Excluding the final six to seven minutes of the game, Penn State looked, for lack of a better word, ugly against a lowly Boston College team on Wednesday.
Shots weren’t falling. The Lions’ big men weren’t rebounding as forwards Jon Graham and Sasa Borovnjak hauled in a combined six boards. Also, the team tallied just six assists on the game.
The laundry list of issues and mishaps from the 73-61 loss to the Eagles is just about endless.
Considering the tough loss, it may be hard for the team to get over the defeat and focus on Penn, who comes to the Bryce Jordan Center on Saturday.
The Lions have won their last two meetings with the Quakers (2008, 2009), but will need to play like they did in the second half against Bucknell to pull out a win against a scrappy club.
Perhaps the most surprising thing from Wednesday’s game is how the team strayed away from its staple: tough, gritty “Penn State basketball” highlighted by effort on both ends of the floor for 40 minutes.
With the exception of a couple signature Nick Colella hustle plays, the effort wasn’t present for the majority of the game, and it was obvious.
“We need to play gritty for 40 minutes, and if you only play for 30, you see the result, or if you only play for 20 even,” coach Patrick Chambers said.
The Lions did attempt to pick up the intensity in the second half with some pressing and double teams, and it moderately succeeded.
However, slashing guard-turned-point guard D.J. Newbill said he didn’t think any alterations in style of play in the second half changed anything, but instead effort was still the main concern.
“I mean, it was basically our effort. It didn’t matter what lineup we went to, we just had to play harder,” Newbill said. “I don’t think in the first half we played as a hard as we did in the last seven or eight minutes of that game.”
Perhaps the most debilitating aspect of the game for the Lions was missing shots while watching Boston College sink uncontested looks with relative ease.
Despite eyeing up open looks, the Lions drained only six three-pointers out of 20 attempts. Boston College, on the other hand, capitalized on eight of 18 shooting from downtown.
“We took some chances, and they got some good looks. We knew they were a good three-point shooting team, but it goes back to effort, and it goes back to communication and not talking,” Chambers said. “This was the same team you saw last Friday [against Bucknell], but they just didn’t do the little things they’re used to doing.”
And despite the team’s performance against Boston College, the Lions will most likely need to do those little things in order to pull out a win against the Quakers this weekend.
Penn (2-5) doesn’t boast an impressive record by any means, but four of its five losses are by an average of five points.
Putting that into perspective, the Lions can’t afford to get frustrated with shots not falling because, statistically, they’re most likely in for a neck-and-neck game.
“When you see that ball not going, it kind of affects your effort,” Chambers said with a shrug. “That’s what we’re all about. We just can’t let it affect our effort.”