Penn State saw an opportunity to start 2-0 in the Big Ten slip away on its last shot of Monday night’s game against Wisconsin. The Lions go back to the conference slate, hosting the George Washington Colonials. George Washington is coming three wins in a row, one of which was against the same Temple team that just finished beating Wisconsin earlier in the week.
The Colonials are a work in progress, as the roster and coaching turnover have left them in a bit of an inconsistent state. They still have the ability to compete with teams though, as the aforementioned Temple win, as well as the close loss to Kansas State has shown. However, blowout losses to Xavier and Florida State show the other side of that inconsistency. They’re also a familiar opponent, as Penn State has played with George Washington for the past three season, concluding with this season’s game at Bryce Jordan.
Scouting the opposition
George Washington lost a lot of production from last year, so most faces are new to the Nittany Lions. 6’9” Guard Yuta Watanabe*, however, should be a familiar name to most here, as he has been on the roster for every game in the series. The guard’s best attribute is his ability to block shots (because he’s really tall and he’s a guard), doing so at a 6.3% rate. For comparison, Lamar Stevens’ block rate is 4.5%. Jair Bolden only saw seven minutes in last season’s game, but he is now one of the most heavily used players, his usage percentage being 92.5%. Only Watanabe’s is higher. Another player that saw little time last season, Arnaldo Toro, is getting heavy usage this season now. Toro’s 38.9% rate from the three point line is highest on the team, on 18 attempts. Bolden follows closely at 37.3%, but on a lot more attempts (67).
Patrick Steeves and Terry Nolan Jr. round out the top five, but there isn’t much left in terms of usage for the Colonials. If any of these players gets into foul trouble early, George Washington will have a tough time trying to replace them.
What to watch for
Yet another bounce back game - Penn State has traded wins and losses since playing Texas A&M, so the Nittany Lions find themselves in another game where they need to get up after a disappointing loss. Can they do it a third straight time?
Ball movement - Let me be Joe Madden for a minute: when Penn State moves the ball, the offense does really well. When they don’t, the offense struggles. Move the ******* ball.
Handling size - George Washington is not lacking size. Nolan Jr. is the shortest starter at 6’2”, and everyone else is 6’4” and above. How will the Lions handle the much taller lineup?
There’s no indication that this game should be anything but a win for Penn State. The Nittany Lions are more talented, have better depth, and are playing at home. George Washington, however, has played a tougher schedule, and already beat a good team in Temple. That Temple team beat Wisconsin two days after Penn State lost to them. I don’t know that these Lions will keep having bounce back game after bounce back game. George Washington 71, Penn State 69
*Yes, he is a guard. Yes, he’s nearly seven feet.