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Chambers, Nittany Lions Working Towards 2014-'15 Season

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Nittany Lion basketball team's 2013-'14 season was marked by individual and collective progress.

While head coach Patrick Chambers and the players on the roster would be the first to tell you that they had hoped to win more games last season, the foundation laid and steps forward have given the squad a great deal of optimism as preparations for 2014-'15 begin.

The program moves forward without Tim Frazier, who graduates following a decorated career in Blue and White, but the Lions return one of the Big Ten's elite players in all-conference guard D.J. Newbill.

Following a tremendous junior campaign, the Philadelphia native will head into the fall as the conference's second-leading returning scorer.  After tweaking his shot mechanics during the offseason, Newbill set career-highs in field goal (45 percent) and three-point (33 percent) percentages.  Newbill's 17.8 points per game mark was second only to Nebraska's Terran Petteway.

"I definitely didn't achieve the goals I wanted to achieve, team-wise and record-wise," Newbill said.  "But there were so many close games, and we just have to learn from them.  We have to work harder than we did last year.  That's my mindset going into this offseason.  We worked hard last year, now, we've got to work even harder." 

A dynamic player with a tenacious attitude, Newbill is again primed for a big offseason and another step forward on the floor in 2014-'15.  He had 10 20-point games last season, including six in Big Ten games.  Among the conference's most complete scorers, Newbill will play a central role in Penn State's success next season.

"Our team chemistry was good, but it can get a lot better," Newbill said.  "Our defense needs to improve and we need to hit shots.  We need to have guys continuously getting into the gym and working on their jump shots.  That helps you shoot with confidence, and that is going to help us next year."

Collectively, the Nittany Lions return 78 percent of their scoring and 77 percent of their rebounds from last season in Newbill, Brandon Taylor, Ross Travis, Donovon Jack, John Johnson, Geno Thorpe, Jordan Dickerson, Julian Moore, Alan Wisniewski and Kevin Montminy.  Redshirt freshman Payton Banks will debut for Penn State in the fall.  Additionally, Penn State welcomes second-team JUCO All-American Devin Foster to the rotation and true freshmen Shep Garner and Isaiah Washington.

"It's repetition.  We're youthful," Chambers said.  "I think with every passing year, everything slows down a little bit, especially for guys like John Johnson, Jordan Dickerson, Geno Thorpe.  I think the pace of the game will slow down. I think that's when you're going to see shots go down.  Plus, with experience, I think you'll start to see shots go down. We're going to have seniors and juniors next year, which is exciting."

The Lions are on the brink of a breakout season after finishing with 16-18 overall mark and a 6-12 record in the Big Ten.  Penn State lost eight games by five or fewer points in 2013-'14, including four during Big Ten play.  The Lions' 16 wins reached a mark topped just three times this millennium.

Penn State won five road games, including three in Big Ten play, marking the most since the 2008-'09 season when they won six.  Penn State swept Ohio State for the first time since 1998, becoming the second team to beat the Buckeyes twice in the regular season in the last five years (Michigan State is the only other team).

"It takes time, and we all have to be patient, but I don't know if we were appreciated for what we did," Chambers said. "Not me, the players. I don't know that they were appreciated for how hard they competed on a nightly basis. Every game, other than a few, I felt like they competed to the best of their ability. To be sitting here again, 15-16 wins, is a great jump up from where we were."

Now, the Nittany Lions are looking to take the next step with another strong offseason of development in the practice gym from everyone on the roster.   Expectations are high for Chambers and the Lions as they continue the building process leading up to the 2014-'15 season.

Follow's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

Men's Hoops CBI Blog - Penn State at Siena

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Welcome to live, in-game coverage of Penn State's CBI quarterfinal matchup at Siena.  The Nittany Lions and Saints will tip at 7 p.m. inside Albany's Times Union Center.


Lions Travel to Siena for CBI Quarterfinals

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Nittany Lion basketball team (16-17, 6-12 Big Ten) travels to Siena (16-17, 11-9) on Monday for a showdown in the CBI quarterfinals (7 p.m. on CBS Sports Network).

