November 2017 Archives
By Brian McLaughlin GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State used a strong second quarter to open up an early 20-point lead over the Wake Forest Demon Decons, and held on to win 68-58 Thursday night in the Bryce Jordan Center.
In the second quarter the Lady Lions held the Demon Decons to just six points, a season low in one frame on the year for Wake Forest.
Teniya Page made her junior season home debut for Penn State in the win, scoring 21 points in the victory.
"It was really great to get back home. I just felt more comfortable and relaxed playing at home than on the road,' Page said.
Penn State started the second quarter with a vengeance, going on a 9-0 run to start the quarter. To end the quarter, Wake Forest did not hit a field goal over the final five minutes.
"We are still really young and they we just do some dumb things sometimes because of our youth. I told them in the locker room, what I was really pleased with was we were really able to make adjustments," Washington said. "Some of the mistakes we make are just from a lack of experience. We hadn't really been pressed all year until tonight, so the first couple possessions we were pressed and we didn't make the smartest decision, but we were able to talk about it. They take coaching very well."
"I think every game I play physical and that is kind of what I bring to the team," Boykin said. "I like rebounding. It's kind of my thing and it's something I do."
The difference for the Lady Lions came down to free throw shooting, as they connected on 28-for-33 for 84 percent from the charity stripe. Page in particular was effective from the line, going 10-for-11, including some big free throws to close out the game late in the fourth quarter.
While hitting such a high percentage of shots from the free throw line, the team struggled from the field. In fact, both teams struggled offensively on the evening, neither shooting over 35 percent from the field. Neither the Lady Lions or the Demon Decons made a 3-pointer until Jaida Travascio-Green connected with 17 seconds remaining in the first half.
"I was pleased to see us shoot almost 85 percent from the free-throw line. We need to continue to work on offensive execution and I think there were times when it looks really good and times when it could stand to use some work," Washington said. "I think the thing we tried to do was be physical and attack. That's something we didn't do when we were away from the BJC and in Las Vegas. We weren't aggressive and assertive and I thought we did a better job of that tonight."
Penn State returns to action on Sunday to take on Manhattan at 2 p.m. in the Bryce Jordan Center.
Nittany Lions Begin
By Tom Shively, GoPSUsports.com student staff writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State women's volleyball's three most important weeks of the season are upon them, as the team begins its six-game quest to bring the program what would be an NCAA-best eighth national championship.
When the bracket was released Sunday, the Nittany Lions found themselves at No. 1 overall for the first time since 2012, meaning they have the potential to host all the way through the first four rounds of the tournament.
"Being at home has its benefits," head coach Russ Rose said. "Everyone's familiar with the surroundings and there's a certain element with the crowd."
Friday marks the the 28th consecutive time Penn State has hosted at least the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament as the Nittany Lions are one of only two teams in the country to have participated in every NCAA DI Women's Volleyball Tournament.
The announcement of the bracket came on the heels of the Penn State's 17th Big Ten title following wins on the road against top 15 teams Minnesota and Wisconsin last weekend. Penn State finished the season at 17-1 in conference play, with the lone loss coming in the conference opener against Nebraska, now the tournament's No. 5 overall seed.
It was the first conference title in four years for the Nittany Lions, something that didn't go unnoticed by Rose and his staff.
"Coach liked to remind us that we hadn't won a Big Ten championship as a class, so it was nice to get that weight off our shoulders," senior middle blocker Haleigh Washington said.
Rose has credited the Big Ten on being a challenging conference all season, something he feels has tremendously helped his team prepare for what's ahead in the NCAA Tournament.
"There's an advantage that Big Ten teams have across the board. They were all exposed to the same demands," Rose said. "As I said at the beginning of the season, I think there were six or seven teams that could compete for a national championship."
The Big Ten sent eight teams in total to the NCAA Tournament, with No. 7 overall Minnesota joining Nebraska and Penn State as the conference's seeded teams.
Turning their attention to the bracket itself, the Nittany Lions find some familiar competition in the first round with Howard, a team they beat in the NCAA Tournament two years ago as well as in a nonconference outing last year.
"I love the way Howard plays. They're very enthusiastic, athletic and quick," Rose said. "They're not afraid of playing good teams and competing and they're not just here for a photo op."
Should Penn State beat Howard, the Nittany Lions will face the winner of VCU/Pittsburgh in the second round. The Pennsylvania rivals met just last year in the exact same round, with the Nittany Lions pulling out a 3-1 victory.
"Not only did we play Pitt in the tournament last year, we've played them in the spring for a number of years. That team won a power five conference so they have our attention," Rose said.
The ACC champions will have their hands full with VCU in the first round, a team that won 30 games this year.
While Penn State would be favored in a potential matchup against either one of those teams, the Nittany Lions stressed only the mindset of focusing on the task at hand, something they have harped on all season.
"Our goal is to play one match at a time, not to look forward and predict who we are going to play. I've never been that way," Rose said. "All of the teams in the NCAA Tournament have probably won six in a row. Looking at that, there's teams that can get hot and win games. Can they win six games and compete for a national championship? That's to be determined."
The goal all season has been a national championship, and this year's team differs from the last because of veteran leadership. Five of Penn State's eight seniors were on the 2014 team that took home the title, but part of the new challenge is getting the younger Nittany Lions on the same page.
"We're lucky because we have a very mature squad as is," Washington said. "We have a lot of seniors and we'll make sure to keep an eye on the younger players. We'll meet at the net after practice and just check in on the little things like sleeping, drinking water, going to the trainers."
Many of the seniors have obviously been there, and winning a national championship in year one has trained them into focusing on little else outside of success.
"Winning a national championship was definitely in the backs of our minds and something we were always looking toward," senior outside hitter Simone Lee said. "Our last two years didn't play out the way we wanted to and it puts a fire in our belly. Coming off that accomplishment our freshman year, it's something we strive for and we know what it feels like. We all know that every day in practice we have to give that extra one percent to get back there."
Penn State has enjoyed great success as a program throughout its history under Rose and for the seniors, it's time to add another piece to their legacy.
"You always want to leave a program better than you found it, which is tough when you're coming in freshman year after they won a national championship and you win it again," Washington said. "It's hard to bring a program that is already sky-high higher than that, but if a Big Ten championship and a national championship is something we can do, obviously we're going to leave a really good program."
Friday's match against Howard begins at 7:30 p.m., soon after the conclusion of the VCU/Pittsburgh game at 5 p.m. The two winners will face off at 7 p.m. Saturday night.
Should the Nittany Lions win, they will host and play in the regional rounds December 8 and 9 r back at Rec Hall. The other three seeded teams in Penn State's quarter of the bracket who could potentially travel to University Park if the seeds hold, include No. 8 Washington, No. 9 Creighton and No. 16 Wichita State.
