Friday night went just how Penn State basketball coach Mike Rhoades expected it to on the court.
But for him, the most important aspect of the night was that his team’s game at Robert Morris was for a great cause.
RMU’s Director of Basketball Operations, Matthew Sweet, was diagnosed with lung cancer this past March, and Penn State played RMU in a Coaches vs. Cancer game to support Sweet and his family.
“It was an honor to be here,” Rhoades said after the game. “That’s why when (RMU coach Andy Toole) and I talked and we had a chance in an exhibition game to help him and his family, it was a no brainer. Pay it forward. I learned that a long time ago from my Mom and Dad, and that will never change. So this was a great game for us to play, but that’s why we came here. To help Coach Sweet and his family, and I’m really proud that we did that.”
On the court, Penn State won 68-58. Here are some takeaways.
‘EXACTLY WHAT I THOUGHT IT WAS GOING TO BE’
November basketball can be pretty ugly, let alone October basketball.
Rhoades knew that coming into the game, and was expecting some ups and downs.
He didn’t end up being wrong.
“At times, pretty cool,” he said. “At times, not so cool and ugly. I think when a lot of people play exhibition games and try to get a 60-point blowout and all that stuff, I want to play exhibition games and really test us and go back to the tape and to go on the road to play, that helps us. Some sloppiness, I thought we got some things early and I thought we relaxed and all that stuff. There’s a lot of stuff on tape for us to break down.”
‘THEY’LL BE BACK SOON’
Penn State was without the services of UNC transfer Puff Johnson and Lafayette transfer Leo O’Boyle.
Rhoades isn’t expecting them to be out long.
“I think Leo will be live this week,” Rhoades said. “Puff’s close. I just want to be really smart with them, because we’re going to need those guys. It’s a long season, and as much as I want them back, I want them 100 (percent) first, and for a coach in his first year that’s tough, because you want them, but we have to be smart. They have a lot of basketball ahead of them.”
Rhoades also said that Ace Baldwin missed time down the stretch due to cramps.
“This is my fourth year with him,” Rhoades, who coached Baldwin for three seasons at VCU, said. “I had never seen him cramp, so he cramps in the first game at Penn State… but, yeah, he was alright. He’ll be alright.”
6-foot-11 Qudus Wahab posted a 15-point, 10-rebound double-double.
Not too shabby from the Georgetown transfer.
“15 points, 10 rebounds, no turnovers. Pretty good for a five man, right?” Rhoades said. “I’ll take that all day long. I think Q was so used to playing such a specific role in his past years, that we want him to do more. Be more versatile, be away from the basket and show his athleticism. When you see him get the ball there on the move and he gathers himself, it’s over. We need more of that from him, and I told him, I said I want him this year to show the world that he has versatility in his game, the way he can move, the way he can go after the basketball.”