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Andrew Funk Excels In Newfound Second-Option Role During Penn State Hoops’ Season Opener

When Andrew Funk announced his intentions to transfer from Bucknell in favor of Micah Shrewsberry’s rebuilding haul at Penn State, the second-team All-Patriot League threat knew he would eventually have to surrender his reigns as “the guy”.

With weapons among the likes of Jalen Pickett, Seth Lundy, Myles Dread, and Dallion Johnson at the Nittany Lions’ disposal, the one-time 17.6 points-per-game scorer was quickly forced to realize that a solid outing wouldn’t always come in the form of casting nearly 16 shot attempts from the field, as he typically did with the Bison.

As an immediate captain honoree and an instant bonafide starter for Shrewsberry’s crew, his scoring-at-will mentality of old flipped into one with an emphasis on efficiency more than simply shooting in volumes in Penn State’s convincing 93-68 opening night victory against Winthrop.

While Pickett led the way in the scoring column as the offense’s focal point with 23 points, Funk added in a smooth 22 of his own. More importantly, the fifth-year product did so on just 12 shots.

“He can do more than just shoot, but, you know, he moves up the scouting report,” Shrewsberry said about Funk. “He’s not a number one [option], but he took a lot of tough shots at Bucknell because they needed him to. We don’t need him to take tough shots. He took 12. It wasn’t like he shot it 18 times, he took 12 shots [and] scored 22 points because people are worried about Jalen Pickett, right? You have to be worried about Seth Lundy, [and] you have to be worried about Cam Wynter, [who has] scored 1,600 points in his career. I’d be worried about him.”

Although Shewsberry’s sentiment above could appear to be a shallow knock on Funk, it’s actually quite the opposite. Against Winthrop, 10 Nittany Lions saw at least five minutes of in-game action, with eight seeing the floor for 10 or more minutes of run.

Rather, it severs as a testament to the squad’s newfound, unprecedented depth. Last season, five players concluded the campaign averaging 27 or more minutes per matchup, largely due to a lack of a steady bench presence looming behind the starting rotation.

During the Nittany Lions’ victory over Winthrop, however, only Pickett and Funk resided on the court for more than the previously set 27-minute benchmark. With so many scoring options to select from on offense, the natural spread helped the Nittany Lions finish the contest with an absurd clip of 24 assists. 

Conversely, in Shrewsberry’s first campaign at the helm, Penn State tallied just 11.9 assists per game, ranking 266th nationally. 

“I think coach [Shrewsberry] highlighted it after the game, we had 24 assists, which is ridiculous,” Funk said. “Playing with that many skilled guys, and if we’re going to share the ball like that, I think we’re going to be really hard to guard. So, I think it’s kind of a testament to the way our offense runs and our unselfishness overall.”

Standing at a lanky and versatile 6’5” frame, Funk has traditionally played a combo-guard role with the build of a small forward. But, over the course of his illustrious four-year stretch with the Bison, the Warrington, Pennsylvania, native adopted more of a point-forward role as one of Bucknell’s primary ball handlers. 

Naturally, the position forced the offensive weapon to create most of his shots off the dribble — a spot where it’s harder to navigate separation as opposed to being the main option in simpler, catch-and-shoot sets. 

In Funk’s first appearance donning the blue and white against Winthrop, the fifth-year senior casted 10 attempts from beyond the arc, with most coming in catch-and-shoot form. 

As a result of the easier, stress-free shot delivery, Funk buried six conversions from beyond the arc. The 60% clip marks more than a 24% increase in comparison to Funk’s three-point success rate with Bucknell a year ago. 

“I’m really comfortable off the ball,” Funk said. “When you’re able to play with guys like Jalen, Cam, Dallion, Seth, and guys who can really make plays, it just makes my life a lot easier. Obviously, like you said, it was just a different team the way [Bucknell] was made up last year. This year, I feel really comfortable, [which] is the main thing, and I know [my teammates are] going to make the right plays. I have a tremendous amount of trust in them, so it makes my life really easy.”

While Funk’s final stat line largely embodies a fruitful start to his final go-around in a collegiate uniform, his Penn State debut didn’t come without nervous energy. 

After beginning the matchup with a 1-for-3 start from the field combined with a tacky foul, Funk steadily stepped into his groove. From there, the Pennsylvania product buried two consecutive three-pointers heading into the locker room while only missing two shots across the final 23:21 of play. 

“I’ve been super excited to play in the BJC since I got here in June,” Funk said. “The environment was great. I was a little nervous to start, a little anxious, but once it got going, [it was] an unbelievable experience. I’m very excited for the rest of the games here.”

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About the Author

Connor Krause

Connor Krause is a junior from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania double majoring in journalism and business. He is a lifelong Penn State football and basketball fan and enjoys rooting for Pittsburgh sports teams. In his free time, Connor can be found playing golf or pick-up basketball. You can follow his Twitter and Instagram @ckrause_31.

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