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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -
Welcome to GoPSUsports.com's live, interactive coverage of Penn State men's
hockey. Today, the Nittany Lions open their season at home against UConn.
By Astrid Diaz, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Four coaches from four distinct parts of the world
made their way to Happy Valley this week to work with the Penn State track and
field coaching staff and student-athletes as part of the International Coaching Enrichment Certificate Program
ICECP, which begins at the University of Delaware and works through the Unites
States Olympic Committee, is a five-week intensive coaches' education program
that gives candidates from around the world an opportunity to attend lectures
and presentations in the United States for the benefit of their education and
Head coach John Gondak and company hosted Letitia Vriesde (Suriname), Andris
Eikens (Latvia), Faris Abdulla (Maldives), and Nigatli Worku (Ethiopia) for the
entire week sharing with them the track and field facilities, workout routines,
coaching strategies, and introducing them to Penn State student-athletes.
Unlike any of their past trainings, the coaches were able to do hands-on
work, which they eagerly described as their favorite experience thus far.
"What I see at Penn State I don't
think I will be able to see ever again," said Abdulla, a kids' coordinator for
an athletics association. "It is so complex and everything I see here is so
wonderful and I hope one day that we will get to this level. Our experience
here is different because we finally got hands on experience. This is more
practical and technical."
At their future stops, the coaches will be attending lectures and
presentations so they were opportunistic in their time here.
"Here we have shared with coaches their practical knowledge and that's very
different from attending lectures and doing projects," said Worku, a track and
field coach at the national and junior levels. "I have attended a lot of
training courses and this is by far the best one."
In their respective home countries, all of the coaches explained the lack
of organization between academics and athletics commending the way Penn State
intertwines the two. They explained that the structured system the University
implements is by far the best method to success they have seen.
"The first thing I noticed at Penn State is that they have a very good
system for athletes," said Abdulla. Their scholarships and the coaching
system...they have a systematic way of developing athletes. It is so hard to
convince people and parents [back home] that sport is a way of life."
The coaches are pleased to see that Penn State develops athletes to
represent themselves and also, their respective schools making athletics and
academics a source of pride, which is very different from their normality.
"You are not competing for your university and it's not part of a system," said
Vriesde, a coach at the Atlantic Club of the Future. "You go to school and,
then, if you like to run, you go and join a club."
They were also blown away by the facilities available to the program. It
became apparent to them why the student-athletes are so ambitious and motivated.
"The facilities available for the athletes make me think that there is no
reason not to make it to the world class [level]. It's very impressive because
back home we basically don't have any facilities, said Vriesde. "We run on
grass. It's good to see everything that is done for sport achievement."
"I'm very pleased to see how highly motivated all the athletes are to
compete here," said Eikens, a decathlon coach for his country's national team.
"There are very, very good facilities and options."
The Nittany Lions impressed them and even though they say it will be
decades before they see any change in their countries, they hope to one day
work with athletes, parents, and schools as one to shed light on the importance
of unity between academics and athletics.
The coaches have three more weeks left in the program and will travel to the
Olympic Training Center in Colorado upon their departure from State College.
GAME BLOG: Michigan
Game Notes | Gameday Central | Michigan Scouting Report |
Coach Franklin Wednesday
Press Conference Roundup | Coach Hand Q&A | Player Q&A Video
Pa. - Following a bye week, Penn State (4-1, 1-1) returns to action under the
lights against Michigan (2-4, 0-2) on Saturday. Kick is slated for 7 p.m. with
television coverage on ESPN2.
The Lions have posted four-straight on-field victories against the Wolverines,
including a thrilling 43-40 four overtime win last season in Happy Valley.
Michigan holds a 10-7 edge in the all-time series between the two schools, which
both rank in the top 12 of all-time winning percentage in NCAA history.
Through five games, the Penn State defense has been tremendous. The Nittany
Lions rank among the top-25 nationally in six defensive categories, including
the top 10 in rushing, scoring and total defense. Additionally, Penn State is
leading the Big Ten in scoring defense at 14.6 points per game. The unit has allowed 300 yards of total offense in just one game this season.
