After a convincing defeat against Indiana to open Big Ten play, Maryland men’s basketball head coach Kevin Willard called out his team, specifically the decision-making of his veteran players.
Adding that Maryland was outhustled and outplayed by the Hoosiers, Willard threatened “major changes” to the lineup. Now at 4-4, with every win coming against Quad 4 opponents, questions are being asked about the Terps.
Fortunately for them, they’ll take on Penn State on Wednesday, back home at XFINITY Center — where they’ve won 20 of their past 21 games.
Jahmir Young, Maryland’s leading scorer, is questionable for the game. Young was a full participant at practice Tuesday.
Wednesday’s game is set for 7 p.m. and will stream on Big Ten Network.
Penn State Nittany Lions (4-4, 0-0 Big Ten)
2022-23 record: 23-14, 10-10 Big Ten
Head coach Mike Rhoades took over in March under tough circumstances, with Micah Shrewsberry leaving for Notre Dame after bringing the Nittany Lions back to relevancy.
After leading his team to a surprising run to the Big Ten Tournament championship game, Shrewsberry helped the Nittany Lions last season earn their first NCAA Tournament berth since 2011. But since he departed for the ACC, Penn State’s roster was almost completely disbanded — losing 95 percent of its scoring.
With 10 new players, including nine transfers, the Rhoades-led Nittany Lions were projected to finish 13th in the Big Ten preseason poll. They started hot with four straight wins, but have since dropped the same number of games.
Players to know
Kanye Clary, sophomore guard, 5-foot-11, No. 0 — One of the few rotational players to return to Penn State this year, Clary has made a seamless transition into the starting lineup. He leads the team with over 15 points per game and has scored over 20 thrice.
Qudus Wahab, senior center, 6-foot-11, No. 22 — The former Terp is on his third team in five seasons, but may have finally found his role with Penn State. He’s averaging close to a double-double as the team’s starting center, leading them in both blocks per game (1.4) and field goal percentage (69.8).
Ace Baldwin, senior guard, 6-foot-1, No. 1 — The former VCU star entered the season as one of the most coveted transfers in the nation, and ultimately decided to follow Rhoades to State College.
Baldwin, a Baltimore native, is averaging over 14 points per game, but has averaged close to 20 over the past three contests. He also leads the team with 19 steals in eight games.
Forcing turnovers. Despite having a retooled roster, Penn State has shown a drastic early-season improvement in turning teams over. Despite having a sub-par scoring defense, Penn State is forcing 16.8 turnovers per game, the second-best mark in the conference. In their past two defeats, the Nittany Lions still forced 29 combined turnovers.
Rebounding. Similarly to Maryland, the Nittany Lions give opponents plenty of extra possessions and don’t manage many more for themselves. They average just over 33 rebounds per game — the second-worst mark in the conference — and allow close to 37.
Penn State is one of only four Big Ten teams with a negative turnover margin.
Three things to watch
1. Lineup changes in store? Willard suggested after the Indiana loss that he might change the team’s starting lineup, crediting the intensity of a lineup which featured Jamie Kaiser Jr. in place of Donta Scott. Don’t be surprised if the freshman gets the start over the fifth-year senior.
2. Home success. Each of Maryland’s losses this season have come away from home, but the Terps have not lost at XFINITY Center since Dec. 14 of last year.
3. Maryland looking to get its offense going. The Nittany Lions have lost four games in a row and are on the heels of a shock defeat at home to Bucknell. During the skid, they have allowed 84.8 points per game — 46.3 in second halves.