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Penn State Hoops’ Expectations Remain High Despite Offseason Adversity

izaiah brockington

From the coronavirus robbing it of an NCAA Tournament bid to a tumultuous coaching change, Penn State men’s basketball has been through its fair share of adversity in 2020.

Last March, Pat Chambers’ team was poised for a March Madness appearance after climbing as high as No. 9 in the AP Poll. A week away from the new season, the Nittany Lions are without Chambers, their 2021 recruiting class, and graduated stars like Lamar Stevens and Mike Watkins.

It would be understandable for this season to be considered a rebuilding year, but the players have no thoughts of phoning it in.

“Our goal is the same every year. We want to win a Big Ten championship,” sophomore guard Seth Lundy said. “Every day, we come in with a mentality to get better individually because it’s going to make us better collectively.”

The team will look different this year without two important stalwarts of the program in recent years. Stevens, a natural scorer, is joining the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers, while Mike Watkins is balling out in Colombia.

“There are people in the past who have built this school up to where it is now,” senior big man John Harrar said. “We get to do what we love, have fun, and play for each other.”

Regardless of the personnel, those who remain in Happy Valley don’t see the departures as catastrophic.

“We are still, in my opinion, one of the fastest, one of the most athletic teams in the Big Ten,” Izaiah Brockington said.

Penn State won’t be the biggest team in the conference, but the Nittany Lions are banking on their strengths to lead them to success: scrappiness in the backcourt.

“[We need to] focus on defense. Stops are what’s going to get us off in transition like how we want to play,” Wheeler said.

The program will try to draw from the adversity the players have faced, from the unexpected events in March to the shock resignation of Pat Chambers. First and foremost, the squad is ready to get back on the court.

“We have a lot of penned up energy. Over those four months of sitting at home with your parents, you can’t really let it go,” Dread said. “So yeah, we are ready to play against somebody else.”

The first game of the Jim Ferry era is within a week away, and the program is ready. Starting next Wednesday against Drexel, the core group will set out to prove that they are once again a force to be reckoned with.

“We all definitely wanted to push the goal of getting back to where we were,” Brockington said. “The dream didn’t go away with Lamar and Mike.”

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About the Author

Otis Lyons

Otis is a sophomore majoring in print journalism. He lives just outside of San Francisco, and is a diehard San Jose Earthquakes fan. Unfortunately, that means a lot of sadness. Feel free to send over your soccer hot takes to his twitter @otisnlyons1 and instagram @otislyons

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