For Penn State males’s basketball coach Micah Shrewsberry, his transition yr is behind him. Now in his second yr on the helm, he is prepared to leap into the season and “simply win.”
A 14-17 file in his opening season with the Nittany Lions wasn’t surprising, however now that the coach has gained the belief of returning gamers and a high quality freshman recruiting class, there is no time to waste.
“Final yr, we have been all making an attempt to get acquainted with Shrews, see what he likes, and the way he needs to play. This yr, we anticipate to be higher,” mentioned fifth-year guard Jalen Pickett. “We all know what we have to do. We all know what we have to repair and we’re not going to accept lower than that. We’re not seeking to be a .500 crew, we’re seeking to do a lot better than that.”
Pickett, for one, is principally tasked with setting the expectations for the eight newcomers on the squad. Shrewsberry cemented this system’s highest-ranked recruiting class in 2022, signing 5 freshmen in addition to three transfers.
“The blokes that we introduced in, and the transfers, have slot in seamlessly,” mentioned Shrewsberry. “They wish to be part of our success, and so they match seamlessly into our tradition.”
Shrewsberry tabbed Pickett because the Nittany Lions’ “finest participant since day one” and inspired the guard to assist the freshmen class fall into place. On the primary official day of apply, Shrewsberry assigned Pickett to a scrimmage crew with the whole freshmen class, and the six-man squad “utterly dominated” the matchup, outpacing the returners.
“The freshmen are actually good. They’re good gamers, and so they’re hungry,” Pickett mentioned. “I am simply making an attempt to assist them alongside and get them as snug as doable and we’ll see the place it goes.”
The tradition surrounding Shrewsberry’s program is constructed round belief. There isn’t any intimidation issue amongst the crew, and Shrewsberry is emphasizing his ideology, “gritty, not fairly,” is the trail to success.
“So long as we’re enjoying Penn State basketball, that is all that issues,” ahead Seth Lundy mentioned.
For the 5 new freshmen on the roster, it is fairly nerve-racking to hitch a crew in its second yr with a brand new head coach and be anticipated to not solely carry out however to construct up this system. The previous three and four-star recruits appear utterly as much as the duty, additional reinforcing their dedication to Shrewsberry’s ideas.
“These guys aren’t taking a backseat to anyone,” Pickett mentioned.
Kebba Njie, the previous four-star recruit and 6’10” freshman large man, will probably fill in down low following the commencement of the “King of Delco” John Harrar. Njie, nevertheless, is keen to study from the veterans on the crew and discover minutes the place he can.
“He is so younger, however he is an amazing participant,” Pickett mentioned of Njie. “He is simply stuffed with power on a regular basis on the health club and there is by no means a boring second. He is at all times received one thing to say.”
The 4 different freshmen — Jameel Brown, Evan Mahaffey, Demetrius Lilley, and Kanye Clary — are additionally impressing Shrewsberry and their older teammates with their confidence about rebuilding Penn State’s basketball from the bottom up.
“We are able to take this system to new heights,” mentioned Brown, a 6’4″ guard and Philly native. “My largest objective is profitable. That is the largest factor for me. I have been a winner since highschool, however I simply wish to win the Huge Ten Championship.”