NittanyCentral is home for the latest Penn State Football, Penn State Wrestling, Penn State Basketball news, updates, and analysis of the Penn State Nittany Lions

NittanyCentral is home for the latest Penn State Football, Penn State Wrestling, Penn State Basketball news, updates, and analysis of the Penn State Nittany Lions

NittanyCentral is home for the latest Penn State Football, Penn State Wrestling, Penn State Basketball news, updates, and analysis of the Penn State Nittany Lions

The latest news, insight, and analysis of Penn State Football, Penn State Wrestling, and Penn State Basketball, including schedules, game results, analysis of breaking news, rumors, speculation, and recruiting coverage of future Penn State Nittany Lions

NittanyCentral is home to the latest Penn State Nittany Lions news, updates, insight, and analysis, including in-depth coverage of Penn State Football, Penn State Wrestling, Penn State Basketball, and much more

Penn State Basketball Downs Delaware State to Open Season | 5 Key Takeaways

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — Penn State Basketball dominated Delaware State in the 2023-24 season opener Monday night by a final of 79-45.

After a sloppy start to the game on both sides, Penn State pulled away to a 20 point lead with 6:18 to play in the first half and never looked back.

Let’s break down the answers to some of the biggest questions the Nittany Lions faced prior to Monday’s game:

Will Penn State Basketball be able to put the Hornets away? A resounding YES. In contrast to last year’s matchup, Penn State never let Delaware State hang around in this game and as I mentioned, they took a big lead early in the game and never looked back. The Hornets never had a lead at any point and PSU stretched its lead to its largest margin of the night with 18 seconds to go in the game. Exactly what you want to see from a roster still learning how to play together. 

What will the rotations look like?


Leo O’Boyle returned from injury for this game but was one of the few Nittany Lions on the night who were not incredibly effective. 

O’Boyle finished with 1-of-5 from the field, including 0-4 from 3 and picked up 4 fouls. Postgame, Head Coach Mike Rhoades alerted everyone that backup center and Miami transfer Favour Aire suffered a hand injury and is expected to miss four to six weeks. Because of this, Penn State instituted a good amount of small ball with O’Boyle and Demeterius Lilley receiving the bulk of the backup duties to spell starter Qudus Wahab.

In total, Rhoades ran a 10 man rotation.

 Clary led all players with nearly 28 minutes of floor time but still a far cry from last season where multiple starters played over 30 minutes. Continued depth such as this will be critical to any Nittany Lions success going forward.


Who will play more off-ball?


In the time in which both Kanye Clary and Ace Baldwin shared the floor on Monday night, Kanye Clary predominantly ran the point while Ace played more off-ball. This strategy clearly worked to success as Clary led all scorers on the night with a career high 22 points. I asked coach Mike Rhoades postgame how he sees these rotations working out going forward and he assured me that both players are comfortable in either position and that the “two-headed snake” of Clary and Baldwin as point guard will continue to be utilized throughout the season. “You’ll see a little bit of both”, Rhoades said. 

Where will the offense come from, particularly on the perimeter?

This question was answered in a big way.

 After a very slow start from deep, Penn State heated up to finished 12-32 (37.5%) from beyond the arc. Temple transfer Zach Hicks finished 4-9 from beyond but the arguably bigger breakout game was had  by Shrewsberry era holdover Jameel Brown. Brown looked like an Andrew Funk clone going 6-8 from 3 and finishing with a career high 20 points. Rhoades would absolutely like O’Boyle and a returning Puff Johnson to also provide some perimeter juice, but we saw on Monday how critical Brown’s contributions can be for this team and it cannot be overstated how huge of a development his production is. Is the Mike Rhoades defense as intense as advertised?

Look, the Hornets are not world beaters and will likely finish with a KenPom ranking in the 300s, BUT holding any team to under 50 points is a nice feather in the cap for any defensive identity. I mentioned Penn State had a sloppy start to the game with 6 turnovers in the first 4 minutes of the matchup (Nick Kern Jr. alone committed  3 of them before the first media timeout) but the Nits also forced more than their fair share of Hornets turnovers. For the game, Penn State forced 23 Delaware State turnovers and had 11 steals on the night (Ace Baldwin led all players with 4 of them). Penn State will continue to clean up their own mistakes as 21 turnovers for the Nittany Lions is far from acceptable, but the tenacity and energy on the defensive side of the ball certainly gave Penn State an edge all night. 

At one point in the first half, Delaware State went on a 6 minute scoring drought followed almost immediately by a 4 minute scoring drought. Consider the opponent, of course, but Penn State’s defense should continue to cause fits all year long.

What’s Next?
Penn State returns to action Friday night at 7:30 pm, hosting the Lehigh Mountain Hawks at the Bryce Jordan Center, broadcast on BTN+


Penn State Basketball
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