clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Penn State Basketball: Offseason Mailbag

Scheduling, expectations, and more.

NCAA Basketball: Indiana at Penn State Matthew O'Haren-USA TODAY Sports

There's still five long months and change until college basketball, so let's answer some mailbag questions to pass the time:

From Twitter user @brprewitt:

How insufferable will people be when we don't light the world on fire immediately?

You don't have to suffer anyone, Mr. Brprewitt. It's a young team with two years to grow and develop together, if you get mad online over a loss to Grand Canyon that's on you (NOTE: rule does not apply to games vs. Rutgers for another three seasons). Speaking of the non-con:

From Lionbacker3:

On the surface, is this OOC schedule too difficult?

First off, I see you asking four unrelated questions in a sparse comment thread and I appreciate you, Lionbacker3. I'll get to others shortly.

So this non-con schedule - Duke, Rhode Island/Cincinnati, and Pitt on neutral courts, at George Washington, with maybe one or two quality opponents yet to be announced - it's probably too difficult for a team that will play up to six underclassmen in the main rotation. But if this program is going to be pushing for the NCAA tournament in 2017-18, then battle-testing them now is only going to help. It might get ugly in the early going, but patience will pay off with this group.

Though, if they beat Duke in that casino this November then you can disregard all of that and gear up for a Final Four run.

From rpm5103:

I don’t know how to feel about [Satchel] Pierce. The prospect of a true center is nice, at worst he adds competent depth. On the other hand he’s a guy who was probably being pushed out on a bottom-half-of-the-ACC team. What are your feelings on his addition?

Aside from the fact that he's not eligible for this upcoming season barring some Jordan Dickerson-type ruling from the NCAA, Pierce doesn't necessarily scream "impact transfer." He lost playing time to first-year players in his sophomore season at Virginia Tech and wasn't a ballyhooed recruit out of Kiski Prep either. But Pierce will add depth to a team that will need frontcourt pieces in 2018, and it's premature to say he won't be anything other than depth at that point. Sometimes players need a change of scenery to tap into their potential. Andrew White III isn't a perfect comparison to illustrate the point, but he was passed over at Kansas by younger, talented players, came to Nebraska in 2015 and starred there last season. If Pierce can even become Dickerson 2.0 for Penn State, it's a fine addition.

On the flipside of the transfer coin...

From jrh5064:

We had no transfers this summer. With the depth of talent on this team, and only 200 minutes of game time per night, do we accept the fact that there will be transfers next summer? We didn’t lose anyone this year, which is awesome, but realistically can we expect the same next year? I realize this is way too early to speculate.

The transfer epidemic* has indeed avoided State College so far this summer, which is a welcome sign of stability. With Pierce's addition to the roster, there are no open scholarships for the next two seasons. The implications of which are as follows: 1) recruiting news will be extremely limited and 2) any roster additions have to come at the expense of a current player, and there are some obvious candidates.

Two players, Julian Moore and Payton Banks, will likely have the opportunity to grad transfer next summer as a result of redshirting during their true freshman seasons. Terrence Samuel is another would-be fifth-year player in 2017-18 who will have that option should he graduate. So at any point going forward, if there are reports of Chambers pursuing a player eligible to play in 2017-18, that means something is afoot on the outbound transfer front.

*dumbass term trademark Jon Rothstein

From rpm5103 again:

With Pierce coming about that leaves 0 open spots for the 2017 class correct? Is it too much to think that leaves Pat a TON of time and resources to lay the ground work for another special class in 2018? Any names that we should be watching out for?

It's not too much to think, because there are currently four open scholarships for that 2018 class. Chambers and his staff have been working on the 2018 class for some time - the upcoming elite camp in State College should provide more insights into who they're targeting. The big name right now though is Mars (PA) wing Robby Carmody, recently named among the top 60 rising juniors in the country by ESPN. Scout's Brian Snow recently spoke to Carmody, who listed Penn State among the schools he's been talking to the most along with Purdue and Notre Dame. Louisville and Pitt have also offered. PSU is also interested in his Ohio Basketball Club teammate Dwayne Cohill, though many expect him to end up with his homestate Buckeyes. Eric detailed a few other targets in his last recruiting piece, all of whom should remain priorities for the staff as they gear up for their next big recruiting challenge.

From UnreasonablyTall

Should we expect to see any schematic changes, offensively or defensively?

There will be changes, though I wouldn't classify them as "schematic". Chambers deliberately slowed the pace last season to introduce more variance in results against better teams - when you're outmanned, it's best to give your more talented opponent as few opportunities to demonstrate that advantage as much possible. It doesn't always make for the most exciting basketball, but it helped Chambers' second-worst rated KenPom team win seven conference games.

Fortunately for your eyeballs, Penn State will be pushing and pressing this season with a roster that seems well suited for such a style, at least on paper. Tony Carr is a 6'4" floor general that should see major minutes at the point from the get-go, and he'll have plenty of finishers to find on the break, lead by Josh Reaves and Lamar Stevens. With all the relatively inexperienced talent on the floor, this promises to be one of the more interesting seasons of PSU hoops in recent memory.

From Lionbacker3:

Who makes the biggest "jump" in the B1G standings, who makes the biggest jump in production on the team?

Ohio State and Thad Matta have been lambasted for the mass exodus of young players from their roster this offseason, and while that can't really be spun as a "good" sign, I don't think any of the departures other than Daniel Giddens will have a meaningful negative impact on their hopes in 2016-17. JaQuan Lyle showed flashes of brilliance last season as a freshman, Marc Loving and Trevor Thompson are above-average role players in the conference and Keita Bates-Diop has star potential. If Jae'Sean Tate can fully recover from offseason surgery I think the Buckeyes should have no problem returning to the dance.

So while I think they'll be the most improved team, that does not answer the question as Ohio State did finish seventh in the B1G with 11 wins last year. The biggest leaper in the standings will likely be Wisconsin, who finished sixth last season but return every single player from a Sweet 16 team.

As for the biggest jump in production from a Penn State player, the best candidate is Julian Moore. He's finally an upperclassman and he now has an eligible Mike Watkins breathing down his neck for minutes - Moore has had good games here and there at PSU but consistency has been hard to come by, so perhaps younger competition at the position is just what he needs to mature into the complete post player the Nittany Lions could really benefit from this season and beyond.