Penn State basketball notebook: A man possessed, a man passing, a man paying the bill
STATE COLLEGE – It might have been Penn State’s first offensive possession of the game, but it was the perfect harbinger of what was to come throughout the Nittany Lions most thrilling 40 minutes of Big Ten play.
Iowa held off Penn State 74-72, extending the Nittany Lions’ conference-long losing streak to 12 games, but from start to finish fans at the Bryce Jordan Center were treated to exciting basketball.
Jermaine Marshall started the action on the left wing, as D.J. Newbill broke backdoor behind the defense. Marshall lofted a pass toward the basket that looked just plain too high to handle.
However, Newbill – in one motion – corralled the ball in his right hand and dunked it through the rim sparing neither vim nor vigor, sending the crowd into hysterics.
"I think it’s big because it gives us a little bit of a home-court advantage," said a subdued Newbill when asked about the play. "You know, it gets the crowd going, gets the team hyped up."
The redshirt sophomore’s reserved post-game demeanor belied the desire he displayed for the 38 minutes he logged.
The 6-foot-4 guard from Philadelphia began the game guarding Iowa’s 6-foot-8 forward Aaron White, who gouged the Lions for 27 points earlier this season at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
Then when the Hawkeyes’ 6-foot-1 point guard, Mike Gesell, scored five quick points, Penn State head coach Patrick Chambers asked Newbill to slow him down.
"Our best player played their best player," Chambers said during his weekly teleconference on Friday. "I challenged D.J. and he was up for the challenge …"
The defensive game of Whac-A-Mole worked to an extent, as White finished the game with just nine points and Gesell finished with 13, scoring just three in the second half.
However, as the children’s game suggests, Roy Devyn Marble popped up next and unfortunately for Penn State there was only one Newbill.
Marble finished with 22 points, including two clutch free throws that extended the Haweyes’ lead with about 20 seconds remaining in the game.
And oh by the way, Newbill scored 26 points, grabbed eight rebounds and made a career-high three 3-pointers.
"Jack of all trades," Chambers said of Newbill. "He’s very impressive in his approach to the game and he wants to be successful …"
If the opening alley-oop dunk by Newbill portended his passionate play, the pass from Marshall foretold of his.
The redshirt junior finished with 14 points and a career-high 10 assists. The combination of Marshall and Sasa Borovnjak punished the Hawkeyes in pick-and-roll situations all evening.
Marshall, who Chambers said is playing "hurt" because of a nagging knee injury, hit Borovnjak on the roll portion several times. A few even sent the 6-foot-9 Serbian sprawling to the floor after a foul and a made basket, while ball boys scurried for their shammies.
After the clean ups on aisle Borovnjak, the senior converted a few 3-point plays, including one that brought Penn State within 70-67 with 1:53 remaining in the game.
"I felt like Sasa was a very good receiver last night," Chambers said. "He caught the ball number one … and number two he finished strong."
With his 14 points, Borovnjak became the first Nittany Lion to breach double figures with Marshall and Newbill in conference play.
As a team Penn State accumulated 17 assists to just six turnovers.
But it wasn’t all roses for Marshall, who shot just 3-of-13 from the field and 6-of-10 from the foul line. He was also asked by his coach to intentionally miss a free throw with his team down 73-71 with 1.5 seconds remaining.
He accidentally made the shot, throwing his hands up in disappointment as a timeout was called. It’s a responsibility he didn’t shy from after the game.
"I should have gotten it done," Marshall said. "Unfortunately it went in. There’s nothing I can do about it (now) and that’s what attitude is about."
Paying the bill
Patrick Chambers pledged on Monday to donate $10 to the Penn State IFC/Panhellenic Dance Marathon (THON) dedicated to fighting pediatric cancer. THON 2013 begins Friday and continues in the Bryce Jordan Center until Sunday. Chambers will donate $14,200 to THON 2013 as a result of student attendance at the game.
"It definitely helped out the atmosphere, which was great," Chambers said of the students who attended. "More importantly my wife and I are going to make a nice donation to THON."
THON raised more than $10.6 million last year and has raised more than $89 million since it began in 1977 in support of the Four Diamonds Fund at Penn State Hershey Children's Hospital.
Chambers said he was more than happy to make the donation for the kids. Some of his players got into the spirit as well.
Ross Travis had "FTK" (For The Kids) shaved into the side of his head before the game, while Newbill, Kevin Montminy and Patrick Ackerman all shaved their heads as part of the "No hair, don’t care" campaign with proceeds that benefit THON.