In a first for the program, Penn State started three freshmen on opening night of the 2016-17 college basketball season in guard Tony Carr, and forwards Lamar Stevens and Mike Watkins, alongside Shep Garner and UConn transfer Terence Samuel. From a pure athleticism/talent standpoint, the newcomers were as good as advertised. However, that didn't necessarily translate into being able to hit shots on a consistent basis, nor stopping Albany on the defensive end. Couple that with the fact that Watkins was the only reliable post player and Shep Garner struggled to shoot in the first half and PSU found itself down in a 41-25 hole at halftime. Pat Chambers' rallied nicely in the second half, whittling the deficit down to three points with less than two minutes to play. However, a pair of ill-timed turnovers such as a travel and a throwing the ball away on the following possession spelled PSU's doom, and as a result, they will have to wait another 48 hours before having a shot at earning their first win of the young season.
Four Factors Analysis
Both teams shot fairly consistently in the end, so it's no surprise to see the PPP's being what they are. Albany's 43-26 rebounding advantage, including 12 offensive rebounds, was a real difference-maker here.
Player of the Game - Shep Garner (25 points, 3-for-8 on 3-pointers, 4 assists)
Shep was quiet in the first half but exploded in the second half as he started returning to SH3P form from three-point range and also was unafraid to simply take it to the hoops and draw a foul. You could tell he was truly willing the team on his shoulders.
- The frosh are pretty damned good. Carr, Stevens, and Watkins, all scored in double figures (Carr had 14 points, and Stevens/Watkins had 10 each). Watkins also showcased why the coaching staff raved about him for the past year, blocking five shots. Those are Calvin Booth-like numbers, folks. The downside though, is the freshmen also combined for 7 of the team's 12 turnovers. If they can clean those turnovers up, the sky's the limit for this crew.
- The bench is going to need more than just Payton Banks to contribute if they're going to make some noise this season. While Banks was making it rain from downtown (Banks was 4-for-8 from three-point range) for 14 total points; Davis Zemgulis, Isaiah Washington, and Julian Moore all came off the bench and combined for a whopping four points on 0-for-4 shooting from the field.
- Albany had three players score in double figures, including a guy named Dallas Ennema, who flushed out PSU to the tune of 20 points
- I was half-serious about the "This is Fine" title of this recap. Yes, this loss stings, but it came against a more experienced Albany squad that has serious NCAA Tournament aspirations this year. These types of upsets are not all that uncommon in college basketball season openers and they have bitten teams far more talented and prestigious than Penn State. Also, Josh Reaves was missing and surely would've helped out from a defense/scoring standpoint, which may have made the difference in this one. So, let's cool it with all the #FiurChambers talk for at least one night, mmkay?
Penn State takes on duqane on Sunday at 6:00 PM ET. Be excited, folks. Be very, very, excited.