Fordham’s scouting report on Penn State will center around how to stop D.J. Newbill.
But coach Patrick Chambers felt the season opener would leave the Rams with more to think about than the Nittany Lions’ top scorer.
Though Penn State struggled from the field Friday night, four players attempted at least seven shots. Veterans like Brandon Taylor and Ross Travis never found their rhythm.
But Chambers is optimistic a handful of players in his rotation can help Newbill carry on the scoring load on any given night this season.
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“I think that’s why I really like our depth and what they all bring and we try to give them confidence and freedom on the offensive end, which I think you saw,” Chambers said after Penn State’s 61-48 win over Morgan State. “That’s why you have to clean up the turnovers a little bit, but I think for the most part we took good shoots.”
The Nittany Lions (1-0) host Fordham (1-0) at 5 p.m. Sunday at the Bryce Jordan Center.
Penn State is aiming to cut down on its total of 18 turnovers Friday while trusting more shots will fall against the Rams.
Chambers said the turnovers can be attributed in part to the nerves of opening night.
Newbill finished with a team-high four turnovers, but Chambers expects some mistakes when he’s trying to make plays for his teammates.
He also knows freshman guard Shep Garner will turn the ball over as he adjusts.
Garner tried to push the ball after a putback by Morgan State’s Kyle Thomas midway through the first half, but his cross-court pass sailed well over the head of guard John Johnson and out of bounds. He made another ill-advised pass for Johnson at halfcourt seven minutes later. On a drive in the second half, he got caught up in the air without any passing angles and threw the ball away for his third and final turnover.
“We’ll work on it,” Chambers said. “We’ll be fine. I just don’t like the careless ones.”
Newbill, Garner and Geno Thorpe carried Penn State offensively.
They combined to score 42 of the team’s 61 points.
The Nittany Lions’ five other players to attempt a shot combined to go 7 for 22 from the field (31.8 percent).
Taylor, who was third on the team in scoring last year, went 2 for 10 from the field and 0 for 3 from beyond the arc.
Going into the season, Taylor said he and his teammates spent the offseason focused on improving their shooting.
“I’m definitely finding easier shots, easier 3-point shots because of the ball movement,” Taylor said before the opener. “And it makes it a lot easier for me to have other great guys who can do different things and open up the floor for me.”
Garner showed an ability to get into the lane and create for teammates. He also finished with 14 points on 6 for 9 shooting.
Thorpe came off the bench and showed aggression going to the basket and on the defensive end.
“For whatever reason at the beginning of the game, (we) weren’t making shots, things aren’t going our way, we’re missing some bunnies,” Chambers said. “I felt like Geno came in and sparked us and he gave himself up because he got in a little foul trouble.”
Thorpe finished with 11 points on 4 for 7 shooting.
Chambers was happy with how Penn State moved and shared the ball Friday.
After the opener, Chambers said Penn State’s top scorers alongside Newbill could be different each night.
It could be a variety of combinations Sunday.
“We’re not out there being selfish and just jacking 3s,” Chambers said. “I think we tried to play unselfish. We’re going to make more shots, I’m confident in that.”
Notes: 6-foot-6 freshman guard Eric Paschall scored 31 points to lead Fordham in its season-opening 94-77 win over New York Institute of Technology. Paschall also had 10 rebounds. ... Freshman forward Christian Sengfelder added 17 points and seven rebounds, while forward Ryan Rhoomes had 12 points and 13 rebounds. ... Fordham went 10-21 last season and 2-14 in Atlantic 10 play.