Penn State moved past Hampton in the opening round last week.  Now, the Nittany Lions and Saints will battle for a spot in the tournament semifinals inside the Times Union Center in Albany, N.Y.  Siena has never played host to a Big Ten school, setting up an opportunity for the Lions to play in a raucous environment for a postseason game.

"It's going to be nuts, it's going to be crazy," head coach Patrick Chambers said.  "That's what I envision. We're a Big Ten team going in there. Jimmy is going to have them ready to go. It's going to be a great challenge. If we can keep the score to where we're containing the pace, I think that's going to be better for us."

Penn State traveled to Albany on Sunday in preparation for Monday's game.  The Lions stopped at West Point for practice inside Army's facility.  Get primed for the CBI quarterfinal matchup between Penn State and Siena.

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Eager for the Opportunity
The Nittany Lions are reaping the benefits of extra practice to build for the future.  Last week's first round game against Hampton provided invaluable game experience for the young players on Penn State's roster.  Freshman Geno Thorpe and sophomore Brandon Taylor played instrumental roles in helping lead the Lions past the Hampton Pirates.  That being said, there was never a doubt in Coach Chambers's mind about the positives the Nittany Lions could reap from postseason experience in the CBI.  He saw it firsthand during the 2010 season when he led Boston University to the CBI semifinals against VCU.  One year later, Boston earned a spot in the NCAA field, and VCU punched a ticket to the Final Four.  The extra practice time and game experience is huge for the program's building process, and Monday's game provides another opportunity to grow.

"I know Siena has a young team, we have a young team, Hampton had a young team," Chambers said.  "I think that's why you want to do it to give them that practice and preparation to prepare them for a tournament run. Our guys did want to play in it, and if our guys didn't I would think maybe I didn't recruit the right guys. When you take pride in putting that jersey on, you want to put it on as much as you can. Four years is not a long time, as Tim Frazier realizes. He can't believe it's over."

Taylor Active in CBI Opener
In 31 minutes of action, sophomore Brandon Taylor did a little bit of everything for the Nittany Lions in their 69-65 win over Hampton in the first round.  Taylor scored 14 points, which marked his 14th game in double-figures this season.  Taylor also pulled down nine rebounds for the Nittany Lions.  With growing confidence, Taylor is becoming a much more balanced player on the offensive end of the floor.  He is a threat from the perimeter and is developing a post game.  The skilled sophomore is on the cusp of a breakout performance for the Nittany Lions.

Scouting Siena
The Siena Saints enter Monday's game having won five of their last six contests, with the only setback coming to Canisius in the MAAC Tournament quarterfinals.  Siena erased a three-point halftime deficit to down Stony Brook, 66-55, in the first round of the CBI.  The Saints have never hosted a Big Ten opponent prior to Monday's clash with the Nittany Lions inside the Times Union Center.

Junior guard Rob Poole tallied 20 points in Siena's victory over Stony Brook.  Poole leads the team in scoring at 14.8 points and 5.0 rebounds per game.  Sophomore forward Brett Bisping is Siena's second double-figure scorer (10.8 ppg).  Bisping also leads the Saints in rebound at 6.3 per contest.  He has tallied nine double-figure games in his last 11 contests.  Freshman guard Marquis Wright became the first freshman to lead the MAAC in assists in the last 20 years.

Siena is averaging 69.8 points per contests, while giving up 71.1 points.  The Saints have shot 42 percent from the field and 33 percent from beyond the arc.

The Nittany Lions have played Siena once before.  The Lions defeated the Saints, 105-103, in the NIT on March 20, 2000.

Bracket Analysis
Should the Nittany Lions advance on Monday, they would move on to the CBI semifinals, which take place on Wednesday.  The pairings for the semifinals will not be announced until the conclusion of tonight's quarterfinal games.  In addition to Penn State-Siena, Princeton plays at Fresno State, Radford plays at Old Dominion and Texas A&M plays at Illinois State.  The best-of-three championship series begins on March 31, with games two and three slated for April 2 and April 4.

