Game Grades: George Washington
The Penn State men’s basketball team faced the George Washington Colonials in its last game before finals week at the Bryce Jordan Center. The Nittany Lions came out of the gates on fire and rode their early start to a 74-54 victory.
The Nittany Lions spread the scoring around nicely, with all five starters reaching double figures in the scoring column and none exceeding 20. At one point, the Nittany lions led 37-9, and built too great a lead to squander. The performance was a great response to the lackluster outing the Nittany Lions had against Wisconsin, and thus will be reflected in the game grades.
Sophomore guard Tony Carr led the Nittany Lions in scoring with 19, followed by Mike Watkins with 15. The first five offensive possessions ended in baskets for the Nittany Lions and, at that point, the Colonials had already fallen too far behind.
The Nittany Lions seemed to go back to their bread and butter after falling away from it against Wisconsin, and made a conscious effort to relentlessly attack the rim. There seemed to be a determination to get to the rim that wasn’t present against Wisconsin and it paid dividends.
The Nittany Lions went into the locker room with 48 points on the board, and had the game ended there, their performance would have been an easy A. However, the second half was a bit sloppy at times, and the Nittany Lions’ offense lacked the killer instinct that was so evident in the first half. Though the Nittany Lions only needed seven more points in the second half to secure a victory, they took their feet off the gas, just enough to dock them a letter grade.
As good as the offense was today, the Nittany Lions looked inspired defensively in a way that I have never seen. They held the Colonials to a measly 54 points and looked dominant doing it.
The Nittany Lions racked up 27 defensive rebounds, blocked four shots, and forced seven steals. Those numbers are solid, but don’t exactly scream of a prolific defensive performance. However, the aspects of the defensive performance that don’t show up on the stat sheet made this outing impressive.
The full court press was executed flawlessly with Josh Reaves at the head. His athletic ability and energy gave the Colonials’ guards fits. The press managed to generate a few steals. The mental effect that it had on the Colonials was far more important, however. The duty of having to break the press each time up the court clearly wore on the Colonials’ guards throughout the game and left them looking lost.
Penn State head coach Patrick Chambers had his team ready to make a statement today. After the performance against Wisconsin, there were clearly some adjustments that needed to be made.
The team came out executing with a focus on offense that hadn’t been seen in recent games. Chambers got the team back to their bread and butter offense and it proved to be a great adjustment. The Colonials weren’t ready to defend the relentless Penn State guards and it showed.
Chambers also deserves a deal of credit for coming out in the full-court press, as it helped in other areas. The press created some easy offense and upped the intensity of the Nittany Lions’ overall play.
Additionally, when the second half came around and Penn State started to slip in their execution, Chambers refused to accept it. Though he easily could have let the game ride out and gone home with the win, he refused to accept that his team was getting complacent. Chambers took some strategic timeouts to try and reignite the fire under his team, and it appeared to work in spurts, though their complacency was inevitable.
It would be hard to find anything wrong with Chambers after this comprehensive win, but I think it’s fair to give him credit for actively impacting the outcome of the game based on the obvious improvements made after the Wisconsin loss.
Patrick Murphy is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email email@example.com.