Thelen Bringing Versatility
By Will Desautelle, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - On Friday night in Rec Hall, Heidi Thelen will be one of eight seniors for Penn State to take the court for the first round of the NCAA Tournament and begin their quest to win an eighth national title under head coach Russ Rose.
The top-seeded Nittany Lions will enter the court to warm up with the same pregame ritual they've done all year, as the team will slowly rock Thelen back and forth on the center line during the final seconds of their wait to get on the court for hitting lines.
This untitled ritual has been a long pre-warm-up tradition in Penn State women's volleyball and the torch was passed onto Thelen when she arrived to Happy Valley four years ago.
"Honestly I have no idea where that idea came from, but ever since I've been a freshman, I've been doing that," Thelen said. "I was the new incoming freshman and they chose me for whatever reason and we've been doing it every game ever since."
Playing for Penn State had always been a lifelong dream for the Edgewood, Kentucky, native, as she grew up watching the Nittany Lions on TV over the years, hoping to one day help continue Penn State's tradition as one of the premier women's volleyball programs in the country.
"I had been going to the camps ever since I was a freshman in high school, and I got to know all of the players and recruits," Thelen said. "You really just see how hard people work and how good you can become. I think the coaches do a great job of pushing you to your limits."
Thelen was recruited to Penn State as a middle blocker, but the Nittany Lions were in need of a threat on the right side last season, prompting Rose to move her to a position that she had no experience playing.
While a challenging transition, Thelen's humility and relentless training at the position paid off this year, as she finished her final regular season second on the team in blocks and fourth on the team in kills. She was also named an All-Big Ten Honorable Mention honoree earlier in the week.
"It's not really about yourself, it's about what the team needs," Thelen said. "A lot of aspects of the game are different, but the coaches taught me very well, and I actually like [right side] a lot now."
The transition has not only strengthened Thelen's volleyball IQ and transformed her into a more versatile player, but it has also made Penn State as a team much more difficult to plan for.
She points out that having her on the right side allows them to run several combination plays with middle blockers Haleigh Washington and Tori Gorrell, making them unpredictable offensively. Having this threat has also opened things up for their two senior outside hitters in Simone Lee and Ali Frantti.
With a plethora of experience and veteran leadership on this year's team, many of Penn State's key contributors have grown very comfortable playing together over the last few years.
"We've been with each other so long and know what we're capable of, so I think it's a good way to be able to trust each other, stay together, and show the younger players what we can do and how much we're capable of," Thelen said.
The abundance of senior leadership particularly came in handy, during what was arguably Penn State's most important moment during the regular season. On the first match of Big Ten play, Nebraska swept Penn State at Rec Hall.
The Nittany Lions, who were undefeated before the loss, would not lose another game in the regular season, tallying 19 consecutive victories en route to a share of the Big Ten title.
"We all knew we work way too hard for us to lose that way," Thelen said. "After that loss we all got together, and it motivated us to keep working harder ever since."
As valuable as this senior class has been to Rose, there's still the postseason left for the group to make a final lasting addition to their legacy.
"The goal has always been to win a national championship and we all know that this is the last time we all will ever play together," Thelen said. "We want to end this season on a high note and know that what we've accomplished these four years is pretty amazing."
Penn State on paper has as good of a chance as anyone to take home the crown, but Thelen says it will take an entire team effort and plenty of mental toughness for them to do so.
"We need our key players to step up, and others who are not technically considered as key players," Thelen said. "We are a versatile team, so just believing that we can do it and knowing how bad we want it will be key for us."
Thelen and this senior class has achieved a lot, but they can cement their legacy into Penn State women's volleyball history with another championship run in the NCAA Tournament.
"They are terrific people," Rose said. "The goal is always to leave the program at a better place. All of them are great young people, they're all great students and great representatives of their families and Penn State."
Penn State will need six more wins to bring the national title back to Happy Valley. Thelen will be one of the key pieces that could take them there.
By Brandon Pelter, GoPSUsports.com student staff writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - With eight undefeated Nittany Lions, top-ranked Penn State wrestling travels to Allentown to wrestle No. 7 Lehigh Sunday.
For Penn State head coach Cael Sanderson, Sunday's dual meet brings together a pair of programs with a longtime storied rivalry, perhaps one of the longest in college wrestling. Spanning 105 meetings, Lehigh is tied for Penn State's second-oldest opponent, but by far the most common for the Nittany Lions.
"Lehigh always has a great team," Penn State head coach Cael Sanderson said. "They're very well coached and they always peak at the end of the year and wrestle great at the national tournament."
The Nittany Lions enter the week following a dominant showing in their most recent outing at the Keystone Classic. Among the consistency throughout the lineup this year, Jered Cortez, Zain Retherford and Vincenzo Joseph have all combined for a 17-0 record and two Keystone Classic championships ahead of this weekend's trip to the Lehigh Valley.
From fresh starts to fearless approaches, catch up with all three ahead of Penn State's final outing before opening the Big Ten slate Sunday, Dec. 17 against Indiana.
Two-time reigning national champion Zain Retherford is 7-0 to start the 2017 campaign. Similar to his teammates, Retherford hasn't been afraid to try some new moves and sometimes that means getting taken down, something he isn't afraid of.
"Just don't worry about it," Retherford said. "If I'm worried about getting taken down then I'm not worried about my own offense. I think I'm kind of defensive minded so if it happens it happens but my whole thought is just keep scoring points no matter what happens out there."
While Retherford doesn't spend too much time thinking about his season as a whole, he does take the time to break down each performance.
"I don't like to give myself a grade," Retherford said. "I kind of just do that after each day, like on the bus, for example after the Keystone Classic. I'm just thinking about what I did well and then what I need to work on. So I don't really grade myself, but I keep track of what I want to be doing and what I want to be learning. I don't think that's ever something that stops, I'm always going to be doing that, learning and trying new things."
It has been an interesting journey for the redshirt junior. Cortez had to sit out the 2015-16 season after transferring from Illinois to Penn State and was sidelined last season with an injury.
Now wrestling at 141 pounds, after starting at 133 pounds last season, Cortez is grateful for the opportunity.
"A lot of times people take it for granted," Cortez said. "With injuries that can happen and so I'm just very grateful for the opportunity and am just excited to get better every day."
With a 7-0 start to the season, Cortez is more comfortable at the new weight class.
"It's night and day," Cortez said. "I feel a lot better. I just feel good, I can feel my legs all the time, my lungs feel good, I feel strong and fast. Overall I'm just focusing on the right things and that's important in a sport like this where every little detail matters. I can focus on the small things and just getting better every day than just focusing on my weight."
change in weight, Cortez is excited to start each dual meet.
