News & Notes From Penn State Hoops’ Summer Media Availability

Penn State men’s basketball is gearing up for another season, and summer practices are in full swing for the team. Head coach Micah Shrewsberry is in his second year at the helm, and he has a fresh roster of new players to build off of the positives from last season.

The Nittany Lions’ have eight new players joining the team — five of them are freshmen and the other three are grad seniors in their final year of eligibility. Combining them with returning stars like Jalen Pickett and Seth Lundy, Penn State could be a team on the rise in the Big Ten.

Shrewsberry discussed a lot in his press conference Tuesday afternoon. He talked about the optimism surrounding the program, the growth of the freshmen, the adjustments players are making to fit the system, and even talked about Name, Image, and Likeness (NIL) and how it has impacted Penn State.

On Optimism Surrounding The Program

The Nittany Lions finished with a 14-17 record last season. On paper, it is a losing season. However, there were a lot of positive things to take away from that season, despite the losing record, and many fans recognized that. Now, there is more of a buzz than ever surrounding the program, and Shrewsberry acknowledges how important that is.

“We should have optimism with what we are doing,” Shrewsberry said. “I still say, at the same time, we haven’t accomplished anything. Playing hard is not accomplishing anything, going 14-17 is not accomplishing anything. How we went about it was cool, we played close games, but I want to win them.”

He also added that he puts the most pressure on himself to ensure that the program succeeds and wins, and that he doesn’t want “playing close games” to be the expectation for this team every season. He wants to change that narrative.

On The Freshmen’s Growth

The adjustment from high school basketball to Division I basketball is a difficult one. It takes a lot of work just to get into shape to go up against Big Ten players, especially if those types of players were not commonly seen throughout a high school career. This happens to be the case with the freshmen that joined the Nittany Lions this season.

“We didn’t have any freshmen last year, and now we have five, and they stick together because they each know what the other is going through,” Shrewsberry said.

He mentions that he tends to throw a lot at the freshmen, with very little explaining. The goal is to make sure they develop the skills to do it on their own, and the expectation is that they can do it on their own. He also talked about how each of the freshmen had great moments throughout practice, and each player’s moment was different from the other.

“I am excited for these guys being here, and they push these older guys, there is no doubt about that,” Shrewsberry said. “We split them up just like that at the last practice on Sunday, and it was even until he older guys hit some shots late to pull away, but these dudes can play.”

On The New Transfers

Just like last season, Penn State is going to rely on transfers to play a key role in winning games for the program. Guards Camren Wynter and Andrew Funk are going to be huge impact players offensively, while forward Michael Henn fills a major need in the frontcourt, replacing John Harrar.

“The three transfers that we brought in — they’re men, they’re old, they’ve been in college for a really long time,” Shrewsberry said. “They are very mature guys, and they work at a very high level.”

Winter and Funk both boast insane scoring totals, with Winter having a career points scored total of 1600 points, while Funk has totaled 1200 in his career. That offensive spark is going to be heavily relied on since the Nittany Lions struggled at times offensively last season.

On NIL And Penn State

NIL is still a very complicated part of the emerging landscape of college athletics. James Franklin has talked at length about the need for better NIL funding from the university and wanting to improve NIL resources. Shrewsberry is in a similar boat, though while he supports college athletes getting paid, he doesn’t necessarily want players whose primary focus is getting paid through NIL deals.

“If [getting paid] is your primary motivator, then you are probably not the best fit for me,” Shrewsberry said. “I want guys that love basketball. At the end of the day, I think we can help you become a better player. I think we can put you in a better position to make a lot of real money playing professional basketball. If that’s your goal, we can help you get there.”

He also added that he wants to work with players to get as much money as they can as a student-athlete, just not at the expense of their growth as players on the court.

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About the Author

Owen Abbey

Owen Abbey was a Secondary Education major before he graduated from the wonderful institution known as Penn State. When he was not writing for the blog, he enjoyed rooting for the Baltimore Orioles and Ravens, supporting Penn State basketball and softball, dreaming of all of the ways he would win the TV show "Survivor," and yes mom, actually doing school work. All of this work prepared him to teach his own class of students, which was always his true passion. He still can be found on Twitter @theowenabbey and can be reached for questions and comments at [email protected]

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