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Dispatches From Blogfrica: Black Shoe Diaries Talks Iowa-PSU Hoops

If I was a good blogger, I would have started this feature a few months back. But I'm a half-assed blogger, so you'll just have to live with getting it now (and for the duration of the season). What is it? Pretty simple: I ask questions of an opposing team's blogger, they answer. A truly revolutionary idea, no? Next up: Friend of the Pants Tim Aydin from our blog amigos and SBN's superb Penn State blog, Black Shoe Diaries.

1) The road has not been kind to Penn State this year (to say the least), but you've been pretty spunky at home: three wins and two near-misses against Indiana and Wisconsin. What makes the difference when Penn State plays in the Bryce Jordan Center? Is it easier for them to play when they're being primarily watched by row upon row of empty seats? Does Pat Chambers' wife make a mean meatloaf prior to home games? Are opposing teams too freaked out by your hobo chic mascot to play well?

I'm not sure about Pat Chambers' wife's home cooking (I'll assume it's delicious), but I think it's the free Subway sandwiches and Papa John's pizzas they give away during timeouts that gets every non-student section member to make some noise. This seems to have some sort of 'trickle down' effect on the players which in effect trickles down to the ball's ability to spin properly into the basket. I base this of course, on absolutely nothing.

Really though, I think it's because the last thing this team wants to do is get embarrassed at home, and that mindset leads to players playing above their heads, more so than on the road. This was showcased in near-misses against Indiana and Wisconsin and in the victories over Purdue, Illinois, and Nebraska.

2) If Tim Frazier's teammates were replaced with four copies of the JoePa statute that resides on the PSU campus, what effect would that have on Penn State's quality of play? On a related note, name one Penn State player other than Tim Frazier that Iowa fans should be concerned about come Thursday night.

I hear those statues can take a charge…Aside from Frazier, Iowa fans should also pay attention to Cam Woodyard and Jermaine Marshall. They are a pair of athletic guards who constantly flirt with double digits in scoring and are probably the two most dangerous perimeter shooters on the team. Also, don't sleep on Matt Glover, he's not a guy who's going to light up a stat sheet, but he does the little things like play sound defense, rebound, dive, take charges, etc. Glover is essentially a 'glue guy' for the team.

3) Has PSU considered double-booking a Bon Jovi concert for a Penn State home game, just to get a decent (and lively) crowd in attendance to watch the hoopsters? On a related note, have they looked into whether or not Richie Sambora has any eligibility left? I hear he has a mean hook shot.

Forget a concert, if Bon Jovi were simply hired to perform at halftime of a basketball game, that alone would lead to a sell out crowd. If there's one thing Central Pennsylvanians love more than country music, it's 80's rock bands. Not sure about Richie Sambora, though I would most certainly welcome Heather Locklear as a Lionette dance team member.

4) Obviously expectations weren't terribly high with a surprise coaching change and the graduation of several key players from last year's NCAA Tournament team. Still, this is the internet and snap judgments are our part of our daily sustenance, so how has Chambers done in Year One? Is Penn State meeting your expectations? Exceeding them? Failing to meet them?

The consensus amongst the folks in Message Board Land was that Chambers would be enduring a tough first season in Happy Valley. I myself, put the over/under at four Big Ten wins, and it seems like I'm going to be right on the money with that prediction. Pat is without question, squeezing the most he possibly can out of a roster that needs a greater infusion of talent (which should be happening over the course of the next couple years), but more importantly his infectious enthusiasm and ability to sell the players and fans on PSU basketball has been arguably his greatest accomplishment thus far in his brief tenure as head coach.

5) What do you miss most about Easy Ed DeChellis?

Aside from not being able to use this Twitter account on a regular basis? His ability to not have any answers when PSU was mired in yet another long losing skid.

6) Finally -- prediction time. Who ya got?

Iowa reminds me a lot of Penn State. They've got a fiery head coach who's squeezing the most he can out of his roster, but is also doing serious work on the recruiting trail. Perimeter defense was a big problem last time for PSU against Iowa, and Basabe pretty much had free reign to do whatever he wanted in the post. With that being said, look for a fired up PSU team that wants to start an actual winning streak in Big Ten play to give the Hawkeyes all they can handle. I want to pick PSU for the upset, but I just think Iowa escapes with a narrow victory, somehow.

Thanks for being a good sport, Tim. Be sure to check out HHV and the rest of the BSD gang over at Black Shoe Diaries. You can also follow Tim on the Twitters here. The Iowa-Penn State game is in State College, PA on Thursday, February 16th at 7pm CT, with television coverage from ESPNU.