done throughout the year. I know they are primed to make great run at this thing."

By Tyler Feldman, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State women's hockey concluded the weekend on a high note with a 3-2 overtime win over RIT on Saturday. Head Coach Josh Brandwene continues to commend the freshmen class on their consistency on the ice.

"They just continue to grow every single day," said Brandwene. "The effort is always there. The poise continues to get better with great jobs at both ends of the ice, and a tremendous performance by Hannah [Ehresmann] in net."

Caitlin Reilly, CHA Rookie of the Week, boosted the Nittany Lions with two goals on Saturday including the game-winner in overtime. Reilly's first goal came in the first period with assists from Amy Petersen and fellow freshman Remi Martin. However, Reilly's game-winning goal was a total team effort.

"Great pressure at the offensive blue line by Amy Petersen," said Brandwene on how the play started. "Just a really smart hockey play with a nice chip and support from Laura Bowman. And, a great heads up play by Laura to feed Caitlin in the slot. Caitlin stuck with it and on her second opportunity threw it on net, and when you put pucks on net great things happen."

Making the necessary adjustments from a loss to skate to victory the next day speaks volumes to the type of program Brandwene and his players are creating.

"It says everything about the team family environment that we have," said Brandwene. "They are a great group. They bring tremendous enthusiasm and a great effort to the rink. We have a great group of leaders and veteran players who are tremendous veteran leaders for them."

Not only have the freshmen shined but also special teams.

Penn State's penalty kill was perfect against the Tigers, holding them scoreless on six opportunities. According to Brandwene, Bowman, Petersen, Emily Laurenzi, Micayla Catanzariti, Hannah Bramm, and Sarah Nielsen continue to positively progress on the disadvantage.

"A great week of practice from the penalty kill this week and an excellent effort on Friday and nice adjustments as well on Saturday," said Brandwene. "Great effort. Great poise. Great adjustments."

After going 0-for-3 on the power play in Friday's loss, the Blue and White scored on the player-advantage in Saturday's win. Freshman defenseman Bella Sutton netted the game-tying goal while on the power play with 5:06 in regulation.

"They remain patient and poised," said Brandwene on his power play. "We had good looks all weekend, and they made some just nice, simple adjustments to find some open space and open lanes, and I'm really proud of their effort, as well."

After nearly a month away from home, Penn State finally returns to Pegula Ice Arena this upcoming weekend for a two-game conference series against Lindenwood.



 

By Astrid Diaz, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Penn State track and field jumpers are looking to make a big impact this year as one of the staple point-scoring groups of the program. In part four of season previews, GoPSUSports.com caught up with Coach Kevin Kelly and his group of student-athletes on their improvements during the preseason, their goals, and this year's outlook.

Senior captain Steve Waithe had a phenomenal 2014 season on both the Big Ten and National stages. Waithe took home the Big Ten title in his 52-feet triple jump and placed fourth in the long jump (24-0.25). At Nationals, he triple jumped for 52-11.5 feet, the fourth best jump in Penn State history.

This year he returns leading the Nittany Lions and ready to break more records.

"Winning Big Tens definitely gave me some confidence...just to execute on the big levels is what I wanted to do," said Waithe. "This year my goals are obviously to break some records.

Sophomore Lexi Masterson joined the program last year and immediately got to work. At the 2014 outdoor Big Ten Championships, she pole-vaulted 13-3.5 meters, the Penn State all-time record. In 2015, she's looking to improve her performance and be a big contributor to the team.

"My goals for the team definitely include keeping up the winning streak at both Big Tens, indoor and outdoor," said Masterson. "Personally, I really want to make it to the NCAA Championships and I'm going to work really hard to achieve those goals."

Senior Dylan Bilka and sophomore Robert Cardina return this year for the Nittany Lions, as well. Both student-athletes hold Penn State records and are looking to raise the bar.

"Well, this year I'm looking to improve. Obviously, I'm going for the indoor record, which is only a couple inches higher than my [personal record]," said Bilka. "And just to see the rest of the group do really well."

Bilka finished fifth at the outdoor Big Ten Championships in 2014 with a 16-8 ¾ meter pole vault and moved to fifth in the Penn State all-time record book.

Cardina has had tremendous success in the decathlon and heptathlon in all levels.

At the indoor Big Ten Championships, he broke the Penn State record in the heptathlon with 5,511 points. His second-place finish and score of 7,666 ranks second in the All-Time Penn State books.

"That sets the bar," said Cardina. "I have the school record now and I just want to keep setting it and setting it [higher]."

Coach Kelly is excited about the group's progress and depth noting their great preseason performances and their ambitions to bring home as many Big Ten titles as possible.

For more information of Penn State track and field visit
www.GoPSUSports.com and follow the team on Twitter @PennStateTFXC.

Monday Notebook: 2014 Defense Stacking Up Against Program's Best

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10543984.jpegUNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Through 10 games in 2014, the Nittany Lion defense has played with tremendous consistency and has established itself as one of the top units in the nation.

Statistically speaking, Penn State is ranked in the top five in three of the four major defensive categories. The Nittany Lions are No. 1 in the nation against the run (83.1 ypg.), No. 3 in the nation in total defense (265.6 ypg) and No. 4 in the nation in scoring defense (16.2 ppg).

Additionally, Penn State leads the nation in team pass efficiency defense (96.89), is sixth in third down conversion percentage defense (29.2 percent), is second in the nation in first downs defense (140 total), is 10th in passes intercepted (15) and is No. 16 in passing yards allowed (182.5 ypg).

Penn State is also one of just three teams in the nation to have not allowed a rushing play of 30 or more yards (Duke & Syracuse). The Lions also lead the nation with fewest plays of 30 or more yards allowed this season (7).

"You just never know who is going to make the big play with this group," senior Mike Hull said. "Coach Shoop puts us in great positions to make big plays all the time and we are just swarming to the ball every single play."

Visually, the Nittany Lions have been even more impressive. Playing with relentless pursuit and never-ending pressure, the Lions have forced their opponents to become one-dimensional on a weekly basis. The Nittany Lions have held their opponents to an average of 15.4 points and 139.9 yards below their season average coming into the games. In the last three games, Penn State foes are 7-of-47 on third down (14.9 percent).

"We bring the intensity every single time we step onto the field," junior defensive tackle Anthony Zettel said. "We love playing with that intensity and that has been a big key to our success."

Granted, there are still two regular season games to play, but the 2014 defense finds itself in elite company when it comes to some of Penn State's all-time best defensive units. The highlights include:

Rushing defense - 83.1 ypg in 2014 is the lowest since the 1986 national title team's 69.4 ypg average.

Total defense - 265.6 ypg in 2014 is the best since the 1978 team's 203.9 ypg average.

Scoring defense - 16.2 ppg in 2014 is the lowest mark since the 2009 team's 12.2 ppg average.

Yards per play allowed - 4.1 ypp in 2014 is the best since 1990 when the Lions allowed 4.0 ypp.


Just four times in Penn State history since 1966 have the Nittany Lions held their opponents to fewer than 85.0 rushing yards per game in a season. Only eight Penn State defenses have limited opponents to fewer than 270 offensive yards per game in a season.

Individually, Mike Hull is ranked No. 9 in the nation in total tackles (111). Hull is averaging 11.1 tackles per game. Only four players in Penn State history (Since 1970) have averaged 11.0 or more tackles per game during a season. Dan Connor is the most recent Nittany Lion to do so (11.1 tpg in 2007).

Penn State travels to Illinois in the final road game of the 2014 regular season on Saturday at noon (ESPN2).

"We are just playing as a complete defense right now," sophomore Austin Johnson said. "We feel good about the way we are playing, but we can't wait for the next game."


Lions in the Stat Rankings
Several Nittany Lions remain among the leaders in national and conference statistical categories. Here is a weekly breakdown of Penn State players in the stat rankings:

QB Christian Hackenberg - Hackenberg is third in the Big Ten in passing yards (2,318) and passing yards per game (231.8 ypg). The sophomore is second in the conference in completions per game (20.70).

WR DaeSean Hamilton - Hamilton is 15th nationally (first in the Big Ten) in receptions per game (6.8). He ranks third in the Big Ten in receiving yards per game at 78.7.

LB Mike Hull - Hull leads the Big Ten and is eighth in the nation in tackles (11.1 per game). He is second in the Big Ten and 20th nationally in solo tackles per game at 5.9.

K Sam Ficken - Ficken is leading in the nation and first in the Big Ten in field goals made per game at 2.20.

Early Look at the Illini
The Fighting Illini will look to snap a two-game losing streak on Saturday after back-to-back losses to No. 16 Ohio State (55-14) and Iowa (30-14). Illinois enters the week 11 matchup with a 4-6 overall record and a 1-5 mark in the Big Ten. The Illini defeated Minnesota on Oct. 25 (28-24) for their first Big Ten victory of the season.

Quarterback Wes Lunt missed three games due to injury, but was among the Big Ten's leaders in several statistical categories before getting hurt. Lunt returned to the starting lineup against Iowa last week. He has completed 65 percent of his passes in 2014 and thrown for 1,671 yards with 14 touchdowns and just three interceptions.

Defensively, linebacker Mason Menheim has been productive throughout the 2014 season. Averaging 9.8 tackles per game, Monheim ranks second in the Big Ten in tackling.

Penn State and Illinois will meet for 22nd time on Saturday. The Nittany Lions are 17-4 all-time against the Illini.

Extended Game Highlights from the Temple Game




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McAdam Leads Lions to Weekend Split

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10543180.jpeg

By Julie Bacanskas, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - With the loss of Friday's game still fresh in their minds, the Nittany Lions took the ice on Saturday for a rematch with No. 4 UMass Lowell determined to make changes and play a stronger brand of hockey.

As time in the third period expired, the Lions successfully accomplished what many believed to be an impossible task for the young program. They dominated against and beat a top-five team on the road, taking down the River Hawks, 4-1, to complete a weekend split.

"I'm really proud of the way they did it because it shows that they certainly can focus and commit to playing a much better hockey game and give more of themselves," said head coach Guy Gadowsky. "I think that's exactly what happened. I think every single guy really worked extremely hard throughout the whole game, and when everybody does that you give yourself a chance."

Following Friday's 5-3 loss, Gadowsky decided to make a few changes in an attempt to give his team some life. One of those decisions was giving sophomore goalie Eamon McAdam the nod for the first time this season.

McAdam's play on Saturday was a defining point of the game, and his 24 saves against the top-scoring team in the NCAA allowed the Lions to stay competitive against the River Hawks.

"First of all, I think Eamon has really made some commitments to himself and how he was going to approach this year," Gadowsky said. "Both in his own work ethic and throughout the start of the year the way he's approached practices and the team has been excellent. We do a lot of evaluations and statistical evaluations at practice as well, and he really has been excellent. He's absolutely deserved to get the chance if we needed him to come in."

"Friday night we weren't playing very well, and we certainly were giving up some huge opportunities. By no means is this a knock on [Matthew] Skoff, but we happened to give up a lot of Grade A opportunities and four of them went in. The timing seemed right to have Eamon go in, and he actually faced a lot of very difficult shots and played extremely well. Starting him on Saturday was really a no-brainer."

While the win was momentous for the Lions, it also marked a special occasion in McAdam's collegiate career. With the performance, he earned his first win as a Nittany Lion.

"It was a pretty big relief and a monkey off the back kind of feeling," said McAdam. "It's always good to get your first win. Last year, I was close a bunch of times, but I couldn't pull together a win. Like I said, it was a big relief. My parents were there, which is cool because I got to enjoy that with them."

Through the first 10 games this season, both McAdam and Skoff have combined for a .924 save percentage and an average of 2.16 goals allowed per game.

Both goalies are playing consistently for Penn State, giving the team its best chance night in and night out.

"I think it's big to have two great goalies," said junior Casey Bailey, who had two goals in Saturday's victory. "Skoff has been playing amazing for us, and we kind of left him out to dry Friday. Coach gave Eamon a chance on Saturday, and it shows a lot. He played really well Saturday and at the end of Friday's game, and I think to have two goalies playing this well is definitely good for the team."

Despite the positive outcome this weekend, Gadowsky is far more satisfied with the way his team played and the effort he saw. In his mind the win itself is not the key to believing in the team and its abilities.

"I think where we're going to gain our confidence is the fact that we played a very good hockey game," Gadowsky said. "Win or lose, I think that because they're such a well-coached team UMass is so consistent in their habits and so difficult to play against that we sort of proved that we can perform at a high level against a very, very difficult team."

The Lions now have a 6-2-2 record on the season, which stands as a testament to their growth as a program. With this historic win under their belts, the remainder of the year looks very bright for Penn State.

"Compared to last year, we are leaps and bounds ahead of where we were," McAdam said. "I think as a team, and also you can just look at it on paper, you can see the steps we've taken have really started to turn into results. I think that's sparking a ton of confidence with the whole team. It's only going to make us want to work harder and try even harder for bigger and better things."

Nittany Lions Lock Down Fordham with Strong Defensive Effort

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10543030.jpegBy Matt Allibone, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- Relentless.

That has been the approach that Patrick Chambers has preached to his players throughout his tenure as head coach of the Penn State men's basketball team.

On Sunday against Fordham, the Nittany Lions defense embodied that word, shutting down the Rams for much of the evening in a convincing 73-54 win.

The Nittany Lions held the Rams to just 29 percent shooting from the field, marking the first time Penn State held a team under 30 percent since a 72-45 win over New Hampshire on Dec. 23, 2012. The Lions also forced 17 turnovers and won the rebounding battle 40 to 37.

"Just five guys playing as one," senior guard D.J. Newbill said. "Talking and communicating and just playing hard. We were out there helping each other and our rotations were on point."

While they limited the Rams throughout the game, the Blue and White's defense was particularly sharp in the first half, as they hold Fordham to a mere 20 percent shooting performance (6 for 30).

As eye-popping as that stat is, the number that really exemplified the Lions' effort on that end of the court is 10:30. That's the amount of time Penn State held the Rams without a field goal during the middle of the first half.

It was that stretch that changed the course of the game. When Chris Sengfelder scored at the 16:22 mark, the Rams were leading 10-5. By the time Manny Suarez finally ended the drought with a 3-pointer with 5:52 remaining, the Lions had a 25-16 lead and a hold on the game.

For Chambers, the highlight of those ten minutes wasn't simply getting stops. It was seeing his players actively communicating with one another.

"When you see us talking early and often, man we're really good on the defensive end," Chambers said. "We're really solid.

"There was a situation out there, we were playing zone, Ross Travis, Julian Moore, I think all five guys were talking. If we can get to that level, now you're back to being the best defensive team in the league. I'm talking about the Big Ten and that's what we're striving for."

One player that especially represents that mindset is sophomore guard Geno Thorpe.

While not one of the team's top scorers (he finished the game with four points), Thorpe is as tenacious and dogged as they come. In 16 minutes of playing time Sunday, he registered two steals, grabbed three rebounds and picked up an assist on what was arguably the play of the game.

With Penn State leading 22-11 eight minutes in, the 6-foot-3 guard dove for a steal near midcourt, then flipped the ball to Newbill who slammed home an emphatic dunk that brought the crowd to its feet.

"Geno might not have been big on the score sheet but he does so many things that helps us out," Newbill said. "He's always in passing lanes, he's always guarding the best [scorers].

"And that steal just kind of raised the momentum. The crowd went crazy, the team was pumped up. Now everybody's like, 'let's go,' and getting the energy back. That's what Geno does for us."

Thorpe was one of three players on Penn State to finish with multiple steals, as Travis and guard John Johnson each had two as well. On the offensive end, four Nittany Lions, Newbill (18), Shep Garner (12), Johnson (11) and Brandon Taylor (11) reached double-figures.

Still, it was their work when the Rams had the ball that impressed Fordham head coach Tom Pecura.

While his players came out with energy and even led for the first 5:11 of the game, Pecura said that the Lions were ultimately too much for his young squad to handle.

"I think that their intensity and physicality, you know all of a sudden [we're] shooting a little quicker or we're hesitant because they've closed down hard the possession before," Pecura said. "They did a great job rotating...they're well drilled in that and I think that had a lot to do with it."

Penn State has now held opponents to just 30 percent shooting and 51 points per game in its first two contests. Despite this, Chambers knows they can be even better.

Although they've started off well, there is still plenty of basketball to play and a number of challenging Big Ten opponents to face. With five upcoming games between Nov. 20 and Nov. 28, the Lions will begin to find out how far along they are.

"We're still a work in progress, we can be a whole lot better," Chambers said. "But a ton of positives. I thought we were consistent throughout. Overall, for 40 minutes I thought we played consistent." 

DeGraaf Shines Against Albany

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10543101.jpegBy Mike Esse, GoPSUSports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - In a game that was back and forth for the duration of the contest, Penn State and Albany traded big shot after big shot.

With 1:28 to go and down three, Penn State's big shot came from sharpshooter Jenny DeGraaf, who nailed a 3-pointer from the wing to tie the game at 53-53.


DeGraaf gave a fist pump and tried to get the Lady Lion crowd in the Bryce Jordan Center on its feet. Both her shooting and her energy are what head coach Coquese Washington wants to see as a constant from DeGraaf this season. It's safe to say she got it on Sunday.

The sophomore was 4-for-4 with a career-high 12 points, all of which came in the three-point fashion in Penn State's 54-53 setback to Albany. DeGraaf said she was successful off the bench Sunday because she knew that was exactly how the coaches wanted her to play and perform.

"Our coaching staff has talked to all of us about our roles. I know that's my role," DeGraaf said. "I know I have to come in the game and be an offensive spurt and that's what I try to do. The girls got me the ball when they could and I was able to knock down some shots."

Washington and the Lady Lion coaching staff made it clear that DeGraaf would be a shooting threat off the bench and the Springboro, Ohio, native has took that to heart.

As a coach, Washington said that it is a luxury not only to have a sharpshooter off the bench, but especially one that knows exactly what she is asked of when she enters the game. Penn State tried to establish and inside presence against the Great Danes and couldn't entirely do so, thus DeGraaf was able to take advantage of the Albany focus on the interior and succeed from the exterior.

"The thing is, we wanted to get more looks inside with our size, but [Albany] did a pretty good job of packing the paint and making it tough for us to get those looks inside," Washington said. "The fact that we can bring Jenny in and she can make some shots off the bench against a zone defense is big."

Coaches look for two things from bench players, according to Washington - the player to affect the game statistically and emotionally. DeGraaf did just that against Albany.

Her 12 points and perfect shooting from downtown directly affected the statistical part of the game, but it was hard to miss what happened after that. DeGraaf would wave her arms to pump up the crowd or high five her teammates with noticeable passion and energy, sparking the Lady Lions.

"That's what you want from somebody who comes off the bench," Washington said. "You want them to be somebody to affect the momentum of the game and you can do that in a number of ways.

You can do it statistically, but you can also do it emotionally and today Jenny did both. She came off the bench and gave us a lift both emotionally and statistically."

DeGraaf's impact was felt on all aspects of the game and in the postgame press conference Albany head coach Katie Abrahamson-Henderson noted that her team struggled covering Penn State's three-point threat.

"Our game plan was to make them take outside shots," she said. "But, not [Jenny DeGraaf], we weren't supposed to be letting her shoot from out there,"

DeGraaf's career day will be one she humbly thinks she still can improve on and take with her moving forward as she continues to try and improve her impact on the Lady Lions.

However, it was certainly visible on Sunday.

Rec Hall Atmosphere Helps Fuel Sweep Over Minnesota

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10543067.jpegBy Anita Nham, GoPSUSports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - A season-high crowd of 5,569 fans packed Rec Hall to watch No. 6 Penn State women's volleyball sweep past Minnesota in straight sets (25-20, 25-12, 25-23) on a chilly Saturday evening.

In some areas, spectators were standing two-to-three rows deep in order to watch the defending NCAA champions continue their 10-match winning streak.

"I thought the crowd was fantastic," said head coach Russ Rose. "It was a great day in Penn State Athletics with the football team becoming bowl-eligible, the field hockey team winning a NCAA game versus Boston College, and the effort we had tonight. Minnesota is very good and I thought we played really well...Great win against a good opponent."

The Nittany Lions trailed early in the first set, 6-4, but due to two attack errors from the Gophers, Penn State was able to tie the set. The Gophers quickly retaliated and went on a four-point run that caused Penn State to call the first time out of the match.

After the timeout, Penn State went on a 4-1 surge to trim the deficit to within one, 12-11, but the Gophers pushed ahead from errors from the Nittany Lions. A service ace from senior Lacey Fuller and an attack error from the Gophers allowed Penn State to get their first lead of the match, 15-14.

Penn State built on their momentum and created a four-point lead, 21-17, that required Minnesota to take their final timeout of the set. Holding a 23-19 the Nittany Lions clinched the opening set (25-20) thanks to consecutive kills from junior Aiyana Whitney.

Whitney recorded a team-high of 17 kills on .682 hitting.

"I'm kind of in the mindset of 'I just want to take pressure off of the hitters,'" said Whitney. "I know if I'm playing well than our younger players can feel less pressure and can kind of play relaxed and I think that's my ultimate goal - to take the pressure off of everyone else and just play well."

The Nittany Lions built on their momentum from the first set to create a five-point cushion, 9-4, early in the second. Minnesota cut the streak by one, but Penn State rallied back with a 5-1 drive to create an eight-point advantage en route to a 25-12 victory in the set..

Hancock, who recorded 31 assists and four aces in the match to tally 91 aces this season, played a critical role in the 2-0 lead. She tied the all-time single season record, which she previously set in 2011.

"When Micha serves well, I just want the rest of the people to serve the ball on the court," said coach Rose. "When Micha is struggling with her serves, then their serves are a little more important."

Nonetheless, Minnesota wasn't going to give the match up easily as they had an early six-point lead, 7-1, in the third set.

"I'm still worrisome [from the third set]," said Hancock. "I know we're better when we control the ball. It's hard to have that confidence when you've come off a second game like that. It's all mental readiness."

Coach Rose agreed.

"Just because you win one game easy, doesn't mean [we aren't going to lost] when down 8-2 in the third game. I'm not thinking about how easy the second game is; I'm thinking about what I didn't do at intermission to get them ready to play," said coach Rose.

The Nittany Lions went on a 13-6 push to tie the set at 13-13. It was a back-and-forth set until a block from freshman Haleigh Washington allowed Penn State to take a two-point edge, 21-19. The Gophers reclaimed the lead on a four-point drive, 23-21.

However, in the midst of a deafening home crowd, Minnesota recorded two attack errors to give Penn State a 24-23 lead. Senior Dominique Gonzalez recorded an ace for match point to complete the sweep.

"Everybody's playing for something. Some people are playing to get into the tournament, some are playing for a top-seed, and in the second half of the Big Ten season, everybody's good," said coach Rose.

2014-'15 Men's Hoops Blog - Penn State vs. Fordham

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Welcome to GoPSUsports.com's live, interactive coverage of the 2014-'15 men's basketball season. Tonight, the Nittany Lions face Fordham inside the Bryce Jordan Center.

Live Blog 2014-'15 Men's Hoops Blog - Penn State vs. Fordham
 






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LIVE BLOG: Lady Lions Host Albany

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Welcome to live in-game coverage on GoPSUsports.com for the Penn State women's basketball preseason WNIT second round contest against Albany on Sunday, November 16 inside the Bryce Jordan Center.

Be sure to interact with today's blog coverage with questions or comments at the bottom of our widget. Post your photos to Instagram or Twitter and use #PennState or #LadyLions and your photos may be chosen for use on our in-game coverage.

Live Blog Lady Lions Host Albany
 

LIVE BLOG: Lady Lions Host Albany

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Welcome to live in-game coverage on GoPSUsports.com for the Penn State women's basketball preseason WNIT second round contest against Albany on Sunday, November 16 inside the Bryce Jordan Center.

Be sure to interact with today's blog coverage with questions or comments at the bottom of our widget. Post your photos to Instagram or Twitter and use #PennState or #LadyLions and your photos may be chosen for use on our in-game coverage.

Live Blog Lady Lions Host Albany
 

LIVE BLOG: Lady Lions Host Albany

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Welcome to live in-game coverage on GoPSUsports.com for the Penn State women's basketball preseason WNIT second round contest against Albany on Sunday, November 16 inside the Bryce Jordan Center.

Be sure to interact with today's blog coverage with questions or comments at the bottom of our widget. Post your photos to Instagram or Twitter and use #PennState or #LadyLions and your photos may be chosen for use on our in-game coverage.

