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By Matt Allibone, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - For the past four years, watching Ed Ruth and David Taylor dominate opponents was almost a forgone conclusion at Penn State wrestling matches.
Not only did the two four-time All Americans win often, they nearly always won big. Of Taylor's 134 career wins, an astounding 125 of them (93 percent) were bonus point victories while Ruth wasn't too shabby himself, with 104 of his 136 wins (76 percent) being at least a major decision.
Now that those two titans have graduated, the Lions need to replace their production from other sources, especially with the Big Ten schedule kicking off Thursday against Maryland.
So far, all signs point to senior 174-pounder Matt Brown and junior 197-pounder Morgan McIntosh as being the ones to fill those roles.
"It's been fun but it's also been challenging," Brown said. "I'm trying to go out and score points like [Ruth and Taylor] used to. I've worked a good bit on my top game, getting some falls and near-falls so we can rack up the points."
Whatever the pair has been doing so far, it's definitely working. A month into the season, Brown is 6-0 and ranked second in the country with four bonus point victories (two majors, two pins) and McIntosh is No. 4 with a 7-0 record and has been unable to get bonus points only once, with three majors, two pins and one technical fall.
On one hand, the early success of the two wrestlers is hardly a surprise. Brown has been an All-American the past two years and scored in the bonus in 21 of his 33 wins last season while McIntosh returned last year from a redshirt season and earned his first All-American nod, racking up 13 majors and five pins in a 32-5 campaign.
At the same time, the duo's production means more to the Lions now that Ruth and Taylor, not to mention redshirted All-Americans Nico Megaludis and Zain Retherford, are out of the lineup. Entering the season, both wrestlers knew that a heavier burden would be placed on their shoulders.
"We know that we're going to have to be picking it up and scoring bonus points is something I've been working on a lot and I know Matt has too," McIntosh said. "We're both really excited about it. It feels good to finally get into the older role on the team and there's a lot of responsibility but a lot of fun too."
It didn't take long this season for the pair to show their ability to pick up clutch victories. In Penn State's first two dual meets, both wrestlers delivered the way they needed to as the Lions faced tough tests in No. 17 Lehigh and No. 16 Pittsburgh.
Against the Hawks, Penn State was holding onto a 12-6 lead after six bouts until Brown pinned Marshall Peppleman to give the Lions a commanding 18-6 advantage that led to a 24-10 win. In Pittsburgh, McIntosh came up with a huge pin of 10th ranked Nick Bonaccorsi when the Lions were hanging on to a 14-12 lead with two matches left that clinched an eventual 24-12 win.
"[Morgan] got a big pin against Pitt and that was awesome for us," Brown said. "I think he's done an awesome job and he's stepping into that role alongside me to really help the team reach our goals."
For McIntosh, stepping forward as a leader has been an important development for the entire team as well as himself.
While Penn State has always expected strong leadership from Brown, a senior and Army ROTC student, it has been welcoming to see a junior like McIntosh accept the responsibility of leading a four-time defending national championship program.
Like Brown, the Santa Ana, California, native is far from being one of the loudest or most outspoken guys on the team. Although it's common for an athlete to say they prefer to lead by example, McIntosh is a wrestler whose hard work speaks for itself.
"It's still early in the season but so far we've been really pleased with him," head coach Cael Sanderson said. "When we've needed him to step up he has. Pitt was a match that could've come down to the heavyweight and Morgan pinning the guy, for him to go out and dominate was what we need out of him and he's capable of doing that. Hopefully he'll continue to do that because he's really good."
If the Nittany Lions are going to continue to be the force in March that they have been the past four years, they are going to need Brown and McIntosh to continue to produce like the All-Americans that they are. With the seven Big Ten teams ranked in the top ten nationally including No. 6 Penn State, the Nittany Lions will have plenty of competition.
For the pair of wrestlers, simply becoming an All-American again is not enough. Both have aspirations to become national champions, a feat that is certainly attainable for them.
