Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?


The Walker Report: Keeping Shrewsberry Key to Keeping Penn State Basketball Relevant

Penn State Basketball Coach Micah Shrewsberry
ANN ARBOR, MI - JANUARY 04: Penn State Nittany Lions head coach Micah Shrewsberry reacts to an official’s call during the first half of a Big Ten conference regular season college basketball game between the Penn State Nittany Lions and the Michigan Wolverines on January 4, 2023 at the Crisler Center in Ann Arbor, Michigan. (Photo by Scott W. Grau/Icon Sportswire)

Buckled, choked, fumbled the bag, gagged, screwed the pooch and wet the bed can all describe how Penn State blew its 19-point lead to Rutgers Sunday evening.

But Penn State’s Sunday Night Delight collapse wasn’t only about blowing a game. It’s way more than that. It blew an opportunity to help win over a fanbase that sees its basketball program at a quaternary level.

As we all know, Penn State is a football school. Then comes wrestling. Then, at best, basketball is third in popularity.

I arrived at Penn State’s campus Sunday, a few hours before the game, and got something to eat at East Commons on campus. In the process, I ran into students. I decided to do a small survey of about 25-30 students. I asked the students if they were going to the game and, if not, why?

None of them said that they were going.

Some didn’t like basketball. Ok, fine. Some didn’t know a game was happening Sunday. Ok, that’s cool. Some had to study and had classes in the morning. Go ahead and get that education.

If that were the three other aforementioned sports I mentioned earlier, would I even have to ask if they were going? They would find time to do whatever they needed later to, in the case of football, tailgate all day, try to get into the game and have a whole gameday experience.

I’ll have another question. If I went to a game at Michigan or Ohio State, two popular teams that we like to compare Penn State to, if they will attend a men’s basketball game knowing that there will be NCAA Tournament ramifications? I would bet they would say yes.

I bring up those two schools because, like Penn State, they have strong football, wrestling and hockey programs. But the difference is that its basketball programs make the NCAA Tournament most years and are relevant. Penn State isn’t at that level historically, only having made the tournament three times (1996, 2001, 2011) since joining the Big Ten.

So anyway, I entered the arena, and I was pleasantly surprised to see 12,082 fans in attendance, mostly in white except for a few Rutgers fans in scarlet on the corner in the front row and the Rutgers Riot Squad. The crowd was loud at times, but the Rutgers student section was consistently louder throughout the game, even when Rutgers was down 17 in the second half because the Penn State crowd sensed what was happening. Sure, Penn State’s had its second-half swoons this season, but this one took the cake as we witnessed the team miss its last 11 shots and fail to make adjustments on offense and defense.

So my takeaway from the experience is that I went into the Bryce Jordan Center thinking that the student body doesn’t care about the program, and with the crowd on hand and the Twitter reaction after the collapse, I came away with the conclusion that people do care about Penn State basketball.

 Penn State being in the conversation for an NCAA Tournament bid is enough to get them to the arena, but how do you get them back after Sunday?

The answer: Some won’t like it, but it’s Micah Shrewsberry.

I know Steve Pikiell coached circles around him Sunday, especially in the second half, and Shrewsberry admitted as much. He shouldn’t have let Seth Lundy, who went 0-11 from 3-point land, shoot so many 3s. He should have found a way to adjust to Jalen Pickett’s double and triple teams. 

But if Shrewsberry were to leave Penn State, it would be challenging to find a better coach. 

He’ll likely have his team playing in a post-season tournament in his second season. He’s brought in the two highest-rated recruiting classes in program history. 

Penn State should do whatever it takes to keep its momentum in basketball coming and not let Shrewsberry go to Norte Dame, where he’s thought to be a possibility to replace Mike Bray, who is stepping down, or Georgetown, where there will be an opening at a sleeping-giant program in a fertile basketball recruiting ground. And what about Louisville, which is a basketball school in a power five conference?

 Despite Sunday’s loss, Penn State’s basketball program has a lot of promise, but it needs to take the next step collectively. That means Athletic Director Patrick Kraft and the administration must do what it takes to get this team relevant. That means upgrading facilities, securing better NIL deals for players and keeping Shrewsberry around. 

Twitter: @bwalkerdadon

Get NSN in your Inbox

Enter your email address to get notifications of new posts by email.

More from Nittany Sports Now

PSU Basketball

0 Penn State basketball will be taking a preseason trip to the Bahamas ahead of Mike Rhoades’s first season as coach. The program announced this Wednesday...

PSU Basketball

0 On Monday, GM Calvin Booth and the Nuggets completed a four-game sweep of the Lakers with a 113-111 victory to advance to their...

PSU Basketball

0 Miami transfer Favour Aire has committed to Penn State basketball, he announced via Instagram Monday afternoon. View this post on Instagram A post...

PSU Basketball

0 Penn State basketball will play a game in Philaphia’s Palestra this coming season, new coach Mike Rhodes told college basketball insider Jon Rothstein Monday...