Recently in All-Sports Blog Category

Josh McPhearson: The Ultimate Teammate

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

By Arielle Sargent, GoPSUSports.com 

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State wide receiver Josh McPhearson might not be one to light up the stat sheet Saturday', but what those who don't know him might miss, is that he is the type of teammate who can certainly light up a locker room.

Fresh off of Penn State's first Big Ten Championship since 2008, in the culmination of a resilient season defined by hard work and perseverance, McPhearson could be found all smiles on the field at Lucas Oil Stadium with a colorful bunch of confetti draped around his neck.

"I watched the Big Ten Championship game last year and I watched the confetti come down on the field and I thought man, I want to do that, I hope the confetti comes down this time," McPhearson said. "So we were on the stand, holding up the ball and I heard a pop, pop. I started looking around and the confetti fell to the ground, so I went in and did a few snow angels in it and I put it around my neck." 

Confetti and all, McPhearson was living in the moment, as he recalled. A moment he seemingly couldn't quite imagine growing up and one he'll never forget. 

Growing up in Columbia, Maryland, Josh McPhearson is one of eight children. With six brothers and one sister, life on team McPhearson is anything but ordinary.

"I'm like the middle child," McPhearson said. "I have four older brothers, two younger brothers and one younger sister."

07D0879D-5532-42BB-892A-8604511C89A2.JPG

Along with a half dozen siblings, the McPhearson's are truly a shining example of an extraordinary athletic family. On a normal day, when asked about his family, it takes Josh nearly three full minutes to list off each of his siblings, pausing for just a moment in between to cover their athletic success.

Josh's oldest brother Gerrick Jr. played football at Maryland and was selected by the New York Giants in the seventh round of the 2006 NFL Draft. His second oldest brother Derrick, played football at Illinois and his third oldest brother Emmanuel, played football at New Mexico.

Right above Josh in age is Jeremiah, who played football at Indiana (Pa). Younger brother Matthew, was drafted in the fourth round of the Major League Baseball Draft by the Arizona Diamondbacks out of high school in 2013. Four years younger, is Zechariah, a freshman on the Nittany Lion football team with Josh. Then there's his youngest sister Kimberly, who has also committed to play soccer at Bowling Green.

McPhearson's father, Gerrick Sr. also played football at Boston College before playing in the NFL with the New England Patriots. That's not where McPhearson says all the athletic traits hail from though.

 "It all started with my mom, she's really the athlete of the family," McPhearson said.  "It's more her genes than my dad's."

In a household of nearly 10, there was always some sort of competition to be had, with plenty of epic holiday football games in the back yard.

"I remember Christmas some years, we would get dressed up as different NFL teams and play with my younger brothers in the back yard when it was snowing," McPhearson said. "It was really competitive. We had a basketball hoop outside of the house too, so really just anything sports related. It was really competitive for us and it was really awesome." 

Always the energetic one in the family, McPhearson gives credits his older brothers for helping to bring him out of his shell, pushing and shaping him into the person and teammate that he is today.

"I saw the way they worked, and their work ethic was something that inspired me," McPhearson said. "I learned how to work and push myself through them. A lot of what I do now is because they are a motivation in my life."

The path to Penn State was anything but easy for McPhearson, who had grown up familiar with head coach James Franklin, dating back to the younger Gerrick's days as a football student-athlete at Maryland.

"There were practices at Maryland in the spring and during camp, and my family would actually go to the practices and go on the field," McPhearson said. "I was probably six or seven and I would run around the field, and I used to see coach Franklin doing his laps. He used to do laps around the field." 

It would be several years before the McPhearson family would once again reunite with some familiar faces from the Maryland staff though. 

McPhearson's journey began at Fork Union Military Academy, a prep school in Union, Virginia, where he played alongside the likes of future teammates Christian Hackenberg and Trevor Williams. Taking a different path, he attended two junior colleges, playing football for one season at Globe Institute of Technology in New York, New York before spending another season at Nassau Community College in Garden City, New York on Long Island.

"From Globe I knew that coach Franklin was at Penn State, so I sent him my highlights and things and it actually worked out in my favor," McPhearson said. 

Upon meeting with coach Franklin during his visit to Happy Valley, it was a feeling of relief that encompassed McPhearson, knowing he hadn't seen the Nittany Lion head coach in a while and that his dream to play at Penn State might soon become a reality.

For McPhearson, it was the pride and tradition of the Penn State program that fueled his daily dream to continue working toward his goal to one day put on the Blue and White. 

"When I look at Penn State I just see a lot of tradition and I see a lot of history and I saw that this program was building and I wanted to be a part of something that was building," McPhearson said.

His hard work paid off, as McPhearson joined the team in the spring of 2015.

From the time he arrived to the time the confetti fell in Indianapolis, it's been widely expressed and noted among teammates and coaches, that team chemistry is at an all-time high.

Following an early season loss to Pittsburgh, it was tight end Mike Gesicki who first spoke to the heart of the team, even in defeat.

"We have more heart in my three years, more than we've ever had," Gesicki said. "We're not going to give up, we're not going to quit."

Months later, with a Big Ten championship secured and Rose Bowl Game a mere few weeks away, McPhearson also noted that the chemistry on the team is right where it needs to be.

"The chemistry on the team has really grown a lot," McPhearson said. "From when I got here in 2015 to this season and last season, the chemistry is two different things. It's clicking now and I knew it was going to come at some point. The guys are really bonding with each other and every guy is playing their role the right way."

