From a coaching standpoint, Penn State head men’s basketball coach Mike Rhoades and new assistant Joe Crispin are on opposite ends of the spectrum.
Rhoades has nine total years of experience as a Division I head coach, three at Rice and six at VCU, where he coached most recently before taking over the Nittany Lions’ role.
Crispin has not coached above the Division III level, just completing a string of seven seasons as the head coach at Rowan University in Glassboro, New Jersey.
But, it is Crispin’s playing experience that has led to him developing his coaching style into a successful mold that will make an impact in the Big Ten. Crispin played parts of one season in the NBA with the Los Angeles Lakers and Phoenix Suns before competing in several leagues and countries. This helped Crispin lead Rowan to a conference title and multiple NCAA Division III Tournament berths in his tenure.
Also a former collegiate player, Rhoades acknowledged the pair will have similar coaching mindsets on the court.
“For me personally, he and I see the game very similarly,” Rhoades said. “We’re competitive and confident basketball people, so we see things through the same lens, and I think that’s important.”
Rhoades and Crispin will be attempting to rebuild a Nittany Lions roster that lost arguably its three top players – Jalen Pickett, Seth Lundy and Drew Funk – to the NBA, as well as multiple other pieces departing. Penn State currently has two scholarship players that have not either graduated or entered the transfer portal.
No matter who Penn State draws in, Crispin will be employing his signature offensive strategy, which is run to create a scoring opportunity. This will open space for willing shooters to knock down outside shots or have lanes to drive to the hoop.
Crispin’s influence helped Rowan average 92.6 points per game in his final season, where the team posted a 23-6 record. Of course, Crispin was only employing the same strategy he used as a player, even during his four years at Penn State from 1997-2001.
He consistently knocked down open, long range shots, and still sits in fourth all-time on Penn State’s career 3-pointers list. This will be a big change from the offense the Nittany Lions ran under Micah Shrewsberry, and will take a lot of commitment to develop and execute.
And Rhoades is all for it.
“As we build this program over time, he’s going to bring new stuff to the program all the time,” Rhoades said. “He’s already done that, and I love it. I value our staff’s opinions, and I have no problem using them in the moment. Joe is bringing that, and I want that.
“You don’t know if an opinion or suggestion works if you don’t try it. We’re going to try them. Joe has a bunch of them, and we want them.”