And now ladies and gentlemen, the moment we have all been climbing for. It’s tournament time in the rough and rugged Big Ten Conference and despite that late season nose dive, Penn State basketball still managed to find itself in a two-way tie for fifth place. With the tie-breaker going to Iowa, the Nittany Lions at least landed a six-seed, a much needed first-round bye, and an extra day to rest those legs that looked like spaghetti over the past 60 minutes of basketball.
Forget about that debacle last weekend in Chi-town versus Northwestern and wipe the slate on that second half collapse at the hands of Sparty on the floor of the BJC a week ago. It’s not worth it to rehash those ugly events. Chalk it up to whatever you want, but despite that fizzle at the end of an exciting season, the Lions still managed to stay in the thick of the hunt. Had things been a little different during our last home game against Michigan State, they would have easily been sitting towards the top with two days off as everyone else battled it out for the leftover scraps. That’s how close they were.
“Close only counts in horseshoes,” as the saying goes, but nonetheless, it is never the time to pack up ship and jump overboard. Now is the time to believe in what the team started. I believe that Myreon Jones will have his sea legs back after missing all those games with illness and I believe Jamari Wheeler will be the thief in the night we’ve all grown accustomed too. I believe the combos off the bench of Myles Dread/Isaiah Brockington and Seth Lundy/Curtis Jones Jr. will catch fire at just the right moment and I believe that Big John Harrar will cause nightmares down low just like he did as we cut down nets in the NIT. I believe that seniors Lamar Stevens and Mike Watkins will leave their hearts out on the hardwood game in and game out in the twilight of their careers in blue and white.
There are no more tomorrow or next year motivations for those two Philly natives who carved a path to Happy Valley. There are no more live to see another days left in the playbook. It’s either get it done or it’s one-and-done. There are no in-between. It all starts on Thursday night at 9pm in Indianapolis, as Penn State takes on the winner of Indiana/Nebraska. Beat them and the Maryland Terps wait licking their chops in a rematch from early December that the Nittany Lions won to jump-start their season. I can’t say for sure if we’re dancing or not today but now is not the time to look ahead or look back. It’s one game at a time from here on out, Nittany Nation and to believe in our underdog squad is the only option.