"It needs to happen this year," McIntosh said. "I've been trying to get to the top of the podium so I want it now more than ever and it might matter now more than ever too in terms of getting that [team] national title."
"I'm happy I get one more shot," Brown added. "That's what I'm looking to do this year, to win it all, but I'm going to enjoy it. Last year I think I had a little too much pressure I placed on myself thinking, 'I gotta do it this year.' But I'm going to look at this year as an opportunity to grow and get better."
By Gabrielle Richards, GoPSUsports Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- Every winning team begins somewhere, whether it is an adjustment to a new a coach, a new playbook, or an entirely new roster. Winning rarely ever just happens; if it did, watching a team grow into their own wouldn't be as enjoyable.
It is no secret that the Lady Lions are facing a learning curve this season. Penn State graduated four starting seniors last year: Talia East, Ariel Edwards, Dara Taylor and Maggie Lucas. Last year's senior class won three regular-season Big Ten championships, secured a bid for the NCAA tournament four times, and recorded 101 wins, the second most by a class in Penn State women's basketball history.
From the beginning of the season, head coach Coquese Washington has said that this season was going to be a process. Coach Washington and her staff have had to reinvent their playbook, learn a new team and virtually jumpstart a new era of Lady Lion basketball. The Lady Lions are working week-in and week-out with a roster that is mostly sophomores.
"I have seen a lot of growth in this team, though it hasn't necessarily shown up on game day," Washington said. "There is growth in practice and there is growth in games. Coaching is like raising kids: some kids have growth-spurts at different times."
If this past weekend's win against Wagner proves anything it is this: the team is coming into their own. With only eight games under their belt, the Lady Lion's are building off of a 2-6 record. The next three games are the last matchups for Penn State before they begin conference play.
"We have played eight games so far; it looks like eight games," Washington said. I thought it was fantastic to have three girls post 20-point games this weekend. The pace that we played against Seton Hall is the pace that we would like to see more often."
For anyone watching Sunday afternoon's matchup, you could see the energy the Lady Lions had on the court. That level of energy is something that spectators and opposing teams will see moving forward with the season, as the team is only becoming more confident."
"I think our leadership with Lindsey (Spann), Sierra (Moore) and Kaliyah (Mitchell) will be inspired by the consistency of their play," Washington said. "As we continue to grow as a team and develop a standard of consistency, especially as we head into conference play, our team will come into its own."
Coach Washington's plan for this team changes with every game. The Lady Lion's have operated with five different starting lineups and with a young team; trial and error is common place. Without a doubt, the Lady Lions are heading into Wednesday's matchup against Hartford with a confidence boost, but coach Washington wants her team to learn how to build momentum and not rely on momentum from a previous game.
"Wagner was a great experience for us, maybe even cathartic in some ways," coach Washington said. "Hartford is going to be a different challenge; they play taller and bigger teams really tough. If you are going to momentum it has to be because you are focused at the task at hand. We will get there."
The Lady Lions square off against Hartford, on the road, on Wednesday at 7 p.m.
NEW YORK - Penn State fans will be in for a treat on Jan. 30, 2016 when the Nittany Lion men's hockey and basketball teams compete in a doubleheader at Madison Square Garden against Michigan.
Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany confirmed the hockey-hoops doubleheader announcement on Tuesday evening inside MSG. Additionally, the conference announced that the 2018 Big Ten Men's Basketball Tournament would be played in Madison Square Garden (Feb. 28-March 4).
Attendees at the press conference included ESPN's Jay Bilas and Andy Katz, ABC/ESPN's John Saunders and Big Ten hockey alums and current New York Rangers Carl Hagelin (Michigan) and Derek Stepan (Wisconsin).
Penn State Director of Athletics Sandy Barbour was in attendance at the press conference and was thrilled with the news for two of Penn State's teams.
