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Last updated: 03/02/2011 11:16 AM

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Men's Basketball
The Turning Point - Penn State
By Tony Gerdeman

Picking your poison likely isn't as fun as it sounds. Just ask the Penn State coaches. They apparently went into the Ohio State game thinking, “Let's pick the least potent poison that we can find.”

The poison that they picked turned out to be Jon Diebler, who hit ten three-pointers on the night.

To paraphrase a saying from a wise old man, they chose poorly, and it was the turning point in the game.

“I tell them to pick their poison,” Jared Sullinger said, to continue the analogy.

“When you've got Jon doing 10-12 from the three-point line, what can you do? Honestly. You can't ask for a better shooter in college basketball. Seriously.”

It's not like the Penn State coaches weren't aware of what Diebler was capable of.

“I was very, very fearful of that,” said Nittany Lion coach Ed DeChellis, referring to an Ohio State shooting outburst.

“They're very good and if they shoot it (well) as one of my guys said, they're unbeatable. You can't beat them when Diebler is going 10 out of 12 from three. It's very, very hard.”

Given what they know about Diebler, you would have thought they'd pay attention to him, but early on, they didn't.

His first three came on a double-team of Jared Sullinger, who threw a skip pass to Diebler on the wing. The closest defender to Diebler was at that moment bodying Dallas Lauderdale in the paint, so he released and ran after the ball. Diebler gave an easy pump fake, then reset and dropped it in. Penn State simply chose not to defend him, and he made them pay.

The second three came off of an Aaron Craft steal and was shot in transition from the wing. There were only a couple defenders back, and a hand barely got into Diebler's face.

“A lot of it came from transition,” Diebler said.

“When we rebound the ball and we get out and run, that's what we like to do. We're really hard to stop when we're out and running like that because we've got great guys who can get to the basket, and guys who can handle the ball. It was just one of those nights, I guess.”

It wasn't all transition, however. Diebler's shots came from every circumstance. From kickouts after the post was doubled to screens, to double screens, to simply lazy defense, and overwhelmingly, it was Penn State senior scorer Talor Battle who was involved in the lazy defense.

Diebler's third three came from the same wing. Craft took Battle to the elbow, freeing up Diebler with nobody around him. It was an easy shot, and the result proved it.

The fourth three came off of a Sullinger double-team. Sullinger kicked it out to Craft, who then made the extra pass to Diebler who was left wide open by Talor Battle who meagerly went after a steal.

The fifth three came when Diebler ran Battle through a Craft screen and Battle was caught going nowhere on defense. Diebler drained it from the top of the key. It was the first three-pointer that didn't come from the left wing.

The sixth three came from a simple hand-off from Lighty to Diebler on the right wing. Again, Talor Battle was very slow and disinterested in defending.

The seventh three came from a steal by Craft on a pass intended for Battle. Battle then pouted a little bit and didn't get back on defense, which led to Diebler being able to hit a step-back three-pointer on David Jackson. Jackson had to come running at him from underneath the basket because Battle didn't get back in time.

Even after the coaches decided that they didn't want anymore of the Diebler poison, Battle just couldn't stop ingesting it. They asked him to put the cap back on the bottle of Diebler, and he simply couldn't do it, but if you want to find somebody who will listen to coaches, you need not go any further than the Upper Sandusky sharpshooter.

“Ironically, I told him at shoot around tonight, I said 'We need a big one from you. Get your feet set and you're going to make some shots. I said give me 20+' , and that's the type of kid Jon is, he listens well,” said Thad Matta, recounting his pre-game conversation with Diebler.

However, “20+” wasn't going to be enough for Diebler. There was still some work to do.

His eighth three came in transition. David Lighty grabbed a rebound, kicked it up to William Buford, and then Buford handed it off to Diebler on the left wing. Penn State never had a chance.

The ninth three came from the top of the key when Diebler ran Jermaine Marshall through a split-screen of Sullinger and Deshaun Thomas. Diebler was able to get through, but they closed the gate on Marshall quickly and he wasn't granted access.

The tenth three came on a baseline screen that saw Talor Battle barely leave the paint. There was simply no defensive effort from the senior on Senior Night. He was defeated, and so was his team, repeatedly and robustly.

Diebler finished the game 10-12 from three, scoring 30 points in the process.

“It was just one of those nights where I was the guy to be the leading scorer,” he said.

“Tomorrow or the next game, we could have another leading scorer. That's the beauty of this team.”

Diebler can call it “beauty” all he wants, but don't be surprised if the Buckeyes' opponents don't share his same sunny disposition.

Besides, “Pick your beauty” will never gain steam as a sports cliché.

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