C'mon Jermaine Marshall! You're leaving the program now? When things are looking up? When this year's Penn State basketball team has the potential to change the program forever? I hope you have fun at Arizona State, because I'm not THAT much of a bitter person. There will be more sunny days and more girls wearing less clothes, but there's still nothing more beautiful than Penn State covered in snow.
This year's basketball team had the ability to shock the nation. Just look at all the progress that was made last season. After Tim Frazier went down with a torn Achilles tendon, the team looked like a complete mess, but by the end of the season we were looking at a fully-functional basketball team that was capable of upsetting one of the best teams in the country on any given night (hey, that actually happened).
Now Frazier is back, and that's a big deal. Two seasons ago he was a First Team B1G player and on the verge of making college basketball fans forget about Talor Battle. Yes, I agree that most college basketball fans would be better served remembering that "Talor" has no "Y" in it rather than forgetting all the good that he did for PSU, but that's the reality of the situation. Tim Frazier was that good.
Still, Frazier can't do it all by himself. He needs help, as evidenced by the fact that Penn State won only four conference games during Frazier's magical 2011-12 season. During last season's campaign, it felt like that help was grooming itself. The absence of Frazier forced Marshall and fellow guard D.J. Newbill to take on more responsibility. They handled the ball more, took tougher shots, and were forced to become better leaders.
By the end of the season, the two players had molded themselves into the supporting players that Frazier needed to bring Penn State back to the NCAA Tournament. The hype was building on a national level, but now one of those players is gone.
Here's where I want to say that at least the guy leaving isn't D.J. Newbill, but I'm not sure I feel that way. Newbill is athletic and has an NBA body, which are both great things, but his future hinges on the development of his jump shot. If he can gain consistency with his jumper, Newbill will be a top player in the Big Ten. If he can't, he'll probably be relegated to Third Team with the rest of the guys who didn't totally pan out.
With Marshall, we already know what he is, even though his ceiling isn't as high as Newbill's. He can right now score from anywhere on the court, and that's what Penn State needs given Frazier's and Newbill's jump shot issues. Marshall is a surprisingly adept shot-blocker and can play good man-to-man defense. Most importantly, he's great at playing off the ball, which is something he would have done a lot this season for Penn State.
As a PSU basketball fan, it was fun watching Marshall develop from just another shooting guard into one of the program's most important players. He's got great skill on both sides of the ball, and Arizona State should be thrilled to have him. It's going to be tough to watch him play in a different uniform.
I just wish the timing made a little more sense.