Men’s Basketball Preview: George Washington

Story posted November 25, 2016 in Sports, CommRadio by Madeleine Balestrier

Although the Penn State Nittany Lions (3-3) find themselves amongst the bottom of the Big Ten barrel, they cemented a 72-59 victory over the Colgate Raiders Wednesday night. Penn State hopes to continue its winning ways and large-margin victories this Saturday against the George Washington Colonials (3-2).

The Nittany Lions and the Colonials are common foes with this being their thirty-third meeting since 1908. Although the Blue and White find themselves on the winning side of the spectrum over the last 11 meetings, the Colonials had the most recent success with their 76-66 victory at home.

George Washington enters this Saturday with a two-game losing streak, but the squad finds a majority of its success at home. It currently stands on a 27-game non-conference home winning streak; the last lost being a non-conference home game in 2012.

With history and current records aside, these two teams have similar production levels and stats. Fans should expect balanced play on both sides of the ball.

The Colonials’ leading scorers fall in the way of forward Tyler Cavanaugh and guard Yuta Watanabe; Cavanaugh averages 18.8 points per game, while Watanabe averages 13.4 points.

Penn State should focus on shutting down George Washington’s turnover and rebound production, while also being wary of guard Jaren Sina and forward Patrick Steeves. Sina and Steeves are both transfers hoping to fulfill the holes made by last year’s scoring core: Garino, Larsen and McDonald. Although Steeves has been battling injuries since his stint at Harvard, Sina transferred from Seton Hall with a Big East All-Rookie Team selection under his belt.

The Nittany Lions will have a challenge on Saturday, but with the momentum and the leadership of veterans, the Blue and White have the capability to cement another victory and head into a doable home stand.

Payton Banks and Shep Garner are the key to Penn State’s success with their versatility, leadership and ability to make plays late in contention. They cemented the power of the three into their latest showdown with Colgate; the Blue and White had a season-high 11 three-pointers. Banks hit a three for a momentum shift in the first half, while Garner swooshed a three-pointer to halt Colgate’s comeback efforts.

The Nittany Lions’ veteran core has a youthful compliment with Tony Carr, Mike Watkins and Lamar Stevens. Carr has scored double digits in all six games, while falling second behind Garner in scoring. Watkins provides another defensive element to their lacking scheme with his rebounding and blocking ability. Stevens and Carr utilize their Roman Catholic roots to build off of each other’s individual games to make a more complete starting five. 

If Penn State can continue infiltrating a strong effort from beyond the arc then its opponents will find more difficulty shutting down the dynamics of an evolving team.

Ultimately, Saturday’s showing will prove to be a back-and-forth battle with Penn State’s offense and George Washington’s defensive scheme.

The Penn State Nittany Lions head on the road against the George Washington Colonials at 4 p.m. on Saturday in the Charles E. Smith Center.

 

Madeleine Balestrier is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact her, email mrb5883@psu.edu