Game Grades: Penn State vs. Michigan
The Penn State Nittany Lions faced off against the Michigan Wolverines at Madison Square Garden to begin the Big Ten Super Saturday event. Penn State came into this game with a record of 11-10 and 2-7 in conference play. Although Michigan is unranked, its record is still impressive with the Wolverines 17-5 overall and 7-2 for in conference games. After a slow start from the Nittany Lions, they began to creep their way back into the game during the second half with a 9-0 run led by sophomore Shep Garner. They came close by cutting the game to as low as six points. However, even with great performances from senior forward Brandon Taylor and guard Shep Garner, the Nittany Lions fall short, losing to 79-72.
Back court: C+
The back court did struggle in this game especially having to guard Michigan’s back court where they combined for 28 points. Sophomore Shep Garner had good game despite having a slow start in the first half. When the Nittany Lions needed a basket the most, Garner delivered, whether it was a deep 3-pointer or driving to the lane and finding his teammates for easy baskets. Garner finished with 22 points, six rebounds, and four assists. What needs to change is the balance of scoring amongst the guards. Senior Devin Foster only scored three points which put a lot of the pressure on Garner to put the ball in the basket.
Front Court: B+
A B+ may be considered a little high for the fact that Julian Moore didn’t help the front court much in terms of scoring, only scoring four points. However, Moore did acquire two blocks during the contest which did close the gap as the end of the game got closer. What really earned this front court a B+ was Brandon Taylor’s sheer will to win. He scored 24 points, going 11-19 shooting, snatching 10 rebounds and a block in the process. What really stood out was his determination even when the game seemed out of reach. He demanded the ball every possession down the stretch and willed his way to the basket, muscling anyone who tried to stop him. Now if the rest of the front court can show this type of determination, the Nittany Lions could cause teams a lot of problems down low.
The bench for the Nittany Lions is continuing with their problem of being inconsistent. The bench combined for only eight points total which left the starters with the scoring load. In order for the Nittany Lions to have more success, the bench has to step up, whether it be balanced scoring from all the bench players or a spark plug sixth man leading the second unit when the starters are off the floor. This role could be filled by freshman Josh Reeves when he returns to action, but until then we just have to wait.
Coach Pat Chamber and his team is showing signs of improvement. By playing a small ball lineup where the tallest player on the floor is only 6-foot-10, it allows the Nittany Lions to really run the floor and use their speed and driving ability to get easy baskets. This will then open up the floor for three point threats Shep Garner and Brandon Taylor to get wide open shots. Pat Chamber has to focus on limiting turnovers for their next game against a very good Iowa team. They finished this game with 11 turnovers which is going to cost them greatly if they do that against Iowa. Slowly, this Penn State team is starting to figure things out, which is a great step in the right direction.
Carlos Flores is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email email@example.com.