Encouraging signs from PSU’s 74-70 loss at Indiana and why NCAAs are not lost — as long as Josh Reaves is elligible
Penn State’s Tony Carr (10) splits two Indiana defenders for two of his 28 points in the Nittany Lions’ 74-70 loss at Indiana. The loss dropped the Nits to 2-3 in the Big Ten with a home game against Nebraska on deck Friday night at the Jordan Center.
Penn State played some of its best defense of the season for long stretches in last night’s 74-70 loss at Indiana and showed fire and desire for a second straight outing that’s been missing in some games. Here are some alterations that might yet save an NCAA bid for a team that has the talent for the task but has often lacked the structure, direction and fire. That’s as long as the Lions’ glue guy, junior wing guard Josh Reaves (missing @Indiana with an academic issue) isn’t missing any longer.
Penn State forward Mike Watkins picked up a pair of personal fouls in the first half and was removed until intermission in the 74-70 loss at Indiana. But he’s too valuable for PSU to do without and finished with only three fouls in 27 minutes.
We’ve seen it over and over if Penn State’s most indispensable player picks up his second foul in the middle of the first half — out he comes and in comes a steep downgrade in talent and skill from Penn State’s thin bench. When Mike Watkins comes out of the game, the Nittany Lions suffer. And so many times when coach Patrick Chambers has removed him, Watkins actually has finished games with only 2 or 3 personal fouls. The risk of a DQ just doesn’t seem to equate with the potential reward of having the big man out there.
That was the case in last night’s 74-70 loss at Indiana. Watkins picked up two quickies from a substandard Big Ten crew and exited with 9:06 left in the first half. Though, this time, the Lions actually made up three points with Watkins out the remainder of the half, that’s a rare occurrence. His shot-blocking on defense and his post-up skills on offense are essential for Penn State to run at anything close to peak efficiency. Julian Moore and Satchel Pierce, while experienced back-ups, simply can’t do any of the things Watkins does. And he’s learned how to play with fouls better this season, getting as many as 4 PFs in only three games with no DQs.