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Basketball

  •  Men’s teams began in 1897 under team captain Malcolm Stevenson.

          o   They won their first game against Bucknell 24-4 at Lewisburg

  •  Women’s teams began in 1965 under Marie Litner.

          o  They also won their first game against Bloomsburg 39-33 in the Mary Beaver White Building.

  •          Last Season (2007):

          o   Amanda Brown broke several records in the 2008 season.

               -  She became the first Lady Lion in PSU history to lead the Big Ten in rebounding (10.2 rpg)

               -  Her 317 caroms (A collision followed by a rebound) broke the PSU single-season rebounding record previously  

                  held by Vicki Link (1985-86).

               -  Finished with a career field goal percentage record with a 58.9% mark for her 4 seasons.

          o   Geary Claxton became the 6th Nittany Lion to lead the team in scoring 3 straight seasons and was 1 of 2 players

               in the Big Ten to rank in the top 5 in scoring (16.3 ppg) and rebounding (8.0 rpg).

          o   Tyra Grant claimed ten All-Big honorable mention accolades (award: a tangible symbol signifying approval

               or distinction)

               -  She lead the freshman team in scoring 14.6ppg last season.

               -  Her 452 points rank 3rd on the PSU freshman season scoring list behind Kelly Mazzante and Susan Robinson.

               -  She was the first freshman in the Big Ten to reach the 30-point plateau in a game since 2004, when she had

                  33 tallies at Iowa in February, 2008.

  •  Early Nittany Lion players were sometimes called “S-men” because of the large S on their uniforms.
  •  On March 1921, Penn State played Penn and won during overtime 21-19.

          o   This was Penn’s first loss on its home court in 5 years. 

  • Lion students began playing basketball in 1897, just 6 years after Dr. Naismith invented the game.    

    In the winter of 1891, when a thirty-year old physical education instructor from the local YMCA in Springfield, Massachusetts named James Naismith invented an indoor game that could be played between football and baseball seasons, basketball was born. Naismith wrote and developed basketball's original thirteen rules and, through the YMCA network, quickly spread the news throughout the country. As basketball's popularity grew, Naismith neither sought publicity nor engaged in self-promotion. He was first and foremost an educator. He embraced recreational sport but shied away from the glory of competitive athletics. Although he never had the opportunity to see basketball become the astonishing success it is today, Naismith's biggest thrill came when he was sponsored by the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) to witness basketball become an Olympic sport at the 1936 Games held in Berlin. Today, basketball has grown into a sport that more than 300 million people play worldwide." [1]

  • Early teams played a limited schedule against eastern schools.
  •  Former player “Dutch” Hermann became Penn State’s first head coach in 1916.

         o   Herman’s teams had a 73-13 record from 1919 to 1925.

  •  John Reed lead the Lions in scoring from 1922 to 1924.
  •  Frank Wolf, the team’s designated free throw shooter, overwhelmed Susquehanna in 191 with 36 points in an 86-12 win.

         o   Wolf’s scoring record stood for 33 years.

  •  Coach Earl “Spike” Leslie’s teams had four straight wins over rival Army from 1933-36 as Penn State joined the Eastern

         Intercollegiate Conference.

  •  In January 1929, PSU beat Gettysburg 37-34 in overtime at Rec Hall.
  •  Calvin Booth played for PSU from 1995-1998

         o   He wore size 22 shoes and was 7 feet tall.

         o   He set 3 team records and the Big Ten season and career record for blocked shots.

         o   The Penn State records for game (10), season (140) and career (428) are still owned by Booth.

         o   He currently plays in the NBA for the Minnesota Timberwolves.

  •  Basketball players are often very tall.  Coach Lawther used to search campus for 6-footers in the 1930s.

         o   Modern players can be over seven feet tall.

         o   Cagers (a term frequently used for a professional basketball player. The word originated from early professional games

          (1910-1915) played in a cage to separate the audience from the playing court and speed up the game by keeping the ball

          in-bounds) have been known to have vertical leaps as high as 44 inches.

         o   In 1962, Gene Harris (6’3”) could touch the 13ft top of the backboard.