Sophomore quarterback Christian Hackenberg continues to rank among the top
signal callers in the Big Ten. He is ranked second in the conference with 295.4
passing yards, 22.6 completions and 302.2 yards of total offense per game. The
wide receiver duo of DaeSean Hamilton and Geno Lews is only the only set of
teammates to rank among the top-25 nationally in receiving yards per game at 100.4
and 99.0, respectively.
Michigan enters Saturday's game looking to snap a three-game losing streak. The
Wolverines suffered a narrow 26-24 setback to Rutgers last week. The Wolverines
average 354.0 yards per game and remain the Big Ten's only offensive unit to
convert all 15 of its red zone chances into points (12 TDs and 3 FGs). Michigan
leads the Big Ten and is second nationally in fewest penalties per game at
Saturday's game will feature two of the nation's premier college football
programs. In addition to ranking among the top 12 in winning percentage, Penn
State and Michigan are two of the winningest programs in NCAA history. The two
teams are also among the most ranked programs in AP poll history, with the duo
combining for 1,378 weeks in the national rankings.
Get primed for the 18th meeting between the Nittany Lions and Wolverines.
Welcome to the Gameday Preview for the week six matchup against Michigan.
What to Watch For - Penn State
1. Since joining the Big Ten in 1993, the Nittany Lions are 15-11 in
games contested after a bye week. The Lions took full advantage of maximizing
last week's practice days. In addition resting the bodies of the primary
contributors, head coach James Franklin and the coaching staff stressed film
review and corrections as a mode of self-scouting the Nittany Lions as the
season nears the mid-way point. Penn State lifted weights and practiced three
times before taking a few days off at the latter stages of the week. The Lions
returned to practice on Sunday refreshed and focused on the practice week at
2. A big point of emphasis for the Nittany Lions leading up to the sixth game
on the schedule is consistency. Quarterback Christian Hackenberg talked to the media earlier this
week about the importance of each player on both sides of the ball doing his
job on each play. From the pre-snap reads to the play itself, the Nittany Lions
are seeking more consistency from each member of the depth chart. With
consistency across the starting lineup comes a higher level of execution, which
is what the Lions are focused on this week at Michigan.
3. Senior linebacker Mike Hull has been among the most productive defensive
players in the Big Ten thus far in 2014. Leading the conference in tackling at
10.6 hits per game, Hull has been a disciplined and effective player throughout Penn
State's first five games. The Pittsburgh native has a nose for the football and
is a fundamentally sound player when it comes to tackling and putting himself
in the proper position to make tackles. The quarterback of the defense, Hull
has made 53 tackles in 2014, including 32 solo hits.
to Watch For - Michigan
1. Without the services of starting running back Derrick Green
(collarbone), quarterback Devin Gardner and sophomore running back De'Veon
Smith become the focal points of the Michigan running game. Gardner is a
dynamic player with good size (6-4, 216) and playmaking ability with the ball
in his hands. Gardner has completed 63 percent of his passes in 2014, to go
along with 131 rushing yards and three rushing touchdowns.
2. The Michigan defense has been stout during the first six games of 2014. The
Wolverines are ranked 19th in the nation in total defense, allowing 315.5 yards
per game. That figure includes 100.2 rushing yards per game, which ranks 12th
in the nation. Michigan has allowed just three rushing touchdowns this season
and is holding its opponents to 2.93 yards per rush. Linebackers Joe Bolden and
Jake Ryan lead the Wolverine defense with 48 and 46 tackles, respectively.
