PSU preview

By Steve DiMiceli

It seems like inclement weather screws me out of Duquesne road trip every year no matter how improbable it might be.  Three years ago it was Snowmageddon and the following season it was an ice storm turned whiteout following the heart breaker in Olean. Questionable forecasts kept me home from the GW game again last year. This year to really rub my nose in it, the snow ended about an hour after my window for leaving for State College expired. Penn St. loss is your gain as I'm now able to write a preview to give everyone an idea of what to expect today.

The story of the season for Penn St so far has been the loss of their ace and leading scorer in point guard Tim Frazier. Much of the Nittany Lions fate this year seemed to be in his hands. In his place, sophomore transfer Devonte Newbill and redshirt junior Jermaine Marshall have risen to the occasion and Penn St are doing better than I would have expected. Both guards average more than 15 points per game. Sophomore forward Ross Travis has added nearly around 7.5 points and rebounds a game. Beyond that, your guess is as good as mine on who will contribute for Penn St. They've gotten good minutes from former Duquesne signee Donovan Jack the last few games.

Penn St are not a particularly big team, but they rank #2 in the nation in terms of defense rebounding percentage. The Dukes will be their toughest test clearing the glass since they were beaten by Akron. Penn St play similarly to West Virginia. They like to keep the pace slower, pound the ball or drice inside and try to win rebounding battle. They are among the worst teams in the country shooting the three and only Marshall and forward Brandon Taylor shoot better than .300% from distance.

Today's game will largely depend on which Duquesne team shows up. The good one, or the one that only plays defense for 25-30 minutes a game. If recent history provides a pattern, it should be the better one as they seem to play every other game.

It will be interesting to see who the Penn St defense is focused on stopping today, Sean Johnson or the rising Derrick Colter who scored 50 points last week. Like Duquesne, they play strong interior defense but sag at the perimeter. Today's game could come down to who shoots three pointers better and gets to the line more frequently. Penn St tends to foul and get fouled at a high rate while Duquesne still manages to play under control. Tempo will play a factor as well. If Duquesne can get the Nittany Lions running and build an early lead, it should play into their favor. I've been going back and forth on this one, but I think the Dukes should stay in it today even if they don't win.