Live Blog Lady Lions Host Albany
 

Nittany Lions Start NCAA Tournament With Strong Outing

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10540072.jpegBy Miranda Kulp, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Nittany Lion women's soccer team (18-3-0) used a big second half to power past Buffalo, 4-1, in the first round of the NCAA Tournament at Jeffrey Field on Friday.

With midfielder Raquel Rodriguez leading the charge, Penn State showed its determination to make the most of out of the opportunity presented by the NCAA Tournament.

Using the "one game at a time" mentality, head coach Erica Walsh prepared the team not only physically for the postseason tournament but mentally, as well.

"We always try and keep the end goal in mind when training. When it comes to the NCAA we can only prepare for the game in front of us and give it everything we have," Walsh said.

Starting the game off with a goal by Mallory Weber on an assist from Rodriguez in the 15th minute, the Lions ended the first half with a 1-0 lead over Buffalo. Despite the one-goal advantage, the Lions were motivated to extend the lead in the second half.

"Coach gave us a good halftime speech, which got us fired up. We wanted to play for our seniors and we knew one goal wasn't going to be enough," said Weber.

The Lions answered the bell in a big way in the second half.

Within a span two minutes early in the second half, Penn State scored twice against the Bulls with tallies by Rodriguez in the 51st minute and then freshman Megan Schafer with assistance by Salina Williford during the 52nd.

Recently retuning from her international play with the Costa Rican women's national team, Rodriguez returned better than ever.

"I'm just really happy to be back with playing with Penn State. I view this program as more of a family than a team and that makes a huge difference while playing the game," said Rodriguez.

Buffalo scored off a penalty kick by Katie Roberts in the 81st minute, but the Lions finished strong.

Mallory Peterson scored in 86th minute with assist by Anna Witte and Haleigh Echard for Lions' fourth goal of the night.

"The team's energy and excitement was fantastic today, as a coach I couldn't be prouder," said coach Walsh. "I thought the team's tempo was incredible tonight, it was clear that they wanted this win."

In its first visit to the NCAA Tournament, Buffalo walked off the field impressed by Penn State's tactical and technical game.


"Tons of credit to Penn State, they were just too much for us to handle and showed they are a team that can go far in this tournament. No. 11, is a handful and she was on fire tonight," said Buffalo head coach Shawn Burke.

After showing their ability to bounce back from a tough loss, the Nittany Lions are eager for their next match.

The Nittany Lions move on to face Connecticut at Jeffrey Field on Friday in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Penn State is eager to move into prep mode for the second match in the postseason.

"I think the best thing is that although we looked a lot better than last week there is still room for improvement. This group of players always amaze me with their consistent improvement. As a team I think we have avoided plateauing which says a lot about this program," said Walsh.

Pryor Finishing His Mission

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10540037.jpegMilitary Appreciation Day Special Feature
By Tony Mancuso
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - For most people, life doesn't follow a normal path or proceed according to a pre-determined plan.

Things often transpire in a manner that can test the mettle of a person and his or her ability to handle adversity. It's when things do not go according plan that you learn a lot about an individual's attitude, character and outlook on life.

Senior defensive back Devin Pryor is in his final few weeks as a playing member of the Penn State Football program, an opportunity he has not taken for granted when he earned a second chance to finish what he had started back in 2010.

But, before you can appreciate the meaning of Pryor's senior season as a Nittany Lion, you need to understand how he got to the position that he is in.

Born on Norton Air Force Base near San Bernardino, California, Pryor's childhood is unique to most student-athletes. His parents - Mary Hartley and Maurice Pryor - were both members of the United States Air Force during Pryor's childhood.

The Pryor family's residences included Mountain Home Air Force Base in Idaho and Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs while Devin was a child. When his mother was stationed in Alconbury, England, Pryor was just 10-years old.

A fifth-grader at the time, Pryor spent much of his childhood getting to know a group of friends before moving to another location.

"It really helped with my social skills," Pryor said. "When you are moving that much as a kid, you have to be out-going to meet new friends. You are going to make good friends, but you are going to be distanced from them when you move. So it helped me be outgoing and social."

By no means was it easy on him, but Pryor learned to adapt to change, and in the long run, he thinks it helped him grow.

"The process really taught me how to take care of myself and my young sister at the time," Pryor said.

Pryor, who has two younger sisters, Destiny and Sienna, spent the next seven years of his life in the small school system of Alconbury. With only 300 students in the high school, Pryor never had any intentions of playing a sport in college. Sure, he was encouraged to pursue a football career at a college in the United States by his coach in Alconbury, but it was off of Pryor's radar.

He was accepted into the Air Force Academy, Texas A&M and Penn State after applying to schools as he worked towards becoming an engineer. With extended family in mind, Pryor made the decision to attend Penn State.

"It was a unique choice to come here," Pryor said. "My dad has always been a Penn State fan. He's from Philadelphia. My mom is from Long Island."

The family component made the choice to become a Penn State student easier, but he walked on to the campus of more than 40,000 students on the first time ever on the day he arrived for school. Having attended a high school with 300 students, Pryor's first few weeks on campus were an adjustment to say the least.

"The academics at Penn State really stood out to me," said Pryor. "At the time, I had wanted to be an engineer. Penn State has one of the top engineering programs. I early enrolled to do a summer engineering program."

Like most Penn State freshmen, Pryor made a point to order season tickets to the home football games in Beaver Stadium prior to the 2010 season. He attended three games as a fan before making a decision to try out for the team in late September.

"My coaches in England always felt like I could play, but I had self doubt because I had never played in the States and had no idea what the competition was like," Pryor said.

Pryor successfully attracted the attention of the coaching staff, and he was one of four players the group called back.

"The next thing I know, I'm on the team," Pryor said. "Here I am standing next to Evan Royster and the rest of these guys who I had just been watching play from the stands. It was so surreal."

But things took a different path for Pryor during the latter stages of 2010.

"I wasn't nearly as serious about (playing) during my freshman year, so I was released," Pryor said.

Back to normal life as a college student in 2011, Pryor's career on the gridiron was not over quite yet.

During former head coach Bill O'Brien's first season in 2012, the coaching staff added Pryor back to the roster. With a second chance, Pryor was not going to be denied the opportunity to contribute to the team.

"It means a lot to not only me, but to be able to show the kids back in the tiny town in England that no dream is too big and no obstacle is too large," said Pryor.

During his second stint with the football program, Pryor knew how much the opportunity meant in the grand scheme of his journey.

"Coming out of such a small school, a lot of us over there just hoped to go to college, but the exposure is not nearly the same in terms of athletics," Pryor said. "This process made me realize that when you are put in a tough position, you can make the most of it with a good attitude. Walking on here, I've definitely had my struggles and my positives."

Without question, the highpoint of his college career came in August of 2013, just one week into training camp. As dependent of a service member, Pryor utilized the GI Bill for a portion of college. But the funds from the GI Bill had just run out. He called his mother to inform her of the news. From there the two needed to set up a loan to cover the expenses of his final two years as a college student.

But things took a different path just two days after the loan had been processed.

Pryor received a phone call that Coach O'Brien needed to see him in his office.

"I never thought was going to be a good thing," Pryor joked.

O'Brien told Pryor that he and the coaching staff felt as though Pryor deserved a scholarship for the 2013 season because of his efforts and dedication to the football program. After walking out of the office, he immediately called his mom to tell her to cancel the loan. Thinking the worst, Pryor's mom thought he had been released again from the team.

But, the exciting news Pryor revealed brought his mom to tears.

Pryor graduated this past August with a degree in energy business and finance, and he is now working towards a second degree, in economics. Walking across the stage with pride, he became a first generation Pryor to earn a college degree.

"It's so humbling to have that degree," he said.

When his time at Penn State is complete, Pryor would like to pursue a career in the financial field of the automobile industry. He has also looked at the military, a profession near and dear to his heart.

"We really don't give the troops enough credit for what they do, so this Military Appreciation Day game is a great opportunity for us to show what they mean to us," Pryor said. "Just like in football, there is a lot more that goes on behind the scenes with the troops that they don't get credit for."

The military appreciation recognition today holds a special meaning to Pryor.

"Just seeing how hard my mom worked every day, and it often went unrecognized," said Pryor. "Any chance we get to say thank you is huge. It may not seem like a lot to the Penn State fans, but the men and women really appreciate it. My mom certainly does."

Pryor's journey to Happy Valley spanned the globe, but his hard work and commitment to the football program earned the right to become a scholarship player. His background is far from a normal path to the highest level of college athletics, but Pryor's drive never wavered.

"You just have to make the most of the hand you are dealt," Pryor said.

Perseverance guided Pryor to the position he is in today, and his time at Penn State will stick with him forever.

"I'm just going to remember the sense of family that is within Penn State and this football program," Pryor said. "And it never mattered how productive you were on the game field. The fans and supporters were there no matter what. The support you feel rivals your own family to be honest with you."

VIDEO: Postgame Player Interviews - Temple

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VIDEO: James Franklin Postgame Interview

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Head into the winning locker room to hear from several Nittany Lions following Saturday's 30-13 victory over Temple.





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VIDEO: Postgame Interview with Coach Franklin - Temple

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VIDEO: Post-game Player Interviews vs. Temple

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Head coach James Franklin talks with GoPSUsports.com following Saturday's 30-13 victory over Temple in Beaver Stadium. The Nittany Lions are 6-4 heading into the penultimate regular season game on the schedule at Illinois next week.






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2014 Photo Blog - Penn State vs. Temple

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Welcome to GoPSUsports.com's coverage of the 2014 football season. Check back often for an inside look at the Penn State's final non-conference game of the season against Temple.

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2014 Game Blog - Penn State vs. Temple

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Welcome to GoPSUsports.com's live, interactive coverage of the 2014 football season. Tune in for live blog coverage from all 12 games on the schedule. The Nittany Lions wrap up the non-conference slate with a matchup against in-state foe Temple.



Live Blog 2014 Game Blog - Penn State vs. Temple
 



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Newbill and Garner Show Cohesion in Lions' Opening Season Victory

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10534939.jpegBy Matt Allibone, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Entering the 2014-'15 season, there was little doubt about the type of production D.J. Newbill would give the Penn State men's basketball team.

A year after leading the team in scoring and being named second team All-Big Ten, Newbill was fully expected to lead the Nittany Lions' offense. The question was, who would complement him in the team's backcourt?

After one game, the Lions may have found the answer in true freshman Shep Garner. Against Morgan State, the 6-foot-1 guard looked mature beyond his years in a 61-48 Penn State victory.

"He is fearless," head coach Patrick Chambers said. "I'm proud of the way he competed. We obviously needed his production tonight."

In the first game of his college career, Garner not only started, he also finished second on the team with 14 points while shooting an impressive 67 percent (6-for-9 shooting) from the field.

More importantly, he jelled extremely well with the senior Newbill, as the guard duo combined for more than half of the team's points (31 of 61) and were the only Nittany Lions to make more than one 3-pointer.

Newbill, who led the tem in scoring with 17 points and added seven rebounds and three assists for good measure, praised the freshman for his assertiveness on the court.

"I told him before the game, 'you earned the right to start, so take advantage of this opportunity,'" Newbill said. "I thought he played great and he played with confidence. There's not much more to say about that."

For a player less than a year removed from high school, Garner seemed extremely relaxed about stepping into a starting role.

Although he missed his first two shots and didn't score his first basket until the 8:13 mark of the first half, the Chester, Pennsylvania, native settled down as the game went along, only missing once more the rest of the way.

"I was excited, you know, first college game was like a dream come true," Garner said. "I just couldn't wait to get on the floor with my brothers and play with them."

During a game in which the Lions struggled to shoot early on, the strong performances of both guards was greatly needed.

With less than 10 minutes remaining in the first half, the Lions trailed the Bears 16-9 and had converted just three field goals in 11:47 of playing time. In a 43 second span, Garner got on the score sheet with a nifty layup and Newbill drained a 3-pointer to narrow the deficit to 16-14.

From that point on, Penn State gained control, going on a 13 to two scoring run that led to a 31-25 halftime lead.

"It was the first game, and I feel we were just super excited," Newbill said. "We were just excited to be out there playing another team and we kind of just had to relax. It's just something we gotta work on."

In the second half, the pair stayed hot, combining for the team's first seven points of the period in a four-minute span as the Lions began to pull away.

Garner, who would finish 4-for-4 on the night on 2-point shots, hit a pair of 3-pointers and combined with Newbill to shoot 50 percent from beyond the arc.

Afterwards, the first-year player praised the senior captain for his help in preparing him for a starting role.

"I learn so much from him," Garner said. "From when I first got here, I just picked his brain all day long. I probably get annoying sometimes. He played point guard here for a whole year so I ask him every question I can to get as much information as possible."

As the year progresses, it is likely that the two guards will take turns playing on and off the ball, as Newbill has significant experience playing both point and shooting guard.

It is that kind of versatility that Chambers believes is a paramount to the team's future success. While Newbill's production is a constant, the Lions will need variety of players to perform behind him in various roles.

That's why the fourth-year coach was so happy for Garner on Friday. The freshman was handed the opportunity to prove himself and exceeded expectations.

"The kid earned the right to start because he gets it done on both ends of the floor," Chambers said. "It just shows his, and ours - as a team and a staff and a program - our confidence in him to make plays."

Garner was not the only member of his family to have a standout performance Friday night. His mother, Kim, sang the national anthem before the game.

For a player getting his first start, hearing his mother's voice was a great way to lessen the pressure.

"My mom sang the national anthem for my team in high school, so I was kind of used to it," Garner said. "At the this stage, you wouldn't think your mom would sing the national anthem. It was exciting." 

2014-'15 Men's Hoops Blog - Penn State vs. Morgan State

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Welcome to GoPSUsports.com's live, interactive coverage of the 2014-'15 men's basketball season. Tonight, the Nittany Lions open the season against Morgan State inside the Bryce Jordan Center.

Live Blog 2014-'15 Men's Hoops Blog - Penn State vs. Morgan State
 




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By Matt Allibone, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- The past two semesters have been a whirlwind for Brett Gravatt.

From switching schools, adjusting to new teammates and dealing with an injury, the Penn State men's soccer sophomore has certainly had his hands full since last spring. 

Still, the 19-year-old believes his transition from Akron to Penn State has ultimately gone as well as possible.

"It went really smooth," Gravatt said. "The players welcomed me really well and the coaches have been really helpful and supportive."

A midfielder for the Nittany Lions, Gravatt has gotten the first two starts of his Penn State career the past two games. However, his rise from bench player to Division I starter hasn't been an easy one.

It all began last year, when the Dunn Loring, Virginia native realized he didn't want to spend the rest of his college career at Akron, where he had appeared in 11 of 22 games as a freshman.

After getting released from his scholarship, Gravatt spoke to his high school best friend, Nittany Lions backup goalie Evan Finney about potentially coming to Penn State. Finney got him in contact with head coach Bob Warming, who told Gravatt about the benefits of the university as a whole.

"I went to Akron for soccer but when I talked to coach Warming, he sold me on getting a great degree and being a part of another great program," Gravatt said. "He told me even if the soccer thing didn't work out, I'd still be getting a great education."

That was all it took to convince Gravatt that he belonged in blue and white. Still, the challenges didn't end there for the 6-foot-1 midfielder.

Looking to get accustomed to his new environment as quickly as possible, the former Zip showed up in State College early in the summer to begin training. Although things went well at first, the trouble began when he tore his meniscus.

Soon after the surgery was completed, doctors realized that his knee also contained a blood clot. The injury caused Gravatt to miss training camp and the Lions season opener against Oakland.

"It was definitely difficult," Gravatt said. "I gelled pretty well in the summer before the injury. The guys were great to me [while I was out] though. I still felt like I belonged." 

Once he recovered, Gravatt was not handed a starting spot, as he needed to shake off the rust and prove he could play serious minutes for a Big Ten contender.

In Penn State's first 16 games, he received just 84 minutes of playing time in seven appearances. Finally, with the Nittany Lions playing his former squad in their regular season finale, Gravatt was given his first start.

Against Akron, the former Zip was around the ball all night, getting off three shots in a much needed 1-0 victory for Penn State.

"[Coach Warming] was hinting that I was going to start," Gravatt said. "He knew I was really excited for a game like that and that I would perform." 

Since then, Gravatt started for a second time against Michigan State and is now primed to be a key performer for the Lions when the NCAA Tournament begins next week. 

Gravatt credits his teammates for encouraging him when he wasn't playing. One player that was particularly helpful was the only one who has been his teammate for all of college, fellow Akron transfer Riley Grant.

Dealing with an injury would have been tough enough without the added pressure of adjusting to a new school in a completely different state. In Grant, Gravatt had both a roommate and a friend to lean on and make the transition with.

"It's been really great having Riley here," Gravatt said. "It was nice to have a familiar face when I first got here. We've had the experiences together and we're roommates now. We're very good friends."

For Grant, it was a pleasure to help his friend out during a difficult time. After all, the Copley, Ohio native may not have ended up at Penn State if it wasn't for Gravatt.

When Gravatt made his decision to become a Nittany Lion, he knew Grant was also going through the process of choosing a new school. He made sure to get his teammate in contact with Warming.

"After I got my release, Brett always said, 'I'll talk to coach for you,'" Grant said. " He told me how great coach [Warming] was to him and that really helped." 

Grant also agreed that having Gravatt around was a huge help when he first arrived at Penn State. Not only has his company been nice, but the determination Gravatt showed in working his way into the lineup has been motivational as well. 

"It's great [having Gravatt around] because I wouldn't have known anybody," Grant said with a laugh. "It was a whole new beginning just like it was when we started at Akron.

"Brett's one of the hardest workers I know. When he was hurt or not playing he kept his head up and just wanted to help the team and that shows how driven he is. He's helping us now and we're going to need him." 

No matter how much the team does need Gravatt in the NCAA Tournament, there is little room for error for any of the players now that they are in a do-or-die situation.

That challenge is something Gravatt is looking forward to. Now that he has proven himself in Penn State's rotation, there is nowhere to go but up. 

"I want to do whatever I can to help the team," Gravatt said. "I've always been an offensive player and coach and everyone has helped me a lot with becoming a better defender." 



By Tyler Feldman, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Already 12 games into the season, Remi Martin from Littleton, Colo., has positively impacted Penn State's defense. She's a big reason why the Blue and White are allowing just two goals per game.

College Transition

Transitioning to collegiate play can be challenging, but for Martin, having junior Jordin Pardoski as her defense partner has smoothened the process.

"I've definitely learned to be a little bit more mature, communicate better, and be open to her constructive criticism," Martin said about what she's learned from Pardoski.

Martin has certainly taken a hefty load of advice from her defense partner, but she has also taught Pardoski a few things, too.

"I've learned a lot from [Martin] even though I'm older," said Pardoski. "She's a great player on and off the ice. Just communicating wise I've learned from her style of play. We play really well together on the ice, so we accommodate each other."

Building Chemistry

Having chemistry on the blue line is integral to defensive success for the Nittany Lions. Still early in the season, Martin and Pardoski have developed into one of the strongest defense pairings in the CHA.

"We mesh well because at the same time we're both defensive-minded," said Martin. "She trusts me and I trust her with the puck, so we both support each other."

It's not just her relationship with Pardoski that makes the team so special to Martin. In fact, the freshman finds it unique that she relates well with all of her teammates.

"It's really welcoming here," said Martin. "Everyone on the team I relate with individually on a different level."

Martin brings a skilled and physical presence to the team. She's blocked 12 shots in addition to tallying one assist thus far. She notes the reason for her early success is due to her communication development.

According to head coach Josh Brandwene, Martin is a "multi-dimensional defender" who balances her skills evenly in both the defensive and offensive zones. She is a strong skater with excellent vision, a hard shot, and the ability to create puck movement.

Favorite Parts of Penn State

It doesn't matter if she's on or off the ice, Martin simply enjoys being around her teammates.

"My favorite thing about Penn State is definitely being around my team because I love my team," said Martin. "And I would say coming to the rink everyday and practicing and just feeling the camaraderie with everyone on the team.

Her favorite part about Penn State is one thing, but playing in the state-of-the-art Pegula Ice Arena presents another area of campus that Martin finds attractive.


"I would definitely say the training room," Martin said about her favorite part of Pegula Ice Arena. "I go in the hot tub a lot, and I go in the ice bath a lot."

Forward Thinking

Despite being just a freshman, Martin is playing at a skill level that is progressing at a fast rate. Expect her to continue to be a dynamic mainstay on the blue line for the Nittany Lions. 

2014 Gameday Preview - Nittany Lions Host Temple

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Game Notes | Gameday Central | Temple Scouting Report | Coach Franklin Wednesday

Press Conference Roundup | Coach Spencer Q&A | Player Q&A Video

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State (5-4, 2-4 Big Ten) will close out the non-conference schedule on Saturday when it meets intrastate foe Temple (5-4, 3-3 AAC) for a noon kick (ESPN2) inside Beaver Stadium.

10528695.jpegThe Nittany Lions enter the penultimate home game of 2014 after topping Indiana, 13-7, on the road last week. The Lions moved to 3-1 in games away from home this season thanks to a stifling effort from the defense and a record-breaking 92-yard touchdown run from Bill Belton.

Belton reached 100 yards for the first time this season in the win over the Hoosiers. The senior tailback tallied 137 yards on 16 carries during the fourth 100-yard game of his Penn State career. Belton's 92-yard scoring play was the longest rushing touchdown in Penn State Football history.

Penn State's defense again turned in a outstanding performance against Indiana last week. The Lions are ranked No. 1 in the nation against the run (85.6 ypg).  Additionally, the Nittany Lions are ranked No. 3 in the nation in total defense (267.6 ypg). Penn State is No. 6 in scoring defense at 16.6 points per game. Senior linebacker Mike Hull is ranked eighth in the nation with 11.2 tackles per game.

Sophomore quarterback Christian Hackenberg continues to rank among the top signal callers in the Big Ten. He is second in the conference in passing with 245.1 passing yards per game. Hackenberg is leading the Big Ten in completions per game at 21.67. He became the eighth Penn State quarterback with 5,000 career passing yards in the Indiana game. Redshirt freshman DaeSean Hamilton is the leader in yards (761) and receptions (64) among freshmen in the nation.

Temple dropped to 5-4 overall last week with a 16-13 setback at Memphis. The Owls are led by a stout defensive unit that has forced 25 turnovers in 2014. Temple is ranked 10th in the nation in scoring defense at 18.1 points per game.

Saturday is Military Appreciation Day and will feature the "Seats for Soldiers" campaign. Nearly 6,000 tickets were purchased for the "Seats for Soldiers" program and donated to active duty and veteran military personnel and their families, which is more than double the number of tickets sold in 2013.

The game will also include the "Parade of Champions," a celebration of team and individual successes from the 2013-'14 season. Penn State won NCAA Championships in fencing, women's volleyball and wrestling, its most NCAA titles since 1999-2000. For the second consecutive year, the Nittany Lions won a school record eight Big Ten Championships.

The third annual "Stuff a Bus" food drive will take place this weekend, as well.  A Blue Bus will be parked outside the Bryce Jordan Center from Friday at 12 p.m. until Sunday at 12 p.m. for donations to help the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank.

Welcome to the Gameday Preview for the week 10 matchup against Temple.

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Pregame Reading:
What to Watch For - Penn State
10528675.jpeg1. The running back duo of Bill Belton and Akeel Lynch combined for 184 yards and 6.3 yards per carry during last week's game against Indiana. Belton talked with the media this week about the offensive line's ability to create seams for both head and Lynch to run through in Bloomington. Head coach James Franklin said the Nittany Lions will look for more consistency again this weekend against Temple. With senior Miles Dieffenbach back in the mix for playing time in the rotation, the Nittany Lions are confident in taking another step forward.

2. Penn State's defense is among the nation's leaders in three of the four main statistical categories. The Nittany Lions have tallied 65 tackles for loss and 26 sacks in 2014. While the starting unit deserves a tremendous amount of credit for its efforts, one group deserving of more praise is the second rotation on the defensive line. Ends Carl Nassib, Brad Bars and Garrett Sickels, along with tackles Tyrone Smith, Parker Cothren and Tarow Barney, have been productive every time they have stepped onto the field. Penn State's ability to play upwards of 10 guys on the defensive line is a big key to the defense's ability to limit opponents to just 267.6 yards per game. The Lions have held seven of their nine opponents to 10-plus points below their season average and six of the nine opponents to 150-plus yards below their season average in total offense.

