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News & Notes From Micah Shrewsberry’s Introductory Press Conference

After a few weeks of quick stops and visits around campus, Micah Shrewsberry was officially introduced as Penn State men’s basketball’s head coach Tuesday.

Shrewsberry held a press conference and fielded questions alongside Vice President for Intercollegiate Athletics Sandy Barbour. From players in the transfer portal to plans for his coaching staff, there was no shortage of topics for Shrewsberry to discuss.

With that, here are some of the highlights from Shrewsberry’s first official presser as Penn State’s head coach:

On Recruiting

There’s no denying Shrewsberry inherited quite the recruiting situation in Happy Valley. Izaiah Brockington is officially back with the Nittany Lions, while Jamari Wheeler is headed to Columbus to finish his college career as a Buckeye. But now, four of the program’s stars remain in the transfer portal.

Seth Lundy and John Harrar are some of the bigger names left in the portal that have yet to make decisions. Myreon Jones appeared to confirm his departure from Penn State via social media over the weekend.

“It’s a unique time to come in as a head coach,” Shrewsberry said. “I’ve talked to every single one of the guys that have entered, and we are actively trying to get them back — talking to them and having conversations.”

Along with Nittany Lions in the portal, Shrewsberry made it clear he’ll also need to actively recruit players coming out of high school or are in the transfer portal from other schools. Penn State currently has one player reportedly recommitted to its Class of 2021 and another in its 2022 class.

“My goal is to have a great team in place when it’s time to tip off next season. That’s what we’re gonna do,” Shrewsberry said. “There are a lot of great players that are out there, but we want our own. We also want guys that are 2 feet in for Penn State, that bleed Penn State. When we have that group, we’re gonna have a special group, and we’re gonna do some fun things together.”

On Building Trust With His Players

Penn State’s administration hasn’t seemed very honest with its men’s basketball players ever since Pat Chambers resigned in October 2020. Many Nittany Lions were frustrated with the lack of communication, and it is certainly seems to be the reason several players are in the portal.

While many of his new players are understandably frustrated, Shrewsberry said he has a plan to develop a strong relationship with each one that elects to stay in Happy Valley.

“Trust is built over time,” Shrewsberry said. “It’s gonna take a lot of conversations. I want to give [our players] that time. You build trust by showing people that you care over and over again, then they start to feel like you have their best interests at heart.”

This won’t be an easy job to step into by any means, but Shrewsberry feels he’ll have those relationships solidified by the time the 2021-22 season tips off.

“We’re gonna build trust. We have to build it in our own way,” Shrewsberry said. “I have to be genuine each and every time I meet with these guys. I don’t know another way to be. What you get from me right now is what you’ll get from me on the sidelines. I want to be upfront with guys, and I want to tell them the truth.”

On His Coaching Staff

Shrewsberry has already made one hire in associate head coach Adam Fisher. The former Miami assistant is a Penn State alumnus, and there’s no denying Shrewsberry is excited to have him on his staff.

“He was somebody that I zeroed in on quickly. He came highly recommended, and he’s a great basketball mind,” Shrewsberry said. “He bleeds Penn State, and he believes in this place. It was an easy choice for me. [This job] starts to become a possibility, and you start to narrow down who you’d like to have on your staff. He was number one on my list.

“I’m so thrilled that he said yes,” Shrewsberry added.

Along with Fisher, Shrewsberry has multiple other fellow Nittany Lions on his staff. Nick Colella and Talor Battle are both slated to continue to serve as assistants for Penn State under Shrewsberry, both of whom played basketball in Happy Valley. Battle’s 2,213 career points as a Nittany Lion leave him as Penn State’s all-time leading scorer.

“Those two guys are important to me because they’ve been here,” Shrewsberry said. “They’ve had success. They can help me transition, but I feel an obligation to make sure they’re treated the right way — their program is in good hands.”

