It was going to be a slog anyway for Penn State this season. Non-conference games against Duke, Cincinnati/Rhode Island, Georgia Tech, and Pittsburgh pave the way for a difficult Big Ten schedule. They travel to Michigan, Iowa, and Wisconsin with no reciprocation and must play Michigan State at the Palestra in Philly. All while having to replace a robust cache of big men, including the number one scoring option. Or in other words, this could be another underwhelming year for Pat Chambers and his Nittany Lions.
Today we take a look at Penn State’s key losses this offseason.
Taylor had himself a season last year, finishing in the top 10 in the Big Ten in points per game, rebounds, and field goal percentage. Every facet of his game improved. He turned into a passable three-point shooter. He developed a creative game post game, too quick for a bigger defenders most nights, too strong for smaller ones.
Penn State wasn’t very good last year, just below average in a league that sent half of its teams to the NCAA tournament. One shutters to think where they’d have been without Brandon Taylor. Night after night, he came to play, taking a quarter of the team’s shots on the season, leading the conference in usage.
Combined, he and Shep Garner accounted for almost half of Penn State’s point per game, each while playing over 30 minutes a contest.
Taylor isn’t the only one they’ll miss, as a further trio of seniors will be tough to replace.
Devin Foster/Donovan Jack/Jordan Dickerson
They didn’t light it up often, but each senior contributed something special in their own way. Donovan Jack exploded for 19 points on 8-9 shooting against then-#4 Iowa to pull the upset. Devin Foster notched 13 points in the home win against Indiana. Jordan Dickerson had the fifth-most blocks of anyone in conference.
Overall, these seniors put in some serious work on the court. Half of the top eight minutes played on the team are gone next year. How will they rebound?
Penn State is going to be thin up front. The only player over 6’7” who played at all is 6’10” junior Julian Moore. This is going to prove taxing against the big bodies of Purdue, Wisconsin, and Michigan State.
The team figures to pivot to a guard heavy attack. Shep Garner is back for his junior year and he’ll likely step into a leadership role on and off the court, though he probably can’t give much more than the 1127 minutes he gave last year.
Terrence Samuel, a UCONN transfer, joins one of the most highly-regarded recruiting classes in Penn State history. Ranked #26 by 247Sports, the new arrivals will be anchored by high school teammates and best friends, Tony Carr and Lamar Stevens, ranked #1 and #3 respectively in the state of Pennsylvania.
Back in March at the end of last season Coach Chambers summarized the future to Centre Daily Times, thusly:
“We’re really going to get up and down, kind of like the Carolina break,” Chambers said Wednesday at his season-ending press conference. “Because that’s where Terrence really excels, and Shep (Garner) will excel in that and Josh Reaves obviously excels in that, so does Julian Moore. And I’d like to think Lamar and Tony and Naz and Joe, they’ll really enjoy that style of play to get up and down and see if we can get to that 80-point average.”
These losses could prove a boon to the program moving forward. Penn State basketball is looking for an exciting couple of years. And when’s the last time anyone could say that?