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Penn State men’s basketball not dwelling on past after 1st loss against UMass

Penn State men's basketball vs. Youngstown State, John Harrar (21)

Penn State forward John Harrar (21) reacts after dunking the ball against Youngstown State during the Penn State men's basketball game at the Bryce Jordan Center on Wednesday, Nov. 10, 2021 in University Park, Pa. Penn State defeated Youngstown State 75-59.

Penn State suffered a cold shot to the ribs in its first road game against UMass, losing 81-56.

The Nittany Lions can’t hang their heads for too long since they have a quick turnaround with a home defense against St. Francis Brooklyn on Thursday.

Shrewsberry did not look defeated on the podium for his weekly media availability, though.

Rather, he was more excited to get to work and fix the things his team needed to clean up.

“You can't dwell on anything,” Shrewsberry said. “You got to bounce back. You got to get back to work and you gotta get better.”

Shrewsberry’s team held the first practice not even 24 hours after its first loss of the season, which was a short flight away in Amherst.

The first-year head coach said his team would be watching a lot of film in practice this week.

Shrewsberry said he was not going to “crush” his team in film this week, even when it suffered a blowout loss to UMass.

“We need to learn through the film on how we can get better,” Shrewsberry said. “We're gonna be in the film session for a long time because there's a lot we need to clean up, but they are fixable mistakes.”

Fifth-year senior forward John Harrar has now watched film with three different collegiate coaches.

Harrar said when the team watches film, it watches the defense then it watches the offense to see what it did wrong.

“He just wants us to think the game how he thinks the game,” Harrar said. “That’s what film is used for. He wants to show us what he wants out of us on the court.”

Harrar was one player who took the loss personally being that this is his last year in the blue and white after deciding to come back to utilize his final year of eligibility.

He said the locker room after the game was not “too fun” of a place to be in.

The Nittany Lions are filled with veteran players and for most of them this is their final shot at making the “Big Dance” in March.

In the blue and white’s first game of the season, it picked up 43 rebounds compared to Youngstown State’s 25.

However, UMass managed to exploit the Nittany Lions in the very same area only a game later.

“I think the first game we found how to definitely dominate the paint,” Harrar said. “Last night, we kind of got our butts kicked when it came to dominating the paint.”

Penn State has not lost one of its first two games since 2016, where the Nittany Lions lost their home opener against Albany 87-81.

Back then, the blue and white had former coach Pat Chambers with the clipboard, but now it’s Shrewsberry leading the team from the sidelines.

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However, in the offseason, Penn State dealt with adversity bringing in new faces and a whole new system.

UMass was the Nittany Lions first road trip together as a team, and for the first time on the court, Penn State is navigating its way through defeat.

“I think guys are still learning from each other,” Shrewsberry said. “Being in an environment together for the first time, in a tough environment, when things aren't going your way, I think that's when we need to accelerate. We need to use all of these moments as teachable moments and accelerate that timeline for ourselves, but we still have to go through that timeline.”

UMass hurt Penn State from behind the arc making 13 3-pointers compared to the Nittany Lions who had just four on the night.

Shrewsberry emphasized fixing the defense to eliminate the daggers shots from range the Minutemen were making.

“We need to adjust in terms of where we are on the floor,” Shrewsberry said. “Some of those were 3’s that we would give up — when they don't do anything, and they get a three — that's where we have to clean those up.”

“It wasn't anything that they did special to get some of those 3’s.”

Penn State defensively struggled allowing 81 points and Shrewsberry said it would be one of the biggest things to fix this week in practice.

Harrar thinks overall the team's defense needs some patching.

“Defensively, we [need] more effort, more communication,” Harrar said. “I think our first game, we did a great job of keeping the ball in front of us and keeping them out of the paint. Then our second game, we kind of stopped communicating about how we can keep the ball in front of us, and they were just getting into the paint at will.”

Penn State will have to fix its troubles defending on the perimeter as St. Francis-Brooklyn has another sharp batch of guards that can shoot consistently from behind the arc.

For Shrewsberry, the UMass game is behind him, and he is looking forward to the matchup with the Terriers as part of the first game in the Emerald Coast Classic.

“We got to focus on ourselves here in the next couple of days really trying to get better while also getting prepared for our game on Thursday,” Shrewsberry said. “That’s our goal: keep trying to get better and stay focused on what's coming next.”

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