Shrewsberry added that he has yet to decide if the Nittany Lions will assign specific offensive and defensive coaching positions like there were at Purdue, but he’ll make that choice “down the line.”

On His Coaching Style

Shrewsberry has only one stop as a head coach, which was with IU South Bend from 2005 to 2007. However, the Indianapolis native has picked up plenty of lessons along the way in the NBA and in college from Brad Stevens and Matt Painter.

Stevens earned his stripes as Butler’s head coach and is currently with the Boston Celtics, both of which are places Shrewsberry coached alongside him. As for Painter, he just wrapped up his 16th season as Purdue’s head coach. Shrewsberry served as an assistant for a total of six seasons with the veteran head coach in West Lafayette.

“I couldn’t say enough about those two guys as friends and people before ‘bosses,'” Shrewsberry said. “I learned so much from them. I have to be myself, but they taught me how to run a successful program.”

Over the course of his young career, Shrewsberry has developed a gritty, work-hard style of coaching. He doesn’t have the same pedigree that some other coaches might, as he spent his playing days as a guard at Hanover College at Indiana. His alma mater is a Division III program with an undergraduate enrollment of 1,070.

From there, Shrewsberry spent time as an assistant coach for the Little Giants of Wabash College and had a few other stops before ending up at Butler with Stevens.

After that long road, Shrewsberry wants his squad to have that same chip on their shoulders.

“I want to be an underdog type of team,” Shrewsberry said. “I have much respect for Coach Chambers and Coach Ferry and what they did. I have much respect for the players that played last season…They gave their all for Penn State, and I’m gonna give my all for those guys.

“To get to a level like this professionally, it takes a lot of challenges…I didn’t have the backing of a strong Division I coach, pushing me to help me get a job,” he continued. “I grinded.”

Shrewsberry added that as a coach at the NAIA level, he even drove the team bus and did his team’s laundry.

“Nothing within my journey has been sexy…That’s who I want my program to be — nothing comes easy to us,” Shrewsberry said.

On His Excitement To Be At Penn State

If it wasn’t already clear in several of the quick interviews he’s done, Shrewsberry is ecstatic to be in Happy Valley. While it may’ve been a long journey to earn a Division I head coaching spot, Shrewsberry is thankful for every minute of it.

“I’m forever grateful for who said no to me. I’m thankful for that,” Shrewsberry said. “Something greater was right around the corner, and that something greater is Penn State University and this basketball program.”

Shrewsberry explained that the transition hasn’t always been easy over the past few weeks, but Penn State already feels like a great fit for him and his family.

“The cons list was a lot shorter than the pros list,” Shrewsberry said. “I believe in this administration…You see how special they are, how they believe in this place. That’s the most important thing. “If you have a partnership like that, then you can have success.”

The continued success of several of Penn State’s athletic programs was also a huge attractor for Shrewsberry. Who could blame him? Winning is fun, and while that hasn’t always been the case for men’s basketball of late, the new head coach sees that the tools are there for success.

“There are a lot of teams having success, and we want to strive to be in that conversation with them,” Shrewsberry said. “Women’s soccer just won the Big Ten. We want to do that next. Coach [Carolyn] Kieger and I want to push each other every day to be better.”

“I didn’t have any cons…This place provided a great first opportunity to go somewhere that’s special,” Shrewsberry added.

There’s no more popular program in Happy Valley than football. Shrewsberry is also excited to have the opportunity to work alongside James Franklin and continue to build Penn State Athletics’ national reputation.

“You think of James Franklin, you think of a great man first and foremost,” Shrewsberry said. “His energy, his excitement. I know my place at this university. I need him to help us recruit. That’s huge for me, and I love it.”

Shrewsberry added that he’s a “huge college football fan” and is pumped to learn everything he can about Happy Valley from Franklin and several other veteran coaches.

“Everyone in the department had reached out to me and welcomed me to this family,” Shrewsberry said.

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About the Author

Will Pegler

Will is a senior 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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