3. Following the Indiana game, Coach Franklin singled out true freshman Grant Haley for his efforts on the Penn State coverage teams. A contributor on defense, Haley has been a central figure for the Penn State special teams units. Haley has made 14 tackles in 2014, and he is routinely among the first guys down the field on punt coverage. Haley's motor is relentless, and he is a critical member for the Nittany Lions on special teams when it comes to open field tackling.

What to Watch For - Temple
10528697.jpeg1. Sophomore quarterback P.J. Walker is the primary playmaker for the Temple offense. Walker, who started seven games as a true freshman last season, has accounted for 14 of Temple's 22 offensive touchdowns this season. A threat with his arm and feet, Walker has thrown for 1,679 yards and rushed for 183 yards (three rushing touchdowns).

2. Temple's defense has been tremendous at forcing turnovers in 2014. The Owls have 25 forced turnovers, including 17 forced fumbles. Additionally, Temple has scored six defensive touchdowns this season. The Owls are among the nation's leaders in points off of turnovers. In nine games, Temple has scored 83 points off of turnovers (9.2 ppg off turnovers).

3. Junior linebacker Tyler Matakevich has been a superbly productive player on the Temple defense for the past three seasons. Recording 101 and 137 tackles, respectively, in his first two seasons on campus, Matakevich is well on his way to another stout season at the outside linebacker position. Matakevich has made 83 stops in 2014, and he is fifth in the nation with 7.2 solo tackles per game.

The Final Word:
Saturday's game will be a homecoming for Temple head coach Matt Rhule. After growing up in New York City, the second-year leader of the Owls moved to State College and attended State College High School when he was a junior. Rhule attended Penn State and walked on to the football team in 1994. He played four seasons at linebacker under head coach Joe Paterno. Rhule tallied a sack against Temple in the 1997 matchup between the two teams at the Meadowlands. Rhule earned a degree in political science from Penn State in 1997. He coached against the Nittany Lions as an assistant under former Temple head coach Al Golden, but this is his first trip back to Happy Valley as a head coach of the Owls. Penn State and Temple are slated to meet for the 44th time in the season-opener for 2015. Kickoff is set for 12:01 on Saturday with Beth Mowins, Joey Galloway and Paul Carcaterra on the ESPN2 broadcast.


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By Astrid Diaz, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - In less than twenty-four hours the Penn State men's and women's cross country teams will gear up to run at one of this season's most important meets yet, the Mid-Atlantic Regional.

Head coach John Gondak and the Nittany Lions are thrilled about the opportunity to host the region-wide event and they are looking forward to seeing some of the top teams the Mid-Atlantic has to offer gather in Happy Valley.

"I really look forward to providing an opportunity for the 32 teams that are coming in this weekend and giving them an outstanding experience," said Gondak. "I know [the meet has] been on [the team's] mind and I know they're excited."

Anticipating the Competition

The trails and locker rooms have been murmuring all week as excitement for the race sets in for student-athletes and coaches.

This Friday, the Nittany Lions will look to qualify for the 2014 NCAA National Championships and they're confident in their training, which has set stage for this race.

Coming off a record-breaking third-place finish at the Big Ten Championships two weeks ago, the team's confidence on the men's side is at an all-time high. 

"We're excited to get back in the game with this weekend's meet. [Big Tens] was a new burst of energy for the team and to bring that into regionals is exciting," said fifth-year senior Matt Fischer.

The women's side has performed with tremendous consistency this season in their pack strategy and concentration. This weekend looks to be no different.

"We have a really positive attitude going into Regionals and we're looking for some good turnouts," said senior Katie Rodden.

As top-ranked teams like No. 2 Georgetown (women) and No. 7 Villanova (men) trickle into town, Fischer and Rodden will look to edge the competition with their experience.

Both seniors are contenders for a positive result after showing continuous improvement at all regional competitions within the last four years and both have been preparing persistently as they hope to leave their mark in their final home outing.

"We just want to do what we need to do to get to the NCAA meet. We want to perform well and use that to get to NCAAs and kill it there too," said Fischer.

"I definitely want to be All-Region again and [I want] to help put our team in a position to make it to Nationals," said Rodden.

 

Defending the Home Turf

This weekend, Gondak marks his ninth Mid-Atlantic Regional competition as a part of the Penn State program and even after almost a decade of coaching the Nittany Lions, championship racing still sparks adrenaline.

"Every time we can host a championship event at home, it's thrilling," said Gondak. "As soon as the Big Ten [Championship] meet finished, the excitement surrounding the Regional meet has been building since then."

With this year's race location set for Penn State's home turf at the Blue-White Golf courses, the team will compete in a convenient and fun atmosphere.

"That's an exciting factor to this year's competition. We feel like it's an advantage to know that we're really familiar with the course. It's a nice thing to have and I think it will work in our favor," said Fischer.

"The fact that we're able to train on the golf course on a regular basis allows our student-athletes to have a really good feel for [the course]. It gives them an advantage but at the end of the day everybody is out there racing and racing hard and we've got some extremely talented teams in our region," said Gondak. "We're looking forward to going out and doing the best we can do."

Facing Opponents

The senior student-athletes running on Friday like Lauren Mills, Matt Fischer, and Katie Rodden avoid talk of leaving behind the blue and white as they approach the final stages of the season, but they're all aware of the opportunities that surround them.

As for Fischer and Rodden, they anticipate their last time stepping up to their home start line to be memorable and exhilarating.

"The mentality going in [we're thinking] it's a qualifying meet. I personally want to do whatever I can to help the team...Go out there and stay relaxed. [I want to] just help myself [and the team] have the best race [we] can," said Fischer.

The younger Nittany Lions are bringing out their best post-season strategies to ensure the team has the best outcome it's capable of and they're excited to compete against some of the greatest runners in the area of Friday.

"As I always say, I'm not big on predictions...I'm just hoping they can go out there and put themselves in a position to qualify for the National Championship," said Gondak.

The event will bring an exciting atmosphere to campus full of fans, athletes, free giveaways, and upbeat music. Festivities kick-off with the women's 6K at noon followed by the men's 10K race at 1 p.m. 

Preseason WNIT Brings Unique Start to Season

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By Mike Esse, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - After months of practice and an exhibition game, the long-awaited season opener for the Penn State Lady Lions takes place Friday at the Bryce Jordan Center against Towson. With a team filled with youth and talent, excitement for the season opener is extremely high for Lady Lion coaches and players.

The noon tip begins the Preseason WNIT for Penn State, a unique way to start the season in a tournament format.

"It's a great experience opportunity for our group," said assistant coach Kia Damon. "We're still gelling and coming together and figuring out our roles and how all of this is going to come together on the court in competitive situations. The more games we can play, especially early, the more we can get a read on where we need to go moving forward."

Penn State has only participated in the Preseason WNIT one other time in program history back in 2002 when they finished in second place. Head coach Coquese Washington said that the format of the tournament presents a lot of benefits for her young team that has limited experience in an NCAA postseason tournament situation.

The tournament is pieced together just like postseason tournaments: the more you win, the more you play. Washington said having that mindset is a great benefit for her young team.

"It allows us to focus on one game at a time," Washington said. "We don't know what's going on in the other brackets all we can control and even focus on is Towson. With a young team that is pretty helpful to focus on one game at a time. You talk about it and you say it but kids start to look at the schedule but for us, you can't look ahead."

Washington hopes a long sustained run in the tournament can be a teaching point come March when the conference and postseason tournaments come around.

"If we are fortunate enough to advance through the tournament we know we are going to play some really talented teams every round," she said. "That's the biggest benefit I see you are playing in postseason mentality from the very beginning of the season."

As for the season's first opponent, Towson provides unique challenges for the Lady Lions according to Damon. Traditionally, the Tigers have switched from zone and man defenses, providing a little more preparation for the Lady Lions.

Damon said the coaches have told the players about the difficulty in attacking such a defense, but at the end of the day the Lady Lion brand of basketball they have implemented is the only style that will bring success.

"It can be a little tricky to attack so you have to be on your p's and q's and be alert," Damon said. "We're going to do what we normally do and execute our game plan and see where that gets us. We are faced pace advantage basketball and we are known for playing in transition is what we are known for and we're going to continue that."

A Lady Lion win Friday would bring a quick turn around, as they would play Sunday at 2 p.m. at the Bryce Jordan Center. 

Student-Athletes Part of Cutting Edge Advancements

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10395799.jpegBy Alexis Shelton, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State student-athletes have set a standard of excellence and a benchmark for success on the field and in the classroom.

In the latest NCAA report of Graduation Success Rates (GSR), Penn State student-athletes continue to graduate well above their peers nationwide. This year, according to the NCAA's annual study of institutions across the nation, Penn State posted a GSR of 89 percent. That 89 percent by Penn State is compared to an average of 82 percent from all other Division I institutions.

Academically and performance-wise, student welfare and athletic development are key factors in Penn State's consistent success on and off the field.

The athletic department is committed to continue adding more resources to keep student-athletes at the top of the ranks in many aspects of intercollegiate athletics.

iPads Distributed to Every Student-Athlete
One area of enhancement was the distribution of iPads beginning with the 2014-'15 school year. Back in August, the department announced that it would provide more than 800 iPads to all student-athletes across 31 varsity teams.

Associate Athletic Director Charmelle Green talked about how the intercollegiate athletics mobile technology program came to life.

"A committee was formed consisting of student-athletes, coaches, faculty, athletic administrators, educational technology services and Apple educators," Green said.

Green said that they developed a program that would allow the student-athletes to utilize the technology and the iPads to enhance their development learning skills. She said that this would also provide the ability for the student-athletes to communicate with faculty and classmates while on the road, as well as staying involved and engaged with classes while managing a very robust travel schedule.

"That's what this program was intended to do. It's an educationally focused program," said Green. "The committee identified applications that would enhance learning skills, and effective study habits as well to assist student-athletes with organizing work and other obligations."

There are a lot of exciting features and programs that are featured on iPads. Penn State Intercollegiate Athletics carefully took into consideration what exactly athletes would need in order to succeed.

"We thought about what sort of apps and links we wanted to install on the iPads before they were distributed to the student-athletes," Green said. "We wanted to make sure that we installed quick links to websites student-athletes use everyday, such as Angle and intercollegiate athletics."

This is a program that provides policies and the procedures that the student-athletes must follow. It provides them with information on how to maximize the use of the iPad for educational purposes.

"One of the apps that we were really keen on was the note-taking, notability app," Green said. "Our student-athletes expressed a need for this app, which allows them to take and organize notes. It would help them learn retain information."

For women's soccer freshman Emily Ogle, the iPads are indeed a wonderful tool to use.

"School-wise it's great," Ogle said. "You can pull up stuff on Angel while you're in class. It's really good for doing your homework on it. It's also good for traveling, and carrying that instead of a laptop takes away so much weight."

Green also added that the iPads can be used for everyday personal use, as well. 

"They can still use social network sites like Twitter and Facebook and such," Green said.

A big smile came across the face of Green when asked about the feedback of the iPads.

"We've got nothing but praise and terrific feedback from the student-athletes," Green said. "I know of one athlete who broke her wrist and she isn't able to write or take notes in class. Thanks to the iPads however, she's able to angle the iPad allowing her to type with a cast."

Of all the stories she's heard, Green said that the best stories have been about the athletes who are able to communicate with their families through FaceTime.

"Some of them aren't able to go home all the time, so when I hear feedback that many are able to communicate more often through video calling, that really makes me feel great about the benefits of this program," said Green.

Additionally, the student-athletes are also able to watch practice video and game film on the software.

"For us, our coaches are putting our videos on box.com, which was an app they gave us," said women's soccer player Kindrah Kohne. "That helps us get video in and get to see what the coaches expect us to do and watch what we did wrong during the Friday games so that we can apply it for the Sunday games."

Finally, Green mentioned how the iPads aide students who are not able to utilize a personal computer for college.

Refueling Stations Up and Running
Another great addition to the athletic department was a concept of supplying refueling stations for student-athletes. Opening on Oct. 30, the refueling stations were added to multiple locations throughout the campus.

"The fueling stations are fuel and calories that we provide free of charge to the student-athlete," said Director of Sports Nutrition Kristine Clark, PhD. 

"Practice facilities, locker rooms and even athletic training and weight rooms is where they will be," said Clark. "They'll even be here at our Sports Nutrition office in Rec Hall."

Clark said that the stations will feature a wide range of foods and beverages.

"They'll provide nutrients, such as carbohydrates and proteins that assist in supplementing the athletes diet with calories they need for before an after training," said Clark.

"I believe that it will really help out with their daily skills development and performance in class," Green said. "Also, their performances during games and practices will improve as well. Athletes burn so much energy throughout the day, but with these stations, we're helping them stay energized all day, so that they don't get tired."

Clark spoke to the importance of enhanced caloric intake.

"The fueling stations will likely provide more calories for an athlete which will result in more energy at practice," Clark said. "They'll also provide good proteins and carbohydrates after the athlete is done working out. That will enable the athlete to be able to recover more efficiently and also be able to enable more muscle at a faster rate."

The refueling stations have a wide variety of more than 38 foods. The stations feature carbohydrate foods, including cereal, fruits and vegetables. They also include snack foods, such as pretzels and granola bars; and a range of proteins foods, like milk, yogurt, hummus and different types of jerky.

"The refueling stations are awesome," said Ogle. "It's so refreshing to have snacks because we're going all the time, we have so much going on and sometimes we just need to grab a little snack. It's really helpful." 

VIDEO: Nittany Lions Enter Season with Confidence

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Two days after inking the highest rated recruiting class in program history, the Nittany Lion basketball team will open its 2014-'15 season inside the Bryce Jordan Center against Morgan State on Friday (7 p.m.).

Confidence is high for the Lions entering their 119th season on the hardwood. Penn State returns four starters this season and has its eye set on taking the next step.

"We are healthy. We are getting better. Like I've said, we have a good mixture of veterans and youth," head coach Patrick Chambers said. "It's definitely been a process and a learning environment with older guys helping younger guys. It's been one of the better preseasons I've had since I've been here."

Depth will play a big role in Penn State's success this season. Led by senior D.J. Newbill, who finished second in the Big Ten in scoring last season (17.8 ppg), the Lions have the capability to utilize a deeper bench. Chambers spent the preseason evaluating how deep the rotation will go, but he expects the Lions to use upwards of nine players on any given night.

"These last couple weeks, I've played 10, easy," Chambers said. "But I think the non-conference is really going to tell our rotation and what everybody is confident with. And what we all trust. I think that is the most important thing. I feel like we should be able to go to our bench and get better. That's what I feel like. It could be eight. It could be nine. It could be 10."

Newbill enters the season as the most experienced player for the Nittany Lions at the point guard spot. But the distribution of minutes at point is something Chambers will continue to evaluate as he determines what will give the Lions the best chance to be successful.

"Throughout the game, there is definitely going to be times and good chunks of time that he will play the point," Chambers said. "We are just not dead set on saying that he is going to start that way...We will put together the best five that will give us the best chance."

Shooting the basketball at a higher percentage was a big point of emphasis for the Lions during the offseason. Fundamentally-speaking, Chambers indicated this week that he has seen individual growth across the Nittany Lion roster when it comes to shooting the basketball.

"We are shooting at a very good clip right now," Chambers said. "Shooting is something we worked on all spring, all summer and all fall. Brandon Taylor is shooting at a high clip. Shep Garner is shooting at a very high clip. Obviously, D.J. is...Payton Banks, John Johnson...The thing we are working on is (getting) uncontested ones. These last few years, we have taken some tough ones, contested ones and not great ones. If we can get away from those, I think percentages will go up."

That being said, the team has spent a great deal of time working on its passing, footwork and prep work leading up to shots. Focus is on the small details in hopes of creating better shooting opportunities.

"I definitely feel like as a team, we are getting the ball moving a lot more," Taylor said. "We aren't doing as many pick and rolls at the top of the key. Even if it gets late into the shot clock, we are still passing it running our sets or our motion offense."

Another are the Nittany Lions will stress this fall will be getting the ball into the post more consistently, giving the offense the look of an inside-out operation.

"As a team, one thing that we haven't been able to do as much as we have wanted to the last three years is put the ball inside as much as we would like to," senior forward Ross Travis said. "One of the changes you will probably see a lot this year is us working inside-out."

"I think, as a team, the bigs have made tremendous gains," Taylor said.

A consistent presence in the post is something that has Newbill and the guards excited about.

"It just takes pressure off the guards," Newbill said. "We can trust them with the ball to make good decisions. You try to get some easy buckets from them with their back to the basket."

Chambers has high expectations for the post play this season.

"I'm really pleased with our big men, their development and their skill," Chambers said. "Brandon Taylor, Ross Travis, Jordan Dickerson, Donovon Jack, Julian Moore and Alan Wisniewski - they make us a really good team. Something that we haven't had. It takes the pressure off the guards to make all of the plays. These guys are high IQ guys, and they are very skilled. I'm excited about them and how they are going to grow over these first two months heading into the Big Ten."

Friday's opener kicks off a busy stretch for the Nittany Lions. Penn State will play seven games in a 14-day span, including four away from the Bryce Jordan Center.


Follow GoPSUsports.com's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

Temple Week Q&A - Assistant Coach Sean Spencer

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10525902.jpegUNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State defensive line coach Sean Spencer spoke with the media on Thursday.  The Nittany Lions face off with Temple on Saturday at noon (ESPN2). Take a look at a Q&A with Spencer.

Q: How does playing against someone like J.T. Barrett help your defensive line in preparing for P.J. Walker from Temple?
Spencer:
"Any time you face athletic quarterbacks, you have to be prepared. Having faced Barrett, that was certainly a good experience for us. We are conscious of it every week. You never let the guys just run free, but you definitely have to be gap accountable. It's your method throughout the week so that it's not a shock when you get into a game with an athletic quarterback. There is preparation, and then there is, you better have your antennas up because this guy can hurt you in the running game."

Q: With your nickname being Coach Chaos, do you find it ironic at all that your unit has been so good this year because it has been so disciplined in gap integrity to stop the run?
Spencer:
"That's a function of the defense. I think Coach Shoop does a great job of gapping everything out, whether it is a blitz or base coverage or a run. We are just part of the puzzle. Any time you get safeties filling like Marcus Allen is doing right now. And then the outstanding play of Mike Hull, Nyeem Wartman and Brandon Bell. Obviously the front four get a lot of credit for that, but there are a lot of moving parts that work together to make that special."

Q: What type of pride does the defense take in being the No. 1 unit against the run in the nation?
Spencer:
"Well, you always want to take ownership in something. Right now, we are defending the run really well. It's something that we have a goal every week to stop the run. We've been able to do that. I think making a note to guys that, 'hey, we told you to do this and now you are No. 1 in the country.' Now, you have a great responsibility to do that every week. I think that is one of the reasons Coach Shoop shares that with the guys. Not necessarily as a pat on the back, more so, this is the reason why we are having so much success on defense is because we are able to stop the run. We've got to continue to do that."

Q: Which players have you seen take a jump to the next level since you arrived here?
Spencer:
"Certainly moving Anthony Zettel inside was a wildcard because he had never played there before. I think moving inside, he embraced that. It was a case where he approached it with a mindset that he was going to master the technique. He's embraced that really well. He's going to continue to get better. And he is having a very good season. And I would say guys like Deion Barnes. I spoke of this before. Two years ago he was the Big Ten rookie of the year. And then last year, on paper, his play wasn't as good. That's a guy I have high expectations for. That's a guy who has high expectations for himself. Any time you get a coach and a player on the same page, it's a great formula. It's not me pushing him, it's him understanding that for him to reach his goals and for him to be as good as he can be to help this team, he's gotta be exact in everything he does."

Q: You guys use the second team defensive line heavily. Take us through that process and talk about how that unit has progressed.
Spencer:
"That's been a philosophy of mine for years. And when I went to Vanderbilt with Coach Franklin, it was a philosophy of his. And it's the same with Bob Shoop. Bob trusts what I do with those guys. Coach Franklin is on board with that. I think all three of us believe that having fresh guys in there is better than having a guy in there who is tired and wilted. Those second team guys have earned the right to get on the field. You are in a room with 15 or 16 guys, if you've got a chance to play eight or nine guys throughout the course of a game and sometimes even 10, it makes your room even better. Everybody is held accountable. And everybody knows they have a role. No greater or no less in that role."

Q: Have you ever had a defensive line rotation as deep as this one?
Spencer:
"Not as deep and as talented before this one to be honest. This is a very, very talented group. I'm very confident that at any point in time when I put those guys in the game that they are going to do something. You get (Carl) Nassib and (Brad) Bars coming off the bench and making really positive plays that kept Indiana on their heels. That was great. A couple weeks ago, you throw Garrett Sickels in there and he gets a sack and we are in the heat of the game when he does it. You can't just put those guys in there for mop up time because it is not realistic. You want to put those guys in game-like situations. If in fact, barring an injury that you never want to have, it is not a shock to that (next) kid when he is in the game."

Q: Has this defense exceeded expectations in your eyes this season?
Spencer:
"No. I think no one rises to low expectations. I think you have to set a standard and set goals and try to be No. 1 in everything you do. I'm going to try to be the No. 1 recruiter in the country and I'm going to try to be the No. 1 defensive line coach in the country. And I expect the same thing out of (the players). There is no trophy for second place. That's our expectation. Have they exceeded that? No, I think they have met it. I think they have met the expectation we set forth as a defense and a coaching staff. We want those guys to be the best that they can be. Obviously, we are having success right now on defense. We have a lot of football left, and we need to keep that going."



Follow GoPSUsports.com's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

Lions Travel to Take on No. 4 UMass Lowell

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By Julie Bacanskas, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Fresh off a week of rest, the Nittany Lions are ready to face their first big test of the season, taking on a ranked opponent.

The Blue and White will travel to Massachusetts this weekend for a series against No. 4 UMass Lowell. While the games will serve as a challenge, the Lions are prepared and excited to see what will come of playing such a skilled team.

"They are the only team in the NCAA scoring more than four goals per game," said head coach Guy Gadowsky of the River Hawks. "They're ranked fourth in the nation. It is a great test. I didn't know this until it was pointed out, but their two top scorers are defenseman so it's not like you can really key on a line or anything like that. It is going to be an excellent test for us.

"Right now, we're just trying to get back into the grove. A week off can be a good thing in terms of bumps and bruises, but a really bad thing in terms of timing. We're just trying to get a little bit of compete back in us."

The Lions worked to restore their health during the short break. With a number of student-athletes both under the weather and out due to injury, a week off could not have come at a better time for the team.

Many, including forward Curtis Loik, believe the extra rest will be highly beneficial and lead to positive results this weekend.

"It's going to be huge," said Loik of the time off. "You know, a couple guys feeling under the weather and not feeling as hot as they want, it's a good week for us to recover and get back to our habits and work on the little stuff that we didn't do so well against Bentley and Holy Cross. We've had a good week of practice, and we're going to come into UMass prepared and ready to go."

Although in many ways, this series will serve as a benchmark for Penn State, Gadowsky will not be placing any additional weight on the outcome.

His focus remains on the completion of team objectives, which is how he will continue to measure the program's success.

"Our goal is to improve every week, no matter who we're playing," said Gadowsky. "I think a lot of people are looking at it that way. I don't think we are as a coaching staff. We're trying to improve this week as much as we can regardless. I think we recognize that people around the nation are saying, 'They had a great start, but they haven't played a top team.' Well this is a top team, so I think eyes are going to be on it."

During the last meeting between the two programs, UMass Lowell swept the Lions at Pegula Ice Arena, winning the first game, 4-0, and the second game, 3-2.

Despite last year's outcomes, Gadowsky knows the Lions have matured. At this point, there are no parallels to be found between last year's team and this year's.

"I think we're a much better team than when we played them last year, and I think it's probably around similar time," Gadowsky said. "I think we're a much different team now than we were then, so we're not really drawing on to see the comparisons."

Even with the team's growth, Loik and the Lions know they will need to bring their A game to compete with the River Hawks.

"Obviously, just sticking to our objectives and what coach says, like benchmarks of getting pucks low and backchecking," Loik said as he describe the keys to having a successful weekend. "Those are some of the things we have to stick with and not let fall apart. If we fall apart from that or fall behind, that's when we're going to start losing games. We just have to stick to our objectives, and I think we'll be fine."

