Nittany Lions Finding Things to Play for Despite Losing Season

Story posted February 22, 2021 in CommRadio, Sports by Jack McCune

Penn State’s 74-68 loss to Iowa on Sunday digs the hole even deeper for the Nittany Lions and their postseason hopes. 

Just four games remain on the regular season schedule before the Big Ten tournament, and sitting at 4-11 and in the bottom four in the standings, the blue and white could have to play in the first round.

Anything but a lengthy run in the conference playoffs would most likely seal Penn State’s fate and end its season. The NIT is still hopeful to host its annual tournament, but after Penn State football chose to forgo its bowl game eligibility, the basketball program could follow suit for health and safety reasons.

Seniors John Harrar and Jamari Wheeler are slowly watching their final seasons come to a close. Delaware County native Harrar had nothing but praise for his decision to come to Happy Valley and build the program. 

There’s speculation that he could return to the team next year as a graduate student, but it seems unlikely after he got emotional following his team’s loss to Ohio State on Sunday.

“I’ll tell you a story,” Harrar said. “I love this place. I love the Bryce Jordan Center. I love this university. That’s what I play for. I play for the people in the locker room, the staff. … I love everything that comes with [Penn State]. I loved my four years here. That’s why I play this game, all the love I have for my teammates and this place. I want to make Penn State go as far as it can. If I can do that with all my love I give them, then that’s a plus.”

Interim head coach Jim Ferry appreciates that love more than anyone else. He praises Harrar every chance he gets, and he even mentioned that he would let him marry his daughters.

Ferry has faced five losses this season decided by six points or less. But Penn State Athletic Director Sandy Barbour says she will name a head coach shortly after the season ends, and despite the tough year, she said back in January that Ferry has a good chance to come back, and a good run in the remaining games could bolster his résumé.

“My evaluation of Coach Ferry has been very outstanding,” Barbour said. “The Big Ten is an absolute beast. … Gotta give Jim a lot of credit.”

The close losses could open eyes for potential subsequent players. The Nittany Lions had two three-star recruits decommit last November after it was announced that Pat Chambers would be parting ways with the program. But Ferry and his staff have proven that his team is just a few pieces away, especially with players like Myreon Jones, Izaiah Brockington and Seth Lundy returning next year.

Harrar’s love. Ferry’s future. The team’s future. The Nittany Lions still have a lot of things to play for.

Jack McCune is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email