  •  The rim of the basketball hoop is 10ft tall.  You have to be able to reach above that mark to be able to dunk.
  •  Coach John Lawther’s moving zone defense helped Nittany Lion teams post a 149-93 record in 13 seasons from 1936-49.

         o   Lawther is a member of the Helms Foundation Hall of Fame and the NAIA Basketball Hall of Fame, inducted in 1962.

  • Penn State made its first trip to the NCAA tournament (an eight-team event) in 1942 when future coach Elmer Gross tied for

         the  team lead in scoring with 170 points.

  •  Elmer Gross coached Penn State’s 1953-54 basketball team to its only Final Four appearance in the NCAA tournament.

         o   The third place finish earned the Lions a silver trophy.

  •  John Barr was Penn State’s first All-American, chosen in 1941, and the first professional basketball player.

         o   Barr was co-captain of the 1941 team that had the best record in 14 years (15-5) and he was the second player in PSU

              history to score 500 points in a career.

  •  Coach Lawther’s lions played zone defense, guarding ares on the court rather than individual opponents.

         o   Lawther was known as an innovator of the zone in the 1930s.

  •  Coach John Lawther brought an innovative sliding zone defense to Penn State in 1936.

         o   Lawther combed the campus for 6ft students he could mold into basketball players.

         o   Frustrated opponents called his defense “un-American”. Lawther replied – “The idea of the game is to win, isn’t it?”

         o   Lawther took a team that hadn’t won a game in the eAster Collegiate Conference and made them competitive with a starting

              record of 6-4.

         o   In 1942, the Lions went 17-2 and qualified for the NCAA tournament.

         o   2 years later, he was infuriated when Pitt coach Doc Carlson tried to stop his zone strategies by “freezing” the ball (to maintain

              possession of a ball for as long as possible, usually without trying to score, thereby reducing the opponent's opportunities for

              scoring).

              -  Despite Pitt’s efforts, Penn State won 15-14.

  •  Suzie McConnell was the first superstar in Lady Lion basketball.

          o   Remains as one of the most celebrated student-athletes in PSU history and honored by the University as a

               “distinguished Alumna” through the College of Education in June 2001.

          o   McConnell set several career records in her undergraduate playing days (1985-1988) and won the Frances Pomeroy Naismith

               Award for being the nation’s best female player under 5’6”.

The Frances Pomeroy Naismith Award is a college basketball award in the United States intended to honor shorter-than-average players who become stars in the game. The award, named in honor of James Naismith's daughter-in-law, was established for men in 1969 and for women in 1984. The men's award is presented to the nation's most outstanding senior 6'0" (~1.83 m) and under, while the women's version is presented to the top senior 5'8" (~1.73 m) and under (at one point, 5'6" (~1.68 m) and under). The men's award is selected by a panel from the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC), while the women's is selected by the Women's Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA).

         o   McConnell was a playmaking guard on the U.S. Olympic Team that won a Gold Medal at the games in Seoul in 1988.

              -  She averaged 8.4 points a game while running the U.S. offense.

              -  She considers this her “proudest moment” and the most “incredible experience” she ever had in basketball.

         o   McConnell went on to earn a Bronze Medal at the Olympic Games in Barcelona 4 years following her gold medal win in Seoul.

         o   McConnell set dozens of records  that were unbroken for years, including the NCAA record for career assists with 1,307 and the
          team mark for career steasl with 507.

         o   Playing at the key point guard position, McConnell set PSU records for most games started and consecutive starts (12).

         o   McConnell is known for her playmaking ability to set up her teammates with assists and steals.

         o   McConnell’s 682 points in the 1987-88 season remained the team season record into the 21stCentury.

         o   Her personal best is 34 points in one game against Oklahoma in 1987

         o   She scored 1,897 points in her career at Penn State.

         o   McConnell-Serio became the floor leader for the Cleveland Rockers in the WNBA from 1998-2000. 

              -  She won the league’s Sportsman Award in 1998 and 2000.

“Designed to honor a player who exemplifies the ideals of sportsmanship on the court -- ethical behavior, fair play and    integrity --the award is named for the late Kim Perrot, who helped guide the Houston Comets to their first two WNBA championships before passing away in August, 1999, after a seven-month battle with cancer.” [2]

         o   She was also the Newcomer of the Year in the WNBA in 1998.

         o   She retired after 2000 to devote her time to her family and coaching career.

