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March 10, 2009It's been a tough week on the court for Penn State sophomore point guard Talor Battle and his younger brother, Rivals.com four-star junior guard Taran Buie (6-foot-1.5-inches, 175 pounds) out of Bishop Maginn High School in Albany, N.Y.
Although he picked up first-team All-Big Ten honors yesterday, Battle and the Nittany Lions suffered a setback heading into the Big Ten Tournament with Saturday afternoon's loss at Iowa. For his younger brother, Buie and his teammates are still hurting from a semifinals loss in the New York Section II Class AA basketball tournament last Tuesday.
Storming back from an 11 point deficit at the half, the Griffins were able to take Albany Academy to overtime, only to fall 60-59 on a full-court pass and layup with just 6.1 seconds left to play when Buie and a teammate collided in trying to deflect the pass.
The loss marked the end of Bishop Maginn's state title defense and Buie's junior season, scoring a game-high 30 points.
In reflecting on the year, Buie said he had mixed emotions.
"We won a bunch of games. We were 17-4. It was a good year for us and we had a good team," Buie said. "We struggled earlier in the year when we lost those games. I don't think we ever really put it together, jelled it together, though.
"We had a bunch of new kids that came up off the JV and coming off the state championship, that's a lot of pressure. Every team out there was gunning for us. I think we never put it together. We had a good year but I think it ended kind of short and I wasn't happy with the way that it ended in the tournament."
In spite of the loss last Tuesday, Buie was in Happy Valley to support his brother in the Nittany Lions' thrilling upset over Illinois on Thursday night.
In seeing his big brother score the game-winning layup with just 0.3 seconds remaining, Buie said afterward that it was a great experience, good atmosphere and cool to see the Lions earn the win.
Rated as one of the top 150 players in the country for the class of 2010 by Rivals.com, however, Buie wasn't just a spectator for the Penn State game.
While Buie is being recruited by top schools across the country, Penn State has found its way into the mix, joining Maryland, Notre Dame, Georgia Tech and Marquette as the schools he said he is seriously considering right now.
"I kind of take a look at it as like the schools that I have in my top five are pretty much the schools that have been on me the longest and shown me that they have put in the commitment to come up to school a bunch of times and visit and be at games," he said. "I'm not trying to rush into any decision. I definitely want to get out and visit more schools and get back to some schools that I've visited already. I've been to Notre Dame, Maryland, Syracuse, Rutgers and Penn State, obviously."
For Penn State's coaches trying to recruit Buie, visiting him could become much easier in the coming weeks and months.
Although nothing is settled yet, plans are in the works for the family to move closer to Battle in the State College area before Buie enters his senior season.
"My mom is definitely moving out of New York," Buie said. "She's looking for a better opportunity for my family and she wanted to be closer to my family from Harrisburg and my brother being at school there. There's been a lot of talk about it and she's saying we're definitely going to go but not everything is finalized yet and I don't think she found a place to stay at or anything like that down there yet. So, it could go either way. But, it's most likely looking that way.
"I definitely want to go. I think the move would be helpful to me and bring me a little bit closer to my brother and we could work out like we used to and just being around him a lot, it's always nice to be around your family."
With his recruitment certain to get more intense in the coming months, Buie continues to seek out his brother's advice when it comes to the whole process.
Having been through it, Buie said he takes his brother's advice to heart.
"Everything that I do I go through him about it and when I talk to my college coaches, I always relay it to him what they're talking about and kind of see what he feels about it, as well as my older brother," Buie said. "I talk to those two guys about it and they kind of give me their take and what they like.
"Obviously, they're not visiting the schools with me or anything like that but they just give me advice on not to believe everything the coaches say to you and definitely to take a closer look and see how everything breaks out. See if the roster breaks down to how they're telling you that it is and stuff like that."
Playing at Penn State and having the opportunity to play together for a season, Battle does some extra recruiting for the Nittany Lions, but maybe not as much as some might expect.
Knowing the amount of pressure that is already involved in the recruiting process, Battle has tried to avoid adding any, Buie said.
"He definitely recruits me though. He always throws in little slick stuff about it to me all the time. He tells me some of the stuff that they have to offer and he told me that everything that the coaches told him turned out to be true so far."
While Penn State fans are probably salivating at the thought of Buie taking over for Battle at the point and leading the Lions to continued success, the brothers actually aren't all that similar on the court.
Physically, the differences between the two coming out of high school are obvious, with Buie checking in right now at close to 6-foot-2, 175 pounds while Battle came to Penn State at right around 5-foot-10, 160 pounds. An admitted gym rat, Buie is already hitting the weights just days after the conclusion of his season, saying he is aiming to begin his college career at 190 pounds.
On the court, the two don't share a position or personality, either.
While Battle has demonstrated himself as a vocal team leader throughout his career at Penn State, Buie is more soft-spoken on the court and tries to lead by example off it, he said.
And, although Buie has played the point for the past couple of years, playing pickup and on teams with Battle - a true point guard - throughout his life, Buie is a better two-guard right now. That said, he added that he doesn't have a preference and would like to play a little bit of both at the college level.
"I'm very athletic. I play at both the one and the two. I like to get up and down the floor and get some things going in transition. I can shoot it, drive it, post up some smaller guards," he said. "My mid-range game is probably the best part of my game, just being able to go by defenders then stop when I get into traffic and knock down a 15-17 foot shot. I do that pretty well.
"He's a lot quicker than me. I'm built a lot bigger than him. He's stronger than me now that he's at college but I like to get into the lane and do some stuff. I'm a lot more athletic than him, jumping-wise. I like to play above the rim. He's a lot quicker than me and he shoots the ball better than me probably."
In fact, Buie went as far as to admit that Battle has the edge against him when they play right now.
Of course, that doesn't always translate into wins for Battle.
As of late, the similarly ultra-competitive brothers rarely finish their games against each other.
"He always wins but these days it always ends up turning into fights," Buie said. "It turns into jailball cause I have him and he doesn't want to lose so he starts playing physical and we start getting into it. But he usually gets me most of the time. Lately, these last couple of years the games have been getting closer so they're always good games."
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