We bet you thought we'd forgotten about the Big Ten Preview... well we just flipped it on your face because with 7 spots left, we're just picking up steam. Next on the countdown: Penn State and the annually overrated Nittany Lions. At this pace, we should have the preview done just in time for the Big Ten Tournament.
2006-07 Record: 11-19 (2-14)
Projected Finish: 7th
Returning Starters: 4
Head Coach: Ed DeChellis
Best Player: Geary Claxton (16.3 PPG, 8.0 RPG)
5 Reasons for Optimism:
1) Geary Claxton. It defies logic that Penn State could be so bad with Claxton on their team. He's the Big Tens leading returning rebounder and second leading returing scorer and was named to the preseason All-Big Ten Team for the second year in a row.
2) They played eventual national runner-up Ohio State close both times, losing by 2 in State College and by 8 in Columbus.
3) The Big Ten is a joke this year. While conferences like the Pac-10 are talking about getting 8 teams in the tournament, the Big Ten will be lucky to get 5. With Michigan, Minnesota, Northwestern and Iowa on the slate, even these jokers have to win more than 2 conference games.
4) If the wheels come off like last year, DeChellis already knows what to do: Just blame Jo Pa.
5) Pittsburgh superprep Terrelle Pryor is actually considering Penn State (we're sure he will come to his senses soon, though...)
5 Reasons for Pessimism:
1) Everyone predicted a breakout year from Penn State last year and they turned out to be the worst in the Big Ten. Even with Claxton and Jamelle Cornley back, why will it be any different this year?
3) If Claxton gets hurt, DeChellis might as well start filling out Burger King application forms. Last year in his absence, the Lions lost to Stony Brook, who finished the year 9-20 playing in the America East. Oh yeah, and Cornley is already gimpy too after hurting himself in the team's scrimmage.
4) Fun fact: Penn State's number of NCAA Tournament appearances? Eight. North Carolina A&T has nine.
5) They just lost to Rider. Oy vey.
Call us suckers, but with a preseason All-Big Ten Teamer in Claxton and a former Big Ten Freshman of the Year coming back, Penn State can't be as horrible as the Big Ten bottom feeders that have little talent and no experience. Then again, maybe Claxton and Cornley just look good because the guys next to them are so horrible. We're not sure how else to explain today's loss to Rider.
It would have been very poetic if DeChellis - a PSU alum - would have built the Penn State basketball program from the ground up. Unfortunately, it looks like his days are numbers. Hey, we hear Rene Portland is looking for a job as long as Penn State doesn't mind a homophobic racist calling the shots.