Part of being on a team means that everyone has a role and for McPhearson, he has found that role, one that he says, all comes down to lifting his teammates up - creating chemistry, when it's needed the most.





"A lot of times you can't control your situation, but you can control how you look at it and what you do to pick others up"
Josh McPhearson


Of the four core values that Franklin instills in his Nittany Lions, having a positive attitude is the one McPhearson says he holds closest and embraces the most.

"A lot of times you can't control your situation, but you can control how you look at it and what you do to pick others up," McPhearson said. "I think my role to bring the team's chemistry up is to pick others up."

Just one of those Nittany Lions he has picked up along the way, comes among McPhearson's close knit group at the wide receiver unit in sophomore Irvin Charles. 

"He had a pretty big year this year," McPhearson said. "He had a play that really transitioned our season against Minnesota. He's one of those guys who I really try to spend a lot of time with to try to push him to be the best because he has so much potential."

Outside of Charles, it's not easy for McPhearson to list off his best friends, because as he'll tell you with a smile, he's friends with the whole team.  

One best friend he will list though, is his brother Zech, a true freshman cornerback for the Nittany Lions this year. 

"When Zech was going through the recruiting process I just told him to do what you want to do," McPhearson said. "I didn't really want to put any pressure on him to come here but I was also kind of nudging him to come here because I've never really played with him before."

Four years older than his younger brother, Josh never got a chance to play football with Zech prior to Penn State. 

9148846.jpeg

"Growing up, we used to play basketball and my dad was the coach and my brothers were on the team and he was always the water boy," McPhearson recalled. "Having an opportunity to play with him is really nice. He is a really funny kid and has a lot of potential."

Whether its Charles or Zech, McPhearson can always be found lifting up his entire team in the locker room though, a place where motivation not only lives, but thrives.

"Going into the second half, guys talk in the locker room and I always try to go around and pick guys head's up and let them know that we have things to do and it's really good for guys to take that in and know that your words really mean something to them, it means a lot," McPhearson said.

For McPhearson, his ability to pick others up around him all goes back to where it first began, with his parents, Kim and Gerrick.

"When I was going through this process to get to Penn State, it was really long and gritty and it was such a grind," McPhearson said. "My mom and dad were really there for me for all the things that I went through, and they really encouraged me to keep going and keep pushing."

Inspired by his family, McPhearson's weaved hard work in with his energetic personality, while remaining focused on seeing every situation in the most positive light possible.

All part of what makes him such a great teammate.

"You never really know what somebody is going through in their life," McPhearson said. "Playing football is one aspect of it, but another aspect of it is to really pick someone up and encourage them when you're playing the game."

McPhearson and the rest of the Nittany Lions will hit the road come next Monday, heading to Pasadena, California for the 103rd Rose Bowl Game. 

"In 1,000 years I could never imagine that I would be at Penn State playing in the Rose Bowl and winning a Big Ten Championship," McPhearson said. 

A chance for another opportunity forged by the hard work of McPhearson and his teammates.

"This team worked so hard and I worked so hard myself," McPhearson said. "The feeling of being in the Rose Bowl and winning a championship, I can't even put it into words. There are a lot of guys on the team really embracing their roles and I'm just happy to be one of them."

Rose Bowl Rewind: Penn State vs. USC - 1923

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

33264_05840.JPG

By Arielle Sargent, GoPSUSports.com

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - With Penn State's fourth Rose Bowl Game appearance just two weeks away, it's fitting to take a look back at the three previous times in program history the Nittany Lions have traveled to Pasadena, California for the "Granddaddy of Them All." 

Across the next several days, travel back more than 90 years to Penn State's first ever bowl game, revisit the undefeated 1994 season and another Big Ten Championship year in 2008, all leading up to the Nittany Lions' fourth Rose Bowl appearance to come on January 2, 2017. 

To get started, we'll start from the beginning.

The first of 46 completed bowl games in Penn State program history dates all the way back to 1923, where the Nittany Lions made their Rose Bowl debut against USC on New Year's Day in what would also be the first ever game at the current Rose Bowl Stadium in the Arroyo Seco area of Pasadena.   

The 1922 Penn State football season featured more than just a few firsts, including the debut of the Nittany Lion. Making its first appearance, the Penn State mascot donned an African Lion uniform re-purposed from a Penn State player's production of George Bernard Shaw's "Androcles and The Lion" in the first meeting in program history against Syracuse at New York City's Polo Grounds on October 28, 1922.

Under the direction of fifth-year head coach Hugo Bezdek, the Nittany Lions posted a 5-0 record before the outing against the Orange, entering the matchup averaging 33 points per game before playing to a 0-0 tie against Syracuse. 

Next up, Penn State was slated to play Navy in a highly-anticipated outing in Washington, D.C. Having not surrendered a loss in 30 consecutive games, Penn State traveled to American League Park to square off against Navy on November 2, 1922. Entering the matchup with a depleted roster due to injuries, the Nittany Lions played in front of a crowd of 35,000 featuring congressmen and dignitaries as well Pittsburgh head coach Pop Warner and Penn's John Heisman.

Navy jumped out to a 7-0 lead by halftime before a fake punt and fumble recovery sent the Midshipmen ahead 14-0, with the Nittany Lions ultimately falling short to give Penn State its first loss in 30 games.

Penn State responded with a 10-0 win against Carnegie Tech the following week, but lost back-to-back games at Penn and at Pittsburgh in the yearly Thanksgiving week game to close the regular season.

