For most of the last 70 years, Penn State men’s basketball has been a big tease or just a joke.
The Nittany Lions have spent many of their 30+ years in the bottom half of the Big 10 conference rankings. Qualifying for the NCAA Tournament is almost non-existent.
As a result, Penn State alumni and fans were hesitant to buy because they expected the season to disappoint most of the time, even when it looked promising.
Then came the 2022-23 Lions, who captured the hearts of Pennsylvania State in March with the best three weeks in over 20 years.
Finishing Saturday night in Des Moines, Iowa, they pushed a good Texas team to the limit before losing 71-66 to the No. 5 Longhorns.
Penn State coach Micah Shrewsbury and several players were disappointed when the NCAA Round of 32 games ended.
“We wanted to go farther,” said Seth Lundy, a senior who played at Philadelphia’s Roman Catholic High School. “This is not where we wanted our journey to end.”
The Lions and their fans hope this 23-14 season is just the beginning. Men’s basketball at Penn State has been underwhelming for generations. His last consecutive appearance in the NCAA Tournament was in 1954–55.
Shrewsbury may be the coach to make the Lions a consistent winner. After assisting Brad Stevens and Matt Painter with the Boston Celtics, Butler, and Purdue, he made a big impact in his two seasons at Penn State.
However, it can be difficult to keep him.
Will Penn State make a long-term financial commitment to him and the program’s staff and facilities? Will NIL’s basketball funding increase dramatically?
If not, many schools will knock on Shrewsbury’s doors.
“You want it to be sustainable, right?” he said Saturday night. “We are not going to settle for this. You have to have the right people. You have to have the right mix of people. prize.”
Shrewsbury and his staff brought in several transfer players after going 14-17 in his first season. Camren Winter (Drexel), Andrew Funk (Bucknell) and Mikey Henn (Denver) quickly meshed with returnees like Jalen Pickett (previous transfer from Siena), Randy and Myles Dredd. and Dredd were on Penn State’s 2020 team, which was due to head to the NCAA Tournament before it was canceled due to the pandemic.
Pickett became the first Penn State All-American in nearly 70 years and the only player to average 17 points, seven rebounds and six assists per game. Only two other college basketball players have achieved it in the last 30 years.
“Jaylen Pickett put together one of the most sensational seasons in the history of Penn State, and college basketball,” Shrewsbury said.
The group became the first Penn State team in 12 years to play in the NCAA Tournament and the first since 2001 to win a tournament game, beating No. 17 Texas A&M.
“I feel sorry for the fans,” said Randy. “They have waited a long time for a moment like this. I want you to let me know.
Where will Penn State basketball go from here? Can they keep up the momentum this season?
Unfairly or not, it has long been recognized that the Penn State administration and community were unwilling to do what was necessary to make the program an annual NCAA tournament team.
After a historic season and winning streak, including seven wins over NCAA Tournament teams since March 1 and reaching the title game in the Big Ten Tournament, it’s time to disprove that notion.
“This team in particular has definitely laid the foundation for Penn State’s future,” Randy said. “Penn State will be back in the tournament and I have faith in those (young) players and I have faith in Coach Schrews and the future of this program.”
So does Dredd, who ended his career as the all-time leader of the game played at Penn State.
“My goal coming to Penn State was to graduate better than when I got here,” he said. “I feel like we did it. We definitely did it.
“We are not going to stop and I know Manager Shrewsbury will not stop either. The sky is the limit.”
https://www.mcall.com/2023/03/19/can-penn-state-basketball-build-off-momentum-from-its-magical-run-opinion/ Can Penn State basketball pick up momentum from a magical run? [opinion]