  •  Gene Harris broke a 33 year old scoring record by defeating Holy Cross for 46 points and 23 rebounds in 1961.

         o   The record remained unbroken entering the 2001-02 season.

  •  Coach John Egli’s 1965 team went 20-4 and narrowly lost to Bill Bradley’s Princeton Tigers, 60-58, in the NCAA tournament.
  •  Carver Clinton scored 1,165 points in 3 seasons at Penn state, including 453 points during the 1965 season.
  •  Hardy Williams scored a final shot to give the 1952 Lions a 61-60 upset of 9th ranked West Virginia in Morgantown WV. 

         (the win brought PSU national attention)

  •  Elmer Gross’s (?) mixed fast break offense with zone defense.

         o   The lions scored more than 1,000 points per season and reached two NCAA tournaments.

         o   Play-making guards Hardy Williams, Jack Sherry, and Ron Weidenhammer fed scoring center Jesse Arnelle.

         o   Sherry and Arnelle led the ’54 Lions to the Final Four.

  •  John Egli took teams to the NCAA tournaments in 1955 and 1965.

         o   Leading scoreres Carver Clinton and Bob Weiss sparked the Lions to a 20-4 mark in 1965.

         o   Their NCAA run ended with a 60-58 loss to Princeton, led by future Hall of Famer Bill Bradley.

  •  In the 1954 Final Four Game, PSU fell to eventual champion LaSalle, 69-54, but they beat USC, 70-61, to claim 3rdplace.

         o   Penn State made its surprising run with wins over Toledo, 62-50, Louisiana State, 78-70, and Notre Dame, 71-63.

  •  John Bach’s teams from 1969-78 were noted for their pressure man-to-man defense.

         o   4 teams were ranked in the nations top 20 in scoring defense.

         o   Coach Bach left PSU for a career coaching in the NBA for teams like the Chicago Bulls and coached players like Michael Jordan.

  •  Dick Harter guided Penn State to its first post-season tournament in 14 years when his 2nd team went to the NIT in 1980.

“The National Invitation Tournament (NIT) is a men's college basketball tournament operated by the National Collegiate Athletic Association. The association plays two tournaments each season. The first is played in November and is known with its sponsorship as the Dick's Sporting Goods NIT Season Tip-Off (formerly the Preseason NIT), and was founded in 1985. The second is a post-season tournament played in March and April. In both cases, its final rounds are played at Madison Square Garden in New York City, and the post-season event (called the MasterCard NIT as per sponsorship) was founded in 1938. In both common and official usage, "NIT" or "National Invitation Tournament" refers to the post-season tournament unless otherwise qualified. Both the pre- and post-season tournaments were operated by the Metropolitan Intercollegiate Basketball Association (MIBA) up until 2005, when they were purchased by the NCAA." [3]

         o   In his final season as head coach in 1982-83, he lead the Nittany Lions into the Atlantic 10 and a 17-11 record.

  • Coach Bruce Parkhill (1984-95) took Penn State into the NCAA tournament for the first time in 36 years in 1991 beating UCLA

         74-69.

         o   He also directed the Lions into the NIT in 1989 and 1995 before retiring for family reasons.

  •  Dan Earl helped Penn State reach the NCAA or NIT post season tournament 3 times.

         o   In 1995 he set a record in assists (181) and finished with 574 in his career.

  •  Pete Lisicky finished his carrer in 1998 with 1,605 points.

         o   He also had a team high of 113 assists.

  •  Calvin Booth had a PSU record of 428 career shots.

         o   He was named 1998 Big Ten Defensive Player of the year.

  •  Joe Crispin became PSU 2nd leading scorer with 1,986 points from 1998-2001.

         o   He set a school record for his foul shots, making 88.5% of his 506 career attempts.

         o   He held a record single-season 100 three-pointers which helped push the team to the NCAA Sweet 16.

  •  Jarret Stephens scored 27 pts and 11 rebounds against Minnesota in 1998.

         o   The following year, his team played in the NIT Final Four.

