Offense a focal point for Penn State men’s basketball heading into the season

Story posted November 4, 2022 in CommRadio, Sports by Jonathan Draeger

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State found itself as a defensive team last season.

According to the 2021-22 KenPom rankings, the Nittany Lions were No. 50 out of 358 teams in all of Division I college basketball in adjusted defensive efficiency. The reasoning stems from 18 of 27 games where Penn State held its opponents to 10 or more points under their season averages.

The defense kept it in games, but offense held the blue and white back. The team shot 43.2% from the floor while averaging 11.8 turnovers per game.

This offseason, the coaching staff decided to flip the script on its focus. Coach Micah Shrewsberry, in his second season at the helm of the program, decided to turn to a national championship coach to improve the offense.

“I heard Geno Auriemma talk about this at one point in time at the clinic that he does offensive stuff first,” Shrewsberry said.

Winning 11 national championships for the UConn women’s basketball team, Auriemma knows a thing or two about how to improve offenses. It also helps that the Huskies have 17 undefeated conference seasons under the direction of the West Chester native.

The starting lineup is not officially set in stone, but it was announced that both guard Jalen Pickett and forward Seth Lundy will have a position. Everything else will be adjusted based on the opponent.

“I think we have a group where you can switch some things up based on how you align with them,” Shrewsberry said. “Hopefully they tell me who’s starting by the time we get [to the game].”
The team did bring in reinforcements to help offensively, especially in the transfer portal. Drexel transfer Camren Wynter adds a dynamic threat with his speed of decision making. Wynter averaged 17.6 points per game and 3.0 assists per game last season.

The biggest threat comes one hour east of State College, where former Bucknell Bison Andrew Funk makes an impact. Last year, the Warrington, Pennsylvania, native averaged 17.6 points per game while shooting 36% from beyond the arc.

Shrewsberry sees him as a player the opposition must study up on the scouting reports, like he did at Purdue with guard Sasha Stefanovic, leaving more room for other players to get touches.
“You better know where he is, and now you’re taking one more guy’s attention away from what’s happening,” Shrewsberry said.

As one of four team captains, Funk has been noticed by the coaching staff as a leader of the squad, alongside Pickett,  Lundy and forward Myles Dread.

Not only has the transfer portal been an addition to the offensive skill set, the returning veterans of the Penn State squad have stepped up. Their willingness to get better has impressed the second-year coach.

“They want to get better, and they all push each other,” Shrewsberry said. “It’s like a coach's dream of what you’re looking for.”

One person that has improved offensively is forward Caleb Dorsey, who found himself next to sharpshooter Dallion Johnson over the summer.

The duo spent the summer overseas on a travel team, and Shrewsberry kept getting updates on Dorsey’s performance.

“After every game, [D.J. Byrd] texted me, ‘Hey man, Caleb is over here dominating on the glass. Like he is rebounding like a madman,” Shrewsberry said.

The former Purdue assistant coach wanted Dorsey to improve on the boards. Rebounding is important to Shrewsberry, especially after out-rebounding opponents in 24 of 31 games last season.

“If you want to play, you gotta help us rebound,” Shrewsberry said. “He took that to heart and he’s kind of continued to do it throughout this fall.”

Penn State now finds themselves No. 46 overall in KemPom, with an offensive efficiency ranking at No. 35 and defensive efficiency ranking at No. 62. The Nittany Lions look to get rolling in the Bryce Jordan Center on Monday as they open their season against the Winthrop Eagles.

Jonathan Draeger is a third-year student majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email