Follow's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

Nittany Lions Use Team Effort to Move Past Hampton

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By Matt Allibone, Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - When the Penn State men's basketball team received its invitation to play in the College Basketball Invitational, head coach Patrick Chambers knew full well how much value his team could get from playing in the tournament.

As the coach of Boston in 2010, Chambers guided the Terriers to the CBI semifinals and saw the dividends pay off with an NCAA Tournament berth the following season. That's why when the Nittany Lions got the same opportunity, Chambers saw it as a chance not only for them to compete, but also for his players to gain valuable experience and continue to develop.

"For the last two years (the players) have had off for two weeks and then we started our spring workouts," Chambers. "Now, we practiced and we're preparing for the future. Let's get a taste of the postseason and see what it's like because it can only help us."

Going up against Hampton in the program's first postseason action since making the NCAA Tournament in 2011, the Nittany Lions played the epitome of team basketball, getting nine players double-digit minutes in a 69-65 victory.

While the team's star guard duo of Tim Frazier and D.J. Newbill played as prominent a role as ever, Penn State also got key performances from the likes of sophomore center Jordan Dickerson, sophomore forward Brandon Taylor, and freshman guard Geno Thorpe.

"I think (our younger guys) stepped up to the challenge," Chambers said. "I think you're getting a taste of the future."

Taylor provided the Lions with a spark throughout the entire first half, recording 10 points and five rebounds in the opening period, including back-to-back 3-pointers in a 31-second span to give the Lions an 18-8 lead at the 12:28 mark.

The power forward would finish the game with 14 points and nine rebounds, and along with Dickerson (six), Frazier (seven), and junior forward Ross Travis (eight), helped the Nittany Lions outrebound the Pirates by a 42-18 margin.

"Brandon Taylor's production was great," Chambers said. "He got hot early, made his free throws and he's a very good foul shooter."

The Pirates would fight back, cutting Penn State's lead to 30-25 with 1:47 remaining in the first half behind the shooting of sophomore guard Brian Darden, who went 4-for-4 from behind the arc for 15 points in the first half.  But another young Nittany Lion stepped up, this time it was freshman guard Graham Woodward, who nailed a 3-pointer that gave the Blue and White a 33-25 halftime lead.

Although Hampton would continue to claw back, even taking a 43-41 lead at the 11:17 mark in the second half, Penn State quickly regrouped, going on a 14-4 run over the next 5:27, highlighted by a slam dunk by Newbill at the 6:19 mark off a Frazier pass following a block by Taylor that showcased the Nittany Lion cohesion on the court.

"That gives me a look of how we're going to be next year, seeing (young) guys making big plays down the stretch," Newbill said. "Those guys are really coming into their own."

One guy who clearly came into his own against the Pirates was Thorpe, who in 25 minutes scored 10 points and added five rebounds, while going 6-6 from the free throw line, including four foul shots coming in the final 22 seconds to ice the game.

Although Frazier filled the stat sheet as usual with 10 points, seven rebounds and three assists, and Newbill was remarkably efficient, tallying 19 points in just 23 minutes, it was Thorpe's relentless defense and clutch shooting that stood out the most to Chambers.

"He's tough, he's athletic and physical, and he doesn't back down," Chambers said. "He's accepted his role of defending the best player on the other team and we need that type of toughness. He's only going to continue to get better."

Coming off of a tough 63-56 loss to Minnesota in the Big Ten tournament, Chambers was glad to see his players embrace the opportunity of playing in the CBI.

However long the postseason lasts for the Nittany Lions, Chambers is confident that they will reap the benefits of the experience moving forward.

"I'm proud of our guys because it's not easy and everybody knows they want to be in the NCAA Tournament," Chambers said. "They came out and competed and played Penn State basketball and that is a big step for us." 

