In the final tune-up for the regular season, Penn State took care of business versus Lock Haven. The team took about ten minutes to assert itself against the lessor-talented Bald Eagles and by midway through the second half a twenty-plus point lead was established.
The team distributed minutes among nine players in a manner that coach Pat Chambers described prior to the season. Looking to keep key players’ minutes below 30 per game, the team was able to cycle in fresh legs when needed.
Tony Carr, Josh Reaves and Mike Watkins led the team with 15 points apiece. Lamar Stevens added 14 points and Shep Garner finished with 13. It was a team effort. Other than Davis Zemgulis, who fouled out with just 15 minutes played, the team was able to stay out of foul trouble.
Overall it was a great outing for the team. The athleticism of the new editions to the team jumps out compared to recent seasons. While Josh Reaves is still the most dynamic player on the court, there are several players with a wide variety of skills out there with him. Lamar Stevens looked every bit the swing-man that he was billed as being. Mike Watkins has the body and skill to do well in the low-post during Big Ten play. There were several times when Watkins could have taken a foul for trying to continue a play, but he wisely backed off. There’s a maturity in Watkins’ game that the Lions will greatly appreciate this season.
Players of the Game
Two freshman forwards played outstanding games and they will split the player of the game honors.
Lamar Stevens- 14 points, 12 rebounds, one personal foul, 22 minutes played. Stevens looked the part of a player that will be able to play in the paint for the Lions this season. His athleticism is noticeable and he was able to defend without getting into foul trouble.
Mike Watkins- 15 points, 9 rebounds, 2 assists, one steal, two personal fouls in 20 minutes played. Watkins showed the ability to pass as was advertised prior to the start of the season. Take a look at this ball movement. The play led to an offensive foul by Josh Reaves, but take a look at Watkins. He caught the ball with soft hands up high, kept it high, and found an open man on the wing.
The team seems to have nearly a dozen players that will be able to contribute this season. Ten players worked their way onto the court in a regular rotation even with Payton Banks resting a minor injury. As a result, only Tony Carr played 30 minutes, with the rest of the team able to log twenty minutes. Stevens, Reaves, Garner, Samuel, Watkins and Moore played 19-25 minutes each along with Carr. This distribution in minutes will help keep players fresh, reduce the likelihood of foul trouble, and allow Chambers to deploy his dreaded press that teams seem to have trouble with at times.
Nazeer Bostick played 9 minutes and seems to be a player that will contribute similar to Isaiah Washington did last season. Here’s a look at a slick offensive rebound and finish following a nice-looking Mike Watkins low-post shot.
The Lions will take on Albany at home next Friday at 7 p.m. to kick off the much-anticipated non-conference schedule. The game will be available via ESPN3. It will be the first of two for the Lions over the weekend, which includes a Sunday match-up at 6 p.m. versus Duquesne. Sunday’s game will be televised on the Big Ten Network.