Basketball Freshmen Following: Week Two
Penn State’s young team got its first look at what a perennial college basketball power house looked like when they faced off against the Duke Blue Devils in the Hall of Fame Tip-Off Tournament. The Nittany Lions were unable to get the victory, however, they did show they had the most powerful freshman on the floor. This is simply because Duke’s stunning trio of freshman Harry Giles, Jayson Tatum, and Marques Bolden did not make an appearance due to injury.
Mike Watkins struggled all night long stopping Amile Jefferson who had 16 points along with 15 rebounds while Watkins scraped in a measly four points and three boards in only 10 minutes of action due to foul trouble. Nazeer Bostick only saw four minutes of time but was able to pick up a steal.
Penn State’s other freshman however showed the Blue Devils and Coach K what they were capable of. Lamar Stevens turned in a solid outing with 11 points and six rebounds, but it was Tony Carr who shined for the Nittany Lions. He poured in a game high 20 points, most of which came on strong drives to the hoop and nifty finishes around the rim. He also contributed six rebounds as well as three assists. Penn State was able to keep the game close, but Duke proved too much holding on to a relatively routine 10-point victory.
The following night was no different for Penn State as they may have suffered from fatigue when they fell to the Cincinnati Bearcats 71-50. The freshman did not have their best game in the blowout loss, but Mike Watkins was able to grab 11 rebounds to lead the team. He was only able to add five points to the cause while Lamar Stevens scored eight. Tony Carr was the leading scorer out of the freshman with 10 to go along with his mediocre four assists and two rebounds. The lone bright spot on the night may have come from Nazeer Bostick, who was able to play 19 minutes in the blowout. He only scored two points but was able to add three rebounds and two assists.
When Penn State returned home to play Colgate, the freshman had a less than spectacular game, allowing the upperclassmen to carry them to the victory. Carr finished second on the team in scoring with 14 points as well as tied for the team lead in rebounds with 7. Lamar Stevens had a night he will hope to forget as he did not get into the scoring column and only played 12 minutes. Watkins only added four points, but made a decent contribution elsewhere with seven rebounds.
It was clear during this game that the freshman showed some inconsistency. They will not be able to carry the team in scoring every night like they did earlier in the season, so it was a good surprise for Pat Chambers to see he could get contributions from players such as Peyton Banks.
The freshman bounced back to form in their next outing against George Washington. In their first true road game, they showed no signs of homesickness led by Mike Watkins with 20 points and eight rebounds. Lamar Stevens also added to the winning cause with 18 points of his own and seven rebounds. Carr continued to be the most consistent freshman with 12 points, six rebounds, and five assists. Carr has been extremely impressive early in the season in many aspects. He is tied for the team lead in points per game with 14.3 and leads the Nittany Lions in assists per game with four. Carr also has shot 92 percent from the free throw line, which is an extremely impressive statistic for a freshman point guard. This is a great weapon for Pat Chambers to have when looking to close out games later this year. Stevens and Watkins have been hit and miss, but have tremendous upside and may turn into a powerful and athletic duo inside moving into Big Ten play.
Penn State next took on the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. Penn State was able to fight their way to an ugly win where neither team shot the ball well from the field. Mike Watkins had a large impact on the game with 12 points as well as 12 rebounds, but most important played an excellent game against Georgia Tech star center Ben Lammers. Lammers averaged a double-double coming into the game, but did not have a large impact on the game until late in the second half. Lamar Stevens also had a solid outing with 10 points and nine rebounds, including two monstrous dunks that energized the Bryce Jordan Center. Tony Carr had an off night with only 4 points, but this is to be expected from the freshman who has carried the Nittany Lions at times this season. Pat Chambers has to be pleased with the guts his team showed winning a close game against a good Georgia Tech team where the freshman did not shoot the ball well, but did not make any huge mistakes.
Penn State will next take on Wright State and George Mason in two games that the Nittany Lions will expect to win and allow the freshman to continue to gain experience.
Brian McLaughlin is a freshman majoring in Broadcast Journalism. To contact him email firstname.lastname@example.org.