Penn State Basketball: Experience Building Continues Monday Night In Showdown With Siena
In the final minutes of Penn State's 69-65 victory over Hampton in the first round of the College Basketball Invitational tournament, freshman guard Graham Woodward stood under his own basket to put the ball in play.
It was a critical moment in the game with Penn State leading by only a few points -- making a mistake by Woodward all that more difficult to overcome.
But Woodward got the ball in play during the high pressure situation, a situation that was all the more pressure-filled as Woodward has hardly ever been tasked with inbounding duties this season.
And that's the kind of experience Penn State is getting out of playing in the CBI. It's not about the Nittany Lion freshman scoring 20 points or playing 40 minutes, it's about getting more minutes and getting more chances to deal with in-game situations when the game's really matter.
Those kinds of experiences happened all game. Geno Thorpe hitting game-winning free throws, Jordan Dickerson getting nearly 20 minutes of playing time, Brandon Taylor expanding his minutes. Not every experience was a flashy dunk or steal but they're all important ones for those players to have in their back pocket heading into next season.
"He got fouled, he did some good things," Coach Pat Chambers said of Thorpe's play in the win. "And usually I don't put him in there for end of game situations but we kept him in there and did some switching and some blitzing and I left him in there because I wanted to see if he could do it. It was good for me to test the waters there for a little bit -- maybe a little too close, as usual -- but it was good that we did it."
"We (put players in uncomfortable situations) a lot, Geno being out there on offense, Graham being out there as an inbounder, Jordan being out there on defense, we did it. And I think they stepped up to the challenge. It wasn't perfect but we'll clean that up."
Chambers will look to continue the experience building on Monday night as Penn State travels to face Siena in the second round of the CBI. Siena entered the CBI with a 15-17 record after falling to Canisius in the MAAC tournament. The Saints now are 16-17 after the 66-55 win over Stony Brook in the opening round game March 18 in Albany.
The Nittany Lions will have to earn this road victory as well. The Saints are led by Rob Poole who had 20 points in the win over Seawolves and leads the team with 14.8 ppg on the season. Brett Bisping is second with 10.8 ppg and a team-leading 6.3 boards.
On Penn State's side, Tim Frazier and DJ Newbill will continue to carry the load for the Nittany Lions but growing contributions from the rest of the team will determine how successful Penn State's postseason experience gaining campaign will be.