November 2017 Archives
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State head coach James Franklin and Nittany Lion quarterback Amani Oruwariye met with members of the media Wednesday evening following practice during Maryland week.
Talking everything from big picture philosophy to Thanksgiving break, catch up on a few highlights from the pair of media sessions before the regular season finale on the road Saturday at Maryland Stadium.
Franklin: He's Just So
Much More Confident
When asked where he has seen the most improvement from Oruwariye, Franklin was quick to point out the increased confidence he has built from early 2016 up until now.
"Amani always had the ability, but he's so much more confident now, he has made some really big plays," Franklin said. "I think the other thing is, that he's found kind of the right weight. I think at one point he was about 210 pounds and now I think almost all season he has been 202 or under, which I think is plenty big to play corner in the Big Ten. I think he's just in a really good place of us, he has played a lot of football, he's very experienced, very confident, physical corner. I think the coaches and the team have a lot of confidence in him."
When asked about when the game started to slow down for Oruwariye, he noted that it wasn't exactly one specific moment or game when things started to click.
"I guess I would say last year it started kind of slowing down when you're kind of getting in the game a lot more and the game just starts slowing down, you start making some plays, making some tackles, it starts feeling like when you used to do in high school," Oruwariye said.
As Franklin noted in his Tuesday press conference, due to NCAA rules and regulations, not much has changed when it comes to practice times this week. With no classes though, the Nittany Lions do have a bit more time for rest, recovery and preparation too.
"You just treat it like you're an NFL player," Oruwariye said. "You don't have classes to worry about so you just approach it that way, come in the building, do extra work, watch extra film, get an extra work out in and just work on your craft however you can."
For Oruwariye, there's not one specific kind of receiver he thrives on being matched up against, noting pros and cons of different types of opposing wide receivers.
"They're both hard to do, going against big guys and small guys. Small guys, it's good because I can get my hands on them, I'm a bigger, physical corner," Oruwariye said. "Then again, at the same time, they're fast and it's hard to keep up with them speed wise. Same with big guys, they're physical too. I would prefer big guys and just make it a physical match, but other than that it doesn't matter to me."
With departures along the secondary, Oruwariye noted that he's leaned on this year's leaders in taking the next step to trying to emerge as a leader moving forward.
"I've kind of taken some tactics from the leaders on the team now, Jason [Cabinda], Trace [McSorley], Marcus [Allen], those guys," Oruwariye said. "Just seeing how they engage with other guys, how they work specifically on the field, kind of just admiring their work ethic, every day, coming to work and taking that one day at a time mindset."
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Following a pair of road wins at Arizona State last weekend, Penn State men's hockey returns to Pegula Ice Area to host Big Ten opponent Michigan State in a weekend series.
Back from the road, the Nittany Lions will look to continue building on the momentum from the successful road trip, also currently slated 2-4 in conference play ahead of the series against the Spartans.
From Thanksgiving plans to what's next, check in with head coach Guy Gadowsky and sophomore forward Brandon Biro ahead of this weekend's action in Pegula.
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Top-ranked Penn State women's volleyball closes out its regular season campaign on the road this weekend, headed to No. 11 Wisconsin and No. 8 Minnesota.
On a 17-match winning streak with a share of the Big Ten title on the line, the Nittany Lions aren't focusing on any added circumstances this week, instead relying on preparation ahead of the final two matches before Sunday's NCAA Tournament selection show.
"I think we really do a good job preparing for every game like it's a big match," Lee said. "There's not really a time when we're saying this one match has precedent over the other. It's always, we need to focus on what we need to do on this side of the net, on our side of the net and we need to focus on how we can defend against the opposition. I don't think there has been a time when we're putting more pressure on ourselves because we've got to play so and so, versus a different team."
Penn State has plenty of power on its side of the net, having utilized the one match at a time mentality to not only scale the polls, but also the NCAA national standings, stifling opponents along the way.
On the year, Penn State's limiting its opponents to .165 hitting, which ranks second in the Big Ten. Penn State has also held its last five consecutive opponents to less than .100 hitting on the year, keeping Rutgers at a Big Ten season-low -.082 clip in the most recent road win last Saturday. Blocking-wise, Penn State's averaging 2.96 blocker per set, which ranks 12th nationally and leads the conference.
Offensively, the Nittany Lions are hitting at a national-best .355 clip, helped out by senior Haleigh Washington, who leads the nation with a .517 hitting percentage on the year. Although Penn State has utilized a fairly balanced attack in the final stretch of the conference slate, both Lee and Washington have record at least 10 kills in 14 of 18 Big Ten matches.
Always humble and hungry for more though, Penn State isn't letting its winning streak or even its 10-0 mark in road matches this year set the tone for the weekend, instead opting to focus on constant improvement.
"Especially going into Wisconsin and Minnesota, they're very good blocking and defending teams and I think that's something we work on a lot in practice, playing a lot of 6-on-6 and making sure we are grinding it out, making sure we're tenacious in our efforts and trying to get the job done," Lee said.
Both the Badgers and the Gophers are just behind the Nittany Lions in the statistical standings. Wisconsin is outhitting its opponents .300 to .170, with a hitting percentage that's ranked third in the conference and ninth nationally. The Badgers are also averaging 2.67 blocks per set, led by 6-foot-8-inch freshman middle Dana Rettke, who's averaging 1.43 blocks per frame on the year, also hitting .445, which is slotted second in the conference to Washington and fourth nationally.
Penn State won its earlier meeting against Wisconsin this year, taking down the Badgers in four sets at home in late-October - which also happened to mark the 39th consecutive season Penn State head coach Russ Rose has led the Nittany Lions to a 20-win season.
The Gophers are hitting .286 in 2017, which ranks fourth in the Big Ten, paced by first team AVCA All-American setter Samantha Seliger-Swenson, who's averaging 12.16 assists per set, good for first in the league and second nationally.
Much like Penn State, both teams are also among the national leaders in average match attendance, mean the Nittany Lions will have to contend with some hostile road environments, especially meeting Minnesota on senior night.
Penn State hasn't defeated either team on the road since 2014, the same year the Nittany Lions captured their seventh NCAA Tournament title in program history. With several members on the roster for both wins in 2014, including Lee, her message to the younger members of the team this year, is just to breath.
"Just know that your teammates have your back no matter what, there's not a time where we won't look you dead in the eye and say, hey, we got you or hey, you got this and I think that's something really special about this team, that we all trust each other so much. We really do take to heart the fact that we have each other's back and if someone's killing it, we're going to keep pushing them, keep giving them the ball and then if someone's not, we're going to say, we got you, what do you need from us."
With packed crowds hardly surprising across many Big Ten road venues, the Nittany Lions will only utilize the experience headed into the upcoming NCAA Tournament.
"It's a big crowd in either arena and I think that it's a really good challenge for us because going into the tournament, there's going to be a lot of people cheering us on or cheering against us and I think that's something we have to look forward to," Lee said.
The Thanksgiving break doesn't impact the Nittany Lion practice schedule too much, but per tradition, practice is still on schedule with a team meal to follow.
"This Thanksgiving, we'll go to the Nittany Lion Inn, we actually do it every year and it's really fun," Lee said. "We have practice beforehand and then we all get really cute and dressed up in the locker room and then we get to go have really good food at the Nittany Lion Inn and just kind of spend time with each other and kind of really realize how grateful we are and thankful we are to be here and be with our teammates on Thanksgiving."
Penn State will await its seeding in the upcoming NCAA Tournament, which is unveiled Sunday, Nov. 26. The show will air live on ESPNU at 9 p.m. ET.
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State head coach James Franklin met with members of the media Tuesday afternoon in his weekly press conference. Quarterback Trace McSorley and safety Marcus Allen joined him for a pair of media sessions to preview the final regular season road trip of the season.
For McSorley and Allen, heading to College Park, Maryland is a bit of a homecoming, with McSorley growing up about 45 minutes from Maryland Stadium and Allen hailing from merely minutes from the area.
"It's awesome kind of being able to go back and play in that venue that I'm kind of familiar with, playing in my neck of the woods," McSorley said. "For a lot of guys, Marcus [Allen], same sort of feeling. I don't know exactly how many people I'll have there from my family, but it's right there, a good amount. I need to figure out with my mom how many tickets I need to find out about getting."
For Allen, there's perhaps a little more added meaning, stepping on to the field for his final regular season game as a Nittany Lion.
"Just for me to play my last game in the regular season, in my hometown, that's pretty awesome," Allen said. "That's fun. It's going to be, like a backyard football game, as far as me knowing a lot of guys that's on the team. We talk back and forth, talking our little stuff."
Penn State's practice schedule doesn't shift too much with Thursday's Thanksgiving holiday, but it does allow a bit of time for the Nittany Lions to get out in the community and give back. Due to NCAA time management rules, Penn State spent time at The Village at Penn State, a local retirement community, while also taking time for a few more individual projects.
"[Defensive line coach] Sean Spencer, the D-line, they gave out 65 turkeys today that Sean raised through his clothing apparel line, Dog Chaos, whatever he's got going on," Franklin shared. "That's really cool."
Come Thanksgiving though, Franklin has extended the invitation to teammates, staff members and families for a relaxing meal, with a few position coaches also hosting their own Thanksgiving meals.
The Quote Board -
- Franklin on how Tommy Stevens has handled his backup quarterback role.
"He's just handled it really well. Is he satisfied? No. But he's handled it really well. He's been a great teammate. He's prepared. When his opportunity comes, he's going to be ready for it. When he gets his reps and opportunities, he maximizes it. I thought the play he had on Saturday where he bounced, bounced, bounced on one foot down the sideline, kept his balance, avoided a guy, was one of the more impressive athletic plays I've seen since we've been here. The funny part, I gave him a hard time. He did all the hard stuff, got himself under control, started running, then planted to cut back and get it out of bounds. He could have jogged into the end zone without that hard play."
- Allen on what he sees in true freshman Jonathan Sutherland.
"Every time there is a scrimmage, I always just get him hyped. I'll be, like, "Here come the choo-choo train, choo-choo." He hits like a train. He's really physical. That's what I love about him. He's very just consistent in tackling. He makes plays in the passing game. That's what impresses me the most. He's very mature for his age, as well. I'm pretty sure you're going to hear his name next year. I'm just excited for you guys to see him, see what he can do, because I already know, I already seen it."
- McSorley on where the program has changed since he arrived and where it will continue to go looking toward the future.
"I think when I came in here, we were building toward something. We kind of had been through a tough period. When I got here, we were on the bowl sanctions, scholarship sanctions. My freshman year is when they got lifted. I think everyone in the locker room now, we're going to come in, work hard, we're going to compete. We were just going to be building kind of a process. Where we're at now, it's not building that process, it's carrying on what's been built over the last couple years. Assuming that role of making sure this program stays where it needs to be."
- Allen on his relationship with Torrence Brown.
"My relationship with Torrence, that's really my brother. I would really consider him as my brother. Although we don't have the same mother or father, it doesn't make a difference, that's my brother. We been through a lot. We got a lot of memories, lot of fun memories. We have so much conversations, so many conversations we had together when times were rough. Like when my grandmother died, I was right in his room. He saw when I broke down. When his grandmother passed, I was right there. It was so crazy, like a coincidence. It's just like we have a bond as far as we can relate to each other. That group right there, those are my brothers, man."
- McSorley's thoughts on seeing Nick Bowers score a touchdown in his first career catch last weekend, considering his career path at Penn State.
"To be able to see him make a touchdown in the game, we see him all the time, he goes up, at his size, athletic ability, to be able to run like he does, jump up, attack a ball in the air, come down with it, utilizing his size, 260, whatever, it's really impressive to see what he can do at his size. To see him get a touchdown this week, how excited he was when he got back to the sideline, jumping around, big smile on his face, it was awesome."
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Preparations are already underway for Penn State in its final game week of the 2017 regular season.
About 11 weeks ago, the first Monday Notebook of the season took a deeper dive into a few Nittany Lions poised to climb through the record books during the regular season. With a week left in the regular season, take a look back at where they are and the records they've eclipsed along the way.
- It's hard to know where to even start with all the records Barkley has shattered not only this year, but in his entire Penn State career. So let's keep it at recent records.
Barkley made headlines all day today, kicking off the morning honored as the Big Ten Co-Offensive Player of the Week, marking his sixth Big Ten weekly award of the season. By late-afternoon Barkley was named a finalist for both the Maxwell and the Doak Walker awards. Both prestigious honors, Barkley is the first Nittany Lion to be a finalist for both of the wards since Larry Johnson in 2002. Johnson also won both awards that year.
Coming off a three-touchdown, 158-rushing yard performance against Nebraska, Barkley broke the Penn State career rushing touchdowns record set by Lydell Mitchell (1969-71). He also surged past the 100-point mark this year, making him the second Nittany Lion in program history with multiple 100-point seasons. Upping his career rushing yard total, Barkley become just the second Nittany Lion in history with three consecutive 1,000-yard rushing seasons, as well as the second to eclipse the 3,500 rushing yard milestone.
With 66 receiving yards on six receptions, he also topped the Penn state season record for receptions by a running back with 46 receptions on the year, which ties for first on the team alongside Gesicki.
- Gesicki has been re-writing the record book all year long, on the way to the most recent prestigious honor, named one of three finalists for the Mackey Award. Against Pittsburgh, he set the record for career receptions for a tight end. Most recently, he caught four passes for 47 yards and two touchdowns against Nebraska to climb to the top of the all-time chart for the most receiving yards by a tight end with 1,384 yards. Already owning the single season record for touchdown catches for a tight end in 2017 (7), Gesicki also cracked into the top 10 on the career receptions chart with 118 catches.
- Already announced as a finalist for the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award, McSorley has also climbed the Nittany Lion record book at a staggering pace. In the win against Rutgers, McSorley moved in to sole possession of first place on the Penn State career charts for touchdowns responsible for. Much like Barkley, it's perhaps easier to point to more of McSorley's most recent accomplishments along the way. With 325 yards against Nebraska, McSorley posted his ninth career 300-yard passing game, which ties the Penn State program record. His 24 completions against the Huskers also moved him into a tie for fourth place with 474 career completions. Finishing with 371 yards of total offense against Nebraska, he oved into second place on the single season total offense all-time list with 3,386 yards, which is behind his own record-setting 3,979 yards from last year.
- Allen entered the 2017 regular season with 249 career tackles, needing just 24 tackles to break into the top 10 on the Nittany Lion all-time list. As Penn State's second-leading tackler to date, Allen has 61 stops on the year, which pushes him to 310 in his career, good for sixth all-time. He needs just five more tackles to crack into the Penn State top five, matching Brian Gelzheiser (1991-94).
- Hamilton already made history against Indiana, grabbing his 181st career catch to become Penn State's all-time leader in receptions. With 43 receptions on the year, he enters the final week of the regular season with 204 career catches. He's still scaling the all-time career receiving yardage list, currently in third place with 2,673 receiving yards as the ninth Nittany Lion in program history with 2,000-plus receiving yards.
- Gillikin has been a key piece of the Nittany Lion special teams units this year, pinning a total of 24 punts inside the 20-yard line. On the year, his season punting average stands at 43.0, which would place him tied for fourth in program history if the season ended today. With two weeks remaining, Gillikin could potentially match the sophomore season punting average record originally set by Ralph Giacomarro in 1980 (43.3), having already set the freshman record in 2016 (42.8).
Penn State is still atop the top 11 in FBS in both scoring offense and scoring defense. Allowing opponents fewer than 17 points a game this year, the mark is ranked second in the conference and eighth in FBS. Following its highest scoring outing in a Big Ten game since scoring 63 points at Illinois in 2005, Penn State is averaging 39.4 points per game, which is also second in the Big Ten and 11th in FBS. The Nittany Lions are also plus-12 in the turnover margin, which remains atop the league standings and tied for sixth in FBS.
