Editor's Note: Lions247, with the help of head coach Patrick Chambers, breaks down all of the Nittany Lions in a four-part series. Part I focused on Penn State's true freshmen. Today we take a look at the scholarship reserves.
Junior Sasa Borovnjak has shed the knee brace he wore all of last season.
The Rewind: Borovnjak was a part of the 2009 recruiting class and saw action in 18 games as a true freshman. On the opening day of fall practice in 2010, the 6-foot-10 Borovnjak tore his right ACL and missed the remainder of the season. In 2011-12 as a redshirt sophomore, Borovnjak played in all 32 games - starting seven - averaging 4.1 points and 3.3 boards a game.
The Forecast: With another offseason under his belt after the ACL injury, Borovnjak is hoping his physical game catches up with where his mental game is. Possessing a high basketball IQ, the low-post presence has some nifty moves down low. If he is able to excel during the arduous Big Ten slate it will be a great boost for the Nittany Lions.
Chambers’ Words: “When guys come off ACL injuries, they’re just not right mentally. They just don’t trust the knee enough. Sasa has taken off the knee brace. He had a phenomenal spring, summer and now pre-season, that’s continuing now. He’s ready to go.”
The Rewind: The 6-foot-3 guard played his first two seasons at Penn State Behrend, averaging 9.8 points as a sophomore. Colella transferred to the University Park campus and sat out 2010-11 before breaking out last season, which saw him start six straight games at one point. Colella averaged almost 15 minutes and three points a game last year.
The Forecast: The former walk-on, now on scholarship, has been working on his stroke all summer, and with good reason. Colella went 17-of-70 from three last season, a 24 percent clip that needs to be improved to help Penn State succeed. With guards ahead of him in the pecking order, providing an impact off the bench by burying the open looks he’s going to get are critical.
Chambers’ Words: “He’s got to be our Stu Douglass, Matt Roth. He’s got to be our guy who comes in and puts fear in opposing teams because of his 3-point shooting ability. If he can hit four or five of those, that will be huge for us, and he’s going to have his opportunities. Defenses are going to have to stop our scorers, so guys like Ross, Nick and the bigs are going to have opportunities. Nick has to be down, ready, in attack mode, and be ready to knock down some shots for us.”
The Rewind: A member of the 2011 recruiting class that came in during the coaching transition, Ackerman saw limited time as a freshman last season, playing 26 combined minutes in 12 games.
The Forecast: With some bigs ahead of him on the depth chart, Ackerman will be busting it during practice to earn some playing time from the staff.
Chambers’ Words: “Pat has to keep coming. He had a couple of injuries this summer, and he got sick, so he’s missed some time. He’s not behind conditioning-wise. He’s got to keep getting stronger in the weight room, but I tell you he can really stroke it for a 7-footer. I need him to rebound more.”