Penn State Basketball: Nittany Lions Looking To Reduce Unforced Errors
February 03, 2015 6:00 AM
by Ben Jones
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Nineteen turnovers are a lot.

And at the end of the day those kinds of mistakes will cost you more in the long run than any call a referee does or does not make.

The Nittany Lions were fortunate to be within two points against Illinois this past weekend after coughing up the ball nearly 20 times. Make that many mistakes again against the wrong team, and you might be lucky to be within 19 when it's all said and done.

That's the message that Pat Chambers has for his team as Penn State looks to upset Maryland this week on the road. It's hard enough already as it is and Penn State can't make things even harder by committing unforced errors.

"I think Penn State is hurting Penn State," Chambers said on Monday. "We have to stop beating ourselves or almost beating ourselves. Minnesota did press but I felt like those were some careless turnovers there. Illinois didn't really press … we just made some careless decisions and we have to stop doing to ourselves. If you take away six (of the 19), we probably win by four or five."

That's the key reality for the Nittany Lions. They are tantalizingly close to winning. But life on the edge means a few mistakes can be the difference between winning and losing. It's a balance between playing with aggressive confidence and playing without control. 

Most of these issues will undoubtedly fix themselves with time. Penn State's roster, for all of its experience, is still incredibly young. Shep Garner, Geno Thorpe, Payton Banks, Devin Foster, Julian Moore and Jordan Dickerson are all playing in either their first year of college basketball or seeing their first year of significant playing time. It's one thing to succeed in practice and it's another to play at a high level in a game.

For the most part the Nittany Lions have done that. Even in losing efforts their turnover rates have generally been acceptable. Every loss will magnify mistakes, but it's unreasonable to assume perfection is required in order to win.

Fewer than 19 turnovers would help though. Thirty-five giveaways in a two game span was the difference in two games that came down to the wire.

"You can't win and turn the ball over that many times," Guard DJ Newbill said. 

Penn State will have its hands full on Wednesday night facing a Maryland team that forces just over 12 turnovers a game. All in all, the Nittany Lions can live with the forced turnovers, it's the mental errors and mistakes that need to be cut down on.

For a young team, the only cure for mental errors is more playing time. Fortunately for Penn State, there are still plenty of games left on the schedule.


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