Leadership not a problem for Penn State men’s basketball in win over Canisius

Story posted December 19, 2022 in CommRadio, Sports by Jonathan Draeger

UNIVERSITY PARK—Earlier this season, Penn State named four players to be team captains for the 2022-23 season.

Three captains are returning veterans for coach Micah Shrewsberry’s squad from last year's senior forward Seth Lundy and senior-plus guards Jalen Pickett and Myles Dread. The fourth captain came from the transfer portal in former Bucknell Bison guard Andrew Funk.

That quartet of leadership was exponentially shown in the Dec. 10 matchup with the No. 17 Illinois Fighting Illini. All four captains banded together and posted 71 of the Nittany Lion’s 74 points in the win against the Illini.

Every team is a well-oiled machine with different moving parts. When one part goes missing or even malfunctions, the whole rig will fall apart.

That’s not the case for Penn State, as they managed to put up 55 points in the second half against the Canisius Golden Griffins without one of their captains. The blue and white dominated in a 97-67 win but managed to lose Lundy due to a lower leg injury.

With a few minutes left to go in the first half, the Paulsboro, N.J., native drove into the paint and threw up a layup. On the way down, Lundy fell to the floor and gripped in pain as he held his leg.

Shrewsberry did not give an update on the injury or its longevity but did manage to find Lundy in a not-so-sour mood.

“He was in the locker room, but he was in good spirits,” Shrewsberry said.

Before the injury, Lundy was rolling in the first half, posting 10 points on 4-7 shooting with six rebounds. His contributions aided to a 42-36 Penn State lead heading into halftime.

Once the second half started, the team came out guns blazing, especially from Funk, who hit all five three-pointers in the second half, finishing the day with 15 points on 5-6 shooting from downtown. Pickett added 16 points to lead all scorers, going 7-14 from the floor.

With the freshmen class getting a handful of playing time, the leadership continued on the bench without Lundy. Freshman forward Kebba Njie knows the amount of experience is there without the senior.

“Seth, he’s a great leader. We also have three other great leaders,” Njie said. “One man goes down, we just got to pick up the slack for him.”

The slack was picked up by the team, as the Nittany Lions dropped 55 points and turned the ball over only once in the second half. The entire team, who had a scare in the first half, managed to rally together after one of their leaders fell.

Shrewsberry practiced similar scenarios by sitting out Pickett during practices at times. The preparations for a situation gave the team a needed chemistry deeper than the leadership available.

“It’s good to have veterans and guys that have played,” Shrewsberry said. “That’s an easy plug-and-play for us. Those guys rotate in practice, so they’re all playing with each other.”

As for Lundy, Shrewsberry is thankful for the extended time between games due to the holidays.

“You’d never want anybody getting injured, but if you are, at least it’s now at this point in time,” Shrewsberry said.

Jonathan Draeger is a third-year broadcast journalism major. To contact him, email jrd6052@psu.edu.