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Penn State Basketball: Nittany Lions Look For Win No. 6 At Northwestern Tonight

by on March 06, 2014 11:35 AM

On Tuesday afternoon freshman guard Geno Thorpe was shooting alone with a few members of the basketball program inside the Jordan Center practice gym.

Smiling and laughing he worked his way around the court shooting from different parts of the floor. Most shots found their mark with each miss followed by a single hand clap as Thorpe looked for the next pass to come his way.

While Penn State's 2013-14 season still has at least three games remaining on the schedule -- important ones at that -- the Tim Frazier era is all but over. So as the clock winds down on his tenure at Penn State it will be up to those players remaining to pick up the slack.

Ultimately, Penn State's success in the next few years will depend greatly on players' ability to improve over the course of the year and from season to season. It stands to reason that improvement will take time, but the amount of improvement the team sees as a whole will largely dictate Penn State's ability to win games.

So sessions like the one Thorpe had on Tuesday are as important for the next three games as they are the next three years of his career at Penn State. The season may be in its dying embers, but Thorpe's time at Penn State has only really just begun.

That's not only true for Thorpe. Penn State's roster has seven different underclassmen listed on it. Five have seen meaningful minutes all season long. Freshman Payton Banks has yet to see the floor in the blue and white and Julian Moore saw limited action early and seems to be destined for either a redshirt or a season of eligibility used sparingly.

On Thursday night, Penn State will get a chance to continue to develop these players. The Nittany Lions will look for win number six in conference play as they travel to face Northwestern. The game will mark the first of two games in three days. Penn State will turn around quickly for a flight out to Minnesota to finish the regular season.

The Nittany Lions will have to crack a stingy Northwestern defense that is one of the better in the conference despite the Wildcats recent struggles over a six game losing streak. The Wildcats will also be without the team's second leading scorer in JerShon Cobb who will miss the remainder of the season with injury.

A win would give the Nittany Lions a sixth victory in conference play, a program-best mark since the 2011 season and a win total bettered only twice in the past ten years.

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Ben Jones covers Penn State football and basketball for StateCollege.com. He's on Twitter as @Ben_Jones88.
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