Upon Further Review: The St. Francis (PA) Edition

Andy Lyons

Yeah, it was ugly, but let's giggle over some stats!

PSU won their season-opener last Friday, but it sure was ugly. This is typical for most college basketball teams in the first half of November, especially Penn State. At least the poor play didn't result in a humiliating loss to someone like Yale. But before we move past the Red Flash, as this game surely will be forgotten about by the end of the month, welcome to the season's first installment of Upon Further Review.

The Numbers

Team Poss PPP eFG% Off Reb% TO% FT Rate
Penn State 66 0.98 39.4% 39.4% 25.7% 68.1%
St. Francis (PA) 66 0.88 54.4% 7.4% 24.4% 31.1%


Shooting
St. Francis held a significant edge in the shooting department, mostly because PSU shot themselves into a big hole early. The Lions generated some open looks from the perimeter but couldn't cash in. The more they kept clanking the rim and ignoring the paint, the more SFU packed in their zone in the 2nd half and begged PSU to shoot. The Lions obliged to the tune of 3-24 from 3-point land, tying their worst perimeter shooting performance from last year at Nebraska. Over half of their field goal attempts for the game came from beyond the line. So despite making 61% of their 2PA, PSU shot a putrid <40% eFG%.

Rebounding
Penn State dominated this department on Friday night, especially on their own defensive glass. Don't look now, but PSU is currently the best defensive rebounding team in the country. The Red Flash had an average shooting performance, but they couldn't match PSU's athleticism to grab second opportunities. Zero second-chance points is always a great night on the glass.

Turnovers
Both teams were consistently bad in this area throughout the game. It is the first game of the year, but the chemistry was lacking on both sides. Offensive fouls were aplenty and many passes were either errant or mishandled. It didn't seem like a majority of all turnovers in the game were the result of ball pressure defense.

Free Throw Rate
Here's where Penn State won the game behind Tim Frazier and DJ Newbill. They both set up camp at the foul line all game long. Frazier's individual free throw rate was a ridiculous 200% (18 FTA / 9 FGA), while he made 94% of his attempts. Newbill wasn't shabby either at 100% and converted nine of his ten free attempts. As a team, PSU got to the line more often than any game last year and converted at a higher percentage, too.

Turning Point
Who knows where PSU would be had Nick Colella missed his first second half three-point attempt. The Red Flash lost all interest in closing out on the perimeter after PSU missed shot after shot after shot. A close game continued to get closer as the clock ran down in the 2nd half. Colella's shot from the wing off a skip pass from Frazier was wide-open because the entire St. Francis zone was on the other side of the floor clogging any driving lanes. With just over 7:00 left, Colella's make busted an 0-12 streak from behind the arc. A one-point lead grew to four, which quickly swelled to 12 after a 13-2 run ended the game.

Random Thoughts
-
It took nearly two games to finally see Newbill's first mid-range jumper. He made a beautiful crossover on the baseline and drilled a 15-footer. I would like to see more of this, please.

-Ross Travis was noticeably more composed on the floor. His three wasn't falling, but I believe in Chambers' confidence in his young sophomore. I'm excited about what's going to unfold for Travis in his 2nd year.

-Graham and Borovnjak never got into the flow. They both were racking up fouls and weren't given the ball on the block, even if they had position. They need to be more involved from the start.

-It's hard to block out the shooting woes after last season, but it really was just one game. The looks were good, too. They can't afford too many performances like that this month, though, before it snowballs into a mental game that drags all season long.

-The defensive numbers were strong, but my eyeballs weren't particularly impressed. They continued to struggle defending ball screens and couldn't stay in front of St. Francis' guards. Not a good omen with NC State's athleticism on deck.


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