Glancing at the Terps
Penn State travels to Maryland for a 3:30 p.m. kickoff on the road Saturday, marking the first time the two teams have met in College Park since 1993. The outing also marks senior day for the Terrapins, who have lost their last three consecutive games, including a 17-7 loss on the road at Michigan State last Saturday.
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State wide receiver Juwan Johnson can just about always be found on the field post-practice surrounded by seniors DaeSean Hamilton and Mike Gesicki.
It's a roughly two-year routine, originally started around spring ball and something Gesicki joked about earlier this week, wondering who Johnson might select to join him next year. It begins with pass-catching but each session ends with 20 contested catches and wet ball drills.
In an emotional start to a damp and chilly evening at Beaver Stadium Saturday, Penn State honored its 23 seniors and their families pregame.
Nittany Lions did not disappoint on the special day, sending the 2017 seniors out with an emphatic 56-44 win against Nebraska for a second consecutive undefeated season at home, a feat that hadn't been accomplished in more than 30 years.
Penn State's offense was spectacular to start, as running back Saquon Barkley broke free for a 65-yard touchdown to put Penn State out to an early lead. As the Huskers capitalized on special teams miscues to pull ahead, it was the post-practice crew who helped ignite the offense.
Following a clutch 7-yard third- down catch from Hamilton to extend the drive, quarterback Trace McSorley found Johnson for a career-high tying 43-yard catch and run, eventually leading to a 1-yard Barkley touchdown run. Penn State piled on with four consecutive scoring drives, including a 9-yard Gesicki touchdown grab to send Penn State surge ahead 42-10 by halftime.
Johnson's catch was just the first of five, in which he accounted for a career-high 105 yards to lead the team. Reflecting on his first career 100-yard receiving game postgame though, he mentioned increased confidence of course, but gave credit elsewhere.
"Honestly it's just self-confidence and having teammates around you like DaeSean [Hamilton] and Mike [Gesicki], just always working wet balls after practice for 30 minutes," Johnson said. "Just getting out there and working on the things you need to work on. For me, self-confidence and just attacking it."
While they couldn't be more different as individuals off the field, the stories of Hamilton and Gesicki and their Penn State careers on the field, in many ways, couldn't be more similar.
As Gesicki pointed out postgame though, their success hasn't simply come by way of coincidence. Through the ups and downs, good times and bad, they never waived in their dedication, choosing to lean on their work ethic to find success.
Hamilton, who recently became Penn State's all-time leader in receptions was of course alongside Gesicki Saturday as he broke Ted Kwalick's record (1,343; 1966-68) for receiving yards by a tight end. Gesicki, who caught four passes for 47 yards and two touchdowns against the Huskers, wrapped up his final game on the field at Beaver Stadium with 1,384 career receiving yards, and there's still plenty of football to be played this year.
It's through those post-practice sessions though, that Johnson saw the paths of Gesicki and Hamilton taking shape.
"I found out what their character is like, and they're funny guys but just how hard they work," Johnson said. "It didn't matter how cold it was or how hot it was, throughout the season they were always out there after practice, willing to catch the ball, willing to get extra work and that's something I'll always carry with me for the rest of my life. Those are guys who I will always call my brothers."
The result for Johnson of course, is burgeoning confidence, something McSorley pointed to postgame.
"We've seen Juwan have that in-practice confidence, where he can go up there and put his big old paw up there and snag it and bring it down with one hand," McSorley said. "To see him have that in-game confidence where he trusts himself that much in a game. It's awesome to be able to know he has that game confidence in him and everyone else and probably for a guy like DaeSean too who has been a real mentor to him."
For Franklin, the future for Johnson is perhaps as bright as it's ever been.
"I couldn't be more excited about Juwan and his future and that's in every way possible," Franklin said. "The exciting part is, I still think there's a lot more left in the tank for him. I think there's a lot of areas where he can continue to grow and develop and a lot of it is just from a confidence standpoint, but I think he's going to continue to be a problem (for other teams) for the rest of this season and take that into the future as well."
While Johnson hasn't quite decided who will join him on the field post-practice next year, if being great is making those around you better, that's exactly what these seniors have done.
While just a small snapshot featuring two of the 23 who will depart the team this year, it is yet another example of precisely the legacy they'll leave behind.
"These guys are of the Penn State mold," senior offensive lineman Brendan Mahon said. "They do the right things and they mirror the players that have come before us. That's the kind of kids these younger players are. They work really hard and they're blue collar. That's Penn State, and I think they're going to keep it that way for a long time."
M. Gesicki, S. Barkley, J. Johnson
J. Cabinda, A. Oruwariye, B. Smith
Senior families join Beaver Stadium Extra
Mothers of Nittany Lion seniors Brandon Smith and DaeSean Hamilton check in ahead of senior day at Beaver Stadium.
Checking out BTN Tailgate
Catching up with Honorary Captain Tim Shaw
Former Penn State linebacker, NFL veteran and ALS warrior Tim Shaw was recognized as today's honorary captain. He joins Beaver Stadium Extra to share the experience.
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The word respond has been perhaps a little too frequent for Penn State head coach Patrick Chambers this early in the season. Much to the contrast of last year though, the response from the Nittany Lions has been reason to be excited.
Friday evening, Penn State topped Columbia 79-65 inside the Bryce Jordan Center, having to do so without the help of two major contributors in Tony Carr and Josh Reaves. In its fourth game in the last eight days, conditions were prime for things to go awry.
"With all the obstacles and challenges that we have faced in the last 48 hours, with injuries and illness and the way those kids came out and competed after the Montana game with a quick turn-around was just fun to watch," Penn State head coach Patrick Chambers said. "It was fun to be a part of."
To Chambers, Penn State has been rising to the call long before Friday's tipoff. Take the Montana game, where Carr departed mid-game with an injury. Montana came as close as three late in the second half, but the Nittany Lions regrouped to finish with a 70-57 win Wednesday night.
Friday's circumstances grew even trickier as a freak-like injury sidelined both Carr and Reaves.
"Today we were like, `Tony is not going to play,' but did they respond," Chambers said. "Even when Josh went down I didn't see anybody poor-mouthing about it, heads down, no deflation at all. We came out and we competed, and they competed really hard that first eight to 10 minutes. Those to me are critical because that is what is going to shape us the rest of the season. That they have faith and confidence in the bench now and they are earning trust with me. So I have faith and confidence to put them in in critical times."
Freshman Jamari Wheeler sparked the Nittany Lion offense early off the bench, muscling his way inside before dishing to Nazeer Bostick for a one-handed slam, brining Penn State within one, 5-3.
Shep Garner opened up the scoring with his first triple of the night to give the Nittany Lions their first lead of the game, 7-5. Penn State quickly took off on a 15-0 run, holding Columbia scoreless for nearly seven minutes, building the advantage to as many as 14, 22-8, with 8:10 remaining in the first half.
As foul trouble plagued the Nittany Lions, Columbia came battling back, cutting the lead with a pair of triples, 27-17, to arrive within 10. A pair of free throws from Satchel Pierce brought the Nittany Lions back up by 12, 29-17, but Columbia was hardly finished, responding with an 18-9 run, including a 10-0 run in the final 2:22 to enter halftime trailing by only three, 38-35.
"We had a couple guys in foul trouble early in the first half, so we knew that we would get them back in the second half and we would turn it up a little in the second half, just because we knew we would play better defense and concentrate more on defense in the second half. We came out and played more confidently, applied more pressure, and let the chips fall where they may," Garner said.
Garner came out of the break in the second half with a pair of jumpers before a Lamar Stevens 3-ball widened the margin to nine, 49-40. With nearly 13 minutes remaining, it was Watkins who brought it home for the Nittany Lions, as Penn State ran away with the score on a 14-0 run.
"I thought our team did a really good job picking him up at halftime," Chambers said. "Our staff did as well. We were pumping him up and saying `let's go, you are rested, you are fresh, let's go dominate this second half,' and it's a maturity level. He has to keep getting better at it because it is going to happen again. He is going to pick up two and he is going to learn how to play with them."
Watkins scored 11 points and grabbed nine boards, blocking four shots in just the second half alone to pace the Nittany Lions to the win. Watkins also reached a milestone block with career block No. 100 coming midway through the second half.
We admire the Columbia defender for at least thinking he could stop Mike Watkins.-- Penn State On BTN (@PennStateOnBTN) November 18, 2017
To no one's surprise, he was unsuccessful. 😃 pic.twitter.com/7UKPp3ry5e
Leading the team effort though was Garner, who combined for a season-high 26 points, nailing five triples, alongside taking command of the court.
"We have a lot of confidence in all of our players, so when someone goes down, we just talk about next man up," Stevens said. "Shep [Garner] being a leader, I knew he would have a big game, so I'm happy for him."
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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - No. 10 Penn State football (8-2, 5-2 Big Ten) returns to Beaver Stadium for its regular season home finale, hosting Nebraska (4-6, 3-4 Big Ten) Saturday at 4 p.m.
Amidst a stripe out crowd set to blanket Beaver Stadium in blue and white, for Franklin and staff, Saturday marks a final farewell for 23 defining Nittany Lions.
"A lot of these guys were either committed to Penn State when I got the job or we brought with, and a lot of these guys played as true freshmen or redshirt freshmen or whatever it may be and have had a significant impact," Franklin said.
There are stories of patience, stories of persistence and adversity among the group. Above all though, it's a senior class responsible for a now impermeable standard set for not only those who return in 2017, but for the legacy of the program.
"You think about their time here, those guys could write a book," Franklin said. "They've seen it all and done it all and experienced the lows and the highs and everything in between. The thing that I'm most proud of, they're going to leave here to go be great fathers and husbands and businessmen and leaders of society."
It's an extraordinary mix of individuals who will leave behind everything from re-printed records to a host of "remember when" moments spanning generations of fans.
Perhaps the real story of the senior class is more than the moments, the Big Ten Championship, the Rose Bowl or any of the many honors and awards. Rather, it's about a group that opted to buy in rather than bail out.
"We had guys who had four or five different head coaches and then guys coming in just knowing coach Franklin's staff and that's all they knew," senior cornerback Grant Haley said. "Over the last two years, it seems like coach Franklin's method, there's a method to the madness and everything that he preaches and what he has done over the years, it works. Guys like me, guys like Jason [Cabinda], DaeSean [Hamilton], these upperclassmen really bought into that and being leaders on the team, we reiterate that to the younger guys on the team and it's really made us progress in these last two years, but it's been overall a four-year process."
Come Saturday, the Nittany Lions will take to the field with one final chance to send the senior class out with a victory. It's also fitting of course that the 2017 senior class has just one Big Ten opponent left to defeat, giving Penn State a win against all 14 conference teams across Franklin's tenure.
In a meeting placing a pair of programs among a group of only 10 schools with at least 800 all-time wins, Penn State and Nebraska square off for the first time since 2013.
"I wouldn't have wanted to go through this experience with anyone else," senior defensive tackle Parker Cothren said. "It's kind of sad that it's coming to an end but it's a start of a new era and we're just trying to go out on top in our last game at Beaver Stadium."
What to Watch For -
1. Running back Saquon Barkley enters Saturday's matchup just 101 yards shy of becoming just the second Nittany Lion in program history with three 1,000-yard rushing seasons. Among several program records he's currently scaling, Barkley also needs just two more career rushing touchdowns to match Lydell Mitchell's nearly 50-year-old record.
As postseason national awards are narrowing their lists to the semifinalists, Barkley was most recently named a semifinalist for both the Doak Walker Award (nation's premier running back) and the Walter Camp Player of the Year Award this week. In the weekly stats standings, Barkley's also slated second in FBS and first in the conference averaging 184.60 all-purpose yards per game.
2. When asked about areas of improvement headed into the final two games of the season, quarterback Trace McSorley noted a few things the Nittany Lions are working on offensively.
"Our running game is something that we really want to get going, really trying to create more balance for our offense," McSorley said.
Franklin preceded McSorley with the same mention in his weekly press conference, especially when it comes to balance.
"I don't know if we're ever going to be a team that lines up and runs the ball down your throat for 300 yards, but we don't need to be," Franklin said. "We do need to be able when we get the right look, we need to be able to run the ball consistently and into the right look and into the right situation, and we need to win our one-on-one battles from a protection standpoint in the passing game and in the running game in terms of creating space."
3. Penn State's defense is ranked fourth in the Big Ten and 18th in FBS in total defense, allowing opponents fewer than 14 points on the year, which ranks second in the conference and fourth in FBS. In three of four wins for the Huskers this year, Nebraska has outrushed its opponent, despite being significantly out-gained in a the most recent loss at Nebraska.
What To Watch For - Nebraska
1. Nebraska head coach Mike Riley noted earlier this week that quarterback Tanner Lee is in concussion protocol, but the Nittany Lions aren't counting him out.
Outside of Lee, Smith noted that Husker quarterback Patrick O'Brien might not have the same experience as Lee, but is still a threat in the pocket with the ability to deliver throws.
"He was 12-for-18 last week which means he's efficient," Smith said. "The difference is, I think he doesn't have the experience of playing as many snaps, which caused him to take a couple extra sacks last week."
2. Nebraska wide receiver JD Spielman has emerged for the Huskers in his redshirt freshman season, currently needing fewer than 70 yards to reach the 800 receiving yards mark this year. With two 100-yard receiving games on the year, he made nine catches for 141 yards on the road at Minnesota last week, having also set a single-game record with 200 receiving yards against Ohio State.
Spielman has also been effective for the Huskers on third and fourth down opportunities, with a combined 27 receptions on third and fourth down, tied for first nationally.
3. Franklin noted earlier this week that there's a clear benefit in the familiarity of Nebraska's 3-4 style of defense that the Nittany Lions saw last week against Rutgers.
Among the Nebraska defense, senior linebacker and team captain Chris Weber is leading the team with 82 tackles. With four double-digit tackle outings this year, Weber also leads the team with 8.0 tackles for loss and five pass breakups.
The Final Word -
As Franklin pointed out earlier this week, Nebraska leads the all-time series at 9-7, with wins in all three outings against the Nittany Lions since the Huskers joined the conference in 2011. Outside of the all-time series with Nebraska, the Nittany Lions enter Saturday's matchup with 13 consecutive wins at home, marking its longest home winning streak since a 14-game stretch from 1990-92.
By Brian McLaughlin, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- Throughout a four-year college career, athletes tend to evolve and mature both as players and as people. Whether that be adding something new to their game, or just improving at a weakness, this is a goal of almost every basketball player.
In one offseason, sophomore Jaida Travascio-Green has transformed from a spot up sharp shooter to a legitimate scoring threat from everywhere on the floor.
"This summer I definitely got a lot stronger just physically. It started last year but just having a full year of strength and conditioning and just actually playing at the college level," Travascio-Green said. "Then increasing that this sophomore summer and coming back and feeling more confident and being able to step into a bigger role has helped me."
Adding to her outstanding touch from three, she now also employs a strong dribble drive allowing her to get to the basket and finish through contact.
In Penn State's matchup against Drexel on Sunday, Travascio-Green showed off her development with a career day. She finished with 31 points and seven 3-point field goals, both of which were career-highs.
"As a freshman playing on a senior and veteran laden team, she had a smaller role doing a great job of spreading the defense. That was one thing we talked about working on over the summer, adding some different elements to her game," head coach Coquese Washington said. "Being able to put the ball on the floor, and get to the free throw line. Last year I don't even know if she shot 10 free throws for the season and we talked about adding that to her game."
In the game against Drexel, Travascio-Green went to the line four times and went 4-of-4 from the charity stripe. It is not just additional scoring that has become a part of Travascio-Green's new role on the Lady Lions. She has become a leader for the team especially with some of the captains struggling with injuries.
