Due to “unforeseen circumstances,” Penn State’s last game in their foreign tour was canceled. Putting two and two together leads us to a conflict, where two games were scheduled for the same time. Pat Chambers opted to come back home without playing the last game instead of extending his visit. From the looks of it, the team they didn’t play would have been the best of the bunch, as they beat both Colorado State and Southern Miss in the past week. It’s a shame.
Two games is not a world of data to go by, but at this point in the offseason is a lot better than reports from practice. The glorified scrimmages against a different team will give the coaches, and us, something to look at for the next few months as we prepare for the 2017-18 season.
Without further ado, here’s what I learned from the two games.
Someone’s been shooting
A mere few months ago, many of us were wondering what would happen to the Nittany Lions now that their best three-point shooting threat was gone. It appears Shep Garner and Tony Carr heard your concerns. Both guys combined to go 37 of 72 from the field (51.3%) and 23 of 43 from three (53.4%). These astronomical numbers aren't likely to stay as such during the regular season, but eclipsing 50% in two games is still a good sign. This leads me to my next point...
I can see why Payton Banks left
If the lineup that we saw in the Bahamas sticks, it would make sense why Payton Banks would have transferred. Garner, even though he played the most minutes behind Carr, came off the bench as the sixth man. Nazeer Bostick got the start in the two games. The Garner-for-Bostick switch definitely seemed to pay off for Chambers, who saw his senior guard perform admirably in his role (as mentioned above). That means Payton Banks, who was already the sixth man, would have been buried in the depth chart given one of Julian Moore, Satchel Pierce, and Jamari Wheeler would be the seventh, eight, and ninth guy off the bench in some order. This also leads me to my next point...
New players, good players
In the absence of Mike Watkins, and with Moore unable to play due to offseason surgery, Pierce saw the bulk of the minutes at the five. And, pleasantly, he performed pretty well all things considered. John Harrar and Trent Buttrick saw some run too, but it was pierce that really stood out in the post. Harrar and Buttrick did showcase potential —not the “they’ll be a project” potential either, but that potential probably won’t manifest itself until later in their careers. Going back to Pierce, he had a double-double in the first game, and another 10 rebounds in the second. Needless to say, if Watkins is off the floor, there won’t be a substantial drop in performance at the position.
Wheeler also performed pretty well in his backup duties. His defense is very similar to Josh Reaves’ with how he hounds opposing offenses and is all over the place on defense. Like Reaves, he will need to work on his shot at first, but he had little trouble distributing the ball and making plays happen. This is another area where, if Carr has to come off the floor, we no longer need to feel like we’re doomed.
There’s no slowing down
Maybe it’s because of personnel constraints, but it looks like Chambers didn’t really mean what he said earlier in the year about the pace. Back in April, Chambers gave an interview where he said he might slow down the tempo some due to having more bigs on the roster. That was not on display at all in these games, as the Lions blazed up and down the court for all 80 minutes. With Garner and Carr’s improved shooting, and with the combination of Bostick, Reaves, and Wheeler potentially frustrating opponents, maybe that’s a good thing.
NCAA, move to quarters already
Granted, there were no commercials, but to me these games seemed to go much more smoothly in four 10-minute quarters as opposed to the two 20-minute halves we play in college. The break in between is the perfect opportunity for networks to air their commercials and such, which would reduce the amount of media timeouts you'd need per game. Players would get extra rest, which means starters could theoretically play longer. From my perspective, there are many benefits and few drawbacks in switching to quarters. The women's side did it already. Why not switch for men too?
That’s it from the Bahamas. The rest of August is a quiet period in recruiting, so there probably won’t be much in the way of news there unless we get a surprise commitment. Recruiting will pick back up in September, and will go all the way through November, when recruits can first sign with their respective teams. We’ll keep you updated with any news in the meantime.