When Geno Thorpe verbally committed to Penn State in the Fall of 2011, it represented a major scalp for then brand-spankin' new head coach Pat Chambers, to land the high 3-star guard out of Pittsburgh who had offers from the likes of Pitt and Wisconsin. Thorpe, along with then-commit Brandon Austin, were representative of the future of PSU's backcourt. Of course, we all know what happened with Austin and feel no need to get into details, because that's what Google's for.
Aside from bringing an athleticism and defensive presence to PSU's backcourt, Geno has also provided the Internet with a killer, meme-worthy, smile.
See that steal percentage (good enough to be ranked 308th nationally according to KenPom)? That's Exhibit A on why Geno has earned a reputation for being the team's best perimeter defender. Also, the ORtg is not too shabby, being just a tad above 100 - his free throw rate is largely responsible for his offensive success. Thorpe also shot a cool 84% from the free throw line (94 out of 112 attempts), making him one of the more reliable foul shooters on the team.
via Shot Analytics
As you can see, the vast majority of Geno's shot attempts came right underneath the basket. That's what happens when you score a boatload of your points via transition layups/dunks off of turnovers. Surprisingly, the left wing and left corner from behind the three-point line haven't been too shabby for a guy who never has held a reputation for being a perimeter shooter, although you would certainly like to see those other percentages around the perimeter trend a little further upward. It's pretty clear what Thorpe needs to work on going into his junior season. His set jumper may not be suited for shooting off the dribble, but he'll have to find a way to keep defenders honest by developing a mid-range shot.
Thorpe figured out how to utilize his quickness to his advantage, allowing him to penetrate the lane and earn plenty of trips to the free throw line. He was consistently PSU's best lock-down defender who could make life a little more difficult for the opposing team's shooters, but could also creating scoring opportunities via transition defense. He even had a handful of games where he was consistently nailing his non-dunk shot attempts, but we'd like to see more consistency from him in that department.
Geno's handle seemed rather shaky at times, making him susceptible to turnovers whenever the opposing team decided to start pressing. He also had a tendency to get himself into foul trouble quite often, due to his aggressiveness. While the defensive tenacity is something much appreciated, one has to figure the coaching staff will be working all off-season long on making sure he harnesses in the reckless fouling while not sacrificing his aggressiveness.
vs. Iowa (B1G Tournament) - 11 points, 6 steals, 4 rebounds, 3 assists
Defensively, it was arguably Geno's best performance, garnering a season-high six steals. Geno's efforts played an integral role in holding an Iowa team that dropped 81 on them in Happy Valley in overtime merely a couple of weeks prior to just 58 points in an upset victory that kickstarted the short but sweet 'Why Not Us' campaign.
Obviously, Geno will maintain his starting guard position but look for him to try and pick up a little more of the slack offensively (along with the rest of his teammates) with D.J. Newbill no longer around. The key will be whether he can continue to add to his offensive repertoire. As a rising junior, it would also be reasonable to expect to see Geno become more of a leader on the court, which will be beneficial to the young bucks entering the program this year and in 2016.
Final Grade: B+
Geno handled the transition from key guy off the bench his freshman year to a regular starter is sophomore season quite well, with his athleticism and defensive prowess giving opponents fits on a regular basis. His offensive game, while improved, could've used more consistent jump shooting but it was his tendency to get into foul trouble and turn the ball over at inopportune moments that made it difficult for us to push his grade into 'A' territory. These are issues however, that are certainly fixable in the offseason and as Geno heads into what should be a very productive junior season for him.
Final Penn State Student ID Photo Grade: A+++
March 11, 2015