VIDEO: Nittany Lions Eager to Open CBI at Home

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Nittany Lion basketball team (15-17, 6-12 Big Ten) kicks off the postseason on Wednesday inside the Bryce Jordan Center when it meets Hampton (18-12, 13-3 MEAC) in the first round of the CBI at 7 p.m.

Head coach Patrick Chambers and the Lions learned of their invite to the CBI late on Sunday night.  The team is thrilled with the opportunity to extend its season into the latter stages of March, not to mention the chance to play in front of the home crowd on Wednesday.

"This is a chance for us to practice.  This is a chance for the younger guys to play in a game," Chambers said.  "I think there are so many positives for these players and this program.  I was excited (when we found out)."

For the young Nittany Lions on the roster, the CBI presents a significant opportunity for more playing time and practice.  Chambers talked on Monday afternoon about the benefits the extra practice will pay for the young players in the future.

"It's important for a young guy like me to have more experience in games and to get more practices," freshman Graham Woodward said.  "Not being here as long as a lot of these guys, getting that extra run in, that extra practice time is really important."

The winner of the Penn State-Hampton game will meet the winner of the game between Stony Brook (23-10, 13-3 America East) and Siena (15-17, 11-9 MAAC).  Get primed for the first round CBI game here.

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VIDEO: CBI First Round Preview
Head coach Patrick Chambers, D.J. Newbill, Brandon Taylor and Graham Woodward preview Penn State's CBI first round game against Hampton.

Valuable Experience for Young Lions
There was never a doubt in Coach Chambers's mind about the positives the Nittany Lions could reap from postseason experience in the CBI.  He saw it firsthand during the 2010 season when he led Boston University to the CBI semifinals against VCU.  One year later, Boston earned a spot in the NCAA field, and VCU punched a ticket to the Final Four.  The extra practice time and game experience is invaluable for the youth on the Penn State roster.  That being said, Chambers noted on Monday that while he will approach every game in the postseason with the mindset of winning at all costs, he wants to get more playing time for the freshmen.

"I am going to mix things up a little bit," Chambers said.  "I'm going to try and get the freshmen more minutes.  I do want to play to win.  Obviously, I'm very competitive.  But we definitely need to get Geno (Thorpe) some more minutes and Graham (Woodward) some more minutes.  I'd like to get Jordan (Dickerson) above 20 and see how he does.  For Jordan and John Johnson, they have to really want to play (after) missing half the season."

New Season, New Style
After 19 rigorous games in the Big Ten, the Nittany Lions are excited about the chance to see a different style of play on Wednesday night in the Jordan Center.  Penn State has not played a game out of conference since beating Mount St. Mary's, 92-82, on Dec. 22.  Penn State averaged 81.1 points per game during the non-conference slate.

"I think it's going to be great to play (another style), although Hampton plays a similar style to Minnesota," Chambers said.  "They aren't as big, but they are very quick, very fast and they want to score in the upper 70s.  They play good defense...It will be good to get out of the league and see where we are and see where some of the younger kids are."

Scouting Hampton
The Hampton Pirates finished second in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) with a 13-3 mark.  Standing at 18-12 overall, the Pirates ended their regular season with a seven-game winning streak before falling the quarterfinals of the conference tournament to Coppin State.  The Pirates led the MEAC in steals at 7.7 per game and blocks at 6.0 per game.  Hampton averaged 73.2 points per game, while allowing 70.3 tallies per contest.

Individually, 6-foot-7 forward Du'Vaughn Maxwell led the Pirates in scoring (15.2 ppg), rebounding (7.5 ppg) and blocked shots (3.0 bpg).  Maxwell, who ranks 14th in the NCAA in blocked shots, had more than half of Hampton's blocks in 2013-'14.  Sophomore guard Deron Powers is the second Hampton player averaging double-figures at 11.6 tallies per game.  Powers also led the team in assists at 4.1 per game.  Fellow sophomore guard Brian Darden averages 10.0 points per game.

