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Penn State Player of the Week: Talor Battle, Men's Basketball

by on February 24, 2010 1:00 PM

STATE COLLEGE, PA -- Sitting in the team lounge with his fellow players, Battle had an idea of what was to come.

He had done his research and knew it was unlikely his team would make 2009 NCAA Basketball Tournament. Penn State had ended its regular season with a 75-65 loss to Iowa (15-16, 5-13) and Battle knew this could certainly burst the Lion’s bubble.

“A lot of teams were winning their (conference) tournaments that were not going to be in the (NCAA) tournament before,” said junior guard Talor Battle. “They were knocking us out day by day.”

Penn State (22-11, 10-8) had gone 4-6 against the top three teams in the Big Ten, Michigan State, Purdue, and Illinois, but had not beaten a ranked out-of-conference opponent. Regardless of its record, Penn State had attracted enough attention to have CBS camera coverage in the team lounge on ‘Selection Sunday.’

The only thing the cameras would catch was Penn State’s disappointment in not making the 2009 NCAA Tournament.

“It was a little nervous during the (selection process) and was hoping we would get in,” said Battle. “It was a bummer we did not.”

It is unlikely that Battle or the rest of the Penn State basketball team (10-16, 2-12) will be surrounded by cameras this ‘Selection Sunday.’ However a tough season has not affected Battle’s daily mentality.

“It has obviously been a little disappointing,” said Battle. “The only way you are going to win is to stay positive and continue to work hard.”

Battle’s consistent effort has shown up in his statistic.

His 16.7 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 5 assists per game in 2009 are similar to his 19 points, 5.6 rebounds and 4 assists per game this year. Penn State’s leading scorer in 2009 is on pace to be the team’s top scorer again this year.

“More than anything (his effort) shows how strong willed he is,” said teammate and junior forward Jeff Brooks, who has played with Battle the past three seasons. “He is very strong both mentally and physically.”

Since losing Jamelle Cornley (14.4 ppg) and Stanley Pringle (12.8 ppg), to graduation in 2009, Penn State men’s basketball has struggled. Brooks believes this adversity has cemented Battle as a leader.

“He just tells you to keep fighting and keep pushing,” said Brooks. “He shows the same confidence in everybody on the team.

“It helps us a lot to see that the leader of the team is staying positive during a losing streak.”

Brooks, who was recruited the same year as Battle, saw this mentality from the beginning. He credits Battle as part of his decision to come to Penn State.

“We talked on the phone a couple times and he seemed nice, humble and ready to play some basketball,” said Brooks. “Knowing I was coming to play with someone as nice as Talor helped me to come here.”

The pair's first year, Penn State went 15-15. Battle’s sophomore, the team improved to 22-11 and won the National Invitation Tournament.

The championship meant a lot to Battle.

“Not a lot of basketball players experience winning a championship in college,” said Battle. “We were just so hot. I think if we played anyone in the country we would have had the opportunity to win the game.”

The NIT was an opportunity for Battle to show his abilities on a national scale, and qualifying for the 2009 USA World University Games team allow him to show them globally. The Penn State guard led his team in scoring with 19.7 ppg.

“Making the team was just a testament to my hard work, confidence and belief in me,” said Battle. “If a (Penn State) guy can make the USA team, it does nothing but better the program in years to come.”

With the addition of half-brother and high school senior Taran Buie, Battle expects his team to improve next year. The junior is excited to play a year of collegiate ball with his sibling, but is not ready to put too much pressure on Buie.

“My brother is a bigger recruit than I was, so I can only teach him so much,” said Battle. “At the end of the day he is still a young kid and I think that is what people sometimes forget.”

In Penn State’s second straight Big Ten win 55-51 over Michigan on Saturday, Battle had 14 points, 11 rebounds and 6 assists. These wins broke a 12-game in-conference losing streak.

“Taylor got a big defensive rebound that we had to have,” said Ed DeChellis, Penn State head coach. “We worked on some more cuts to the basket in the last week or so. Taylor got a couple backdoor (cuts) against Michigan."

“He was full energy last game and he has been doing all season,” added Brooks.

Shawn Myrick is a Spring 2010 intern and a Penn State senior majoring in communications and economics. He is also a member of the John Curley Center for Sports Journalism and can be reached at [email protected]
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