The Penn State Nittany Lions are who we thought they were. Or something like that. Bottom line, the Nittany Lions are about where people expected them to be at this point in the Big Ten Schedule. They can beat the team's at the bottom of the conference (Minnesota), play good teams tough (Maryland) or just look awful and get blown out (Purdue, Ohio State). But hey, they're overall record is still a game over .500 and they've already got two Big Ten wins. With the Lions having played just one game the past five days, let's take a look a some players who are trending upwards, and those who are not.
Probably one of the most overlooked players in the conference, Taylor is finally living up to expectations as a senior. The 6'6" stretch-four is averaging 15.6 points per game in conference play and is shooting 43 percent from the field a year after shooting just 37 percent. He's also provided solid rebounding (5.8 per game) and has been the leader the Lions need. Some may say it's too little too late, but Taylor deserves credit for how he's played so far.
He may not be playing quite as consistently as he was during the non-conference portion of the schedule, but Banks improved from last season to now is pretty impressive. After being a complete non-factor last year (1.7 points in 8.7 minutes per game), Banks is averaging 10.7 points and 5.1 rebounds and has in double digits four times in eight Big Ten games. He's still got plenty of work to do, but he deserves some praise for developing into a solid starter.
I'm giving Jack a shout-out because he's at least found a niche as a very solid bench player. He didn't do much in the Lions loss to Ohio State, but he posted back-to-back double-digit scoring games against Purdue and Northwestern despite playing under 20 minutes both games. His season averages (4.3 points, 2.7 rebounds, 13.3 minutes) are nothing to wrote home about, but he's given the team scoring when it needs it. In a front court that still needs a lot of work, Jack has been a bright spot in recent weeks.
I like Shep and I think he's still a big part of this program's future, but he's such an inconsistent shooter. Garner has gone just 3-of-16 combined in the Lions last two games, and is shooting 37 percent from the field a year after he shot 36 as a freshman. His assists have been up recently (4.5 the last four games) and that's nice, but he's got to become a better shooter at some point.
We all knew by now that Dickerson would likely never be much more than a shot-blocker, but his lack of progression is likely one of the reasons Patrick Chambers has removed him from the starting lineup the past two games. Though he had games with plenty of blocks during the non-conference schedule, he hasn't had more than one for four straight games and hasn't grabbed more than two rebounds for six straight games. That's a little disappointing when you're 7'1". Dickerson can do some nice things, but it's a little frustrating he has yet to make much of his senior season.
As for the rest of the rotation, Josh Reaves would be a positive if he wasn't out with mono while the rest of the guys are too up-and-down to really put in either category. Sophomore forward Julian Moore and freshman wing Davis Zemgulis deserve props for sticking in the rotation, but neither has done much with their opportunities yet.