At 6-3-1, Penn State was set to match up against a University of Southern California squad that had won all but one game on the year, including each of its last four straight for a 9-1-0 record. USC also was making its first overall bowl and Rose Bowl Game appearance against Penn State after Pacific Coast Conference champion California declined the invitation to play in Pasadena. The Trojans' only loss in 1922 had come to the Golden Bears. 

1923 Rose Bowl program.jpg

Although the trip to the Rose Bowl Game was the first bowl in program history for the Nittany Lions, Bezdek had previously guided Oregon to a victory over Penn in the 1917 Rose Bowl as the Ducks' head coach.

Penn State boarded a train on December 19, making stops in Chicago and the Grand Canyon before arriving in Pasadena on Christmas Eve.

On the day of the game, the Nittany Lions made an appearance at the Tournament of Roses Parade before boarding taxis to head to the game, without a police escort. Los Angeles post-parade traffic created a crisis for the team as the cabs carrying the 29-person travel party navigated through the lawns of local residents before arriving to find that kickoff had been pushed back 10 minutes.

After a bit of contentious discussion between Bezdek and USC head coach Elmer "Gloomy Gus" Henderson, the game was delayed an hour and the game would end under just the light of the moon in the night sky.

Penn State struck first, when quarterback and kicker Myron "Mike" Palm nailed a 20-yard field goal to give the Nittany Lions a 3-0 lead at the end of the first quarter. USC answered with a pair of one-yard touchdown runs in the second and third quarter, respectively to pull ahead 14-3. Neither team would score again as Penn State's defense held off the Trojans in the final frame, but the Nittany Lions couldn't get on the scoreboard again, held to just five first downs in front of the crowd of 43,000.

As the final whistle blew late into the evening, sportswriters had to strike matches to provide enough light to finish filing their stories. Penn State finished the 1922 season at 6-4-1, while also donating its $21,349.64 in Rose Bowl Game profit to the $2 million Emergency Building Fund, directed to the construction of Irvin Hall, which was formerly Varsity Hall. 

Since their first meeting in the 1923 Rose Bowl, Penn State and USC have met in two more post-season contests, with the Nittany Lions winning in the 1982 Fiesta Bowl and the Trojans winning in the 2009 Rose Bowl. 

Penn State and USC have emerged as two of the nation's most successful programs in bowl success, with the Trojans ranking No. 1 (66.0, 33-17) and the Nittany Lions No. 3 (63.0, 28-16-2) in bowl winning percentage among teams with at least 20 post-season appearances.

Information from The Penn State Football Encyclopedia was used in this story.

The Nuts and Bolts of Penn State Hockey

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

9589882.jpeg

By Maria Canales, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State's Adam Sheehan does it all. As the head equipment manager, Sheehan is in charge of numerous daily tasks that keep the Nittany Lions on top of their game.

While the 2016-17 season is Sheehan's fifth with the Nittany Lions, he spent 13 years working for various teams in the National Hockey League, including the Detroit Red Wings, Phoenix Coyotes and Carolina Hurricanes prior to Penn State.

"I had been working in the NHL for 13 or 14 years and working in Detroit I worked a lot with college teams coming into town for tournaments," Sheehan said. "I saw how those programs ran and I knew it was something I wanted to shoot for, to work for a high-profile school and spend the rest of my career there."

Sheehan spent the 2004-05 season as the head equipment manager for the Sacred Heart University men's and women's hockey programs, so he was already familiar with managing collegiate teams before joining the Nittany Lions. When he heard of Penn State's planned expansion to the Division I level about two years prior to the change, Sheehan knew it was an opportunity he wanted.

"It's the kind of job where you can't wait for an opportunity," Sheehan said. "In sports if you're waiting for someone to call you, no one is going to come looking, you have to be on top of it yourself." 

After proactively reaching out to Penn State and the hockey program, Sheehan landed the job in the summer of 2012. 

Daily Duties
At Penn State, Sheehan oversees four student managers who help him run the daily routine of both the men's and women's hockey teams. Sheehan said that for every road series the men's team plays, one student manager travels as well to help out. The student managers pick their own schedules of practice days, laundry and games, but Sheehan makes sure that each manager gets the opportunity to see the Big Ten arenas during their time.

"We try to get managers who are freshmen or sophomores because we would like to have them working as long as we can," Sheehan said. "We've been tending to kind of pick 'rink rats,' people who love the sport and love being around the rink."

On a typical gameday, Sheehan arrives at Pegula Ice Arena around 8 a.m. and starts pregame preparations, which include setting up the locker room and sharpening skates. From there it's all about solving particular equipment issues, if there are any, and making sure everything is ready for puck drop.

More specifically, Sheehan makes sure all players have equipment that is up to game standards.  For example, the player's gloves. Often times when gloves get worn out, it used to be common for them to get re-palmed, where the worn out palm is ripped from the glove and new palm material is sewn in. But Sheehan explained that the once common practice has changed. 

"We have had a couple guys in the past who really didn't like using new gloves," Sheehan said. "So if they get holes in them I have a way I can sew and patch them, but a complete re-palming just doesn't happen anymore." 

Sheehan said the average player rotates a few pairs of gloves at a time to slow the process of fully wearing a set out. 

Sheehan also helps new team members figure out the proper hollow for their skates. A hollow of a skate determines the "sharpness" of the skate blade and is created by cutting a concave semi-circle into the metal that comes in contact with the ice.

