Shep Garner is Still Penn State’s Most Important Player

Posted by Brendan Brody on November 7th, 2016

Most of the headlines at Penn State coming into this season are centered around a trio of players from Philadelphia’s Roman Catholic High School. Head coach Pat Chambers‘ recruiting has been on the rise after landing two top 100 players last season (Josh Reaves and Michael Watkins) and prep teammates Tony Carr, Lamar Stevens and Nazeer Bostic this season. And while bringing in Big Ten-level talent certainly bodes well for the future of the Nittany Lions’ program, it will be up to junior guard Shep Garner to lead the school out of the B1G’s bottom tier.

Shep Garner is Penn State's leading returning scorer and most experienced player. (Mark Selders).

Shep Garner is Penn State’s leading returning scorer and most experienced player. (Mark Selders/Getty)

Garner has started 64 of his 66 games in a Penn State uniform, beginning his career in a point guard role while DJ Newbill led the way offensively. Last season, he acted as both the primary perimeter scoring threat and distributor. The addition of Carr this season will likely allow him to concentrate on scoring. His 36.6 percent shooting from three-point range last season belies his reputation as one of the streakiest shooters in the Big Ten, but he should get better looks (and a corresponding opportunity to improve his marksmanship) with a point guard locating him in his preferred spots. Where he needs some work are in the areas of getting to the free throw line and to the rim more often — his 33.1 percent free throw rate needs to improve, as does his 40.0 percent conversion rate on two-point field goals. Even with Brandon Taylor taking more than 30 percent of the team’s shots while on the floor, Garner managed to score more than 20 points seven times in Big Ten games last season. Read the rest of this entry »

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AAC M5: 01.21.14 Edition

Posted by CD Bradley on January 21st, 2014


  1. Louisville, Cincinnati, and Memphis were ranked in both the AP and Coaches Polls released Monday, while Connecticut was among those also receiving votes in both polls. SMU also received votes in the AP Poll for the first time this season and for what we’ll assume is the first time in many years. Louisville was ranked the highest of the three in both polls, at #9 in the Coaches Poll and #12 in the AP Poll. Cincinnati, despite being the only undefeated team in AAC play, came next at #15 and #16, respectively. Memphis, which lost at home to UConn last week, dropped to #22 and #23, respectively.
  2. Louisville coach Rick Pitino had a pretty nice 2013 as you have no doubt heard. Hall of Fame election and induction. Horse in the Kentucky Derby and winning a Breeder’s Cup race. Son hired at Minnesota. The centerpiece of all of that success was a national championship team that, except for a bumpy week in January and one weird February night in South Bend, was pretty clearly the best in the country all year. This season has proven to a be a bit more of a challenge, but Pitino isn’t slowing down a bit. The latest piece of evidence was an impressive road win Saturday at Connecticut led by a stifling defense. It’s that defense that has been the hallmark of back-to-back Final Fours for Pitino and the Cardinals, and if they are to make it three in a row, the defense will have to approach the unmatched efficiency of those teams.
  3. The other major reason for Saturday’s win was the play of Montrezl Harrell, who had 18 points, 13 rebounds and three blocks. The Courier-Journal‘s Jeff Greer (the new Louisville beat writer, and a great Twitter follow) broke down the sophomore forward’s offensive game and how it is evolving. Of major interest is the recent increase in jump shots, particularly around the free throw line; Gorgui Dieng’s ability to hit those shots last year was a key component in making the national championship offense run. If Harrell can consistently knock down those shots as well as remain effective on the block, it should open up the Cardinals sometimes stagnant offense. That could be crucial come March.
  4. UConn hosts Temple tonight, and might have to make due without starting guard Ryan Boatright, who traveled to Illinois after a family death. If he is absent, it might mean more playing time for freshman Terrance Samuel, who along with senior Lasan Kromah and sophomore Omar Calhoun would have to fill in for Boatright’s 31.6 minutes per game. Samuel, by comparison, has played six minutes in the Huskies’ last five games. Still, it can’t hurt to provide a little experience to a young player, and it’s not likely to make much of a difference against a 5-11 Temple team rising a six-game losing streak.
  5. Larry Brown didn’t have much interest in junior college players when he was the head coach at Kansas in the 1980s, and had success without them, winning a national championship in 1988. Both times and Brown have changed; a quarter century later, he’s now the head coach at SMU, and junior college players are playing a key role in the program’s renaissance. Yanick Moreira, an Angola native who couldn’t speak English when he received Division I scholarship offers in 2010, went the junior college route and said it was the right choice. It has certainly worked out for SMU, which is blending Moreira with Division I transfers and top-ranked high school recruits into the school’s best team in 20 years.
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