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July 6, 2009
UNIVERSITY PARK, PA., July 6, 2009 - Nittany Lion coach Ed DeChellis announced a 12-game non-conference slate and one exhibition game that will begin the 2009 Big Ten Coach of the Year's seventh season at the Penn State helm and the 114th season of Nittany Lion basketball.
The Nittany Lions will face at least two 2009 NCAA Tournament teams and one 2009 NIT team, travel to Virginia and Philadelphia and play three games in a strong field at the 2009 Charleston Classic in South Carolina. Times and television arrangements for the non-conference games as well as the entirety of the Big Ten schedule will be announced by the Conference office at a later date.
Penn State's nine guaranteed non-conference opponents will bring an average RPI of 134, based on RPIs at the end of 2008-09 campaign, into the 2009-10 season. That is better than 80 RPI points lower than the average of last seasons 13 non-conference opponents entering the season. Five 2009-10 opponents had winning records and three won more than 20 games, including NCAA participants Temple (22-12) and Robert Morris (24-11).
Penn State will play an exhibition game vs. Slippery Rock on Friday, Nov. 6 in the Bryce Jordan Center, the night before the football team's home date with Ohio State, and will get its 2009-10 season started by taking on Penn in the Jordan Center on Friday, Nov. 13. A perennial Ivy League contender, Penn's 2008-09 season-ending RPI of 252 is the highest among the Lion's non-conference opponents, but the Quakers return four of their top five scorers and their team MVP from last season.
The Lions will take on Robert Morris at home on Monday, Nov. 16 before heading south for the Charleston Classic in Charleston, South Carolina, Nov. 19-22. Penn State will play three games in the weekend tournament, which also includes teams from the ACC (Miami, Fla.), SEC (South Carolina) and Big East (South Florida) as well as Davidson, LaSalle, Tulane and UNC- Wilmington.
Penn State will return home on Wednesday, Nov. 25 for a match-up with Sacred Heart before hitting the road again for a two-game stretch, which begins with a Big Ten/ACC Challenge showdown at Virginia on Monday, Nov. 30. Following the battle with the Cavaliers, the Lions will head to Philadelphia for a re-match with Temple on Saturday, Dec. 5 at the Liacouras Center. The Owls, who went 22-12 last season, knocked off the Lions, 65-59, at the Jordan Center last year. Penn State will be playing a game in Philadelphia for the third straight season.
Penn State will close out the non-conference season with four-straight December home games highlighted by a Saturday, Dec. 12 tilt vs. Virginia Tech. The Lions downed the Hokies, who reached the NIT last season, in a thrilling 66-61 game at the Jordan Center in 2007.
Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC) will visit the BJC on Tuesday, Dec. 8. Gardner Webb comes to town on Saturday, Dec. 19 and the Lions wrap up the non-conference slate taking on American, which posted a 24-8 mark last year, on Monday, Dec. 21.
"We put a lot of time and effort into developing a non-conference schedule that we feel is very competitive and helps put us in the position we want to be in at the end of the season," DeChellis said. "We have some good road and home tests and hopefully some strong tournament opponents in there. We consulted several people in the conference and nationally to make sure we were making the right decisions in regards to effecting our RPI and tournament resume should we be able to put ourselves in that position at the end of the season."
The 2008-09 campaign was a season of "firsts" for the Nittany Lion program. DeChellis led Penn State to a school record 27 victories, culminating in the 2009 NIT Championship, the program's first national post-season tournament title. The Nittany Lions (27-11) earned four victories over RPI Top 25 opponents, with seven wins over Top 50 teams, including their first-ever victory at Michigan State, the NCAA Tournament runner-up.
The Nittany Lions return three starters and eight lettermen for the 2009-10 campaign, including sophomore point guard Talor Battle (Albany, N.Y.), a first team All-Big Ten, USBWA and NABC All-District selection. Battle (16.7 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 5.0 apg) is joined by returning sophomore starters D.J. Jackson (4.5 ppg, 3.2 rpg) and Andrew Jones (6.2 ppg, 5.7 rpg). Penn State returns 53 percent of its scoring and 65 percent of its rebounding and will welcome four incoming freshmen, as well as forward Billy Oliver (Chatham, N.J.), a freshman who red-shirted this past season.
Penn State 2009 Non-Conference Opponents
Nov. 6 Slippery Rock (exhibition)
Nov. 13 Penn
Nov. 16 Robert Morris
Nov. 19-22 @ Charleston Classic (Miami, South Carolina, South Florida, Davidson, Tulane, LaSalle, UNC Wilmington)
Nov. 25 Sacred Heart
Nov. 30 @ Virginia
Dec. 5 @ Temple
Dec. 8 Maryland Baltimore County
Dec. 12 Virginia Tech
Dec. 19 Gardner Webb
Dec. 21 American