"It has been a great day in New York, and I think this is a really exciting announcement for Penn State, Penn State Men's Basketball and Penn State Hockey," said Barbour. "Any time the Penn State nation has the opportunity to come to New York is always an exciting time. And the opportunity to play in Madison Square Garden is something I think our student-athletes will really enjoy, as will our community."
The marquee along 7th Avenue outside of Madison Square Garden was lit with Big Ten signage as the press conference took place. The Big Ten is thrilled to make a new home inside Madison Square Garden, and it will be an exciting opportunity for the approximately 32,000 Penn State alums in the New York City metro area to see Penn State teams in action at "The World's Most Famous Arena".
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Pinstripe Bowl Announcement Photo Gallery
NEW YORK - The first official event of the Penn State bowl season took place on Tuesday inside Yankee Stadium when representatives from Penn State, Boston College, the New York Yankees and the bowl game participated in a New Era Pinstripe Bowl announcement press conference.
The Nittany Lions and Eagles will collide in the fifth Pinstripe Bowl on Dec. 27 at 4:30 p.m. (ESPN) in Yankee Stadium. For head coach James Franklin and Director of Athletics Sandy Barbour, Tuesday was an opportunity to talk about the excitement leading up to the postseason matchup.
"I think it's awesome. Two regional institutions coming together to play in a game in the Northeast in one of the most storied stadiums in the country," Franklin said. "I just think it is an unbelievable opportunity. It's going to be a great experience for all of us."
"There are a number of reasons this is really special to us," Barbour said. "This is a special team and a special group of guys. It's a mix of young guys and those who have been around through Penn State's difficult times. I'm really proud of this group."
The Penn State staff members in attendance toured through some of Yankee Stadium's rich history and got a glimpse of the setup for a football game. The Nittany Lions are scheduled to return to New York on Dec. 22 to commence Pinstripe Bowl game week preparations.
"Walking through today and seeing all of the history and all of the tradition and all of the championships and all of the great players and what this place means and what this place means to the city of New York, there is a lot of parallels with Penn State and what Beaver Stadium means to our people, all of the championships and all of the great players," Franklin said.
New Era Pinstripe Bowl Executive Director Mark Holtzman echoed the anticipation leading up to the game. Holtzman informed the group of a number of events the teams will take part in while in New York City, including a visit to the 9/11 Memorial, Radio City Christmas Spectacular and the New York Stock Exchange. Take a look through some of Tuesday's press conference highlights from Yankee Stadium.
Stay tuned for much more coverage leading up to the Pinstripe Bowl.
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Shane Conlan Induction Photo Gallery
NEW YORK - Former Penn Sate All-America linebacker Shane Conlan will gain induction in the Nation Football Foundation College Hall of Fame on Tuesday evening in New York.
A true embodiment of what the Penn State Football stands for, Conlan's accomplishments on and off the field put him among the program's all-time greatest players. The leader of the tenacious 1985-'86 defenses, Conlan addressed a room full of supporters on Monday evening in New York before the Hall of Fame induction ceremonies on Tuesday.
Stories were shared on Monday evening about Conlan's recruitment to Penn State. Simply put, the Nittany Lions were the only program interested in the Frewsburg, New York, native. Head coach Joe Paterno took a chance on Conlan by offering a scholarship, and the rest is history.
He helped the Nittany Lions to a 23-1 overall record during the 1985 and '86 seasons, including a national title in 1986. Humble in every sense of the word, Conlan spoke about his appreciation of the honor and his passion for Penn State during a press conference on Tuesday morning at the Waldorf Astoria in Manhattan. Take a look.
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By Tyler Feldman, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, PA. - The Penn State women's hockey team is no stranger to a tough road schedule. The Nittany Lions traveled to Pittsburgh, Pa. and split with conference foe Robert Morris this past weekend.
Friday afternoon's contest was dominated by Penn State, as the Blue and White shutout the Colonials, 5-0. However, it was a different story Saturday, as the Colonials returned the favor by winning, 4-2.
