Penn State Basketball Weekly Preview: VCU, Seton Hall Come to University Park This Week

Story posted December 2, 2020 in Sports, CommRadio by Logan Bourandas

It wasn’t pretty, but Penn State opened its season 1-0 after an 86-65 win over VMI at the Bryce Jordan Center on Saturday. The Nittany Lions had a rough start to the game, as they were only up by two points after the first half, but they pulled away once the second half started.

Before the game, it was unclear who would take the role which Lamar Stevens left behind as the team’s go-to scorer, but after the game finished, it looked like Jamari Wheeler could be the guy. Wheeler finished with 18 points and four 3-pointers, leading the team in both categories. Wheeler has always been a defense-first type of player in his career, but it now looks like he has the trust of head coach Jim Ferry to have more of a role on offense when the team struggles.

Penn State took a staggering 36 3-point attempts in the game with only 11 finding the net. When Ferry spoke to the media on Tuesday, he said that number needs to change.

“I think we shot too many 3’s,” Ferry said. “That's not the game plan to shoot 40 3’s a game. I just thought we were a little over-aggressive and a little over-excited to play. When I broke it down, I thought there were only four or five that were bad shots.”

This week, the Nittany Lions will remain at home to take on Virginia Commonwealth. This will be the first ever meeting between these two schools, and both are on a one-game winning streak. VCU is currently 2-1 on the year, as the Rams beat Utah State and Memphis but lost to a ranked West Virginia team.

VCU is led by sophomore Nah’Shon Hyland, as he leads the team in scoring with 16 points per game. Hyland finished fourth on the team in points last year, but none of the top three finishers are on this year’s team.

Hyland is one of three Rams who average over 10 points per game this season, as both Vince Williams Jr. and Keshawn Curry have also had a big role in the offense so far.

After VCU, the Nittany Lions will stay at home to face Seton Hall on Sunday. Despite the two teams being relatively close to each other, they have only played six times in total, with the last meeting ending in an 89-86 Penn State overtime victory back in 2007. Penn State holds a 5-1 lead in the series.

Seton Hall ended last season with a 21-9 record and a spot in the tournament before the pandemic canceled March Madness. The Pirates lost their best player Myles Powell to the draft, as he is now a member of the New York Knicks.

This season, the Pirates are led by Sandro Mamukelashvili, as he is currently averaging 20 points per game in his senior season. He was second on the team in points behind Powell last season.

The Pirates are currently 1-1 on the year after a close one-point loss to Louisville and a dominant win over Iona. They will have two more matchups before the meeting with Penn State, those being against Rhode Island and No. 21 Oregon.

 

Logan Bourandas is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email lxb5412@psu.edu.