The anticipation for the start of the season reaches its peak around this time – the exhibition game. We are all so ready for the season to start that we desperately analyze everything that happens in this said exhibition, as if it’s an important clue to the puzzle of the season. This game will have no importance whatsoever in about 10 days, and it’s unfair to judge players based off this tiny bit of action. Especially when you consider how many players logged minutes.
All that said, the Penn State offense yesterday left a lot to be desired in the first half. In fact, it was a pretty pitiful display in pretty much every aspect. To quantify the first half, the Lions posted a 65.5 offensive efficiency rating, which means just 0.65 points a possession. For comparison purposes, the Lions posted a 101.0 efficency in Big Ten play last season. They turned the ball over 10 times (26.3% TO rate) and shot poorly (33.3% eFG%), especially from the foul line once again (5-13). They actually found themselves down 1 at the break to the Warriors. It might be cause for alarm, but the Lions turned it around dramatically in the 2nd half to the tune of 124.8 efficiency, 18.3% TO%, and 67.3% eFG%. They even made all 6 foul shots that were attempted.
Final Tempo-Free #’s (courtesy of SCACCHoops).
Some general team thoughts:
- I was pleased with the defensive effort. Granted, they are suppose to shut down an overmatched opponent, but at least they did. They played straight half-court man the whole game, which kind of surprised me but it was effective. They forced turnovers and blocked shots, which is something that was rarely seen last season. There weren’t too many rotational breakdowns either. Hopefully that is a sign of good things to come, but I’m not holding my breath.
- The other 3 seniors were not assertive on offense again. Brooks, minus a couple of hustle plays, was nonexistant on offense in the first half. DJ took a couple of shots and drove once, but was pretty unsuccessful. Drew Jones got to the foul line a few times, but that’s about it. The 3 combined for 18 points in 66 minutes of play. We’re going to need more than that (although, granted, I don’t think we will be playing 12 guys a game, either).
- Pace-wise, I didn’t see anything drastically different. 70 possessions is more than PSU’s usual 62 or so in Big Ten play. Frazier and Battle would push it after missed shots, but other than a few occasions, that didn’t lead to many quick, quality shots at the other end. I just don’t see any up-tempo offense coming this season.
- Starting lineup was Frazier, Battle, Jones, Jackson, Brooks. I don’t see that changing anytime soon. First reserves off the bench were Buie and Billy Oliver. Steve Kirkpatrick got a lot of run in the first half, but I just see that as a product of Sasa’s injury and Steve’s reward for hard work in practice. I was surprised how little Marshall played. Bowman appears to be ahead of him in the rotation, as of now. I don’t think they know how deep the bench is gonna go once the season kicks off just yet.
- DJ Jackson went out near the start of the 2nd half with what is being called a slight quad strain. Nothing too serious, but we’ll see if he’s ready for the season opener.
A few standout players:
- Talor Battle – Bubby was bubby. He looked good, but it’s going to be an annoying struggle watching him from the foul line.
- Billy Oliver – It is so great to see him healthy. I was very intrigued by his performance. It’s nice to see some of the nice things said about him be put on display. He’s got a great shooting stroke from the perimeter, but he also has the hands and feet to mix it up inside. He’s going to play a lot off the bench. Helped seal the game in the 2nd half. Finished with 10 points, 3 boards, and a block in 18 minutes. 15 of those minutes came in the 2nd half after DJ went out with his injury
- Tim Frazier – He was making things happen, good and bad. He finished with 6 assists, but 4 turnovers. He made a few frustrating fouls in the 2nd half, too, but he looked much more comfortable with his handle and penetration. We’ll need him to keep progressing to make things happen this year. He finished with 10 points on 4-6 shooting. He didn’t get a chance to showcase his perimeter jumper, though…
- Taran Buie – Ron Ron was pretty erratic in the first half, but he settled down a bit in the second. His first two possessions were bad turnovers, but he finished the game with 9 points and 7 rebounds in 20 minutes. He will be good once he continues to adjust to the game.
- Jon Graham – He didn’t really standout, but I just wanted to comment on his performance. He’s a back to the basket player who is active on the glass. I think he can get some minutes this year, too. Not tremendously athletic, but he hustles and just knows what to do inside. I personally love how quick he is with his putbacks, just how you’re suppose to be. Once he adjusts physically, he’ll be able to finish the plays he didn’t make yesterday.