The Pirates have a deep bench.  In all, 10 players average more than 13 minutes of playing time per game.  Hampton held its opponents to 39.7 percent shooting from the field this season.

The Nittany Lions have never played Hampton.

Bracket Analysis
Should the Nittany Lions advance on Wednesday, they would move on to face the winner of the Stony Brook-Siena game, which takes place at Siena on Tuesday at 7 p.m.  The quarterfinals will take place on March 26.  The tournament draw is then re-bracketed after the quarterfinals.  The semifinals take place on March 28.  The best-of-three championship series begins on March 31, with games two and three slated for April 2 and April 4.


Follow's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

VIDEO: Big Ten Tournament Postgame vs. Minnesota

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INDIANAPOLIS - Head coach Patrick Chambers, senior Tim Frazier and freshman Geno Thorpe talk about Penn State's 63-56 setback to Minnesota at the Big Ten Tournament on Thursday at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

Follow's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

Big Ten Tournament Blog - Penn State vs. Minnesota

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INDIANAPOLIS - Welcome to live, interactive coverage of the Nittany Lion basketball team. The postseason begins tonight for Penn State when it takes on seventh-seeded Minnesota at the Big Ten Tournament inside Bankers Life Fieldhouse.  Stay tuned for coverage.


Big Ten Tourney Central - Lions Set for New Season

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - When the ball is tipped inside Bankers Life Fieldhouse at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, a new season begins for the Nittany Lion basketball team.

The 10th-seeded Nittany Lions (15-15, 6-12) will face off with seventh-seeded Minnesota (19-12, 8-10) in Thursday's third first-round matchup (ESPN2).  The winner of the Penn State-Minnesota game lives to see another day and advances to meet second-seeded Wisconsin in the Big Ten Tournament quarterfinals.  The team that does not advance heads home.

9806291.jpeg"We've got to go out.  We've got to play hard," head coach Patrick Chambers said.  "It's a neutral court.  It's going to be a different environment with different baskets.  I think we are becoming the best team that we can be."

The Nittany Lions are relishing in the opportunity they have in front them.  After a rigorous 18-game Big Ten regular season, a clean slate levels the playing field for everyone.

"Now, it's kind of like gut-check time," junior guard D.J. Newbill said.  "Every team will be playing with a sense of urgency.  Anything can happen.  There are always those upsets during postseason play.  That's the best thing about it.  Everybody is 0-0.  There is no more, 'this team is No. 1.  This team is No. 12.'  Everybody is even."

The Nittany Lions and Gophers will be seeing one another for the second time in five days.  Minnesota used a 23-3 advantage in the first 8:08 of Sunday's game to score an 81-63 victory in Williams Arena.  Despite falling into a 20-point hole in the first eight minutes, the Nittany Lions out-scored the Golden Gophers, 60-58, from there.

In the first meeting on Jan. 8, Penn State led Minnesota for 17:52 during the second half before falling, 68-65, in the Bryce Jordan Center.  That being said, aside from the first 8:08 of Sunday's game, the Nittany Lions and Gophers have played evenly.  Penn State knows there is no margin for error when the postseason begins.

"It's win or go home," senior guard Tim Frazier said.  "You get to play on the big stage in Indianapolis with all of the Big Ten teams there.  We have to go out there and compete."

VIDEO: Big Ten Tournament Preview
Coach Chambers, Newbill and Frazier preview the Big Ten Tournament.

VIDEO: D.J. Newbill Interview
All-Big Ten guard D.J. Newbill talks with to preview the Big Ten Tournament and review the season.

Feature: - Stating a First Team All-Big Ten Case for D.J. Newbill

Blank Slate Leaves Bracket Wide Open
One thing is certain heading into the Big Ten Tournament, the bracket is wide open.  After a season filled with parity and upsets across the board, the postseason tournament is shaping up to one filled with excitement.  Every team in the conference has won at least five games this season for just the third time in Big Ten history (1979-'80, 1993-'94).

