For Penn State Basketball, this season has been tough to evaluate when it comes to paying time for different players.
This team is on the bubble for the NCAA tournament, so you want to put the best lineup out there. At the same time playing only seniors doesn’t help the development of the great freshmen class that Nittany Lions head coach Micah Shrewsberry has brought in this season.
Kebba Njie has played in all 22 games while starting most of them at the center position. However, the young freshman has struggled with the physicality of the Big 10 conference and has only averaged 3.5 ppg this season playing 14.0 mpg.
Caleb Dorsey was the starter at the five position at the beginning of the season but seemed to find himself in the doghouse when conference play started. He has had a similar stat line with 2.5 ppg in 12.3 mpg. Dorsey has only played in 15 of the 22 games though.
However, there was one player who hasn’t been in the rotation much at all this season and that is Mikey Henn.
Henn has played in just 14 of the 22 games and only played for 8.4 mpg. That is taking into account the 24 minutes he played this past weekend against Michigan, where he put up a season high 10 points that include 2-2 from three. He then followed that up with a career high 11 points and 5 assists in 29 minutes against No. 1 Purdue. Henn started 3-of-4 from three to start the game and is the reason Penn State had a brief lead before things turned ugly.
I have been against playing Henn all season for a multitude of reasons.
For starters he is a 7th-year senior and Penn State Basketball already has 2 players in Njie and Dorsey who will have eligibility left after this season. There also is the athleticism issue that I think Henn is disadvantaged against the other two guys. There are two things that Henn has shown though in his limited playing time and that is the ability to take outside shots and the size to play inside against the more physical big men in the Big Ten.
Is it time for Penn State Basketball to start Mikey Henn permanently?
If Penn State Basketball is going all in on this season, then it might be time to start the senior.
Henn got his first opportunity against Michigan and showed out. Henn proved against Purdue that the performance against Michigan wasn’t a fluke and that he can be another legitimate threat from deep.
That doesn’t mean that Njie and Dorsey don’t have to play, after all Henn certainly won’t be able to play much more than 25-30 mins per game, but starting Henn should be the move to finish the season.
Shrewsberry started Dorsey at power forward against Michigan and that seems to be closer to his real position anyway being that he is 6-foot-7. The top 5 players both in scoring and minutes played per game are all seniors this year with the only player potentially that could come back for a covid year is Seth Lundy.
Although it sounds like this will be his last year at Penn State as well.
So, Shrewsberry might as well play Henn to go all in on this season and rotate Njie, Mahaffey, and Dorsey in to spell him. If the goal is to make the NCAA tournament, at some point you must put your best players in the game and just go for it.
NCAA Tournament update
Penn State Basketball currently sits at No. 56 in the NET, and beyond the projected cutoff of 48 at-large bids.
The Nittany Lions average seed is a 10.96 and are dancing in 23 of the 87 bracketology’s according to Bracket Matrix. The Nittany Lions will take on Nebraska in Pinnacle Arena Sunday at 4:30 pm. The game can be found on the Big Ten Network (BTN).