For all intents and purposes, Penn State’s basketball season is set to begin the week of November 25th, like the rest of the college basketball world. When it comes to the Nittany Lions, however, uncertainty is more certain than anything on the menu, as there are more questions than answers with a little less than three weeks before the first games of the season are ready to tip off.
Here’s what we know
For the first time since the 2011 season, the Lions will be without [former] head coach Patrick Chambers. In his place, former assistant and current interim coach Jim Ferry will be pacing the court.
The Nittany Lions have also lost two of their three commitments for the 2021 recruiting season, leaving Elijah Hutchins-Everett as the only commitment left for the program.
Luckily, Penn State has not seen any transfer announcements from the players in the program, and instead, they received some good news in the form of Sam Sessoms having been approved to play this season without having to sit out a year.
Players like Lamar Stevens and Mike Watkins, two of the Nittany Lions’ most important players in the recent road to respectability, are now gone. Replacing those two, especially Stevens, was never going to be an easy task. That said, the core of the team that spent several weeks tied atop the Big Ten standings, and rose up to No. 9 in the AP poll, still remains. Can that core of players make up for Stevens’ absence as a group?
Here’s what we don’t know
We’ve seen the effects of covid on college football, and now it’s college basketball’s turn to experience the uncertainty that comes from playing in the middle of a global pandemic. Unlike Football, basketball rosters are much smaller, and theoretically, much more easier to keep safe. Still, the risk is there, and all can go belly-up quite quickly if the wrong steps are taken.
Furthermore, with two weeks and a day left before the season begins, we have no idea who Penn State will be playing. There have been reports here and there —Virginia Tech, VCU, Rider, but outside of the Hokies, nothing has been confirmed as of yet. The Big Ten is supposed to be releasing their conference schedule any time now, which should give us some clarity into what we’ll be looking at for the year.
And that’s our primer folks. Over the next few weeks, we will cover the basketball team from an angle that doesn’t require knowing what the schedule is, and hopefully we’ll know more as the season approaches.
Here’s to hoping!