Penn State vs. St. Francis Brooklyn Preview: Lions Look to Shake off UMass Defeat

By Vincent Lungaro on November 18, 2021 at 8:00 am
Nov 10, 2021; University Park, Pennsylvania, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions guard Sam Sessoms (3) goes to the basket against Youngstown State Penguins guard Shemar Rathan-Mayes (22) during the first half at the Bryce Jordan Center. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports
Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports
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St. Francis (NY) Terriers
0-2 (0-0 NEC)
Roster / Schedule
7:00 p.m. ET - Thursday, Nov. 18
Bryce Jordan Center
University Park, PA
Watch Info: BTN+ I Gametracker
KenPom Rank: 335

Well, things can't go much worse than they did on Monday, right?

Penn State (1-1) will look to shake off a horrid performance against UMass when the Nittany Lions host St. Francis Brooklyn (0-2) at 7 p.m. on Thursday at the Bryce Jordan Center.

Throughout his postgame press conference on Monday and during his weekly media availability on Tuesday, head coach Micah Shrewsberry constantly highlighted effort and energy as two areas that Penn State must improve on from the loss. It's clear the first-year head coach didn't think his team matched the intensity level brought out by the Minutemen, and is looking for a response Thursday night. 

PROJECTED STARTERS

PENN STATE ST. Francis Brooklyn
G Sam Sessoms - 6'0 - Sr. G Michael Cubbage - 6'4 - Sr.
G Jaheam Cornwall - 6'0 - Sr.  G Rob Higgins - 6'1 - Jr. 
G Jalen Pickett - 6'4 - Sr.  G Tedrick Wilcox Jr. - 6'6 - Jr. 
F Seth Lundy - 6'6 - Jr. F Patrick. Emilien - 6'7 - Sr. 
F John Harrar - 6'9 - Sr.  F Vuk Stevanic - 6'8 - Sr. 

Shrewsberry made one change from the game one lineup for game two, bringing in Jaheam Cornwall for Myles Dread. It's tough to predict who Shrewsberry chooses to start Thursday's game, given how poorly Penn State played previously. But for now, I'm guessing he sticks with Cornwall in the starting lineup with Dread coming off the bench, a role he's looked more suited to in recent seasons. I wouldn't be shocked if we see one or two tweaks with the starting group, though. Something to keep an eye on as tip-off approaches. 

SCOUTING REPORT

It's been a tough start to the season for St. Francis Brooklyn and 11th-year coach Glenn Braica. The Terriers were put away pretty easily opening night against another Big Ten team in Wisconsin, and followed that up with a 18-point loss to St. Thomas (Minnesota). The Tommies -- great nickname by the way -- are making the jump from Division III all the way up to Division I this season, so losing to them by 18 wasn't exactly a confidence booster for St. Francis. 

Guard Michael Cubbage, a transfer from Marist, leads the team with 15 points per game, with guard Trey Quartlebaum (12.0 ppg), forward Patrick Emilien (11.5 ppg), and guard Rob Higgins (10.0 ppg) all averaging double figures so far. 

Quartlebaum has proved to be an effective sixth man for the Terriers, coming off the bench to contribute his 12.0 points per game, while shooting 50 percent from 3-point range. After Penn State's struggles to stop UMass from beyond the arc on Monday, the Nittany Lions will have to guard him tightly. 

KEYS TO THE GAME

  • Bring the energy and effort. Talent-wise, Penn State is clearly the better team. With the Nittany Lions and Terriers both coming off of blowout losses, though, which side responds better will be a telling sign as to how this game is going to go. Penn State should win this going away, but if the effort is as low as Shrewsberry stated it was the other night, the Terriers can hang around. 
  • Guard the 3-point line better. St. Francis Brooklyn has shot just 25 percent from three through two games, with opponents shooting 45 percent. UMass decimated Penn State from three (13-of-29) and that had to be a point of focus defensively in practice the past couple of days for the Nittany Lions. Penn State cannot let the Terriers get going from three. The Nittany Lions will also try to shoot better than they did on Monday (4-of-15 from three). 
  • Feed John Harrar. There were a couple of times against UMass when Harrar or Jalanni White had good post position and the ball didn't come their way. St. Francis doesn't offer much size. The Terriers gave up 36 points in the paint against Wisconsin and a further 38 against St. Thomas. The Nittany Lions need to try and establish a presence down low by getting Harrar going early. 

PREDICTION

This game should not be close. Penn State got run off the floor the other night at UMass and needs to respond with a commanding performance. St. Francis isn't a measuring stick for how the rest of the season is going to play out by any stretch of the imagination, but the type of showing we see from the Nittany Lions is going to tell us a lot about the mentality of this team. 

Prediction: Penn State 77, St. Francis Brooklyn, 58

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