Traveling to Massachusetts with a four-game winning streak, the Lions hope to use their newfound confidence to their advantage.

They are not intimidated by the River Hawks. Instead, they are more than ready to compete.

"We got some momentum from those four games," said Loik of the winning streak. "We gained a lot of confidence. Every line is producing. All the D are playing well. [Matthew] Skoff is playing unbelievable. I think if we keep that rolling we're going to be one heck of a team to deal with."

UMass Graphic.jpg

Team Intensity Rises as Lions Prepare For NCAA Tournament

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10525858.jpegBy Miranda Kulp, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - After ending a successful season with a 17-3 overall record and earning its 16th Big Ten Championship, the Penn State women's soccer team is set to embark on its last journey together in 2014.

When the Lions step onto Jeffrey field against Buffalo, Friday night it will officially kick off their NCAA Tournament competition, the tournament that gives no second chances.

Thanks to a superb regular season, the Nittany Lions earned a No. 2 seed in the 64-team draw.

Now, they're looking forward to the upcoming action and are using a the Big Ten Tournament result as motivation and encouragement to progress further in the NCAA Tournament.

"Give us the rest of the day and the bus ride home to reflect, but once we get back to the field we know we have another task we need to focus on," Whitney Church said. "After any loss we make sure we improve for the next game and concentrate on what is in front of us."

This is the Lions' chance to mount a run into the postseason, and head coach Erica Walsh is excited about the opportunity.

"The loss against Northwestern got them fired up and the players want to not only play in this tournament but advance," Walsh said. "The team knows what they need to do to win, as a coach I can see the intensity in them increase every practice."

The Lions will begin their tournament play with a match against Buffalo, and although Penn State is no stranger to this tournament, this will be the first time Buffalo has received an NCAA bid.

"Since it's their first NCAA tournament appearance I think we will see a great crowd for both teams during the game. I think it's going to be a really exciting game and great start to the tournament," Walsh said.

In a win or go home setting, the team is well aware of the consequences of playing in the NCAA tournament. However, they are keeping the same "one game at a time" mentality that has helped them succeed this season.

"We want to always move forward. We try and learn from every game and grow as a team," said Church. "For some of us upperclassman, we know the risk that comes with this tournament so we want to show the freshman what is expected from these games."

The seniors have played a vital role the entire season. With 11 freshmen experiencing the NCAA Tournament for the first time, the upperclassmen will be a leading the charge.

For the four seniors on the team, this is their last chance to make the most of their collegiate career.

"This is the seniors' team, they have taken all the younger players on their back and it's amazing as a coach to watch," coach Walsch said.

The upperclassmen have been able to prep the younger players and show them what to expect from the next two weeks.

Starting on Friday, the intensity on the field is sure to increase. With the start of the NCAA and the end of the 2014 season, the team is going into this tournament with determination and positivity.

"We're all really happy and super excited to get started in this tournament. We have a belief in this team and that's what can take us far in this tournament," Church said.

Frantti Looking to Finish Freshman Campaign Strong

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10525827.jpegBy Samantha DelRosso, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Freshman athletes face many challenges in their first year at college. From schoolwork, to practice and games, to keeping up with the level of play of veteran players, adjusting to college can be very difficult. But Penn State women's volleyball freshman Ali Frantti makes it look easy.


One year ago, Frantti was wrapping up her final high school volleyball season. Now, there are still five conference matches left before postseason even begins. The length of the college season is very different than high school. But Frantti is adjusting just fine.

"She's [adjusting to the length of the season] well and she's playing fantastic. To expect a lot out of a freshman is tough and she's producing," associate head coach Salima Rockwell said. "We're excited about what she's doing because she's awesome."

Another challenge for freshman athletes is being able to maintain consistency throughout the season. Rockwell said Frantti has remained consistent and her numbers are proving that.

"She's doing a pretty good job of keeping focus and trying to still have fun, while learning. There are some frustrating parts of the game, so we try to help her through those, but she's doing a great job," Rockwell said.

At the beginning of the season, Frantti was new to the Big Ten. Teams were unable to scout her, which gave her the opportunity to capitalize on their lack of knowledge. But at this point in the season, teams are starting to scout her more and more. Frantti said because of this, she has been trying to switch up her shots.

In only a few months, Frantti has become a very important aspect of the Penn State women's volleyball team. Head coach Russ Rose said the team can't win without Frantti and fellow freshman Haleigh Washington playing well. Rose said the team is dependent on Frantti performing at a high level.

"Ali's had a great deal to do with our success," Rose said. "She's a terrific offensive player, she's a really good passer and her blocking shows flashes of making great strides. She plays hard and I'm glad she's here."

Her skills on offense have not gone unnoticed. She has been named Big Ten Freshman of the Week three times this season and is sporting a .321 hitting percentage. Rockwell said Frantti's strengths are in her attacking, passing and serving.

"She loves to hit, hit, hit. It's great because she can score and it's hard for people to stop her," Rockwell said. "She's becoming way more comfortable as a passer and her serving game is really good right now. She's got a tough, jump float serve that is hard to handle."

During matches, Frantti tries to hit every ball that comes to her way, whether it's a perfect set from Micha Hancock, or a bump set from the back row, proving her unwavering desire to attack the ball.

In addition to her hitting, Frantti said her energy is one of her biggest strengths.

"I bring energy in games and I get the girls fired up," Frantti said.

Rockwell agreed, saying her energy plays a very important role.

"She and Haleigh bring the youth and the fun to the game for the older ones that have this sense of urgency to be great and win and [be] clean all of the time. They can bring everybody back down," Rockwell said. "Ali does a pretty good job of that just by being herself and [being] silly and a little bit goofy at times. We just want her to go hard and have fun. And it's contagious."

After playing for almost three months at the collegiate level, Frantti said she is seeing the game differently.

"At the beginning of the year, I felt like it was such a fast pace and I was always on my toes," Frantti said. "I'm more in a rhythm now and I'm adjusting well to the speed of the game."

Earlier this week, Frantti said she is working on improving her blocking. Against Iowa on Wednesday, the outside hitter recorded two blocks, one of which a solo block. Her nine kills also helped Penn State sweep the Hawkeyes.

Frantti and the sixth-ranked Nittany Lions look to continue their nine-match win streak against Minnesota on Saturday in Rec Hall at 7 p.m.

VIDEO: James Franklin Practice Update - Temple Week

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Head coach James Franklin provided an update to the media following Wednesday's practice session at the Lasch Football Complex. The Nittany Lions host Temple at noon (ESPN2) on Saturday.

2014 Opponent Previews - Temple

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10523257.jpegTemple | Beaver Stadium | 12 p.m. | ESPN2
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State takes a break from its Big Ten schedule on Saturday to face Temple in an in-state battle. Learn more about the Owls in this week's scouting report.

Matt Rhule, a State College native and former Penn State linebacker from 1994-'97, leads the Owls. Rhule is in his second year as head coach and his eighth season in the Temple program. He is 7-14 overall at Temple. The Owls were 2-10 overall and 1-7 in the American Athletic Conference in 2013. They returned 34 letterwinners and 12 starters.

Temple is 5-4 overall and 3-3 in the AAC this year. They fell, 16-13, against Memphis last week on a field goal as time expired. The Owls gained 298 yards on offense, including 158 yards on the ground. Quarterback P.J. Walker completed 16-of-37 passes for 140 yards and an interception. He also ran for 28 yards on nine carries. Kenneth Harper gained 116 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries, including a 75-yard run in the first quarter. Jalen Fitzpatrick led the team with five receptions for 64 yards.

The Owls allowed 312 yards, including 230 passing. Linebacker Nate Smith recorded nine tackles, all solo. Fellow linebacker Tyler Matakevich added eight tackles, seven solo. Cornerback Sean Chandler made six stops, one for loss, and forced a fumble. End Praise Martin-Oguike had four tackles and a sack.

The Temple offense averages 27.6 points per game, ranking 75th in the nation. They also average 315.4 total yards per contest, 196.7 yards through the air and 118.8 on the ground.

Walker has completed 54 percent of his passes for 1,679 yards, 11 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. He has also gained 183 yards and scored three rushing touchdowns.

Sophomore Jahad Thomas leads the Owls with 371 yards rushing (5.2 ypc). Thomas, 5-foot-10, also has 10 receptions for 259 yards and a touchdown. Senior Kenneth Harper, 6-foot, 225-pounds, has 263 yards and five touchdowns on 67 carries. He also has 130 yards and a touchdown on 18 catches.

The receiving unit is led by Fitzpatrick, a 5-foot-11 senior, who has 37 catches for 512 yards and five scores, averaging nearly 14 yards per catch. John Christopher has 20 catches for 140 yards, while Shippen has eight receptions for 118 yards and a touchdown.

The Owls offensive line includes a redshirt junior, a junior, a redshirt sophomore, a sophomore and a redshirt freshman. Center Kyle Friend leads the group with 30 straight starts. Friend was selected midseason first-team All-AAC by Phil Steele.

Temple is very strong on the defensive side of the ball, allowing only 18.1 points per game, which ranks 10th in the nation. They also rank 41st in total defense, allowing 364.2 yards per contest, and 29th in passing defense, giving up 200.7 yards per game. The Owls have forced 25 turnovers this year, tied for seventh in the nation, and have six defensive touchdowns (No. 2 in the nation).

Junior tackle Matt Ioannidis anchors the defensive line. The 6-foot-4, 285-pound Ioannidis has 38 tackles, 20 solo, nine for loss and 3.5 sacks. He also has three pass breakups. End Praise Martin-Oguike has made 30 stops this year, with 22 solo, seven for loss and 5.5 sacks, while also forcing five fumbles. Fellow end Sharif Finch has 5.5 tackles for loss, a sack, two forced fumbles and an interception that he returned 65 yards for a touchdown against Delaware State.

Weakside linebacker Tyler Matakevich leads the team with 83 tackles, including 65 solo, ranking fifth in the country in solo stops. Matakevich also has 5.5 tackles for loss, a sack, three pass breakups and two fumble recoveries. Middle linebacker Nate Smith has 61 tackles, with 39 solo, two for loss and an interception.

Cornerback Tavon Young leads the team with three interceptions. He has totaled 128 return yards off of interceptions and returned a pick 93 yards for a touchdown against UConn. Cornerback Sean Chandler has 53 tackles, with 40 solo, three for loss and five pass breakups. Safeties Alex Wells and Jihaad Pretlow have 36 and 32 tackles, respectively.

Penn State is 38-3-1 all-time against Temple, on the field. The Nittany Lions earned a 24-13 win at Beaver Stadium in 2012.


What Matt Rhule is saying about Penn State:

"I moved (to State College) my junior year of high school. My dad was originally from there and we went there to be closer to his family. It's a great town, with great people, a great high school, great friends... It really comes alive when there is a football game being played...I remember the town being electric. Growing up there were some great games that I had a chance to see."

"Offensively, you start with Christian Hackenberg, he's as good of a quarterback as there is in the country. He has tremendous arm talent, he's extremely smart, can make every throw and will challenge you down the field. DaeSean Hamilton is a tremendous receiver, Bill Belton at running back and receiver Saeed Blacknall is really coming on for them right now, so you can see that he's another weapon for them."

"[Bob] Shoop's done a great job with that defense. They basically shut out Indiana last week, so you see why they're so effective in what they do. They have a lot of great players on defense, but the one that really stands out to me is [Anthony] Zettel inside. He's probably the best defensive lineman we'll face this year, he's a three-technique and extremely active. They have a lot of high end guys like Adrian Amos at safety and Mike Hull, who is another great Penn State linebacker."


Contributions on all of the 2014 Opponent Previews provided by GoPSUsports.com Student Writer Paul Marboe.

VIDEO: Temple Week Player Q&As - Andrew Nelson & Brandon Bell

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - GoPSUsports.com catches up with freshman Andrew Nelson and sophomore Brandon Bell during Temple week.

Week 10 Press Conference Roundup - Temple Week

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10522178.jpegJames Franklin Transcript - Nov. 11

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Nittany Lions (5-4, 2-4) return home on Saturday for an intra-state matchup against Temple (5-4, 3-3 AAC) at noon (ESPN2).

Head coach James Franklin reviewed Saturday's victory over Indiana and previewed the matchup against the Owls on Tuesday afternoon inside the Beaver Stadium Media Room.

Behind a dominant day from the Penn State defense and a 92-yard touchdown run from Bill Belton, the Nittany Lions topped Indiana on Saturday by a score of 13-7. No strangers to tight games, the win at Indiana marked Penn State's sixth game out of nine this season decided by six points or fewer.

"I think to me this is what you want to do. You want to find ways to win close games," Franklin said. "We were able to do that early in the year. Then we had a couple of games we didn't. Now we're getting back into that again. So I'm pleased with the guys... I sure would love to have a little bit more breathing room in there. But I think these tough games and emotional games build character, and that's why we do this in the first place."

This week, the Nittany Lion offense will face a stiff test against a Temple defensive unit that is among the nation's leaders in forcing turnovers. Through nine games, the Owls have forced 25 turnovers (17 fumbles and 8 interceptions) and scored six defensive touchdowns. The Lions emphasize ball security with a turnover circuit on offense every day on the practice field, and Saturday will be a test.

"Watching them on film, they do all the things that we preach all the time as well, which is playing hard and running to the ball," Franklin said. "When you have an opportunity to be aggressive and make a play on the ball in the air, go after the ball. When you're making a tackle, secure the tackle first, and the next two or three guys coming in to strip the ball out. It's offensive linemen sustaining blocks so that defenders can't fall into plays. It's getting the offense to cover down so that if a ball does come out, the offensive line and other people are in position to pick it up. It's all of those things."

On defense, the Nittany Lion defensive line has been instrumental in the team's success this season. Ranked third in the nation in total defense, the Lions have played at a consistently high level for nine weeks. The first team defensive line unit gets a great deal of credit for its efforts, but the depth of the line is what separates the Lions from most units in the Big Ten. The Nittany Lions have made 39.5 TFL from defensive line positions this season.

"You look at our two deep on the defensive line, I think you could make the argument it's one of the better in the Big Ten in terms of a two deep," said Franklin. "Having a two‑deep at defensive line and rotating those guys and keeping them fresh and active I think has been really helpful."

Saturday's game will honor the men and women in the military. With it being Military Appreciation Day, Penn State again took part in a "Seats for Soldiers" campaign where Penn State fans donated more than 6,000 tickets to active-duty and veteran military personnel, along with their families.

"I love the fact that the Penn State community with Military Appreciation Day has donated over 6,000 tickets to active‑duty and veteran military personnel and their families for the Seats for Soldiers program, which is great," said Franklin.

The Nittany Lions and Owls are slated for a noon kick on Saturday in a series that dates back to 1931.


Press Conference Notes
- Franklin on the Temple offense:
"You look at their play makers, P.J. Walker, their quarterback is the guy that kind of stands out to you. He can make plays with his feet as well as his arm. Running back, they've got Jahad Thomas, who is 5-10, 170-pound guy that can make you miss and take it the distance. Then they've got Kenneth Harper, the big number, No. 4, 6-foot, 225-pound that tries to pound you. Then Jalen Fitzpatrick has over 500 yards and five touchdowns this year, their biggest receiver."

- Franklin on the Temple defense:
"They do a great job. They're a 4-3 defense, but there will be games that they'll come out and play 3-4. They'll be 4-3 the first half, and then they'll be 3-4 the second half. They play a lot of different looks. They play a lot of different coverages. They've improved dramatically from year one to year two. Play hard nose, run to the ball. They're No. 7 in the nation in turnovers gained. No. 1 in the country in fumbles caused. 17 recovered fumbles. They've got eight interceptions. They're number two in the nation in defensive touchdowns. We've talked about that already. Really impressed. They're No. 7 in the nation in red zone defense, and No. 10 in the nation in scoring defense. So they're playing really well."

- Franklin on the Temple special teams:

"
On special teams, they play really hard. I've already mentioned that they've got three special teams touchdowns as well as four blocked kicks. So I've been very, very impressed with them. I've been very impressed with them all year long, and looking forward to the opportunity."



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Nittany Lions Jump to No. 16 in Rankings, Reflect On Weekend

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8609624.jpegBy Meghan Miceli, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - "There is still a difference between winning and coming in second," head coach Tim Murphy said; reflecting on the Nittany Lion's tri-meet this past weekend against Michigan and Virginia.

Both the men and women toppled the Cavaliers, but fell to the Wolverines. For the women's team, who was undefeated coming into the competition, it was a fight to the finish, ending with a tough three-point loss.

"I think how close the meet was, especially on the women's side with Michigan, needs to burn a little bit," Murphy said. "We have to go back to work, use it for momentum and keep the ball rolling,"

Coming into the weekend, the Nittany Lions were prepared to have to dig deep and hold off some tough competition. Prior to the tri-meet, the Michigan men were ranked first in the nation and the women were sixth.

"We knew they're both good teams and where they were ranked, how they did last season and we knew it was going to be a hearty task," Murphy said. "In a lot of areas we showed our ability to handle that and be up for that and in some areas we exceeded expectations."


College Swimming released this week's rankings with the Nittany Lions improving to No. 16 in both the men's and women's polls.  Prior to the tri-meet the men were ranked No. 18 and the women were ranked No. 20.

"Some people are just starting to show things and show a level of swimming boldy and not worrying about who it is but just flat out being competitive." Murphy said.  "Those are two things we need to work on: being bold-having high expectations for ourselves and learning to be more competitive."

The Nittany Lions head to the Georgia Fall Invitational next for a mid-season meet.  Competition kicks off on Dec. 5, which gives the team a little under a month to focus on training.

"Our main challenge is going to be what we do in practice," Murphy said.  "It's going to be more so how are we preparing ourselves, how are we challenging ourselves and just being flat out competitive. It's not easy. It requires coming in here with a different level of intensity. It's all about what goes down in the pool." 

While in Georgia, the Nittany Lions can expect top-notch competition; not only with other teams, but between teammates.  

"Georgia is trials and finals meet," Murphy explained.  "It's when we are really going to start putting our Big Ten team together. It's also sort of last real good test, we're going to be up against some strong teams to sort of figure out what we need to do on the home stretch."

Following the invitational, the Nittany Lions will have a few weeks back in Happy Valley and at home before heading to Florida for their annual training trip.  While in Naples, the team will face a tough training schedule of two-a-day practices and lifting sessions to gear up for the final months of their season.

When they return, the Nittany Lions will kick off 2015 in New Brunswick for a tri-meet against Rutgers and Yale.  The next home meet is scheduled for Jan. 24 against Navy at 11 a.m.

VIDEO: #WGYMonday - Meet Briannah Tsang

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Penn State women's gymnastics team is just nine weeks away from opening their 2015 campaign and each Monday we introduce you to a member of the squad. Our fourth #WGYMonday feature introduces freshman Briannah Tsang from Vancouver, British Columbia.

 

By Matt Allibone, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- After an entire season of soccer, playing three games in eight days is not an easy task.

That's the situation the Penn State men's soccer team faced this week. After falling to Northwestern 2-1 in overtime on the road last Sunday, the Nittany Lions gutted out a 1-0 overtime victory against Akron on Wednesday before hosting Michigan State in the Big Ten Tournament on Sunday. 

"We played a double overtime game on turf in Chicago, in the cold" head coach Bob Warming said. "We sprinted as hard as we could against Akron Wednesday and we got to [Michigan State]."

Against the Spartans, the Lions got off 12 shots but weren't able to get a ball in the net, falling in the first round with a 1-0 loss. 

Afterwards, Warming said that both he and Michigan State head coach Damon Rensing agreed that fatigue had a factor in the way the game was played.

With both teams having trained every day in addition to playing games since August, November truly is the dog days of the soccer season.

"The big factor to me, and Damon and I were just talking about it, both teams are just tired," Warming said. "I just talked to all the guys, and I'm really proud of all of their efforts this week, they worked hard this week and [gave] as much as they had in them."

For nearly the entire game, both teams played with a defensive-minded approach that prevented either team from dominating possession of the ball. After a scoreless first half, Spartans forward Tim Kreutz ripped a shot off a volley from 18-yards out to put Michigan State ahead.

The Lions came close to tying it with six minutes remaining, when a header from Connor Maloney off of a Brandon Savino pass went just over the top frame of the net. 

"It happens and that's soccer right there for you," Maloney said. "Yeah it was frustrating a little bit but you've got to keep playing the entire game." 

While losing in the conference tournament is never fun, it doesn't end the Nittany Lions season. They still have the upcoming NCAA Tournament to end their season on a high note. 

"We're in the tournament, we're top 20 RPI (ranking), we're going to get a home game," Warming said. "We need some time to get freshened up. I hated to lose, but if you're looking at the long run, maybe this gives us a better chance ... you gotta look at the positives of it."

Although Penn State will have to wait until next Monday to find out the details of its first-round NCAA Tournament game, it is guaranteed to have this week off.

Having lived and breathed soccer the entire fall, some time away from the game could be good for the Nittany Lions. According to Warming, the entire team would get at least three days off to rest up, refocus and spend some time on schoolwork.

"One of the most important parts of fitness is recovery," Warming said. "While everybody else is beating each other up, we're going to get in the pool, get on the bike, relax, play a lot of FIFA, and maybe a study a little bit would a really good idea and then make a good run."

At the same time, the Lions haven't given up on their goals for the season. A year after making it to the Sweet 16, they are determined to have another successful postseason this year.

Even as they take the next few days to work on refreshing bodies, they will remain hungry and itch for their next chance to get back on the field.

"If you want it enough you'll get far in the NCAA Tournament," Maloney said. "I know Michigan State will and I think we will too to be honest with you. Our guys got the heart and we'll bounce back and make a deep run." 

Goodwin, Holstrom, Bailey Finding their Stride

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10519239.jpeg

By Julie Bacanskas, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Eight games. Eleven goals. Fifteen assists. Seventy-nine shots.

The line of David Goodwin, Taylor Holstrom and Casey Bailey has been dynamic for the Nittany Lions. The trio, who are all atop the team's scoring leaders, accounts for over 30 percent of Penn State's offense.

The line clearly has synergy.

"All three of them are working extremely hard," said head coach Guy Gadowsky. "I really think that's the difference. All three of them have shown high levels of skill, and they all have a high hockey IQ."

Success is nothing new for Goodwin, Holstrom and Bailey.

Last season, the forwards were ranked second, third and sixth on the team in scoring, respectively. Goodwin led the Lions in assists, while Bailey's nine goals were second to only Eric Scheid's 11 tallies.

Combining all this talent has generated positive results this season.

"I just think it's the chemistry," said Bailey of the early season success. "I think like I talked about earlier, me and Holstrom played together all freshman year. He kind of knows that I'm always looking to shoot. I think Goodwin knows that too, and I think it's the chemistry on our line. He [Holstrom] played with Goodwin last year. Things are clicking right now."

A key factor for not only this line, but also the entire team, has been shots on net.

Penn State is currently outshooting its opponents, 345-236. With 109 extra shots, the Blue and White are bound to have offensive success.

"I just think it's the way we're driving the net," Bailey said. "When we drive through the middle it opens up a lot of area for us to get those shots off. It makes it a lot easier, and I think we have a mentality that everybody's going to do that. 
It's making everybody drive to the net, and I definitely think our team is doing a lot better getting shots to the net this season so far."

These shots are greatly benefiting the Lions, who are also outscoring their opponents, 31-16.

"We're working hard," said Holstrom. "We're getting pucks deep. We're doing little things. We're getting some bounces here and there, but I think it just comes down to getting pucks on net and going to the net."

Holstrom's 11 points have him tied for eighth in the country in scoring, and he is also tied for seventh in assists with eight on the season thus far; however, he credits his personal success to his line.

Right now, their chemistry seems to be unstoppable, and all three are playing some of their best hockey.

"My linemates are playing well," Holstrom said. "They're putting pucks into the net. Our team is working really hard, and the score sheet's working well for me. There are other guys helping me out, and I can't do it alone."

Moving forward, Gadowsky knows this line is one he can count on. All three forwards show dedication to the Penn State program day in and day out.

That dedication is directly related to their success.

"I think if you look to a man right now, I think Taylor Holstrom has been our best backchecker, probably Casey Bailey has been best at getting the puck out and David Goodwin's been working extremely hard," Gadowsky said. "I think for them, their key is work ethic for sure."

Eight games. Eleven goals. Fifteen assists. Seventy-nine shots.

If these numbers are any indication of what is to come for the Goodwin, Holstrom, Bailey line, the remainder of this season looks very bright.