"I wish we could start at 141," Cortez said. "I'm ready to go in that one hour weigh in and I'm that third match up usually. My body feels good, I feel fresh. It's good I can feel my feet, move my hands and get to my attacks."
The reigning national champion at 165 pounds is off to a perfect start at 3-0 this season. After missing the Keystone Classic, Joseph is ready to wrestle and happy with his efforts so far.
"I think I've been doing a good job of just wrestling hard," Joseph said. "That's really my goal every time I step on that mat, just to wrestle hard and score points.
Over the next few weeks, Joseph is focusing on improving technique."I'd like to work on top a little bit better," Joseph said. "But, overall just keep being able to push the pace and find different ways to score."
By Tom Shively,
GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State women's basketball is back home from Las Vegas, and the Lady Lions are back to full strength as well for the first time this season.
Teniya Page, who had missed the first five games of the season, returned in last week's games, logging significant time in both contests.
Page, a preseason All-Big Ten performer, had been sidelined with an injury, but her return made an immediate impact on the team.
Page scored a combined 19 points in the two games played, but understands there is still a lot of work to do to get back to the level she was once at. It's a challenge she embraces but she's glad to at least be back into game action.
"It was weird, sitting out five games and not really doing any game-like situations for a couple months. But its fun to be back out there with them," Page said. "It's going to be a work in progress for me and probably the rest of them playing with me and the way I play now."
Washington has seen Page's entire recovery progress, and is impressed with how the guard has handled the situation and how quickly she has bounced back. But, like Page, Washington still knows the time it will take to fully strengthen.
Aside from Page's return, the Las Vegas trip was a positive for the Lady Lions in other ways too. It was the first extended road trip of the season, and it allowed the team to become more familiar with each other moving forward into the rest of the season.
"It was a great experience for us from a basketball standpoint," Washington said. "Playing different teams back-to-back simulates our postseason play. With this young team, that experience was absolutely critical."
It was also a key trip for sophomore guard Amari Carter as well, who had been thrust into a leading role in Page's absence. She perhaps benefitted more than anyone by Page's return and it showed in Las Vegas. Carter tallied a career-high 24 points in the Louisiana Tech game, Page's first one back.
"Amari is so talented, so athletic, so gifted. She makes the hard plays look really easy," Washington said. "I think her confidence level is at an all-time high, and now with Teniya back on the court and [Amari's] high level of confidence, we have a pretty good backcourt."
"For Amari, being able to stay healthy and get a full summer of getting better and working out, it shows in the way she is playing right now," Page said.
The Lady Lions host Wake Forest Thursday (Nov. 30) as part of the Big Ten-ACC Challenge, an event Washington loves because it allows the team to measure itself against some of the best competition from another top-tier conference.
"You learn how to play against different styles of basketball. In our conference, what's important is that our coaches have very different styles of play. We're not characterized by other conferences where everyone kind of plays the same. Being able to play against different styles is important. Our three freshmen saw time [in Las Vegas], and the more experience they get, the better we become," Washington said. "Wake Forest is going to give us another opportunity to gauge ourselves against top-level competition. Their guard play is very dynamic. They push tempo and they rebound very well, so our perimeter defense is going to be challenged to keep that three-headed monster under lock and key."
Thursday's tip against the Demon Deacons is set for 7 p.m. The Lady Lions will also host Manhattan this weekend on Sunday, Dec. 3 at 2 p.m.
By Erin Neri, GoPSUsports.com student staff writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - During his weekly meeting with the media this week, Penn State men's hockey head coach Guy Gadowsky stressed consistency in both the offensive and defensive zones. Coming off two strong series against Arizona State and Michigan State, the team has been making practical strides toward their goal.
"Consistency is what our goal is, that's what we're after," Gadowsky said. "I do still think we're very aggressive deep, both offensively and defensively but I'd like us to be a lot more consistent in certain areas."
The Nittany Lions have been experiencing consistent success is their third line though, adjusted to feature sophomores Nate Sucese and Brandon Biro with the addition of freshman Sam Sternschein, who filled in for sophomore Denis Smirnov on the right wing.
Even with the line experiencing some shakeups, keeping the pair of Sucese and Biro intact was a no-brainer for the coaching staff.
"They've played together in the past and they've showed synergy," Gadowsky said. "They are two guys that do a lot of extra work."
Although the two line mates work well together on the ice, their bond goes far beyond the ice. They're roommates this year after rooming together last year, and both constantly collaborating on how to improve their game.
"He's my best friend on the team, we rarely spend any time apart," Biro said. "We pretty much talk hockey all the time."
Individually, Biro score in back-to-back against the Sun Devils along with three assists to earn himself the Big Ten Third Star of the Week honor last week. The Canadian native also extended career-high three-game point and assist streaks in game one against the Spartans.
Sucese achieved his own success alongside Biro, with two assists and a goal in game one against ASU as well as an assist.
Complimenting an already efficient pairing, Sternschein made a smooth transition on to the line, playing like he had been there since the beginning of October. His efforts have not gone unnoticed by his counterparts on the left and in the center of the offense either.
"He's awesome, especially coming in for his first couple of games," Biro said. "He's a super fast player, he always seems to get open and he's getting more confident every game. "It's been really easy to play with him."
Sternschein registered his first career goal and an assist in game one against Arizona State, along with an assist in game two. In game one back in Pegula against Michigan State, the New York native put two in the back of the net in the first and second period.
"Sammy Sternschein absolutely did what he had to do to make a case that he should be in the lineup every night," Gadowsky said. "Now it's just a matter of slotting him in and finding synergy with him and someone else."
With Smirnov's return into the lineup, Sternschein will have to readjust back to a different role on the team off of the third line. He is confident though in the success he has found so far in the season and that he can still contribute consistency to the team.
"I'm just going to do what I can, play my game, work hard every night and if I'm in the lineup that's awesome that's what I want," Sternschein said. "The rest is up to the coaches."
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Following yesterday's first release of this year's Big Ten postseason honors, the conference announced this morning its offense All-Big Ten selections. A total of six Nittany Lions earned a spot on at least one of the three teams or honorable mention distinction.
Across both days of Big Ten awards releases, 17 different Nittany Lions have earned All-Big Ten honors, with Barkley named a First Team All-Big Ten return specialist yesterday. The Big Ten will cap off its awards release tomorrow naming individual award recipients.
Check in on a few highlights from this year's offensive honorees.
