Penn State Nittany Lions 2009 NCAA Mens Basketball Preview

By Joel Welser


<?xml:namespace prefix = st1 />Penn State Nittany Lions


Big Ten Conference


2008-09: 27-11, 10-8

2008-09 postseason: NIT

Coach: Ed DeChellis (84-103 at Penn State, 189-196 overall)


Penn State was agonizingly close to reaching the NCAA Tournament last year, but instead they ended up in the NIT. The good news is the Nittany Lions won the NIT, so this relatively young team gained some very valuable postseason tournament. Once again Penn State will be looking for a trip to the NCAA Tournament, but without Jamelle Cornley and Stanley Pringle, it might be another disappointing NIT showing.


Key Losses: F Jamelle Cornley, G Danny Morrisey, G Stanley Pringle


Key Newcomers:

Coach Ed DeChellis needs some new bodies to help replace Pringle and Cornley. Point guard Tim Frazier is the most likely candidate to produce immediate results. The 6-2 Houston, Texas product is a superb all-around player who can provide quality minutes at the point or shooting guard spot. Jermaine Marshall can add another scorer to the backcourt and Bill Edwards can give the team a solid rebounder on the perimeter if he can overcome a partially torn ACL injury suffered in late October. Up front it is freshmen Sasa Borovnjak and Billy Oliver who will compete for minutes.



Talor Battle is the only player returning who averaged over seven points per game last year. That leaves a lot of room for improvement from the rest of the squad. Danny Morrissey was the team’s sixth man last year and now he is gone. That leaves a big hole in the backcourt. Cammeron Woodyard did not see the floor very often as a freshman, but he is a potent outside shooter who is ready to take the next step. Penn State hopes Chris Babb can build off of his relatively successful freshman campaign as well. Like Woodyard, most of Babb’s shots came from beyond the arc and one of those two needs to find a way to mix up their game and get to the basket as well or this offense could become stagnant and predictable.



Even without Cornely, the frontcourt returns three players who started at least a dozen games last year. Andrew Jones is ready to become the leader of the unit. The 6-9 sophomore averaged 6.2 points and 5.8 rebounds during his freshman campaign. If he can turn into a better scoring threat under the basket, Penn State will be in great shape. David Jackson started 26 games last year and is athletic enough to play at either forward spot. Jeff Brooks will likely step into the frontcourt as a full-time starter at power forward. He is not a great scorer, but he will hit the glass hard. If those three start, the Nittany Lions will have to rely on the newcomers and little used Andrew Ott to provide some decent minutes off the bench.


Who to Watch:

Battle is the star of this team and he will take them as far as he can. Last season he led the team with 16.7 points per game and 5.0 assists. Battle is a prolific outside shooter, but he also does a surprisingly good job around the basket for a 5-11 point guard. His quickness is a big asset on both ends of the floor as he reached the charity stripe 5.5 times per game last year and is an underappreciated defender.


Final Projection:

However, Battle needs help if this team is going to reach the NCAA Tournament. Cornley and Pringle provided so much to this squad and there may not be players on the roster who are capable of filling the void. The young players need to do more than simply show promise; they need to develop into consistent scorers and defenders. The good news is that there is not a senior on the roster and Penn State should be better in 2010-2011.


Projected Post-season Tournament: NIT


Projected Starting Five:

Talor Battle, Junior, Guard, 16.7 points per game

Chris Babb, Sophomore, Guard, 2.8 points per game

David Jackson, Junior, Forward, 4.5 points per game

Jeff Brooks, Junior, Forward, 3.3 points per game

Andrew Jones, Junior, Forward, 6.2 points per game