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June 18, 2009
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.; June 18, 2009 - Nittany Lion point-guard Talor Battle (Albany, N.Y.) was among 12 players to earn on a spot on the 2009 USA Basketball Men's World University Games Team following three days of trials at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Col.
"I am just very happy for Talor and for our program," Penn State coach Ed DeChellis said. "I think it really shows how far our program has come to have a player compete against some of the top players in the country and earn a spot to represent the United States in international competition. It's just a tremendous and well-deserved opportunity for Talor and we're very proud of him."
Battle, a rising junior who was a first-team All-Big Ten, USBWA and NABC All-District selection last season, will depart with the 12-member USA Team for Serbia on June 25. The World University Games will be held July 2-11 in Belgrade, Serbia. University of Wisconsin head coach Bo Ryan will lead Team USA with assistant coaches Frank Haith (Miami, Fla.) and Rob Jeter (University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee).
Battle is the first Penn State player to make a U.S. team since Tyler Smith was a member of the 2001 World University Games Team led by then Nittany Lion head coach Jerry Dunn. He was one of three Big Ten players to earn a spot on the team joining Evan Turner (Ohio State) and Robbie Hummel (Purdue). Also named to the 2009 USA Men's World University Games Team were: James Anderson (Oklahoma State); Trevor Booker (Clemson); Craig Brackins (Iowa State); Da'Sean Butler (West Virginia); Corey Fisher (Villanova); Lazar Hayward (Marquette); Quincy Pondexter (Washington); Deon Thompson (North Carolina); and Jarvis Varnado (Mississippi State).
"I was nervous going into the room this morning," Battle said. "I'm excited to represent my country, and my family and my university back home. Going out there (Serbia), it's going to take a team effort. I'm not going to be able to score like I do at school. Running the point guard with such great players, I'm going to have to get people involved.
"I don't really think there are going to be any go-to-guys. A lot of guys here can score. The majority of the guys are the leading scorers on their teams. Everyone has to buy in to really playing as a team and sacrifice, maybe taking less shots and doing other things."
The player selections were made by the USA Basketball Men's Junior National Team Committee, chaired by Syracuse University's Jim Boeheim.
"It was one of the most difficult decisions we as a committee have had because the team is so balanced," Boeheim said. "It's probably one of the better groups of wing players we have had and all the guys are great players. It looks to be one of our most competitive teams for the World University Games. We have good shooters and athletic wing guys, which gives this team a good chance to compete."
Battle, posted one of the most outstanding seasons in Penn State basketball history in his sophomore campaign as he helped lead the Nittany Lions to a school record 27 wins and a first-ever national tournament title in claiming the 2009 NIT Championship. He led the Big Ten in scoring (16.7 ppg), ranked second in assists (5.0) and stood in the top 15 in eight conference statistical categories. Named an honorable mention All-American by FOXSports.com and Collegehoopsnet.com and to the NIT All-Tournament team, Battle posted a Penn State single season record 189 assists. His 635 points rank as the fifth-best total in program history and his 92 three-pointers are the third-best mark in PSU history. Battle was named team co-MVP for the second straight year after leading the Big Ten with 14 20-point games and leading the nation playing 1,422 minutes in 38 games, an average of 37.4 mpg.
"First of all, all 16 players at trials are very good players," Ryan said. "Everybody that competed worked very hard against one another at a very high level. The toughest part was getting down to the 12 players. I don't want to take anything away from the guys who didn't make it, but the 12 who are on the final list are the ones that if you look at the overall picture - offense, defense, rebounding, things like that - this was the 12 that stood out. I thought the selection committee did a very good job of evaluating.
"The next step is to make sure we are all on the same page in everything that we do. We can't have three guys handling screens one way, for example, and two guys doing something different. What we are going to try to do defensively is make sure that we understand our rotations and coverage, and from there, understand offensively what our looks are going to be. We need to learn to play to our strengths and not shy away from weaknesses, and those are all nuances that will play out over the next week before we head to Serbia."
The 2009 USA squad will remain in Colorado Springs for two-a-day practices through Wednesday, June 24. The team departs for Serbia on Thursday.
The World University Games is organized by the International University Sports Federation and held every other year. The 2009 competition includes 24 men's basketball teams competing for a gold medal. Eligible athletes for the USA team must be currently enrolled in a college or university.