Transfers won't be what shapes Nittany Lions' fate

Posted by Jeff Rice on March 16, 2012 

I spoke to both Trey Lewis and Matt Glover on the phone this evening about their respective decisions to leave the Penn State basketball program.

For Glover, the primary reason was, as he said in Wednesday's university-issued release, a desire to be closer to home. He hadn't been back to his native California since coming to Penn State in late June and his family had not been able to see any of his games in person.

Glover will finish out the spring semester here, then intends to continue his career at the Division I level. He hopes to wind up at a Pac-12 or West Coast Conference school.

Lewis didn't have much to add to his prepared statement released Thursday -- he reiterated he was looking for a "better fit" -- but wanted to thank Penn State's staff, community and fans for what he said was a great experience. Lewis said the injuries that sidelined him for 12 games made it "a really tough season" and difficult for him to get on track. The 2011 Mr. Ohio Basketball runner-up doesn't yet have any potential new destinations in mind ("This is all new to me," he said) but is confident about his future.

Coach Patrick Chambers and the Nittany Lions, coming off a 12-win season, likely would have been able to put Glover's defensive skills and Lewis' playmaking abilities to good use next season, but they should be equipped to survive the departures. Tim Frazier will likely play between 36 and 39 minutes per game at one guard spot next season, and the other will likely be manned by Jermaine Marshall, the team's second-leading scorer, and D.J. Newbill, the versatile transfer from Southern Mississippi who will play his first season as a Nittany Lion. If he wishes, Chambers can use all three on the floor at once in three-guard sets.

Lewis and Glover would have likely provided more skilled depth than Nick Colella and incoming freshman Akosa Maduegbunam, but a five-guard rotation is plenty for any major-college squad, even one that uses three-guard sets as much as Penn State did this past season.

Where Penn State needs improvement is at the four and five positions, and Glover and Lewis weren't going to help there, anyway. What sort of production the Nittany Lions are able to get from returnees Jon Graham, Ross Travis and Sasa Borovnjak and newcomer Brandon Taylor will be what determines how many wins Penn State will compile next season, and what Chambers does with the scholarships he has now (or, more specifically, who he adds to an impressive 2013 class that includes guards Brandon Austin and Geno Thorpe) will determine how the Lions fare the following year, when only Frazier departs.

Transfers immediately following the season always raise eyebrows, especially when two come in a 24-hour period. But Chambers should be able to get by without Glover and Lewis this coming season and, if his recent history on the recruiting trail is any indication, find players of similar or greater talent to propel his team in future seasons.

They can't all be guards, though.

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