3. Junior Dennis Norfleet is ranked second in Michigan history in kickoff
return yards at 1,977. He is one of just three players in Michigan history with
more than 2,000 total return yards. Norfleet is averaging 23.6 yards per return
on kickoffs this season. Norfleet also handles the punt return duties for
The Final Word:
The Nittany Lions will play their second of three primetime games on
Saturday in Michigan. Following the game, Penn State will have played in two
road night games for the first time since 2008 (Wisconsin and Ohio State). The
2014 season marks the seventh time since 2000 that the Lions will play multiple
night games in the season. It is the 15th-straight season that Penn State has
played in at least one night game. Penn State owns a 40-26 on-field record in
night games. That includes a 20-10 mark in road games under the lights. This
week is just the third night game in Michigan Stadium history, but the first Big Ten night game.
This game marks the fourth night game between Penn State and Michigan since 2000.
Kick is slated for 7:02 p.m. on ESPN2.
GoPSUsports.com's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony
Practice Update with Coach Brandwene
By Tyler Feldman, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - "I think I strapped my skates on when I was three," said freshman defenseman Bella Sutton.
The versatile Nittany Lion newcomer who hails from Shoreview, Minn., was introduced to hockey at an extremely young age. However, in Minnesota terms, three years old is ordinary. In that state, hockey is not just a game. It's a lifestyle.
"Coming from Minnesota, it's not that you're expected to play hockey, but it's definitely a huge part," said Sutton. "There is a lot of pride that goes into hockey from Minnesota. So growing up in that area definitely translated to my love of the game."
Sutton arrives at Penn State as one of eight freshmen to join the progressive women's hockey program. Including herself into the mix, half of the newcomers are from Minnesota. To make Happy Valley even more welcoming for Sutton, five other teammates are native of the Land of 10,000 Lakes.
"We definitely take a lot of flack being the Minnesota clan on the team," said Sutton. "But, it's nice to have those girls here just because they know home. It makes being here a lot easier."
The five-foot-six defenseman, who previously played varsity hockey at Mounds View High School, chose the Blue and White for the same reasons many other student-athletes do. Sutton was attracted to the unique balance placed on academics and athletics.
Sutton is studying biology with the hope of attending medical school after graduation.
"Medicine is something that has always interested me," said Sutton. "I always say I don't want to end up in a cubicle. I want to be doing something and learning something all the time in different situations; learning about myself and other people. I'm not sure what exactly I want to do with medicine, but I know I want to help people."
So far classes have gone well for Sutton, but she says that her Minnesota accent has provided a form of entertainment for her classmates.
"Usually, the unique thing I say in class is that I am from Minnesota," said Sutton. "So, they know right off the bat that is where my accent is coming from. I definitely get made fun of for saying bag and bagel and what not."
Although a defenseman, Sutton has no problem joining the offensive rush. In her first game as a Nittany Lion, Sutton netted two unassisted goals and an assist the 5-2 win over Western in an exhibition contest two weeks ago.
"From a young age, I always wanted to be a part of offense," said Sutton. "They tried me at forward a couple times. I like defense way better, but I definitely like the scoring aspect of hockey. I love joining the rush."
Offensive defensemen are a rare breed, but when asked if she likes to compare her game to Pittsburgh Penguin defenseman, Kris Letang, she agreed. However, she feels her game mirrors other NHL players, too.
"Brent Burns who played on the Wild for a little bit," said Sutton. "He's playing [for the San Jose Sharks], but he's definitely a hometown guy that I look up to, and [Ryan] Suter as well now that he's come to Minnesota. I'm a hometown girl, so I love watching the Wild while focusing on my play and idolizing them."
The offensive-minded defenseman comes to Penn State with quite a resume. She participated in the USA Hockey U16 and U18 National Developmental Camps, earning spots on the All-Star team. Such experiences have helped ease the transition from high school to collegiate play.
"Definitely going to the camps widened my experiences by seeing other girls from all over, and not just playing with the Minnesota girls definitely helped my transition," said Sutton. "You learn about different teams out there and how they play. It made me appreciate Minnesota that much more for having the opportunity to play for my high school. But, playing with great athletes in the summer really helped me."
Minus a couple of food cravings that she cannot get at Penn State, the move from Shoreview to University Park as been smooth sailing thus far.
"I really miss my mom's cooking," said Sutton.
