Penn State Hoops Struggles With Turnovers In Commanding Delaware State Victory
Less than four minutes had gone by in the opening game of the Mike Rhoades era and Nick Kern Jr. already recorded his third straight turnover. It felt like nobody on the Penn State men’s basketball team wanted to protect the ball.
It wasn’t a pretty start for the Nittany Lions, whose roster is composed of 10 newcomers and only three scholarship players from last season. It looked sloppy from time to time, and there was miscommunication to go along with it, but by the final whistle sounded in a 79-45 victory over Delaware State, it appeared Penn State was beginning to figure out its chemistry with one another.
Rhoades made it crystal clear that he wanted to play with speed similarly to how he ran his program at VCU, turn the opponent over, and build his roster up with its defense. He wants to embrace the chaos and cause it. However, at times, his own team fell into the chaos, and the Nittany Lions finished with 21 turnovers.
It’s a tall order, asking any team to apply pressure to its opponent on the defensive side and then turn around and have the discipline to run the offense at its expected pace, let alone a team that’s only experienced a few exhibition games of playing time together.
Kanye Clary and Ace Baldwin Jr. are both in the driver’s seat when it comes to initiating Rhoades’ offense and style of play. Both players are natural point guards and will have to bear a lot of the responsibility for the team’s chemistry.
“The main thing that was different was just the pace that we play at,” Clary said. “Coach Rhoades’ style of playing fast, getting into people, but besides that, it’s just basketball at the end of the day.”
A piece of the game that goes unmarked as important is the chemistry between the five players on the court. The Penn State team has as little experience as any in college basketball, and there will be growing pains throughout the season.
Jameel Brown, a returner, thrived against the Hornets, dropping 20 points in a game where he showed little imperfection, if any.
“It was a very easy transition,” Brown said. “We chatted a lot with these guys over the summer, and it definitely showed today on the court.”
There was plenty of good on the court, as Brown mentioned, and some of the rawness came against a Delaware State team that won just six games a year ago.
The inexperience playing as one team jumped off the paper, but it was also the first competitive game anyone on the team has played in months. There’s going to be a bit of rust to shake.
“Everybody’s so excited to be here,” Clary said. “It’s been a long offseason. So I feel like just the jitters that we had. We will practice, watch film, and get those turnovers down.”
It’s to be expected that the Nittany Lions were a bit overzealous to get on the court and make something happen. Those “jitters” will work themselves out of the game as the season develops.
“There definitely was some first-game jitters and stuff like that for everybody,” Rhoades said. “It doesn’t matter who we play and where we play. Can’t give the other team the ball and we had a lot of unbalanced possessions.”
Despite that, Rhoades echoed he is confident that through time, his team will fix the turnover issue that presented itself against Delaware State.
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Just how good was that Dom DeLuca pick-six against Delaware?
Mulvaney was emotionally vulnerable with the audience while offering plenty of words of advice.
“As unfortunate as that is, it gives someone an opportunity to step in.”