Penn State Sports Update

Penn State Sports Update

Men’s Lax Squad Appears Headed to NCAA Tournament

Last spring, fans of Penn State men’s lacrosse team were excited about the progress made by new head coach Jeff Tambroni. Now well into the second installment of the Tambroni Regime, the results have gone from solid/steady progress to outstanding.

Penn State lacrosse 2013If you don’t follow college lacrosse closely, or even a little bit, it is very difficult to reach the championship tournament. Only 16 (out of 63) teams make the cut and if a program doesn’t win its conference tournament, it must then hold its breath to be chosen for one of the remaining seven at-large berths. Save two occurrences (2003 and 2005), playing lacrosse in May has eluded Penn State.

State should’ve been chosen for an at-large bid last season, but perennial powerhouse Princeton received the nod, partly due to a better RPI mark but mostly due to its name.

Following a 13-7 victory at Delaware on Saturday April 20, the eighth-ranked Nittany Lions, who hold the sixth-best RPI ranking, clinched the top seed in the upcoming conference tournament, which State will host starting on Wednesday. The winner gets an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament, but if a loss occurs in the CAA tourney, the Nits have a very strong chance to garner one of the at-large bids. This past Saturday in the regular-season finale against Hofstra, PSU completed its first undefeated conference campaign with a 16-7 win.

2012-13 Men’s Ice Hockey Recap

Good news begets better news for the Penn State Division I men’s ice hockey program. Or, shall we say (in our best Howard Finkel voice), the NEW Penn State Division I men’s ice hockey program. Not only was Guy Gadowksy’s first and only season as a D-I independent a tremendous success, but Pegula Ice Arena is nearing completion. For lifelong fans of Penn State Hockey who held years’ worth of dreams about a varsity program competing on the same level (let alone in the same conference) as Minnesota, Michigan and Michigan State, that reality is now mere months away.

An overall record of 13-14-0 against D-I opponents – which included wins on the road against MSU and Wisconsin – was and should be considered an enormous success.

The brand new hockey arena has its shell built and will now undergo the design Pegula Ice Arenaand inside materials building phase. The opening game in Terry Pegula’s gift of a lifetime will be on October 11 against Army (if you don’t live in the State College area, here is a link to a live webcam that shows the progress: Pegula Ice Arena , and the inaugural Big Ten hockey season is set to begin in the weeks thereafter. Joe Battista cannot be thanked enough; here’s to ya, JoeBa – decades of your tireless work has realized itself in spades.

Last Thursday, Gadowsky announced the captains for 2013-14: Tommy Olczyk (hockey fans might recognize the last name – yes, he’s Easy Eddie’s son) will wear the “C” on his sweater while blueliner Nate Jensen and forward David Glen, who will be a sophomore in the fall, are the assistant captains.

“Entering our first year in the Big Ten Hockey Conference, we will need great leadership to expedite the learning process in order to compete with some of the most storied programs in college hockey,” Gadowsky said. “ exhibit high levels of work ethic and commitment both on and off the ice and a genuine caring for…our hockey program.”

Bench Leaves O’Brien’s Lions

bench 2013Well, so much for the idea that Christian Hackenberg will definitely redshirt. In a surprising move just days after the Blue-White scrimmage, sophomore quarterback Steven Bench asked for and was granted his release from Penn State. The move was made because Bench wanted to be a starter, and apparently O’Brien told him in a non-subtle way after the spring’s only public practice that he was not as far as along as Tyler Ferguson. With Hackenberg’s arrival on the horizon and the news that JUCO Fergy-Ferg had a better grasp on the playbook (not to mention arm strength), Bench saw the writing on the wall and hit the showers. Permanently.

In the words of Matt McGloin, referring to last year’s sanction-caused player exodus, “If you don’t want to be here, then we don’t want you here.”

Agreed. If you don’t want to compete, then grab your stuff, pack up your parents’ car, get the hell out and stay out.

What remains unclear at this point is whether or not the plan will be to purposely incorporate Hackenberg into the offense and put him into game action (either as the starter or co-starter along with Ferguson), or suit him up only because/with the hope that Ferguson doesn’t get hurt simply to get him accustomed to being on the sideline with the headset on during a live game at this level.

In other football news, the divisional realignment that had been rumored for over a month became official on Sunday. Starting next season (2014), State’s division football opponents will look markedly different. Gone by the wayside are the Leaders and Legends divisions, both of which had an extraordinary, if not celebrated, career. Replacing the long-standing duo will now be the monikers that the brain trust in Park Ridge should’ve produced in the first place: the East Division and the West Division.

Wow, that’s heavy Ogre.

Amazing, isn’t it? Anyway, Penn State will be in the East Division, of course, along with Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Maryland, Rutgers and Indiana. This will make it much easier for fans to travel to road conference games. Joe Q. Alumnus who resides in Philadelphia can now see State play in College Park and Piscataway, both of which are less than a three-hour drive. It just makes sense (reorganizing the divisions that is, not adding Maryland and Rutgers – but that’s another story).

Obriens Lions