Food cravings aside, expect to hear the name Bella Sutton in the next four years.
By Gabrielle Richards, GoPSUsports Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- From the Pac 12 and the ACC to the American League
and the Big Ten, the Buttinger family has made the roster on 4 District I
teams. Natalie Buttinger, one of seven siblings, is heading into her final
stretch in her senior season with the Penn State field hockey team.
"We are all over, doing what we love," Buttinger said. "It's always great
to call my sister at Duke and ask her how her field hockey team is. We talk
game strategy all the time."
Buttinger, a native of Ontario, Canada, didn't pick up a field hockey stick
until her freshman year of high school. An avid runner and ice hockey player,
Buttinger never thought she could use her speed to her advantage in another
sport. However, her older sister, who plays for the Candian National Women's
Indoor Field Hockey Team, told her to try-out for the field hockey team.
After securing a spot on the varsity team, Buttinger's speed set her apart
from others. Her varsity coach convinced her to try out for Team Ontario, a
club team based out of Canada.
"I made Team Ontario simply out of luck," Buttinger said. "I had no skill,
but I had my speed. I worked really hard with my coaches to built a skill set
that matched my speed."
Hard Work Pays Off
Buttinger was a member of multiple championship field hockey programs
including her four-time district championship high school team. She was named
to the All-Star team all four years.
In her senior year alone, the captain netted 53 points (includes
assists/goals). Buttinger's senior team was the first in school history to take
home the Central Western Ontario Secondary School Association Championship,
after posting a 17-2 record including 16 shutouts.
"We are a big ice hockey and running family so getting into field hockey
was all luck," Buttinger said.
Coming to the States...and the Big Ten
"In Ontario, we don't play on astro turf," Buttinger said. "We play on more
of a grass surface. "The hardest transition for me from playing in Canada to
playing in America was how fast the game is."
Buttinger started her Penn State career in 2010, but due to a knee injury, she
was forced to redshirt the following season.
"It was hard from playing non stop to not being able to pick up a stick,"
Buttinger said. "One of my proudest was coming back from that injury."
Since returning, Buttinger's play has only gotten better. After appearing in
a combined 20 games in her sophomore and junior seasons, she has solidified her
spot on the Nittany Lion roster. While her name is often attached to assists or
goals, Buttinger is a huge contributor on both offense and defense. She is
always around the ball, setting up scoring drives and serving as an option for
the defensive pass.
"I think my biggest contribution or my purpose on the team is passing,"
Buttinger said. "I never measure a game based off my goals or assists, its all
about the wins and losses for me."
The Nittany Lions head to College Park, Md. Friday to take on Big Ten
"It's going to be a great game," Buttinger said. "We are ready to welcome
Maryland to the Big Ten."
Fans can watch Buttinger and her fellow Nittany Lions on the Big Ten
Network at 3:30 p.m. this Friday.
By Matt Allibone, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
Pa.- Owen Griffith can't recall the first time he attended a Penn State
It's not because he has a bad memory. He was just a little too young to
"Oh gosh, probably before I was a year old I was up at something," Griffith
said. "My mom and dad were always bringing me up to football games, soccer
games, women's basketball, you name it."
Griffith, a senior midfielder on the Penn State men's soccer team, has been
a Nittany Lions fan since birth. His parents, Sam and Amy, are both graduates
and raised their son to bleed blue and white.
Today, Griffith is the captain of the No. 3 ranked team in the nation.
While that may sound like a pretty sweet situation for any college soccer
player, it means a bit more to him.
Growing up 45 minutes outside of State College in Lewisburg, Pa., Griffith
only had one major aspiration growing up and only one school where he wanted to
"My teachers would laugh when I was little because I would say I wanted to
be a pro soccer player, and they would laugh and say, 'that's way out of
reach,'" Griffith said. "But I've playing since I was little and I'm just
following my dream.
"Playing at Penn State is an absolute honor and I'm thankful everyday to
realize my dream. When I finally committed here, my mom was so happy because it's
just a tradition for my family."
