Game Preview: Penn State vs. North Florida
Ben Borus, Mitch Broder, Pat Tartaro and Jamal Ellerbee break down Penn State basketball's 2018 season opener:
Penn State men’s basketball kicks off its season Friday night with a matchup against the North Florida Ospreys. Tipoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. at the Bryce Jordan Center.
The Nittany Lions are coming off a season where they were champions of the NIT Tournament and were just a couple wins away from the NCAA Tournament.
Coach Pat Chambers’ team is led by junior and 2018 NIT Most Outstanding Player Lamar Stevens, who averaged 15.5 points per game, which was second on the team last season.
Stevens will look to take over as the leader of this team after Penn State’s leading scorer last season, Tony Carr, left for a career in professional basketball. Penn State will also have to replace Shep Garner, the program’s all-time leader in made three-point field goals.
Freshman Myles Dread, a three-star recruit from Washington D.C, will make his collegiate debut for Penn State. Dread was 7-12 from the field and 5-10 from three in an exhibition game last Saturday against West Virginia.
Penn State’s athletic and talented backcourt will also feature Josh Reaves, who led the Big Ten in steals and was named to the Big Ten All-Defensive team last season. Penn State will also count on some minutes from sophomore guard Jamari Wheeler.
The Nittany Lions will be without center Mike Watkins in this game, who is out indefinitely due to some off the court issues. They will also be without Satchel Pierce, who Penn State announced was academically ineligible earlier in the semester. The Nittany Lions will look to play a lot of small ball without their big men.
The North Florida Ospreys are coming off of a 14-19 season in which they finished tied for fourth place in the Atlantic Sun Conference. They became a Division One program in 2005 and have made the tournament once in their history in 2015.
The Ospreys are led by head coach Matthew Driscoll and return three starters from last season. Sophomores Garrett Sams and Wajid Aminu will be counted on to lead this season after prolific guard and leading scorer Dallas Moore graduated.
Sams averaged 12.7 points per game last season. Aminu averaged 9.9 points per game, 6.6 rebounds per game and one block per game as one of the anchors in the middle for North Florida.
The Ospreys will also look to junior Ivan Gandia-Rosa from Caguas, Puerto Rico. Last season, Gandia-Rosa led the Ospreys in assists averaging 6.2 per game and was also an 89 percent shooter from the foul line.
North Florida will already have game experience coming to the Bryce Jordan Center as they open their season on Wednesday night in Dayton, Ohio against the Dayton Flyers.
This is the first-ever meeting between the Nittany Lions and Ospreys. This is also the second straight year that North Florida has played a Big Ten team on the road early in the season. They lost 98-68 to Michigan State in East Lansing last season.
Kevin McConlogue is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism with a minor in political science. To contact him email firstname.lastname@example.org.