Do simple great.
That was the focus of the Penn State men’s basketball team after a loss to Albany in the season opener.
The Nittany Lions wanted to feed off their defense, rebounding and hustle play in their matchup with Duquesne. They practiced Saturday with that goal in mind and went on to beat the Dukes on Sunday at the Bryce Jordan Center.
“I think today, that’s what helps the first half when you’re not making shots because when we didn’t make shots Friday night you saw heads go down, body language go down and we were so upset about it,” Penn State coach Patrick Chambers said after his team’s 82-74 win. “Today you didn’t see that. You didn’t see that, so something to really build on.”
The Nittany Lions (1-1) will look to build off that performance when they host Grand Canyon (0-1) at 7 p.m. Tuesday.
Chambers was pleased with his team’s defense in the first half — the Nittany Lions limited Duquesne to 39.3 percent shooting from the field and 29 points.
And the coach saw his players take care of the simple things.
They dove on the floor for loose balls and took charges after playing with a little too much “finesse” against Albany.
“We took a big step in the category of toughness,” Chambers said.
Penn State guard Terrence Samuel displayed that toughness throughout the night.
After Tony Carr lost his dribble for a turnover early in the first half, Samuel got back to defend a transition opportunity for Duquesne and took a charge by Dukes guard Emile Blackman.
Samuel took another charge with Penn State ahead 62-59 with just more than six minutes to play.
Duquesne guard Mike Lewis II started to make his move on the perimeter and Samuel was set and waiting in front of him.
Lewis II bowled into him for an offensive foul.
“I thought Terrence was a big-time spark for us in the second half with some charges, some big-time rebounds,” Chambers said. “He finished on the other end a couple of times, which was great to see, great for his confidence.”
Despite the improved effort, the Nittany Lions were outrebounded for the second straight game.
Albany pulled down 17 more rebounds than Penn State in the opener, and Duquesne outrebounded the Nittany Lions 37-32.
“We got to work on the rebounding aspect,” Chambers said. “That can’t all go on Mike (Watkins).”
Watkins leads the team with 13 rebounds in the first two games. Carr grabbed a team-high seven rebounds Sunday.
Notes: Dan Majerle is in his fourth season as Grand Canyon’s head coach. Majerle was a three-time All-Star during his 14-year NBA career. He played eight years for the Phoenix Suns. ... Grand Canyon is coming off a 96-61 loss to No. 1 Duke in its season opener. Guard Shaq Carr had a team-high 18 points, eight assists and eight turnovers in the loss.
Grand Canyon at Penn State
When: 7 p.m. Tuesday
Where: Bryce Jordan Center
Radio: WQWK 1450