"With Teniya (Page) being out and when Amari (Carter) hurt her finger, she was out of practice for a week and a half, Jaida has done a really good job in that time of stepping up into that leadership role," Washington said. "I think she has warmed up to the idea of having a little bit more of a leadership role on the team than we probably expected coming into the season."
Carter and Travascio-Green are both sophomores who have big roles on this team. They have been able to earn respect from their teammates not just from their special play on the floor, but in the way they carry themselves off the court.
"They (Travascio-Green and Carter) are really positive people, they built great relationships with their teammates and their teammates trust them," Washington said. "I think that allows them to be good leaders and the consistency and relationships with their teammates."
The sophomore duo has stepped forward in Page's absence on the court as well. Carter's control of the action has been critical, and Travascio-Green's scoring has powered the Lady Lions to a 3-0 record.
"I think I just try my hardest to give energy where I can and talk as much as I can. I try to support our captains as much as I can too," Travascio-Green said.
In the most recent game for Penn State they defeated Marshall 80-65 behind 20 points from freshman Kamaria McDaniel sparking the Penn State offense. McDaniel is one of many Lady Lions who have felt impact of the strong leadership on this squad.
"We have great leaders, with Amari, Sarah (McMurtrie) and Teniya our team captains are always helping me if I am confused they help clear things up. And even off the court I can trust them and I think that transfers on the court because we know we have each other's best interests," McDaniel said. "Jaida is the same, if I need anything I know she will do the best she can and helps on the court. With shooting threes and scoring, she has a lot she in her game that I want to put into mine."
As Penn State moves forward, this newfound role for Travascio-Green will only help the Lady Lions add scoring depth. Whether she is spreading the floor during a Carter drive, or creating her own shot, there is a new aggressiveness to her game.
"She is shooting the ball with tremendous confidence and knowing that she can put the ball on the floor has given her another dimension that makes her even more difficult to defend," Washington said.
Penn State will continue to rely on Travascio-Green's scoring and presence moving forward this season. While she changed some aspects of her game, she insists the key for her team is to stay the course.
"I think we have to keep doing what we've been doing. We've been working a lot in practice on our defense. Just being disciplined and being really competitive on defense," Travascio-Green said. "I think for me and everyone else it's just about sticking to what we've been doing because it's paid off."
By Erin Neri, GoPSUsports.com student staff writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Growing up just down the road from the New York Islanders practice facility in Syosset, New York, Penn State freshman Sam Sternschein was introduced to hockey at a very young age. Skating lessons for him started at an early age and from there, learning to play hockey wasn't too far behind.
Since his early days on the ice, Sternshein has grown into a 6-foot-1-inch aggressive offensive option for the Nittany Lions. Originally verbally committed to Cornell in 2013, once he stepped on campus, Sternschein knew Hockey Valley was where he belonged.
"You come here you go to a game you see the fan base and the Roar Zone," Sternschein said. "From the coaching staff to the academic opportunities, it's exactly where I wanted to be."
The power forward does bring success with him from his past years in the USHL. The righty shooter ended his four season USHL career with the Lincoln Stars, after being traded from the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders.
In his 45 games with the Stars, he registered 20 goals and 12 assists for 32 points, good for fourth best on the team. Even though the transition from juniors to college might seem like a big leap, Sternschein doesn't see it that way.
"A lot of those guys [in the USHL] played here, so the adjustment isn't too big," Sternschein said. "The biggest thing is guys are bigger and stronger."
The freshman forward is joining some successful Lincoln Stars alumni now playing for the Blue and White in senior defenseman Trevor Hamilton and sophomore goalie Peyton Jones.
Although he is a freshman, Sternschein is already contributing to the team. He earned both his first point and assist in his collegiate debut Friday night against Meryhurst. He was originally credited with the goal, before it was overturned to fellow freshman Alex Limoges, who was in front of the net to knock in the rebound.
"My first few shifts I was a little nervous, but playing in front of all the fans here and just playing my first college hockey game was really special," Sternschein said. "Those are two games I'll always remember."
After seeing Sternschein in action for the first time, coach Guy Gadowsky did note he liked the size and release of his shot, something he has been working on.
"I like his presence," Gadowsky said. "Size doesn't do anything to me unless your aggressive and he is, he seems to get in there."
For Strenschein, he'll continue to work toward growing his role on the team moving forward with the season.
"I'm here to play, I want to play," Sternschein
said. "I'm just going to take advantage of my chance."
By Brandon Pelter, GoPSUsports.com student staff writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - There's certainly no denying Penn State's Jason Nolf has already made a name for himself among Penn State fans. Just two dual meets into the 2017-18 campaign though, the redshirt junior remains as hungry for more as ever.
"He's just a student of the game," head coach Cael Sanderson said. "He's improving in all areas. You see him wrestling he's always trying new things."
Nolf has consistently treated the Nittany Lion faithful to a variety of unique and different moves.
That even includes a "secret move" Nolf broke out last Thursday to start his season out with a win by fall in the opener against Army. He followed with the same outcome in Sunday's win against Bucknell, totaling seven takedowns before pinning Christian Bassolino at the 3:33 mark to crack into the Penn State top 10 in all-time falls with 31 in his career.
Sanderson is nothing short of impressed with what he's seen from Nolf through the years.
"Some of the stuff that he's doing are the kind of moves that you don't really do until you're done wrestling and you're playing around as a coach," Sanderson said. "He's fearless enough that he'll master it and throw it out there and he enjoys that."
In his freshman season, Nolf came one win shy from winning a national championship, but last season took home the title at 157 pounds on a truly memorable night in St. Louis.
While fans may love to see the bonus point victories, it's all about improving for Nolf.
"Nolf's just a guy when you talk about expectations people just expect to come and watch him score a ton of points," Sanderson said. "And if he doesn't you're wondering well what's wrong with him. You can see he's constantly working and playing with the sport and that's why he's better now than he was a year ago. Next year he'll be better than he is this year."
After his NCAA national championship in 2017, Nolf then turned to Team USA wrestling over the summer, placing third in US World Team trials and fourth in the US Open.
"I'm doing about the same stuff I've always been doing," Nolf said. "Just learning a lot of different things and working with my coaches on strength and on techniques. Just learning about new stuff."
While dedicated to his craft day in and day out, it's a combination of things that make someone like top-ranked Nolf so unique.
"Nolf's special," Sanderson said. "We'll probably never see anybody ever like him again. He's just unique and special and we're glad he's on our team."
Although out to a 2-0 start along with his team, for Nolf, it is individual success that motivates the group.
"I think we motivate each other as a team and as teammates," Nolf said. "The more one person does well, the more everyone else wants to do well. Our coaches are really good at getting us focused on what we need to be focused on. I think we all know what we want to do and that's what it comes down to."The top-ranked Nittany Lions return to action Friday, on the road taking on Binghamton at 7 p.m.
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State assistant head coach and cornerbacks coach Terry Smith joined this week's assistant coaches conference call to talk Nittany Lion football during Nebraska week.
Covering everything from senior day to Nittany Lions on the rise, catch up on a few highlights from the teleconference.
For Smith, it's hard to pick a favorite memory when it comes to someone like Grant Haley. Of course there's the signature scoop and score to topple Ohio State, which Smith identified as a program-changing moment for the Nittany Lions.
"He's just played so much football, we've had a lot of great moments and he's just an awesome kid to be around and have coached," Smith said.
On Senior Day ...
As a proud Nittany Lion alum, Smith also has the benefit of knowing what it feels like to rush through the tunnel on to the field for the final time in full uniform.
night is an emotional night or an emotional day because you've come to the
realization that this is the last time you're ever going to put the uniform on
in Beaver Stadium," Smith said.
"You come through that tunnel and it's the last time the crowd is going to cheer you on as a player. There's a lot of, just that surreal-ness of, this is it. A bunch of emotions start to pour through you and then at the end of the day, you still have your job to do. We still have a game to play and victory to chase."
A Bright Future
Smith noted that true freshman Tariq Castro-Fields has only grown into his position for the Nittany Lions. With a knack for finding the ball, speed, awareness and ball skills, Smith is increasingly more confident in his future.
"Tariq's doing really well for us, he's going to have a bright future for us as we graduate two senior corners in Christian [Campbell] and Grant [Haley]," Smith said. "We feel really good about where Tariq is as those two guys depart the program."
Throughout the season, Castro-Fields has continued to grow, giving the staff more confidence with each snap.
"Tariq, he played really well in the Michigan State game and he's had some games where he has played really well and like I said, we just continue to give him a little bit more and more," Smith said. "As he continues to handle it, Tariq's going to be really good for us."
More Freshman Impact
Smith also spoke highly of true freshman Lamont Wade, comparing his freshman campaign to that of someone like Grant Haley.
"Lamont has become really, really important to us on special teams," Smith said. "He makes a ton of plays on special teams units and he's played a significant role with us on the defensive end as well. His role is going to continue to grow for us. Lamont is a super smart kid."
By Jack Dougherty, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State took down Stony Brook 7-0 in the first round of the NCAA tournament last Friday, but the competition heats up this weekend as the Nittany Lions travel to Morgantown, West Virginia.
The Blue and White, ranked No. 10 and a No. 3 seed in the tournament, will square off against No. 24 Wake Forest Friday at 4 p.m. in the second round of the tournament. With a win, the road to a second championship in three years doesn't get any easier.
Penn State's potential third round game on Sunday would be against the winner of No. 22 Rutgers and No. 7 West Virginia. The Morgantown pod of four teams may be the toughest in the field to overcome, as it's the only pod out of eight to feature four ranked teams.
Luckily for the Nittany Lions, they're playing their best soccer of the year right now. They've outscored opponents 10-1 since postseason play began with the Big Ten tournament.
"I think the whole team in general has grown a lot just from the beginning of the year," redshirt junior Emily Ogle said. "Knowing each other's tendencies and starting to get in a real flow and rhythm with the people around us. We've come a long way and it's finally starting to show."
One of the biggest reasons for Penn State's recent dominance is the offensive emergence of Laura Freigang. She has scored at least one goal in three straight matches and is coming off a three-goal game in the first round. It was the 21st hat trick in program history.
Freigang's recent surge garnered national praise, as she was named to the TopDrawerSoccer Team of the Week two weeks in a row.
The sophomore from Oppenheim, Germany now leads the team in goals (eight), points (17), and game-winning goals (four) this season.
"It was a long time coming," head coach Erica Dambach said. "She's been in and out of the group with national team duty. It's taken her a while to get fully integrated, and we thought that once she did this was going to be the result. We finally were able to slide her into the starting lineup on a consistent basis and the result has been magical."
Freigang has competed with the German Women's National Team since she was only 15. Recently, she played four matches in the 2016 FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup last November.
Freigang said the pressure that comes with national team matches has helped her this year to produce in the clutch. Teammates have noticed, too.
"She has experience in these big stage games and it showed," Ogle said. "She's been our go-to player and has really come up big for us when we need her. She's a great player and she has that experience she can lead on when we need it the most."
Penn State will rely heavily on Freigang for some offensive firepower this weekend against stiff competition.
Here's what each team in the challenging pod presents for Penn State.
Bayley Fiest leads the team with eight goals and 18 points on the year, but the Demon Deacons feature a balanced offensive attack in which 13 players have scored at least one goal.
Wake Forest's best win this season came against South Carolina back in August. The Gamecocks are a No. 1 seed in the tournament, and Wake Forest defeated them, 3-2.
Dambach said the key to beating Wake Forest will be dominating the flanks on both ends of the field.
"They are good in the attack in the flanks, and I think in our attack we can get at them in those areas," Dambach said.
She also said Penn State needs to have success with set pieces like it did against Stony Brook. The Nittany Lions scored two goals off set pieces in that match, and Dambach said that could make or break the team in this upcoming game.
The Demon Deacons upset No. 15 Georgetown in penalty kicks in the first round of the NCAA tournament, and they'll be hungry for another one Friday.
Penn State already faced West Virginia in Morgantown earlier this season and came up one goal short in a thriller. A rematch would have every college soccer fan's eye on Sunday.
The Mountaineers are the No. 2 seed in the region and sport a 16-3-2 record. They've won eight of their last 10 and haven't lost since September 24.
The two powerhouses have played each other at least once in each of the past eight years and seem to always run into each other in the NCAA tournament. Penn State had to go through West Virginia during its 2015 national championship run.
The rivalry has an enthralling history. The series record sits at a deadlock at 7-7-2, and 11 of those 16 matches were either one-goal games or draws.
Michaela Abam leads the Mountaineers with 10 goals on the season. She's extremely aggressive offensively, as she averages almost six shots per game.
Goalkeeper Rylee Foster has been sturdy all season long. She owns a 0.56 goals against average and a .774 save percentage.
That's been Rutgers' identity since All-American goalkeeper Casey Murphy arrived in Piscataway three years ago.
The redshirt junior has allowed just six goals in 20 games this season. Her 0.28 goals against average is the top mark in the country.
The Scarlet Knights frustrate their opponents with stifling defense and physicality. The chippy, low-scoring game with plenty of fouls is Rutgers' comfort zone.
Penn State has played Rutgers twice this season and neither team has scored in 220 minutes of game time. The Nittany Lions grinded out a victory in penalty kicks in the Big Ten tournament. If this rematch occurs, expect the first team to score to pull out the win.
Going away to a hostile environment and making it through Morgantown will undoubtedly be Penn State's biggest challenge of the season, but confidence is oozing from this squad right now. The friendly confines of Jeffrey Field won't be revisited this season, but the Nittany Lions are ready for a fight on the road.
"There's no place like Jeffrey Field," Ogle said. "It's the best place in the country to play college soccer, but we're hunters. We go on the road and we try to eat, we try to get the job done. It doesn't matter where we play--we'll play anyone anywhere."
By Patrick Anglin, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Every university wants to build an elite coaching staff for its varsity sports. The administration wants to bring in the best, and choose individuals who will make their teams better. One would hope that each coach on staff has a unique skill-set and perspective, that when combined with other coaches, will create a force to be reckoned with. An ideal coach will push their student-athletes to be the best they can be, and then some. That's why hiring Celeste Brown as an assistant coach was a no-brainer for Penn State and women's hockey head coach Jeff Kampersal.
"I remember coaching against her when she played at RIT," Kampersal said. "She's super competitive, and we wanted somebody who had moxie and grit. Somebody who would instill toughness into the players. She's a tireless worker, she was that as a player and is now that as a coach."
Kampersal was impressed with what Brown was able to do on the ice, and for good reason. During her playing career at RIT, Brown tallied a 15-2 postseason record including a Division III National Championship in 2012 and consecutive CHA titles in 2014-15. She was a two-time captain with 42 goals and 28 assists, with nine of her goals coming as game-winners. After graduating, Brown spent a year playing professional hockey in the NWHL with the New York Riveters. Then, the next year, she played professionally for the Connecticut Whale while serving as an assistant coach at Connecticut College. Brown emphasizes that her success as a player wasn't due to talent, but to her mindset and attitude.
"I wasn't an amazing player, but I figured out how to get where I needed to be," Brown said. "I outworked people, and that's my main thing. Yeah you can be super talented, but if you don't have the work ethic, grit, determination, and the willingness to sacrifice as a player, I don't think you'll get to level you can be."
Brown enjoyed her time playing professionally and coaching at Connecticut, but was ready to take the next step in her career by joining a top program. It just so happened that a school at the top of her list had an opening.
"What drew me to Penn State was its unbelievable potential," Brown said. "I played in the CHA, as Penn State joined the same time that RIT did. I remember being here as a player, and even back then, we all knew this place was special. I knew this place could provide excellent support for not just athletes but also students. Seeing that drew me in from the get-go."