"When players come in, some of them don't even know their hollow," Sheehan said. "Some of them have never had their skates profiled in their life, so you have to guide them in the right direction." 

Sheehan said that one of the biggest differences between working in the NHL and working for a college team is that players in the NHL usually already know what equipment works for them, but for college players they're usually more open to exploring possible adjustments.

"Denis Smirnov and Erik Autio a few years ago, the systems they're used to are different than here," Sheehan said.

He said that both players came in with one idea of their skate hollow in mind, but were open to modifications.   

"If I change someone's profile I'll tell them to give me three honest skates," Sheehan said. "By the third day they're usually fine with changes." 

Building Trust
Sheehan emphasized the importance of earning a student-athlete's trust. He said that since the equipment manager is in charge of so many things that affect the player, trust is of the utmost importance for him to do his job and for the players to be successful.

In addition to trust, another element that impacts how Sheehan does his job is adjusting to the superstitious beliefs that some hockey players are known for.

"Every once in a while you'll get a guy who will ask me to cut down a new stick for them," Sheehan said. "Next thing you know he scores a goal that night and then you're cutting down his sticks for the next couple years." 

Sheehan said that this has happened to him before at both the NHL and collegiate levels, and most recently, at Penn State with sophomore forward Andrew Sturtz. 

"He usually switches sticks halfway through the game and he'll have me pick one of the two that are on the bench as his spares," Sheehan said. "A lot of times he's gone out and scored relatively quickly after I've switched his sticks."

Designing the Third Jersey
Sheehan was also involved in the creation of Penn State's third jersey, the distinctly gray sweaters worn only three or four times throughout the season. Sheehan thought up the idea for a Penn State gray jersey and presented the proposal to head coach Guy Gadowsky.

From there, Sheehan and Gadowsky worked together, along with Nike and the Penn State Athletics office, to ensure that the design met all University requirements and fit with the ethos of Penn State hockey. 

The design is simple, but uniquely Penn State. The gray sweater features a navy blue horizontal stripe across the middle, which continues over the arm sleeves. Another blue horizontal line is on the front, but lower on the stomach, and circles the whole jersey. Both blue lines are outlined in white. A circular Penn State logo is the staple of the center of the jersey. On the back, the player's names are written in white, mounted on a patch of dark blue. The numbers are blue, outlined in white.

"Coach Gadowsky and I both really liked some of the Original Six jerseys," Sheehan said. "That stripe across the middle is like Montreal's jerseys. The circle logo I've seen a lot in the NHL and a handful in college and I liked the way that looked. We're very traditional here and didn't want to do anything crazy with it." 

Initially, Sheehan and Gadowsky hid the design from the team. The first time the team saw the sweaters was when they walked into the locker room before their January 17, 2015 matchup against Michigan State. That night, the Nittany Lions defeated the Spartans, 5-2. 

Sheehan said that prior to every season, he and Gadowsky decide which games the team will wear the gray sweaters. He also said that for the last two years on senior day, the seniors have opted to wear the gray jerseys, since the graduating class is given the choice between wearing the home whites or the third jerseys.

Sheehan is anticipating this year's senior class will also pick to wear the gray design.

"[The gray jerseys] are something I'm extremely proud of," Sheehan said. "I've never had that opportunity to design a jersey in the past or anything like that, so I was pretty excited the first time I saw them on the ice."

Jim Haley Opens Professional Career With a Bang

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

9387279.jpeg

By Jack Dougherty, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

 

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - In the process of making his college decision, Penn State alumnus Jim Haley was torn between two paths.

 

Haley was a star quarterback and free safety for Bonner and Prendergast Catholic High School in Drexel Hill, Pennsylvania. He fielded offers to play for Temple, Delaware, Villanova and others.

 

When he wasn't slinging passes and hammering unsuspecting receivers, Haley was on the diamond. Haley batted .459 with two homeruns and 26 RBIs in his senior season. He visited Maryland, Virginia, Elon, Richmond and Penn State for baseball.

 

Most high school athletes begin to focus on one sport as college recruiting gets closer. It's extremely rare to see athletes compete in more than one sport past high school, especially in two sports as time-consuming as football and baseball.

 

But Haley was an anomaly.

 

Haley was named MVP of the Philadelphia Catholic League in both sports in two separate years. He was also named the Philadelphia Inquirer Player of the Year in 2013 for baseball.

 

He had his choice: baseball, football, or both. Villanova offered Haley a spot on both the football and baseball team, which would be an accomplishment very few could mark on their resume.

 

After a grueling decision making process, Haley decided to follow his lifelong dream of becoming a professional baseball player by signing with Penn State.

 

Four years later, that dream has finally come to fruition.

 

"I went to college knowing that I wanted to get out of there in three years and get drafted," Haley said.

 

Haley accomplished just that. Following his junior season, the Tampa Bay Rays called Haley's name in the 19th round of the 2016 MLB draft. He was the first Nittany Lion since 2012 to be drafted.

 

"That phone call, all of that work that I put in from college back to high school and everything, all of those emotions just flooded me in that minute and a half," Haley said. "It was kind of surreal."

 

Haley was surrounded by his family and his girlfriend when he received the call of a lifetime. He said it will always be considered one of the best moments of his life.

 

Luckily for Haley, Tampa Bay sent him to their A-league affiliate in New York, the Hudson Valley Renegades. It wasn't too far of a trip from his home in Upper Darby, and his family was able to see a few games in his rookie season.