Saquon Barkley - First
Team All-Big Ten (Coaches and Media)
Barkley was recently selected as a finalist for his fourth national award this year, named one of five finalists for the Walter Camp Player of the Year award. His impact though, is difficult to sum up in a few tidy sentences, considering a lengthy list of eye-popping performances this year. A centerpiece of the Penn State offense with do-it-all contributions this year, Barkley has successfully rewritten the record books, dazzling fans with hurdles, leaps, touchdown grabs and even a touchdown pass.
- Barkley entered the year coming off a 2016 season that included 402 receiving yards on 28 catches. To date, Barkley is third on the team with 47 catches for 594 yards and three touchdowns, including a career-long 85-yard scoring grab against Pittsburgh, good for the longest by a Nittany Lion in Beaver Stadium history.
- In the same game he ran back the opening kickoff 98 yards for a touchdown against Indiana, Barkley also threw his first touchdown pass to become the first Big Ten player and sixth FBS player since 1996 with a kickoff return for a touchdown and a passing touchdown in the same game.
- Among eight career records this year, Barkley most recently broke a nearly 50-year-old record for career rushing touchdowns set by Lydell Mitchell (38, 1969-71). He already joined Enis as the only pair of Penn State running backs to record 3,000 or more rushing years in a three-year stretch, having eclipsed the mark in week eight.
Trace McSorley - Second
Team All-Big Ten (Coaches and Media)
In his second season as the Nittany Lion starting quarterback, McSorley has only continued to establish himself as a fearless leader for the Penn State offense. With a touchdown pass in 27 consecutive games, his streak is tied for the second-longest active stretch in FBS, alongside Oklahoma's Baker Mayfield.
It's often that Penn State head coach James Franklin gets asked where he has seen the most improvement from McSorley from last year to this year. There isn't one thing for Franklin though.
"He's gaining a lot of confidence," Franklin said. "The players have a lot of confidence in him. So do the coaches. It's not like I can pinpoint and say, "this one thing." He didn't really have any glaring weaknesses on the front end. That's kind of who he is. He's a winner. He's athletic. He's smart. He's savvy. He's tough. He throws it probably a lot better than people give him credit for."- As Franklin has noted throughout the year, the Nittany Lion offense is at its best when McSorley is involved in the run game. With 11 rushing touchdowns in addition to 26 passing touchdowns this year, he's just the second player in Big Ten history to record at least 10 rushing touchdowns and 25 passing touchdowns in a single season in addition to Ohio State's JT Barrett.
- McSorley registered his 11th rushing touchdown in the regular season finale against Maryland to match the Penn State record for rushing touchdowns by a quarterback, originally set by Michael Robinson in 2005.
- Also effective through the air, McSorley became the first Nittany Lion with two 3,000-yard passing seasons with 3,228 yards this year. Just this year alone, McSorley has thrown for at least 200 yards in 10 games, which is tied for third in program history.
Mike Gesicki - First Team
All-Big Ten (Coaches), Second Team All-Big Ten (Media)
Opting to return for his senior season, Gesicki ascended to the top of the Nittany Lion tight end charts during the regular season, often bringing fans to their feet with a few of his signature one-handed grabs. Often creating matchup issues for opponents throughout the year, Gesicki's All-Big Ten honor is the second of his career.
- One of three finalists for the Mackey Award, Gesicki set the career record for both receiving yards by a tight end and career receptions by a tight end this year.
- Gesicki opened the year with at least two touchdown grabs in back-to-back games, with his final catch in the win against Pittsburgh sending him past Andrew Quarless for the tight ends career receptions record.
- In his final regular season home games as a Nittany Lion, seven of his 12 catches went for either a first down or a touchdown. His last catch of course, coming by way of a 17-yard touchdown grab from McSorley.
DaeSean Hamilton -
Second Team All-Big Ten (Coaches), Third Team All-Big Ten (Media)
Known by his teammates and coaches not only for his performance on the field, but his work ethic too, Hamilton has been one of McSorley's most consistent and reliable targets throughout the year.
- Ranked third all-time on Penn State's receiving yardage list with 2,732 career yards, Hamilton earns his third career All-Big Ten honor.
- Leading the team with 747 receiving yards on the year, Hamilton has made 48 catches for the Nittany Lions this year, ranked second on the team with seven touchdown grabs.
- Hamilton was instrumental in the win against Indiana, making nine receptions for 122 yards and a career-high three touchdowns, making him the first Nittany Lion with three or more touchdowns since Allen Robinson in 2012.
- More than his first multi-touchdown effort against the Hoosiers though, he etched his name at the top of the Penn State record book, with his eighth catch of the game moving him past Bobby Engram (179, 2005-08) for first place on the Penn State career receptions all-time list.
Ryan Bates - Third Team
All-Big Ten (Coaches and Media)
Although sidelined for the final four regular season games of the season, Bates made eight starts at left tackle for the Nittany Lions as a top contributor along the offensive line returning after a 2016 season starting every game. In 520 snaps taken, Bates charted 10 knockdowns, allowing just three sacks to earn his first career All-Big Ten selection.
- At Iowa, he helped the Nittany Lions to a season-high 579 yards of total offense, allowing Barkley to break free for a career-high 211 rushing yards and 94 receiving yards for a school-record 358 all-purpose yards.
- On the year, Bates has paved the way for a Penn State offense that ranks in the top 10 in both scoring and total offense.
All Big Ten Honorable Mention
(Complete list including defense and special teams selections)
- WR Juwan Johnson (coaches and media)
- S Troy Apke (media)
- CB Christian Campbell (coaches and media)
- DT Parker Cothren (media)
- CB Grant Haley (coaches and media)
- DT Curtis Cothran (coaches)
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State basketball is out to a 6-1 start on the year, coming off a dominant 86-48 win against Oral Roberts last weekend.
In a change in scheduling though, Big Ten play comes quicker than usual with the Nittany Lions traveling to NC State Wednesday night for a Big Ten-ACC Challenge matchup before heading to Iowa to open conference action Saturday in Iowa City.
Things hardly get easier for the Nittany Lions, with Wisconsin traveling to Happy Valley for a 7 p.m. outing Monday in the Bryce Jordan Center before resuming nonconference play for the remainder of December with four of five games at home.
Regardless of the schedule though, Penn State head coach Patrick Chambers is pleased with what he's seen so far, calling this year's Nittany Lions a confident bunch.
Through seven games last year, the Nittany Lions were 4-3 headed into last year's Big Ten-ACC Challenge meeting against Georgia Tech. A year later though, Penn State won its first five straight, including a dominant 85-54 win against Pittsburgh in the Legends Classic at the Barclays Center in New York before falling short in battle against then-No.16/19 Texas A&M.
"I think the way we competed against Pitt was great," Chambers said. "It shows all our hard work over the last seven years. To go out against A&M, I thought we all believed we were going to win the game."
