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July 30, 2008
UNIVERSITY PARK, PA., July 30, 2008 - Nittany Lion coach Ed DeChellis announced a 13-game non-conference slate and five exhibition games, including a four-game Labor Day weekend trip to Canada, that will begin his sixth season at the Penn State helm and the 113th season of Nittany Lion basketball.
The Nittany Lions will face two 2008 NCAA Tournament teams in the Bryce Jordan Center, make another trip to Atlanta, Ga., to face Georgia Tech in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, and travel to Philadelphia to face Pennsylvania as well as play in the Philly Hoops Classic both in the Palestra during Thanksgiving week. Times and television arrangements for the non-conference games as well as the entirety of the Big Ten schedule are expected to be announced by the Conference office in August.
Penn State will get its 2008-09 season started early with a Labor Day weekend series of games against Canadian colleges and universities in Toronto, Canada. Under NCAA rules, the Nittany Lions will be allowed to conduct 10 team practices in advance of their first game in Canada and then must return to regular off-season NCAA practice hours until the official first day of practice on Oct. 17.
Penn State will begin play with a Saturday double-header against the University of Waterloo and Sheridan College at Sheridan's Toronto campus on Aug. 30. Penn State will take on the Warriors at noon and face the Bruins, winners of the Ontario Colleges Athletic Association championship with a 16-2 record and fourth place finishers in the Canadian College National Championship last season, at 7:00 p.m. The following day, Aug. 31, Penn State will take on the Ryerson University Rams on their Toronto campus at 7:00 p.m. Penn State wraps up the trip with a noon tip on Labor Day, Sept. 1, against the York University Lions at the Tait McKenzie Centre in Toronto.
"The early start to practice and the chance to play four Canadian teams will be tremendous for our new players coming in and for the whole team as we get a jump start on what we think will be a great season in 2008-09," DeChellis said. "It will be a good chance for the team to bond on the road and to see how all our pieces fit together against competition."
Penn State will also play one exhibition game in the Jordan Center before officially beginning the season. The Nittany Lions will take on Bloomsburg on Sun., Nov. 9.
The season officially gets underway on Fri., Nov. 14 as Penn State takes on William and Mary the night before the Nittany Lion football team takes on Indiana in Beaver Stadium. Penn State opens the season with four home games. The Nittany Lions also take on New Jersey Tech (Nov. 17) and Hartford (Nov. 20) in the Jordan Center as part of the first two rounds of the Philly Hoops Classic. The Classic will be completed with two games at Philadelphia's Palestra on Thanksgiving Weekend, Nov. 28 and Nov. 29. The entire Philly Hoops Classic field has not yet been announced.
"I think our non-conference schedule is very competitive and will give us a good idea of things we need to work on and get us ready to play in the conference season," DeChellis said. "We are playing three times in Philadelphia, which is great for our fans and alumni there, and hopefully we will play some pretty good teams in the Philly Classic. We have a couple of good road challenges at Pennsylvania, where they are always tough in the Palestra, and down to ACC country against Georgia Tech again, and I think we have some good, competitive home opponents for our fans to come see including a great intrastate game with Temple."
A match-up with New Hampshire (Nov. 23) completes the run of home games to start the season. Penn State will hit the road for the first time on Tue., Nov. 25 when they travel to Philadelphia to take on traditional Ivy League power Pennsylvania in the Palestra. It will mark the second straight season in which the Nittany Lions will play in Philadelphia's storied basketball arena. The Nittany Lions will plan to remain in Philadelphia to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday before completing play in the Philly Hoops Classic at the end of the week.
Penn State will continue the four-game road swing with a return trip to Atlanta, Ga., to take on Georgia Tech in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge on Wed., Dec. 3. That game has been set for a 7:30 p.m. tip in Alexander Memorial Coliseum and will be televised live on ESPN2. Penn State fell in a close and exciting game in Atlanta, 77-73, in 2006 and knocked off Virginia Tech, 66-61, in last year's Challenge.
The Nittany Lions will return home to complete their non-conference slate with five home games including match-ups with 2008 NCAA Tournament teams Temple and Mount St. Mary's and four games against teams that finished .500 or better last year. The Nittany Lions will take on the Owls, winners of 21 games last season, on Sat., Dec. 6. Army comes to town on Wed., Dec. 10 and Northeast Conference Champion Mount St. Mary's, a winner of 19 games last season, follows on Sat., Dec. 13. Home games with Lafayette (Dec. 21) and Sacred Heart (Dec. 23), a winner of 18 games last season, wrap up the non-conference slate.
Coming off its most conference wins (7) and best Big Ten finish (7th) since 2001, Penn State returns seven players that started 12 or more games in 2007-08, its top two scorers and five of its top six from last season, including leading scorer Talor Battle (Albany, N.Y.). Battle, a sophomore point-guard who posted 10.2 ppg, 3.5 rpg and 3.1 apg last season, also led the Lions in assists and steals and is among four of the Lions' top five rebounders from last season that also return.
Battle shared team MVP honors with two-time All-Big Ten honoree Jamelle Cornley (Columbus, Ohio). Cornley, who averaged 12.1 ppg and 6.0 rpg last season to earn third-team All-Big Ten honors despite missing six games due to injury, is among five returning seniors that also include guard Danny Morrissey (Cleveland, Ohio), the team's leading three-point shooter in three seasons, and Stanley Pringle (Virginia Beach, Va.), a starter in 12 games who shot better than 40 percent from the arc last year.