Posted November 06, 2018 at 06:00 AM | Updated November 06, 2018 at 06:06 AM
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Players are introduced at a packed Jordan Center before the resounding rout of Ohio State on Feb. 15.
By David Jones/PennLive
Though the 2017-18 Penn State basketball team gained respect in the Big Ten with an 11-10 record in conference play (including the conference tournament) and three wins over runner-up Ohio State, it did not make the NCAA tournament. A deficient non-conference schedule and a key suspension and an injury to two starters during the middle and end of league play.
The Nittany Lions were a work in progress all season, a puzzle not completed until it was too late. And the only reward was a consolation prize — the National Invitation tournament championship after five straight wins against some very good competition.
When ball-centric sophomore lead guard Tony Carr decided to apply for the NBA Draft, joining 3-bombing senior two-guard exiting the college stage, it seemed unlikely Patrick Chambers’ Nittany Lions could replace all the ammo they supplied. Lots of threes, lots of leadership and a ton of big shots, all out the door.
But here’s the thing: Until it was too late, State really didn’t play a lot of what you would call a synchronic “beautiful game.” Not terribly pleasing to the eye and, against better defenses, not very clever. The ball didn’t move much, especially after it found Carr in late-game situations. He was PSU’s black hole — once the ball arrived in his hands, it rarely came back. Sometimes he hit game-tying or winning shots, other times he didn’t. The Lions lived and died with him at game’s end — with the notable exception of his wonderful find of Josh Reaves with the dump-off for a dunk that beat Ohio State the third time at the B1G tournament in New York.
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Penn State coach Patrick Chambers draws up strategy as Lamar Stevens (bottom-right), Myles Dread (right) and Rasir Bolton (upper-right) listen during Nittany Lions’ 84-82 exhibition win on Saturday afternoon in Morgantown, W.Va.