Looking back from a statistical standpoint, Penn State was shooting 42 percent from the field, averaging 73 points per game and 34.4 rebounds per game.
Scoring at least 80 in all but two games this year, the Nittany Lions are averaging 82 points per game, shooting 48 percent from the field, averaging nearly 38 rebounds per game.
Individually, juice-man Josh Reaves was averaging less than four points per game with three steals. Through seven games this year, he's the third leading scorer on the team, averaging 11.8 points per game with a team-high 18 steals per game.
Penn State spent the earlier part of this week working on Penn State, or as Chambers noted, getting better at doing simple great. Spending some time to self scout over the weekend, his takeaways revealed the simplest of things as the Nittany Lions gear up for a pivotal stretch of the schedule before diving into the heart of Big Ten play.
"A block out on a free throw line situation, a rotation," Chambers said. "Sprinting back in convert defense, transition defense. Just communication. It always goes back to the simplest of things."
Among a more big picture look at what he's learned from his 6-1 Nittany Lions this year though, comes down to speed.
Alongside Reaves, true freshman Jamari Wheeler has brought serious quickness off the bench this year for the Nittany Lions. Coming off a career-high outing against Oral Roberts with 14 points, seven rebounds, five steals and four assists, he's a vital piece of making those around him better too.
"He loves to get after it and it doesn't matter who it is either," Chambers said. "I think that's why Tony's playing at such a high level because Jamari pushes Tony every day in practice. I think you're starting to see Tony reap the rewards of that because of it."
Although he's a key piece for the Nittany Lions, Chambers is pleased with what the entire bench has contributed this year, including something a little more intangible, raising the level of competition in the gym.
"Jamari brings a competitiveness to practice that's unmatched," Chamber said. "He wants to win every drill, every possession and I think that filters through that scout team where, we're battling."
Looking at the Matchup
Penn State and NC State meet in the Big Ten-ACC Challenge for the first time since 2000, although the most recent meeting between the two teams came in mid-November 2012. At 5-2 on the year, NC State has lost its last two games, but highlighted the Bad Boy Mowers Battle 4 Atlantis with a 90-84 win against then-No. 2 Arizona last week.
With Penn State ranked fifth nationally in steals per game (11.0) led by Reaves and Wheeler, NC State also enters the matchup close behind, ranked 26th averaging 9.3 per game. Reaves' 3.0 steals per game is first in the Big Ten and eighth nationally while Markell Johnson is leading the Pack with 2.29 steals per outing.
Graduate transfer guard Allerik Freeman is leading the team with 15.9 points per game, while senior forward Abdul-Malik Abu is leading the way on the boards grabbing 6.7 rebounds per game.
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - In the wake of a second consecutive 10-win season it's hardly surprising that Penn State football is all over this year's All-Big Ten selections. The conference announced this morning its defensive and special teams selections, with a total of 12 Nittany Lions earning a spot on one of three All-Big Ten teams or honorable mention distinction across both releases.
In just the first day of All-Big Ten awards, the Big Ten will hold offensive selections for Wednesday and individual awards winners for Thursday.
Check in on all the highlights from this year's Nittany Lion defensive and special teams honorees.
Marcus Allen - First
Team All-Big Ten (Coaches), Second Team All-Big Ten (Media)
In early November, safeties coach Tim Banks called Allen one of the best he has ever coached at the position. With size, speed and physicality, Allen has been not only a force on the field but a leader on the team as one of this year's team captains.
"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.
Ranked second on the team with 65 tackles, Allen added 4.0 tackles for loss and one sack in addition to grabbing his first career interception in Penn State's 56-0 shutout against Georgia State.
- A finalist for the Jim Thorpe Award, Allen collects his highest All-Big Ten honors this year, named to last year's third team by the coaches and an honorable mention selection the media following more honorable mention honors in 2015.
- Allen highlighted the Pittsburgh win with 12 tackles, adding a fourth-quarter safety marking the first Penn State safety since 2010. With the first team All-Big Ten selection, he becomes the sixth safety since Penn State joined the Big Ten to earn first team accolades.
- With at least five tackles in eight games this season, Allen is the sixth Nittany Lion in program history with 300-plus career tackles and just one stop shy of matching Brian Gelzheiser (1991-94) for fifth place on the Penn State all-time career tackles list.
Amani Oruwariye -
Second Team All-Big Ten (Coaches and Media)
If there's one thing Penn State head coach James Franklin has seen in Oruwariye from last year to this year, it's confidence. Oruwariye picked right up where he left off last year, opening the first game of the season with his second career interception. Soaking in all of the leadership attributes around him this year, he's poised to be among the leaders in a group of returning corner backs following his first career All-Big Ten honors.
- With four takeaways on the year, Oruwariye is ranked third in the conference and 19th in FBS in total interceptions.
- Oruwariye combined for back-to-back interceptions against Indiana and on the road at Northwestern, making him the second Penn State defensive back with interceptions in consecutive outings alongside Grant Haley.
- He ranks third on the team with eight pass breakups, also tied for second with 12 passes defended, which is third in the conference and 30th in the FBS standings.
Jason Cabinda - Second Team
All-Big Ten (Coaches), Honorable Mention All-Big Ten (Media)
One of the many strong heartbeats of the 2017 team, Cabinda's impact at middle linebacker is uncontested. Leading the team with 84 tackles on the year, he's also third on the team with 5.0 tackles for loss.
Coming off his career-high 14 tackle performance against Indiana, defensive coordinator Brent Pry was just as pleased with his physical approach and knack for coming up with the clutch play in the big moment.
"He's just kind of a do it all, very physical, has a prowess out there on the field, great leader, Pry said. "I think he embodies Linebacker U, I really do."
- With three double-digit tackle performances on the year, Cabinda climbed the Penn State career tackles chart, moving to eighth all-time with 282 career stops.
- Cabinda is also tied for second on the squad with two forced fumbles, registering one in the win against Michigan and one most recently at Maryland, where he forced a sack-fumble on third-and-long in the first quarter.
- Too many of his key plays don't always make it clearly articulated on the stat sheet though, like his leaping stop at Iowa to keep the Hawkeyes from converting on fourth-and-one in the first quarter or when he halted Rutgers for a 2-yard loss on a fake punt attempt to put the game out of reach for the Scarlet Knights.
Shareef Miller - Third Team
All-Big Ten (Media), Honorable Mention All-Big Ten (Coaches)
Stepping into a few openings along the defensive line left vacant by departures to the NFL, Miller has emerged as a key piece of a defensive line that was a once worrisome area to the coaching staff in training camp. Whether or not Miller could execute at the level the staff thought he could was quickly confirmed when he caught Iowa's Akrum Wadley in the end zone for his first career safety.
