From LeBron James, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh bringing their talents together at the NBA level to No. 1 Michigan’s Trey Burke, Tim Haradway Jr. and Glenn Robinson III leading the top team in the NCAA, it has been proven in basketball that multiple scoring threats can drive a successful offense.
Redshirt sophomore D.J. Newbill and redshirt junior Jermaine Marshall have been consistent scorers for Penn State, ranking sixth and seventh in the Big Ten in scoring, respectively, but the Lions have failed to put together an all- around offensive effort. After a 65-51 loss to Ohio State on Saturday, coach Patrick Chambers said that his team is nearing a solution for their offensive troubles.
“I feel like we’re close, if we could just get a third scorer,” Chambers said.
Newbill and Marshall account for more than half of Penn State’s offensive production and are the only players averaging double figures.
Several players have shown the ability to step up on the offensive end throughout the course of the Nittany Lions’ (8-12, 0-8 Big Ten) conference schedule.
Freshman Brandon Taylor has shown promise from downtown. He is second behind Marshall in attempts and third in 3-point percentage (of players with at least 20 attempts), but has struggled lately, shooting 1-for-8 against Ohio State.
Sophomore Ross Travis and senior Sasa Borovnjak have also been called on to contribute. Travis has knocked down jumpers from midrange at times but hasn’t scored in double figures since putting up 14 against Indiana on Jan. 7.
Borovnjak has been on the receiving end of some good looks from Newbill inside but has struggled against the likes of some of the more athletic post players in the Big Ten.
“I think Brandon, Ross, Sasa, one of those three guys got to step up,” Chambers said. “I think Sasa’s doing some good things, he’s playing hard going against a lot of big time bigs and he’s making some great moves. We got to get Ross and BT going those guys got to take good shots and be comfortable with the shots that they take.”
Chambers has preached confidence with shooting. When the Lions went on a scoring drought that lasted more than 11 minutes against Ohio State, he encouraged his players to keep shooting even after a string of misses. Chambers’ message seems to be rubbing off on his players as they try to find their shots.
“It just comes down to confidence, studying film and reading defenders,” Travis said. “Hitting those open shots when the ball comes my way and being aggressive, I have to be a lot more aggressive on the offensive end.”
With 10 games remaining in the regular season, these three players will be looking to refine specific aspects of their games to become more effective on a regular basis.
At 6-foot-7, 235 pounds, Taylor said that he wants to become a greater post-presence, finding opportunities on the block as well as hitting shots from behind the arc.
Borovnjak also looks to add an element of versatility to his game moving without the ball for more opportunities.
“I think I just have to make better moves without the ball when D.J. or Jermaine drives,” Borovnjak said. “I think I have to find open areas where I can get the ball and score from the dribble, pull up jumper, or hook shot.”
As these players look to add new elements to their respective games, the Lions will work to improve as a unit offensively. Penn State currently ranks last in field goal percentage and second to last in points per games in the Big Ten. Still, Marshall expressed that if the entire team can step up production the onus will not have to be on one or just a couple of players.
“It has to be a collection, obviously me and D.J. have been trying to do the best that we can,” Marshall said. “I think a group of guys or the whole team needs to step up as a unit and try to get the job done.”