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Penn State Basketball: Nittany Lions Waiting For Next Man Up

by on February 15, 2016 4:00 PM

It was perhaps the most Penn State basketball thing imaginable that the Nittany Lions could go from beating Big Ten leading Indiana one game to nearly disappearing for the second half against a shorthanded, albeit talented Nebraska squad.

“It’s a roller coaster,” Coach Pat Chambers said on Monday. “It’s the ups and downs of a young team.”

And there is plenty of truth to that.

The Nittany Lions are largely a squad made up of underclassmen seeing their first meaningful minutes at the Division I level. Even Shep Garner has finally had growing pains finally catch up to him despite lots of playing time his freshman season. That leaves Brandon Taylor as the sole senior with significant experience. Devin Foster is a senior in class status, but his JUCO background still effectively renders him fairly new to Big Ten hoops.

It has never been a question of talent, it’s simple a matter of consistency.

“I can’t be in the game every play, and I don’t need to be in the game every play,” Taylor added Monday. “We’ve got great guys on this team that can step up and replace me. So when you get out there, play with confidence and do the little things.”

The challenge of course is getting that confidence in a conference where there nights off are few and far between.

For example a Wednesday night meeting with No. 4 ranked Iowa offers little in the way of respite on a grueling schedule. Not much time to catch your breath and get acclimated.

All of this in turn makes the growing process that much more important. As Taylor sat on the bench with three fouls early in the second half it was time for someone else to step up. Chambers might be viewing things with a big picture mentality, but there’s little doubt that when the team needs someone to step up, it doesn’t matter how old or how young they are. It just has to happen. This past weekend, that didn't happen.

“I’m going to use youth as an excuse (for the ups and downs) until the end of the year,” Chambers said with a grin. “But I’m waiting for our freshman to turn into sophomores, our sophomores to turn into juniors. There’s no doubt I’ve said “It’s time for somebody to step up.”

Who will step up as the season enters its final stretch? That’s anybody’s guess, but if somebody doesn’t, Penn State’s offense going MIA for stretches is going to make an upset over Indiana feel like it happened long long ago, in a galaxy far far away.

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