Game Grades: Penn State vs. Michigan State

Story posted February 10, 2021 in CommRadio, Sports by Jonathan Draeger

The Penn State men’s basketball team fell to the Michigan State Spartans 60-58 Tuesday night in East Lansing.

The Nittany Lions fall to 4-8 in Big Ten play, as their hope for a tournament bid is slowly fading away. As Penn State prepares for its next game, many areas are in need of improvement moving forward towards conference tournament play.

Offense: D

Penn State struggled immensely on the offensive side of the ball, which is what an opposing team led by Tom Izzo is best at. This was not an ordinary bad game; this was shockingly horrible.

The Nittany Lions could not make shots, as they shot 34 percent from the floor, but the main culprit was something head coach Jim Ferry’s team has been known for all season: the three-point shot. In the first half, Penn State made 10 percent of its threes (1-10).

The Nittany Lions later found their groove, but only managed to shoot 22 percent from behind the arc. Penn State lived and died by the three.

The only two players who managed to have the hot hand was guard Myreon Jones and forward John Harrar, who happened to be the team’s only double-digit scorers for the night. Harrar had his way all game and Jones started to takeover in the late minutes of the second half, but the surrounding cast failed to provide more help.

Along with the shooting, the motion offense seemed to lack. The drives into the lane either led to bad shot selections or desperation heaves to get out of the many sticky situations the Nittany Lions put themselves into.

The free throws, however, kept Penn State in this game. The Nittany Lions shot 87 percent from the charity stripe, which was a huge asset in the second half, as they slowly crept back into the game, but to no avail.

Defense: C+
Penn State’s defense had some major plays, but it had its fair share of meltdowns. On paper, the defense did well, but sometimes failed the eye test.

Penn State has been notorious in creating turnovers all season long, and it showed today by forcing 11 Michigan State turnovers. The defense did seem too aggressive at times when trying to steal the ball, which ended up drawing fouls or cause the rim to go unprotected without any help on the weakside.

When hedging screens, there seemed to be a lack of communication between the two defenders, causing many opportunities for the Spartans to slip a guy down the lane for an easy bucket. On open shots, the Nittany Lions needed to box out a little bit more to keep the second chance opportunities for opposing teams at a minimum.

However, Penn State’s defense did provide sparks of a comeback throughout the second half. A clutch steal by guard Izaiah Brockington gave Penn State an opportunity to win the game or head to overtime, but alas, the team came up short.

Coaching: B
Jim Ferry is building a great resume as to why he should fill in as the permanent head coach for this program. His mindset and work at previous gigs such as LIU Brooklyn in the late 2000s provide great game plan strategy and aggressive style of play; something needed to survive the Big Ten.

The way Ferry managed to draw up inbound plays to create opportunities can get him far. The play Ferry drew up to take the lead with 10 seconds left was a great showing of his intelligence.

However, Ferry’s timeout usage may need some work. When the Spartans went on a 12-0 run throughout the first half, Ferry did not call timeout once, which could have helped the team break out of their slump. Another example is when time was running out and they heaved a prayer with one timeout left, which could’ve been used to draw up a play.

Penn State looks to find its winning ways again as they host Nebraska this Sunday at the Bryce Jordan Center.

Jonathan Draeger is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. You can contact him at