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Penn State vs Canisius Preview and Open Thread: Easy Stretch Begins With Griffins

Penn State plays three more non-conference games before heading back to Big Ten play.

Dec 10, 2022; Champaign, Illinois, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions guard Andrew Funk (10) reacts after scoring against the Illinois Fighting Illini during the second half at State Farm Center. Ron Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Penn State gets a bit of a break in the schedule following their road win at No. 17 Illinois. The Lions had a week off for finals, then play three more non-conference games in the next two weeks as they prepare for Big Ten play.

Canisius Golden Griffins is 2-7 on the season, with their last five games —all losses, being on the road. This game would be their sixth of seven straight road games before the Golden Griffins pick conference play back up themselves.

Canisius doesn’t do anything particularly well, as their 278th overall Kenpom ranking indicates. They’re 304th in adjusted offensive efficiency and 245th in defensive efficiency, but play at a faster pace than Penn State does. In other words, there will be a lot of possessions to be had, and if the Lions are shooting anywhere near as well as they did in Champaign, this game should be over pretty quickly.

Scouting the Opposition

Their do everything guard Tahj Staveskie takes a good bulk of the Griffins’ minutes, and is their leading scorer. Canisisu also has two players shooting over 40 percent from three in Jamir Moultrie and Xzavier Long* (although Long has only tried 7 shots from outside). Jordan Henderson follows closely at 36.2 percent, but that’s about it for players who can shoot.

Canisius has size, but they don’t particularly use it, as 6-foot-10 Jacco Fritz is the only player taller than 6-foot-7 getting any meaningful minutes. This should bode well for the Lions, as they won’t need to struggle with size for much of this contest. On the other hand, the Lions’ benefit to date has been their ability to counter height with quickness, which becomes a wash when both teams play small ball.

What to Watch For

How will the Lions look with a week off, after scoring a massive upset? Penn State finished playing what is arguably their toughest road game of the season, and scored a victory. One would assume that a week off would allow the Lions to come back down to earth and play focused against an inferior opponent. Will it happen? We shall see.

Outside of that, the biggest thing to watch is how Micah Shrewsberry handles the lineup in this game (and the two others that follow). Will he give the freshmen plenty of run, allowing guys like Jalen Picket to actually rest? If the Lions are up big in the second half, don’t be surprised if that’s exactly what they do. These few games are the perfect opportunity to get some more experience under both Kebba Njie and Demetrius Lilley’s belts, as things get really real really fast once the new year rolls around.


It’s hard to hold on to Penn State Pessimism™ against a team that’s lost five straight by an average of 12.8 points. They’ve played soe close ones in that stretch, but none wee against power conference competition. Kenpom predicts a 20-point victory, so I will agree with the experts. Penn State 78, Canisius 58


Please use this as your open thread for the game. As always, open thread rules apply. No illegal streams, no NSFW content, and for the love of all things cute, be nice to each other, the players, and the staff!

Here’s to a victory! We Are!

*Yes, it’s spelled Xzavier