2022-23 Penn State men’s basketball game grades: Charleston Classic
Penn State hit the road for the first time this season when it traveled down to the Charleston Classic in South Carolina.
Following their first loss to Virginia Tech, The Nittany Lions rebounded with a bronze medal finish after they defeated Colorado State, 68-56, in the third-place game on Sunday and improved to 5-1.
For second-year head coach Micah Shrewsberry, he has to feel good after a successful road trip, but there were aspects of his team’s game that was far from where he would like it to be.
Based on the opening half in the first matchup against Furman, Penn State looked ready to continue its scorching start to the season. However, the rest of the weekend showed a lot of problems as the offense sputtered and a consistent threat on offense failed to emerge.
Behind 20-point efforts from Seth Lundy and Jalen Pickett, the blue and white outlasted the Paladins, but no one else on the team scored more than nine.
Against Virginia Tech, the Nittany Lions struggled to get into gear, scoring six points in the opening 10 minutes. As Pickett struggled, Andrew Funk and Myles Dread had to pick up the slack.
Finally, against Colorado State, Lundy and Pickett found their stride once again, but similarly to before, no one else cracked double figures.
Also, for an offense that loves to move the ball, it had issues in the weekend finale, totaling just seven assists as a team.
Sunday marked the first time this season that Penn State did not make double-digit three-pointers in a game, finishing with just nine.
The defense gets high remarks, as it held all of the opponents below their season average and below 70 points, but some red flags are emerging.
Defending the post was always going to be an issue for the blue and white without a true center, but against Virginia Tech, that problem reached new heights.
The Hokies scored 40 points in the paint, and forwards Grant Basile, 17 points, and Justyn Mutts, 10 points, constantly backed the smaller Nittany Lions down right under the basket.
Another cause for concern that wasn’t seen a lot last year is the rebounding battle. Penn State did not outrebound a single opponent in Charleston.
There was a lot of buzz around Caleb Dorsey and the work he put into rebounding the basketball in the offseason. However, the junior has struggled to translate it this year, as his minutes continue to drop in favor of the young bucks.
Evan Mahaffey saw an extended stint against Virginia Tech where he proved to be the move effective “center,” snagging five boards.
Lundy has stepped up in that area, along with Pickett, as the two lead the team in rebounding, averaging just above six per game.
The lack of a trustworthy big man could prove costly once Big Ten play begins.
While the scores might tell one story of the weekend, Shrewsberry’s adjustments showed him change his approach to developing his young talent and trust the hot hand.
Most notably against Colorado State, Shrewsberry gave Kebba Njie his first career start in place of Dorsey, and Kayne Clary got 11 minutes in, finishing with five points. Along with Mahaffey’s extended stint against Virginia Tech, some freshmen are developing quickly.
For Shrewsberry, finding a successful lineup and building the future of his program was going to be a balance he had to find, but so far, he has handled it well.
Penn State will enjoy a nice five-day Thanksgiving break before returning home on Friday to welcome Lafayette to the Bryce Jordan Center, with tip-off set for 7 p.m.
Matt Scalzo is a third-year majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
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Third Year / Broadcast Journalism