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News & Notes Ahead Of Penn State Hoops’ Home Contest Against Illinois

Micah Shrewsberry chatted with reporters during Penn State men’s basketball weekly media availability Monday afternoon at the Bryce Jordan Center.

After dropping two straight games to Wisconsin and Maryland, the Nittany Lions are currently on a four-game losing skid, and their chances of making the NCAA Tournament are almost nonexistent.

Among the variety of topics discussed on Monday included the recent loss in College Park, adversity, and the four-game losing streak.

On Performance Against Maryland

Penn State dropped a tough road contest to the Terrapins on Saturday despite battling back in a tough away environment at Xfinity Center. On the flip side, overall team shooting and defense improved; however, costly turnovers, especially in the first half, decided the outcome of this one.

Shrewsberry noted the improvements but emphasized that his squad has to be more consistent and able to continue to do it for longer stretches.

“I felt like we had a solid defensive performance,” he said. “There were mistakes that were made. There are always going to be, but I thought our effort was there. I thought our execution was there, for the most part, and now we just need to put it together for longer stretches.”

On Dealing With Adversity

After the loss to Maryland, Penn State has now lost four straight, the first time that has happened during Shrewsberry’s tenure. Despite being a part of some successful basketball programs in his young coaching career, Shrewsberry did joke about losing a lot of games in his first season with the Boston Celtics.

On a more serious note, the second-year coach credited his staff for their support, but to him, the losses are just a part of the learning experience.

“You’re going to hit adversity at some point,” Shrewsberry said. “Whether that’s an injury, whether that’s losing a few games in a row — you never know what it’s going to be. It’s about how you respond to it, and that’s part of the learning experience.”

On Moving Past Four-Game Losing Skid

Obviously, the game plan and preparation vary as a team goes on a losing streak, but Shrewsberry acknowledged that caring for his guys who play on the court is his top priority. He noted that regardless of a win or loss, it’s the players who put in the work all offseason and sacrifice a lot during the season.

With that in mind, Shrewsberry is working to keep the positive spirits up because no matter the outcome, time keeps moving forward.

“We can’t do anything about what’s happened in the past,” he said. “We just got to continue to move forward [and] continue to push forward, and I need to help them in that way. Kind of be the best versions that they can be.”

On Seth Lundy’s Leadership

Shrewsberry was asked which player has stepped up behind the scenes, and to no one’s surprise, Seth Lundy’s name was brought up. Whether it’s film sessions, practices, or just being around the team, he noted that Lundy has been the most vocal leader on the team.

Shrewsberry also pointed out that the team had a great film session before the Maryland game, which was led mostly by the players. He mentioned that it hadn’t really been like that all year but was crucial because the players “get a chance to talk through the mistakes” and what they see on the court together.

On NCAA Tournament Outlook

With all the hype surrounding the possibility of this squad dancing in March early in the season, it has since subsided in the past few weeks. However, when asked about making the tournament, Shrewsberry said it’s something that is beyond his control.

He continued, saying that what’s important is handling the things that his team is supposed to handle. Whether that’s the next game or next practice, you can’t take your eyes off what’s ahead of you because that’ll ultimately be the team’s demise, he explained.

“As soon as I take my eyes off of what’s immediately in front of me…that’s where you get hit by a truck or when you hit a deer,” Shrewsberry said. “I got to keep my eyes focused on what is directly in front of me, and that’s it.”

On Kanye Clary’s Performance

Kanye Clary entered an already full room of guards and ball handlers at Penn State. However, when Shrewsberry called his number against Maryland, he shined.

The freshman guard posted a team-high 17 points on 8-for-11 shooting and had an impressive zero turnovers in the Nittany Lions’ loss against Maryland. Shrewsberry noted that in that game against the Terrapins, he was looking for more ball-handling and was impressed with how Clary was able to survey the court and make the right plays.

However, he noted that the biggest takeaway of his performance, and of every young player’s breakout performance, is the ability to do it again.

“[The] biggest challenge as a young player is everybody tells you how great you are after you play that game,” Shrewsberry said. “Now, how you follow that up — that’s your biggest step right there is to come back and have a good two days of practice and then do it again.”

On Illinois Matchup

Penn State will play Illinois at the Bryce Jordan Center at 7 p.m. tonight, February 14. After securing a win against the Fighting Illini on December 10, Shrewsberry said the challenge with this matchup is how much the team has changed since the contest three months ago.

He noted that Illinois is a great offensive-rebounding team and has five players that are capable of torching a team on any given night. Unlike Michigan, Nebraska, or Purdue, where the team had a chance to see how those opponents play in a short duration, Shrewsberry said the extended time between the two games has been the biggest challenge.

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About the Author

Tobey Prime

Tobey is a senior studying broadcast journalism from Lancaster, PA. He is a major Pittsburgh sports fan and Miami Heat fanatic. When Tobey isn't writing for Onward State, you can catch him looking at photos of his pugs. Send your best insults to [email protected] or sports takes to @tobey_prime on Twitter.

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