[quote=“PSUChamp08, post:7, topic:925”]The idea that winning the NIT would have a tangible benefit this season is nothing more than wishful thinking. Regardless of how last season ended, they had to replace three seniors from last year’s team. Despite winning the NIT, I think it was very difficult for the team in the offseason to refocus on a new season after knowing how much they accomplished last season yet being robbed of their place in the NCAA tournament that they deserved. Even going into this season, when Battle was interviewed he was already talking about making the NCAA Tournament this year. The problem with that is you can’t think about the NCAA tournament in November. Because you have to make sure you don’t lose more than 2 non conference games go give yourself a chance and momentum going into the BigTen. When you feel “pressure” to schedule harder non conference games, then you lose 4 non conference games (two games in a preseason tournament against sub-par teams) it’s hard to get that momentum going into BigTen conference play like last year. And yeah, it looks good when you list the teams that were in the NIT Final Four last year and how they are doing this year.
Baylor is having a solid year. Baylor was a solid team last year. They have seemingly improved this year. Big12 isn’t as tough game in game out as the BigTen, but an RPI of 10 is very impressive and they certainly could be a dangerous tournament team. Haven’t seen them play too much this year but I think they play a lot of zone defense.
Nothing is surprising about Notre Dame’s 21-10, 10-8 record. They beat UConn. Michigan beat UConn. The bottom 4 Big East teams aren’t very good. If PSU played Notre Dame right now there’s a good chance PSU beats Notre Dame. Notre Dame is an average team. They may make the tournament, but they are nothing special.
San Diego St is 21-8, and 10-5 in the Mountain West. Do you believe that San Diego St is that much better than PSU this year? If they played 10 games, maybe San Diego St wins 6 and PSU wins 4 or something. PSU would probably go 10-5 if they played in the Mountain West.
So, this is a good thread Spike because it’s true that these teams are having better years than PSU. But could these teams really go into MSU and be within a possession of Michigan State? Could they take Wisconsin to overtime in Madison? I don’t know the answer to that question. And i’m not gunna say that a 3-15 BigTen team is as good as winning records in other conferences. But it’s more difficult to win game in game out in the BigTen than it is in other conferences like the Big12 or the Mountain West. It’s like comparing apples to oranges. But of course it’s just a matter of opinion, which is why I believe teams playing in top RPI conferences should get the benefit of the doubt, especially when they have a good year with big wins on their resume and not any bad losses. At the same time, none of these teams finished 4th place in a major RPI conference last year and got snubbed from the NCAAs, and felt a need to prove that they deserved an NCAA bid in the NIT last year. That effort should have been witnessed in the NCAAs. It’s been said a million times but it’s certainly relevant to this thread to state this again. Getting selected would have done wonders for the team. Because they wouldn’t have felt like this year was so much of an uphill journey. Sometimes there’s a tipping point, and you can get the benefit of the doubt or get left out. Well PSU got left out last year and although they have played hard this season, they haven’t satisfied many, and justifiably so. I think for guys like Brooks, Jones, and Battle, playing in the tournament last year would have done wonders for the team’s confidence. It would have given them the ability to test the NCAA waters and see how far they have gotten. Now it’s just a big unknown and now doubt has undoubtedly crept in to an extent.
So, there may have been people that said that winning the NIT last year could translate into this season. If PSU didn’t get an appropriate return on their investment last year, and overachieved last year, or even if PSU got what they deserved, I don’t think too many PSU fans in their heart of hearts believed that winning the NIT was going to automatically translate into another huge season. I think that’s a bit naive, and insults the collective intelligence of most PSU fans. Still, the comparison of teams in the NIT last year and their success this year is interesting indeed.[/quote]
You say PSU couldn’t “refocus” after being snubbed last season. If that is the case, then someone in charge, i.e. the coaching staff, should have taken the responsibility to “refocus” the team towards making sure that snub didn’t happen again. I look at the three other teams as taking whatever disappointment remained over missing the NCAA Tournament last season and using it as motivation for being more successful this season. Battle should have been talking NCAA Tournament this season. The team should be in the mindset of always thinking NCAA Tournament each season. That is where everyone wants this team to get to, not thinking, “Maybe, if we get lucky, we might make the NIT again?”
I have been fortunate enough to watch Baylor for at least 10-12 games this season. They are a very solid basketball team. They have some solid wins, including two wins over Texas, a team Michigan State couldn’t beat. You say the Big 12 isn’t as tough top to bottom as Big Ten. Perhaps? There certainly are some lousy teams at the bottom, like Nebraska and Colorado. But there are some equally lousy teams at the bottom of the Big Ten as well, like Indiana, Iowa, and, yes, Penn State. The Big 12 has the nation’s best team, or at least next week’s #1 team, Kansas.They also have a solid, if tournament inexperienced Kansas State team. The Big Ten has some damn solid team at the top, Purdue, Ohio State, Michigan State and even Wisconsin. After that though, the falloff is pretty large. Illinois was a mediocre 8-5 outside the Big Ten, with losses to Utah, Bradley and Georgia. Minnesota has underachieved all season, while Northwestern has limped to a weak finish. Can’t say which is better. That is an opinion I do not acre to make. Head-to-head though, I do believe the Big 12 has outperformed the Big Ten this season (Missuori beat Illinois, Iowa State beat Iowa, Kansas Beat Michigan, Texas A&M beat Minnesota, Texas beat Michigan State). I believe the only Big Ten team that beat a Big 12 team is Northwestern, who beat Iowa State.
This season has been an abysmal failure, and it lays at the feet of the coaching staff for failing to capitalize on the success from last season’s NIT win. This may not have been an NCAA Tournament team this year, but it is damn sure not a last place team either. Some people can try to explain it all away with “bad luck”, or rationalize it by claiming close losses indicate that this team was good enough to win some of those close games. I look at the season in retrospect and wonder why were so many losses close? Was it exceptional coaching that kept an under-talented team in games, or was it lousy coaching that kept a talented team from winning more games. I believe it was the latter, and not the former.
As wonderful as last season’s NIT title was, this season’s collapse has erased much of the positive aura surrounding the program, at least to many a casual fan. Penn State slipped back into their old familiar place again, last place. They also slipped back out of the minds of too many casual fans, who were left wondering when spring practice was going to start, well before the conference season was halfway over.
The one thing the small contingent of PSU fans like yourself has to hold onto is hope, and promise. After all, “wait until next year” is well ingrained and all too knowledgeable to way too many a PSU hoops supporter.