 

Haley even returned to his own stomping grounds at Medlar Field on a few occasions to play the State College Spikes. He recorded his first professional hit there on a triple to the wall in centerfield just like he was in Blue and White again.

 

"It was just one of those things you can't write up any better," Haley said. "Going back to your home field to get used to pro ball definitely made it a lot easier and made the transition a lot more comfortable."

 

That transition seemed effortless for Haley, who stayed on the Renegades all year without getting dropped down to rookie ball.

 

Haley batted .285 in his rookie year, which was the third highest mark on the team. He smacked 70 hits in 65 games, tallied 19 RBIs, and scored 27 runs.

 

Usually it takes players some time to get used to professional pitching, but Haley jumped right in with seemingly no issues. He was even named a starter for the NYPL league all-star game.

 

"Jimmy's a competitor," said Penn State head coach Rob Cooper, Haley's former skipper. "Moving into pro ball, that kind of challenge isn't something that scares him. He enjoys that. His swing can play with wood or aluminum, and he's got an advanced approach at the plate which allows him to have success."

 

Cooper said it didn't surprise him at all how much Haley was able to accomplish in year one.

 

Haley, on the other hand, was a bit more shocked.

 

Right after arriving in New York, Haley was asked by a reporter what it would mean to make the all-star team if he was able to do so. Haley laughed it off and said there's no way he'll make it, but it would be pretty awesome.

 

Self-confidence aside, Haley produced a promising rookie season. So promising, in fact, that the Rays sent him to Florida after the season for instructional league training.

12322270.jpeg

By: Jeff Sattora, GoPSUsports.com
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- Star guard Teniya Page dropped in 30 points, and four different Nittany Lions combined for 29 off the bench Sunday afternoon, helping Penn State secure a 70-65 win over American University in the Bryce Jordan Center.

Penn State got off to a slow start in the first quarter, as the home team fell behind 13-6 after the first 10 minutes of play.  Despite the early hole, Jaida Travascio-Green came off the bench for the Lady Lions and dropped in two straight buckets to cut the deficit to one possession, 13-10 to start the second. 

Jumpstarted by four of Travascio-Green's nine points on the day, the Lady Lions made a run in the second quarter, outscoring American 18-7 to take a 24-20 lead into halftime. 

While the true freshman Travascio-Green played well, it was redshirt freshman De'Janae Boykin who stole the show off the bench for the Lady Lions. 

Boykin, who was playing her first game in the Blue and White after transferring last fall from UConn, made an immediate impact for Penn State, filling the stat sheet with 10 points and 6 rebounds.  

"She's an explosive athlete," head coach Coquese Washington said on Boykin.  "She gives us somebody who can play inside and outside. Someone who certainly helps us with our transition game and gets us going. She's a finisher. She finds a way to finish plays and finds a way to finish shots around the basket which is something that is definitely a benefit for us."

For Boykin, it was a positive start to her Penn State career.

"Honestly it feels amazing because I haven't played in like two years," she said.  "It was a good start for me."

A back-and-forth beginning to the third quarter then saw another run by the Lady Lions, as seven points by Page helped spark an 11-0 run and a 42-31 Penn State lead.  For Washington, it was Page's aggressiveness that was the key to her success all afternoon, including in that seven-point stretch.  

"She's just aggressive. When she's aggressive, she's really a tough matchup," she said on her star guard.  "I thought the first quarter she was not as aggressive as she needed to be. As the game went on she turned it up." 

Although Teniya's 30 points highlighted the box score, it was a balanced bench, that included Boykin and Travascio-Green, that may have been the difference Sunday afternoon. 

 "I thought we had a lot of energy coming from Sierra MooreDe'Janae Boykin, Jaida Travascio-Green and Peyton Whitted. When those four come out on the floor, it ratchets up whatever we're doing," Washington said.  "Especially during a game like today when our starters were a little flat to start the game. Bringing those guys in gave us a boost of energy and got us going." 

"It makes me a little bit more comfortable when I'm tired. I know that when people sub in there isn't a drop off from the starters to the people who sub in, so for me it just helps me out a lot confidence wise and I have a lot of confidence in our team already," Page added on how a strong bench can help her performance in the starting unit.  

That team effort proved critical down the stretch, as despite a 42-31 lead with 2:12 to go in the third, American responded.  A 46-38 Penn State lead heading into the fourth turned into an exciting final session, as American took a 57-54 lead in the quarter and fought the Nittany Lions down to the wire. 

Washington was happy with the way her team responded to American's late push. 

"I thought we played with a lot of poise in the fourth quarter. We didn't buckle under the pressure. I think they came back and took a four-point lead. We just came down and got a couple of big stops. We came down on the offensive end and got some good shots and Teniya [Page] got to the free throw line," she said. 

The Lady Lions will look to keep that poise Tuesday night, as they host Iona in the Bryce Jordan Center before heading on a holiday break. 

Penn State Focused on Details

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - As Penn State men's basketball preps for its final two nonconference games of the 2016-17 season, Nittany Lion head coach Patrick Chambers met with members of the media in a midweek check in to preview the final few outings before conference play.

As exam week is winding down, Penn State men's basketball had a bit of an earlier exam schedule as Chambers noted that he suspected it might be a cause for the slow start in last weekend's near comeback against Pitt at the Prudential Center.

"I don't want to defend - I don't want to give these guys excuses but its exam week, it's the first time these young guys are going through it and we have our academic advisor with us, they're taking tests, they're doing papers the night before you play a team at 2:30 p.m.," Chambers said. "You know, I think they were overwhelmed a little bit and once they cleared their head and we got after it at halftime, they came out and played really good basketball."