As a junior at Lewisburg Area High School, Griffith knew he wanted to play
for Penn State but didn't feel like the interest would ever be mutual. That all
changed the next year when Bob Warming was hired as head coach of the Nittany
During a senior season in which he was named first team All-State, Griffith
began to be recruited by Warming. Although he was also drawing interest from a
number of Big Ten schools, the lifelong Nittany Lions fan made his intentions
clear to the coach.
"As soon as I started talking to him, I told him, 'coach, if you'll have me
there's not another choice in my mind,'" Griffith said. "Sometimes that's a
risky thing to tell college coaches in the recruiting process because it could
maybe give them the upper hand. With coach Warming, he's such a trustworthy guy
that he just had my best interest in mind."
Even if Warming didn't have a spot on the roster for him, Griffith says he
still might have picked Penn State anyway.
"I was definitely thinking about [coming to Penn State just as a student],"
Griffith said. "When I was in the recruiting process I had a couple of other
schools in mind. But Penn State was always in the back of my head like, 'even
if I don't play soccer in college...there's still Penn State and I would love to
Luckily for both parties, things worked out and Griffith has been a
mainstay for the Nittany Lions ever since.
Although he entered 2014 with two All-Big Ten second team appearances already
on his resume, the senior has in many ways saved his best performance for his last
As the team's defensive center midfielder, Griffith doesn't get on the stat
sheet much with just one goal and one assist in Penn State's first 11 games. He
has however, been the leader of a defense that posted nine shutouts and allowed
just three goals in that same time frame.
While Griffith has been invaluable to a Penn State squad that is 10-0-1 a
year after reaching the Sweet 16, he rarely talks about himself. Instead, he
credits his development as a player to his coach.
"[Coach Warming] is the most knowledgeable soccer coach and he's taught me
so many things," Griffith said. "I've always been an athletic and fit guy but
there were a lot of aspects of my game I could improve and he's just made me a
better soccer player."
Despite the midfielder's talent on the field, the first that comes to mind
when you ask his coaches about him is his leadership. And for good reason.
Two years ago, Warming approached Griffith with a proposition. He wanted
the 19-year old sophomore to be one of the team's captains, a role he has held
"He's a culture changer," Warming says. "He is one of those guys that has
improved every aspect of his game. He's been a great citizen off the field,
he's been great in the classroom, he's been a real teammate. For me, if there's
a reason why were doing so well it's because of him and the seniors."
What exactly makes Griffith such a terrific leader? According to his
teammates, it's the way he leads by example.
This Wednesday, Griffith and a number of other seniors were given the day
off. Instead of relaxing, the third-year captain had a better idea.
"We went for a 10-mile hike yesterday, just on a whim," senior defender Eli
Dennis said. "He's really active and always go-go-go. He's game to do whatever
you want to do."
Though his time as a Nittany Lion will soon be coming to an end, Griffith
has no plans to walk away from soccer entirely.
A kinesiology major, Griffith hopes to join the coaching ranks after he
decides to hang up his cleats, though he doesn't know when that will be.
"I'd like to play after school, and depending on how long that lasts I'd
like to go to grad school for exercise science," Griffith said. "I think that
would make me a marketable soccer coach. A former soccer player with a masters
level knowledge of how the body works in terms of the game I think would make
me a very marketable coach."
Until that day, Griffith will keep living out the dream of a kid who went
from sitting in the Jeffrey Field bleachers to starring on the field.
"To be part of the sports community at Penn State that people are so fired
up about," Griffith said. "It's amazing."