The Nittany Lions tallied six conference wins in 2014, including three on the road.  The Big Ten win total marked Penn State's most under Coach Chambers.  Also, Penn State equaled its most conference road wins since joining the Big Ten.  The Lions head into the tournament knowing anything can happen.

"It's extremely competitive, and that's what makes the conference so special," Newbill said.  "On any given night, you can win or lose a big game.  At a neutral site, I'm really excited to see how teams play and how they match up against each other."

Newbill and Frazier Lead Lions Into Postseason
Coach Chambers has talked about the need for a consistent third or fourth scorer to step up on a regular basis.  That theory hinges on the top two scorers playing high-level basketball every night.  Since the final whistle sounded in 2013 at the Big Ten Tournament, anticipation was high for what the Lions would look like with Newbill and a healthy Frazier on the floor together.  The All-Big Ten guard tandem has led the Nittany Lions in scoring from start to finish in 2013-'14.  One of the two has paced Penn State in 25 of Penn State's 31 games, which includes all but two Big Ten games.  Great guard play often leads to success in the postseason.  And while the Lions need contributions from everyone in the rotation, they need Frazier and Newbill to play elite basketball this time of year.

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Scouting Minnesota
Minnesota heads into the postseason battling for a spot in the NCAA Tournament field.  Having lost three of their last five, the Gophers have little margin for error in the NCAA picture.  Minnesota is widely regarded as a team just outside of the tournament field heading into the weekend, thus needing a strong finish to punch a ticket into the field of 68.

Junior guard Andre Hollins leads Minnesota's offensive attack.  He is averaging 14.6 points per contest.  Junior Deandre Mathieu is second on the team in scoring at 11.9 points per game, and he leads the team in assists at 4.4 per game.  Austin Hollins is the third Minnesota player averaging double-figures.  Austin Hollins averages 11.6 points and 5.5 rebounds per game.  Six-foot-11 center Elliott Eliason is the team's leading rebounder at 6.9 per contest.

The Golden Gophers play an aggressive style of defense under first-year head coach Richard Pitino.  Minnesota leads the conference in steals at 7.6 per game.  The Gophers forced 16 turnovers against the Nittany Lions on Sunday evening.  Individually, Austin Hollins and Mathieu rank fourth and sixth, respectively, in steals.

The Nittany Lions are 0-2 against Minnesota in the Big Ten Tournament.

Bracket Analysis
Should the Nittany Lions advance on Thursday, they would meet No. 2-seeded Wisconsin on Friday at 6:30 p.m. (BTN).  The Lions and Badgers met just once in 2014, with Wisconsin holding off the Nittany Lions, 71-66, inside the Jordan Center on March 2.  Penn State is 1-1 against the Badgers in the Big Ten Tournament with the victory coming in a 36-33 battle during the quarterfinals of the 2011 tournament.

The other teams in Penn State's half of the bracket include third-seeded Michigan State, which will meet the winner of No. 6 Iowa and No. 11 Northwestern.  Three of the six teams in Penn State's half of the bracket played the Lions just once in 2014 (Iowa, Northwestern and Wisconsin).

Action begins at noon on Thursday in Indy.

Follow's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

Stating a First Team All-Big Ten Case for D.J. Newbill

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Junior guard D.J. Newbill earned well-deserved recognition on Monday night as a member of the 2014 All-Big Ten team.

A standout scorer throughout the 2013-'14 season, the Philadelphia native has been a well-rounded player on and off the court for the Nittany Lions since the season began in November.  Always team-first, Newbill was appreciative and grateful for being named All-Big Ten.

"It means a lot to be noticed," Newbill said.  "But I have to give credit to my teammates.  Without them, my job would have been a lot tougher.  The coaching staff did a great job putting me in positions to be successful, keeping me focused and keeping me confident.  It's really a team award, and I'm proud to have earned it."

