While Pat Chambers had the unexpected luxury of adding three of his own freshmen this offseason, the departure of three contributors--Billy Oliver, Matt Glover, and Trey Lewis--will leave the bench lacking in some departments. That is, unless these returning reserves can make a larger impact coming off the pine.
Sasa Borovnjak - RS Junior - 6'9" 240 LB Forward
After blowing out his knee before his sophomore season, Sasa returned to the fold last year and was able to show flashes of the player some thought he could be. Some of the low post moves he displayed reminded you that this was still the guy that put up 33 points against Oak Hill in high school. In 17 minutes per game, Borovnjak averaged 4.3 points and 3.1 boards per contest in 2011-12 and shot a team-best 57% from the floor. The big Serb did seem to have issues trusting his recovered knee at times and struggled mightily on the defensive end of the floor. A year without any major setbacks means Sasa should be back to full strength. If he makes strides on defense, there's good reason to expect his playing time to increase, especially if Jon Graham hasn't cured his foul troubles.
Nick Colella - Senior - 6'3" 195 LB Guard
Colella went from walk-on to starter last season, earning a scholarship in the process. Chambers desperately needed someone with the ability to make shots from beyond the arc, and Colella was given his shot. While consistency was not the former Penn State-Behrend player's calling card, he did show the ability to hold his own in Big Ten play, eating up minutes and hitting the occasional three upon Billy Oliver's departure (miss u, Dolla Billz). Colella shot a dismal 24% from beyond the arc in 2011-12, so hopefully he (and the entire team, for that matter) was able to find some consistency in his jumper this offseason. His playing time will likely depend on it, since most of his offensive usage was in the form of three-point attempts (82% of his shots were threes). With the loss of the team's best three point shooter in Cammeron Woodyard, the opportunity is there to become the shooter off the bench, but he's going to have to drastically improve his percentages.
Patrick Ackerman - Sophomore - 6'11" 220 LB Forward/Center
Ackerman may be the biggest non-freshman mystery on Penn State's roster. The tallest player by about a good two inches on a team lacking in size didn't see much of the floor last year, playing in a total of 26 minutes. He was a three-star recruit coming out of high school, but many assumed he would need a year to get his body up to Big Ten standards. Based off this quote from Chambers, it's hard to tell if this is the year he begins to make an impact:
Pat had a great off-season. He continued to work hard in the weight room changing his body and developing his game on the floor. He has great size and a number of skills, and we look forward to seeing his continued development in his second season.
With the Nittany Lions likely to play four guard sets often, it's hard to see where Ackerman finds a lot of playing time sitting behind Graham and Borovjnak in the rotation. However, his length could provide for more of a shot-blocking threat than those two if Chambers decides to deploy the sophomore this season.
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