It wasn't just the school that caught Brown's attention, but the team itself. Specifically, it was the top-tier coaches that had already joined the staff.
"PSU hired two top-notch coaches in Kampersal and Coomey," Brown said. "Coming here was like finding a golden ticket. Working with those two has been extraordinary, has been wonderful. I'm very fortunate, and what I like about them most is that they value my opinion just as much as if I was a long-tenured coach."
Since joining Penn State in July, Brown has certainly established herself as a key component of the team's success. She's received high praise from everybody in Pegula Arena, from the other coaches to the players.
"Our players respect her," Kampersal said. "She certainly has the clout in the CHA for our players to respect her, but they also respect her for her work ethic that she brings every single day. The energy, the passion. Her being young is a positive because she can relate to them well. They can relate on a lot of things and the players can go to her and talk about personal things."
This year is Brown's second year of coaching overall, but she doesn't think being young puts her at a disadvantage. In fact, she's certain that it gives her a unique perspective and helps her communicate with her players.
"The landscape of women's hockey has changed, and me being a recent graduate and recently playing pro for two years gives me a different outlook than other coaches might have," Brown said. "I have walked through these girl's shoes, so I feel like I can relate with them."
The players agree that Brown is extremely approachable, and that her youth and energy, and the balance between being a coach and being friendly are all what makes her coaching so effective.
"During practice she has a fun side," freshman Sophie Slattery said. "She'll participate in our shootouts and give tips. When it gets to game time she's very serious about what she's doing."
It's not just her attitude that makes her a great assistant coach for the team, but also her mental and physical gifts when it comes to the game of hockey.
"She's a great coach and we love working with her," sophomore Brooke Madsen said. "She was a pretty good player a couple of years ago, so she has a lot of knowledge on the talent part of the game. Stick-handling, skills, playing off the zone, being creative, creating chemistry with our lines, she knows it all and does it all."
The players also noted that they admired her competitive nature, and how she takes the time to focus on everyone equally.
"You can definitely tell how much she genuinely wants to be here and how much she wants to develop each individual player," Slattery said. "She has a ton of tips for everyone, on how to develop our individual game."
Brown has already seen a lot in her young hockey career, before as a player and now as a coach, and she's excited for the future. She lives by a mantra that she hopes she can instill upon each and every player she coaches.
"You just have to do it," Brown said. "Follow your dreams. Which sounds cliche, but you just can't take no for an answer. If the road changes, you just have to change with it. You'll never know where you are going to end up until you are there, so it's all about the journey. Once you're on top of the mountain, you can look back and see, and then you'll understand it."
The women of the ice hockey team will continue on their journey, and can feel confident that they have a great guide in Brown. Her competitive nature and love for the game, along with a broad number of life experiences already piled up, have her ready to take on any challenge that comes.
By Tom Shively,
GoPSUsports.com student staff writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - It was a perfect letdown situation for the top-ranked team in the country. A weeknight home game against a team with only one conference win would have been easy to overlook, especially with a three-game road trip looming.
Instead, Penn State women's volleyball swept Indiana, 25-21, 25-16, 25-16 to push their winning streak to 16 consecutive matches. A large part of the victory came by way of the blocking success, as the Nittany Lions could rely on a timely block anytime Indiana showed signs of momentum.
Anywhere the Hoosiers tried to attack at the net, it was met with a wall of Penn State defenders. The Nittany Lions denied the overmatched Indiana hitters all night, racking up 13 blocks for the match. The Hoosiers hit at a .083 clip, in large part because of the Penn State pressure.
Tori Gorrell and Heidi Thelen were the biggest road blocks for the Hoosiers, combining for 13 blocks. Gorrell credited most of her success tonight to Thelen being a reliable teammate and putting her into positions to succeed.
"With Heidi being a middle in the pass, it's easier to know what she's doing because we have different arm swings," Gorrell said. "Some outsides do short arm swings, some do long arm swings, but Heidi is very consistent with that on her blocking. I know where she's going and she'll talk to me and push me."
Gorrell's play didn't go unnoticed by head coach Russ Rose, who commended her as well as Haleigh Washington for their complete efforts on the night.
"I thought Tori played a great match, she hit and blocked really well. Haleigh, as is the norm, hit better and got some blocks," Rose said.
Washington added four blocks and 10 kills, hitting at a .667 clip, leading both teams in kills and percentage.
While the Nittany Lions may have cruised to a win on the surface, nine service errors caught Rose's attention as he stressed the errors as a point to work on for the future.
"It's a learning experience for the players. I thought we blocked well and served poorly," Rose said.
The Nittany Lions started out slow in the first two sets, trailing 10-7 in the first and 7-5 in the second before turning those frames around.
Penn State played its best volleyball in terms of hitting in the third set, registering a scorching .632 hitting percentage in the final frame, siding out at 87 percent.
Washington's four kills on four attacks set the tone for the Nittany Lions in that third set, and her leadership showed all night even as Penn State was struggling to distance itself from Indiana early in sets.
It's a quality that she has had all year and something critical to this team's success in both the immediate future and the postseason as well.
"As a leader, it's about instilling that sense of urgency, that focus and that drive that everything matters," Washington said. "It's not just when we play, it's when we practice too. We're going to have teams we play in the first round of the tournament that will be serving us tough and hitting really hard. Everybody competes and everybody goes hard."
Rose also highlighted the importance of putting a quality effort together, as errors and mental mistakes cannot be absorbed if this team wants to make a run at a championship, a very realistic goal as things currently stand.
"Everybody cares in the NCAA Tournament, it's just how much you care," Rose said. "A 'C' effort won't get us very far in the NCAA Tournament. It certainly wasn't a great performance by everybody today but if you're trying to get some momentum going down the stretch, you'd like to think that you'd be able to start your own engines and get out there and do it."The Nittany Lions travel to Rutgers this weekend before a trip to Minnesota and Wisconsin after Thanksgiving to close out the regular season.
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State head coach James Franklin met with members of the media following practice Wednesday evening. Nittany Lions Marcus Allen and DaeSean Hamilton also took time for a pair of post-practice media sessions during Nebraska week.
Check in for a few updates from Penn State's final mid-week media availability before Saturday's home finale.
A Legacy in Terms of
For Franklin, there's isn't one particular story that he'll remember Hamilton by, rather pointing out that he'll leave behind a legacy surrounding an impressive work ethic.
"He's a guy, as much as any guy I've been around in my career, that has maximized his potential through work ethic, through preparation, through attitude," Franklin said." I mean, I think I've told you guys stories, when I was a bachelor living here by myself for nine months and I'd come out at 6 a.m. and he'd be out on the turf running routes by himself or on the JUGS machine or what else."
Marcus Allen Then and Now
When asked to describe himself looking back at when he was a freshman to where he is now as a senior, Allen was both reflective and appreciative of those who have helped him along the way.
"Raw talent, a gullible kid, just playing with straight emotion. I didn't really know the game of football." Allen said describing his freshman self. "Senior Marcus, still play with emotion and passion, but really I learned way more about football in general. I got taught the ins and outs of football. Down and distance, formation recognition, checks, calls."
It Was a Scramble
Franklin also detailed a bit of the hectic process related to tying up a recruiting class having just barely arrived on campus.
"It was a scramble, we were locked up in the Penn Stater," Franklin said. "We lived in the Penn Stater and going through HR and everything. Half of our staff wasn't even allowed to come to Lasch until we cleared all the background checks and all that kind of stuff. Legitimately we were sequestered in the Penn Stater and it was basically me coming over, walking around Lasch Building by myself. But it was a scramble, calling all those kids."
When asked about the Husker secondary, Hamilton noted that it's probably among the biggest he's faced.
"A lot of teams in the Big Ten west, their DB's and their whole team is huge," Hamilton said. "We approach them the same way, we are aware of who our matchup are and things like that. We know they are a pretty skilled group, they've been playing together for I'm pretty sure a long time and they're real disciplined as well so that's the main thing we're focusing on.
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - If Andrea Smith had a dollar for every time someone asked her how her husband could transform into a fierce and ferocious competitor on Saturday's in the fall, she'd likely be rich.
Her husband of course, is 6-foot, fifth-year senior linebacker Brandon Smith.
"We've been together for seven years and I've honestly never seen him actually angry," Andrea said. "For example, his barber, they are all so shocked when he tells them that he plays football because he seems like the kindest, most gentle person. I guess people have a hard time imagining that he isn't like that on the football field, which is funny."
As Winfield, Pennsylvania natives, both Brandon and Andrea grew up fewer than 80 miles from University Park. A standout linebacker at Lewisburg High School, Brandon always had his mind set on Penn State.
"I always dreamed of coming here and I never really thought that would happen," Brandon said.
While accumulating college football offers, Smith was eventually recruited as a preferred walk-on at Penn State, which made his decision to turn down Ivy League scholarship opportunities, an easy one in pursuit of his lifelong dream.
"I always knew he wanted to go to Penn State," Andrea said. "When he was trying to decide, I think everyone in his family knew that was where he wanted to go. When he told me, I wasn't super shocked, but I guess I was more excited because you realize this is a dream, and he had the opportunity to pursue that."
While deliberating, Brandon knew that choosing Penn State wouldn't be the easiest path, but through personal prayer he found there was simply something about the challenge that was drawing him to Happy Valley.
"I think ultimately I just looked at it and I didn't want to look back and say that I didn't try it or think to myself, could I have done that or not," Brandon said. "Instead, I decided to go for it and find out."
In what will soon the end of a five-year career at Penn State, there's a lot he has accomplished along the way, most recently being named to the Allstate AFCA (American Football Coaches Association) Good Works Team.
"I don't think I would have been challenged the same way football-wise at the other places but I definitely don't think I would have been challenged the same way spiritually in those places, and that's one of the biggest things I've taken away after five years being here," Brandon said.
Following a redshirt season in 2013, Brandon did not play in any games during the 2014 season. He made his collegiate debut against Indiana in 2015, but only played in two other games during the year.
By 2016, Brandon burst on to the scene against Temple, having played just 44 career snaps entering the game, he finished with eight tackles, his first career tackle for loss and his first career pass breakup in 68 total snaps against the Owls.
As injuries took their toll on the Nittany Lion linebackers, Brandon made his first collegiate start on the road at Michigan.
Playing in all 14 games during the 2016 Big Ten Championship season, he highlighted the year with a career-high 14 tackles against Maryland, grabbing his first interception to earn Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week honors.
He hasn't looked back since, now a regular face on the field, most recently stepping into a starting role at Will linebacker, atop this week's depth chart.
Through his rise to success on the field, what makes his high school sweetheart most proud though, is the character he has kept throughout the process.
"When he wasn't playing the first couple of years, versus last year when he did have the opportunity to be on that big stage, it hasn't changed who he is as a person," Andrea said. "He didn't let any of that affect him - the hard times or the good times, he always remained true to who he is. For me, that's just an incredible husband and best friend, but to so many other people, his teammates, his coaches, I think they've seen that in him, that he's just true and true the same person and they can always rely on him to be who he is. He's just always going to show up and be the Brandon Smith that everyone knows him as."
The same Brandon Smith that everyone knows though, is known for much more than what he contributes on the football field.
A seven-time Dean's List honoree, Smith has already earned one degree in kinesiology and is on track to graduate with a second degree in health, policy and administration. Helped out by a few perfect semesters, Brandon earned a 4.0 GPA in the 2017 spring semester to bring his cumulative GPA to a 3.81.
While managing academic and football responsibilities, Brandon prioritizes being a husband too, and that means he needs to be diligent with his time.
"I just have to be focused and make the most out of the time that I have," Brandon said. "Sometimes it's easy to get lazy like between classes maybe trying to watch Netflix or something. Instead, I have to try to get my work done during the day and in between classes, take advantage of that time more and try to watch film so when I'm home at night I have as little to do as possible to be fair to my wife and not just come home, do work and go to bed.
Andrea and Brandon also both recently applied to medical school, a process that is anything but brief.
For Brandon, that meant spending all spring and summer studying for the MCAT, a more than seven-hour test that's a key part of the application process. After passing the MCAT, it was time for applications.
"The application process was pretty difficult because I was in training camp trying to finish them," Brandon said. "You have to get letters of recommendation from your teachers. I got one from Coach Franklin, he was nice enough to do one for me."
After completing another round of secondary applications featuring more essays and personal statements, it's now a waiting game for both Andrea and Brandon, who await interview rounds from interested medical schools.
While they didn't study together, when they do get time to spend together, helping others is something they can both do as a family.
In 2012, Andrea and her sister Emily founded Honduran Soles, a nonprofit shoe organization designed to provide adequate footwear to those in need all over the world.
"We kind of had this goal where we wanted to raise 200 pairs of shoes and send them to Honduras," Andrea said. "In a matter of months, we had 3,000 pairs of shoes and it just kind of grew from this small dream to this summer, we have sent out over 14,000 pairs in 22 countries."
Andrea's parents graciously offered up their garage, which serves as shoe warehouse for the operation, which she and Brandon, when he has time, dedicate to packing shoes to be sent out with different groups traveling to areas of the world in need.
Together, they traveled to Honduras during spring break in 2015 to spend time with children in an orphanage and build a soccer field.
"When we went there, we were handing out fruit and sandwiches and had some candy," Brandon said. "These kids were going absolutely berserk just to get a lollypop and it probably costs two cents there. Just seeing that level of desperation, in little kids none the less, it makes you realize how blessed we are to live here and how blessed we are to have all our needs met. Most people here have an abundance, way more than they need so it doesn't take much to try to give back and try to improve someone else's quality of life."
Their impact on others spans further than Honduras, as Andrea and Brandon's flower girl in their wedding was a young girl he met during one of Penn State Football's annual visits to the Penn State Children's Hospital.
"Brandon had met her in 2014 when the team went to Hershey over the summer," Andrea said. "I went to Messiah College, which is really close to Hershey, so I started volunteering at Hershey and I got to meet her."
From a friendship, it grew into a truly special relationship, just one small example of the type of opportunities Brandon is proud to have at Penn State.
"We just have tons and tons of opportunities and if you just take one minute extra to spend time with one of these people, you see how much of an impact is has on them," Brandon said. "We have this opportunity where people look up to us here and we're just normal people. People love Penn State Football and love the players, it doesn't take much at all to give back to those people."
From academics and community service to marriage and football, it wasn't always easy to find contentment with his role on the team.
"I said this in the team meeting when Coach Franklin had me share with the team one time, I really made a switch, even before I started playing, from woe-is-me to I'm not getting a chance, and this is and that," Brandon said. "I started just loving my teammates and loving the coaches and that changed my whole perspective."
With a new perspective, how he viewed his Penn State experience, was immediately transformed.
"It wasn't that I didn't work hard, but just little things that I would say to other people or to myself, they weren't good for myself or the team," Brandon said. "When I could make that switch and just love myself, love the players and love the coaches, I started enjoying being here and I think I became a much better teammate during that time."
Now at peace in any circumstance, when looking back on the entire experience, it's his decision to go for it, that has truly made him proud."Unfortunately, a lot of people take their opportunities and circumstances for granted," Brandon said. "It's easy to be ungrateful when you're so focused on yourself. I think I'm most happy that I was able to grow out of that immaturity and see that there's a bigger picture here. I get to be a part of one of the best program's in the country at one of the best institutions in the country. I get to help out in great causes. It's just an amazing opportunity and I'm glad that I was able to make the most out of it.
By Erin Neri, GoPSUsports.com
student staff writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Headed into its second consecutive week on the road, Penn State men's hockey has a lot of positives to build upon before traveling to the west coast to play Arizona State.
Pulling from game two of last weekend's series at Notre Dame, the Nittany Lions held the Fighting Irish to only one goal in an all-out defensive showcase. Although Penn State didn't put any goals in the back of the net despite various opportunities to do so, head coach Guy Gadowsky was still happy with the performance.
