Posts tagged ‘Talor Battle’
Tim Frazier was looking for an example that would fully convey his new coach’s intensity. He wasn’t lacking for options.
“Coach is pure energy, all the time,” Frazier said Tuesday. “Even in free throw drills.”
That assessment certainly jibes with everything we’ve seen and heard from Patrick Chambers in the five months since he was named head coach of the Penn State men’s basketball program. Whether with fans, the media, or his players, Chambers seemingly is always intense—intensely positive about the program’s potential, and intensely focused on how he plans to maximize it.
Chambers and his players met the press Tuesday at the team’s preseason media day, where they explained how intensity and optimism might translate into wins.
Penn State comes into the 2011-12 season without four starters—and the overwhelming majority of its points, rebounds, and assists—from a team that last year reached the NCAA tournament. Outside consensus is that the Nittany Lions won’t be able to overcome those graduation losses—they’re a popular pick to finish dead last in the now-12-team Big 10. Frazier, a junior guard, is the only returning starter, and he knows his days as a supporting player are over.
“I don’t want to put it all on Tim Frazier,” Chambers said. “But (more…)
This isn’t how we hoped Taran Buie’s story would turn out.
We assume most Alumni Association members recall our Sept/Oct 2010 cover story on Buie and his half-brother Talor Battle, the basketball teammates on whose talents Penn State’s 2010-11 season figured to rest. In that, we were half right: Battle wrapped up arguably the finest career in Nittany Lion history by leading the team to its first NCAA tournament berth since 2001. Buie? The highly touted freshmen showed flashes of promise early in the season, but was suspended indefinitely for violations of team rules at the start of Big Ten play. That suspension ran through the end of the season, leaving most observers to assume Buie wouldn’t be back.
Well, now it’s official. On Monday, coach Ed DeChellis ’82 announced that Buie has been released from his scholarship, leaving him free to play at another school. Buie’s history of minor legal scrapes—most recently, he was one of a handful of Penn State athletes charged with disorderly conduct following a scuffle last month—likely won’t prevent him from finding a suitor, particularly among college coaches who remember him as one of the most talented high school players in the country. It’s a shame he couldn’t follow his older brother’s example: Battle, by all accounts, has been a model student-athlete during his four years on campus.
Ryan Jones, senior editor
I felt terrible Thursday for the guys on the Penn State basketball team, but as someone who has closely followed the team this season, straddling the line between media member and unabashed fan, I didn’t actually feel that bad myself. To lose an NCAA first-round game that way—on a contested last-second shot against Temple—was brutal, but it’s also what makes the tournament great. All those shining moments and fantastic finishes inevitably leave one side feeling crushed.
On Thursday, Penn State was just one of a few teams to see its season end in the dying seconds. There will be many more over the next couple of weeks. Had the Nittany Lions gotten the ball last, we’d be talking about their chances Saturday to pull a bigger upset and make the Sweet 16. That’s how it goes.
Consolation? Well, sure, in a sense. As Talor Battle (pictured), moments after the final game of his remarkable career, summed up, “For the rest of my life, I’ll know that we didn’t just come out here and get beat. It took a heck of a shot to beat us.”
Penn State athletes are far from done in NCAA competition, though. The Big Ten champion wrestling team was in first place after the first day of the three-day NCAA championship tournament, placing seven wrestlers into the quarterfinals of the winner’s bracket. As of early Friday afternoon, the Lions had four wrestlers through to the semis, and looked to be locked in an extremely tight battle with Cornell in the team standings. It should come down to the wire on Saturday night.
And on Saturday morning, the sixth-seeded Lady Lion basketball team opens NCAA play with an 11 a.m. tipoff against Dayton at the Bryce Jordan Center. You can find more information here.
Ryan Jones, senior editor
I asked Talor Battle the first question of Tuesday’s post-game press conference. He seemed to know it was coming. He’s heard variations of it before.
“You know what’s funny?” he said with a smile. “Whenever we win, someone mentions how we lost to Maine.”
He can smile now, but at the time, there was nothing funny about it. Three weeks ago, the Nittany Lion basketball team closed out its non-conference schedule with a 10-point home loss to Maine. It was a brutal way to head into conference play, the sort of loss that implied this team might be headed for a dismal winter in Big Ten play.
Instead, the Lions are 3-2 in what might be the best conference in the nation (and 10-6 overall), with wins in the past four days over Michigan State and Illinois. Both were ranked in the top 20 at the time, giving Penn State its first back-to-back wins over ranked teams since 1954 — the year the Nittany Lions made their only trip to the NCAA Final Four.
Penn State still has much to do to get back to the NCAA tournament this season, but these two most recent wins will help. Which led to my question for Battle, the Nittany Lions’ inspiring senior star: What happened to turn that team into this one? Battle figures the loss to Maine itself might have inspired this team’s apparent rebirth.
“Maybe that’s what sparked the fire in us,” he said last night, still smiling. “The last few games, we’ve really played hard for each other.”