By Tyler Feldman, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Not only did Penn State (5-4-3) claim its first road series sweep in program history this past weekend, but the Nittany Lions also continued their offensive surge by scoring nine goals in just two games against Colgate (2-7-0).

Playing both games at Starr Rink in Hamilton, N.Y., the Blue and White were the real stars in the two-game weekend series.

"
A total team effort," said head coach Josh Brandwene. "Great intensity. Great poise. Great focus. Really pleased with the effort this weekend."

The top line of Amy Petersen, Laura Bowman and Hannah Hoenshell scored seven of nine goals to lead Penn State's brushing of Colgate.

"
Their results speak directly to their process and their effort," Brandwene said in regards to his top line. "They're competitive people. They just continue to work hard and get better every day."

In Friday night's contest, Penn State used a four-goal second period to paste Colgate, 6-4. The top line totaled five goals, with Bowman and Hoenshell each scoring twice and Petersen scoring once.

Shannon Yoxheimer was another Nittany Lion to score in Friday's high scoring affair on a gorgeous move through three Raiders to find the back of the net.

"
Fantastic move," said Brandwene. "Fantastic burst of speed. She too and her line continue to get better every day. Their process is excellent, and they are seeing the results as well, and that's a great thing for our hockey team."

While offense was the focus in game one, Saturday's venue featured discipline on defense as the Nittany Lions squeezed Colgate, 3-1.

"Our decision-making on Saturday was outstanding, and that's something that we want to continue to build on," said Brandwene.

Trailing 1-0 after one period of play, the Blue and White used two-second period goals from Bowman to regain the lead. Then, an empty netter from Sarah Nielsen sealed the rinsing of the Raiders, 3-1.

The adjustments that Penn State made on defense after the first period allowed the Nittany Lions to find success in the final 40 minutes of play.

"The team did a great job of sticking with the game plan, maintaining focus on the process, and it was a terrific team effort," said Brandwene.

With 12 games under their belt, the Penn State freshmen continue to make strides on and off the ice. In the two weekend wins, first-year defenseman Bella Sutton blocked six shots, while fellow rookie Caitlin Reilly tallied an assist on Yoxheimer's goal in the Friday's game.

"As a group they continue to get better," said Brandwene. "They're very hard working, very coachable and their process continues to be excellent as well."

Since taking the head coaching reigns three years ago, Brandwene is very pleased with the progress his team has made since its inaugural Division I season in 2012.

"It is a great pleasure for me to watch the student-athletes in our program get rewarded for their hard work," said Brandwene. "I'm grateful every day for the opportunity to work with this fabulous group of student-athletes."

The Nittany Lions return home to practice this week before traveling to Rochester, N.Y. to face off against conference foe RIT on Friday and Saturday.

Monday Notebook: Belton's TD Run Makes History

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10518556.jpegUNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Senior Bill Belton etched his place in Penn State history on Saturday when he raced 92 yards for a touchdown in the 13-7 victory at Indiana.

Belton's play was the longest rushing score by a Penn State player in school history. The touchdown equaled the longest offensive touchdown in program history.

Belton finished the day with a season-high 137 yards on 16 carries in Bloomington. The New Jersey native now has four 100-yard rushing games in school history.

"The line did a great job up front giving me a seam to get through," Belton said. "I was able to get through basically untouched...Don't get caught from behind was the only thing that was going through my mind. I was able to get to the end zone, and I'm thankful for the opportunity to score."

Belton's score was the fourth Penn State offensive play of 90 yards or more. The three longest offensive plays in school history are all 92 yards (two runs and one pass). Here is a look at the 10 longest plays in Penn State's offensive history (8 runs and 2 passes).

92 - Bill Belton (TD) at Indiana, 2014
92 - Blair Thomas (No TD) vs. Syracuse, 1986
92 - Bob Higgins pass from Bill Hess (TD) at Pittsburgh, 1919
90 - Bill Suter (TD) at Navy, 1894
87 - Bob Campbell (TD) vs. Syracuse, 1968
86 - Bob Riggle (TD) at West Virginia, 1964
86 - Jim Scott pass from Steve Joachim (TD) at Navy, 1971
84 - Chafie Fields (TD) vs. Texas, 1997 Fiesta Bowl
84 - Larry Johnson (TD) vs. Illinois, 2002
83 - Ki-Jana Carter (TD) vs. Oregon, 1995 Rose Bowl


Penn State hosts Temple in the final non-conference game of the season on Saturday at noon (ESPN2).


Lions Among Nation's Elite on Defense
After another stifling effort on the road at Indiana, Penn State's defense is one of just four units in America that ranks in the top 10 nationally in total, scoring and rushing defense (Alabama, Louisville and Wisconsin). Through nine games, the Nittany Lions have allowed 85.6 rushing yards per game, which leads the nation. Additionally, the Lions remain third nationally in total defense. Penn State opponents have accounted for 267.6 yards of total offense against the Lions this season. The Lions are ranked sixth nationally in scoring defense (16.6 ppg).

Lions in the Stat Rankings
Several Nittany Lions remain among the leaders in national and conference statistical categories. Here is a weekly breakdown of Penn State players in the stat rankings:

QB Christian Hackenberg - Hackenberg is second in the Big Ten in passing yards (2,038) and passing yards per game (245.1 ypg). The sophomore is leading the conference in completions per game (21.67).

WR DaeSean Hamilton - Hamilton is 11th nationally (first in the Big Ten) in receptions per game (7.1). He ranks 25th in the nation and third in the Big Ten in receiving yards per game at 84.6.

LB Mike Hull - Hull leads the Big Ten and is ninth in the nation in tackles (11.0 per game). He is second in the Big Ten and 15th nationally in solo tackles per game at 6.2.

K Sam Ficken - Ficken is third in the nation and first in the Big Ten in field goals made per game at 2.11.

Early Look at the Owls
On the heels of a narrow loss to Memphis (16-13), Temple heads to Beaver Stadium this week with a 5-4 overall record. The Owls beat then-21st-ranked East Carolina (20-10) two weeks ago.

Among the nation's leaders in scoring defense (10th - 18.1 ppg), the Owls are led by a unit that has forced 25 turnovers in 2014 (7th in the nation). Temple has six defensive touchdowns in nine games, which ranks second in the nation. Additionally, the Owls have blocked four kicks this season.

Linebacker Tyler Matakevich leads the Owl defense with 83 tackles this season. He also has 5.5 TFL and has recovered two fumbles.

Temple is under the direction of second-year head coach and Penn State letterman Matt Rhule. Rhule, a State College native, was a member of the Nittany Lion program from 1994-'97.

Penn State and Temple will meet for 43rd time on Saturday. The Nittany Lions are 38-3-1 all-time against the Owls.

Extended Game Highlights from the Indiana Game



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Gulibon Starts Season With Impressive Win

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10518528.jpegBy Matt Allibone, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- Jimmy Gulibon didn't have to wait long to get thrown into the fire.

On Sunday, when the Penn State wrestling team opened its season against Lehigh, the 133-pounder found himself matched up against the No. 2-ranked wrestler in the nation at his weight, junior Mason Beckman.

During an afternoon in which the Nittany Lions raised their fourth consecutive national championship banner, Gulibon gave arguably the best performance of his career, beating the All-American with a convincing 8-3 win that highlighted the team's 24-10 victory.

"Jimmy's good," head coach Cael Sanderson said. "He knows how to wrestle, he's tough and he just did what he does. I thought falling behind early and keeping his poise ... that was good to see. It was a good start for him."

The falling behind occurred when Gulibon was taken down by Beckman just 21 seconds into the bout. Instead of allowing his deficit to increase, the sophomore ended the first period with a series of moves that turned the tide of the match.

After getting an escape, Gulibon pressured Beckman until he was able to score a takedown and put the junior on his back for two near fall points to turn a 2-1 disadvantage into a 5-2 lead at the end of one period.

From that point, Gulibon stayed in control, picking up an escape and a takedown in the second period that led to the eventually 8-3 decision.

"I felt pretty strong," Gulibon said. "I was a little hesitant towards the end, I think I could have shot a little more but I felt good."

It was a big moment for Gulibon, and not just because it was an upset win over one of the nation's best grapplers at his weight.

For starters, it was a better result for the Nittany Lion than the last time he faced Beckman. When Penn State defeated Lehigh 22-12 last season in its second match of 2013, Gulibon made his dual meet debut against the Mountain Hawks star and fell to him in a tight 7-6 match.

"We've wrestled a good bit," Gulibon said. "Last year we wrestled once. Every time it was fun. It was just fun to go out there and wrestle."

More importantly though, the victory gives Gulibon plenty of confidence moving forward with the Nittany Lions season just beginning.

Last season, the 133-pounder lost his first four dual matches before notching his first career dual victory with a dominant 15-0 tech fall over Indiana's Chris Caton.

Though Gulibon finished the year strong enough to qualify for the NCAA Tournament, he entered the 2014-'15 campaign looking to improve on last year's 18-15 mark.

Now that he has begun the season on a high note, the sky is the limit for the Latrobe, Pennsylvania native.

"Obviously [Gulibon's win] helped us with the team score but I think that was big for him," senior Matt Brown said. "I think that's going to help his confidence even more."

For Sanderson, the best part of Gulibon's win wasn't the takedowns or the back points. It was seeing the sophomore actually enjoy himself on the mat.

One of the most soft-spoken members of the team, Gulibon was hard on himself during his first year as a starter. At the same time, no one in program has ever doubted his talent or his work ethic.

"I think he just got off to a bad start last year," Sanderson said. "We were trying to get him to smile and just enjoy what he was doing. But today, he ran off the mat and and he was smiling. So that's a good sign because Jimmy knows how to wrestle and he's good enough to win a national championship but you still have to believe in yourself and enjoy what you're doing.

"I think everyone was happy for Jimmy because you want to see him win that match and give him a good start to the season. He's going to be tough to beat now."

Gulibon's victory highlighted an afternoon that had plenty of big moments, including freshman 165-pounder Garett Hammond's first ever victory (an 8-3 win over Santiago Martinez) and a dominant pin by Brown against Marshall Peppleman at 174.

Even with a collection of new faces in their lineup, the Nittany Lions find themselves in a familiar position after one match, with a 1-0 record.

"I think this is great. We had to come out and wrestle hard," Sanderson said. "[Lehigh] is obviously motivated and they want to come in and beat us like we want to beat them. They did their homework and made it a fun match." 

Nittany Lions Top Big Ten Newcomers

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10518569.jpegBy Anita Nham, GoPSUSports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Nittany Lion women's volleyball team welcomed the Big Ten's two newest members for the first time in conference competition over the weekend.

Thanks to a pair of consistent outings, Penn State (24-3, 12-2) logged back-to-back sweeps against Rutgers and Maryland on Friday and Saturday, respectively, inside Rec Hall.

On Friday evening, after senior Micha Hancock's opening serve led to the first point of the match, Penn State cruised through the first set by creating a strong 14-4 lead. Rutgers mounted a small rally, but the Nittany Lions were able to close out the first set with a 25-11 win on a solo block by freshman Ali Frantti.

Hancock opened up Penn State's scoring surge, once again, in the next set to produce a 6-2 lead. From there, the Lions rolled to a 25-12 set victory.

The Nittany Lions' momentum continued in the third set by generating another early advantage, 9-3. Rutgers put up a tough fight to end Penn State's drive, but they were unable to hold Penn State for long as the Nitany Lions' secured the match with a 25-10 win in the third set.

"I thought we played a pretty good first and third game," said coach Rose. "I thought we were a little sloppy in the second game, but it was a good opportunity to get some other people involved in the match...It was a good match for us, not a great match, but I'm pleased that we completed a little harder in the third game after slowing down in the second game."

Freshman Haleigh Washington recorded a team-high of 13 kills on .688 hitting along with two blocks and one dig. Frantti followed with nine kills, three blocks, seven digs, and two aces.

"My teammates, Megan, Micha, Aiyana, and Nia, have just really stepped up and helped me focus in the front row," said Washington. "Telling me where to go, what to do, just helping me keep my mental game on point, so it's easier for me to focus on the physical things."

There were some familiar faces at Rec Hall on Saturday evening as it was a homecoming for Terrapins coach Steve Aird and assistant coach Adam Hughes. Aird served as an assistant coach at Penn State for seven years prior. Hughes, a 2006 Penn State alum, was Penn State's Director of Volleyball Operations for the last four seasons before becoming the assistant coach at Maryland.

"I haven't seen Maryland for a number of years, so I would expect that [Steve] would do a real nice job as he did when he was here," said coach Rose. "They served tough. They blocked well and I think the previous coach left him with some good talent and they're doing a nice job with it. You know it's tough to come into the Big Ten, not for Steve and Hughes, because they know what's going on in the Big Ten, but for the players. You can't tell them what they don't know till they really experience it."

In the first set, the Nittany Lions took an early lead on a 6-1 run, but Maryland answered to make it 9-5. Nonetheless, the Lions finished off the set with a block by Hancock and Washington to win, 25-11.

It was a close matchup in the second set as the Terrapins opened with a 5-4 lead. Penn State surged to a 9-5 edge, but Maryland remained within striking distance when it set the score at 17-16. The Lions scored eight of the next 10 points to score a, 25-18.

Penn State capped off the match with a 25-15 win in the third set with a kill from Washington at match point.

"It's weird [to be against Aird and Hughes], but I'm happy for them and it's kind of cool to play against them," said junior Aiyana Whitney.

Overall, it was a good weekend for the Nittany Lions, who extended their winning streak to eight-straight matches.

"Anytime you can have a great crowd and good energy in the building and the young kids play well, you should feel pleased about that," said Rose.

VIDEO: Wrestling Post-Match Interviews vs. No. 17 Lehigh

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The fifth-ranked Nittany Lion wrestling team (1-0) opened the 2014-'15 season with a 24-10 victory over 17th-ranked Lehigh inside a sold out Rec Hall on Sunday afternoon.

The Lions scored victories in seven of the 10 bouts, including a pair of key wins from Jimmy Gulibon (133) and Matt Brown (174). Gulibon used a five-point first period to score an 8-3 victory against No. 2 Mason Beckman from Lehigh. Brown notched a pin against Marshall Peppelman (4:01) for the team's first bonus points of the season.

The Nittany Lions return to action on Nov. 21 at Pittsburgh. Check out some post-match reaction from head coach Cael Sanderson and the Nittany Lions.

Live Blog Penn State wrestling hosts Lehigh! 11/9/14 Blog w/ Twitter!
 

Enjoy today's Cover It Live Blog from the Penn State/Lehigh wrestling match, featuring all the live interaction from the @pennstateWREST twitter feed!

Nittany Lion Defense Relentless on Third Down

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10516091.jpegUNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State defensive coordinator Bob Shoop's mantra is simple.

He wants the Nittany Lions to play with relentless pursuit and never-ending pressure.

Those two things could not be more evident than when Penn State opponents face a third down.

The Nittany Lions do not sit back and hope to prevent opposing offenses from moving the first down sticks. They attack, and they do it from all angles in a swarming fashion.

Penn State's stifling defense limited Indiana to 3-for-17 on third down during Saturday's 13-7 win in Bloomington. With Saturday's effort, the Nittany Lions are now ranked eighth in the nation in third down defense. Opponents are a combined 42-of-138 on third down (30 percent) in 2014.

In the six Big Ten games this season, the Lions have limited their opponents to 29-of-95 on third down (30.5 percent). That mark includes a combined 4-of-31 during the past two games (12.9 percent).

A number of factors contribute into Penn State's success on third down this season, but keeping opponents to third-and-long situations plays a big role in the team's ability to bring pressure from a variety of places, thus forcing offenses in to uncomfortable situations.

In Saturday's case, the Nittany Lions set out to limit Indiana running back Tevin Coleman, who came into the game as the nation's leading rusher at 162 yards per game. Coleman gained 71 yards on 20 carries (3.5 avg.), which broke a streak of 10-consecutive games of 100 yards or more.

"We just wanted to stay gap accountable to make sure everyone fit in the right spot on every single play," senior linebacker Mike Hull said. "They are the type of team that goes two yards, three yards and then (Coleman goes) 80 yards, so we knew that we just had to stay focused all game."

By limiting the Indiana ground attack, the Lions made the Hoosiers one-dimensional on third down. But it all started with the defense's ability to stay disciplined against a dynamic running back.

"He's a great back. He's a big kid with great speed, but it came down to everyone doing their job," junior defensive tackle Anthony Zettel said. "For us to hold him to 70 yards was great for us, and we are happy with the outcome."

Simply put, the Nittany Lions have been dominant on the defensive side of the ball, and the unit's confidence level seemingly grows every week.

"It's a lot of fun (playing on this defense)," senior safety Adrian Amos said. "It's always fun when you are good (laughter). We are playing well, and Coach Shoop makes the perfect play calls. And we are clicking this year."

Penn State's third down success is one of six statistical categories that the Lions rank in the top 10 nationally in. The list includes No. 1 in the nation against the run (85.6 ypg), No. 3 in the nation in total defense (267.6 ypg) and No. 6 in the nation in scoring defense (16.6 ppg).

Indiana's offense had the ball 15 times on Saturday. Penn State forced the Hoosiers to punt 11 times, tallied two interceptions, stopped IU on downs and held IU to a missed field goal (51 yards).

"The defensive line played great, and it starts up front with those guys and Mike Hull's unit making so many tackles," Amos said. "We've been playing really well, and it starts up front."

With nine games in the record books for 2014, the Nittany Lions focus towards the 10th game on the schedule. Penn State and Temple will collide in Beaver Stadium on Saturday at noon (BTN). While the opponent changes, the same relentless mindset remains the same on defense.



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VIDEO: Postgame Player Remarks at Indiana

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BLOOMINGTON, Ind. - The Nittany Lions moved to 5-4 on the season with a 13-7 victory on Saturday at Indiana. Bill Belton's 92-yard touchdown run and a stifling effort from the Penn State defense fueled the Lions past the Hoosiers in Memorial Stadium. Hear from several Nittany Lions following the victory here.




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VIDEO: Postgame Press Conference at Indiana

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BLOOMINGTON, Ind. - Head into the media room to hear from head coach James Franklin following Penn State's 13-7 victory at Indiana on Saturday.




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2014 Photo Blog - Penn State at Indiana

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BLOOMINGTON, Ind. - Welcome to GoPSUsports.com's coverage of the 2014 football season. Check back often for an inside look at the Penn State's matchup at Indiana.


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2014 Game Blog - Penn State at Indiana

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BLOOMINGTON, Ind. - Welcome to GoPSUsports.com's live, interactive coverage of the 2014 football season. Tune in for live blog coverage from all 12 games on the schedule. For the second-straight season, the Nittany Lions travel to Indiana.



Live Blog 2014 Game Blog - Penn State at Indiana
 



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By Astrid Diaz, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Fit For Fritz event is back and ready for another record-breaking year in the fight against cancer.

The event, which originated in 2013 in support of track and field assistant coach Fritz Spence, is a Walk-A-Thon hosted at the Indoor Multi-Sport Complex and made possible by the collaboration of the coaching staff, the Penn State Athletics Department, and the track and field student-athletes.

In its inaugural year, the event raised just over $11,000. This year, the event returns with a few minor improvements.

"This year, we are incorporating a bone marrow drive where individuals can get swabbed and [added onto] the registry," said Spence. "[This year] we are having the community be a part of the Walk-A-Thon and be a part of the exercise stations and [they can] come in and compete with our student-athletes. I think that will be really exciting."

Last year, the Athletic Department and the Be The Match Program saw the incredible impact they could make when they joined together as one team for an important cause. However, Spence gained some knowledge and with the support of the Penn State community still remains a point of admiration for him and his family.

"I've learned how important it is to the community and how [supportive] the community is as a whole," Spence said. "I take strength and encouragement from everybody involved. The Penn State family comes in here and continues to support me [since] day one...it means a lot to me and my family."

Participants will have the opportunity to showcase their athletic abilities in exercise stations and around the track. However, the highlight of the weekend will probably be karaoke where volunteers will showcase their musical talents.

"My favorite [part] of the event is seeing everybody come in and walk around the track...and the karaoke. I can't sing to save my life but I might attempt. I'm not sure," he laughed.

In midst of the fun and games though, Spence wants the community to understand the importance of Fit For Fritz and that the affect it has lands far beyond the walls of Penn State.

"Every four minutes someone is diagnosed with blood cancer and the more we can do to support and help, the better," Spence said. "[The bone marrow registry] is really important to me because last year I was in need of someone and it was really hard for me to find a match. I want the community to come out and support."

Fit For Fritz has joined forces with Be The Match Foundation in hopes to raise $12,000 this year. The event is set for next Sunday, Nov. 16th beginning at 10 a.m.

For more information on the event and how to donate visit
www.GoPSUSports.com and www.BeTheMatchFoundation.org.

By Matt Allibone, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- The Penn State men's soccer team is approaching the Big Ten Tournament a little differently this year.

"I've been on different sides of this thing," head coach Bob Warming said. "We want to win the Big Ten. The statistics show that the team that loses in the conference tournament goes deeper in the NCAA tournament. That was with the old format ... with the new model, we might as well just go ahead and win it."

Although some teams are wary of going far in the conference tournament for fear of being too tired when the NCAA Tournament rolls around, that isn't Penn State's plan.

This year, the Lions will have four days in between games if they can get past the Spartans. Their second game won't take place until Friday, November 14.

"We're going right through," senior forward Mikey Minutillo said. "I think we're going to go all the way until the end and win the conference tournament. We're playing good and it's a bummer we didn't win the Big Ten outright but we've still got the tournament to fall back on."

Both Warming and the players aren't going to lie. They're disappointed they weren't able to capture their third straight conference title.

Last Sunday against Northwestern, the Lions were 100 seconds away from securing the tie needed to win the regular-season championship before a double overtime goal from Mike Roberge gave them a heartbreaking 2-1 loss.

Needing Rutgers to tie or beat Maryland on Wednesday in order to still pull out a conference championship, the Nittany Lions weren't so lucky. The Terrapins defeated the Scarlet Nights, 3-2, at the same time Penn State wrapped up its regular-season with a 1-0 win over Akron.

"We were a 100 seconds away from winning our third one," Warming said. "That was massively disappointing and because we played so well. It was just disappointing how we lost.

"But to their credit, guys are back playing hard tonight (against Akron) and we can't control [the Maryland game] and just move on to the next thing."

Penn State will also have plenty of motivation because of the first-round matchup they've drawn.

While the Spartans won their regular season finale against Indiana on Wednesday 3-2, they've recently endured a tough stretch of their own, having gone 0-2-2 in four games after their win over Penn State.

"I think our guys are always itching to win," Warming said. "I think it's going to be an incredible tournament. I told the [other Big Ten] coaches in the conference call the other day, 'we have the best collection of goalkeepers I've ever seen in the history of any conference I've ever been in.'"

The last time the Nittany Lions won the Big Ten Tournament was in 2005, five years before Warming took over the program.

The mindset of the team isn't necessarily focused on ending that drought as much as it is on proving to the Big Ten it can still play at the level it was at earlier in the season.

Beating Akron on Wednesday was a good first step. The next step is stringing together consecutive victories, like the streak of seven in a row they had between Sept.13 and Oct. 4.

"We talked about it right before the [Akron] game," Minutillo said. "We got to get this win so we can carry it right into the conference tournament."

2014 Gameday Preview - Lions Travel to Bloomington

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Game Blog - Penn State at Indiana

Game Notes | Gameday Central | Indiana Scouting Report | Coach Franklin Wednesday

Press Conference Roundup | Coach Gattis Q&A | Player Q&A Video

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - For the second consecutive season, Penn State (4-4, 1-4) will travel to Bloomington for a matchup against Indiana (3-5, 0-4) inside Memorial Stadium. Kick is slated for noon on Saturday with television coverage on BTN.

10505448.jpegThe Nittany Lions and Hoosiers have met 17 times since Penn State first began Big Ten play in 1993, with the Lions taking 16 of the 17 on-field contests. The two teams have met in each season since 2007, with Indiana scoring its first victory in the series last year.

Penn State returns to action following a narrow 20-19 setback to Maryland last week. Senior kicker Sam Ficken nailed all four of his field goal attempts against the Terrapins, including three kicks from 45 or more yards. Ficken is the only Penn State player to make three field goals from at 45 or more yards since at least 1982. He is ranked 10th in the nation in accuracy (85.9 percent), having connected on 17 of his 19 attempts in 2014. That mark includes going 5-for-5 in the fourth quarter this season.

