Shrewsberry Uses Two Days of Practice to Get Back to the Basics
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.-- Coming off a bad loss to then No. 1 Purdue on Sunday, the Penn State Nittany Lions had to right the ship with the Big Ten preseason favorite Indiana Hoosiers coming into town.
Coach Micah Shrewsberry had an idea in mind on Monday’s walkthrough to challenge his squad. Assistant coach Mike Farrelly threw out a group of five guys as a scout team defense, and the second-year head coach gave a message to the players.
“I told everybody else, ‘I don’t know who’s starting. I don’t know who’s playing,’” Shrewsberry said. “‘You guys are going to tell me in these next two days.’”
The plan came to fruition on Wednesday night, as the blue and white dominated the Indiana Hoosiers 85-66 at the Bryce Jordan Center. The win ends a two-game skid the Nittany Lions struggled to finish on a high note.
“I’m proud of our guys,” Shrewsberry said. “I’m so proud of what they did, how they played, the resolve that we played with.”
A part of the success came from the team’s specialty: the three-point shot. Shrewsberry’s team hit 58.1% clip from beyond the arc and tied the single game record of 18 made three-pointers, a mark Penn State set on opening night against the Winthrop Eagles.
A good portion of the long ball’s success came from senior guard Andrew Funk, who had 23 points on 7-of-12 shooting from the perimeter, and senior forward Seth Lundy, posting the same statline from the three-point line, but finishing with 25 points. The 6-foot-6 forward’s performance was enough to have him surpass 1,000 career points.
The Paulsboro, N.J., native and the rest of the team stepped up when called upon, even if the Hoosiers were eyeing a comeback.
“Basketball is a game of runs,” Lundy said. “They made a couple of shots in the second half, but we just dug deep and got more stops.”
The team had worked hard over the past two days to help push the blue and white over Indiana. Lundy understood where Shrewsberry was coming from.
“He was really hard on us,” the fourth-year forward said. “But that’s what we are. We are a gritty team. When we play gritty, when we show up offensively, that’s when we play our best.”
Shrewsberry found that he needed to get back to his identity when looking at Penn State’s rankings on KenPom.com. Once he saw the defensive efficiency rating, the second-year head coach had to dig deep to bring back the “Gritty, Not Pretty” culture.
“We need to guard somebody,” the second-year coach said. “We had to get back to guarding. They had to get back to being aggressive. They need to get back to being physical.”
After Sunday’s game, Shrewsberry harked upon the seniors “not playing like seniors.” He later elaborated on it at his weekly media availability that it meant he wanted poise and maturity from the team.
However, he looked back at the game broadcast and the film and saw himself out on the floor, and did not like what he saw in his character. “I looked like an idiot out there,” Shrewsberry said. “I’m not helping my team. I’m not helping those guys in the moments that they need me. That’s what I need to do. I need to help.”
Shrewsberry knew later that the team needed a guy to help guide Penn State through the rough waters that the Big Ten had ahead. He wanted to be the coach they deserve.
“I have got to coach these guys,” the second-year coach said. “I have got to help these guys. They deserve it. They are busting their tails every single day to be good, and they deserve me to be at my best so I can help them. I gave them that for the rest of the season.”
Penn State gets six days of rest before hitting the road to Madison, WI, to take on the Badgers at the Kohl Center on Tuesday, Jan. 17.
Jonathan Draeger is a third-year broadcast journalism major. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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