  •  The 1991 team had a shocking 74-69 win over No. 16 UCLA

         o   The win ranks as one of the biggest upsets in school history.

  •  Man-to-man defense came to Penn State under coach John Bach.

         o   At Rec Hall, the lions won 27 straight home games

              -  Most notable is the 66-64 win over 7th ranked Pitt in 1974

  •  Dick Harter became the coach in 1978 and led the team to 18 wins and an NIT berth his first season coaching.
  •  In the 1991 NCAA tournament, Coach Bruce Parkhill’s team held UCLA to a stunning 74-69 win.
  •  Coach Jerry Dunn’s defense team was able to lead the Lions to the NIT Final Fours in 1998 and 2000. 

         o   In 2001, Dunn’s teams reached the NCAA Sweet 16 by upsetting North Carolina, 82-74.

  •  Jerry Dunn became the head basketball coach in 1996.

         o   By 2000, Dunn lead the Lions to the NCAA’s Sweet Sixteen for the first time since 1954.

  •  Ron Brown scored the game-winner shot against Pitt in 1974.

         o   He averaged double figures 3 straight years from 1971-1974 and finished with 1,184 career points.

  •  Geary Claxton led the Nittany Lions in scoring 3 years in a row (2004-2007), and finished as Penn State’s 5th leading all-time

         scorer (1,542 points) and 4th all-time rebounder (755).

  •  In April 2003, Ed DeChellis took the position as head coach (after a successful 7-yr run at East Tennessee State).

         o   DeChellis is a Penn State alum

  •  On February 4, 2006, the men’s basketball team stunned then #6 Illinois with a 66-65.

         o   After trailing 39-25 at the half, Penn State came back.

         o   The team was led by Travis Parker (21pts.) and Geary Claxton (20pts.).

         o   The win broke Illinois’ 33-home game winning streak.

  •  Suzie McConnel (’84-88) grabbed at PSU record 507 career steals and set the NCAA mark with 1,307 career assists.

         o   She had 21 assistas against West Virginia in 1987.

  •  Annie Toyan made a PSU record 632 career assists from 1981-1983 with 23 double-digit assist games.
  •  Kahajeedah Herbert scored 2,025 career points.

         o   In 1985 she became the first Lady Lion to surpass 2,000 points.

  • Coach Patty Meiser built up the young Lady Lion basketball program in 1975 by adding national competitors

         Montclair, Immaculata, Cheyney, and Delta State to the schedule.

  •  Women’s basketball was limited to part of the phys. Ed. classes in the Mary Beaver White Building for

         much of the 20thcentury.

         o   Lady Lion varsity basketball didn’t begin until 1965.

  •  The Lady Lion basketball team hosted the AIAW championships in 1976.

         o   Coach pat Meiser and star player Jen Bednarek competed against national competitors, posting a record

              of 92-52 from 1974 to 1980.

  •  Coach Rene Portland arrived in 1980.

          o   Penn State won “in bunches” behind passing wizard Annie Troyan, scorer Kahadeejh Herbert, and Naismith

               Award-winner Suzie McConnell.

          o   The Lady Lions won 5 Atlantic 10 titles in Portland’s first 7 seasons.

  •  Penn State retired Suzie McConnell’s No. 32 jersey.

          o   After graduation, McConnell played professionally with the Cleveland Rockers in the WNBA.

          o   In 1988, McConnell won the Frances Pomeroy Naismith Award as the nation’s best female senior collegiate player under 5’-6”

          o   Suzie played on the U.S. Olympic teams in 1988 and 1992.

  •  Penn State basketball christened the new Bryce Jordan Center in 1996

          o   One of the first men’s games was a win against Minnesota 76-61.

  •  Joe Paterno hired Coach Rene Portland.

          o   “I didn’t know if women’s basketball would ever pack Rec Hall.  But she knew.” ~Joe, 1980

  •  Angie Potthoff led the 1995 Big Ten champion Lady Lions in scoring (17.8) and rebounding (9.7).

          o   Potthoff was named first team All-Big Ten.

  •  Tina Nicholson placed third in the nation with 283 assists in 1996.

          o   She climbed into the No. 20 NCAA all-time slot with 826 career assists.