"We had a lot of 'grade A' opportunities that we never finish on but we take that game any day, we really would," Gadowsky said. "If we could bottle that, we take that game against anyone."
The blue line stepped up and showcased improvements Gadowsky has been looking for all season, allowing zero power play goals through the entire series against the best power play scoring unit in the Big Ten. The defense also held one of the nation's top goal scorers, Jake Evans, to a lone assist throughout the weekend.
Strength in the defense zone also led to better goaltending on behalf of sophomore Peyton Jones, who totaled 40 saves throughout the series and earned the third star in Saturday night's game.
"As Kyle MacDonald our goaltending coach said, 'It takes one game to turn the tide on goaltenders,'" Gadowsky said. "We know what Peyton can do and we have a ton of faith in him."
For Gadowsky, it's something he hopes will boost Jones' confidence as well as that of the defense, sparking more improvement going forward.
On the other side of the puck, Nikita Pavlychev has been able to find the back on the net on a more consistent basis this season. Using his 6-foot-7-inch stature along with his aggressive style of play to his advantage, Pavlychev has become an integral part of Penn State's offense.
The sophomore forward registered a career-best point streak and extended his goal streak to four games going into game two at South Bend before it was snapped.
"He actually had a lot of opportunities last year but he struggled in hitting the net," Gadowsky said. "Whereas this year, I know that's something he has really focused on in the summer and it's starting to pay off."
By the time game 12 arrived, Pavlychev had registered only two goals, but this season he has boosted his total to five goals headed into game 13.
The Russian native has been able to hone in on his shooting skills at the Pittsburgh Penguins development camp, where he spent this past summer. The Penguins drafted Pavlychev in the 2015 NHL Draft in the seventh round.
"He works hard every day, he really takes pride in playing in his own end," junior forward Andrew Sturtz said. "It's tough to do that every night and it might not always show up on the scoreboard, but those little things are what's going to help us win."
As noted by Gadowsky, it's doing the little things that will ultimately lead to success for the Nittany Lions, and Pavlychev is helping to move things in the right direction.
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State football returns to action Saturday, hosting Nebraska in its regular season home finale at Beaver Stadium. Nittany Lion head coach James Franklin met with members of the media at his weekly press conference joined by linebacker Brandon Smith and tight end Mike Gesicki.
For Gesicki and Smith, Saturday marks the final time they'll take to the field at Beaver Stadium alongside members of the 2017 senior class. With the emotions associated with a final outing on the home field, both Gesicki and Smith were reflective Tuesday afternoon, looking back at their Penn State careers.
"This is going to be a game filled with a bunch of emotions," Gesicki said. "It is the last game ever playing in Beaver Stadium, and I can still remember the first time I was here in Beaver Stadium. My junior year of high school, I visited for the White Out game against Ohio State, and I remember the atmosphere, the fans, and everything about Beaver Stadium."
Across his four years, Gesicki noted he'll cherish everything, specifically mentioning how much the program has changed since he first stepped foot on campus.
I first got here coach Franklin had been here for about five months," Gesicki
"There's been some guys on these teams that played for a few coaches. Finally over the past two years, we've had complete buy in by all 125 players on the team. We all have the utmost respect for coach Franklin and trust him, the scheme, and what he preaches to us day in and day out."
For someone like Smith, it's this year that has been the most meaningful to him.
"This is my fifth season and I've just enjoyed all of it," Smith said. "I'd say patience has been one of the biggest things for me, just waiting for an opportunity, and preparation. Just having the right attitude. I talked to the team a couple weeks ago about my perspective switch of just being less selfish and more cheering my teammates on and being happy for the guys who got to play in front of me. Just being able to support them and that shift just lets you work harder, lets you have better focus, and so when your opportunity does come, you're ready."
On The Quote Board -
- Franklin on the unwavering commitment from this year's senior class.
"Those guys should be very proud," Franklin said. "I would hope that we sell out the stadium on Saturday for no other reason than to show these seniors how much we appreciate all their hard work and sacrifices that they've made."
- Gesicki on who will take his place as well as DaeSean Hamilton's in the post practice pass catching group including Juwan Johnson.
"Juwan always says, 'Man, we've got a few more weeks and then I'm going to be out here throwing the ball to myself,'" Gesicki said. "I'm not sure who Juwan is going to let enter this prestigious club of ours but whoever it is, they're going to go out there and get in a bunch of extra work and prepare for Saturdays, just like we have been for the past two years."
- Smith on his transition to linebacker.
"I knew I could play linebacker, so I'd talk to coach Pry and I'd talk to coach Franklin. Once a week, every other week, I'd be up in one of their offices telling them I can do this. I'm not pulling your leg or anything like that. I was thankful to have guys like Ben Klein or Nyeem Wartman who were older guys who were there while I transitioned to linebacker, and they vouched for me. I appreciate them because ultimately they let me switch and I'm really thankful for that opportunity. Who knows, they probably might have cut me if I stayed a tight end. So just thankful for that opportunity."
- Gesicki on the latest member to join the "DaeSean Hamilton friends club."
"The latest addition would be Andre Robinson," Gesicki said. "Andre has, for the past year and a half, literally - because I live with Andre, been like, 'dude, I wish DaeSean would talk to me.' I'd tell him 'maybe go up and say what's up?' Then Andre actually went through my phone and got DaeSean's number when I wasn't looking. He texted him and DaeSean responded with, 'Who is this?' And Andre was like, 'Oh, yeah, it's Andre.' So then Andre would text him like a hundred times a day, really just annoy him to be his friend. Now he knows that Andre's a funny dude and likes hanging out with him. I would say Andre is the new addition."
- Smith on what this year has meant to him.
"I think this season in general, even though I've been a back-up for most of the season, I've just enjoyed this more than any other season and made an extra effort to build relationships with my teammates," Smith said. "I don't even know if I'll remember actually playing in games. I think just the team and the locker room and things like that. I think this year, more than any, has been the most meaningful to me."
- Gesicki on how much pride he takes in the fact that he didn't give up dealing with adversity early in his career.
"Ultimately I could have packed it in," Gesicki said. "That's not who I am. I'm a competitor. I had goals and aspirations. Then, going into that spring ball, I would write in my notebook every day. The first thing I'd write is I'm the best tight end. Every single day. If anybody ever read that, they would have laughed at me at that point in my life. Just because they would think you're not even close to that. I knew what I was capable of. That's something that I'm very proud of, how I grew and developed and become the player I am."
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State football has turned its focus toward Nebraska, prepping for its final home outing of season Saturday at Beaver Stadium.
Nebraska head coach Mike Riley took the podium this afternoon in his weekly press conference giving early props to the Penn State defense as well as quarterback Trace McSorley and running back Saquon Barkley.
"I think you all know Penn State has a great football team all around with a great runner, very versatile," Riley said. "I really like the quarterback. I think he's a great fit for what they do and their defense is physical, lots of movement. It's a good defense so we'll have our work cut out for us for sure."
As Franklin noted postgame following the win against Rutgers, he was pleased with the defensive effort, especially in its ability to remain patient and adapt to mid-game adjustments. Penn State senior linebacker Jason Cabinda led the team with 11 tackles, while fifth-year senior linebacker Brandon Smith followed close behind with 10 tackles.
With Penn State leading 21-6 in the third quarter, linebacker Cam Brown broke up a Rutgers pass attempt before Cabinda came through with a fourth-and-2 stop on a Scarlet Knight fake punt attempt, setting the stage for a Nittany Lion scoring drive.
In total, Penn State surrendered 101 rushing yards in the first half, but held Rutgers to just 56 yards on the ground in the second half. The Nittany Lion air defense limited the Scarlet Knights to just 43 passing yards, marking its fewest allowed in a conference game since becoming a member of the league.
Up the Record Lists
Penn State kicker Tyler Davis continued his rise through the Nittany Lion record book against Rutgers. With five PAT kicks, he surpassed Brett Conway (119 - 1994-96) for the most consecutive PAT kicks at Penn State with 122.
He also moved to fifth in the Big Ten's consecutive extra points chart, kicking his first of the day to give the Nittany Lions the lead, 7-6, in the second quarter and his fifth of the day to lock up the 35-6 win.
He Said It
Riley also noted his admiration for the way McSorley plays the game.
"I think McSorley is a versatile, competitive guy, makes plays, feet, on the run, throwing," Riley said. "I think that as I've watching him through the year's he's never out. Their comeback came in the championship game was interesting and I think his play was outstanding in that game."
Allowing just six points against Rutgers, Penn State's scoring defense is ranked second in the conference and fourth in FBS allowing 13.9 points per game on the year. The Nittany Lions are also plus-13 in the turnover margin, something Franklin continues to highlight in weekly press conferences.
Individually, Penn State running back Saquon Barkley is ranked atop the conference standings and second in FBS with 184.60 all-purpose yards. Barkley set a career record against Rutgers, climbing to the top spot on the all-purpose yards chart with 5,055 in his career, surpassing both Larry Johnson and Curt Warner.
Looking at Nebraska
The Huskers head to Happy Valley for the first time since 2013, set to close out a two-game road swing at Beaver Stadium. Nebraska enters Saturday's matchup coming off a 54-21 loss at Minnesota.
By Brandon Pelter, GoPSUsports.com student staff writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Nittany Lion wrestling team is no stranger to bonus point victories, but Sunday afternoon it took some added work to defeat the Bucknell Bison 36-3.
After Devin Schnupp lost a competitive 3-1 battle against Jake Campbell at 125 pounds, Corey Keener turned in a hard-fought major decision,12-4, over David Campbell. With the win, Keener collected 3:51 of riding time and improves to 2-0 to start his Nittany Lion career, something that's already impressing Penn State head coach Cael Sanderson.
"Corey's a great kid and he's a real likeable kid," Sanderson said. "He's a great wrestler too, he has goals he wants to accomplish and I think he's wrestling well. When you're wrestling on a team with guys like Zain [Retherford] and [Jason] Nolf, [Nick] Nevills, Bo Nickal and Mark Hall, I think you're going to up your game to play at that level."
Jered Cortez followed suit at 141 pounds beating Matt Kolonia 10-4 with 1:12 of riding time.
Zain Retherford and Jason Nolf then delivered with back-to-back pins in the second period.
Retherford, who is rarely taken to the mat, isn't afraid to expand his repertoire.
"I got taken down today," Retherford said. "But that was something where I was trying a new move and I'm just going to keep doing that."
Vincenzo Joseph and Mark Hall recorded third period technical falls, with Sanderson making specific note of Joseph's performance.
"(Vincenzo's) got great leg attacks," Sanderson said. "He can threaten you with the upper body stuff also. His opponent was comfortable in that position too, but I thought Vincenzo looked really good tonight. His double legs were crisp and he did a nice job on top."
After Anthony Cassar lost a hard-fought match, which included two late takedowns in the final 40 seconds, Nick Nevills closed out the afternoon with an 11-4 win at heavyweight.
While it wasn't Nevills' flashiest performance, it included 2:50 of riding time and represented the Nittany Lions day on the mat, 10 hard-fought performances.
Just a week into the season, Sanderson is focused more on scoring points than the flashy moves or early pins, with improvements as the focus moving forward."It just depends on a lot of different things," Sanderson said. "But, we're not looking for first period pins right now. If it happens, it happens. We're just trying to wrestle and score points and get better and we saw a lot of that."
By Alyssa Palfey, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - With the Mid-Atlantic Regional happening this past weekend, the Nittany Lion cross country teams are officially winding down the season and the senior runners are feeling a bit sentimental as they go into their last NCAA Cross Country Championships this weekend.
"I'm excited. I'm sad, obviously. I'm gonna miss this place and miss running cross country with these girls. We obviously still have track seasons, but we've been working hard and we have so much fun together," senior Greta Lindsley said. "I'm very proud and I believe in them so much and I believe in myself, so I think we're gonna have fun and hopefully we can prove how hard we've been working."
"I think I'll just miss the team the most and the comradery and preseason and just I don't know I'll miss everything," senior Tim McGowan added.
Aside from missing the people and the memories, the seniors will also miss the different aspects that cross country had to offer. Although there are still indoor and outdoor track seasons left, they say that cross country has a way different dynamic than track.
"It's just like this grind you know. It's just like you don't really get it on the track and it's a completely different atmosphere. It has more to do with the team," senior Jillian Hunsberger said. "It's kinda like yeah, we're all just going to go out there and have a good time and race and see what happens at the end of the day."
The senior runners who have been traveling with the team have made a huge impact on the Penn State cross country program and will be missed by more than just their teammates, but their coaches too.
"I think the sacrifices that they've made the four years and seeing the progress that all of them have made has really been enjoyable over the years. Jillian Hunsberger, for instance, coming in being All-American and really just making a big contribution this year and being a great team leader," assistant coach Angela Reckart said.
"Greta (Lindsley) has been an impact and Victoria (Crawford), you know, they all bring something unique to the table. Aside from their physical talents I think just their personalities just so unique. On the guy's side, Tim McGowan has really been an important factor to this team. Great team captain this year. Yeah, we have a great group. It's gonna be really sad to see them go," Reckart said.
Although it is sad to see the season come to an end, the memories that Penn State cross country has brought them will stay with them forever. The senior runners reflected on some of their favorite moments with the team.
"Definitely when we won Big Tens. That was by far the best experience of my life. I think that's just something that everyone should strive to achieve at least once in their career because it was just, I don't know, the atmosphere everything was so amazing," Hunsberger said.
"It had to be winning Big Tens my sophomore year in Chicago, just being the underdogs and coming after number two Michigan and we beat them. It was the best cross country memory ever," Lindsley said.
Even with all this reflecting, the season isn't over quite yet for the Nittany Lions. The women will be racing as a team at the NCAA Cross Country Championships this weekend in Louisville, KY. Tim McGowan and Colin Albert will also be representing Penn State for the men as individuals at the meet.
"I'm feeling pretty excited. It is a little sad going into my last cross race, but we're just trying to put together a good last one," McGowan said.
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Nodding along in the postgame media room press conference, Penn State's Tony Carr leaned forward and spoke into the microphone.
"Offseason grind leads to in-season shine," he said with a smile, drawing a laugh from Nittany Lion Josh Reaves, seated just beside him.
Carr's comment was about Reaves, who finished second on the team with 17 points while leading the squad with nine rebounds and four steals in an 81-57 win against Fairleigh Dickinson.
Reaves' point total came second to Carr, who logged 20 points for his second straight game with at least 20 points, including a perfect 9-for-9 mark from the charity stripe. Carr also dished out seven assists, adding a career-high three steals.
"I thought Josh Reaves' energy was unbelievable, he was all over the place," Chambers said postgame.
The duo were just two of five double figure scorers and two of nine Nittany Lions who combined for a Bryce Jordan Center-record 18 steals.
Trailing early the first half, it was Reaves who sparked the Nittany Lions with his first 3-pointer of the day bringing Penn State within four, 14-10, with 13:15 left in the first half.
Mike Watkins slammed in a dunk before Penn State triples from Davis Zemgulis and Reaves guided the Nittany Lions to their first lead of the game, 18-17.
Fairleigh Dickinson used a 3-0 spurt to get back on top, but Reaves came through once again with a layup to even the score, igniting yet another run.
Penn State surged ahead with a 16-9 run, pulling ahead by three, 26-23, entering the media timeout with 8:03 left in the opening frame. Reaves accounted for 12 of the 16 points during the stretch as the Nittany Lions never looked back.
Behind another 19-6 scoring run, Penn State rolled into the locker room with its highest first-half point total since scoring 45 against Illinois on January 28, 2017, leading 45-29 as Carr heaved a shot from his back at the buzzer.
Reaves scored 12 of his 17 points in the first half, collecting six rebounds - just having fun as he put it postgame.