By Julie Bacanskas, GoPSUsports.com
Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Penn State men's hockey team is set to open
its season at 7 p.m. Friday night at Pegula Ice Arena against the University of
Connecticut. The Huskies currently hold a 2-0 series advantage over the Lions,
which is a statistic Penn State hopes to even up with this weekend's home
Limited Practice Time
The Lions had their first official practice of the season Saturday morning,
allowing very little time to prepare for the Oct. 10 season opener. Regardless,
the team worked hard during both this first week with the coaches, as well as
during captain's practices over the course of the past month.
to the start of official practice, the Penn State coaching staff was limited to
just eight hours a week on the ice with the team, meaning much of the practice
planning landed on the shoulders of captains Patrick Koudys, Nate Jensen and
"We had 30 minutes four times a week, so the captains were responsible,"
explained head coach Guy Gadowsky. "They'd warm up the team, and I don't know
what they did. That was up to them. We'd come on and run what we went over the
meeting before. Then we'd get off the ice, and it was up to them again."
Despite the time restraints, Gadowsky made the most of the time he had with his
team, touching on all aspects of the game as quickly as possible. This approach
has changed now that timing is no longer an issue.
This week, Gadowsky chose to focus on parts of the game the team has struggled
with in the past. Addressing those specific issues will help the Lions become a
better, harder team to play against.
While the team may not feel
as prepared as they would like for this opening series, one thing is certain.
Penn State is much further ahead than they were October of last year.
"I think part of that is just that there's a lot less newness to what we're
doing," Gadowsky said. "We've been in the building. We didn't have to move in
the building. There's not a lot of fanfare in terms of this is the first ever
game in Pegula, so I think our focus is a lot more in the present, which is a
"Last year, was tremendously fun. We're very grateful to go through that
experience, but I think it's probably easier to stay in the present this year.
That's one factor. The other factor is we have a lot of returning players that
are already familiar with what we do, so we're trying to get the three new guys
acclimated, but as a whole, we're in a much better place."
The number of returning student-athletes is something Jensen also believes will
greatly benefit the Lions. The team chemistry is already present, and everyone
is ready to pick up where they left off.
"It feels like the end of last year," the defenseman said. "We have pretty much
the whole team back. We have a couple new guys that are just getting used to
the system. They're stepping in right away, but it pretty much feels like we're
coming in from last year."
Taking on UConn
The Lions and the Huskies met for the first time during the 2012-'13
season, Penn State's first as a Division I hockey program. Although the Lions
were swept during the series, it is clear that they are now a much more mature,
Nevertheless, Gadowsky still believes the major focus needs to be on his team,
as opposed to scouting the Huskies, in order to properly prepare.
still have so much of us that we're not going to waste any time," explained the
head coach. "We were even asked if we want tape. We do not. We are focusing on
Even with the main focus on Penn State, Gadowsky knows this UConn team will be
much different than the one he and the Lions faced merely two years ago.
The Huskies are set to begin their second season under head coach Mike
Cavanaugh and their first season in Hockey East.
think he'll do a tremendous job there in his second year," Gadowsky said of
Cavanaugh. "You're going to start to maybe see a little more of his personal
identity. By only graduating four and bringing in nine, it sort of looks like
to me that they're probably moving in a new direction."
Loik, Glen, Brooks
Preparing for Friday, the Penn State coaching staff has decided lines for the 7
p.m. puck drop; however, only one of these lines is completely set in stone.
Forwards Curtis Loik, Glen and Kenny Brooks have played on a line many times
before, and Gadowsky is confident they will be successful again this season.
"That line sort of automatically seemed to have synergy from day one,"
explained Gadowsky. "We always toy with moving them apart and getting other
things going, but they somehow seem to gravitate together."
Gadowsky expects this line in particular to be "incredibly difficult to
play against" and is ready to see what they can do against the Huskies this
Return to Pegula
With the season's
start comes taking the ice at Pegula Ice Arena once again and competing in
front of the student section, which the team and coaches cannot wait to do
"This is the best rink in college hockey," said Jensen. "These guys are
just awesome and so loud and just so energetic. I can't wait to step on the
Student season tickets sold out within just minutes this year, meaning
the students are ready to pack into the Roar Zone, to cheer loudly for their
team, but most importantly, to watch Penn State hockey again.
"Every time the game ends, it's so much fun with the student section that we
just can't wait to play again," said Gadowsky. "It's finally here."
By Anita Nham, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.