Penn State's defense again turned in a stellar performance against Maryland last week. The Lions are ranked No. 1 in the nation against the run (77.1 ypg).  Additionally, the Nittany Lions are ranked No. 3 in the nation in total defense (273.4 ypg). Penn State is No. 9 in scoring defense at 17.8 points per game. Senior linebacker Mike Hull is ranked seventh in the nation with 11.5 tackles per game.

Sophomore quarterback Christian Hackenberg continues to rank among the top signal callers in the Big Ten. He is leading the conference in passing with 254.8 passing yards per game. Hackenberg is leading the Big Ten in completions per game at 22.88. He is just seven yards shy of becoming the eighth Penn State quarterback with 5,000 career passing yards.

Indiana dropped to 3-5 overall last week with a 34-10 setback at Michigan. The Hoosiers are led by one of the nation's most dynamic rushers in junior Tevin Coleman. Coleman is leading the nation in rushing yards per game at 162.5 yards per contest. Indiana is averaging 274.5 rushing yards per game.

Welcome to the Gameday Preview for the week nine matchup against Indiana.

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Pregame Reading:
What to Watch For - Penn State
10505410.jpeg1. Junior defensive end Deion Barnes is putting together a superb season for the Nittany Lion defense in 2014. The Philadelphia native is third on the team in tackles with 34 stops. Barnes is leading the squad in tackles for loss (8.5) and sacks (6.0). Above all, it is Barnes' work ethic that is separating him from most guys in the conference. Head coach James Franklin used clips of Barnes' relentless pursuit during a team meeting this week to illustrate the way he wants to see each player on the team compete. His numbers speak for themselves, but Barnes has been a tremendously disruptive player on a unit that is ranked No. 3 in the nation in total defense.

2. With the season-ending injury to Zach Zwinak, Akeel Lynch has embraced the opportunity to work alongside senior Bill Belton. Lynch has prepared for an increased role since he arrived on campus. Looking to become a complete back, Lynch has said that he is continuously working on all facets of his game. He carried the ball a career-high 21 times last week during his first career start against Maryland. With each passing week, keep an eye on Lynch as he continues to get more confident in an increased role on the Penn State offense.

3. Thanks to a red-hot start to the 2014 season, senior placekicker Sam Ficken is joining elite company in the Penn State record book. Ficken is third in the nation in field goals made per game at 2.13 per contest. With 17 made kicks (17-for-19) this season, Ficken now has 47 career makes. He is third on the all-time field goals made list, with Craig Fayak sitting second at 50 made kicks. On the scoring chart, Ficken has accounted for 239 points, which is sixth on the all-time Penn State list. Ficken has made nine-straight kicks in 2014.

What to Watch For - Indiana
10505381.jpeg1. Tevin Coleman's list of accolades in 2014 is impressive. In addition to leading the nation in rushing yards per game (162.5), Coleman is first nationally in yards per carry (8.02) and first in yards from scrimmage per game (180.0). The junior has reached 100 yards in 10-straight games, the longest streak in the nation. A semifinalist for the Maxwell Award, Coleman has game-changing speed with the ball in his hands. He has accounted for 15 plays of 20 or more yards, including six touchdowns. An explosive player, Coleman leads the nation in career touchdown runs of 30 yards or more (6) and 40 yards or more (5).

2. The trio of sophomore safety Antonio Allen, sophomore linebacker T.J. Simmons and senior cornerback Tim Bennett top the Indiana defense in tackles. Allen has made 46 stops from the free safety position. Simmons has 45 hits and 2.5 TFL from the middle linebacker position. Bennett has made 44 tackles, and he also ranks fourth in the Big Ten with nine pass breakups. The Hoosier defense has allowed 446.0 yards per game in 2014.

3. Senior wide receiver Shane Wynn is the lone Hoosier in school history and one of only eight active players with receiving, rushing, punt return and kick return touchdowns in his career. Wynn is leading Indiana with 29 receptions for 436 yards and two touchdowns this season. The speedy senior is the team's top return threat. He is averaging 22.2 yards per touch on kick returns this season.

The Final Word:
The Nittany Lions are set to play Indiana for the 18th time on Saturday afternoon. The Penn State-Indiana series is one that dates back to the first year the Nittany Lions were members of the Big Ten in 1993. Since 1993, the Lions have played Ohio State in every season. Outside of the Buckeyes, Indiana will tie Michigan State as the next opponent on the list that Penn State has played the most during its time in the conference.  Saturday' will mark Penn State's seventh trip to Memorial Stadium. The Nittany Lions also collided in the RCA Dome in Indianapolis in 2000 and FedEx Field in 2010. Penn State has hosted Indiana eight times. Now members of the Big Ten East Division, the two schools will play annually. Kickoff is slated for 12:01 on Saturday with Eric Collins, Chuck Long and Lisa Byington on the BTN broadcast.


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By Astrid Diaz, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - In week three of Penn State track and field preseason and the third chapter of season previews, GoPSUsports.com caught up with head coach John Gondak and the mid-distance and distance student-athletes on their preparations and goals for the upcoming year.

The Nittany Lions return three student-athletes, junior Za'Von Watkins, junior Brannon Kidder, and senior Robby Creese, as part of their distance medley relay group, which is the three-time defending champion at the Big Ten Championships. Last year's time of 9:26.59 broke Penn State's record and was just over a half of a second shy of the world record.

"The [distance medley relay] is a lot of fun and it combines the true aspect of middle distance," said Gondak. "The fun thing [about this year] is that we have three of [the] four legs coming back."

All-American student-athletes Watkins and Kidder are looking forward to the competition this year noting their team chemistry, depth, and experience.

"[The distance medley relay] is obviously one of our go-to [events]. We're really strong at that event and we have three of the same guys coming back," said Watkins. "We're looking forward to getting a record this time but as long as we run fast I'm happy with that, too."

Junior Tori Gerlach enters the 2015 season as the defending 3,000-meter run Big Ten Champion with her lifetime-best, 9:10.76. Gerlach is also a tough competitor in the 3,000-meter steeplechase with a personal record time of 10:03:55. Both rank second in the all-time Penn State record books.

"It was really exciting last year because I wasn't expecting to win [the 3,000-meter run] so it was awesome and being just short of the school record is awesome so that's definitely something I'm aiming towards this year," said Gerlach.

This year's freshman class is ready to cause uproar. 

After being named the 2014 Big Ten Freshman of the Year, Elizabeth Chikotas joins the distance team after a phenomenal cross country season. Freshman Joey Logue recorded 13 state medals and two All-American titles during his high school career.

The student-athletes have been diligently training all preseason in the Ashenfelter III Indoor Facility, which features a six-lane, 65-foot-radius hydraulically banked Mondo track, one of five in the country.

The team is set to kick-off their season on Saturday, December 13th when they host a Blue vs. White Intrasquad meet.

For more information on Penn State track and field visit www.GoPSUsports.com and follow the team on Twitter @PennStateTFXC.

By Tyler Feldman, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Left winger Amy Petersen may don the number nine on the back of her Blue and White jersey, but it's the number eight that stands out through ten games played this season.

The sophomore from Minnetonka, Minn., has already netted eight goals (three power play goals) on the year to lead Penn State's offensive attack. 

"Our team as a whole puts a lot of work in the weight room and work really hard on conditioning and getting stronger," said Petersen. "A lot of that has helped me score more goals."

Prior to Penn State

Prior to Penn State, at Minnetonka High School, Petersen accumulated 70 goals and 118 assists over the course of four years playing on a team that earned four straight Lake Conference titles and won three straight Minnesota High School AA championships.

Despite scoring all of those goals in high school, Petersen says that she has never really been considered a goal scorer.

"
I actually haven't really [been known as a goal scorer]," said Petersen. "A lot of high school and even freshman year I was more of a playmaker, getting more assists and trying to set up my teammates."

Development of Goal-Scoring Mentality

As a freshman last year, Petersen assisted on ten Nittany Lion goals, but scored just five of her own.

The five-foot-four forward has already surpassed her freshman goal total by three. She's not quite sure what has changed over the past year, noting that some luck has certainly been involved, but that the coaching staff has helped immensely.

"
Well, I wasn't scoring at the end of last season, so I was talking with the coaches and telling them that I wanted to stop in front of the net more because a lot of the times I'd just fly by and swing to the corner," said Petersen. "By stopping in front, there are a lot of rebounds and garbage goal opportunities."

When you watch Petersen orchestrate offensive chances on the ice, it is sometimes hard to believe that she is only a sophomore. Her vision, speed and performance make her appear as an upperclassman.

"She's got a tremendous number of reps under her belt," said head coach Josh Brandwene. "She does a great job for us both with the puck and without it. She does great work on the power play and penalty kill. I'm really pleased with the effort that she puts in." 

Sixth Sense

Line mate familiarity has certainly catapulted Petersen to the top of the scoring sheet. Sophomore center Laura Bowman has played alongside Petersen since the two were little and right winger Hannah Hoenshell has meshed comfortably on the top line alongside the two Minnetonkans.

"Hannah and Laura have made a lot of great passes to me and given me chances to score," said Petersen. "The three of us have worked well together the last two years. We have a lot of chemistry between each other, and so we know where each other is going to be, which helps a ton."

Bowman has tallied two goals and seven assists, while Hoenshelll has added two more assists to round out Penn State's number one line.

According to Brandwene, his top line possesses an additional form of communication that makes them so difficult to stop.

"They have a sixth sense, silent communication piece that makes them incredibly effective," said Brandwene.

Looking Ahead

With eight goals and three assists already, Petersen doesn't expect to slow down and neither does her head coach.

"She's a great competitor," said Brandwene. "She's a great teammate. She loves this school. She loves this program. She's a great student as well and that's a fabulous thing."

However, only one thing is on Petersen's mind as she and her teammates look forward to a two-game road series against Colgate this upcoming weekend.

"We're trying to get goals for our team," said Petersen. "If the pucks in the back of the net we are all happy."

New Staff Helping Fencers Train

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By Jennifer Hudson, GoPSUsports.com Student Athlete Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Two new staff members have joined the Penn State fencing team this season to help the program move forward in its quest for another national championship. Alexei Sintchinov and Heather Nelson are eager to help lead the team as assistant and volunteer coaches, respectively, beginning this season.

Sintchinov joins the Nittany Lions as an assistant coach after being a coach at Ohio State for the past three years.

He has been a professional coach since 1976 and is a Master of Sport in Fencing. Sintchinov started his coaching career internationally and was the head coach of the Belarus, Egypt and Tunisia national teams. He was named Honored Coach of Belarus in 1991 and head coach of the 2000 Egypt Olympic Team.

He is excited to continue his coaching career with such a decorated program here at Penn State and to help the team compete for championships.

"I would like to help the team make a good result at the NCAA championship," said Sintchinov. " I want to improve all students in epee and everyone on the team. I am happy to help anyone who wants to learn. My heart is open to all weapons."

With the past 40 years overseeing different fencers, the newest Nittany Lion knows how to fix problems and improve athletes to their best ability.

He was even a part of the coaching staff who helped guide the Buckeyes to the 2012 NCAA Championship title.

"All fencers have a strong part and weak part," said Sintchinov, "I will help shrink the weaknesses and increase the strengths. Everyone has a different problem that they need to work with. It is very important to work on strengths and weaknesses."

One thing Coach Alexei has added to the championship teams work out is a stepladder to improve their footwork. He believes in fast and strong legs for every great fencer needs.

Team members who have been working with Sintchinov in lessons are excited to have him and love what he is bringing to the program.

"He is a strong addition to our family," said Jessica O'Neill Lyublinsky, a junior epee fencer. "He really puts his heart into his work and I can already see he really wants to repeat our NCAA title as much as we do, if not more."

Nelson, a former fencer who is a grad student at Penn State, comes back to the team as a volunteer assistant coach for the semester. She is helping improve everyone's strength with many conditioning drills she learned from the Air Force Academy.

Nelson, a Second Lieutenant, attended the USAF for her undergraduate work,, majoring in aerospace engineering. She was on the fencing team at the Academy for three years allowing her to fence her last year of eligibility with the Nittany Lions when she came for graduate school last fall.

"Heather's work outs are challenging," said Brianne Cavaliere, a junior saber fencer. "They force you to not only push yourself, but your teammates so we can be the best we can."

Nelson helps the team's workouts, which consist of many strength and conditioning skills that are challenging for the Nittany Lions. The drills are done in organized lines as if you were in the military. The team does reps of different strength exercises while counting out loud as one team. Everyone must stay in time or the team will start over.

"Military style training is working as a team," said Nelson. "If one can't compete the repetition, the team starts over."

Nelson helps the team do different strength stations in groups with time limits pushing each fencer to do multiple strength activities as fast as they can in groups. If a group fails to complete a station, the team will do a great deal of push ups to make up the difference.

"The drills as a team is the same as fencing as a team," said Nelson. "You send 12 to NCAAs who are your best fencers but if one falls, it can lose you the championship. The exercises show that the team is only as strong as the weakest person you send."

From all the drills, Nelson hopes to help the team gain more endurance to help them get through the long tiring days at regionals and NCAAs to bring home another championship.

Doing her workouts twice a week, the team is very happy with how their strength and conditioning is improving this year.

"I love it here at Penn State," said Nelson. "I'm glad I'm back but I wish I could stay the whole season."

Nelson unfortunately is only here for one semester because she is graduating in December. She is off to Colorado Springs to work in an Air Force satellite lab after graduation. The Nittany Lions will be sad to see her go, but her assistance with conditioning will hopefully contribute to another successful season. 

Indiana Week Q&A - Assistant Coach Josh Gattis

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10504945.jpegUNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State offensive recruiting coordinator, assistant special teams coordinator and wide receivers coach Josh Gattis spoke with the media on Thursday.  The Nittany Lions travel to Indiana on Saturday at noon (BTN). Take a look at a Q&A with Gattis.

Q: You started the season with a really young group of receivers. Can you talk about how they have developed this season?
Gattis:
"I think they have done a really good job kind of developing themselves and understanding how we want them to play. They have stepped up and made some critical plays at times, but I think as the games continue to grow on, I think we will continue to grow. I don't think we are quite where we need to be. We are heading in the right direction. I'm really proud of the guys developing their confidence and stepping up and making plays. We are a very, very young group. I'm really excited about the future and the direction we are headed in to. I really feel like we are going to get better as opportunities continue to present themselves."

Q: What's the mindset of the group through eight games this season and how the unit is progressing?
Gattis:
"I don't think there is any frustration. I think the kids are developing the right way. If you start off hot (like we did), people are going to try and gameplan against you and show different things to keep the plays in front of them. I think we still have one of the best passing offenses in the Big Ten. We've got DaeSean Hamilton who is in the top three in the Big Ten in receiving. He leads all freshmen in the country in catches and receiving yards. I don't think there is any frustration. The guys are continuing to develop. Sometimes opportunities present themselves in other ways. Teams have done some things differently. But I think we have continued to take steps forward each week. Each game is different depending on what teams are doing. But we need to continue to develop as an offense. We are such a young unit that each week is something new, and we have to continue to gain confidence to move forward."

Q: Are you pleased with how the group has continued to maintain its confidence level during the past few weeks?
Gattis:
"One thing about these kids is that they want to win as bad as anybody else wants to win. I think a lot of people need to understand that. They want to win as bad as these coaches want to win and as bad as the fans want to win. It has weighed heavily on our kids these past couple weeks. But they continue to show up each day and work hard and continue to improve. We continue to focus on being the best that we can be and continue to work on the areas that need to be worked on. But our kids have handled it with the utmost respect."

Q: What is the next step for the young freshmen Saeed Blacknall and Chris Godwin as they progress into bigger roles?
Gattis:
"I think those guys are really progressing. I'm really happy about Saeed and Chris. Those guys are playing really good ball. They are making some plays out there. It's hard sometimes when you have a bunch of guys rotating in. Some of the opportunities they aren't in for, they can't make. But as far as their attempts, their completions and their targets, I've really been pleased with how they are playing as they continue to develop. This is a young group. DaeSean still has room to develop, but he has been playing really good football. Geno (Lewis) is a young player who is playing good football, but he still has a lot more room to grow. I think as a group, we have to continue to find ways to get those guys more active as far as Saeed Blacknall and Chris Godwin. We need to continue to get those guys more and more reps."

Q: Blocking is such an important part of a receiver's job. Can you talk about the way your unit has blocked this season?
Gattis:
"I think blocking is just an unselfish thing. There is really no way to coach it. You have to have it deep down on the inside. I've been pleased so far with our blocking. We've changed some things up as far as blocking on the perimeter. Our receivers have been very, very active as far as blocking on the perimeter in our screen game. We are going to get them more active in our run game. I think it's an unselfish mentality that you've got to develop as an offense. Our guys truly know, we say it all the time, 'no block, no rock,' so in order for us to get the ball we have to be unselfish and block for others. And that's how we create explosive plays, not only in the pass game but the run game."

Q: What type of challenges do you think the Indiana secondary will pose on Saturday?
Gattis:
"Whenever you play a team that is, kind of like last week, that is a three-man rush team on a 3-4, some of the challenges would be that they drop eight men into coverage. They have an extra defender, whether that's in deep coverage or underneath. So, I think that is always a challenge when you are going against a 3-4 team is that they are going to drop eight. They have a little bit of history with us. Their defensive coordinator is a good friend of mine that I've known over time that was the defensive coordinator at Wake Forest. They are going to be ready. They are a well-coached team. They have good players in their secondary with a lot of starts. They are going to try and challenge us. And we are going to be prepared."



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By Matt Allibone, GoPSUSports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- Head coach Bob Warming had two words to describe goalie Andrew Wolverton's performance against Akron Wednesday night.

"Cheese and crackers," Warming said. "It was a really good night for him to do what he did."

Against the Zips, Wolverton registered five saves as the Nittany Lions won their regular season finale 1-0.

Although that may not seem like a huge number, the situations he made them in and the level of difficulty proved why the 6-foot-6 senior is considered the best goalie in the Big Ten.

With 2:30 remaining and the Lions trying to hold off a last-ditch Akron rally, Wolverton made an incredible lunging save off of a shot from Sean Sepe before recovering in time to block another attempt from Stuart Holthusen.

It was the second time Wolverton came up huge at the end of a half, as he also stopped a prime attempt from Adam Najem with 2:09 left in the first.

"It was awesome, he did a great job today," senior forward Mikey Minutillo, who scored the team's lone goal, said. "I told him after the game he's the reason we got the shutout. He made three or four big saves that I haven't seen any other goalie in the nation make."

Minutillo was perfectly calm as he praised his goaltender, and it's understandable why. After all, Wolverton is the reigning Big Ten Goalkeeper of the Year, and his teammates have become accustomed to such performances.

Still, the shutout was important for both Wolverton and the Nittany Lions in general.

After registering nine shutouts (Wolverton had eight) during their 10-0-1 start, the Lions gave up 11 goals in their next five games, which included four losses.


While the amount of goals a team allows doesn't fall completely on the shoulders of a goaltender, it felt good for Wolverton to get another shutout under his belt with the conference tournament beginning Sunday.

"Having a game like this always helps [your confidence] but it's better for the whole team," Wolverton said. "We got a goal and did well defensively and got a big win."

After four years of filled with highlight reel saves, it's no wonder that Wolverton takes a humble approach to his success.

The Nittany Lions all-time shutouts leader, Wolverton knows no goalie can perform well without a great team in front of him. However, it was his teammates that really needed him on Wednesday.

"That's just part of my job," Wolverton said. "Just like Mikey scoring goals, that's what I have to do to help the team win and I was fortunate to get a hold of a few tonight."

Grant and Gravatt Thrive Against Former Team

Riley Grant and Brett Gravatt both saw plenty of familiar faces Wednesday night.

That's because the two Nittany Lions were on the same field as their prior teammates in addition to their current ones, having both played for Akron as freshmen last season.

Though neither transfer has been a regular starter for Penn State, both came up big on Wednesday against their former team.

Gravatt started at midfield and got off three shots, while Grant came off the bench and assisted on Minutillo's goal with 9:16 remaining in the game.

"It was a weird feeling," Grant said. "I'm glad I was able to help the team, there's no hard feelings or anything."

Afterwards, both players spent a few minutes speaking with their former teammates and coaches.

"We're just wishing each other the best of luck," Gravatt said. "I think we left on good terms and we just want the best for each other."

For the two of them, the night was more about getting on the field in general and winning than getting on the field against their old team.

Gravatt earned his first start of the season after logging just 84 minutes of playing time in seven prior appearances while Grant spent the game against Northwestern on the bench.

"[Brett's] been playing better and better and been training and worked hard and he's been a good teammate," Warming said. "It was great that he got to play against his former school and he played very well.

"I'm just happy for Riley that he's playing better. He's got some talent and maybe the role we've had him in [at forward] is a little better than what we've tried with him in the midfield."

The performances come at a good time for the duo. With the postseason about to kick off, Grant and Gravatt are just happy to be contributing in any way possible.

"It felt great," Gravatt said. "I've been struggling with my knee all season and just trying to get fit and it just feels great to be on the field." 

Washington's Energy Fuels Teammates

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10431045 (1).jpegBy Anita Nham, GoPSUSports.com Student Staff Writer
UNVIERSITY PARK, Pa. - If you have attended a volleyball match at Rec Hall this fall, then it's likely that you have witnessed freshman Haleigh Washington's high energy on the court as she brings encouragement to her teammates with high-fives and fist pumps after successful points.

"I think my parents helped kindle that [lively personality]," said Washington. "I've always been kind of a goofball and just loud and obnoxious. My dad always said that if someone has a problem with how you act, then that's their problem, not yours, so just go out and be yourself, and that's what I do."

Washington made her collegiate debut against Yale on Sept. 12 and recorded six kills on .545 hitting with zero attack errors, but that was just the beginning. She entered the starting lineup against Illinois on Oct. 11 and though the team fell against the Fighting Illini, Washington had 14 kills and a team-high of seven blocks. Since that match, Washington has been a regular in the rotation for the team and has been making huge contributions during the Lions' six-match winning streak.

This week, Washington earned her first Big Ten Player of the Week honors following career-high performances in the two wins against Ohio State this past weekend.

In the matches against the Buckeyes, Washington led the team in blocks with 16 blocks, averaging 2.67 per set. She set a career-high record with nine total blocks in Columbus last Saturday. She also logged 15 kills in those two matches.

"It's really humbling [to be Big Ten Player of the Week] and it's just an honor and blessing that I get to represent Penn State in such a positive light," said Washington. "It's just a very humbling award and I feel very blessed."

Washington began playing volleyball in the seventh grade, but volleyball wasn't her first sport of choice.

"I actually really wanted to start playing football, but my dad wouldn't let me because well, he's my dad," said Washington. "He said, 'You're not allowed to play football,' so my best friend said, 'Hey, I'm going to this volleyball camp at the middle school if you want to go,' so I said okay. I went to this volleyball camp, played, ending up really liking it, and then I played club for our local club team, and then a bigger club, and then Colorado Springs found me and said, 'Hey, come play for us.' That's how I competitively started playing."

During her volleyball career in high school, she broke the Colorado state record by logging 48 kills in a single match and led her high school team, Doherty, to a state championship title in 2012. Her success continued as she was selected as the 2012 Colorado Volleyball Player of the Year, a two-time Colorado Gatorade Player of the Year from 2012-'13, the 2013 Volleyball Magazine Player of the Year, a 2013-'14 Under Armour First Team All-American, among many other accolades.

Nothing was able to hold Washington back from playing collegiate volleyball at Penn State. Not even the 1,500-plus miles that separated herself from her home in Denver, Colorado.

"This gym - I love this gym; it just feels like home," said Washington. "I love the program, I love Coach Rose's coaching style, and then the campus is just beautiful and it felt like home. [Penn State] offered a wide variety of majors and I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life, I still don't, but it's good to have options."

Teammate senior Lacey Fuller has really enjoyed playing alongside Washington.

"It's definitely been great [playing with Haleigh]," said Fuller. "I love playing with people with high energy...Someone who you can rely on to keep you fired up and it's just great to play with someone who is equally passionate about the game as you are."

Even with a bubbly personality, Washington is unaware of the effect she has on her teammates.

"I never really thought about it. I just kind of go out and play and I get excited," said Washington.