While all five honorees on the All-Big Ten first team are worthy recipients of postseason honors, we're stating our case as to why Newbill belongs on the top team in the Big Ten.  The junior guard's production stacks up against any one of the first-team members.  His statistics speak for themselves, and his value on Penn State's team cannot be understated.

Let's look at the numbers.

Newbill finished second in the Big Ten scoring race to Nebraska's Terran Petteway (18.0) at 17.8 points per game.  He had 20 tallies in 10 of Penn State's 31 contests.  He led the Lions in scoring on 15 different occasions this season.  Among players on the Nittany Lion roster who had 50 or more field goal attempts, Newbill led the team in field goal percentage at .466.  He averaged 4.9 rebounds and 1.7 assists per contest, as well.  Offensively, Newbill led the Big Ten in total points (552) and field goals made (192).

From year one in the Blue and White to year two, Newbill's shooting percentage increased by five percentage points (41 to 46 percent).  His three-point shooting percentage increased by eight percentage points (27 to 35 percent).  Newbill also made a seven-percentage point increase at the foul line from last season to this year (68 to 75 percent).

How do Newbill's numbers rate against the five members of the All-Big Ten first-team group?

Newbill enters the postseason averaging more points per game than four of the five.  He had more total points and made field goals than all five.  Newbill is averaging equal to or more rebounds per game than four of the five.  His season field goal percentage is higher than three of the five.  He has equal to or more 20-point games than three of the five.  And he led his team in scoring during more games than three of the five.  Newbill also had more assists per game than one of the five honorees.

Again, we are not singling out one or more members of the All-Big Ten First Team, but Newbill's stats speak volumes about his worthiness of being placed on the first team.

As Coach Chambers said on Tuesday morning, wins and losses certainly play a role in the voting process for the All-Big Ten teams.  The five first-team members are on teams that finished first, second, third, fourth and sixth in the regular season standings.

But you can't hold that against a player who manufactured a phenomenal season on the hardwood.  Without Newbill on the floor, the Nittany Lions would not be in the position they are in today.  A relentless worker with a knack for making big plays in clutch moments, Newbill is the ultimate competitor every coach dreams of having on his team.

Take Jan. 29 as a prime example when Newbill scored 17 of his 25 tallies in the second half and overtime to lift the Nittany Lions past Ohio State on the road with a game-winning jumper in the final two seconds.

After playing out of position at the point guard spot last season, Newbill took a leap forward this winter because of the work he put in during the offseason.  The Philly product spent the entire month of May last spring inside the painted area of the practice gym working on the mechanics of his shot.  Spending 31 days shooting from within the paint paid big dividends in Newbill's jump shot.  Consistently efficient all over the floor on offense, Newbill established himself as an elite offensive player in 2013-'14.  He scored 15 or more points on 15 or fewer field goal attempts in 15 games this season.

Now, Newbill and the Nittany Lions head into the postseason with a clean slate.  While it is a tremendous honor for the junior to earn a spot on the second-team of the All-Big Ten squad, Newbill belonged on the first team.  His numbers are among the Big Ten's elite and his net worth to the Nittany Lions is invaluable.

Follow's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

Nittany Lions Prep For Finale at Minnesota

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Following a dominant performance at Northwestern on Thursday, the Nittany Lion basketball team (15-15, 6-11) traveled straight to Minnesota in preparation for the final regular season game of the season against the Gophers (18-12, 7-10).  Penn State and Minnesota will tip on Sunday at 5:15 p.m. inside Williams Arena (BTN).

Fueled by superb defense, Penn State powered past Northwestern for its sixth conference win of the season.  Standing at .500 heading into the final Sunday of the regular season, the Nittany Lions remain focused on being the best team they can be at the end of the season.

"I think we just have to keep getting better, and I think we are," head coach Patrick Chambers said.  "Jordan Dickerson is getting better.  Brandon Taylor is getting better.  Graham Woodward is getting better.  A lot of guys are getting better.  The crazy thing is, I think D.J. Newbill is getting better.  We just need to stay on that path and control what we can control."