"We're a team that's comfortable playing in any environment," said head coach Josh Brandwene. "We have a group of big time competitors, and I'm really pleased with the effort this weekend.
Penn State played very disciplined hockey down a player. Robert Morris went 0-for-9 on the player-advantage. In 18 games played this season, opponents are converting on just 21.8 percent of power play opportunities.
Additionally, Penn State scored a short-handed goal in each of the two games against the Colonials.
Micayla Catanzariti scored the first shorthanded goal in game one. Then, in game two, Laura Bowman continued the trend. Hannah Bramm added a power play goal, as well.
"I'm so proud of Micayla and her whole line," said Brandwene. "They continue to give us a great effort night in and night out. They do a great job as individual penalty killers, as well. It was great to see them get rewarded. It was a heck of a pass by Emily Laurenzi, as well."
Catanzariti's first goal of the season, the aforementioned shorthanded goal, was set up beautifully by her teammate, Emily Laurenzi.
"Great forecheck by Em Laurenzi," said Brandwene on how the play started. "Excellent work behind the goal line and a beautiful backhand saucer pass to Micayla who was in the right spot and had a great shot release."
Amy Petersen and Hannah Hoenshell each scored a goal while Shannon Yoxheimer added a pair of goals to round out Penn State's five.
Play between the pipes was equally as impressive over the weekend. Celine Whitlinger made a season-high 42 saves en route to her second-straight shutout, while Hannah Ehresmann stopped 33 shots in Saturday's loss.
"It was a terrific performance by Celine on Friday," said Brandwene. "Controlled, efficient. I'm really proud of her. Hannah battled hard. She did a great job of seeing pucks through traffic and excellent work on the penalty kill. I'm really pleased with the goaltending."
Despite winning the first game convincingly, the Nittany Lions were outshot in both contests, 42-21 and 37-21, respectively.
In response to the large shot differentials, Brandwene continues to look at each subsequent game as part of the process.
"We continue to strive for excellence in all three zones, in all aspects of our game, and I'm really pleased with the continued growth of this hockey team in all aspects," said Brandwene. "We are taking things one day at a time. I'm looking forward to getting back to work at the beginning of the week and stringing some practices together in preparation for the weekend."
The biggest take away from the two-game weekend series at 84 Lumber Arena was Penn State's apparent on-ice communication.
"Our on-ice communication was as good as it's been all season long," said Brandwene. "That's something I'm really pleased with. The players have taken great responsibility there, and it's something we're definitely going to build on."
The Nittany Lions will continue their progression in practice this week before facing off against Mercyhurst in a two-game home series at Pegula Ice Arena this upcoming Friday night and Saturday afternoon.
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Off to its best start since the 2000-'01 Sweet 16 season, the Nittany Lion basketball team (8-1) returns home on Wednesday for its first of two-straight games in the Bryce Jordan Center. Penn State and Duquesne (3-2) will tip at 9 p.m. (TV - BTN).
Thanks to a 73-69 victory at Marshall on Saturday, the Nittany Lions extended their winning streak to six-straight games, marking the longest active winning streak among all 14 Big Ten teams and the program's longest since the 2007-'08 season.
But head coach Patrick Chambers knows how long the season is, and he is just looking for the team to progress each time it steps on the floor.
"I feel like we have a lot of room for growth," Chambers said. "I think we have leadership and great veterans. And that's why you are winning games. And we are making plays in the last four minutes to have that 8-1 record. Through the course of a 40-minute game, though, there are still a lot of habits we need to work on."
Ranked fourth in the nation in scoring average, senior D.J. Newbill has been lights out for the Nittany Lions through the first nine games of the season. Newbill enters the Duquesne game averaging 23.3 points per game on 48.3 percent shooting from the field.
