5 Takeaways from Penn State Men’s Basketball Victory over Bahamas

Story posted August 8, 2023 in CommRadio, Sports by Thomas English

In the first game of the Mike Rhoades era, the Penn State men’s basketball team captured a 113-65 victory over the Bahamas.

New head coach Mike Rhoades earned his first victory at Penn State and saw his team dominate the game from start to finish.

While there is still a lot of improvement to be made, this was a strong start to the year for the Nittany Lions.

Here are the top five takeaways from their first exhibition contest.

Defense Wins Games

In the first game under Rhoades, the defensive aggressiveness was on full display as they frequently picked up opponents full court and hounded their ball handlers.

They forced the Bahamas to commit 33 total turnovers and converted those turnovers into 37 points offensively.

While at VCU, Rhoades and his staff boasted a well-rounded defense that consistently made it difficult for opposing offenses to reach their season averages.

It’s clear that this efficient defensive system will work well for Rhoades and his Penn State team as they created difficult looks for the Bahamas and held them to just 32% shooting from the field.

Penn State will need to rely on their defense this season to compete with the loads of guard talent and strong offensive schemes in the Big Ten this year.

Three-Point Shooting Struggles

Penn State drastically improved their three-point shooting last season and had one of their best shooting teams in recent memory.

With key sharpshooters Andrew Funk, Seth Lundy and Myles Dread finishing their Penn State careers, there was uncertainty about the Nittany Lions’ ability to extend their range behind the arc.

Although this was just the first game for Penn State, the concern over the lack of three-point shooting is prevalent and fair.

The blue and white made nine triples but shot just 26% from beyond the arc in the game. Temple transfer Zach Hicks and UNC transfer D’Marco Dunn led the way with three triples each.

Rhoades did draw up plays that gave his shooters very good looks from three-point range, but their ability to knock them down has raised some concern for Penn State fans.

With capable shooters such as Jameel Brown and Zach Hicks on the roster, Penn State should improve their shooting as the upcoming season gets underway.

Guards Galore

Last season, Penn State relied heavily on a small-ball style of play and their success proved why having four or five shooters on the floor can be an advantage.

This season, the Nittany Lions are once again loaded at the guard position and they put their skills on full display against the Bahamas.

Four of the five leading scorers for Penn State were guards including VCU transfer Nick Kern and UNC transfer D’Marco Dunn who scored 17 and 16 points respectively.

Returning Nittany Lion guards Kanye Clary and Jameel Brown each had 13 points with Brown lighting it up in the second half and Clary showing impressive ball-handling ability.

Penn State didn’t need a stellar performance from their top point guard and VCU transfer Ace Baldwin Jr., but he will play a big role this season.

RayQuawndis Mitchell and freshman Bragi Gudmundsson will provide even more depth for the talented guard group that Penn State has.

All Gas. No Brakes.

Penn State got out in transition early and often against the Bahamas and they showed a willingness to share the basketball in their offense.

The Nittany Lions finished with 19 points in transition, but they left some points on the board after missing multiple good three-point looks in transition.

Rhoades seems to have put an emphasis on letting everyone start the break as every player had the ability to take the ball up the court after a rebound.

Kanye Clary handled the rock well in transition and stood out from the rest with his ability to push the ball up the court and make strong passes to open shooters on the fastbreak.

Penn State will need to use this transition offense to tire out opposing teams and not let them set up their half-court defenses.

Aire, Wahab Not on Trip

One noticeable side note for Penn State was the absence of Miami (FL) transfer Favour Aire and Georgetown transfer Qudus Wahab.

The two big men for the Nittany Lions did not make the trip with the team to the Bahamas, but will both be crucial pieces to the rebounding success of the team.

In their absence, sophomore Demetrius Lilley got the start and finished with six points and eight rebounds, including four offensive boards.

These three will need to be big in the rebounding category with the size and strength of other big men in the Big Ten conference.

Thomas English is a second-year broadcast journalism major. To contact him, email tfe5082@psu.edu.