Basketball Bits: A Schedule and a “Commitment”
It has been proven time and time again that the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee looks kindly upon a team that has played a tough out-of-conference schedule when it comes to placing teams who are on the bubble in the Big Dance. Penn State knows this fact all too well; go back and take a look who we played in the 2008-2009 season. The non-conference slate for the 2010-2011 season was officially released yesterday and while it may not stack up that of a Duke or UCLA, you can tell that Coach DeChellis and his staff made an concerted effort to strengthen its portfolio come March.
The Nittany Lions will hit the road to take on BCS foes Ole Miss and Virginia Tech and will welcome defending Atlantic Coast Conference regular season champion Maryland to the Bryce Jordan Center as part of the annual Big Ten/ACC Challenge. Other notable games include the season opener against 2009 NCAA Tournament team Lehigh and visits from Philly-area school St. Joseph’s and Pittsburgh-area school Duquesne.
I believe that this schedule is a step in the right direction for the new season. There are teams on tap that we should beat, teams that will be even with us and teams that will give us a test to see how good we really are. While there could be another major-conference opponent or two on the schedule to boost our resume, I’ll give it a solid B.
In other news, recent football recruit Shawn Oakman seems to be leaning towards a two-sport career during his time in Happy Valley. The 6-foot-8, 250-pound prospect has been a beast both on the field and the court for Penn Wood High School. He has led the basketball team to the past two PIAA Class AAAA state championship games, winning one and finishing as the runner-up last year. He says that the football coaches have put their support behind him in attempting to play both football and basketball, but he says that football will be his top priority. Still, somewhere in the offices of the BJC, you know that Ed DeChellis is thinking of bringing on Larry Johnson, Sr. to do all of his recruiting.