With exams out of the way, Chambers noted that the focus in practice would return to habit forming, getting back to a foundation of team toughness, keying in on defense and rebounding.

"We could be really good, now, if we can put two halves together," Chambers said. 

The Nittany Lions have struggled at times to sustain momentum in a cohesive showing, most recently entering the locker room down 42-22 to the Panthers at the half before battling within five with less than two minutes to play.

For Chambers, the ability to compete for the entirety of both halves is exactly what he's looking for from his Nittany Lions through the last two nonconference games, but he'll need to see progress in defending and rebounding too.  

"If you play hard, it will clean up some of your weaknesses and then if you defend and rebound, that means you can get out and score some easy baskets," Chambers said. "Sometimes it can become a grind-out game and I never wanted this team to be grinding out anything, I want to get up and down the court and move the ball as quickly up the floor as possible but you can't do that if you don't defend and rebound and play hard." 

At 6-5 on the year heading in to Saturday's Holiday Festival against St. John's at Madison Square Garden, Chambers noted that he hasn't seen a bit of bad morale despite some early growing pains. 

"Morale is good," Chambers said." If the morale wasn't good, you don't come back and compete and cut it to nearly four with two minutes to go with the chance to get a good stop with the shot clock going down. Morale is good but we can't keep doing that to ourselves. It's been a common theme with this group and again, they're young, they don't realize that they have to play hard for every possession that they are on the court."

Penn State and St. John's will tipoff at 11 a.m. Sunday in the opening game of the Holiday Festival, with Rutgers and Fordham meeting in the later game. The Nittany Lion matchup with broadcast live on FS1.   

Chambers on Strength of Schedule
Penn State has certainly experienced the grind of a challenging nonconference slate, which opened fast and furious with no shortage of tough opponents both at home and on the road. That's exactly what Chambers had in mind when piecing together the schedule that will ultimately prepare his young Nittany Lions for a different kind of grind come December 27, when the Nittany Lions open the Big Ten conference slate against Northwestern at home in the Bryce Jordan Center.

"For us, our strength of schedule right now is 43," Chambers said. "I think we were 9-1 or 10-1 a couple of years ago and our strength of schedule was like 180 or something. So this is legit, this is real deal stuff. I learned my lesson a couple of years ago that if we're going for wins we're not going to be prepared for the Big Ten."

A Quick Look at St. John's
The Red Storm enters the matchup at 5-6 on the year, having most recently dropped a close 74-73 decision against LIU Brooklyn to put an end to a three-game winning streak. Making their 50th appearance in the Holiday Festival at Madison Square Garden, St. John's  has posted wins in each of its last six games in the event.

Chambers was quick to point out that he was keenly aware every member of the team on the floor is capable of connecting on a 3-pointer. St. John's is averaging nearly 10.5 triples per game, led by Shamorie Ponds, who has 35 on the year shooting nearly 45 percent from behind the arc. Averaging 17.4 points per game, Ponds is the seventh-highest scoring freshman nationally.

St. John's Kassoum Yakwe and Tariq Owens are among the nation's best shot blockers, pacing the Red Storm to a total of 82 blocks on the year which ranks second nationally and fourth with 7.5 blocks per game. Yakwe leads the team with 33 blocks on the year while Owens is second with 30.

In a matchup that features two of the youngest teams in the nation, Penn State and St. John's will meet for just the third time in program history and the first since the 2013 Barclays Center Classic in Brooklyn.

Recapping Penn State Rose Bowl Media Day

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

James Franklin Press Conference Video Photo Gallery
Transcripts: James Franklin Players (Offense - Defense)

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Just a few short weeks from hitting the road to head to Pasadena, California for "The Granddaddy of the Them All," Penn State football is set to resume its Rose Bowl preparations.

After devoting most of the week to final exams, the Nittany Lions will get back on the practice field Friday afternoon looking toward Penn State's 47th bowl game appearance in program history. The Big Ten champion Nittany Lions will meet USC in the 103rd Rose Bowl Game presented by Northwestern Mutual January 2, 2017.

Penn State head coach James Franklin and several Nittany Lions took time to meet with members of the media at Beaver Stadium to preview the upcoming matchup and the trip to Pasadena. 

Penn State in the Rose Bowl
The Nittany Lions are set to make their fourth appearance in the Rose Bowl Game and first since 2009. Penn State's history in the event dates all the way back to the first bowl game in program history when the Nittany Lions and the Trojans met in the 1923 Rose Bowl. Penn State and USC will also meet in the historic event for the third time in program history.

Nittany Lions Set to Graduate
As Franklin highlights as one of the most central pieces of his job as head coach at Penn State, a total of 10 of his Nittany Lions will see their dedication to academics culminate in a special day. All 10 are set for commencement ceremonies this weekend, with the following Nittany Lions approved to graduate: Brandon Bell, Derek Dowrey, Gregg Garrity, Malik Golden, Chris Gulla, DaeSean Hamilton, Danny Pasquariello, Brandon Smith, Jordan Smith and Von Walker.

Bowl Practice Slate
Penn State kicked off its bowl game practice slate with two days of practice December 9-10th. After taking some time off to shift the focus toward final exams, the Nittany Lions will resume practices from December 16-17th before breaking for the holiday. The rest of remaining practices will take place at the StubHub Center, located in Carson, California just outside of Los Angeles.
 

