Posts tagged ‘basketball’

Inside Our November/December 2016 Issue

nd16_cover_webKeep an eye on your mailbox: Our November/December 2016 issue is being mailed out this week to members of the Alumni Association.

On the cover is an image of the iconic elms that decorate central campus. These stately trees along Henderson Mall are just one reminder of the beautiful landscape at University Park. Starting on page 24, “A Natural Beauty” takes a look—literally and figuratively—at some of the 16,000 trees that have defined our campus since 1855.

Also in this issue, deputy editor Ryan Jones writes about Patrick Chambers and his Nittany Lion basketball team. Now entering his sixth season, and with a pair of nationally ranked recruiting classes, his best season yet could be around the corner.

Editor Tina Hay went down to the Department of Homeland Security in D.C. in September to meet with a group of alumni who are tasked with a big job: keep America safe and secure online. Read the roundtable with them, “Watchers of the Web,” on page 34.

Plus, we celebrate the Penn Staters who medaled in the Olympic Games; we interview an elite opera singer who, at the age of 63, is also a student in the School of Music; and we look at the Mini-THONs that have popped up in dozens of middle and high schools.

Send us your thoughts about the new issue by commenting below or emailing us at

Amy Downey, senior editor


October 25, 2016 at 1:17 pm 2 comments

Kirk Goldsberry’s Going Pro

For years, Kirk Goldsberry ’99 has been one of the most widely respected analytical minds in all of basketball. His work was prominently featured on ESPN websites, most notably the now-defunct Grantland (you might also remember that we featured him in our May/June 2015 issue). Goldsberry became famous for making maps that charted how NBA players shot from various areas of the floor. Here’s an example:

When he wasn’t writing about basketball, Goldsberry was a visiting scholar at Harvard; his projects included geographic education, space-time graphics, and mapping food environments and healthcare environments.

Now, Goldsberry has decided to commit full-time to hoops. He’s joining the San Antonio Spurs, long revered for being one of the more forward-thinking teams in the NBA when it comes to advanced statistical analysis. Goldsberry hasn’t said exactly what he’ll be doing for the five-time champions, but don’t be surprised if his expertise helps keep them near the top of the league.

Bill DiFilippo, online editor

March 1, 2016 at 1:54 pm Leave a comment

Wookiee Sensation

Our March/April issue includes a feature on former Nittany Lion basketball center Joonas Suotamo ’08, who had quite a large role in bringing an iconic character to the screen in the blockbuster Star Wars: The Force Awakens. If you saw the movie — and by now, who hasn’t — you’re probably thinking, “Huh?!?! I don’t remember a 7-foot blonde Finnish guy in that?” That is, unless you recognize his friendly blue eyes.

Suotamo assumed the role of Chewbacca, the trusty co-pilot of the Millennium Falcon. Cast to help lessen the physical burden on 73-year-old Peter Mayhew, Suotamo didn’t miss a beat in making his Wookiee a virtual carbon copy of the original, despite being about four inches shorter. (And neither is saying which scenes feature either actor.)

So what’s the key to playing Chewbacca? Said Suotamo when we caught up with him recently via Skype from his native Finland, “You have to realize the stubbornness of that hairy carpet. He doesn’t take kindly to advice when he’s flying in his Millennium Falcon. It was just diving into the role and trying to behave as he would in whatever the story demanded.”

And the growl? On screen it’s a sound effect added in later by film editors. But Suotamo does do his own interpretation of a Wookiee growl, and he did it for us in this clip from the interview:

For more on Suotamo’s story, check out our March/April issue. You can read more tidbits from the interview below.


February 25, 2016 at 12:52 pm Leave a comment

Up the Ranks

Former Penn State basketball standout Calvin Booth ’98 is moving up the ranks as an NBA executive. Booth, the Nittany Lions’ all-time leader in blocked shots (428), this week was promoted by the Minnesota Timberwolves to director of player personnel.

With his playing days behind him, Booth joined the Timberwolves two years ago as a scout and director of player programs. The 6-foot-11 forward/center enjoyed a 10-year career in the league, and had stints with seven different clubs. In 366 career games, including 83 starts, Booth averaged 3.3 points, 2.8 rebounds, and 0.9 blocks per game. He retired in the summer of 2009.

Booth was hired by the Timberwolves in June 2013 and previously worked as a scout, both pro and collegiate, with the New Orleans Hornets during the 2011-12 season.

B.J. Reyes, associate editor

September 25, 2015 at 10:00 am 3 comments

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