"The last couple games, he is getting so much attention," Chambers said. "You see he's getting a little frustrated, but he has held it together. He made a great pass to Donovon Jack late in that game. He made two big free throws. In the second half, he is letting the game come to him a little bit more. He's doing it all. He's making his pull-ups, his floaters, his threes. He's getting himself to the line...I don't think he's so caught up in scoring. I just think he wants to win basketball games."
The tandem of Brandon Taylor and John Johnson equaled Newbill's scoring output of 17 tallies in the win at Marshall. Like Coach Chambers has talked about throughout the season, Taylor and Johnson pacing the Lions illustrates the team's depth. Granted, Newbill has led or tied for the team lead in scoring in all nine games this season. But the senior guard has not been forced to carry the team's offensive output. Taylor and Johnson are two players growing in confidence by the game.
"He is maturing into a complete player," Chambers said of Taylor. "He's very comfortable now on the block. He hit two really nice floaters. A man of his size, he's really talented. BT plays with a lot of emotion, a lot of passion.
Penn State and Duquesne will meet for the 46th time on Wednesday night. In a series that dates back to 1924, Penn State owns a 26-19 edge. The series record includes a 16-4 Penn State record in games played in Happy Valley. The Lions have won two-straight games against the Dukes, including last season's 68-59 victory in Pittsburgh.
Duquesne is 3-2 on the season following a 76-62 setback to cross-town rival Pittsburgh. The Dukes entered the week ranked first nationally in 3-point field goal percentage (.458). The Dukes have shot north of 50 percent from the arc in three of the five games this season. Junior guard Derrick Colter leads the nation (through Sunday's games) in individual 3-point percentage (16-25, .640). Freshman forward TySean Powell began the week as the nation's leader in field goal percentage (26-34, .765). Colter and Powell are two of three Duquesne players averaging double-digits.
"It's an in-state rivalry game. It's always been a dogfight every time we play Jim Ferry's team," Chambers said. "He's a great coach. They are a lot better. I just watched some of the game versus Pitt. That was a battle. So I expect another hard fought down to the last four minutes type of game that hopefully we can find a way."
The Nittany Lions enter the contest 4-0 in games played in the Bryce Jordan Center this season.
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By Mike Esse, GoPSUSports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Coquese Washington has been open about it since day one of the 2014-15 season - it's a continual work in progress. Part of that work in progress is how a team comes off of a setback, which Penn State (2-6) did very well Sunday topping Wagner (0-7) 96-66.
Her players agree with that assessment and used Sunday's win as another learning point in the young season.
"I don't think our confidence was ever in question," sophomore guard Sierra Moore said. "We just keep working hard every day in practice and we knew what we had to [improve] upon and we knew that if we worked on the things that we needed to [work on], the outcome would be good."
Teammate Lindsey Spann had similar thoughts to Moore stating they know it's a day-by-day mentality in terms of the team's improvement.
"We know that we have a lot of potential, so we just have to be willing to get improve each time on the court," guard Lindsey Spann said. "If we can put up [96 points] each time, then that's what we're going do, but it's just about growth and getting better for us right now."
Washington said after Sunday's win she did see many areas of her team's play improve, which proves to them they are capable of playing the way they want to if they continue to trust the process.
Against Wagner, Washington specifically noticed her team's discipline is starting to get better as they play more games.
"When you're young, you don't always have the discipline to execute," Washington said. "One of the things I was pleased with today was that I saw a lot more discipline out there, especially defensively in the first half.
"What I'm starting to see is a lot more discipline and execution. It's allowing us to be successful."
By being able to own a commanding lead in the second half, Washington was able to test out a few different lineup combinations. Some featured three guards on the floor at the same time; others featured three forwards on the floor at the same time.
Washington even experimented having a lineup without leading scorers Lindsey Spann and Sierra Moore on the floor at the same time, being able to see what other players could contribute in their absence.
"We're still young and we're still finding combinations that play well together," Washington said. "We started one lineup to start the game, but we went with a smaller one pretty quickly that worked a lot better."
