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Nittany Notebook (11-16): Non-con schedule set for men’s basketball; Lions open with Drexel on Nov. 25

Welcome to our daily Nittany Notebook. This post will be updated frequently throughout the day with news, notes and sometimes entertaining info. So be sure to check back often to stay on top of everything that’s going on with Penn State football and athletics, plus other sports of interest in central PA.

Update: 8:40 p.m.

**You’ve got to hand it to Rob Krimmel and the Saint Francis basketball program, which once again has put together an impressive and ambitious non-conference schedule that shows the Red Flash are not afraid to play anyone, anywhere.

Saint Francis originally was scheduled to play at Butler on Nov. 10, but that game was canceled because of the coronavirus. The Red Flash instead will open Nov. 25 at Pitt, in the first meeting between the schools in nine years.

After that, SFU hosts UMBC on Nov. 28. Then comes a trip to No. 4 Virginia on Dec. 1. That will continue a trend in recent years of playing the elite off the ACC, as the Flash previously made trips to Duke and North Carolina.

A trip to Liberty follows on Dec. 3.

Then, on Dec. 5, Saint Francis will host longtime rival Robert Morris at DeGol Arena. The Colonials departed the NEC after last season and are members of the Horizon League, so it’s good to see that great series continue despite the teams being in different leagues.

Other non-conference games will be released in the coming days.

Saint Francis will open NEC play at Mount St. Mary’s on Dec. 8. The home conference opener will begin with an unusual twist, as Fairleigh Dickinson will play at SFU on back-to-back days, Dec. 15 and 16.

Click here for SFU’s entire schedule as of now.

Update: 7:30 p.m.

Update: 5:30 p.m.

Update: 1:45 p.m.

**Penn State has set the non-conference schedule for men’s basketball, with the Nittany Lions to play four home games and one on the road.

PSU will open up at home against Drexel on Nov. 25, the opening day of the college season.

The Lions then will host VMI on Nov. 28, VCU on Dec. 2 and Seton Hall on Dec. 6.

Penn State also will travel to Virginia Tech on Dec. 8 for the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.

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Tipoff and TV information will be released later.

Penn State’s press release revealed this information, which was to be expected: “Under current Big Ten guidance, public tickets will not be sold for 2020-21 Penn State men’s basketball home games.”

Update: 11:10 a.m.

**A second Penn State player has been selected for the Senior Bowl as CB Tariq Castro-Fields has accepted his invitation. DE Shaka Toney also was selected for the showcase game.

There’s also a good scouting report on Castro-Fields below.

**Saint Francis men’s basketball was picked to finish sixth in the Northeast Conference this season. Here’s the team scouting report from the league website:

Saint Francis U
Predicted NEC Finish: 6th
2019-20 Overall Record: 22-10
2019-20 NEC Record/NEC Finish: 13-5/Tie-2nd
Letterwinners Returning/Lost: 10/5
Starters Returning/Lost: 1/4

Players to Watch:
Myles Thompson (Jr, G, 6’6”, 230 lbs.): 10.2 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 46.9 FG%
Tyler Stewart (R-Jr, G/F, 6’8”, 195 lbs.): 8.2 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 85.0 FT%

In recent years Saint Francis U reached new heights in what can aptly be termed the “B&B Era.” With Keith Braxton and Isaiah Blackmon as the headliners, the Red Flash won 75 games over the last four years, reached the NEC title game three times over that span and left an indelible mark on a program that has morphed into a perennial contender. Braxton, the 2018-19 NEC Player of the Year and lone competitor in league history to finish with 2,000 points and 1,000 rebounds, and Blackmon, the 2019-20 NEC Player of the Year, have moved on, but the cupboard isn’t exactly bare for ninth-year head coach Rob Krimmel. Krimmel has a host of weapons in his arsenal, including junior forwards Myles Thompson (Camden, NJ/Camden) and Tyler Stewart (Silver Spring, MD/St. Andrew’s Episcopal (Binghamton)). Thompson, at a bruising 6’6”, 230 lb., sports an inside-outside game and a blue-collar mentality that directly impacts the team’s success. Last year, he tallied 10.2 ppg and 5.0 rpg. The silky-smooth Stewart supplied instant offense off the bench with 8.2 ppg. Senior forward Mark Flagg (Fairless Hills, PA/Pennsbury) (6.7 ppg) is a smooth operator in the paint, who converted at a 53.9 percent clip from the floor a year ago. Look for big things from junior point guard Ramiir Dixon-Conover (Newark, NJ/South Kent), who started to come into his own last season as he broke through in the Red Flash’s crowded backcourt. The Newark, NJ native shot 58.7 percent from two-point range and ranked second on the team with 2.1 apg.

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Cory Giger is a 15-year veteran of the Penn State beat and a journalist with 28 years of experience. He has won more than 100 state and national journalism awards during his career, plus he's a voter for the Heisman Trophy in football and Wooden Award in basketball.

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