Penn State vs. Youngstown State Game Preview

Story posted November 9, 2021 in Sports, CommRadio by Austin Groft

The Shrewsberry Era in Happy Valley is finally here. He will make his debut for Penn State against Youngstown State starting at 8:30 p.m. on Nov. 8.

The Bryce Jordan Center will welcome back fans for the first time in 617 days for the season tip-off. Dating back to Oct. 28, Coach Shrewsberry held the first ever Penn State Slama Jama fest. This event was a way to showcase the team to students and fans before the season.

The hype around campus for this team is legit selling 2,800 student season tickets, the most ever sold in Penn State history. The Bryce Jordan Center is going to be loud and ready.

Coach Shrewsberry says his team is “ready to go” this week and is thrilled for the start of the season. 

“The focus level of our team has been really good. The closer and closer we get to the start of the season the more focused we are,” Shrewsberry said.

Penn State has not released an official starting roster for the game Wednesday, but Shrewsberry said that John Harrar is the only player locked in for the starting lineup.

“The biggest concern for me is that we got to stay healthy. We have to stay healthy, and we have to get healthy. Especially in the start of the season if we want to find our peak as the season goes on,” Shrewsberry said.

In terms of being healthy, Penn State will be without 6’9 Greg Lee, who suffered an apparent foot injury, for the season opener. Alongside Lee, they will also be missing JUCO transfer Jevonnie Scott who is dealing with eligibility issues.

Senior guard Sam Sessoms notices a significant impact of being without Lee at practice.

“We noticed a difference in practice. Greg is a guy who brings a lot of energy and tenacity to the floor. He’s a defensive player, rebounder, all that and we are missing his energy,” Sessoms said.

Being without Lee and Scott, transfer Jalanni White will have to step it up coming off the bench for Harrar. White averaged 5.1 points per game in his career at Canisius and started in 40 games.

“I look at him and there’s days practicing, and you go man how did he ever average three points a game. He is a real talented kid and he’s got some tools that we are going to keep showcasing,” Shrewsberry said.

Looking at Youngstown State

This will be the second time in Penn State history that they will face off against the Youngstown State Penguins. Last year they finished 15-12 going 5-0 in their non-conference games.

Leading scorers Naz Bohannon and Darius Quisenberry transferred at the end of the season leaving head coach Jerrod Calhoun searching for ways to fill their roles.

The most notable transfers they brought in are Dwayne Cohill (Dayton), Tevin Olison (NAIA), Collen Gurley (Mount Union) and Chris Shelton (Hampton).

Cohill sat out last season due to an injury. He previously played for Dayton and transferred to Youngstown State after being frustrated with playing time. The former four-star recruit could easily be a splash for coach Calhoun this season.

Shelton, Olison and Gurley are all elite 3-point shooters, which is exactly what the Penguins needed to improve on from last season. This will help them in their struggles facing many zone defenses in the Horizon league.

Finally, they return starters Shemar Rathan-Mayes, Garett Covington and Michael Akuchie.

Covington is a three-time Horizon All-defensive member who averaged 12.5 points per game last year, being the team’s leading returning scorer. With the departure of Bohannon and Quisenberry, he will have to step it up offensively.

Rathan-Mayes averaged 10.4 points per game last year as a true freshman. He will continue his development in becoming this team’s true point guard. Alongside Covington, he will lead this team in scoring this season being the most exciting scorer on the roster.

Game Prediction:

Penn State has the better transfers and more experience being the oldest power five team. Shrewsberry will get his first career win as a head coach despite being without some of his core big man reserves.

Penn State 85, Youngstown State 69

Austin Groft is a third-year majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email atg5271@psu.edu.