2010-11 Men's Basketball Preseason Notes

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Oct. 18, 2010

Penn State lost 11 games by six points or less or in overtime during the 2009-10 season. That was a complete 180-degree turn from the Lions' 11-4 record in such games in 2008-09. Only Illinois played more close games in Big Ten action than Penn State's nine in 2009-10. Penn State went 1-8 in those games. Penn State played 10 such games in Big Ten action in 2008-09 going 7-3 in those on its way to a 10-8 Big Ten record and tie for fourth place.

Penn State will return an experienced team in 2010-11 led by five seniors, the most in Ed DeChellis' tenure. Four senior starters who average 100 games played and 74 starts between them lead the list as two-time All-Big Ten point-guard Talor Battle and 6-8 forward Jeff Brooks return for their fourth seasons at Penn State and former redshirt forwards Andrew Jones (6-10) and David Jackson (6-7) return for their fifth year on campus. Fourth-year walk-on Steve Kirkpatrick, a strong locker room and practice presence, returns as well. The five bring a combined 420 games played and 298 starts into 2010-11. Three seniors (Battle, Jackson and Jones) have logged more than 500 career points while Brooks is just behind at 449.

Unlike the 2009-10 campaign, which Penn State entered looking to replace 44 percent of its scoring and 36 percent of rebounding, the Nittany Lions will return 75 percent of their scoring and assists and 67 percent of their rebounding for 2010-11.

Andrew Jones posted 10 points in the Lions victory at Michigan last year to become the third active Lion to reach 500 career points joining Talor Battle (1,526) and David Jackson (656). Jeff Brooks stands just 51 points shy at 449 career points. All four players will return for the 2010-11 season.



Senior guard Talor Battle and half-brother Taran Buie will take the floor together in the 2010-11 season for the first time since helping lead Bishop Maginn HS (Albany, N.Y.) to the New York Class AA state title game in 2007. Buie, an ESPNU Top 100 recruit, led Maginn all the way to the school's first-ever state title the following season (2008) earning MVP honors. Battle and Buie's mother, Denise Murphy, moved the family (which includes Battle's six younger siblings, including Buie) to Boalsburg, Pa. just minutes from State College in the summer of 2009, thus allowing Battle to see his family much more frequently. Murphy and Buie attended all of the Nittany Lions' home games during Buie's senior season as he averaged 20.8 ppg at State College Area High School.

Talor Battle honed his skills during the summer as one of a small number of elite college players invited to attend the Deron Williams Nike Skills Academy in Chicago and the LeBron James Nike Skills Academy in Akron. Battle acted as a camp counselor during the day working with the elite level high school players also invited to the camps, while honing his basketball talents against other top collegiate players and professionals in the evening. In late June he was one of 12 collegians invited to Williams camp competing against future opponents Malcolm Delaney (Virginia Tech) and Demetri McCamey (Illinois) as well as standouts such as Kemba Walker (UConn), Chris Wright (Georgetown), Nolan Smith (Duke) and Jacob Pullen (Kansas State). Battle's performance in that camp earned him a select invitation to LeBron's camp in July where he was one of 20 collegians (seven guards) who are expected to be All-American candidates next season -- and possible NBA draft picks in 2011 or beyond. Battle competed against the likes of LeBron and Chris Paul and earned high marks for his court leadership, quick first step, three-point range, ability to distribute, hustle and being a pure scorer at both camps. Talor's brother, Taran, had attended LeBron's camp as one of the Top 80 high school players in the country following his junior year at Bishop Maginn in 2009.

Preseason predictions were in virtual unanimous agreement: the Big Ten Conference is tops in NCAA basketball in 2010-11. Writers and commentators from Jay Bilas to Jeff Goodman to Andy Katz all agreed. Numerous preseason magazines placed four Big Ten schools in the Top 10 of the nation. Lindy's had four Big Ten Teams in Top 10: No. 2 Purdue, No. 3 Michigan State, No. 7 Ohio State and No. 9 Illinois. The Sporting News Top 10 looked as follows: No. 1 Michigan State, No. 3 Purdue, No. 5 Ohio State, while ESPN's Dick Vitale went with No. 2 Michigan State, No. 3 Purdue and No. 4 Ohio State. The Big Ten returns 15 of last year's top 20 scorers, led by top returning scorer Talor Battle (18.5), and rebounders and four first-team All-Big Ten selections from a conference that leads the nation with five Final Four appearances in the last six years.

Penn State under went a unique team building exercise with "The Program" over the summer. Operating under the mantra of "Courage, Commitment, Integrity, Perseverance & Selflessness - the traits of a leader and the hallmarks of The Program," The Program's leadership and athletic development programs help to instill these traits and inspire superior performance. Eric Kapitulik, CEO and Founder of The Program, recently returned from a successful climbing expedition to Mt. Everest. A Force Reconnaissance Platoon Commander in the Marines, he led 20 covert operations specialists in special forces related missions including long range reconnaissance patrols, hostage rescue, high altitude jump exercises, ship takeovers, and gas-oil platform takedowns. A former standout lacrosse player at Navy, Kapitulik has since summited Mt. Kilimanjaro, Mt. McKinley, Mt. Aconcagua and Mt. Elbrus, four of the 7 Summits (the highest peaks on the seven continents). Kapitulik along with a former Marine sniper who served in Iraq and a former NHL hockey player visited campus in the summer and put the team through three days of rigorous drills, challenges and educational programs aimed at developing team unity and leadership.