- Redshirt junior Aiyana Whitney went into this week's practice knowing that she
needed to improve on blocking and transition balls. Whitney displayed that she achieved
what she had strived for by leading Penn State's offense with 12 kills on .500
hitting as well as a match-high of seven blocks in Wednesday's sweep (25-20,
25-17, 25-17) against No. 24 Northwestern.
The Nittany Lions
have now won their last 23 consecutive matchups against the Wildcats, which
gives Penn State a 47-8 lead in the series.
"She was the leading
scorer in the match and I appreciate her effort tonight," said head coach Russ
Rose. "I thought she played well and it's nice when somebody gets a chance to
particularly dominant in the third set, which provided Penn State with the
momentum that it needed to finish off the match. She recorded three points for
the Nittany Lions by making three kills in a row after the Wildcats received
senior Micha Hancock's serves. Hancock tallied 30 assists, seven digs, three
blocks, and a match-high of four aces.
Junior Megan Courtney
also logged double-digit kills with 10 kills on .400 hitting. She also had
eight digs and two blocks. Senior Nia Grant followed close behind with seven
kills and senior Dominique Gonzalez held the team together with 10 digs.
Though Penn State
came out with a win, Whitney believes that there is still much more to improve
"[Our energy coming
out of the gate] wasn't our best, that's for sure. I think all-around it kind
of lacked emotion and that's a huge part of the game," said Whitney. "I mean,
energy-wise, if we don't pick that up, then the game could easily go the other
way. Personally, my blocking was what I really wanted to focus on and I think
it's something that I've been struggling with in the middle position. It's new
to me and it's something I've been trying to work on."
Coach Rose also
recognized that the team has a lot to work on before Saturday's match against
No. 15 Illinois.
"I think our blocking
is an area that needs to be better and just court awareness. There were some
plays out there that players had no idea what was going on. Just because you
win, doesn't mean you know what's going on," said Rose. "I didn't think anybody
came ready to play. Practice has been like that for a few days. You watched our
match last week on TV, that's what it looked like, so just no emotion, no real
leadership out there - it was pretty disappointing. It would be fine if it was
a recreational team and we were deciding where we were going to go afterwards
for a snack, but that's not how I look at the last five decades that I've been
coaching at Penn State."
Penn State will be
welcoming No. 15 Illinois to Rec Hall at 4 p.m. on Saturday. The Fighting
Illini forced a fifth set at Ohio State Wednesday evening after falling into a
2-1 deficit, but fell short to the Buckeyes to drop to 11-5 in the season and
3-2 in the Big Ten.
"We saw Illinois at
the beginning of the year and since then, they've played much better, so I
mean, Illinois is strong in all positions," said coach Rose. "They've got
veteran players at the pins and they're going to be pretty fired up after
losing a five-game match [last] night at Ohio State. You know, life on the road
in the Big Ten is very, very tough and we need to make it tougher than it was
today. The girls need to work a lot harder. We'll go hard [today] at practice.
I want to find out who wants to play."
Coach Rose wants to
see the team continue to grow.
"The expectations are
high here. The players who are recruited, the expectations are high and that's
the way it should be," said Rose. "So if you look at results, I don't think
that's the best way to look at things. I think performance makes the
Whitney hopes to
build on the success for this weekend's match.
"We got to be ready
to play," said Whitney.
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -
Penn State running game coordinator and offensive line coach Herb Hand spoke
with the media on Thursday. The Nittany
Lions travel to Michigan on Saturday Take a look at a Q&A with Hand during
the bye week.
Q: What do you think the bye week did for the offensive line and how much
progress have you seen from the group since the start of camp?
Hand: "When you watch guys on a daily basis, sometimes it is good to go
back and turn on the film from the first day of practice and see the progress
the guys have made, not only individually, but collectively. Even going back to
the beginning of the season. What we were able to do during the bye week as
coaches was a lot of self-scout. We took time to get into what we were able to
accomplish during the first five games. And then look at what we needed to get
better at...We were able to do that during the bye week. And then go back in from
a practice standpoint and really hone in on, again, those fundamentals and
techniques that each guy has to execute for us to be successful collectively as
a unit, which is obviously going to help us an offense and help us be the best
team we can. During that open, those opportunities for self scout were very
valuable for us."