  •  Coach Rene Portland’s 2000 team beat Louisiana Tech, 86-65, in the NCAA Regional Championship.

          o   Helen Darling earned the Frances Pomeroy Naismith Player of the Year Award and the Big Ten Player of the Year

               award in 2000.

          o   The 2000 Lady Lions team reached the NCAA Final Four.

  •  Coquese Washington took the reins of the Lady Lion program in 2007.

          o   She is the founding president of the WNBA Players Association.

  •  Penn State Lady Lions won Big Ten titles in 1995, 1996, 2000, 2003, and 2004.
  •  Coach Rene Portland’s teams gained a reputation for upsetting higher-ranked opponents

           o   Example: 79-59 win over No. 2 Texas in 2004.

           o   In 2005 she won her 650th game.

  •  Susan Robinson was the 1992 Player of the year
  •  Angie Potthoff was the 1995 Big Ten tournament MVP
  •  Helen Darling and Andrea Garner took the Lady Lions to their first Final Four in March 2000.
  •  Kelly Mazzante broke the Penn state and Big Ten single-game scoring record with 49 points at Minnesota on December 21.

         o   She also established a new Penn State and Big Ten single-season scoring mark with 872 points.

         o   When she graduated, she was the all-time scoring leader, men’s or women’s, in both Penn State and Big Ten history.

  •  Rene Portland’s teams dominated the Atlantic 10, winning titles in 1983, ’84, ’85, ’86, ’87, ’90, and ’91 paced by

          All-Americans Suzie McConnell, Kahadeejah Herbert, and Susan Robinson

         o   In 1990, the Lady Lions captured its 6th Atlantic 10 tournament title with an 84-60 win over No. 23 St. Joseph’s

         o   Coach Portland’s also claimed regular season Big Ten titles in 1994 (tie), 1995 (tie) and 2000.

         o   Her teams won Big Ten tournament championships in 1995, 1996, and 2000.

  •  In 1991, Susan Robinson won the Wade Trophy as the National Player of the Year.

         o   She led the 1991 Lions to a No. 1 ranking during the season.

  •  In 2000, Helen Darling won the Frances Pomeroy Naismith Award as the nation’s most outstanding female

         senior collegiate player who is 5’-8” or under.

  •  Susan Robinson set 20 Penn State records, scoring 2,253 career points

         o   She led the team in scoring each year from 1989-1992

         o   She scored more than 18 points per game each year from 1988-1991.

         o   She also led her team in rebounds.

  •  Helen Darling’s No. 30 jersey was retired.

         o   The senior co-captain led the nation with 274 assists in 2000.

         o   She then went on to play professional basketball with the Cleveland Rockers of the WNBA.

  •  Lisa Shepherd, along with her teammates in 2000, cut down the basketball nets after the

Lady Lions won the Big Ten regular season championship. As each team advances to the final quartet, viewers will expect the teams to celebrate with a time-honored tradition: cutting down the nets.But not many fans will know where that tradition originated. Well, legendary high school and college coach Everett Case is given credit for starting the practice in 1947. In his first season as coach of North Carolina State, Case's team won the Southern Conference tournament. Case decided to celebrate by taking the nets as a souvenir. The practice caught on and now college teams punctuate tournament titles with some twine trimming. [4]

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[1]"Hall of Famers." Official Website of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. 14 Jan. 2009 <http://hoophall.com/halloffamers/bhof-james-naismith.html>.

[2]"Tully Bevilaqua Of The IndianaFever Earns 2007 Kim Perrot Sportsmanship Award." WNBA.com. 14 Jan. 2009 <http://www.wnba.com/news/awards07_sportsmanship.html>.

[3]"National Invitation Tournament -." Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. 14 Jan. 2009 <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Invitation_Tournament>.

[4]Cimento, Matt. "USATODAY.com - Teams shoot for Final Four cut." News, Travel, Weather, Entertainment, Sports, Technology,U.S. & World - USATODAY.com. 25 Mar. 2004. 11 Feb. 2009 <http://www.usatoday.com/sports/college/mensbasketball/tourney04/2004-03-25-notes2_x.htm>.

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