"We have one approach where our first couple practices are program development practices," Franklin said. "They're not really specific towards USC. We will get some USC work in with film and things like that, but it's going to be more program development, getting the young guys some work, good-on-good type of stuff. And then we'll start to shift to USC where we'll do a basically bonus Tuesday practice, a bonus Wednesday practice, and then go out there and do our full, full week of preparation."

A Sense of Urgency
Franklin noted that one area of emphasis during bowl practices will be getting out to a quicker start, noting that the matchup between the two offenses between the Nittany Lions and the Trojans means Penn State will need to approach each possession as if it's crucial, while also working toward increasing conversions on third down too.

"Our offense allows us to score points, but their offense is the type offense that can score points at any moment," Franklin said. "We're going to have to play great for four quarters. Each possession is like gold, each series is like gold, each rep is like gold, and we've got to approach it that way in practice and in the games."

Looking Toward the Trojans
Like the Nittany Lions, Franklin noted that among talent, the Trojans will enter the matchup playing with a tremendous amount of confidence.

Highlighting a few key players the staff has identified in early game planning, Franklin pointed out that USC has strength in all three phases of the game, with a specific turning point guiding the Trojans to a white hot ending to the regular season. 

"The thing that's changed them the most is the change at the quarterback position with Sam Darnold, 6-4, 225-pound kid who's completing 70 percent of his passes, 26 touchdowns, eight interceptions," Franklin said. 

Since Darnold took over for the Trojans, he led USC to wins in each of the last eight consecutive games of the season. 

"They are very talented, but like I mentioned before, I think the biggest difference for them was the change at the quarterback position," Franklin said. "It's kind of changed their whole season. They've been playing with a lot of confidence since then."

Taking Time Off
Franklin was quick to note that the span of nearly a month in between the Big Ten Championship and the Rose Bowl Game is certainly no reason to be concerned in terms of keeping the momentum rolling.

It's a purely positive scenario for Franklin, who noted that injuries throughout the season just means that the time off will provide some much needed time to reenergize and recharge both minds and bodies. 

"I think our guys are looking forward to it," Franklin said. I look at it as a positive. Again, it's time off as being able to focus just on football. We've got a really good plan where we're not going to be out at practice too long. We want to keep them fresh, start to kind of introduce USC slowly, and then go full bore ahead."

Video Interviews
Catch up with a few Nittany Lions in some one-on-one interviews from Rose Bowl Media Day.

Chris Godwin

Jason Cabinda

Saquon Barkley

Evan Schwan

Mike Gesicki

Nolf Continuing Consistency in 2016-17

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

By Brandon Pelter, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State's Jason Nolf has already seen success with the Nittany Lions after finishing 33-2 with 15 pins as runner-up for the NCAA title at 157 pounds just one year ago. This season, Nolf is off to another great start.

Ranked No. 1 at 157 pounds, Nolf is undefeated thus far with a 9-0 record including six pins and three tech falls. Combined with teammates Bo Nickal and Zain Retherford, the trio has tallied 21 pins on the year.

"I think it's just believing in your training and doing what we do every day, the same way we do it every day," Nolf said. "Just coming into practice and working hard that shows on the mat whenever you go out there and just pretty much believing in yourself and not leaving anything back."

Nolf will join 14 teammates this weekend at the Reno Tournament of Champions this Sunday in Reno, Nevada for a one-day tournament instead of going to the two-day Southern Scuffle which the team has been a part of in years past.

"I don't really change anything," Nolf said about his approach for the one-day tournament. "Our coaches just lead us and I believe in what our coaches stand for and what they're telling us to do. We already had the Keystone Classic tournament and that was one day so we're ready for whatever. We're ready to go today."

Head coach Cael Sanderson is looking forward to seeing some top competition at upcoming tournament in Reno.

"There are a lot of good teams, a lot of good individuals," Sanderson said. "We're just looking to compete like always and I want to keep moving forward, getting better, and looking at the little things we can improve on. It's the same old story. Wrestle with some fire and some enthusiasm and go into this break feeling good about ourselves, that's the plan." 

While some might find it a difficult pressure situation to compete multiple times a day, Nolf enjoys the grind of a one-day tournament.

"I don't really think of it as pressure though, I like it, I like the grind," Nolf said. "I think throughout the day I just keep getting better and better."

After the tournament, Nolf will head home for eight days to spend some time with family for the holidays but that doesn't mean time off. Nolf plans to practice with his old team and make sure he stays in shape.

"It's not necessarily taking time off," Nolf said. It's just away from Penn State wrestling. I'll go back to maybe Young Guns practice back in Franklin Regional and maybe a couple of other practices, but I'll get some time to rest and see my family so it should be good." 

Sanderson also noted that time away from Happy Valley simply means that the team will continue to work out during their time home.

"They're pretty disciplined, they know what they need to do," Sanderson said. "Some of them will work out more than others, but we aren't going to call them up every day and be on them. It's good for them to get a little break, they'll get some work in, and it's good for them to go home. A lot of them go home and workout with their high school buddies or their high school buddies that are now wrestling at other colleges or go back to their high school practices. So it's a good break for them but they'll still workout and train."

Following the Reno Tournament of Champions and the holiday break the Nittany Lions hit the road with Big Ten conference wrestling beginning. Penn State first travels to Minnesota to face the Golden Gophers Friday, Jan. 6, then to Nebraska on Sunday, Jan. 8. Following the trip the Nittany Lions returns home to Rec Hall on Friday, Jan. 13 to face Rutgers at 7 p.m.