Aside from her play and extraordinary energy, Washington brings another special element to the team even though she's an underclassman


"She brings not only great energy, but a lot of wisdom for a young player," said Fuller. "I like to listen to what she has to say; she has a lot of great input that can help the team rally and do well."

Though Washington has earned numerous awards in her volleyball career, she believes that she still has plenty to improve on.

"I need to be better at so many things," said Washington. "My blocking still struggles; it needs to get better. I don't really trust my read. Getting smarter on hitting shots and improving my serves. I don't really serve yet, but I still need to be able to that in future seasons...Being a more versatile player, not just a one-trick pony."

Washington continues to push herself to become a better player, but her favorite attribute of herself is one that every teammate and fan loves.

"[My] energy and my personality is a pretty good thing. I mean, we have people on the team who can hit pretty hard and people on the team who have more experience, more volleyball IQ, so my volleyball energy is something I bring to the team. It's like a fire and it gets people hype, it gets people excited," said Washington.

VIDEO: James Franklin Practice Update - Indiana Week

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Head coach James Franklin provided an update to the media following Wednesday's practice session at the Lasch Football Complex. The Nittany Lions travel to Indiana on Saturday at noon (BTN).

New Challenges Await Nittany Lions as Season Begins

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10502867.jpegBy Matt Allibone, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Penn State wrestling team enters the 2014-'15 season in both a very similar and very different situation.


On one hand, the Nittany Lions are defending national champions for the fourth straight year. At the same time, a new era has clearly begun for head coach Cael Sanderson and company.

For starters, David Taylor and Ed Ruth are no longer in the lineup, having both graduated after finishing two of the greatest careers in recent wrestling history. The Lions will also likely be without All-Americans Nico Megaludis and Zain Retherford this season, as both have been granted redshirts.

Sanderson knows he doesn't have the same team as last year. The Nittany Lions are young and will need to take the wrestling world by surprise.

"This year, it's a different type of a challenge I think," Sanderson said. "We were sort of favored the past couple of years. It was very competitive ... but we felt very confident. This year, there's a different dynamic. We've got to climb and improve and make progress."

Still, that climb is part of the fun for the Nittany Lions. After winning with same faces for so long, trying to accomplish the same goals with some new wrestlers is an exciting task.

And make no mistake, the same goals still exist. True, the Nittany Lions have a long way to go, but the winning culture that has been built is very much alive.

"Every year's different regardless and you always have change over and different obstacles and blessings," Sanderson said. "We'll see what we can do this year, we'll see how well we can coach."

Let's take a look at the 2014-'15 Nittany Lions.

New Kids on the Block
When the Nittany Lions take the mat against Lehigh for their opener on Sunday, at least four wrestlers without significant starting experience will be in the lineup.

First off, at the 141-pound weight, redshirt freshman Kade Moss will get the start but will always see competition from junior Michael Waters throughout the year.

While both could see dual action this season, they'll have the tough task of replacing Retherford, who was remarkable during a 33-3 campaign last year that included a perfect regular season and a fifth-place NCAA finish.

"Kade Moss had a solid summer," Sanderson said. "He's a guy that's going to have to get some experience and develop, but he's the kind of guy that's got the mentality that we feel he can do that."

Even more daunting will be the task of filling the voids at 165 and 184, where Taylor and Ruth dominated for four years respectively.

Right now, redshirt freshman Garett Hammond will start at 165 while sophomore Wes Phipps and freshman Matt McCutcheon will compete at 184.

Phipps already has a taste of dual experience, having gone 2-2 in four starts last year. McCutcheon on the other hand, is eager to prove he can hold his own at this level.

"Wrestling with these Penn State guys, it doesn't get much better than the competition we have in this room," McCutcheon said. "This year is a little different, because we don't have the guys we may have had last year, but I think we're going to be an excellent group from top to bottom."

Finally, redshirt freshman Cody Law is expected to start the season at 157 while senior Dylan Alton recovers from injury.


Veteran Experience
Even with the new, youthful additions, there are still some familiar faces in the Penn State lineup.

It all begins at the 174 and 197-pound weights, where All-Americans Matt Brown and Morgan McIntosh will be relied on heavily.

There's no questioning the talent and production of the duo. Brown is 62-11 over the past two seasons and was the NCAA runner-up in 2013, while McIntosh went 32-5 last year and finished seventh at nationals in March.

What the Lions really need from both is leadership, something that Brown, a redshirt senior and two-time All-American, is more than capable of providing.

"Every year have a team vote on the leaders, and it seems he's always won that award," Sanderson said. "He leads by example, now we just need him to step it up a notch and compete with the same mentality he has from the beginning."

McIntosh, while only a junior, is looking forward to taking on a more vocal role as he works towards his personal goal of being a national champion.

"I want to start taking more responsibility," McIntosh said. "I want to be one of those guys that carries the team, and leads the team and scores bonus points."

Elsewhere, the Lions also have sophomore Jimmy Gulibon returning at 133, sophomore Zack Beitz getting more action at 149, and Alton, a 2012 All-American, looking to bounce back from a shoulder injury and regain his previous form.

At the end of the lineup, the battle for the heavyweight spot remains the same as the past two seasons. Seniors Jimmy Lawson and Jon Gingrich, who each have NCAA Tournament experience, will compete for duals while fellow senior Nick Ruggear is also in the mix.

"They all have experience and all have the potential to do well," Sanderson said. "That's a must score weight class for us at the national tournament."

Back in the Saddle
And then there's Jordan Conaway, who almost feels like a new addition even though he has plenty of experience.

Two years ago, the redshirt freshman was expected to be a temporary starter at 133 and proved to be more than capable in the role, going 19-10 (11-2 in duals) and coming one win short of being named an All-American.

With Gulibon sliding into the 133-pound weight class last year, the Abbottstown, Pennsylvania, native was relegated to the sidelines for all but five duals. Now, with Megaludis redshirting, he'll have a chance to make his mark at his natural weight of 125.

"After what happened last year, starting a little bit and getting beat out, I'm ready to go again," Conaway said. "Top position and riding people and a little more defense on my feet are the things I was working on [in the offseason]."

As tough as it is to have a three-time All-American in Megaludis sit out, Sanderson is glad that Conaway will once again get chance to showcase his skills.

In a sport that exemplifies hard work and dedication, the 125-pounder somehow manages to go beyond the call of duty when it comes to effort.

"He's a kid that doesn't ever want to go home. We have to say, 'hey Jordan, you need to go home for a few days,'" Sanderson said. "He trains all summer long and he's here working because he wants to be the best."

Like the rest of his teammates, Conaway knows that people think this is a rebuilding year for the Nittany Lions. But proving everyone wrong, that's where the fun begins.

"We have a lot of guys that are stepping in for the first time and it's exciting to see how they're going to do, "Conaway said. "I think they're going to do really well." 

A Home Full of Tradition and Energy

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10502355.jpegBy Samantha DelRosso, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNVIERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Eighty-six years ago, a new building stood on the corner of Burrowes Street and Curtin Road. They called it Recreation Hall. It quickly became home to many Penn State sports teams, and in 1976, it became home to Penn State women's volleyball.

Tradition
Tradition and history are what makes Rec Hall so special for the Penn State women's volleyball team. Thirty-four All-Americans and six National Championship teams have played in the same facility that the 2014 Nittany Lions play in now.

Senior Dominique Gonzalez said that playing in Rec Hall, a gym full of tradition, gives Penn State an advantage in home matches. She said playing in Rec Hall drives the players to strive to be great, because of all of the great players before them.

"There is a sense of pride that we have when we step out on to our home court [in Rec Hall]," Gonzalez said. "Other teams, when they walk into the gym, they can look up at the banners and see the tradition that we have here. And that gives us a little bit of an upper hand."

Because the building has the same feel of when it was constructed in 1928, junior Megan Courtney said she enjoys being able to see the past of Rec Hall while in the present. She said the banners that hang in Rec Hall speak to the tradition inside of Rec Hall.  

The tradition is one of Courtney's favorite parts of playing in Rec Hall.

"When you step on that floor, you're like, 'Oh my gosh. There's so much great tradition that's been established here. So many great players have played on this floor that I'm standing on right now,'" Courtney said.

Spectators
Thousands of fans flood into Rec Hall on match day to support the Nittany Lions. This season, Rec Hall is averaging 2,636 fans per match. On Oct. 24, 4,622 fans attended the Michigan match, setting a record this season for attendance.

Having thousands of fans in a facility like Rec Hall, where the fans are so close to the court and the players, provides an advantage for Penn State.  Courtney said the setup of gym creates a great environment.

"You have fans on both sides. Boosters on one side, student section on the other. And the band on the backside," Courtney said. "Each different section has their own way of cheering for you. Whether it's the band being loud, or the student section or the boosters, who are just incredible, you're surrounded by moral support."

The student section, known as The wRECking Crew, is one of Rec Hall's main sources of energy during matches. The name, a play on words including 'Rec' for Rec Hall, also serves as a theme for the student section. Every match, the members of student section wear construction hats to "demolish their opponents."

Vice President of The wRECking Crew, Mackenzie Rupert, said that the passionate group of students loves to support Penn State women's volleyball at every home match.

"We are the seventh man on the team as an outside source of energy for the ladies when they need it most. When opponents come to Rec Hall, The wRECking Crew is there to make it loud," Rupert said.  

Gonzalez appreciates the fan base in Rec Hall and said that it helps fire up the team.

"You have a certain fan base that follows us all of the time. You have the boosters and the loyal student section that come, and that means a lot to us," Gonzalez said. "It's very warming for us to look up in the stands and see a group of people that we really appreciate and know is there to support us every home match. I think it's great to play behind supportive fans. "

Whether it's the tradition or the fan base, there is something about Rec Hall that gives the Nittany Lions a true home court advantage. Penn State is 253-19 in Big Ten matches in Rec Hall. The Nittany Lions are looking to extend that record this weekend as they take on their new Big Ten foes, Rutgers and Maryland.

"I love everything about Rec Hall. The fans, the sense of being at home, it's a place where I looked at for four years before I came here," Gonzalez said. "So being able to step out on the court in Rec Hall and be a part of the program is my favorite part."

Nittany Lions Start Postseason Journey with Big Ten Tournament

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10442147.jpegBy Miranda Kulp, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Penn State women's soccer team will officially start its postseason on Wednesday afternoon when the Lions meet Northwestern in the Big Ten Tournament (1:30 p.m.). After winning its 16th Big Ten Championship and third outright title in the past four years, Penn State earned the No. 1 seed in the conference tournament.

Coming off of its strong finish to the regular season, the team is staying focused on what needs to be accomplished during the tournament.

"We take it one game at a time," senior Whitney Church said. "We approach every game as a new opportunity and try to stay more focused on the present than on the past."


The Lions start off the week facing Northwestern, who they beat 4-1 in the regular season. If victorious, Penn State would play the winner between Iowa and Rutgers. Both Rutgers and Iowa played a significant role in the Lions' regular season.

Finishing the season with an overall record of 17-2-0, Penn State lost just once on Jeffrey Field in 2014. That came in a narrow 1-0 decision against Rutgers on Oct. 11.

If the Lions do find themselves facing Rutgers again, they can use the past as a learning experience and build on that game with confidence.

"We never try and dwell on the past, as a team it's important to always stay positive," Church said.

The other potential opponent in the second match of the tournament, should the Lions advance, would be Iowa. Last week, Penn State beat Iowa, 2-1, to clinch the Big Ten regular season title. Nonetheless, all eyes are looking ahead to the first game on the tournament schedule against Northwestern.

The conference tournament structure presents a unique challenge for the Nittany Lions.


With the team potentially playing up to three games in just five short days, the players and coaching staff have been preparing both mentally and physically for this tournament.

"It is a lot within a short amount of time. We give it our all during the games and then make sure we recover for the next game," Church said.

For the four seniors on the team, this is their last chance to walk away with not only the Big Ten regular season title, but the tournament crown, as well.

"I think this year is more nerve wrecking than any prior," Church said. "It's because it's the seniors last time with this team and we want to know we gave it all we could for our last season together."

The four seniors on the team have not only taken on leadership roles on the team but have become second coaches for the younger players.

There are 11 freshmen on the 2014 team which also means that are 11 players experiencing this tournament and the intensity of a postseason for the first time in their collegiate careers.

"It's really exciting since it's a new experience but also a little overwhelming. I think as a team we are ready," freshman Haleigh Echard said. "It makes the journey easier knowing there are 11 of us going through this new experience together. We can also always look up to the older players who have been through this before for advice if we need it."

The 2014 team has transformed from a team into a family, and that transformation has translated into success.

The Lions are approaching the tournament one game at a time with the same dedication, passion, and momentum that has carried them throughout the season. 

2014 Opponent Previews - Indiana

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10502219.jpegIndiana | Memorial Stadium | 12 p.m. | Big Ten Network
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State travels to Bloomington on Saturday to take on the Hoosiers. Get to know Indiana in this week's scouting report.

The Hoosiers are led by fourth-year head coach Kevin Wilson, who is 13-30 in his career at IU. Indiana went 5-7 overall and 3-5 in the Big Ten in 2013.  They returned 59 lettermen and 18 starters from a year ago.

Indiana fell to 3-5 overall and 0-4 in the Big Ten last Saturday, losing 34-10 at Michigan. The Hoosiers gained 191 yards on offense, rushing for 167 yards.  Freshman quarterback Zander Diamont completed five of his eight passes for 24 yards.  He also rushed for 49 yards on seven attempts.  Running back Tevin Coleman continued a strong season, gaining 108 yards on 27 carries.  D'Angelo Roberts rushed for 19 yards, including a three-yard touchdown. Shane Wynn caught two passes for 12 yards.

The Hoosiers allowed 404 yards against Michigan, including 184 rushing.  Safety Antonio Allen led the defense with 10 tackles, six solo, and also added 0.5 TFL and a pass breakup. Fellow safety Mark Murphy recorded seven stops, while linebacker David Cooper had six tackles, including one for loss. Chase Dutra intercepted a pass, returning it 39 yards.

Indiana ranks eighth in the Big Ten in scoring, averaging 27.6 points per game. They also average 426.6 total yards, ranking fifth.  The Hoosiers average 274.5 yards rushing and 152.1 yards passing, ranking third and 12th in the conference, respectively.

Diamont will make his third start of the season at quarterback after junior Nate Sudfeld suffered a shoulder injury.  Diamont has completed 10 of his 23 pass attempts for 35 yards. He has yet to throw a touchdown or an interception, but he has rushed for 37 yards and a touchdown.

A good blend of size and speed, Coleman is third in FBS in total rushing yards with 1,300 yards and first in rushing yards per game (162.5). He averages 8.0 yards per carry and has 11 touchdowns.  The 6-foot-1, 210-pound junior has rushed for 100 yards in 10 straight games, dating back to last year.  Coleman also has 17 catches for 140 yards.  Roberts has contributed 435 yards and six touchdowns.

The Hoosier receivers are led by 5-foot-7 speedster Shane Wynn. The senior has 436 yards and two scores on 29 receptions, averaging 15 yards per catch.  Wynn also has a 75-yard rushing touchdown.  Nick Stoner has 18 catches for 177 yards and a touchdown. Freshman J-Shun Harris II has 18 receptions for 139 yards and two scores.

The Indiana offensive line has combined for 109 career starts and includes a redshirt senior, two redshirt juniors, a junior and a redshirt sophomore. Guard Dan Feeney and tackle Jason Spriggs were each projected third team All-Big Ten in the preseason by Phil Steele.

Indiana has allowed 34.8 points and 445.4 total yards per game, ranking 13th in the Big Ten in both categories.  They have given up 170.6 yards rushing, ranking 10th, and 274.8 yards passing, ranking 14th.

Nick Mangieri, playing the "Bandit" position on the Hoosiers' defensive line, has 27 tackles, 15 solo, two sacks and an interception.  Defensive end Bobby Richardson has 20 tackles, 5.5 for loss and 4.5 sacks, while tackle Nate Hoff has five tackles for loss and two sacks. 

Middle linebacker T.J. Simmons leads his position group with 45 tackles, including 25 solo. He also has 2.5 tackles for loss, a sack and an interception. Outside linebacker David Cooper has recorded 41 tackles, 21 solo and two for loss. Forisse Hardin, an outside linebacker, has 35 stops, including 3.5 for loss and a sack.

Allen leads the team with 46 tackles, including 26 solo, and 1.5 for loss. Cornerback Tim Bennett, has made 44 stops and broken up nine passes.  Fellow cornerback Michael Hunter has 28 tackles, three for loss, and two pass break-ups.  Murphy has 34 tackles and an interception, while Dutra has two picks.

Kicker Griffin Oakes has connected on five of his seven attempts, with a long of 58 yards.  Punter Erich Toth averages nearly 41 yards per kick, placing 12 inside the 20-yard-line. Wynn handles the kick and punt return duties. He averages 22 yards per kick return, with a long return of 35 yards.

Penn State leads the all-time series 16-1, on the field. Indiana won 44-24 last year in Bloomington.


What Kevin Wilson is saying about Penn State:

"[Christian] Hackenberg is one of the better players in our conference. He throws the ball quite a bit. They do some stuff that starts with the quarterback and getting the ball down the field to some young receivers that are very, very good."

"Strength of their team is a very, very strong defense, I think first in our league and the country in run defense."

"Penn State is very solid up front. Their one inside player, [Anthony] Zettel is tremendously active. He's a great player."


Contributions on all of the 2014 Opponent Previews provided by GoPSUsports.com Student Writer Paul Marboe.

VIDEO: Indiana Week Player Q&As - Sam Ficken & Anthony Zettel

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - GoPSUsports.com catches up with senior kicker Sam Ficken and junior defensive tackle Anthony Zettel during Indiana week.

VIDEO: Nittany Lion Wrestling Hosts 2014-'15 Media Day

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VIDEO: Cael Sanderson Press ConferenceMedia Day Photo Gallery

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The four-time defending NCAA champion Nittany Lion wrestling team hosted its annual media day on Tuesday afternoon inside the Lorenzo Wrestling Complex.

Head coach Cael Sanderson addressed the gathered local and regional media members to preview the upcoming season before an open media session with the 2014-'15 wrestlers. The fifth-ranked Nittany Lions open their dual match season on Sunday against No. 17 Lehigh inside sold out Rec Hall, and Sanderson is eager to get the season started.

"I'm excited to get this going to see where we are right now," said Sanderson. "...We want to see where we are as a team (on Sunday)."

The 2014-'15 Nittany Lions will take on a much different look this season with the graduation of defending NCAA champions David Taylor (165) and Ed Ruth (184). Sanderson also confirmed on Tuesday that All-Americans Nico Megaludis (125) and Zain Retherford (141) would likely redshirt. The openings in the lineup will give a host of new Nittany Lions an opportunity to emerge in the starting lineup.

"I feel confident that the overall foundation of our program is as strong as it has ever been," Sanderson said. "Our base is getting wider and stronger."

The Nittany Lions enter the season with seven wrestlers ranked, led by No. 3 Matt Brown at 174 pounds. Junior Morgan McIntosh is ranked No. 4 at 197 pounds. Penn State will begin the season with competition throughout the lineup as Sanderson seeks to find the best combination of starters. No fewer than six spots on the probable lineup for the Lehigh match indicate competition, including a three-way battle at heavyweight.

"I think we are going to have a fun team this year," Sanderson said.


Stay tuned for much more coverage leading up to Sunday's season-opener on GoPSUsports.com.





Follow GoPSUsports.com's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

Week Nine Press Conference Roundup - Indiana Week

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10501116.jpegJames Franklin Transcript - Nov. 4

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Nittany Lions (4-4, 1-4) head on the road this week for a matchup against Indiana (3-5, 0-4) on Saturday at noon (BTN).

Head coach James Franklin previewed the matchup against the Hoosiers on Tuesday afternoon inside the Beaver Stadium Media Room.

The Nittany Lion defense again turned in a dominant performance on Saturday, limiting Maryland to 194 total yards of offense, including just 33 on the ground. Penn State leads the nation in rushing defense (77.1 ypg) heading into the Big Ten East Division tilt against Indiana.

"Defensively, we're doing a nice job stopping the run and eliminating the big plays," said Franklin. "We need to get more turnovers. That would be helpful for us. Third down, we were excellent (last week)."

This week, the Nittany Lion defense will face a stiff test matching up against the nation's top rusher. Indiana's Tevin Coleman is No. 1 in the nation in rushing yards per game (162.5), rushing yards per carry (8.02) and yards from scrimmage per game (180.0). As a team, Indiana is ranked third in the Big Ten at 274.5 rushing yards per game. Franklin and the Nittany Lion defense are looking forward to the challenge.

"It's funny, me and Bob Shoop were just talking about this. It kind of reminds us of McFadden, who used to be at Arkansas, a little bit," Franklin said. "He's big, he's strong, he's a one‑cut runner. The thing that was interesting too, I was looking at their offensive line, they've got a massive offensive line, but not only that, they have depth and experience."

Core value No. 1 for the Penn State Football program is approaching all facets of life with a positive attitude. That being said, the team is looking ahead with great confidence. The mindset for Franklin and the Nittany Lions will never change and the level of enthusiasm towards getting better each week will never waver. That could not have been more evident listening to Coach Franklin on Tuesday afternoon.

"(We are) in a great mood. Excited about getting out to practice today and getting better and continuing to work with these guys," Franklin said. "(We've) Got a tremendous opportunity. Myself, the staff, the players are more determined and more optimistic than we've ever been."

Correcting the little mistakes on the offensive side of the ball is on top of the priority list moving forward. Franklin is seeing progress each week, but he is looking for the unit to clean up the small mistakes this week at Indiana.

"Offensively, it really just comes down to execution," Franklin said. "There are too many little things. Whether it's footwork, whether it's assignment that we're not doing consistently, and it's not one person; it's one person this play, it's a different person that play. So we have to do a better job there."

The Nittany Lions and Hoosiers are slated for a noon kick on Saturday. The two teams have met 17 times in a series dating back to 1993.


Press Conference Notes
- Ryan Keiser injury update
"I don't want to get into the specifics and details unless there is something to really be told. But he is doing extremely well from everything that we're told. We have a staff meeting every morning at 7 a.m., and that is part of the discussion. I've talked to Ryan's mom multiple times. I've talked to Ryan's wife multiple times. Our training staff as well as our doctors have been involved every step of the way. I think Tim Bream, our head trainer went down yesterday to visit with him. From everything I'm hearing and everything I know he's doing great."

- Franklin on the Indiana offense:
"They're averaging 274 rushing yards per game, number three in the Big Ten, and number 10 nationally. I think that's what this game is really about. Our rush defense versus their running back, who is leading the country in rushing right now. They return seven starters. They're a spread, no-huddle, tempo offense. The last three games they've had 11 big plays. Ten runs, one pass for a total of 615 yards. Explosive offense. That's what you watch them, they may go zero yards, one yard, zero yards, two yards, and then an 80-yarder. That's kind of who they've been."

- Franklin on the Indiana defense:
"They've improved dramatically over the last couple of years. They've got nine starters returning. They're a three-four defense. Really big up front. I think they were starting to develop some depth as a four-three defensive line. Now they're only playing with three defensive linemen on the field, but you look at them, they've got 300-pounders almost three-deep. You look, they're a cover four defense. They do a really good job in the secondary running around. They're a multiple pressure defense."

- Franklin on the Indiana special teams:

"
They have a really fast slot receiver as well as specialist, Shane Wynn, No. 1. That's kind of who they are on special teams as well. Shane Wynn is their punt returner and kick returner. Their kicker has a really strong leg. He's made a 58-yard field goal this year, and that is 21 touchbacks. "





Follow GoPSUsports.com's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

VIDEO: #WGYMonday - Meet Oni Timothy

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Penn State women's gymnastics team is just 10 weeks away from opening their 2015 campaign and each Monday we introduce you to a member of the squad. Our third #WGYMonday feature introduces Oni Timothy from Rochester, N.Y.


By Gabrielle Richards, GoPSUsports Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- A captain is someone that leads by example. Someone who digs deep in order to do whatever they can to help the team. A captain puts the team on their back. Senior captain Laura Gebhart displayed remarkable leadership in Friday's game against No. 8 Northwestern with her poise and control.

The Big Ten Network televised game was slated to be one of the toughest for the Nittany Lions. The Wildcats have been successful and consistent over the past few years, making a true impact on Big Ten competition. This was the last home and regular-season matchup for the senior Nittany Lions and they weren't going to settle for anything less than a 'W'.