Two-time All-Big point-guard Talor Battle, who ranked second in the Big Ten in scoring (18.5 ppg) and third in assists (4.2 apg) last season is among the preseason Wooden Award Top 50 List for the second straight season. The Big Ten's top returning scorer, he was one of two players in NCAA Division I to average 18.5 ppg, 5.3 rpg and 4.0 apg or better and the only player in the ACC, Big 12, Big East, Pac-10, SEC or Big Ten to lead his team in total points, rebounds, assists and steals. Battle posted his best-ever shooting year, hitting 42 percent from the floor and 35 percent from three, while posting four 30-point games (second in PSU history).

Talor Battle enters his final campaign standing 7th all-time on the scoring charts (1,526) and just 613 points shy of eclipsing the 55-year-old Penn state all-time career scoring record set by All-American Jesse Arnelle (2,138) in 1955. Battle also needs just 25 rebounds to become the first Nittany Lion ever to log at least 1,000 points, 500 rebounds and 400 assists. Battle stands seventh with 417 career assists and needs 184 to surpass the career record of 600 set by Freddie Barnes in 1992. Battle posted a Penn State single-season record 189 assists in his junior season.

Talor Battle has averaged 19.7 ppg in six career games vs. Michigan State, logging 20-points or more in three outings and scoring in double-digits in five while Penn State has gone 2-4 vs. Spartan teams all ranked in the Top 20, including wins over No. 9 MSU (72-68) in East Lansing in 2009 and vs. No. 7 MSU (85-76) in State College in 2008. Battle has averaged 23.7 ppg, 5.1 rpg and 5.2 apg vs. the Spartans since his sophomore season, including a then career-high 29 points on 6-of-12 from three and 58 percent from the floor in Penn State's first-ever win in East Lansing in 2009 and 30 points on 7-of-11 from three and 56 percent from the floor in a 65-54 loss in State College in 2010.

Penn State will have three coaches who have been named a conference coach of the year residing on their bench in 2010-11. Along with 2009 Big Ten Coach of the Year Ed DeChellis and long time associate head coach Kurt Kanaskie (a two-time PSAC Coach of the Year honoree and two-time Basketball Times National Coach of the Year), Penn State welcomed 2006 Southern Conference Coach of the Year Ernie Nestor to the staff this season as the Director of Basketball Operations.

Penn State will put its three-game ACC/Big Ten Challenge win streak on the line on Dec. 1 when it hosts defending ACC co-champion Maryland in the biggest non-conference game at the Bryce Jordan Center since it opened in 1996. Penn State became the first Big Ten team to win a Big Ten/ACC Challenge game in three consecutive seasons last year when the Lions posted a 69-67 victory at Virginia. Penn State improved to 4-5 in Challenge games, winning its second straight on the road as the Big Ten won its first-ever Big Ten/ACC Challenge in 11 tries in 2009. Penn State's four Challenge wins overall tie Minnesota and Wisconsin for the second-best mark in the conference.

Penn State rallied behind the improved production of its junior forwards to win three of its last six regular season games (two on the road). The Lions three losses all came to Top 15 ranked foes including a two-point loss at No. 11 Michigan State (67-65), a four-point loss to No. 6 Purdue (64-60) and an eight-point loss to No. 9 Ohio State, all of which advanced at least to the NCAA Sweet 16.

Only four players in Penn State history have logged more combined points, rebounds and assists on a career than junior Talor Battle, and they all did it in four years. He will most certainly pass nearly all of them in his senior campaign and is in position to overtake the great Jesse Arnelle as he continues his charge through the Penn State record books:

Player Points+Rebounds+Assists
1. Jesse Arnelle (1951-55) 3,376
(no assists kept)
2. Joe Crispin (1997-2001) 2,841
3. Jamelle Cornley (2005-09) 2,511
4. Geary Claxton (2004-08) 2,459
5. TALOR BATTLE (2008-Pre) 2,418

David Jackson scored in double-digits in 12 of the Lions' 18 Big Ten regular season games in 2009-10 and posted a career-best run of seven-straight (Jan. 24-Feb. 17). His 51 percent shooting in Big Ten play ranked sixth in the conference. Jackson raised his scoring average by nearly four points per game to 10.7 ppg in conference play. He logged a career-best 17 double-digit scoring games on the year, after entering the season with eight, and 17 of his 25 career double-digit games have come vs. Big Ten teams.

Penn State all-time great Joe Crispin has purchased a home in State College and made a habit of spending the summer months in the Bryce Jordan Center as he prepares for his next Italian League season. The Lions second all-time leading scorer (1,986) and 2001 first team All-Big Ten point-guard spent a great deal of time this summer with sophomore Tim Frazier helping to further develop his offensive game. Frazier took on some of the point-guard duties for the Lions in 2009-10 showing effectiveness pushing the ball in transition and allowing leading scorer Talor Battle to work off the ball. The quick and athletic 6-1 guard started 10 games on the season and posted five or more assists in five games, including a team-high five in Penn State's regular season ending 64-60 loss to No. 6 Purdue. Frazier finished the year second on the team with 23 steals and 73 assists (2.3 apg) and was one Penn State's top on-ball defenders.

Talor Battle has averaged 35 minutes per game over his three year career, playing more than 3,500 minutes, and is well on pace to shatter the Penn State career minutes played record of 4,063 set by Joe Crispin (1998-2001). Battle has played better than 37 minutes a game the last two seasons logging an average of 1,284 minutes a year. He has played in 100 career games and made 97 career starts and needs 30 games to break the career mark of 129 played by Titus Ivory (1997-2001) and 24 starts to eclipse the mark of 120 starts set by DeRon Hayes (1990-93). Battle led the nation in minutes played in 2008-09 playing a Penn State season record 1,422 minutes in a season record 38 games. He also led the Big Ten averaging 37.3 minutes per game and was on the floor 92.6% of the available time last season. Battle led Penn State in minutes played in each of his first two seasons and has played more than 35 minutes in 23 games this season and in 64 of his 98 career games, logging 40+ minutes on 20 occasions.



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