Penn State Basketball

Penn State men’s basketball: Nittany Lions still searching for starting lineup

Penn State men’s basketball coach Patrick Chambers has spent the preseason in search of the most effective lineup.

He’s tried so many different options that it’s hard for him to gauge the Nittany Lions’ potential going into their season. Chambers is still considering the possibilities days before Penn State’s opener against Morgan State at 7 p.m. Friday at the Bryce Jordan Center.

So Penn State’s starting lineup will remain a mystery until Friday night.

“We’re going to have a healthy competition until the last day,” Chambers said at his press conference Tuesday. “We’re getting close though, we’re getting close. I’m not ready to reveal.”

Chambers is also still weighing his options at point guard, where the Nittany Lions must replace the graduated Tim Frazier. Leading returning scorer D.J. Newbill will run the point at times, but the coach is analyzing film and statistics to develop his plan for the position.

“Throughout the game, there’s definitely going to be times and good chunks of time that he will play the point,” Chambers said. “I’m just not dead set on saying that he’s going to start that way. We’ll look at it this week a little further, look at some plus-minuses like they do in hockey and we’ll try to put together the best five that will, again, give us the best chance.”

Freshman Shep Garner and junior college transfer Devin Foster will each see time at point guard, too.

Chambers said he has a good sense of how the rotation will work, but like with the starting lineup, he’s going to continue to work on it.

“I just think mixing him (Newbill) up, keeping the defense off balance, keeping the opponents off balance would be best for this team,” Chambers said. “And that’s why I’m not committing to anything right now because we got to see what happens the next three days and going into Morgan State.”

Chambers said as many as 10 players could see game time.

But the rotation will become clear throughout the 13-game nonconference slate.

“I think the nonconference is really going to tell our rotation and what everybody’s confident with and what we all trust,” Chambers said. “I think that’s the most important thing. I feel like we should be able to go to our bench and get better.”

A look at Morgan State

Morgan State was picked to finish third in the Mid-East Athletic Conference Preseason Poll.

The Bears, led by head coach Todd Bozeman, are coming off a 15-16 season that ended in the MEAC tournament championship game. Guard Blake Bozeman was selected to the preseason MEAC third team. Bozeman, the coach’s son, has started every game the last two seasons and averaged 6.6 points and 2.0 assists per game last season.

Morgan State’s top three scorers — who accounted for more than 63 percent of the team’s totals — all graduated.

Cedric Blossom, a 6-foot-6 forward, is the team’s top returning scorer after averaging 6.9 points last year.

Busy start

Penn State begins the season with seven games in two weeks.

After the opener Friday, the Nittany Lions host Fordham on Sunday before three games at the Charleston Classic next week. The stretch continues with a home game against Akron on Nov. 25 and ends with its matchup against Bucknell in Lewisburg on Nov. 28.

“With the mixture of talent that we have of veterans and youth, I wanted to give them every opportunity to put on that jersey and to continue to get better and to continue to prepare for the Big Ten,” Chambers said. “I know seven in 14 (days) is a little bit crazy, but so is some Big Ten weeks and so is the Big Ten tournament.”

Signing day

The early signing period begins Wednesday and continues through Nov. 19.

Penn State has three players committed to its Class of 2015: power forward Mike Watkins, shooting guard Josh Reaves and small forward Deividas Zemgulis. Watkins and Reaves are rated four-star recruits, while Zemgulis is a three-star recruit, according to 247Sports.

Penn State’s class is ranked 28th in the country, one spot behind Big Ten power Wisconsin, according to 247Sports.