Penn State vs. UMass Preview
There will be a lot of firsts for new Penn State coach Micah Shrewsberry. Monday, Nov. 15 will be his first road game against a middle-of-the-pack Atlantic Ten team in the UMass Minutemen.
The biggest takeaway from the Nittany Lions season opener was their defense. They held Youngstown State to only 59 points. By the second half, they were locked in forcing the Penguins to shoot 28.9% the final 29 minutes of the game.
Starters John Harrar, Sam Sessoms and Seth Lundy combined for a total of 56 points and 25 rebounds.
Harrar was a monster on the boards continuing to hustle all over the court. Shooting 7-for-7 from the field while snatching 14 rebounds. He is the first Nittany Lion to shoot 100% from the field with at least seven field goals since Mike Watkins' perfect 8-for-8 performance vs Iowa in 2017.
Coming into this game, Harrar scored in double figures only 10 times in his four-year career so far at Penn State. He is going to be a huge asset for this team if he plays like this all year.
The Nittany Lions have a true point guard in Sessoms. Being the 6th man for Penn State last year, he immediately stepped up and took on the role of being a facilitator for their offense with eight assists.
The biggest standout of the night was Lundy. His mid-range game is elite. Overall, as a player, he looks more confident. Consistency has always been his biggest issue and after his impressive 23-point performance, hope is high that he will lead Penn State in scoring this year.
Myles Dread did not score a single point but was a valuable piece for the Nittany Lions on the defensive end. Weighing 235 pounds, he can use his size and strength on bigger players, which was pivotal for Penn State when Harrar and Jalanni White got into foul trouble.
UMass comes into this game with a 1-1 overall record coming off a tough loss to Yale, the favorites to win the Ivy League. Last year they were paused 3 different times due to COVID-19 concerns forcing them to only play 13 regular-season games, half of what Penn State played in last year.
With the absence of Tre Mitchell who transferred to Texas, The Minutemen have been searching for someone to bring scoring for the team in the paint. They were able to bring in six transfers in the offseason, two of which are from power five schools.
Trent Buttrick, the former Nittany Lion, leads the Minutemen in scoring dropping 13.5 points per game. Previously at Penn State, he came off the bench and averaged 3 points per game with one double-digit point performance vs Minnesota.
The guards leading the charge for this team are Noah Fernandes who averaged 11.1 last year with UMass and Rich Kelly the transfer from Boston College. Both players are great ball handlers and shooters who help to create for this heavy 3-point shooting offense.
Just like Penn State, they don’t have many options inside the paint, so they will rely heavily on guard play this year.
Shrewsberry had his team ready for the season opener in the Bryce Jordan Center despite being nervous for his first game as a head coach for Penn State. There were a lot of first-game jitters for the Nittany Lions, but those will go away in this matchup.
Penn State has both better forward and guard play than the Minutemen. Expect Harrar to have another field day in the paint and on the boards against his former teammate Buttrick
Penn State 78, UMass 68
Austin Groft is a third-year majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org