Nov. 22, 2013
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Nittany Lion basketball team kicks off a stretch of four games in seven days on Sunday against Longwood in the Bryce Jordan Center (1 p.m.).
Penn State's clash with Longwood begins the four-game Barclays Classic. The Lions host Monmouth on Tuesday (6 p.m.) before traveling to Brooklyn on Friday for a matchup in the Barclays Center against St. John's (7 p.m.) and then either Georgia Tech or Mississippi one day later.
Head coach Patrick Chambers said on Friday that the team is eager to kick off a busy week.
"We've got to keep sticking to what we are doing and improve each day," Chambers said. "We are tinkering with some lineups to get Tim, D.J. and Ross some rest (this week)...We need our bench to step up. I think they can do more. They just have to be solid in what they do."
Read some areas to watch as the Lions prepare to meet Longwood.
1. Jack Looking to Stay Hot
Sophomore forward Donovon Jack played the best game of his Nittany Lion career on Tuesday night against La Salle. Jack nailed his first two field goal attempts en route to an 18-point night for the Nittany Lions. With Jack's size and shooting ability, he creates a matchup problem for the post defenders guarding him. When the Reading native knocks down perimeter shots, it pulls post players from the opposing teams out of the paint. In doing so, Jack's shooting opens the lane for the dynamic backcourt duo of Tim Frazier and D.J. Newbill, in addition to Ross Travis and Brandon Taylor.
"We want to open up the floor. I knew Donovon was very much capable of making threes. And that's what makes us so tough to defend," Chambers said.
2. Taylor Fills the Stat Sheet
Head coach Patrick Chambers often talks about his guards being stat sheet stuffers. File sophomore forward Brandon Taylor as a stat sheet stuffer following his performance in Tuesday's win over La Salle. Taylor played a complete basketball game for the Nittany Lions. He scored 15 points on 6-for-10 shooting from the field (2-for-4 from three), pulled down eight rebounds and added four blocks. Additionally, Taylor committed just two personal fouls and played 33 minutes for the Nittany Lions. When Taylor is active on both ends of the floor, like he was against the Explorers, he brings an added dimension to the Nittany Lions starting lineup.
3. Hot Shooting in First Half
The Nittany Lions have been a strong team out of the gate in their past three outings. Starting fast on the offensive end of the floor is huge for confidence, and it has paid dividends for the Lions, who are averaging 84.0 points per game in the last three contests. During the first half, Penn State has shot better than 45 percent in each of the last three, including better than 59 percent from the field in two of the three games. As a team, Penn State enters the fifth game on the schedule shooting a combined 47 percent from the floor and 39 percent from beyond the arc. Taylor is shooting a team-best 59.4 percent from the field during the first four games (19-for-32).
4. Scouting Longwood
The Longwood Lancers enter their Friday night matchup against Brown with a 2-1 record. Following an 82-44 loss at South Carolina to open the season, Longwood notched victories at TCU (82-79) and at home against Mars Hill (88-70). Under the direction of first-year head coach Jayson Gee, Longwood returned seven lettermen and three starters for the 2013-'14 season. Senior guard Tristan Carey leads the team in scoring at 20.0 points per game. Carey has attempted 28 3-pointers in three games while shooting at a 39 percent clip. Carey is one of four Longwood players averaging double-figures. Sophomore forward Karl Ziegler is the team's leading rebounder at 7.3 per game. Longwood is a member of the Big South Conference.