This won't be the last time Washington does this, either. By mixing up who is on the floor together, the team becomes comfortable in what could be uncomfortable situations moving forward.
"We will probably have to go with the lineup that's working that night based on matchups and foul issues," said Washington. "It's good that we have a lot of options to go to. We can play big if we need to and we can play small if we need to. As long as we're doing a good job of taking care of the ball and rebounding, like we did today, then I think we'll be alright."
The next task for the Lady Lions is Hartford on the road Wednesday at 7 p.m. before returning home to the BJC to face Rider at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday.
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - "Firsts" have been a theme for the Penn State men's hockey team over the past few years. This weekend's trip to Wisconsin was no exception.
The Lions crossed another accomplishment off their list, completing their first Big Ten sweep on the road after taking down the Badgers, 5-2 and 4-2, Friday and Saturday nights.
"That's something that we didn't know when we'd be fortunate to have that experience," head coach Guy Gadowsky said regarding the two victories. "It probably happened a lot sooner than anybody would have expected, and to get it against a program like Wisconsin that's just so successful and has such great tradition, it feels really great.
"The guys should be proud of themselves, and the program should be proud of itself. It certainly is an indication of the entire program, the university, administration, the student body and fans. It's a great credit to the whole program."
According to freshman James Robinson, sweeping teams on the road has been a major goal repeatedly discussed this year. The fact that this objective was accomplished against a Big Ten team made it even more satisfying for the squad.
Robinson had a large part in both wins, playing an excellent brand of hockey and being rewarded with his first and second NCAA goals.
His first career goal, an unassisted breakaway, gave the Lions (9-4-2, 3-1-0) a two-goal lead during Friday's game with the Badgers (1-10-1, 0-2-0).
"Their forward passed it up to their D-man," Robinson recounted. "He was my guy, so I headed out to the point. The puck bounced over his stick, and I was able to beat him to it. I went down on a partial breakaway and just took a quick shot that got over the goalie's glove."
The Alberta-native has appeared in 12 of the team's 15 games this season and is already making a strong impression.
According to Gadowsky, Robinson makes the team more confident through his dedication and work ethic. In his eyes, the freshman played his best hockey of the year during these two games.
"He'll block shots with his chest," Gadowsky said about Robinson. "He'll backcheck when his lungs are burning. He's tough to play against. He goes hard to the net. He just does a lot of things that make him very difficult to play against."
Robinson was not the only Albertan to make a substantial impact in Madison, as both David Glen and Dylan Richard returned to the lineup.
Glen and Richard had three and two points on the weekend, respectively, but their presence on the ice was far more valuable to the Lions. Both forwards bring unparalleled energy and skill to the team, which was missed during their absences.
"They both ended up with a goal on Friday night, but if they hadn't had any points at all they still would have been very, very valuable," Gadowsky said. "Both those guys are such character guys. They both play to win, not for stats. They both are extremely difficult to play against. They bring a lot of identity, and I thought the boost that they gave us coming back in the lineup was just huge."
Glen was ecstatic to contribute to the team's scoring, but he knows scoring is not the only contribution he makes to the Lions day in and day out.
"It's obviously nice whenever you can make an impact for the team," Glen said. "I try to make impacts in other ways, but it's just nice to have an opportunity to get on the scoreboard and that sort of thing. I'm glad to be back and glad to help out on the ice."
Following this series, the Blue and White have some much needed time off. With a lengthy list of injuries still affecting the team, the three-week break will help to rejuvenate the Lions.
Nevertheless, even with the time off, ending on such a high note will only increase the team's confidence, making it that much more dangerous.
"I feel like since we've had such a successful first half, it just makes the guys that much hungrier and eager to get back out on the ice, continue with our success and see where the year can take us," Robinson said. "I feel like we have a great team this year, and we can do some serious damage this year in the NCAA. I know everyone's excited to see what the rest of the year has in store."