Catch up with Sanderson ahead of the trip to Reno and check in for updates on some new facility features at the Lorenzo Wrestling complex.

Rose Bowl Game Trophy Tours Penn State

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Representatives from the Tournament of Roses made their way to Happy Valley Monday, bringing along the Leishman Trophy for the upcoming Rose Bowl Game presented by Northwestern Mutual.

Escorted by representatives, the trophy toured its way through campus and the State College community making several stops at a few popular locations along the way.

Monday's Leishman Trophy Tour kicked off bright and early with a stop at a Forever Broadcasting to make some rounds on the radio circuit. 

The first official public stop included a trip to Blaise Alexander Hyundai Mazda, where the trophy was greeted by fans for pictures. Next up was a midmorning stop at Penn State's All-Sports Museum before the trophy spent most of the afternoon at the Penn State Bookstore in the HUB-Robeson Center.

Students were gathered throughout the afternoon, snapping photos and posing with the trophy. 

In between appearances, the Leishman Trophy made a quick stop at the Bryce Jordan Center, where Intercollegiate Athletics employees all had an opportunity to grab a few photos before the end of the day.
 

The final stop on the tour included a trip to Lettermans for an evening of free food and Rose Bowl Game giveaways. During the last stop of the day, the Tournament of Roses representatives gave away four sets of Rose Bowl Game tickets and Rose Bowl gear to a few lucky fans. 

Penn State student Kimberlyn Turner was the first lucky winner at the Lettermans ticket giveaway. 

"This is amazing," Turner said just moments after stepping forward to collect the pair of Rose Bowl Game tickets. "My mom and I kept putting all of our names in all of the Family Clothesline drawings and all those things so she's going to freak out when she sees these. My parents both went to Penn State and that's kind of where my love of Penn State has grown from." 

Penn State captured its first Big Ten Championship since 2008 and fourth overall with a thrilling 38-31 win against Wisconsin to close out the regular season at 11-2 and 8-1 in conference play. The Nittany Lions and USC will meet in the Rose Bowl Game presented by Northwestern Mutual Monday, January 2 at 5 p.m. ET in Pasadena, California. 

12314381.jpeg

By Tom Shively, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa - The intrasquad meets are over, and it's finally time for the Nittany Lions to gear up for competition. Penn State's men's gymnastics squad was ranked sixth in the initial College Gymnastics Association poll, and they are looking for their NCAA-leading 13th national championship this upcoming year.

Head coach Randy Jepson, now in his 26th season, is going to have to rely heavily on his seniors this season, as they look to build off solid 2016 performances and need to help the young guys develop. Leroy Clarke and Dominic DiFulvio in particular have been main cogs in this program since they arrived on campus three years ago.

"They've both grown into being great ambassadors for us, and great men," Jepson said on his two leaders. "They're really solid competitors, Leroy especially. He's grown, coming out of nowhere being un-recruited and he's done a great job. Both of them have team captain experience and are great leaders for us. [Dominic] is really going to do a great job this year for us.  I'm excited that he laid the foundation for a great senior season."

Clarke was an eighth-place finisher on the still rings at the 2016 national championships, while DiFulvio nabbed four first-place finishes throughout 2015-16. 

Despite the successes from last year, Jepson stressed that there are still areas in which this team can improve. 

"We were very inconsistent on the pommel horse last year. It was a problem all year long until the end, and we were one of the better teams at the end because we made smart decisions about how we were competing and what we were doing," he said.  "This year, I think that will be a much-improved event for us, so that's exciting to see. The other thing that's going to be a key for us is just consistency. We're not a team that is going to overpower anybody, but I think that if we're very stable and consistent, we could surprise some people." 

Part of the reason Jepson is so confident is the arrival of two new studs on pommel horse, as freshmen Stephen Nedoroscik and Favian Valdez have both been labeled as some of the premier competitors in that event.

"We're really pleased so far looking at [Nedoroscik]," Jepson said. "He's just doing an outstanding job and, from what I've seen in his past, he's been a very good competitor. We're looking for solid routines from him all year long and hopefully he'll stay healthy enough to do that. The fact that we have a lot of depth this year will help us, but we're just going to have to be really solid in the system." 

The team's intrasquad meet last Thursday, which was the first time the entire squad was in action at the same time and open to the public, allowed Jepson to better assess where his team is at this point in the season.

"Our fitness level is where it needs to be. Guys weren't fatigued and they were doing routines start to finish pretty solidly. It's always hard to get over that hump at the beginning, but I think they've done a good job in preparing physically. Some of the guys were pretty sharp for this time of the year while other guys need some work to do," Jepson said.  "Getting that consistent practice time and intensity is really important. If you practice well, you have a much better chance to compete well."

Just about a month away from the season opener, the focus now shifts to how this team will prepare for the regular season.

"We have some things we need to accomplish in the next week as well as maintain our fitness," Jepson said. "They'll go home for about eight or nine days and then come back for the next two-week run to get ready for the season. Hopefully they'll stay in shape over those days that they're home and when they come back, it'll be fine-tuning and making lineup decisions even up to the last couple days before the meet." 

Penn State opens up the regular season Jan. 13-14 at Army West Point as part of the West Point Open.

@GOPSUSPORTS

  • Loading Tweets...
    1 second ago
 
OPEN / CLOSE

SCHEDULE/EVENTS