- Miller is tied for first on the team with 4.0 sacks on the year, with at least a half of a sack in four games this season, highlighting the year with 2.0 sacks in the win against Pittsburgh.
- He's also leading the team with 10.0 tackles for loss, with at least a half of a tackle for loss in all but four games this year.
- Miller wore injured teammate Torrence Brown's No. 19 jersey in a pair of games this year, beginning with the Pittsburgh game.
A few other members of the Nittany Lion secondary garnered honorable mention distinction from either the conference coaches or media members as well as defensive tackles Parker Cothren and Curtis Cothran.
Honorable Mention -
- Christian Campbell (coaches and media)
- Parker Cothren (media)
- Grant Haley (coaches and media)
- Curtis Cothran (coaches)
Saquon Barkley - First
Team All-Big Ten (Coaches and Media)
Penn State fans caught their first glimpse of Barkley back deep to return a kickoff against Akron. With three kickoffs for 53 yards at Iowa, it didn't take long before opponents started avoiding kicking to Barkley on kickoffs at all costs, after he returned his first of two kickoffs for a touchdown the very next week against Indiana.
"Saquon can hurt you as a returner," Franklin said. "The game has evolved and the game has changed and you have to take advantage of your playmakers in a variety of different ways and Saquon makes it easy to do that because you have some running backs that are really good runners, but are not good out of the back field when it comes to receiving the football, or whatever it may be. He's got so many tools in his toolbox, and every week for us, it's how do we take advantage of him to give the defense and our opponents issues."
- Barkley returned the first Penn State kickoff return for a touchdown since 2011 when ran back the opening kickoff 98 yards against Indiana.
- He silenced a boisterous Ohio Stadium on the road, again returning the opening kickoff for a touchdown, this time 97 yards. His two kickoff returns for a pair of touchdowns ranks first in the Big Ten and fourth in FBS.
On the year, Barkley is averaging 28.4 yards per return, which is good for tops
in the conference and 10th in the FBS standings.
Blake Gillikin - Second
Team All-Big Ten (Coaches and Media)
It was after the win against Indiana when Franklin shared one of the biggest differences in the program in year four compared to year one or two comes down to drive start, field position and punting. Among a host of key special teams contributors, perhaps someone who has made the largest impact, is Gillikin.
Gillikin's 43.2 punting average ranks second in the Big Ten standings, coming
off a true freshman season in which he broke Penn State's freshman season
punting average with 42.8 yards per punt in 2016.
- On the year, Gillikin has pinned 25 punts inside the 20, with a total of 24 career punts downed inside an opponent's 10-yard line, with 17 so far in 2017.
- Gillikin set a career-high mark placing three punts inside the 10-yard line against Pittsburgh. He matched the career-high mark at Iowa with three punts inside the Iowa 10-yard line, before doing it once more on the road at Northwestern and against Rutgers.
DeAndre Thompkins - Second
Team All-Big Ten (Coaches), Third Team All-Big Ten (Media)
Thompkins burst on to the scene as a potent punt returner for the Nittany Lions in the season opener, returning a first-quarter punt 61 yards for a touchdown, marking the first time a Nittany Lion returned a punt return for a touchdown since 2008.
- Much like Barkley, it didn't take long for opponents to opt to avoid punting to the speedy returner, who ranks 13th among active FBS punt returners in punt return average.
- Thompkins 14.5 punt return average ranks first in Big Ten and third in the FBS standings, while his punt return for a touchdown this year remains second in the conference and 10th in FBS.
- Among season highlights, he returned three punts for 33 yards at Northwestern, including a 32-yard punt return in the fourth quarter.
PARK, Pa. - Packed into the visiting media room Saturday night, Penn State head
coach James Franklin wasted no time on could of or should of scenarios
surrounding the outcome of Penn State's 2017 season.
Instead, Franklin opted for his customary focus on the positives - and why not, considering the Nittany Lions had only moments ago closed out the regular season with a dominant 66-3 win on the road at Maryland.
In front of sprawling crowd clad in more shades of blue and white than any of the colors on the Maryland flag, the Nittany Lions racked up the most points in a Big Ten game ever, securing back-to-back 10 win seasons for the first time since 2008 and 2009.
Surely that alone is cause for celebration, but for Franklin, what's most inspiring is what's yet to come.
"I think we're trending in the right direction now, Franklin said. "I think whenever you can play well at the end of the season and feel like you're trending in the right direction, it's positive."
The tale of Penn State's consecutive 10-win seasons is hardly a facsimile. Among good times and bad times, for some, it's a stunning achievement considering the tumultuous times. For others, what happened Saturday in College Park didn't come quite quick enough, as Franklin pointed out postgame.
Either way, from the moment Franklin arrived in Happy Valley, there was always belief.
"Obviously not at the time, but yeah, I felt like this was a possibility, Franklin said. "How long it was going to take us to get back to this situation, I'm not sure. For us looking back at it and having perspective, I'm very pleased with where we're at."
Among an abundance of storylines embedded in the uncontested success across the last two seasons, it's impossible to leave out someone like Saquon Barkley. Barkley of course, prefers to assign credit elsewhere when looking back on how far the Nittany Lions have come.
"That's big, you have to give credit to coach Franklin and the coaching staff," Barkley said. "Getting two 10 win seasons, you also have to give credit to your teammates and the guys in the locker room, we worked for it. We worked for it and we pushed, two 10-win seasons is big and I think people fail to realize how big that is."
When asked to compare the two seasons though, among the obviously differences, Barkley pointed to maturity.
"The difference from last year to this year is you see a lot of players growing and maturing in different aspects of their game," Barkley said. "That's the different, you see guys growing and maturing."
As Barkley started list off those Nittany Lions who come to mind, among the few he mentioned was backup quarterback Tommy Stevens.
Stevens was on display early, taking a handoff from quarterback Trace McSorley on a sweep to race into the end zone for a 21-yard run in the first quarter.
McSorley of course, set the foundation for the dominant win, completing 22 of 33 attempts for 237 yards and two touchdowns before Stevens stepped in.
It was Stevens who tossed a 4-yard touchdown pass to tight end Tom Pancoast for his first career touchdown grab. Seemingly fearless, Stevens rushed for 113 yards on 12 attempts, barreling into the end zone twice in the fourth quarter.
"I played different positions growing up so it was never a thing where I was afraid of contact or anything but at the same time, it's been a while since I've felt a little sore before too though," Stevens said postgame.
Penn State backup QB Tommy Stevens had 113 rushing yards and 3 TD, becoming 2nd QB in Penn State history with 100+ rushing yards and 3 rushing TD in the same game.-- ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) November 26, 2017
He joined Eugene "Shorty" Miller: 250 rushing yards + 5 rushing TD in a 1913 game against Carnegie Tech
Perhaps there no one more excited for Stevens' big day than Barkley.