That they have. The 57-55 win over the Illini marked the second straight game Penn State outrebounded a bigger, stronger opponent. (more…)
The Penn State men’s basketball team held its annual media day Monday afternoon, suiting up for interviews and pictures before running through an open practice. As you’d expect, the mood was good: These preseason gatherings tend to be optimistic, with players and coaches focused on the season’s potential and a schedule loaded with winnable games. But even by those standards, these Nittany Lions seem like an especially positive and confident bunch. That’s encouraging, and perhaps a little surprising.
Last season, (more…)
Most Alumni Association members should have their copy of our Sept/Oct issue, with basketball-playing brothers Talor Battle and Taran Buie on the cover. We guessed when we shipped the issue that it would generate some feedback, and that’s already been the case. We’ve received some compliments on the story, but also a handful of letters and phone calls expressing disappointment with the cover photo and the choice of subjects. I imagine we’ll get a few more before it’s all done.
(Not an Alumni Association member? You can read a PDF of the story here.)
For those who might be curious, here’s some background on how — and why — Battle and Buie ended up on our cover. The easy part is that Battle, a senior this year, is on pace to finish as arguably the best basketball player in school history.
Yes, we know it’s football season. But it’s going to be an important year for the men’s basketball team, too, which is why our September/October issue—which should be arriving in your mailbox any day now, depending on where you live—has a couple of basketball players on the cover.
On the left is senior guard Talor Battle, who’s possibly the best player in Penn State history. On the right is his little brother, Taran Buie, a freshman guard who’s probably the most highly touted recruit in the program’s history. Inside, senior editor Ryan Jones ’95 tells the story of their family’s journey to State College and explains why the brothers mean so much to the basketball team, which followed up its 2009 NIT championship with a 20-loss season.
Among the other goodies you’ll find in this issue:
—Stories from alumni explaining how they became Penn Staters. (And next week on the blog, we magazine staffers who are alums will tell you our stories, too.)
—Additional coverage from Tina Hay ’83 about the Alumni Association’s trip to Europe.
—And of course there’s some football, too. We’ve got a piece on Bud Meredith, the University’s ticket manager for the past 44 years, and an essay by Michael Weinreb ’94 pondering the big-picture significance of the 1986 Orange Bowl team and 1987 national championship team.
Lori Shontz, senior editor
Talor Battle looks tired.
“They’re working us hard, man,” Battle tells me during a break at the LeBron James Skill Academy in Akron, Oh., where he and 19 other top returning college players have spent the past few days. The Nike-run camp exists primarily as a showcase for top high school talent, and about 70 of the best prep players in the country are in town for the week. The college portion of the camp is more selective, with invites limited to 20 guys who are expected to be All-American candidates next season — and possible NBA draft picks in 2011 or beyond.
It’s one of the main events of a busy summer hoop schedule, and one I’ve attended the past four years in a semi-professional capacity, and this annual trip to Akron is a chance to see a lot of the guys I might soon be writing about and also catch up with some old friends. Coming back this summer meant a chance to stand and gawk at the ongoing LeBron James free-agent circus (LeBron-generated hype being a topic I’m pretty familiar with) and, better yet, a chance to see a Nittany Lion basketball player run with some of the nation’s best.
Penn State hoop fans are familiar with Battle’s story: (more…)
There’s an interesting piece on SI.com today by Luke Winn, a college basketball writer for Sports Illustrated. Winn profiles six underclassmen—including Penn State star Talor Battle—who submitted their names for this year’s NBA draft. Two of them will be in the pool for next month’s draft, while the other four—including Battle—withdrew their names to come back for another year of college ball. Each player had about a month in which to work out for NBA scouts and get a sense of their strengths, weaknesses, and draft prospects, a window that was compromised by an NCAA rule change that limited the amount of time players had to test the waters. The rule change figures to help college coaches solidify their lineups going into next season, but it made things hard for players like Battle, who had less time and information to make the decision.
The piece features some candid quotes from Battle about the frustrations of the process, and about the shortcomings that meant he was unlikely to be drafted this year; NBA scouts told Battle he “needed to get bigger, work on my ball handling and that it was in my best interests to go back to school.” I imagine he’ll spend the summer taking that advice.
Ryan Jones, senior editor
First the good news: Talor Battle made it official over the weekend, announcing he’ll be back for his senior season with the Nittany Lion basketball team. The all-Big Ten point guard and three-time team MVP spent the past few weeks testing the NBA draft waters, but he notified the athletic department over the weekend that he’ll be back for his final year. It’s the decision most people expected, but it’s still great to hear it confirmed by the man himself.
Now, the disappointment: The men’s volleyball fell to top-ranked Stanford in the national title match on Saturday night, dropping a 30-25, 30-20, 30-18 decision to the Cardinal. The Lions were aiming for their third NCAA championship but couldn’t overcome a terrific Stanford squad playing on its home court. It was an unhappy end to an otherwise typically terrific season for the Lions, who finished with a 24-8 record and won their 12th straight EIVA conference championship.
Ryan Jones, senior editor