Penn State Hoops Aims To Find Discipline As Early Successes Roll In

Coming out of a three-game COVID-19-related pause to end 2021, Penn State men’s basketball’s tune was overwhelmingly positive.

Micah Shrewsberry’s team piled up wins in three of four Big Ten contests, including convincing victories over talented Indiana and Rutgers squads. For a team that started out somewhat slow in conference play, success can breed confidence. However, winning a few games can also lead a team to become much too comfortable.

Shrewsberry explained Monday that his group fell victim to that sense of contentment against then-No. 16 Ohio State over the weekend.

“Our quote last week was, ‘Good is the enemy of great.’ I don’t feel like we handled the little bit of success that we had very well,” Shrewsberry said. “I didn’t think our discipline was great [Sunday].”

The first-year head coach noted that on either end of the floor, the Nittany Lions didn’t play a productive brand of basketball. The group kept it fairly close against the 11-4 Buckeyes, but inconsistent defense and shaky offense were the stories of the afternoon at Value City Arena. Penn State sent Chris Holtmann’s group to the line 34 times, while the only double-digit scorers were Sam Sessoms and Jalen Pickett.

Shrewsberry’s team also committed 10 turnovers and was held back by an ugly 6-for-22 clip from three-point range.

“I spend a lot of my time talking about ‘do your job.’ I didn’t feel like we did that as a team,” Shrewsberry said. “We gotta be better. Our discipline’s gotta be better. For us to win on the road against a really good team, that’s what you have to do. For us to win at home on Wednesday against Minnesota, that’s what we’re gonna have to do.”

Penn State now boasts a 3-4 record in conference play, and it’s worth noting that the team’s losses have come against top-tier Big Ten opponents. Shrewsberry’s team first fell to the Buckeyes back in early December and followed that with a fairly ugly defeat to a Michigan State team that’s now 14-3 on the year.

Just before Sunday’s most recent loss in Columbus, the Nittany Lions hung tough with Matt Painter’s No. 4 Purdue team in a seven-point loss.

As Shrewsberry noted, Penn State has a chance to prove its worth in the conference Wednesday night when Minnesota comes to the BJC. The Golden Gophers have just one win in the Big Ten but are 10-5 overall on the year. In the spirit of getting confidence back, a win over Minnesota would certainly be a good place to start.

However, with multiple losses to strong conference teams behind them, the Nittany Lions are still looking for more consistent play. The group is hanging around just fine in one of college basketball’s best conferences, but that is far from the end goal.

“I expect us to win every game. I expect us to play in the NCAA Tournament,” Shrewsberry said. “Win games, stack games on top of each other, go on win streaks. Don’t be happy with being close with somebody else and now ‘we’ve arrived.’ We haven’t arrived. We haven’t done anything. We’re below .500 in this league. Until we get where we want to be, I’ll never be satisfied.”

In order to get where it wants to be, Penn State will try to carry that “never satisfied” attitude with it through 13 more regular-season games. The Nittany Lions have managed to play talented teams close, but there’s no room to be satisfied with even more brutal opponents left on the schedule.

With that in mind, Shrewsberry says he’s trying to remind his team that there can never be a night off after putting together a bit of a winning streak.

“I don’t think we did everything possible [Sunday], and we had an opportunity to win the game,” Shrewsberry said. “There’s areas we gotta clean up…We’re giving ourselves a chance every night. Now, clean it up, be better. Now win those games.”

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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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