How would you assess the play and development of the offensive line?
Hand: "We're not there yet, obviously. We've gotten a lot better.
Sometimes it's hard to see, but we have gotten better. We don't temper our
expectations and our standards. We have a standard that we want to play at as a
unit because we know the standards that are here at Penn State. We are working
hard to achieve those. We are being very demanding to the guys to be attention
to detail players. Is there a process that goes along with it? Yes. At this
point in the season, there are no more rookies. Guys have played in games.
There are no more rookies. No one cares about that stuff, to be honest with
you. I've told the guys from the get go that nobody cares we had to replace
four guys. Nobody cares that we have inexperience or some of the guys were
playing defense (last year). No one cares if you are banged up or bruised up.
What they want to see is results. That's what we are striving for and that's
what we are working hard for. I can tell you this that the work ethic of this
group is tremendous. But hard work doesn't guarantee you success. There are a
lot of other factors that go into it. But without hard work, you have no shot.
These guys work. When is that going to come to fruition for us? Hopefully
sooner rather than later, but it is a process and the guys are working
extremely hard to paly up to standards they have set for themselves."
What have you seen from the communication across the group?
Hand: "We always talk in terms of wanting our guys to play with one set
of eyes. When you think about it, from tackle to tackle, you have five guys in
there. Statistically, that is almost half of the offense from a numbers
standpoint. We want all five of those guys to play with one set of eyes and
what we call one heartbeat, as well, so that we are all on the same page. We
have got to be able to talk across the board, echo calls, make sure everybody
is on the same page. Even if we are wrong, if we are all wrong together, we
have a chance to be right. But if the right side and the left side are not
working in coordination together, we have no shot. It starts with our center.
Angelo (Mangiro) has done a great job with identifying fronts and the
communication progression on every single play...There is a process that goes
along with communication (across the line). And each week that has improved. We
hope that we will continue to improve that as we go through the season. And we
hope that it will be a big part of the improvement that people see on
How have some of the younger guys behind your starters progressed as the season
has gone on?
Hand: "Those guys are doing good. We have several freshmen who are in
our two deep and travel squad. James (Franklin) has kind of talked to you guys
about green lighting, yellow lighting and red lighting younger guys. We have a
few freshmen who are yellow lighted guys right now that are taking reps in
practice and developing. They are getting closer to being guys that we could
use if we needed to. We don't necessarily want to use those guys unless we have
to. The other guys, we basically have about eight guys who have taken the
majority of the reps for us. Wendy Laurent, Derek Dowrey and Albert Hall are
kind of our three main backup players. They have to be able to play multiple positions,
which they do. Dowrey has repped at both guard positions. Wendy has repped at
all three inside positions. Albret has repped at basically every position but
center. When you are preparing for a game, you are getting eight guys ready.
Those guys have to be multiple. And those guys are developing nicely. We'll see
how that works out for us this weekend if we need to work some of those guys
in. They are certainly ready, repping and preparing like the starters."
You are cooking for the group next week. Are you looking forward to that and
what do you have planned for the meal?
Hand: "We are either going to do it on Monday or Wednesday, probably
leaning more towards Wednesday. I'm going to fire up my smoker and throw down
some pork shoulders and brisket. We are going to do a nice little barbecue deal
with some fixin's - coleslaw, baked beans, corn on the cob - kind of a meat and
potatoes type of meal. Nothing real fancy, but it's going to be made with a lot
of love and it is going to be delicious. I'm looking forward to cooking for
GoPSUsports.com's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -
Head coach James Franklin provided an update to the media following Wednesday's
practice session at the Lasch Football Complex. The Nittany Lions return to
action at Michigan on Saturday (7 p.m. on ESPN2) following a bye week.
GoPSUsports.com's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony