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Newfound Confidence Helping Gulibon Reach Potential

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10690419.jpegBy Matt Allibone, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - On the surface, Penn State wrestler Jimmy Gulibon doesn't look much different than he did a year ago.

Not only are his wiry 133-pound frame and floppy brown hair still the same, he also hasn't changed his shy, quiet demeanor.

At the same time, it's been hard not to notice the redshirt sophomore's transformation on the mat. A year after he struggled to find consistency during his first season as a starter, Gulibon has been a force for the Nittany Lions throughout the 2014-'15 campaign.

So far, the Latrobe, Pennsylvania, native has gone 14-2 with a 7-0 mark in dual meets, huge improvements from his 18-15 season last year when he went just 5-8 in duals.

"I mean, it feels good but it's a long season," Gulibon said. "There's still a lot more wrestling to do so I'm trying to take it one match at a time."

His low-key personality aside, Gulibon has been attacking opponents with a tenacity that, while shown in glimpses last season, has been steady this year. With eight dual meets remaining, the 133-pounder already has four dual wins over ranked opponents to go with three major decisions and one pin on the year.  

What's been the difference for the sophomore? For starters, it's been learning to accept and enjoy the pressure that comes with competing at a wrestling-crazed school like Penn State.

A four-time PIAA at Derry Area High School, Gulibon came to University Park with extremely high expectations. For someone who's never been about the spotlight, it wasn't an easy adjustment.

"Going out there the first few times in [Rec Hall], it was pretty nerve racking," Gulibon said. "It's pretty scary and pretty hard to get used. But once you get used to it it's pretty fun."

Gulibon certainly looks like a guy who's having a lot more fun these days. Before he could start enjoying himself on the mat however, he had to work on a few things that had held him back.


Last season, Gulibon had trouble early in the schedule with getting escapes when wrestling in the bottom position. Soon, the new starter found himself hesitant to take shots, afraid of the possibility of giving up a takedown and having to fight his way out of it.

After dropping his first four duals, Gulibon improved enough to qualify for the NCAA Tournament in March, where he finished with a 1-2 mark. Knowing he had a lot more in him, he went into the offseason with a new sense of determination.


"I worked really hard this summer," Gulibon said. "You kind of have to have a little confidence in yourself. I mean this whole summer I trained, did extra work outs. Just a lot of that really helped out with my confidence. Working on all different positions, top, bottom and neutral I guess led to a bit of a confidence boost.

"Basically, I was afraid to get on bottom. I was having trouble getting out all the time and I think that led to me not opening up on my feet because there's a chance I make a mistake and get taken down and then I'm on bottom."

With Penn State entering the current campaign without the services of five of last season's All-Americans due to graduation (James English, Ed Ruth, and David Taylor) and redshirts (Nico Megaludis, Zain Retherford), the need for Gulibon to step up was very high. When the Lions dual slate began in November, it didn't take long for the second-year wrestler to answer the bell.

In the team's opening match against Lehigh, Gulibon faced off against the same opponent that handed him a 7-6 loss in his first ever college dual, second ranked Mason Beckman.


Not wanting a repeat performance, Gulibon scored two takedowns and added a pair of back points to overcome an early 2-1 deficit on his way to an 8-3 win. Since then, he hasn't looked back, going undefeated in duals and establishing himself as the lynchpin the Lions need in the top half of their lineup.

"With him, I think it's a maturity and understanding thing," associate head coach Cody Sanderson said. "He went right back to work after [last year's] national tournament because he wants to win. He's not okay with getting beat or having close matches, he wants to win. I think last year forced him to really figure some things out about himself and how he's approaching the sport and I think that's what we're starting to see in his results."

This past Sunday, the sophomore had another banner performance on the road at Ohio State. Taking on fourth-ranked Johnni DiJulius, who beat him 3-2 last year, Gulibon used a third period takedown to register an impressive 5-4 win.

Though the victories against ranked opponents keep piling up, Gulibon continues to look ahead. He knows that dwelling on the past won't do him any good, and there's still plenty left for him to accomplish.

"No...I try to leave [the previous matches] behind me," Gulibon said. "Last year I kind of dwelled on them a lot but this year I'm trying to forget about it and move forward."

VIDEO: This Week in Penn State Wrestling - Jan. 14

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - GoPSUsports.com catches up with associate head coach Cody Sanderson leading up to Penn State's Big Ten weekend featuring a road trip to Rutgers (Friday at 7 p.m.) and a home dual against Purdue (Sunday at 1 p.m.).


McAdam Looks to Build Upon Recent Success

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By Julie Bacanskas, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - After a shaky start to his Penn State career, sophomore goalie Eamon McAdam has worked hard to prove himself this season. With his first four wins as a Nittany Lion and his first victory at Pegula Ice Arena now under his belt, McAdam is ready to keep rolling with his team, contributing in any ways he can.

Following the goalie's winless freshman season, he evaluated his game and his habits. McAdam knew he needed to make a change in order to compete with the best. It was time to step up.

"At the end of last year, I kind of looked back and really noticed that I was working hard at times, but it wasn't an all the time thing," said McAdam. "One of the biggest parts of being a pro is really coming out and working every time you're on the ice. I think that's pretty much been my biggest change, just battling at every turn, every play."

McAdam's fight and determination to compete to the best of his abilities have not gone unnoticed. Earlier in the season he was in net when the Nittany Lions defeated then-No. 4 UMass-Lowell on the road, and this past weekend he helped lead his team to a commanding win over Ohio State.

The sophomore's efforts against the Buckeye's resulted in his first Big Ten weekly honor as he was named the conference's third star. Although recognition is wonderful and appreciated, McAdam believes there are more important things to focus on right now, like helping his team succeed.

"You have to take it in stride and not let it go to your head," said the sophomore of the honor. "It's cool to experience, and maybe later down the line it's something neat to have on your resume. For now though, it's just another day."

Through seven appearances and six starts this year, McAdam has posted a .918 save percentage and is allowing an average of 2.77 goals. These numbers are very telling of how far he has progressed in a year, as last season he finished with a save percentage of .882 and a goals allowed average of 4.09.

His improvements have allowed for increased depth at the goalie position for the Blue and White, as McAdam splits times with goalies Matthew Skoff and PJ Musico. With such competition to start, goaltending can be mentally challenging, but McAdam doesn't find it difficult to stay positive with teammates like Skoff and Musico by his side.

"You need to be able to take things in stride more as a goalie than any other position," McAdam said. "It's more of a mental battle than any other position. You need to be able to stay even-keeled and not ride a roller coaster of emotions, otherwise your play is going to reflect it.

"It also helps that Skoff, PJ and I are all so close. Honestly, if one of those guys is starting, it's not like it's a challenge for me to cheer them on. I really enjoy having them as teammates, and when they're succeeding and the team is winning, that's really all I can ask for. It's great when I'm in there, but also it's great to be a part of when they're in."

Looking ahead to this weekend, McAdam is hoping to get back in net against Michigan State. He, as well as all of his teammates, love the atmosphere at Pegula Ice Arena, but they love it even more when the Roar Zone is filled to capacity with Penn State students screaming loudly.

After playing a home series without them, McAdam and the Lions are looking forward to the having the students back where they belong.

"It's nice that we filled the building still and sold those seats last weekend, but it's a completely different atmosphere when you've got the students back there," McAdam explained. "They're loud and they're into it. They're rowdy. They have signs, and they're banging on the glass, kind of getting into the other team's head. It's just a whole other animal. It's really cool, and I'm really excited to have them back."

VIDEO: Patrick Chambers Postgame at Indiana

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BLOOMINGTON, Ind. - Thanks to six players in double-figures, the Nittany Lions rallied from 12 down in the second half and had a chance to tie the game on the final possession, but came up just short in a 76-73 setback at Indiana. Ross Travis led the way with 14 points on a red-hot 7-for-8 shooting. Hear from Coach Chambers following the narrow decision inside Assembly Hall.

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

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VIDEO: Shootaround Preview with Coach Keith Urgo

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. - Welcome to GoPSUsports.com's live, interactive coverage of the 2014-'15 men's basketball season. Tonight, the Nittany Lions are inside Assembly Hall taking on Indiana.

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

VIDEO: Shootaround Preview at Indiana

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BLOOMINGTON, Ind. - GoPSUsports.com previews Tuesday's 7 p.m. tip at Indiana with associate head coach Keith Urgo. Break down the game here.

By Joey Logue, GoPSUsports.com Student-Athlete Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The indoor season has officially begun for the Nittany Lions. This past weekend was the first time I was able to compete in the Penn State uniform. I had been waiting for this moment since I signed my letter of intent a year ago. This first meet was a solid opener for myself, and the rest of the middle distance men. We stacked two 4x800m relays and I know most of us surprised ourselves with how fast we ran individually and as teams. It is unbelievable that we had two teams under 7:30 and it is the first meet of the year. The work we put in all fall is now starting to show.

The atmosphere in the Ashenfelter Indoor Track on a meet day is like none other in the country. Every team member is there in support of one another. As soon as the 4x4 ended, it was awesome to see everyone who lined the track for that race go over to the shot put and watch Darrell do his thing and set the school record.

The Penn State relays were a great first experience for me and I am excited for these upcoming meets. I know Coach Gondak will prepare us to run fast and compete with the best. I am loving the process!

Nittany Lions Return to Action at Indiana

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Following a week off, the Nittany Lion basketball team (12-4, 0-3 Big Ten) travels to Bloomington for a matchup against Indiana (12-4, 2-1 Big Ten) on Tuesday inside Assembly Hall (7 p.m. on BTN).

The contest against the Hoosiers will be Penn State's first since a 73-64 setback to Michigan on Jan. 6. Despite the six-day layoff between games, head coach Patrick Chambers believes the break ended up being exactly what his team needed.


After playing three games over the previous seven days, the Nittany Lions were able to use the time off to focus on practice and restoring good habits. That meant plenty of time in the film room as well as an emphasis on improved shooting.

"We've had some really good practices," Chambers said. "This week, you know, I said after the [Michigan] game probably the worst time for a week off, but it turned out to be the best time, it really did. We went back to October type practices. To build better habits and just to stick more together, a little more film, a little more shooting and get back to our roots and get back to creating the best that we can to be successful in the Big Ten."

At this point in the season, the conference schedule is in full swing for the Nittany Lions. After Tuesday's trip to Indiana, they return home for a matchup against Purdue on Jan. 17 before hitting the road once again for a Jan. 21 game at Michigan State.

Although winning on the road in the Big Ten is always a challenge, this particularly Penn State squad has shown it has the ability to play well in hostile environments, having gone 2-0 in non-conference true road games and shooting 54 percent in an 89-73 setback at No. 4 Wisconsin.

"I believe we have the talent, I believe we run a really good offense, we know we have the defense and rebounding," Chambers said. "But now we have to take it on another level mentally to be able to compete on a nightly basis."

If the Lions can rediscover the shooting stroke that helped them start the season on a 12-1 run before giving the Badgers all they could handle, they will be well positioned against the Hoosiers. For the players, the weeklong hiatus has been vital in helping them rediscover that form.

According to leading scorer D.J. Newbill, the grind of the season was starting to take its toll on the Nittany Lions at the beginning of the conference schedule. Now that they have had the chance to rest up, the senior guard is confident that the shots will start to fall for he and his teammates.

"The week off, it was well needed," Newbill said. "It's good to get a week off to really get some practice time in. Before its kind of hard when you have a game every other day. So got the practice time in and get back to recreating some great habits and I think we had a great week."

In Indiana, Chambers sees an opponent that plays a similar fast-paced style to teams he coached at Villanova as an assistant under Jay Wright. Still, the Nittany Lions have a history of recent success in Assembly Hall, having won three of their last five games there.

"They're playing like an old-school Villanova team, an old-school Marquette team," Chambers said. "They're playing small, they're quick, they shoot a ton of threes. They've really got a good team. So we've got to defend, we've got to rebound and we've got to do the little things and we've got to limit their good looks from the outside and we've got to play really good transition defense."

Indiana enters Tuesday's matchup after topping No. 22 Ohio State on Saturday (69-66). The Hoosiers are 2-1 in conference play with a road win at Nebraska to go along with beating the Buckeyes in Assembly Hall. The Hoosiers are 10-1 at home this season, including an 81-69 victory over Pittsburgh in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.

True freshman James Blackmon Jr. is Indiana's top scoring threat. Blackmon is averaging 16.7 points and 5.6 rebounds per game. Blackmon is also shooting 40 percent from beyond the arc. Point guard Yogi Ferrell is averaging 15.9 points per contest. Sophomore forward Troy Williams is the third Hoosier averaging double-figures (12.7 ppg).

The Lions will be seeking their second-straight win at Indiana following a dramatic 66-65 win over the Hoosiers on Feb. 12, 2014. Tuesday's game marks Penn State's third road game out of the last four to open Big Ten play.



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

Lions Split First Series Back at Pegula

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By Julie Bacanskas, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - With the heartbreak of Friday's 5-4 overtime loss still fresh in its mind, the Penn State men's hockey team hit the ice Saturday hungry and determined to win. With a crowd of 5,898 on its side cheering loudly, the Nittany Lions battled back to dominate Ohio State, 4-1, in the second meeting, splitting the series with the Buckeyes.

Leading the way to a Blue and White victory was goaltender Eamon McAdam, who stopped 35 of 36 Ohio State shots, including a shorthanded breakaway attempt in the final seven minutes of the game. That save in particular allowed the Lions to maintain control.

As the Ohio State (7-10-2, 2-3-0 B1G) player moved in, McAdam poke checked him and waited for the shot. The skater tried to go five hole, but the Penn State (10-7-2, 4-2-0 B1G) goalie easily made the stop.

"I'm feeling a lot more comfortable and getting some wins under my belt really helped out," said McAdam. "We need to get the team to start rolling here. You can really feed off the energy from wins like this. I just want to be as much a part of that as I can."

The appearance marked the sophomore's sixth start of the season. He has split time with goalie Matthew Skoff, who has hit a bit of a rough patch as of late.

In his last two appearances, the most recent of which was Friday, Skoff has been pulled. The junior allowed three goals against the Buckeyes, leading to a goalie change that sparked the team's impressive comeback. Even with his recent struggles, head coach Guy Gadowsky knows what Skoff is capable of accomplishing, and for that reason he is still as confident in the goalie as ever.

"I'm not worried about Matt Skoff," Gadowsky said. "I really am not. He's a mentally tough kid. He's a great athlete, and I haven't looked at the goals to tell you what was his fault and what wasn't. But I'm not worried about him. I know the guys are going to battle their butts off for him because of what he does for them. This isn't a rarity. Every great goaltender goes through a couple games like this. I'm not worried about him one bit."

After Skoff left Friday's game the team battled in the third period to erase a four-goal deficit. Fronting the comeback was junior forward Casey Bailey, who notched three goals, and his first career hat trick, to force overtime.

Bailey, a Hobey Baker award nominee, leads the Lions with 22 points. He is among the nation's leading scorers and is tied for third in goals score with 14. The forward's overall dominance on the ice is something his coach has expected.

"I don't think really anybody's surprised because he's done that in the British Colombia Junior Hockey League," Gadowsky said of Bailey. "He's done it in the USHL, and we've seen it in the last half of last year. I think there's reason that when he increased his strength and conditioning so much this summer and was really committed to it, I think that took him to a bit of another level, and that's what you're seeing."

With Bailey leading the way, Penn State's offense has really taken off. The team scored eight goals in just four periods this weekend. Bailey notched three, David Goodwin and Eric Scheid both scored twice and Curtis Loik tallied a goal as well. This increased offense is something the Lions will try to use to their advantage in the coming weeks, as they continue play at home.

The Blue and White were welcomed back to Hockey Valley by the Penn State faithful this weekend after 70 days away. With six of their next seven games at Pegula Ice Arena, the team is looking forward to feeding off the crowd's energy, much as it did against the Buckeyes.

"Any time you can look up and see filled seats and know that everybody's there to support you and is cheering you on, it's huge," McAdam said. "I think it gets in the opponents' heads as much as it boosts our confidence. If we score a goal like we did late in the first there and it gets loud, it just kind of brings a whole other element to the game like the whole seventh man on the ice in our favor. I think it's really huge."
    

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - A strong start and huge defensive performance fell short as the Lady Lions lost to new Big Ten foe Rutgers, 71-51, Saturday.

Penn State held on throughout the first half with just a deficit of six at the end of the first period. When head coach Coquese Washington was asked what kept Penn State in the game she simply replied, "I think it was our defense."

The Lady Lion defense crashed the glass yesterday outrebounding the Scarlet Knights with a total of 40 boards. The duo of Tori Waldner and Peyton Whitted pulled down 16 for a team-best of eight rebounds each. Candice Agee also logged six rebounds for the Lions.

The 6-5 Waldner added two blocks and three steals to the Lady Lions defensive effort.

"When we were able to have stretches where we took care of the ball and we were actually getting shots and running offense and able to get back set in defense, that's how we were able to stay in the game," said Washington.

On the offensive side of the game, Lindsey Spann led the Blue and White with 18 points for the 12th time this season. Sierra Moore and Agee rounded out the double figure scorers with 12 and 10 points, respectively.

The Lady Lions were 10-for-11 at the free throw line with Spann going a perfect 4-for-4.

"I think that you see the makings of what can be a great team," said Rutgers head coach C. Vivian Stringer. "They have tremendous size. You can see that they conceptually understand what they have to do."

As a young team, Penn State continues to improve on the little things in order to develop a full 40-minute game.

"Right now we are working on putting two halves together, and that's the focus for us," said Agee. "We have to be focused and disciplined in doing that. We are going to keep working on that and hopefully be able to put two halves together."

Next up, the Lady Lions will hit the road to continue conference play at Nebraska. Thursday's 7 p.m. tip against the Cornhuskers will air on the Big Ten Network.