"When it comes to emotion, I'm just having fun honestly," Reaves said. "I find defense fun and I'm just having a great time. Our trainer says when I'm smiling, I'm having a good time out there, so I try to do that as much as possible."
For Chambers, Reaves' ability to fill the stat sheet in the scoring column comes as a byproduct of his defensive commitment.
you're thinking about it the other way, when you're thinking you have get 20
points today and 'I need to score,' guess what typically happens? Nothing good,"
Chambers said. "You don't defend, you don't rebound, and you don't get your
points. So he flips the script, but he's our second-leading scorer right now
because he defends, he rebounds, and he's having a great time doing it."
Evident in the observation from Carr, Reaves has put in significant work in the offseason, especially when it comes to his performance behind the arc./p>
"My teammates have been doing a really good job of giving me the confidence to shoot the ball and just take advantage of my speed and my quickness," Reaves said. "Just using those abilities that I have God-given, so try to get a couple offensive rebounds, quick tip backs, steals, deflections, and run outs. I've been working a lot over the summer on my three. They just keep finding me when I'm open, and I'm just going to keep shooting the ball."
Reaves and the rest of the Nittany Lions return to action next Wednesday, Nov. 15, hosting Montana in the first game of the Legends Classic set for 7 p.m. in the Bryce Jordan Center.
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - For Penn State quarterback Trace McSorley, nothing else mattered this week besides beating Rutgers on Saturday.
He wasn't the only with the same laser-like focus, as the Nittany Lions fought through adversity to arrive at their intended objective - to be 1-0 this week.
Saturday's game in a few ways mirrored something Nittany Lion fans had all but perhaps forgot, looking eerily like a few outings from the 2016 season.
"I saw a lot of different areas that we have to get improved, obviously the weird kickoff to start the game," Franklin said.
Not the most ideal way to start the game he added, but nonetheless, Penn State pushed forward.
Trailing 6-0, the Scarlet Knights managed two field goals for the early first quarter, one coming as a result of the opening kickoff mishap.
Sticking to the plan, Penn State did not panic, instead responding with a four-play, 65-yard scoring drive early in the second quarter engineered by none other than McSorley.
McSorley found tight end Mike Gesicki for a 19-yard grab, sparking a four-play, 65-yard scoring drive. On second-and-9, McSorley threw to wide receiver DaeSean Hamilton, who caught a 25-yard reception. McSorley then dashed into the end zone for a 20-yard rushing touchdown. Tyler Davis followed with the ensuing extra point to give the Nittany Lions the edge, 7-6.
Penn State's offense quickly found its footing as McSorley threw a 22-yard touchdown pass to Hamilton to send the Nittany Lions into halftime leading 14-6 with time to make adjustments.
"It wasn't really too many adjustments, we weren't really executing," Gesicki said. "They gave us a few different looks that we weren't - not prepared for, but that we weren't really expecting. Just kind of understanding that and trusting that coach Moorhead is going to put us in the best situation to be successful."
At halftime, McSorley was 7-for-10 with 106 passing yards and 32 rushing yards. With both a rushing and passing touchdown for his 14th career outing with a score of each kind.
Both patient and resilient, it was Barkley who came out with back-to-back third quarter touchdowns for the Nittany Lions. Like his familiar boxing analogy, throw the jab, throw the jab and then hit 'em with the haymaker.
Barkley went untouched into the end zone twice, including once on a hook-and-ladder play that ignited the Beaver Stadium crowd.
"For me, it's pretty simple. Just take a couple of steps, throw Ham [DaeSean Hamilton] a catchable ball," McSorley said recounting the play. They did a really good job, kind of as we were coming we knew we had a free blitz off the edge so pointed him out, Saquon had to go kind of bluff him, give him a hit, escape and get out clean."
If you ask Hamilton, he'd say that it was Barkley who did all the work, but much to Barkley's personality, he begs to differ.
"I would disagree with that," Barkley said with a laugh. "Hammy did a great job. First of all, it was a great call by JoeMo [Joe Moorhead] seeing the defense, obviously we could see that they were blitzing. Hammy did a great job doing his responsibility and I was just trying to focus on keeping the width, so I was able to keep the pitch length and got the ball and that play, got to find a way to get in the end zone."
McSorley finished 16-for-21 with 214 yards. Responsible for three touchdowns, he moved to the top of the Nittany Lion record books passing Daryll Clark with 68 in his career.
"As a high school kid when you come to a place like this, you come here to compete and you dream of having success," McSorley said. "No one has the vision that they are going to come here and be mediocre. As a competitor, you hope to be great, win games, and have the big numbers. All of that stuff is great, and definitely something I'll be able to look back on and enjoy. It's definitely an honor from all the great players who've come to this program, and all of the tradition. To have my name in that conversation is a tremendous honor. A lot of that goes to the team and the coaches. Personal accolades and individual stuff doesn't happen without the team having success."
By Brian McLaughlin, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK Pa. - The Lady Lions used a career performance from Jaida Travascio-Green to beat the Drexel Dragons, 84-70, on Sunday.
Travascio-Green finished with a career-high 31 points, making seven 3-point shots. This included the dagger with 45 seconds left when Travascio-Green hit a three-pointer from the corner to give Penn State a 14-point lead.
With four players reaching double-figures for the Lady Lions this was a team win.
"This is an unselfish team, I think at times too unselfish," head coach Coquese Washington said. "As we get more experienced they will put each other in great positions like they did tonight with Jaida."
A 12-0 run to end the first quarter opened the game up for the Lady Lions, who shot 13-for-15 from the free throw line in the opening quarter.
Penn State dominated Drexel all afternoon in the paint, out-rebounding the Dragons 52 to 39. De'Janae Boykin led the team with 19 rebounds to go along with 14 points for her first double-double of the season.
"She (De'Janae) is just really aggressive on the boards, and she is a really good athlete, really good timing going after the rebounds," Washington said. "I think rebounding and making shots gives you energy and adrenaline to keep doing it and De'Janae did that today, allowing us to get out in transition to find Jaida."
Jaylen Williams was also a force in the paint for the Lady Lions scoring a career-high 17 points and grabbing nine rebounds.
"We changed up the offense a little bit and I was posting up a lot more. My teammates were throwing me some great passes and I was just trying my best to make them," Williams said.
Amari Carter once again acted as the facilitator for the offense, pushing the pace of the game and often finding Travascio-Green open for three. Despite shooting only one-for-six from the field, Carter still found a way to make an impact.
"Her (Carter's) job isn't just to score, her job is to run the team. She didn't have a great shooting night, and didn't take too many shots," Washington said. "She was still a great facilitator of the game, she still controlled the tempo of the game, found her teammates and just controlled the game. She is a tremendous value to have on the floor"
The win improves Penn State to 2-0 after wins over Siena and Drexel this weekend, all without star guard Teniya Page.
"There is nothing like game experience and figuring out who you are on game day. You can be one team in practice and another when the lights come on," Washington said. "Starting to figure out who this team is and what we are going to get from folks on game days is huge. I liked the heart we showed today and I think we are going to continue to grow because we are so young."
Penn State goes on the road for two weeks starting with a game at Marshall on November 15th, and will return home after Thanksgiving.
Desautelle, GoPSUsports.com student staff writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Top-ranked Penn State swept Maryland (25-14, 25-21, 25-16) in front of a packed house in Rec Hall to extend its win streak to 15 consecutive matches.
Although the score might not reflect it, the Nittany Lions didn't play as clean as intended, and to head coach Russ Rose, it was the large crowd on homecoming weekend that played an integral role in propelling Penn State to victory.
"I thought it was a fabulous crowd," Rose said. "We are very appreciative of the promotions and marketing people that put a lot of time in."
It was arguably one of the best Rec Hall crowds of the entire season, as spectators lined the upper track level to watch the match, with standing room only space available.
Prominently contributing to Saturday night's win was the evenly distributed effort from Rose's team.
All-American outside hitter Simone Lee led the way with 10 kills for the Nittany Lions, but no other Nittany Lion had more than five kills, with five different individuals adding at least three kills.
Tori Gorrell was efficient out of the middle for the Nittany Lions, adding five kills on seven total attacks.
"I thought [Tori] was in a better position to hit the ball," Rose said. "We talk to Tori a lot about getting her more swings and part of that in the equation is that she has to be in a position where she can take a good swing. I thought she took some good swings."
Gorrell helped lead a dominant performance at the net for Penn State, contributing three of the Nittany Lions' 13 total team blocks Saturday night.
"I just think we do a really good job in practice of reading the other team and trying to see where they are going and make plays," Gorrell said.
Maryland, however, gave the Nittany Lions a lot of free point throughout the match, as they committed 29 attacking errors and 11 service errors. They also hit just .047 for the match. Despite the numerous self-inflicting errors, Rose thought Maryland gave his team a necessary tough test.
"They had more kills than we did and they made more errors, but they've got young kids and I think [they] are doing a great job of building the program," Rose said. "That was a really good team we played tonight."
Rose also pointed out that Maryland's tendency to serve aggressively gave Penn State problems passing in serve receive when they were able to put the ball on the court.
"On the balls they serve in, they serve really hard," Rose said. "Everybody has a plan and I don't think they become distracted when they miss their serves," Rose said. "They're going to do what they do well. We knew they were going to be good."
Rose, who has made a blueprint in his 38-year tenure for hardly being satisfied after a win, made several indications that Penn State still has plenty of work to do before he becomes satisfied.
"It's nice to win, but I hope Maryland taught [our] players the lessons they needed to because they won the serve-pass game in spite of the fact of missing 11 serves," Rose said.
He ended the night with what he feels is a valuable quote from a book he reads frequently for his team to focus on heading into next week.
"Would you rather have discipline or disappointment?" Rose said. "Some people are happy how we played - I think we'll get in the gym and work a little bit harder on Monday."
The Nittany Lions will take on Indiana Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. in Rec Hall for their final home game of the regular season.
By Will Desautelle,
GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- The Nittany Lions continued their recent hot stretch with a convincing 7-0 victory over Stony Brook in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. It was their third straight win, and head coach Erica Dambach has her team playing with more confidence than ever.
"I could not have been prouder of this group tonight," Dambach said. "The momentum is going in the right direction right now. I think everything has been building up to this point. We keep talking about being 28 strong and we can feel that in everything we are doing right now."
Laura Freigang and Frannie Crouse led an offensive onslaught of four first half goals for the Nittany Lions. Freigang, who was tied with a team-high five goals coming into Friday's game, added three more to her season total by the end of the first half. It was the first Penn State women's soccer hat trick since Sept. 4, 2011.
"[Laura] has been having an incredible season for us," Crouse said. "It's great to play with her...her goals have been great."
Two second-half goals from Frankie Tagliaferri off the bench and one from Charlotte Williams sealed an already lopsided game for the Nittany Lions, who will face the winner of Georgetown and Wake Forest in the second round.
"We got to get most of our players into the game, which is really huge for us," Crouse said. "They deserve to play, and for us to be able to get the score up and get everyone in boosts everyone's confidence."
More impressive than the Nittany Lions' best offensive output of the season was the fact that they were so prolific offensively in such frigid weather. Temperatures dropped as low as 16 degrees on Friday night, but Penn State had no intentions of letting the cold slow them down.
"You learn very quickly that weather is always going to be there and that it's nothing you can control," Crouse said. "What you can control is how you feel about it. Right now, we're on a beach. That's what we tell ourselves. It's obviously very cold but in our mindset, we're prepared to play through anything."
"It honestly wasn't a big deal. We didn't even really talk about it that much. You can't change [the weather]," Freigang added.
It was not a typical regular season for the Nittany Lions, as they finished tied for fourth in the Big Ten regular season standings. However, Dambach believes her team is starting to peak at the right time after winning their seventh Big Ten Tournament.
During the final four game span of the regular season, while the Nittany Lions won just once, they allowed just three goals and outshot opponents 65-23 during that span. The creativity in the box was there, but it was just a matter of finishing those opportunities.
"We've been wanting to score [more], so it was cool to be able to get a couple goals early on. It does a lot for our confidence," Freigang said.
Penn State won the national championship in 2015, and Dambach's team this season seems to be mirroring the way the 2015 team begun to play at its highest-level right when the postseason began.
The stifling defense has been the calling card through four postseason games, as the Nittany Lions have allowed just one goal during that four game stretch. Although they had struggled offensively at times before coming into tonight, Dambach believes that this level of defense will aid them moving forward.
"The best attack is a great defense and how can we win the ball higher up on the field to try to break them down before they get organized," Dambach said.
Dambach recently has mentioned several times that her team playing with a new mentality since the beginning of the Big Ten tournament. Whatever the new mindset is, Penn State is obviously feeding off of it right now. Only time will tell to see how deep into the NCAA Tournament it can take them.
By Brian McLaughlin, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Penn State women's basketball team opened its 2017 season with a dominant performance beating Siena 86-72 on Friday.
Amari Carter picked up two fouls only five minutes into the game. With another regular starter in Teniya Page out, Siyeh Frazier had to fill in at point-guard for the remainder of the first quarter.
Carter and Travascio-Green led the team on the offensive end. Carter had a team high 19 points and Travascio-Green followed with 14. Carter also added six rebounds and five assists.
"We have had plenty of time to practice without Teniya," Coach Coquese Washington said. "We kind of have a rotation, Sarah McMurtry, Siyeh (Frazier) can play some back-up point, so we've been practicing without her so we're used to not having her on the court."
The second quarter proved to be the difference as the Lady Lions shot 58 percent from the field in second quarter. Carter scored nine of her 19 in the frame and Travascio-Green added eight.
The Lady Lions did a great job of pushing the pace all evening, outscoring the Saints 27-14 on the fast break. This is a big point of emphasis for coach Washington, who really liked how her guards ran the floor.
"When you have a point guard like Amari, who is really good at pushing the pace, and creating her own shot it helps keep the pace fast. She did a great job of finding Jaida and finding some of our post players," Washington said. "It plays into our talent so I think everything starts with great guard play."
The Lady Lions led by as much as 35 points, however the Saints cut the lead to as low as 12 in the fourth quarter. Penn State was only able to manage 11 points in the fourth quarter allowing the Saints to claw back in the game.
With four Lady Lions in foul trouble the bench received a large number of minutes in the fourth quarter.
Kollyns Scarbaugh had a game high 21 points and 12 rebounds for a double-double for Siena but was unable to lead her team all the way back for what would have been an impressive comeback win.
The Lady Lions return to action Sunday to take on the Drexel Dragons at the Bryce Jordan Center at 1:00 p.m.
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - For Penn State head coach Patrick Chambers, the Nittany Lions are 1-0 following an 86-75 win against Campbell in the 2017-18 season opener.
"We had some unusual lineups out there, but for the most part, we're 1-0," Chambers said. "We're 1-0 and I'm going to take a lot of positives from it."
Among the positives, Chambers was most pleased with the defensive effort, noting the Nittany Lions were able to execute defensively for 30 minutes, needing just 10 more minutes in the future.
Although Campbell's Chris Clemons finished with 39 points, his shooting ability wasn't anything the Nittany Lions weren't prepared for.
"I knew it was going to be a hard game and I knew the way they played at the end of last year," Chambers said. "I knew all about Clemons. He reminds me a lot of Allen Iverson, just a guy that can score and get to the free throw line. I knew he would be able to try and keep his team in it."
While Penn State committed just three turnovers in the first half, it struggled to build its lead to more than five points for most of the opening frame.
With 5:24 remaining in the first half, Lamar Stevens drained his first 3-pointer of the game to spark some momentum. Less than two minutes later, Shep Garner connected on his first triple to give Penn State its then-largest lead of the opening half, 28-22.
Campbell cut the advantage to four before Jamari Wheeler drove through traffic for layup to bring the Nittany Lions back up by six, 30-24, with fewer than four minutes in the first half.
