What felt like the start of the Old Spice Classic 2.0 of two years ago ended with feeling a little better about things after a 59-57 win over Davidson in the final game of the Charleston Classic.
In a tournament that gave everybody a taste of the good old days of Penn State basketball, the Lions will look to never look back and take the victory and rebuild positive momentum for the rest of the season.
So what did we learn from the Classic?
Jeff Brooks is coming into his own
After the first two games of the season, it was clear that Brooks had found himself and was playing within his game, but it still remained to be seen how he would play on the road. In the three games at the Classic, Brooks produced 36 points, 11 rebounds, and six assists. This has vaulted Brooks to being the No. 2 scoring option on the team, averaging 11.5 points a game.
It’s still taking everybody some getting used to watching Jeff shoot the ball, but it is a nice thing to have to get used to.
For some reason we’re hitting 80 percent of them. After free throws being the weak point in last season's close games, it is nice to see that the free ones are falling.
Bill Edwards looks good
Coming off of injury, it’s going to take a little bit of time to get back into the swing of things, but Edwards produced eight points in his first game of the season and plays with a high level of basketball IQ. Look for him to take over David Jackson’s minutes if he continues to play at a high level.
Don't be surprised if it takes him a little time get over the mental roadblock of playing after an injury, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see him making big contributions to the team very soon.
I just want to punch those missed shots in the face
So that was a lot of good things for losing two out of three games. What needs to be improved for the rest of the season?
Solid in the lane defense is a must, or the Big Ten season was going to be pretty painful to watch. With big body guys like Jeff Brooks and Drew Jones, they shouldn’t have an issue banging around inside, but for whatever reason they seem to be playing a little timid.
Jones does average about seven rebounds a game, which is nice, and Brooks has picked up his rebounding, but the penetration defense as a whole needs to be stronger. When the lane is strong, the perimeter is weak, and opponents are shooting at a 34 percent clip from three against us this season, so finding a balance on defense is key.
Hit some shots
For whatever reason shots just weren’t falling for the Lions. We’re talking lay-ups and five-foot jumpers. How many times have you seen Talor Battle miss a lay-up? I can now say I’ve seen him miss two, and it’s the weirdest thing ever.
These guys just need to hit the gym and get the confidence back. The teams they were beaten by beat them for the most part because nothing was falling for the Lions. Battle did have a few big scoring games, but at the same time he chucked up a million shots in each game and only landed about a third of them. That's not going to fly in Big Ten season.
Those are two big things to work on, but if you’re hitting your shots and the defense is playing well, then you don't have much to worry about. So here's to the start of the rest of the season. 3-2 with many, many games to go.