"Tommy Stevens is awesome," Barkley said. "He's a quarterback, but he runs like he's a running back. He's a big body and he's capable of making you miss with speed, power. He can do it all. He can catch the ball. I'm never surprised when Tommy Stevens makes a play, every time he gets on the field you kind of expect him to make that play because he has that impact on the game."
For Stevens, growing up playing a variety of positions all play into his anything to help the team approach. He even recalled once playing running back too, which the 6-foot-5-inch Nittany Lion also noted he clearly grew out of, drawing laughs from a deep contingent of media members gathered around him postgame.
Stevens isn't bothered by the way his game week preparation shakes out though.
"It's not super difficult for me to process," Stevens said. "I wouldn't say that I have too much of a different week than Trace does, we're in the same meetings, we learn the same stuff and ultimately I'm preparing the same way he's preparing. These plays are just a part of the game plan, it's not just me that can be inserted into these packages, we can do the same stuff with any of the different players."
Between the quarterback combo of McSorley and Stevens, it's perhaps just one piece of the differences Barkley was happy to point out, but also one piece that Franklin is excited to see develop.
"We've got a pretty good quarterback in Trace McSorley and we've got a damn good quarterback in our backup quarterback Tommy Stevens," Franklin said. "You have to be careful, sometimes when you get into a two quarterback system, it can mess up the flow but I think we've handled it pretty well this year."
S. Barkley, T. Stevens
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Fresh off a restful Thanksgiving holiday, No. 10 Penn State (9-2, 6-2 Big Ten) travels to Maryland (4-7, 2-6 Big Ten) to close out the regular season Saturday.
Although meeting for the fourth consecutive time as members of the Big Ten conference, the Nittany Lions will make their first trip to Capital One Field at Maryland Stadium since 1993.
Penn State enters Saturday's matchup with back-to-back wins at home, while also poised to potentially lock up a second consecutive 10-win season for the first time since 2008-09. Looking at Maryland, the Terrapins haven't won a game in the month of November, with losses in the last three outings, including a 17-7 road loss at Michigan State last weekend.
Among the many key pieces of Penn State's back-to-back shining seasons, quarterback Trace McSorley and running back Saquon Barkley have been nothing short of a dynamic duo, recently becoming the first Nittany Lions to rush for 10 or more touchdowns in a season since Evan Royster and Daryll Clark (2008), also occurring for just the third time in program history.
As national awards are slimming down once bountiful watch lists to a selection of semifinalists and finalists, both McSorley and Barkley are among the few. This week alone, Barkley was named a finalist for the Paul Hornung, Maxwell and Doak Walker awards, while McSorley was previously selected as a finalist for the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award earlier this month.
Come Saturday, the duo will lead the 2017 Nittany Lions on to the field for their first regular season finale away from home since 2015. Among all the expectations though, for Penn State head coach James Franklin and staff, it's about emerging from the weekend 1-0, even with bowl selections emerging on the horizon.
"Obviously we want to continue growing as the season goes on and continue to get better in really every area, but I've been pleased," Franklin said. "This is always an interesting week because it's Thanksgiving break and the student are out so the guys get a little extra sleep. I just want to see us getting better every single week in really every area from a fundamental standpoint, from a scheme standpoint, from an assignment standpoint."
What To Watch For -
1. It was weeks ago when Franklin issued a challenge for his team to be more physical across the board. Come Saturday against Nebraska, the Nittany Lion offensive line made the most of that challenge, paving the way for a 263-yard Penn State rushing performance against the Huskers, something Franklin was quick to point out as a positive this week.
Ahead of the final regular season outing of the season though, Penn State's offensive line is looking to maintain the physicality for the long haul.
"That's something we've always tried to instill within us but now that the season's kind of wrapping up we want to make it a point to make sure that we have that physical mentality at all times and not just pick and choose when we want to use it," redshirt junior Chasz Wright said. "It's actually more of a mentality instilled in us as an offensive line."
2. Barkley earned his sixth Big Ten Player of the Week award following a standout performance against Nebraska, rushing for 158 yards and scoring three touchdowns. With 3,629 career rushing yards, Barkley needs just 303 yards to match Royster for first place on the Nittany Lion all-time list. He already broke a nearly 50-year-old record last weekend registering his 39th career rushing touchdown to take the top spot in the Penn State record book.
3. Wide receiver Juwan Johnson has steadily emerged as one of McSorley's top targets, entering Saturday's outing with multiple receptions in each of the last nine games. Most recently, Johnson recorded his first 100-yard receiving game with a career-high 105 yards against Nebraska.
"Seeing that confidence from someone in-game, it's different," McSorley said. "When they start getting that feeling, that swagger, when you saw that out of Juwan on Saturday, it was awesome. As a quarterback, when you've got a receiver feeling like that, you feel like you can put the ball in his area, give him a chance and he's going to come down with it."
What To Watch For -
1. Franklin identified Maryland running backs Ty Johnson and Lorenzo Harrison III as challenges for the Nittany Lions early this week.
"Both are similar, kind of low center of gravity, really good balance, break a lot of tackles," Franklin said.
Johnson recently reached the 2,000 career rushing yards milestone, having recorded a team-high 805 rushing yards this year with five touchdowns. Harrison is just behind him with 562 rushing yards on 130 carries with three touchdowns, having rushed for at least 50 yards in each of the last five consecutive games.
2. Franklin compared junior wide receiver DJ Moore to former Nittany Lion and current Tampa Bay Buccaneer Chris Godwin, mentioning his power, strength and explosive play-making ability. Approaching the 1,000-receiving yard mark this year, Moore has pulled in catches from four different quarterbacks this year, also leading the conference with at least one reception in 32 consecutive games.
3. Franklin also noted the Maryland defense presents challenges with different Terps at each level. Senior linebacker Jermaine Carter is among the group of individuals the Nittany Lions will spend time prepping for this week. Guiding an experienced and athletic unit, Carter is also among the 19 seniors Maryland will honor on its annual senior day Saturday. Leading the team with 79 tackles and four forced fumbles he's also on track to lead the Terps in tackles for the third consecutive season. Forcing his fourth fumble of the season last week at Michigan State, the mark ranks first in the Big Ten and fourth in FBS.
The Final Word -
Come Saturday, 13 Nittany Lions will return to their home state to close out the 2017 regular season. Among those Nittany Lions, is senior Marcus Allen who will suit up in the blue and white for the final time in a non-postseason outing.
Penn State has been dominant in both neighborly and boarder battle outings, currently 3-0 this year against teams within a 250-mile drive of Happy Valley. Regardless of proximity though, for Allen, there's something fitting about closing out the regular season in his home state.