Building on the advantage, Julian Moore dropped in a pair of free throws to send Penn State ahead by as many as eight before a Tony Carr jumper sent the Nittany Lions into the locker room leading 36-28.
Penn State shot out to the second half and built on the advantage to as many as 17 points.
Campbell quickly responded with a 14-4 run, but Carr broke it up with a 3-pointer, before completing the and-1 to bring Penn State ahead, 67-5, with less than 5:30 remaining in the game.
"He made big buckets, and he made some great passes too that put us in position to be successful, which is great," Chambers said. "He showed some leadership. You could see he was disappointed they had made a run on us, and he wasn't going to let us lose this game. He was going to come out and compete, and he did that. He took it on his shoulders."
Campbell arrived no closer than five as Carr finished just shy of a triple double with a career-high 33 points in addition to nine rebounds and seven assists.
"I just try to make the best plays for my team, whether that's shooting or passing or diving on the floor, doing anything," Carr said. "I just try to do what my team needs of me, and at that point in time, it was just to score the basketball. I just wanted to have a scoring mindset down the stretch and lead us to the win."
Penn State saw a few new faces on the court with true freshmen Jamari Wheeler and John Harrar both contributing.
"That's a freshman playing his 15 minutes," Chamber said reflecting on Wheeler's performance. "He had some excellent finishes. I mean he went up that guy's chest, he walled up, and he still finished. That's what he's capable of doing. He took a really good opening three. Jamari definitely brings that spark off the bench, that toughness that we need. He's going to really bring pace to our team.
Penn State has a quick turnaround, returning to action Sunday against Fairleigh Dickinson at 5 p.m. in the Bryce Jordan Center.
RELATED LINKS: Gameday Central I Live Blog I Game Notes I Depth Chart I Tuesday Presser Roundup I Wednesday Practice Report I T. Banks Q&A I Monday Notebook I Nittany Lions in the NFL - Week 9 I Gameday promotions and reminders
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - No. 14 Penn State football (7-2, 4-2 Big Ten) returns home from the road, set to host Rutgers (4-5, 3-3 Big Ten) Saturday in a noon outing at Beaver Stadium.
The Nittany Lions will welcome home alumni for homecoming, in addition to 7,500 service members in attendance courtesy of Penn State's Seats for Servicemembers program. In honor of Veterans Day, Penn State will honor all active duty and veteran service members and their families in a Military Appreciation game.
"Going to be some challenges [for us] with balancing homecoming, military appreciation day, which is always a great opportunity for us to make sure that the people that serve our country know how much we appreciate it, and Penn State does an unbelievable job with that," Penn State head coach James Franklin said.
The Nittany Lions enter Saturday's matchup coming off a pair of tough losses on the road by a combination of four total points.
While returning to the comforts of the home crowd offers a sigh of relief, Penn State is by no means taking even a mere second to exhale.
"I'm a huge believer in, you take care of today and that will take care of tomorrow," Franklin said. "We are going to make sure that we get back to the formula that got us here in the first place and I believe so strongly in that."
Poised to get back to basics, not much change was needed for the Nittany Lions this week, beginning with film corrections on Sunday.
"I would say mostly just understanding what mistakes we've done, why they happened, how can we capitalize on them and eliminate them going forward," wide receiver DeAndre Thompkins said. "After that, just erasing it. It's already done. Nothing you can do about it and just attack the next week, one week at a time."
With the past in the past, Penn State has turned its full focus toward the Scarlet Knights, who arrive in Happy Valley with wins in three of their last four conference games, most recently topping Maryland, 31-24 at home.
"Offensively they're a pro style offensive that mixes some spread concepts in there a little bit," Franklin said. "We have a lot of respect for Jerry Kill, as Matt Limegrover and Jerry were together for 17 years, and we have a lot of respect for him. Defensively, they've moved to odd- front defense, which is different. We don't see that very often. It changes how you have to game plan."
Led by second-year head coach Chris Ash, Rutgers will also begin a two-game road stretch beginning with the Nittany Lions, having already matched its team-high mark for Big Ten wins in just the last few weeks.
What to Watch For -
1. Earlier this week, Rutgers defensive coordinator Jay Niemann noted the matchup problem that someone like tight end Mike Gesicki creates. Noting both size and length, Niemann said mixing coverages would be key to limiting Gesicki's impact.
Coming off a career-high outing at Michigan State (8 catches for 89 yards), he's second on the team with 38 receptions on the year. With four receiving touchdowns this year, he's also tied for 12th in the Big Ten, also owning the team's longest active reception stretch with one catch in 23 consecutive games.
2. Physicality up front was a major takeaway Franklin expressed postgame at Michigan State. For Franklin though, it's not something that happens overnight, as it's an issue spanning more than just the last two weeks, and more of a mentality than it is an action item in practice.
"We have been saying internally and externally, that we want to be a more physical team up front," Franklin said. "When I say that I'm not just talking about the offensive line. I'm talking about tight ends. I'm talking about all of it. I think it's something that we can do a better job of and need to do a better job of to take that next step as a program."
3. Penn State is plus-12 in the turnover margin, which is tied for fifth in FBS. Having forced at least one turnover in the last 10 consecutive games, the Nittany Lions have hardly struggled when it comes to creating opportunities off of turnovers. On the other side of things though, Franklin made specific note of the impact the three turnovers the Nittany Lions committed at Michigan State made. It's not all a total negative though.
"One of the areas that I thought we've been struggling on defense this year with sudden change and I thought our defense handled the three turnovers extremely well," Franklin said. "Those three turnovers came out to be two punts and one take away. So that was a real positive. We want to build on that."
What to Watch For -
1. During his weekly press conference, Franklin pointed out the Rutgers odd-front defense, something that will dictate Penn State's blocking schemes in the running game and in the passing game from a protection standpoint.
For someone like tight end Jonathan Holland, it's a challenge the Nittany Lions are looking forward to.
"I feel like playing college football I've seen a lot of teams with a lot of different defenses," Holland said. "Their defense is definitely very different from ones that we've seen but I feel like it's just a great matchup and I feel like our entire team, position by position, is really eager for the matchup that's coming up this weekend. I feel like we're all going to be very prepared for it. It comes down to us being able to execute."
2. The Scarlet Knights have three running backs averaging at least 4.9 career yards per carry. Among the unit, Franklin made specific note of Gus Edwards, a fifth-year senior transfer from Miami.
"I think the big this is the back," Franklin said. "The running back who transferred from Miami is a really good player. He's 235 pounds and he's a downhill guy and I think he's a redshirt senior so he's kind of been there and has that experience, gets behind the offensive line and they run the inside zone and it's almost like wedge play. They just kind of cram it in there."
Edwards leads the team with 630 rushing yards and 732 all-purpose yards, ranking 10th in the Big Ten with seven total touchdowns on the year. He's also coming off a season-high outing against Maryland with 109 rushing yards to record his first 100-yard rushing game in a Rutgers uniform.
3. Last year Rutgers went 0-9 in Big Ten conference play. At 3-3, a fourth conference win would be the most for the Scarlet Knights since securing five wins as a member of the Big East conference in 2012. With three wins following a winless conference season, Rutgers is one only six of the past 30 Big Ten teams since 1960 to win at least three league games the following year.
"Obviously they're coming off a hot streak," offensive lineman Steven Gonzalez said. "It's always going to be tough and they're going to come in and try to knock us off. They're going to come in with a lot of momentum, so we just have to be prepared for it."
The Final Word -
Penn State has claimed a win in 10 of its last 12 homecoming outings. With a 70-22-5 record in nearly 100 outings in front of the alumni crowd, the Nittany Lions have won their last two consecutive homecoming games. Homecoming success aside, Penn State has won its 12 straight games inside Beaver Stadium, in arguably the best atmosphere in all of college football.
"We have a distinct advantage here at our stadium and we want to continue that, and we need our fan support come Saturday, and to find a way to be successful," Franklin said. "It's going to take all of us. I said that in my opening press conference and I believe that more today. It's going to take all of us together to go to the stadium, and make it a very challenging environment for people to be successful."
By Patrick Anglin, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - They say that success is built from the top down. Penn State women's hockey head coach Jeff Kampersal would agree with that statement, and that's why he has hand-picked a staff of assistant coaches that he is confident will put his team in the right position to succeed. One of these assistant coaches is none other than Allison Coomey, a longtime lover of the game, a former player who has transitioned from being a student of hockey, to a mindful mentor for a new generation
"There's a lot to like about Allison," Kampersal said when asked about his assistant. "She's just a really good person with a great hockey knowledge and great hockey background. She's been in good places and learned a lot, which she brings to the table now."
Kampersal couldn't be happier with his assistant coach, and believes she's already exceeded his expectations.
"She's someone who is incredibly genuine, kind and smart," Kampersal said. "She's a really good person, I've known her for a long time. I coached against her when she was a player at Niagara, and occasionally against her at BU. She's mature, responsible, and somebody you can count on. She can relate to the players and speak to them honestly with integrity."
Coomey may be new to Penn State, but she's been a part of the sport of hockey for quite a long time. She hails from Baldwinsville, New York, a small town approximately twenty minutes north of Syracuse. In 1998, she traveled westward to attend Niagara University, where she was a dual-sport athlete. On the ice, she served as an alternate captain her senior year and helped push her team to a NCAA Frozen Four appearance. Off the ice, she was chosen as the lacrosse team's rookie of the year in 1999.
Coomey is a firm believer that her athletic experiences have helped mold her into the coach that she is today.
"It helps me understand the players and gives me the empathy to work with them," Coomey said. "I let them each know how important their role is and how they make the team better."
The biggest endorsers for Coomey would have to be her players, the individuals that she dedicates her time and energy to. They appreciate everything she does for the team, and all point out that her knowledge of hockey has helped them grow as players, and continues to do so every day.
"We love coach Coomey," said Katie McMillan, a sophomore defenseman. "After every shift if we made a mistake or there is something we can tweak, she'll point it out to us and give us some good feedback."
"She's an awesome positive reinforcement," said Abby Welch, a sophomore forward. "She always pushes us, she's been an awesome coach."
Coomey loves to coach her players up on the ice, specifically on the defensive side, but she also wants them to become the best they can be in other aspects of life as well. She understands that there is a future for these young women beyond college hockey.
"There is a professional league, but we aren't getting paid what the guys are. So [education] is huge, we put it above everything else here," she said. "We want our kids to get degrees, and to be better people and be better student-athletes."
Commey spent the last nine years of her career as an assistant coach with Boston University before joining Kampersal in Happy Valley this year. She is just finally starting to get comfortable at Penn State, an area that she has never experienced anything like before.
"So far it's great," Coomey said. "Obviously it's a bit different coming from Boston, leaving a city and coming to place where everything that revolves around the university. It makes for a really cool environment, not just the students but for all of us who work here. It's been a great transition."
Coomey has lived a storied life so far, making sure to enjoy it every step of the way. When she's not working with the team, she tries to stay fit and read. When it comes to life, she has a very a simple philosophy.
"The biggest thing is love what you do. I went to school for education, and now I get to teach what I love. We work to make them the best hockey player they can be, but off the ice we want to prepare them for the future. Hockey teaches you so many things, like how to work with others, and I think that's the true goal for this program."
Coomey hopes to push herself to grow as a coach, and to push her players to be the best they can be, on and off the ice. When asked about what the future holds in store for her and if there is a possibility of head coaching in her future, she was all smiles.
"Every year I go back and forth," Coomey said. "All I can say is that I like what I'm doing now."
Here's hoping that Coomey stays with Penn State for a long time, and continues to instil her values upon the young women and push the program forward.
By Brandon Pelter, GoPSUsports.com student staff writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Bonus point victories are a strength yet again for the Penn State wrestling team. The top-ranked Nittany Lions collected five pins and a tech fall in addition to a major decision and two decisions to beat the Army West Point Black Knights 45-3 in the 2017-18 opener.
"We're just happy to be rolling," Nittany Lion head coach Cael Sanderson said. "We're happy to get out there and see where we're at and what we can work on and how we can improve. I think it's going to be a great year.
After Devin Schnupp dropped a close 6-4 decision to Army's Trey Chalifoux at 125 pounds, Central Michigan transfer Corey Keener tilted the match in the Nittany Lions favor with a pin to begin his Penn State career. The Pennsylvania native collected the fall with just 10 seconds left in the first period.
"Corey went out with the big headlock," Sanderson said. "We've been working on that all week. I thought that was a great to see."
Keener enjoyed recording the fall, but knows there are adjustments to be made.
"Going out with a fall was pretty nice," Keener said. "But, I definitely think I could've opened up a little more and tried scoring more points early in the first period. Ultimately, I was able to get the fall with the headlock."
Making his Rec Hall debut in front of 6,320 fans, the crowd was just like his teammates described to him before he hit the mat.
"It was nice to have that reaction from the crowd," Keener said. "Coming out, it was exciting. It was kind of different, I didn't really have any nerves and it was almost too calm I thought."
Jered Cortez got out to a winning start after jumping to 141 pounds with a 12-6 decision over Austin Harry.
Zain Retherford, Jason Nolf, Mark Hall, Bo Nickal and Nick Nevills did what they do best - all five won via fall. While Bo Nickal's was the fastest coming in just 26 seconds, it was Jason Nolf who stole the show.
Nolf won in 1:07, utilizing a "secret move." While it was not the same secret move we saw Nickal unleash to beat Rutgers' Nicholas Gravina last year, it was instead a move in which Nolf utilized his legs to take control of Luke Weiland to set up the fall.
"It might've been my first time (ever using it)," Nolf said. "It (comes from) a lot of play wrestling in the room and learning different things."
Cael Sanderson approved as well.
"I enjoyed watching it," Sanderson said. "He knows what he's doing. You may see that again, just guessing, throughout the year. He's getting pretty good at it."
After being unable to wrestle for two years, Anthony Cassar made his Nittany Lion debut at 197 pounds and didn't disappoint with a 10-3 decision over a tough Rocco Caywood.
"I was just excited," Cassar said. "It has been so long of just hard training and getting ready for competition that I really just tried to enjoy it as much as I could."
On media day, heavyweight wrestler Nick Nevills said he wantsedto be a top point scorer for the Nittany Lions this year. He got right on track defeating Bobby Heald via fall in six minutes and 10 seconds.
"We need him," Sanderson said. "He's capable of scoring bonus points, he's very good on top and he can scramble. "We want those guys competing in a friendly way with each other as teammates."
The Nittany Lions next host Bucknell at 2 p.m. on Sunday at Rec Hall.
By Tom Shively, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The 2017-18 basketball season is upon us, and the Bryce Jordan Center will be alive with excitement Friday as both the men's and women's basketball teams will play their home openers.
To say that the Lady Lions are a young team would be an understatement, as they are one of only five teams in Division I to not have a senior on the roster. While this could be seen as an obstacle for some teams without a strong leader, the Lady Lions don't view it that way at all.
""We have so many young players and new players out on the floor. Just the practice of being out there and playing was important for us," Washington said.
For Washington, developing a relationship as a team is the most important goal this weekend.
"There's a lot of things we're focusing on, and the main thing is building a tighter chemistry and camaraderie. That really only comes with experience, and you can't rush that," Washington said. "We're starting four sophomores and a junior, so the thing we have to do is develop that chemistry the more we play together."
The Lady Lions will need to rely on some of their young stars for scoring at least early in the season, as the team is without both of its leading scorers from 2016-17. Leading scorer Teniya Page is out with an injury, while Lindsey Spann was lost to transfer.
Page will be back eventually, and when she returns, the Lady Lions will get back 19.9 points per game and a back-to-back preseason All-Big Ten selection. Even though she can't be on the floor, she is still making her voice heard.
