Tony Carr was introduced to the Bryce Jordan Center crowd first.
Lamar Stevens heard his name called next, and Mike Watkins was the fourth Penn State player announced ahead of the team’s season opener Friday night.
The trio of first-year players from Philadelphia earned starts in the first games of their careers and turned in up-and-down performances in a loss to Albany.
“We got a lot of work to do,” Penn State coach Patrick Chambers said. “They’re not in high school anymore. We got to mature, but my father always says, ‘You can’t hit the ball and run to third.’ This is a process.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to the Centre Daily Times
“I’m sure they didn’t realize how hard Albany played. I did because I coached against them about six years ago in the America East, but now they see what it’s going to take and the whole team sees what it’s going to take.”
Carr finished with 14 points and four assists, Stevens had 10 points and four rebounds and Watkins added 10 points and a team-high seven rebounds.
Each showed the talent that made them four-star recruits.
Watkins, a redshirt freshman, didn’t waste any time making his presence felt.
The big man connected on a turnaround out of the post on the right block during Penn State’s first possession. Twenty-one seconds later, he swatted Albany’s first shot attempt by Marqueese Grayson away.
Watkins recorded two more blocks on Albany’s next two trips down the floor. He rejected an attempt by Mike Rowley and deflected it off Rowley to bring the Penn State bench to its feet, and he stayed on his feet on a fake by Albany’s Joe Cremo before blocking his left-handed layup attempt, eliciting a reaction from the home crowd.
Watkins finished in the paint in a 5-for-7 performance that included a pair of dunks in the middle of Penn State’s comeback.
But Chambers felt he played the big man too many minutes — Watkins was on the floor for 25 minutes while Julian Moore played 15 minutes.
“There are a couple situations where I thought a fresh Mike Watkins makes easy plays on the defensive end, so I got to do a better job of getting him out,” Chambers said.
Carr got going more than 10 minutes into the game.
After missing his first four shots, the freshman point guard grabbed a rebound and pushed it down the floor.
He crossed over past Albany’s Jamir Andrews and banked in a shot through contact from Travis Charles, setting up a three-point play. He scored Penn State’s next bucket, spinning down the lane into a finger roll.
Carr finished 5 for 15 from the field and 2 for 6 from 3-point range.
Stevens, a fellow Roman Catholic product, got to the free-throw line a team-high seven times. He knocked down six free throws and went 2 for 2 from the field to score his 10 points.
“If you look at the three freshmen, their lines, they’re very encouraging, but they have a long way to go,” Chambers said. “They have a long way to go.”
Notes: Duquesne beat Loyola (Md.) 65-60 in its season opener Friday night. Tarin Smith was the lone Dukes player to score in double figures, finishing with 13 points. ... Duquesne beat Penn State 78-52 last season. Duquesne went 17 for 34 from beyond the arc in that game. ... Duquesne started four newcomers in its season opener. Isiaha Mike and Mike Lewis II earned starts as freshmen, guard Emile Blackman transferred from Niagara and Smith transferred from Nebraska.
Duquesne at Penn State
When: 6 p.m. Sunday
Where: Bryce Jordan Center
TV: BTN (55)
Radio: WQWK 1450
Mike Lewis II