"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."
Dougherty, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - As families gather around the country to celebrate Thanksgiving this week, one large family of 28 travels across the map to sunny Stanford, California, to celebrate the holiday a little differently than everyone else.
No. 10 Penn State will face off against powerhouse and No. 1 ranked Stanford in the quarterfinal round of the NCAA Tournament Friday at 5 p.m. (EST) instead of celebrating turkey day with their families.
For most players on the team, there's no where they'd rather spend Thanksgiving.
"I love being with my family, but this has been my whole life," senior Frannie Crouse said. "This is what we've worked toward and they understand that. I wish I could be with them, but my family is here. We are such a family and we enjoy each other's company."
The Nittany Lions, who have become incredibly close since beginning their postseason run, had Thanksgiving dinner at head coach Erica Dambach's house Tuesday night. It wasn't exactly what they're used to, but that just means the team is still alive for another national championship.
Senior Elizabeth Ball went through the same process in 2015 when she was a part of Penn State's first-ever national title. The team played into December and missed valuable family time, but she said the family that has constituted in Happy Valley makes it all worth it.
For Penn State, the strong bond that has formed in recent weeks has propelled the team into the quarterfinal round. The Nittany Lions are playing their best soccer of the year, and there's a renewed confidence glowing from each player.
"From the Big Ten tournament straight through the NCAA tournament now we're playing good soccer," Dambach said. "We've put together six, seven game here where we feel like we're playing some of our best. We're peaking at the right time."
Peaking at the right time. Sound familiar?
The 2015 team peaked at the end of the season and shut out every team in the NCAA Tournament on their way to the national title. This year's Nittany Lions are now looking almost as dominant and as complete as that squad was.
Penn State has scored 12 goals in three tournament games--the team's best stretch all season. Six different players have scored and 10 different players have tallied assists in the NCAA Tournament.
Penn State just beat a national championship contender in West Virginia in the Sweet 16. West Virginia was the runner-up last year and was ranked No. 7 before falling to Penn State.
The Mountaineers scored first in the match, which usually guarantees a victory. Just not against this team.
Penn State answered five minutes later with a goal from Alina Ortega Jurado before Ball and Crouse added to the lead.
"The belief in this group right now is stronger than I've ever felt," Dambach said. "We went down a goal against West Virginia at their place in the Sweet 16 game, and I don't think that there was a single player of the 28 that felt like we were going to lose that game."
One of the biggest reasons the Nittany Lions believe they can run the table and beat anyone in the tournament is their strong nonconference schedule played early in the year. Penn State played West Virginia, BYU, North Carolina, and Virginia earlier this year.
"Our coaching staff set us up in the beginning of preseason to play teams that would put us under pressure, so I think that we're all extremely ready," Ball said. "I think that everybody, whether they've been on the team one year or four years, they're ready for what's to come."
Stanford will undoubtedly be Penn State's toughest test so far this year. The Cardinal is 21-1-0 and has won 19 straight matches since losing to Florida in August. They've been ranked the No. 1 team in the country for four straight weeks.
Stanford has outscored opponents 82-7 this year. They average a gaudy 25.5 shots per game and 3.73 goals per game.
"They like to keep possession. They like to keep the ball. They're really comfortable on the ball, so we expect a really good team on both sides of the ball. They're in the Elite Eight for a reason, but I like the way we're playing right now and I like the opportunity to go out there and play one of the best teams in the country."
The challenge may be daunting, but Penn State isn't shying away from the challenge one bit.
"We look at it as another game," Crouse said. "We've learned rankings mean absolutely nothing. They're an outstanding team and we look forward to playing them, but at this point rankings mean nothing to us."
By Tom Shively,
GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - This week is not your typical road trip for Penn State women's basketball, as the team travels across the country to Las Vegas for the South Point Thanksgiving Shootout this Friday and Saturday.
This week provides the Lady Lions with not only a chance to see a different part of the country, but also adjust to life on the road for an extended period of time in an unfamiliar area.
The four-day trip allows the team to come together as a unit so early in the season, an opportunity that doesn't come around very often but is so critical to a team's success.
"It's a great trip in terms of chemistry," sophomore guard Amari Carter said. "It allows us to be comfortable traveling across time zones like we will later in the season and also allows us to connect of the court, in the hotel, out in the city, wherever that may be."
There is one contrast from the rest of the season in that the Las Vegas climate is very different than the one the Lady Lions will see in University Park and around the Big Ten, but the team looks at it as an opportunity to relax (at least before their games start) for a couple of days out in the warm weather.
"It's good to get away, out in the fun and sun," head coach Coquese Washington said. "We're getting some much-needed rest as well. We've played five games in 12 days so far, and it's put a lot of miles on their legs. Mentally, this is a chance to recover and relax."
As for the games themselves, to be played at South Point Arena (just south of the main strip), the Lady Lions will certainly be tested against two of the better programs in the country.
Louisiana Tech has long been a respected name in women's college basketball, reaching 13 Final Fours and winning three national championships in their storied history. As for Kansas State, the Wildcats have been a mainstay in the top 25 in the last 10 years and have always contended in the Big 12.
"This competition prepares them for different styles that they don't usually see in the Big Ten," Washington said.
The format is also something not usually seen during the regular season, as playing on back-to-back days presents a unique challenge to the team.
"It's definitely a precursor for postseason games," Washington said. "We're going to have to play back-to-back games in the Big Ten Tournament, and this provides us with an opportunity to get used to doing that. It helps in the NCAA Tournament as well, as the format is structured with sets of two games in three days."
This kind of trip this early in the season has been critical for the freshmen, as they are still adjusting to the college basketball life and are not really used to traveling long distances with the team. It has led to them becoming closer with the team and more comfortable with themselves.
"They're all getting adjusted to their roles and the expectations for them on this team," Washington said. "I've been impressed with them so far, but this is an incredible opportunity for them to grow."
"They've made all kinds of strides," Carter said. "They're comfortable seeing game action again and, more importantly, they're becoming comfortable with the team and each other. They jump right in there, playing hard even if they don't always know exactly what's going on. But they're never afraid to ask questions and always willing to learn."
"I'm definitely talking a lot more, directing traffic better," Carter said. "It's been a transition for sure as the leader of this team, but I'm confident in where I'm at right now."
"We put a lot of pressure on our point guards," Washington said. "Amari has more than risen to the occasion, taking control and ownership over this young team. She's been an integral part of our success so far."
The Lady Lions hope that the success that carried them to a 5-0 record so far in this young season will continue this weekend for a couple of quality wins.
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State head coach James Franklin and Nittany Lion corner back 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."