Take a look through some things to watch for in Penn State's final regular season game of the 2013-'14 season.

Complete Team Effort Drives Lions at Northwestern
Road victories are often a byproduct of contributions from not just a team's go-to players but everyone on the bench.  Thursday night's 27-point victory at Northwestern was a living, breathing example of a team victory for the Nittany Lion basketball team.  Eight different players accounted for Penn State's 59 points in Evanston.  The Lions shot 50 percent from the field and held Northwestern to 23 percent shooting for the game.  The collective attitude and energy the Nittany Lions brought on both ends of the floor was the difference in Thursday night's triumph, which marked the largest margin of victory in a Big Ten road game since 1995.  The Wildcats scored the first basket of the game, but never led again in a truly dominant performance from the Nittany Lions.

"I think our rotations were tighter (on defense)," Chambers said.  "I felt like guys helped each other out.  There was a lot of trust out there.  Our guys were dialed in for the entire 40 minutes.  I'd like to see us play harder without fouling in the second half.  But for the most part, our man, our zone, our three-quarter-court pressure, I thought we did a really good job.  We played hard.  We played with good energy.  We communicated.  Those things were good.  That's our effort and our attitude."

Road Success
Penn State has a chance to make some history on Sunday evening in Minnesota.  With three Big Ten road victories in hand, the Nittany Lions have tied the program-high for conference road wins.  A Penn State team has never won four Big Ten games away from home in a single season.  Additionally, the Nittany Lions now have five true road victories in 2013-'14, which is the most since 2008-'09 when the Blue and White won six games during its march to the NIT title.  Coach Chambers often speaks to the team about playing with a road attitude.  The Lions have been strong in Big Ten play away from home because of their competitive edge and ability to play together for 40 minutes.  Playing with a positive, yet relentless attitude has been a big contributor to the success on the road.

Big Ten Bracket on the Horizon
There are six games remaining on the 2014 Big Ten schedule (two on Saturday and four on Sunday).  Seeding for the Big Ten Tournament remains wide open following Thursday's games.  Michigan will be the No. 1 seed after clinching the title outright with a victory at Illinois.  Positions two through 12 in the final standings are still to be decided.  The Nittany Lions are currently tied with Illinois for 10th spot.  However, the Lions are just one game out of seventh, which is occupied by Minnesota and Indiana.  The Nittany Lions could finish anywhere from eighth to 11th depending on the results this weekend.  With a win at Minnesota, the Lions could finish no better than eighth and no worse than 10th.  With a Minnesota win, the Lions could finish no better than 10th and no worse than 11th.  We'll detail the possible scenarios on Sunday prior to the game.

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Scouting Minnesota
Minnesota heads into the regular season finale battling for a spot in the NCAA Tournament field.  Having lost three of their last four, the Gophers have little margin for error in the NCAA picture.  Minnesota had the week off leading up to Sunday's clash with the Nittany Lions.  The Gophers battled, but fell short in Ann Arbor against Michigan last Saturday.  They have lost three of their last four.

Junior guard Andre Hollins leads Minnesota's offensive attack.  He is averaging 14.6 points per contest.  Junior Dandre Mathieu is second on the team in scoring at 11.8 points per game, and he leads the team in assists at 4.3 per game.  Austin Hollins is the third Minnesota player averaging double-figures.  Austin Hollins averages 11.6 points and 5.7 rebounds per game.  Six-foot-11 center Elliott Eliason is the team's leading rebounder at 7.1 per contest.

The Golden Gophers play an aggressive style of defense under first-year head coach Richard Pitino.  Pressing on seemingly every defensive possession, Minnesota leads the conference in steals at 7.5 per game.  Individually, Austin Hollins and Mathieu rank fifth and seventh, respectively, in steals.

The Golden Gophers edged the Nittany Lions, 68-65, in the Bryce Jordan Center on Jan. 8.  Penn State led the vast majority of the second half before a late surge from the Gophers.

Follow's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony