Illinois Game Grades
Penn State (14-17, 7-13) wrapped up their regular season schedule by beating Illinois (11-20, 7-13) 72-56 on Sunday afternoon at the Bryce Jordan Center. After starting 0-10 in conference play, the Nittany Lions ended the season winning seven of their last 10 games. The win also clinched the No.10 seed and a first-round bye in the Big Ten Tournament. The Nittany Lions will play Minnesota in the second round of the Big Ten Tournament on Thursday in Chicago. Here are some grades from Sunday’s game:
Josh Reaves on his senior day had a career-high 26 points, shooting 6-of-10 from the 3-point range. Other than Reaves, it didn’t really seem like any other Penn State could really find a groove offensively. Lamar Stevens was the only other Nittany Lion in double figures with 16 points.
As a team, Penn State only shot 31 percent from beyond the arc and 68 percent from the foul line. This team has gotten a lot better offensively as the season has gone along, but they still have some days where only one or two players seem to have their offensive game going well.
This has been the strength of this team all year and the Nittany Lions are at their best when they can turn defense into offense by getting steals and running some transition offense. Reaves and Jamari Wheeler were their usual selves on defense, flying to the ball. Reaves also stepped up with 11 rebounds on a day, seeing that Mike Watkins wasn’t having much of an impact.
If the Nittany Lions continue to be strong on defense and play enough offense, they could win a couple of games in the Big Ten Tournament.
At the end of January, this team was given last rights sitting at the bottom of the Big Ten. Since then, they have won seven of their last 10 games, including wins against top 25 teams like Michigan and Maryland. These efforts have earned them a first-round bye in the upcoming Big Ten Tournament. In what might be the best conference in college basketball this season and the Nittany Lions have made themselves a team that no one should overlook or wants to play in the postseason.
It is safe to say that the coaching of Pat Chambers has carried this team through the woes they have faced this year. While everyone counted this Nittany Lions team out, he constantly maintained faith in his crew and this attitude can easily be credited to their late-season success. Looking for a fired-up, ambitious Chambers heading into post-season play.
Kevin McConlogue is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism with a minor in political science. To contact him email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Junior / Broadcast Journalism