Basketball Preview: Wright State
Jon Gross, Mitch Stewart and Erik Chambliss break down this weekend's matchup between the Nittany Lions and Wright State.
The Penn State Nittany Lions (5-3, 0-0 Big Ten) are coming off of another non-conference victory against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets; they prevailed 67-60. As the Nittany Lions continue to roll with their three-game winning streak, they host the Wright State Raiders (6-1, 0-0 Horizon) this Saturday.
While the Nittany Lions revel in their winning ways, the Raiders also hope to continue their four-game stretch of success.
Just like Georgia Tech, Wright State finds themselves under new direction with head coach Scott Nagy at the helm. Before Wright State, Nagy cemented a 410-240 winning record throughout his 21 seasons at South Dakota State. Nagy’s new tenure will create an interesting juxtaposition to Pat Chambers five seasons.
The Raiders seem to be finding their footing under the program’s new path. As consistent starters, senior forward Steven Davis, junior guard Justin Mitchell, senior guard Mike La Tulip, junior guard Grant Benzinger and junior guard Mark Alstork have molded Nagy’s ideals into their chemistry and veteran approach to their season.
Wright State is moving and grooving after winning the Men Against Breast Cancer Classic over CSU Bakersfield, North Dakota and North Florida. Benzinger, Alstork and Davis earned themselves tournament honors; Benzinger was named the MVP, while Alstork and Davis earned a spot on the All-Tournament Team.
While Alstork averaged 15.5 points per game and Davis averaged 14.8 points per game, Benzinger earned his MVP award with two 20-plus showings on the court. As a whole dynamic offensive unit the Raiders average 83.9 points per game.
While their offensive scheme proves impressive, Wright State struggles defensively with a miniscule 16 blocks and an excessive 105 turnovers on the season. Blue and White fans should expect another impressive showing from Mike Watkins on the defensive side of the ball. Against Georgia Tech Watkins had a commanding double-double with 12 points 12 rebounds and an additional 5 blocks. He is cementing himself as one of the best blockers in college basketball; he is eighteenth in the nation.
While Watkins seemingly carries the brunt of the Nittany Lions’ defensive load, they proved resilient on both sides of the ball against the Yellow Jackets; they went back and forth for the lead seven times in only the first half, while the other minutes were spent tied or in the Blue and White’s favor.
Although Watkins cemented himself into Penn State’s starting five and defensive scheme, Garner proved his vitality to their overall game plan. He led both teams in scoring with 17 points, while hitting three crucial shots from outside of the key. Garner continues to prove to be the hub of the Blue and White’s developing youth.
As they begin to dent their schedule, Tony Carr, Lamar Stevens, Watkins and Garner are cementing themselves as the Nittany Lions’ core four. They have chemistry, create momentum and solidify their defensive stronghold.
The Penn State Nittany Lions hope to add another notch on their three-game winning streak on Saturday night against the Wright State Raiders at 5 p.m. in the Bryce Jordan Center.
Madeleine Balestrier is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact her, email email@example.com.
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