"Even though she wasn't out there playing, we would still hear her yelling from the bench," Jaida Travascio-Green said. "From an overall leadership standpoint, it still felt like she was out there with us."
In the meantime, this has opened the door for true sophomore Travascio-Green and redshirt sophomore Amari Carter to take up leadership on the team, and they have been more than ready to assume those roles so far.
Travascio-Green especially has learned to adjust her game and add more moves to her arsenal. She is looking to impose her will as a scorer after being mostly a perimeter player a year ago.
"This summer, I got stronger and I figured out how to take different shots other than 3's," Travascio-Green said. "I know that my teammates look at me to score the ball. It's nice to know that my teammates trust me to take those critical shots, and I take it upon myself to make them."
Travascio-Green stressed the importance of getting an exhibition game under the belt as well, allowing the Lady Lions to put into action what they worked on in practice, even though they strayed away from execution at times. But that's all part of playing in an exhibition to her, and she looks forward to playing at a high level on a more consistent basis over the two games this weekend.
"We worked on being more disciplined and doing what we know," Travascio-Green said. "A lot of the exhibition was us getting out of what we had practiced. Getting back to that was really what we practiced all week."
While Carter is also young for playing standards, she understands the importance she has on the team as the starting point guard and the impact she will have especially on the freshmen.
"I feel young too, it's my second season playing," Carter said. "There's a lot of things I still have to learn, I have to learn to direct the floor and get my teammates involved and be more vocal."
The Lady Lions take on Siena and Drexel this weekend. They have seen both of these teams in the past, most recently taking on Drexel early last season, but these games are a completely new challenge according to Washington.
"Both of those teams are drastically different than they were last year," Washington said. "Siena, most of their star players were seniors, and they've got a number of new players. It's tough when you kind of have new players and a new look."
Tip off against Siena is set for 7 p.m. on Friday while the matchup with Drexel will begin at 1 p.m. Sunday.
By Jack Dougherty, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Nittany Lions didn't finish the regular season the way they wanted to, winning just one of their final four matches to drop to fifth place in the Big Ten before postseason play.
This was unheard of, as no Penn State team had ever finished worse than third in the conference since the program was born in 1994.
It wasn't as if the team was playing poorly, though.
The Blue and White allowed just three goals in those final four games and outshot its opponents 65-23 during that stretch. What was occurring on the field was as close to dominance as Penn State had shown all season.
There was just something missing.
The 2015 National Championship team had that something. Of course, that team had a stellar season from start to finish, but it seemed to flick a switch once the postseason arrived.
In the Big Ten and NCAA tournaments combined, the 2015 Nittany Lions scored 26 goals and surrendered just one in nine games. During that unconscious run, Penn State simply knew it was better than anyone who stepped on the field and proved it in dominating fashion.
That team found the late-season swagger necessary to pull off a magical NCAA tournament run.
Of the 27 women on that roster, 17 are still here, and just like the 2015 squad, this year's team has found its swagger just in time.
"What's most important is where you are at the end," head coach Erica Dambach said. "Right now I feel like we're peaking at the right time. I look back three weeks ago and I think that we were working towards this point but hadn't gotten over that threshold, and now I feel like this is a team with a winning mentality."
Dambach said she sees a lot of similarities with this year's team and the 2015 team, which projects well for the NCAA tournament beginning Friday.
"I think this team has come out with more grit honestly than that 2015 team," she said. "This team has more depth. I think that they've taken the virtual backpacks off with all the expectations and they're ready to go."
The first round game against Rutgers in the Big Ten tournament was the turning point for Penn State this year. After a rough finish to the regular season, the Nittany Lions played inspired soccer again and downed the Scarlet Knights in penalty kicks.
Redshirt junior Maddie Elliston said she felt a momentum shift within the team that game. She said it just felt different.
"We just came out 28 strong," Elliston said. "Our bench was crazy. The team was crazy on the field. We've changed some things up, changed our blueprint."
Penn State fed off that momentum to knock off top-seeded Ohio State then rally from one goal down to beat Northwestern 2-1 in the conference championship game.
The Nittany Lions went through two rain delays and a field change from outdoors to indoor turf to grind out the comeback win. That was a win the Penn State of three weeks ago might not have been able to pull off.
"Being down a goal and being in a weather delay--all of that just kind of shows how much grit our team has and how up for [the challenge] we are. I definitely think this weekend is going to help us going forward," senior Elizabeth Ball said.
Ball was one of the starters on the 2015 championship team. She's been through everything imaginable in her four years, and she said the mindset of the team right now is exactly where it needs to be.
"It's just an all-in mentality right now," Ball said. "The ups and downs are hard for any team but for us I think they've really just propelled us forward. You can just see it--the energy that we have on the bench and on the field. It's a whole different team honestly."
The team's mental confidence and cohesiveness on the field may be at its highest point of the entire season, but that's not the only reason for Penn State's newfound swagger.
The team is simply closer and more focused than ever. Elliston said the girls always strive to build a family environment off the field.
"I think the closest teams--those who really stay connected and believe in each other and care for each other--fight for each other on the field," she said. "We fight for our families. We fight for our coaches. We fight for Penn State, and it absolutely translates to the field."
Penn State gets to test its newfound swagger again Friday against Stony Brook for the first round of the NCAA tournament. The game will be played on Jeffrey Field at 7:30 p.m.
Dambach said the team is excited to get back on its home field and feed off the Happy Valley faithful.
She said the team has switched its mindset from the hunted to the hunter over the course of the season. Coming in to the season ranked No. 1 by TopDrawerSoccer, Penn State sputtered in the limelight. Now, with teams viewing them as an underdog, the Nittany Lions are on the prowl.
"We're anxious to start hunting together," Dambach said.
By Tom Shively, GoPSUsports.com student staff writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Last weekend's senior night ceremony was an emotional one in Rec Hall, as Penn State women's volleyball held its annual senior night Saturday, Nov. 4 to recognize the contributions of eight seniors who have helped to continue the longstanding tradition of excellence.
Simone Lee, Haleigh Washington, Ali Frantti, Heidi Thelen, Abby Detering, Lainy Pierce, Clare Powers and Jen Halterman have accumulated no shortage of accolades in their four years at Penn State, with time still remaining to shape how they're remembered at Penn State.
Starting and Finishing
at the Top
Three years ago, five of the eight seniors from the group were on the roster when Penn State captured its seventh NCAA title in program history. Both Frantti and Washington earned conference and national recognition, making significant contributions throughout the 2014 title run.
Being on the roster allowed the group of five Nittany Lions to learn from Penn State All-Americans like Micha Hancock, Aiyana Whitney and Megan Courtney. Immensely helping the development process of the then-freshmen, it provided an opportunity to play alongside elite teammates who imparted the dedication it would take to one day lead this program to yet another NCAA national championship.
Fast forward three seasons and a couple of NCAA regional appearances, and the Nittany Lions now find themselves right back at the top of the volleyball world, winners of 13 straight matches and sitting at the top of the AVCA top 25 coaches poll for the fourth week in a row.
"It's an honor to get the respect from the coaches who are voting that they think your team warrants their vote," head coach Russ Rose said.
Opposing coaches have had good reason to keep their eyes on the Nittany Lions, as Frantti, Lee and Washington have all eclipsed 1,000 kills in their respective careers this season. It's a rare feat to see three individuals on the same team all reach the 1,000-kill milestone in the same year, but it speaks to the consistency and work ethic of all three Nittany Lions.
Lee made perhaps the biggest jump toward reaching the milestone, emerging as an offensive force for the Nittany Lion to surpass the mark.
Speaking of rare feats, Washington won her fourth Big Ten Player of the Week award two weeks ago. It was the ninth time in her career that she has won the honor, which passes Megan Hodge and Nicole Fawcett for the most in Penn State history as well as second-most in Big Ten history.
Washington also tallied her 500th career block a couple weeks ago, making her the newest member of the 1,000 kill-500 block club, one of seven Nittany Lions in program history to do so.
As a middle, Washington doesn't always get the chances that Frantti and Lee do on the outside, but she's made the most of her opportunities.
Last Saturday's Scene
A large crowd came out to Rec Hall Saturday to honor those eight seniors, and the Nittany Lions rewarded the crowd with a three-set sweep against Rutgers.
"It was a nice opportunity for the seniors to be recognized for their years of commitment and time spent on the volleyball team," Rose said.
For Washington, the night gave her a chance to reflect on playing in Rec Hall and how memorable her time has been as a Nittany Lion.
"My mentality was just trying to revel in the atmosphere. You don't always get the chance to appreciate Rec Hall and I really tried to appreciate the band and the fans that night. Just living in the moment and being in that environment is what I took from that night," Washington said.
Having seen many of these seniors develop since their high school days, Rose has developed close bonds with each member of the 2017 senior class. It's always difficult for him to say goodbye to seniors but he focuses on what he has done in his time with them and how he has shaped them to go out and be positive contributors in the world.
"You know them for almost half of their life and then it's time for them to go," Rose said. "You hope you made a positive impact on their development. My goal is to always make them a little tougher and a little bit better of a communicator. I hope for great things from all of them."
Not Done Yet
Although senior night was this past weekend, there are still two more matches left at Rec Hall and almost a month of the regular season still remaining. Factor in the NCAA Tournament and the Nittany Lions could be playing as far as into late December.
"It's not bittersweet because we have so much left in the season," Pierce said. "We have six regular season games left and hopefully six more. My dad was able to make it and it was really cool."
While the seniors are happy to be recognized, they stressed the importance of staying focused and disciplined throughout the rest of the year so they can achieve their ultimate goal - winning a national championship.
"There are always ways we can improve, we just want to keep going up from here," Thelen said.
That never-give-up attitude and desire to strive for perfection is exactly what these Penn State seniors saw three years ago, and exactly what could push them to bookend championships.
"I always say to the seniors, 'you're judged by your last year," Rose said.
Fresh off a straight set win at Iowa, top-ranked Penn State returns to action Saturday against Maryland, hosting the Terps at 7 p.m. in Rec Hall.
As the Nittany Lions prepare to head into the first of their final three games of the season, Banks fielded questions from media members spanning everything from defensive improvements to the scout team.
Catch up on a few updates from the teleconference.
Banks of course pointed out the tremendous benefit that two senior safeties leading the unit provides for the Nittany Lions. Between Marcus Allen and Troy Apke, Banks noted there isn't much someone like Allen hasn't seen on the field, with Apke also bringing valuable game experience.
After their departures though, Banks is confident in who the Nittany Lions return.
"When you lose Marcus [Allen] and that many starts, it can be challenging but I can kind of look at it a little bit different," Banks said. "I feel like we've done a really good job recruiting around here and I feel like we have some guys who will be ready to step in and pick up where these guys have left off."
Speaking of Allen ...
Banks called Allen one of the best he has ever coached at the position in terms of how his sheer athleticism combines with his 6-foot-2 frame
"I've had guys his size who maybe weren't quite as athletic or guys that are a little smaller that may be a little bit faster, but when you start talking about overall combo guy, I don't know if I've had a combo guy with that type of skillset with that type of size," Banks said. "He can do it all. You can drop him in the box and he can play as a linebacker or you can play him on the hash and he can play as a regular safety. You can actually put him in coverage so he can cover."
Regardless of what the stat sheet says, Banks noted that when a team isn't experiencing success it's common to continuously evaluate everything from practice to game situations - leaving no stone unturned until success is attained. As Penn State head coach James Franklin noted more generally this week, the Nittany Lions spent some time self-scouting ahead of Saturday's noon matchup against Rutgers on the heels of a pair of conference road losses.
"Obviously we've made adjustments that we felt needed to be adjusted and some things we thought we were doing well, we'll continue to do," Banks said. "We've obviously played against some really good opponents the last two weeks and some things that we would like to do better, we've addressed, and hopefully we'll be able to do those things moving forward."
Scout Team Update
Banks mentioned named like KJ Hamler and Des Holmes when asked about a few Penn State scout team members who are stepping forward.
"KJ [Hamler] is one who comes to mind," Banks said. "He works extremely hard, he's a fast kid, a quick kid, has great energy during practice. He's really given us a great look in practice week in and week out. Des Holmes does a great job for us up front, very physical."
He wrapped up though, point out that it's an entire unit of young guys who have stepped up to play at a really high level to give the Nittany Lions the best looks during game week.
"It takes a lot to go out there and understand that you may not go out and play on Saturday's and still give your all," Banks said. "That whole freshman class has been awesome. They treat Tuesday and Wednesday like gameday and that's paid a lot of success to how well we've played throughout the year defensively, because of how hard those guys have worked on scout teams."
By Maria Evangelou, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - As NCAA Tournament play approaches, the Nittany Lions are eager meet a familiar opponent, set to open the first round against Delaware. Penn State fell short in its first loss of the season in the first meeting against the Blue Hens during the regular season.
"The last time we played them was not one of our best games and we've grown so much from that point in the season," sophomore midfielder Maddie Morano said. "I think we're all excited to put that progress into play and put them up to the challenge. I don't think we're completely letting that loss go, we're keeping it in the back of our mind as motivation and re-focusing what we did in those games to improve upon it and just bring everything we have to the table for this weekend."
The Nittany Lions powered through both the regular season and the Big Ten Tournament with a 16-4 overall record, ready to bounce back from a loss in the Big Ten finals.
"We're always trying to learn a lot from our last game," head coach Char Morett-Curtiss said. "I really like the way that we competed in the Big Ten Tournament this year, starting with our Iowa game and finishing all the way with Michigan. We had a lot of 70 minutes of intensity on the field, but I feel that we really need to do a better job of our awareness of positioning on the field, our vision of our options as well, so we've been working on doing a better job with possession.
"This season marks Penn State's 32nd all-time appearance at the NCAA tournament. Last season, Penn State fell to Princeton in the first round, but the Nittany Lions feel confident their progress in tempo and aggression will show at their second showdown with the Blue Hens.
"I honestly don't feel pressure and I don't think the team feels pressure," Morett-Curtiss said. "I think we just are hungry for this opportunity and anticipating playing Delaware again. [The earlier meeting this season] wasn't our best performance of the season and I felt that we controlled a lot of the game but didn't really put the focus inside our 25's in the game, so that's really what we've been working on this week at practice, that inside-25 defending and inside-25 attacking. We're excited we have another shot."
Penn State's playing much differently than it did early in the season though, highlighted by continuous improvements that have only elevated the level of team confidence.
"I think you see when we're playing from the beginning of the year, we've really improved from the beginning of the season," Morett-Curtiss said. "It really makes the team feel that confidence. We've been very aggressive at the start and at the end of the game so we haven't really had any of those lulls in the game with regard to our tempo and intensity, which I really like. We've been working hard, but we have to work smarter."
Among continuing improvements, Penn State has devoted film time to focusing on improving defensive play.
"We need to do a little bit better job backing into our defensive end. Staying up, pressuring the ball. But we've definitely improved from an attacking standpoint and with our communication with each other."
For Dembrowski, it's all about showing up, as NCAA Tournament time has arrived.
"This past weekend was tough for us and I think it's really motivated us to go into the tournament and show up strong and show people we're in it to win it," Dembrowski said.Penn State will travel to Storrs, Connecticut to face Delaware at 2 p.m. Saturday.
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Just a few days separate Penn State football from its return to Beaver Stadium following back-to-back road trips.
Nittany Lions head coach James Franklin and wide receiver Saeed Blacknall met with members of the media following practice Wednesday evening. Catch up on a few highlights from the media session.
We Salute You
The Nittany Lions welcomed members of Penn State's ROTC programs for the final few periods of practice. Following practice, coach Franklin and the team took time to shake hands and briefly meet with the practice visitors.
"We just want to be appreciative and respectful and obviously there are so many different groups and organizations on campus and in the community and with it being our