On Saturday, March 2nd, the Gophers will conclude the home schedule against Penn State at Williams Arena. In preparation for their only meeting with Penn State during the regular season, Gophersports.com' s beat writer Jeff Fett takes a look at the Nittany Lions.
Head Coach: Patrick Chambers
This Year's Big 10 Record: 1-14
The Gophers hope to capitalize on Tuesday's dramatic win over No. 1 Indiana during Senior Day on Saturday.
Top 5 Leading Scorers: D.J. Newbill-15.8 ppg, Jermaine Marshall-15.0 ppg, Sasa Borovnjak-6.9 ppg, Ross Travis-6.5 ppg, Brandon Taylor-5.7 ppg.
Top 5 Leading Rebounders: Ross Travis-7.2 rpg, D.J. Newbill-5.6 rpg, Jermaine Marshall-4.5 rpg, Brandon Taylor-3.5 rpg, Sasa Borovnjak-3.4 rpg.
Notable wins: Michigan, Providence, Bucknell, Army
Penn State has had its struggles, but a win over no. 4 ranked Michigan may have this team finally turning the corner. Head Coach Patrick Chambers has had a tough time in the Big Ten in his second season. At one point, Penn State lost 18 straight conference games dating back to last season, but the Nittany Lions will be coming in with some confidence after the first Big Ten win of the season.
Penn State suffered a big blow just a few games into its season. All Big Ten point guard Tim Frazier ruptured his Achilles tendon in its loss to Akron. He's out for the year. He led Penn State last season in all of the major categories. He is a "Mr. Do Everything" for the Nittany Lions and is obviously missed.
Fortunately for Penn State, the backcourt is still their strength, even without Frazier. Sophomore D.J. Newbill, a transfer from Southern Miss has stepped up in his absence and is leading the team in scoring and second in rebounds. Junior Jermaine Marshall has also upped his game and provided much needed leadership on the court.
In a tough Big Ten conference where there are plenty of big men to throw the basketball to, that's where Penn State needs help. The tallest player playing consistent minutes is 6'9" junior Sasa Borovnjak. He's averaging six points and three rebounds a game. Chaska native Ross Travis leads this team in rebounding at 7.2 boards per game.
Penn State has had its struggles this season, but a few more wins to end the year could build some confidence as the Nittany Lions look toward next season.