One of the bright spots on a forgettable season for Penn State Basketball, Tony Carr, begins his senior seasons with the potential to be one of the best players in the conference. At 6’4”, Carr’s height allows him versatility at the point guard position, consistently being matched up against opposing guards who can’t really defend him well.
What he did last season
Carr had as good a freshman season as could have been expected of him, averaging 13.2 points per game and 4.2 assists per game. At the end of the season, he was selected to the Freshman All-Big Ten team. Over the course of the season, Carr became the go-to guy in end of game situations, many times willing the team to a win. His ability to go inside and make acrobatic baskets was crucial, and kept Penn State in games they would have otherwise let slip away (or lost by a lot more, in the case of those excruciatingly close losses). The late-game heroics were a gift and a curse, as many teams later in the season caught on to the strategy and simply crashed on Carr to force mistakes, so an area of improvement of for him will be to decide when to keep the ball and when to share it, to avoid the situations he found himself him last season.
Carr had a busy offseason as well. One of the areas of improvement for the sophomore was shooting the ball, and if the recent trip to the Bahamas is any indication, Carr is well on his way to substantial improvement in that area. Carr shot near 50% from the three-point line over two games, which is impressive even when factoring in the competition. Carr was also invited to the Nike Elite Basketball Camp in Los Angeles, where he worked out with some of the best basketball prospects in America, and received Mentorship from NBA greats.
What to expect this season
Aside from the aforementioned work he did in the offseason to improve his game, Carr also added 30 pounds to his frame in order to better compete with the Big Ten talent he’ll see day in and day out. He, along with the other players who have added substantial weight this offseason, will benefit in the situations where he was visibly pushed around by stronger players in the league (hi Stephen Bardo).
The biggest benefit to Carr might be Penn State returning every starter from last season. The familiarity with everyone on the starting five will allow for Carr to pick up where he left off. His experience will also help with the new guys, as he can bring them along more consistently. The returning experience will help with the main issue the Lions have faced for several years now, which is consistently moving the ball well. Here’s Carr in his own words on the subject:
I would say our biggest area of improvement this offseason was just moving the ball. We took a lot of contested shots last year. The more your shots are contested, the less chance they have of going in. We just want to move the ball from good to great shots, just share the ball on offense. We have a whole lot of offensive threats from one through nine, so we don’t really care who shoots the ball, as long as it’s a good shot.
One last component will be his increased leadership role with the team, something he may not have been as comfortable with as a true freshman. His experience at the Nike Elite Camp helped him become more vocal on the court, which will benefit the whole team overall.
Of all the players on the roster this season, Tony Carr was probably the one whose improvement would impact the team the most. Becoming a leader on and off the court, adding the weight necessary to bang with Big Ten bodies all season long, and having a returning cast he’s already spent a full season getting to know, will all make the difference this season.