From the sound of the first whistle, spectators in the stands and those watching from home could tell this was going to be a 70-minute battle. The tenacity of both teams inside the 25-yard line was infectious as well as a great display of athleticism and sportsmanship. There was a lot on the line in this game: Northwestern had a Big Ten Title on the line and the Nittany Lions were focused on earning their right to play in the NCAA Tournament.

"Northwestern is a strong team, they are physical in a good way," head coach Charlene Morett-Curtiss said. "This was a display of great hockey."

First Half Passing Game
Penn State's passing game in the first half was textbook. Short, crisp, controlled passes inside the mid field helped them control the game early on. Precision passing and speed gave them several scoring opportunities in the first half. Penn State was able to fire off 10 shots on goal, compared to Northwestern's four; each team forced three corners. Senior keeper Kylie Licata was a brick house in goal, taking the initiative and making stellar saves.

"I thought we had a really great first half," Gebhart said. "Our passing game was great and we really took control. We were all feeling really positive after the first half."

The first score didn't come until the 21 minute mark of the first half. Gebhart fired off a shot from the hash mark outside of the Wildcats' circle and found Taylor Herold at the stroke mark. Herold tipped it in, giving the Nittany Lions a buffer for the next 14 minutes before half time.

With seven seconds left on the clock, Northwestern was awarded a corner. With zero seconds on the clock off a direct shot, the Wildcats tied the score before the half.

Now, it was anyone's game.

Second Half...a Defensive Battle
The second half of Friday's contest was controlled by the defense. Seniors Katie Breneman and Katie Andrews stepped up by switching gears into "attack defense" mode, where they were making plays at the 50-yard line.

"Katie B and Katie A really stepped up their physical game in the second half," coach Morett-Curtiss said. "That's the Big Ten Conference, its physical. I think we need to step up how physical we are."

Amanda Dinunzio recorded the only shot from inside the circle in the first 10 minutes of the second half. Despite it being the second half, it appeared as though the game had moved faster.

With a tied score and ample time on the clock, any team that took control of the passing game inside of the 25-yard lines would have the best opportunity to change the scoreboard.

Enter Laura Gebhart.

Putting The Team On Your Back
For anyone watching in the stands or at home, overtime seemed almost inevitable with a tied score and seven minutes left of regulation. Then, Gebhart picked off a pass at the 50-yard line.

You could tell she was going to find the back of the net; you could see her determination. As she weaved and bobbed through the Northwestern defense, the ball never left her stick. She didn't falter, nor lose focus as she approached the outline of the circle.

Gebhart ripped off a beautiful, controlled drive into the back corner of the cage. Her shot was so powerful, the sound of the ball hitting the back of the cage echoed as loud as the Nittany Lion roar on the sound system.

"That goal was beautiful; she put the team on her back on this one," coach Morett-Curtiss. "She is a determined competitor, that's all her."

Looking Ahead to the Big Ten Tournament
The Nittany Lions head to Ann Arbor, Mich. on Thursday to face off against Michigan State in their first round of tournament play. The last time they met was over a month ago in which Penn State won, 2-1.

Heading into the postseason, Penn State's poise and control are the key weapons that will help them in their pursuit of the Big Ten Tournament Championship. These weapons have evolved since their exhibition games early on in the season and they came full circle against Northwestern.

"Our possession in this game was phenomenal," Gebhart said. We have really been working on that. Our defense really stepped up today, too. We are in good shape."

 

 

 

 

 

 



By Tyler Feldman, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -
Penn State displayed a terrific response on special teams this past weekend against Syracuse as all three Nittany Lion goals ­were scored via the power play and the penalty-killing unit allowed just one Orange man advantage goal.

In its first CHA series of the season, Penn State (3-4-3, 0-1-1 CHA) fell to Syracuse (2-3-5, 1-0-1 CHA) on Friday night, 3-1, and tied on Saturday afternoon, 2-2.

"I'm really pleased with the overall effort," said head coach Josh Brandwene. "We got great play from both sides of special teams, power play and penalty kill. I love how we've responded to adversity on the road."

In Friday's contest Amy Petersen netted the team's first power play goal of the weekend. With assists from Laura Bowman and Bella Sutton, Petersen managed to even the score in the second period, before falling, 3-1.

Success on the power play continued into Saturday for the Nittany Lions as Bowman scored a special teams goal of her own to tie the tie the game in the first period, 1-1. This time around it was Petersen and Sutton with the assists.


After a Syracuse penalty with 4:20 left in the third period, Petersen notched her second power play goal of the weekend with assists by Bowman and Shannon Yoxheimer to tie the Orange, 2-2.

"It's great battles for loose pucks and maintaining zone possession time by the power play," said Brandwene. "Great communication and great vision seeing passing lanes and great poise, as well."

While Petersen pushes her goal total to eight on the season, as a team, the Nittany Lions converted on 43% (3-for-7) of their man-advantage opportunities against Syracuse.

"Certainly the success on the power play was big for us," said Brandwene. "I really, really feel good about the effort and response that we're getting. It's a total team effort out there for us."

The Penn State penalty-killing units played disciplined hockey, allowing just one Orange power play goal in six attempts.

"On the penalty kill, really good job with skating up ice and great job shutting down lanes," said Brandwene.

With such balanced play on both sides of special teams against Syracuse, Brandwene is certainly pleased with the development and progression of the power play and penalty kill so far this season.|

"It speaks to how coachable they are, and they deserve all the credit for the continued progress we are making on both sides of special teams," said Brandwene. "The continued attention to battling for every loose puck. Winning those 50/50 battles and just sustaining the intensity."

Notable first-year performances this weekend go to defenseman Bella Sutton who tallied two assists on the weekend and goaltender Hannah Ehresmann who stopped 50 shots in Friday's tie.

Having played ten games so far this season, Brandwene is happy with the adjustments and growth of the many freshmen.

"Our freshman class continues to grow," said Brandwene. "They learn. They work. They're willing to get better. I'm really appreciative of their efforts at the start of our season here."

By Matt Allibone, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- For the second straight game, it took over 100 minutes for a winner to be decided in a Penn State men's soccer game.

A week after Michael Gonzalez gave the Nittany Lions a thrilling 2-1 victory in double overtime against Wisconsin, the Blue and White were not as fortunate this time around, falling to Northwestern 2-1.

Entering the game needing only a tie to clinch their third straight Big Ten title, the Nittany Lions were just 100 seconds away from a draw when Wildcats forward Mike Roberge took a long pass and got the winning shot by Andrew Wolverton.

Although the loss was heartbreaking, it certainly wasn't because of a lack of effort. The Lions got off 14 shots and rallied to tie the game after falling behind 1-0 15 minutes in on a goal by Eric Weberman.

"I couldn't be prouder of my guys," head coach Bob Warming said afterwards. "Northwestern can be such a tough place to play. Our guys played with great cohesion and great organization."

A few weeks ago, the Nittany Lions may not have even gotten into overtime in a game like that.

In back-to-back losses against Maryland and Michigan State, the Lions fell behind early and were never able to recover. Against the No. 20 Wildcats however, they managed to fight back, tying the game on a Mikey Minutillo goal off of a penalty with eight minutes remaining in the first half.

In the second half, the Lions took control early on and looked poised to break the tie. Brandon Savino, Mason Klerks and Connor Maloney all had prime chances stopped by Northwestern goalie Tyler Miller, who played terrifically and made eight saves.

"They really kept playing hard and battling," Warming said. "They showed a lot of fight in them today.

"Northwestern is really organized and well coached and they just don't give up a lot of chances. We had a couple of good ones that were just a little off today."

One player who epitomized the attitude that Warming wants to see is Minutillo, who scored his sixth goal of the year despite coming off the bench for the first time all season.

Entering the season with the expectation of being one of the keys to Penn State's offense, Minutillo was a consistent producer early in the season yet entered Sunday having not scored since October 1 against Bucknell.

With Owen Griffith returning from an injury that kept him out of the Wisconsin game and Gonzalez having proven himself as a capable starter on defense, Warming moved Griffith up to forward and decided to see if Minutillo would be a better fit as a spark off the bench.

That certainly proved to be correct, as the California native didn't complain about the change and gave the Lions the offensive boost they needed. On the goal, the senior had his initial attempt and first rebound blocked before finally knocking it home on the third try.

"I thought [Mikey] could be the type of guy that could come in and really give us a spark off the bench," Warming said. "He certainly did that."

As heartbreaking as the loss was, it doesn't end the Nittany Lions season or their chances of winning the Big Ten title. They can still win the conference if Rutgers can win or tie against Maryland on Wednesday.

The Lions could still wind up playing Northwestern again in the conference tournament, and at the very least their effort today gives them the confidence that they can play with the Wildcats.

"We are all really disappointed in the loss," Warming said. "I still think the guys are really focused. They came here a good team and left an even better one." 

Monday Notebook: Ficken Clutch for the Nittany Lions

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10497149.jpegUNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Senior kicker Sam Ficken is quietly putting together one of the best seasons of any placekicker across the country.

Following a 4-for-4 effort in Saturday's game against Maryland, Ficken was named one of three stars by the Lou Groza Award on Monday. Additionally, he was named Big Ten Specialist of the Week for the fourth time in his career. The Indiana native nailed three field goals of 45-plus yards, a feat no other Penn State kicker has accomplished since at least 1982.

For the season, Ficken has been virtually automatic, going 17-for-19 on field goal attempts and 17-for-17 on PATs.

"He's been playing extremely well," said head coach James Franklin. "I said that to you guys in the spring. I said that to you in the summer. He's also an example of a guy who's been here; he's a senior, he's done everything right both on and off the field. He's graduated. You're talking about a veteran player, who's seen it and done it and that shows up on the field."

Ficken's only unsuccessful field goal attempts in 2014 are two kicks that were blocked. He's been a model of consistency since spring practice began in March.

"Of course, everything right now seems to be going right for me," said Ficken. "With Ryan Keiser being out Chris Gulla is doing a tremendous job filling in for him. When they do their job correctly it makes my job a whole lot easier, and I have to give them credit for that."

Ficken and Keiser developed a tremendous rapport on field goal attempts during the past two seasons. When Keiser hurt his hand and could not hold in the latter stages of 2013, Ficken's percentage dropped. Ficken went to work in the offseason to build chemistry with a second holder to make sure it did not happen again in 2014 if he needed to work with someone other than Keiser.

With Keiser out for the remainder of the season, Ficken's work with Gulla during the offseason proved to be paramount on a perfect kicking Saturday.

Ficken is ranked No. 3 in the nation in field goals made per game (17; 2.13 pg) and No. 10 in the nation in accuracy at 89.5 percent.

The senior has been just as clutch as he has been accurate this season. In the fourth quarter of games this year, Ficken is 5-for-5 on field goal attempts. That includes a game-winner against UCF and a kick that sent Penn State into overtime against Ohio State.

"My mindset is if they send me out I am expected to make the kick," said Ficken. "The score of the game adds a little pressure on how big the kick is, but in my mind, every kick is important."

Penn State travels to Indiana for a noon kick (BTN) on Saturday in Bloomington.


Lions Top Nation in Rushing Defense
After limiting Maryland to 33 rushing yards on Saturday, the Nittany Lions returned to the No. 1 spot in the nation in rushing defense. Through eight games, the Nittany Lions have allowed 77.1 rushing yards per game. Additionally, the Lions are now third nationally in total defense. Penn State opponents have accounted for 273.4 yards of total offense against the Lions this season. The Lions are ranked ninth nationally in scoring defense (17.8 ppg).

Lions in the Stat Rankings
Several Nittany Lions remain among the leaders in national and conference statistical categories. Here is a weekly breakdown of Penn State players in the stat rankings:

QB Christian Hackenberg - Hackenberg is leading the Big Ten in passing yards (2,038), passing yards per game (254.8 ypg) and completions per game (22.88).

WR DaeSean Hamilton - Hamilton is eighth nationally (first in the Big Ten) in receptions per game (7.8). He ranks 18th in the nation and second in the Big Ten in receiving yards per game at 91.0.

LB Mike Hull - Hull leads the Big Ten and is seventh in the nation in tackles (11.5 per game). He is second in the Big Ten and 13th nationally in solo tackles per game at 6.5.

K Sam Ficken - Ficken is third in the nation and first in the Big Ten in field goals made per game at 2.13.

Early Look at the Hoosiers
Indiana enters the weekend looking to snap a three-game slide. The Hoosiers dropped a 34-10 decision at Michigan on Saturday.

The Hoosiers are 3-5 overall and 0-4 in Big Ten play. Indiana knocked off then-No. 18 Missouri on Sept. 20 (31-27) before the Big Ten season began.

With starting quarterback Nate Sudfeld out for the season (shoulder), Indiana has turned to true freshman Zander Diamont as the leader of the offense. The Hoosiers boast one of the top rushing offenses in the nation, thanks to junior Tevin Coleman. Coleman is nation's leading rusher at 162.5 yards per game. He is third in the nation with 1,300 total rushing yards and fifth in the nation in yards per carry (8.02). He has rushed for 11 scores in 2014.

Penn State and Indiana will meet for 18th time on Saturday. The Nittany Lions are 16-1 all-time against the Hoosiers.


Follow GoPSUsports.com's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

Lady Lions Building From Exhibition Against IUP

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10497136.jpegBy Mike Esse, GoPSUSports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Head coach Coquese Washington has been very straightforward when evaluating her 2014-'15 Lady Lion basketball team - they are young and are a work in progress with a huge upside. Washington had that evaluation solely from practice and workouts prior to Sunday's exhibition game against IUP, the first time her new look team took the court together in a game like environment.

Although the 75-71 win won't count on the season record, there were many takeaways from the hard fought win over the Crimson Hawks.

Good To Be Back
The much-anticipated return to the court of guards Lindsey Spann and Sierra Moore started off well in their first appearance as Lady Lions.

Moore, who transferred from Duke and sat out all of last season, tallied 18 points and seven rebounds in 27 minutes on the floor. She also shot efficiently from the field, shooting 61.5 percent and tallied 17 of her 18 points in the second half.

"It was great to be back on the court with the people you love," Moore said. "It's our family, so to get out there are practicing [with them all of last year] and finally play in front of your home crowd was great."

Spann's return was equally as impressive, as her final line featured 14 points, four assists and three rebounds in 37 minutes of play. Sunday marked Spann's first time in a college game like experience, as she was injured for the entire 2013-'14 season after suffering an ACL injury.

She was able to command the offense and provide a noticeable presence on defense in her first time playing with a Lady Lion jersey on.

"For it to be my first college game I was excited and I enjoyed it," she said.

Her head coach enjoyed it, too.

"I thought Lindsey did a pretty good job of running the team for a freshman who has never played a game before, and also playing with other new players," Washington said. "It's not like she is walking in the door and she is a freshman with some experience around her. I thought she did a fantastic job of leading the team and running the team."

Spreading The Wealth
Penn State had four players in double figures, and it seemed like one of the four players shined at different points of the game. Kaliyah Mitchell and Jenny DeGraaf joined Spann and Moore in double figures with 12 and 11 points, respectively.

"That is one of the pleasant surprises about this team," she said. ""We don't necessarily have that one player that we have to rely on, but we can get contributions from a lot of people."

The sharpshooting DeGraaf provided sparks in both halves, going 3-for-3 in the first half and 1-for-2 in the second with two three pointers and four total rebounds in 24 minutes of play. Junior College transfer Dominique Brooks and sophomore Keke Sevillian also chipped in with eight combined points, five rebounds, three steals and a block.

All three players came off of the bench for Penn State, adding to the scoring depth on the roster.

"Our bench production will be good this year," Washington said. "Our bench can be really impactful for us and allow everybody to step up at different times and make plays."

Owning The Glass
The Lady Lions had its largest statistical advantage in the rebounding category Sunday afternoon. Led by Peyton Whitted who had 10 boards, the blue and white out-rebounded the Crimson Hawks 48 to 27.

Besides Whitted, there were four other players with five-plus rebounds, including Mitchell's nine and Moore's seven. Penn State's work on the glass led to 48 points in the paint and 14 second-chance points.

Work inside was perhaps the equalizer and eventual difference as the Crimson Hawks attempted 32 three pointers, many of which Penn State was able to collect off the miss.

"We use our size to impact the boards," Washington said. "We do a good job of getting out of transition and now we just have to get better at the decision making aspect and making sure those are positive plays."

Things To Work On
There are still categories Penn State needs to improve on as their young squad continues to mold.

On the state sheet, the most glaring category that needs improvement is taking care of the basketball. Penn State gave the ball up 20 times compared to IUP's 12 turnovers. Both players and coaches said that is a product of young and inexperienced players in a fast paced game environment.

"I think some of it was rushing," Spann said. "We just needed to calm down and not rush things. From both a passer and a receiver, we just need to take care of the ball."

Communication is also something Washington wants to see improve, but she knows that is a byproduct of having a younger team.

"We have to get our communication better," Washington said. "When you ask what we did well, it is 'we did this well but.' We have to get better, but I am confident we will."

Scheme-wise, the one area Penn State was in an uncomfortable situation was when IUP when into a zone defense. In years past, Maggie Lucas was a source of bail out for Penn State, but now there is not one singular answer to a zone defense.

Washington said that improvement will come by continuing to practice a zone offense and ways to teach her players how to attack it better. She did say though, at times her players handled the zone the right way.

"I think you saw flashes of when we move the ball we can give our shooters open shot sand we can get shots for our cutters in different spots," Washington said.

Penn State is back in action with the preseason WNIT on Friday Nov. 14 at noon against Towson at the Bryce Jordan Center.

Lions Complete Two Comebacks to Sweep Bentley

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10480649.jpeg
By Julie Bacanskas, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - One weekend. Two comebacks. Two victories.

With minutes left in Friday's game against Bentley, fans at Pegula Ice Arena watched intently as their team tried to bring the score to a tie.

The Lions, who were trailing, 2-1, fired off shot after shot in that third period, desperately trying to avoid their first loss on home ice this season.

In a matter of seconds, the Lions completely turned their fate. Two late goals helped the team edge out the Falcons, 3-2, for the second consecutive night.

"I really give the guys a lot of credit because for the third period, when things weren't going well in the third period they really buckled down," said head coach Guy Gadowsky. "I think our shots were 22-7 in the third, and we looked a lot more like the Penn State hockey team that we expect. That was a really, really big win."

With a little over four minutes remaining, the Lions found themselves on the power play, which proved to be the catalyst for the team.

A power play goal by Taylor Holstrom, followed by a second even-strength tally by Eric Scheid, propelled the team to victory.

"We got a chance on the power play, and we were looking to shoot," explained Holstrom. "Jense [Nate Jensen] faked everyone out and made a play to Rocket [Dylan Richard]. Rocket threw a pass in the middle, and I just shot as hard as I could. I don't know where it went actually, but we were just trying to get shots, and it went in."

Taylor Holstrom, who leads the Lions in points with 11, is also currently tied for third in scoring and first in assists in the nation. His goal changed the dynamic of the game, setting up the perfect storm for the second comeback-win in team history.

Merely 16 seconds after Holstrom's equalizer, Scheid found the puck on his stick and took a chance. He used his Penn State hockey mentality, and threw the puck at the net, hoping for a positive result.

Positive was an understatement.

Scheid's shot hit the crossbar, bounced over the shoulder of Bentley's goaltender and into the back of the net.

"It feels really good to be on the other side of one of these games," said Scheid. "We've been part of a lot of games where we've kind of given up leads in the third, and the third's really haunting us lately. To be able to come back both nights and get a win, it feels pretty good. We're all pretty excited."

The back-to-back third period comebacks highlight an increase in confidence for the Lions, which they have struggled with in past games.

They are also signs of increased mental toughness in the team.

"We've asked the team to identify that we had some mental toughness issues when we were up in the third, and this weekend we had two opportunities going in down in the third," said Gadowsky. "I think they came through with flying colors. This was our largest deficit of the year, and we were able to overcome that and win in pretty dramatic fashion.

"It is a big, big win. I mean I give the guys a lot of credit, mostly for being able to play a good, solid Penn State hockey when it mattered most, and then obviously to win it is impressive as well."

Skoff's Performance

Goaltender Matthew Skoff faced 61 Bentley shots during the series, significantly less than the 103 his teammates fired off, but his performance was yet again key for the Lions. He made kick saves, glove saves and stick saves when needed but remained patient when the action in his end slowed.

The junior's composure led the Blue and White to two Halloween weekend victories, and the team's second sweep at Pegula Ice Arena.

"I thought it was a really, really tough game for him," said head coach Guy Gadowsky of Skoff's Thursday performance. "I really did. Getting 26 shots and letting in two, no one's going to say, 'Boy he stole the show.' But I'll tell you what, that was a tough game to play because he didn't get a ton of work, but he had to face a lot of different looks on the power play and then a lot of really quality chances."

The Falcons' two Thursday goals came on the power play, which is one of their team's biggest strengths.

The story was much the same the following evening as Bentley tallied both their Friday goals on the man-advantage as well.

In multiple instances, Skoff bailed out the Lions with incredible saves, keeping them in the game. His play speaks for itself, as he proves time and time again his importance to this team.


"He's on," said Gadowsky. "These are very important games for us. He deserves it [the starting position] through what he's done this year and last year and how he is as a teammate, his work ethic. He deserves it."    

Pink Meet a Success, In and Out of the Pool

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8600863.jpegBy Meghan Miceli, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Penn State swimming and diving teams swapped their traditional blue and white uniforms for pink caps and t-shirts in their meet against Villanova Friday afternoon.  The Nittany Lions held their annual "pink meet" to support breast cancer awareness.  

For senior captain Caitlyn Karr, the pink meet is more than just a change in shirt color.

"It means a lot to some team members, myself included, who have lost family members to breast cancer," Karr explained. "It really makes you dig deep down for that extra push to do well."

The Nittany Lions defeated the Wildcats on both the men's and women's sides.  The men's team improved to a 4-1 season; while the women's squad remained undefeated in dual meets and hold a 7-0 record. 

Sophomore Anna Farnsworth believes part of the women's team success comes from the tremendous team chemistry this season.

"You know that you always have someone behind you when you race," Farnsworth explained. "You're racing for a reason.  It's not about yourself, with how close we are this season, we all want to swim well for the team." 

Farnsworth won her first collegiate event against the Wildcats, posting an in-season best time in the 100 backstroke. 

"Of course it was exciting," Farnsworth said. "But I went into it very relaxed.  I raced the same people I compete with in practice all the time.  It's always great to win, and it was definitely a step forward."

Senior captain Caitlyn Karr also ended the meet victorious with wins in the 100 breaststroke and 500 freestyle.

"This meet was only my second time swimming the 500 this season," Karr explained. "I swam it last week and my goal was to build off of how I swam against West Virginia and improve.  I think I did that, and I'm pretty happy with where I'm at right now."

Looking ahead, the Nittany Lions toughest competition is yet to come.  They host Michigan and Virginia for a two-day tri-meet this weekend.

"Staying focused is going to be key," Farnsworth said. "Our past victories have given us confidence but we need to stay steady and stay strong.  If we keep practicing how we've been practicing and focus, it should be a great meet."

"We haven't swam them in a dual meet recently," Karr added. "They definitely have some really fast swimmers.  But it's like any other meet.  We're going to be tired and broken down but we need to push through it.  It's going to be a great test, they're top notch teams."

Virginia is currently undefeated with a 1-0 record, while Michigan is 4-1 with a loss to Texas.   The meet is set to begin Friday at 6 p.m. and Saturday at 11 a.m. in McCoy Natatorium. 

VIDEO: James Franklin Postgame vs. Maryland

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Head coach James Franklin addresses the media following Saturday's 20-19 setback to Maryland. For the first time in program history, the Nittany Lions have played in an overtime and one-point game in consecutive weeks.

VIDEO: Postgame Player Interviews - Maryland

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Several Nittany Lions address the media following Saturday's 20-19 setback to Maryland. For the first time in program history, the Nittany Lions have played in an overtime and one-point game in consecutive weeks.


2014 Photo Blog - Penn State vs. Maryland

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Welcome to GoPSUsports.com's coverage of the 2014 football season. Check back often for an inside look at the Penn State's matchup against Maryland.


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2014 Game Blog - Penn State vs. Maryland

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Welcome to GoPSUsports.com's live, interactive coverage of the 2014 football season. Tune in for live blog coverage from all 12 games on the schedule. Penn State meets Maryland for the first time as a member of the Big Ten.



Live Blog 2014 Game Blog - Penn State vs. Maryland