Penn State hosts No. 18 Illinois tonight at 6:30 at the Bryce Jordan Center. The Nittany Lions haven’t played in 10 days since losing their Big Ten opener at Michigan. PSU tried to schedule another game over the past week and nearly had one locked up, but it fell through at the last minute because of the other school’s concerns about staying in a hotel the night before.
Penn State: The Lions are 3-2 overall and 0-1 in the Big Ten. They played well at Michigan and were up by two in the final minutes before struggling offensively late in a 62-58 loss. This is the second ranked opponent for PSU this season. The Lions won at No. 15 Virginia Tech two weeks ago, 75-55.
Illinois: Illini are 5-3 overall and 1-1 in the Big Ten. They are coming off a 91-88 loss at Rutgers after trouncing Minnesota by 27.
Series: PSU had won a school-record eight straight Big Ten games last season until Illinois ended that streak. The Illini lead the all-time series 29-19, and PSU is 10-12 at home against them.
Line: Illinois -3.5
Prediction: Illinois 76, Penn State 70
Ferry raves about Harrar
Any athlete should wish that their coach would someday talk about them the way Jim Ferry did recently about center John Harrar.
I asked Ferry to discuss Harrar on Monday, knowing that the big man would be key going up against so many good inside players in the Big Ten. But instead of going into the X’s and O’s, Ferry went on and on and on about how Harrar is one of his favorite players he’s ever coached.
Ferry called Harrar “Superman” and said he wishes the young man would marry one of his daughters.
Some incredibly high praise.
Here’s Ferry’s entire answer about Harrar, including the video.
“In regards to john, I mean, you never want to say you have a favorite as a son or a daughter, or as a guy that’s been coaching for so long, but John is one of my favorite players in my whole career in coaching. I know hates when I say it, he’s Superman. I mean, he really is. When you talk about one of the most consistent human beings in the world, that shows up every single day. One of the nicest people in the world, one of the most competitive people, smartest. I mean, the guy’s in the Smeal School of Business. Talk about a rock star, man. I want to be John for a day.
— Cory Giger (@CoryGiger) December 23, 2020
“He takes on whatever is thrown at him. Whatever is thrown at him. And he’s been doing it for a while. He had to bang heads with Big Mike (Watkins) for three years, so that I think that’s prepared him a lot. But he’s been doing it, even his freshman year, John didn’t play at all until later in the year that stretch run when Mike got hurt. And then we were starting him in our NIT championship run. I think in the NIT championship game he had like 10 rebounds in the first half.
“John is a warrior. John is just he’s the ultimate competitor. He’s the ultimate teammate. He’s the ultimate person. I mean, I love John. I wish John would marry one of my daughters, I really do.
“But he takes on every challenge, he’s really smart, studies film, he listens. He’ll come to us with ideas and adjustments, and we just feed off it and he’s the fact that he’s such a competitor.
“Here’s something, and we could talk all day about him. Watch when John’s out of the game. You watch when John Harrar is out of the game, and then you tell me how special a person that is. I could go on forever about him, and he deserves every accolade he gets. He’s really improved, and he’s been a huge part, huge part of the winning that has gone on here at Penn State over the last three, four years.”