Game Grades: Iowa
In the Big Ten season opener, The Nittany Lions pulled out 77-73 victory against the Iowa Hawkeyes. The difference maker in this game was the Nittany Lions’ lights out 3-point shooting and stifling defense, which kept the Hawkeyes from ever leading in the game. Here are Penn State’s game grades from Saturday’s victory.
Offensively, the Nittany Lions shot lights out from the perimeter and took advantage of interior opportunities. One negative, however, was that the Nittany Lions had problems moving the ball around the court, which led to 14 turnovers and multiple tipped passes.
The team shot 12 of 23 from 3-point land, led by senior guard Shep Garner and sophomore guard Tony Carr, who both made four.
As the Hawkeyes had to start respecting the deep shooting from the Nittany Lions, lanes opened for cutters and post-ups later in the game. On the inside, redshirt sophomore forward Mike Watkins exerted his will. Watkins finished with 19 points, mostly coming on dunks and finishes around the rim. Watkins made it his responsibility to dominate inside while his teammates gave him room to operate as the Hawkeyes had to respect the Nittany Lions’ red-hot shooting display.
On defense, Penn State’s perimeter defensive strategy caused chaos, leading to a litany of steals and other turnovers. On the inside, however, Iowa did a lot of damage and the Nittany Lions could not finish off defensive possessions with a rebound, leading to multiple missed opportunities.
The Nittany Lions’ athletic perimeter players played tough defense by keeping the Hawkeye playmakers in front of them, which disrupted their rhythm. They also used quick hands and incredible anticipation to cause eight steals, leading to great opportunities on the fastbreak.
Down low, the defense was shaky, as it allowed 42 points in the paint. More importantly, the Nittany Lions had a hard time finishing defensive possessions, as they gave up 14 offensive rebounds. This gave way to 13 second-chance points and multiple opportunities for the Hawkeyes to run their offense.
The inability to finish defensive possessions was the primary reason why the Hawkeyes kept this game close. As in-conference competition increases, the Nittany Lions will need to make sure they solve this issue.
Penn State head coach Pat Chambers drew up incredible strategy in this game and his team executed it well. However, Chambers is surely looking for a spark from his bench players after they have given him zero points in the second consecutive game.
This surely is worrisome as the drop off from Carr and Watkins is severe. The Nittany Lions become a bit stagnate on offense when Carr is out and the big men coming off the bench are simply not producing at a level that will help the Nittany Lions later in conference play.
The Nittany Lions resume Big Ten play Monday, as they return home to play the Wisconsin Badgers at 7 p.m.
Jerome Taylor is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.