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Penn State Hoops Itching To Return Following COVID-19 Postponements

Following an extended break due to multiple positive COVID-19 tests within the program, Penn State men’s basketball (3-4, 0-3 Big Ten) won’t get a chance to ease itself back into Big Ten play.

The Nittany Lions were forced to postpone matchups against Ohio State and Wisconsin, and as a result, are set to play four games in just seven days. Those contests include trips to Purdue and No. 14 Illinois and visits from Rutgers and Northwestern.

The challenge is obvious for Jim Ferry’s squad. Regardless, the interim head coach believes he’s doing his best to view the situation positively.

“We’ve been talking about us not having enough games, well we’re gonna get them right now,” Ferry said Thursday. “Having to go through a pause basically right at the peak of our schedule was difficult.”

The Nittany Lions certainly weren’t playing their best basketball when their season was halted. After an impressive 20-point victory over Virginia Tech in early December, Penn State dropped its first three Big Ten games against Michigan, Illinois, and Indiana.

While it’s understandably frustrating to put things on hold right as the group is trying to get the season back on track, Ferry also considered the break a nice opportunity for a brief reset.

“My message to these guys is we are the most well-rested team in the Big Ten right now,” Ferry said. “You can’t control [the virus]. We have to deal with what’s in front of us not what’s behind us right now. We’ve got a chance to heal up some bumps and bruises, and now we’re gonna come out with some great energy and enthusiasm for the opportunity ahead of us.”

Penn State will undoubtedly need some energy entering this gauntlet of the schedule. The Nittany Lions opened Big Ten play with each game spread out at least a week apart, and this four-game set will be a far cry from that.

Ferry didn’t reveal how many players he will have available for these upcoming games, but the Big Ten requires a player with a positive coronavirus test to sit out at least 17 days. Earlier this week, Penn State Athletics reported seven more positive tests among undisclosed student-athletes between January 2 and 8.

The interim coach added that the Nittany Lions got back to practicing this past Monday but won’t have a chance to do much more this week after the Purdue game. Ferry said the key for his staff is balancing some much-needed conditioning while also not burning the team out.

The Nittany Lions aren’t quite sure what to expect after not playing basketball since December 30, but plenty of those questions will be answered once the ball tips off against a solid Purdue squad this Sunday.

“We could look like we were shot out of a rocket, flying all over the place,” Ferry said. “Hopefully, it won’t be ugly. We’re not a turnover team, so hopefully, we don’t turn the ball over. I don’t know yet. Tomorrow and the next two practices will be vital.

“It’s gonna be a Big Ten battle,” Ferry added.

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About the Author

Will Pegler

Will is a junior majoring in digital and print journalism and is an associate editor for Onward State. He is from Darien, Connecticut and is a lifelong Penn State football fan. He loves a good 80's comedy movie, Peaky Blinders, The Office, and the New York Yankees and Giants. You can catch some of his ridiculous sports takes on his Twitter @gritdude and yell at him on his email [email protected]

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