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Penn State Basketball: Nittany Lions Hoping to Find Shooting Touch Again

by on January 15, 2020 2:20 PM

Last season Myles Dread made 43 shots from three during Big Ten play, tied for fourth best in the conference.

Right now he's on a stretch of just two made threes in his last 21 attempts. It's his second such streak of cold shooting this season, a five-game segment led to 5-of-29 shooting from the floor between Penn State's games against Ole Miss and Maryland.

From a distance it's hard to diagnose the cause, Dread has generally gotten his looks, and against Iowa, Rutgers and Wisconsin he has seen his fair share of uncontested opportunities. And yet they don't fall.

The cruel irony in all of this, Dread and his teammates shoot the ball well in practice. While this might sound like coach-speak, a few days spent watching practice confirms that very fact: Penn State does shoot the ball well in practice.

"We're EN FUEGO!" Dread shouted during a shooting drill. "If you don't know what that means, we're on fire."

So the what's the disconnect?

"I don't know, I don't know. I don't know if it's a mindset," Coach Pat Chambers said earlier in the week. "I don't know if it's preparation. I don't know if it's family or girlfriend in the stands. But somehow, someway, we have to grow and mature and learn from these last two games. And we really haven't played in the BJC in quite some time."

"Sometimes the ball just doesn't go in," Dread added. "I shoot thousands and thousands of shots, hundreds of shots a day, thousands of shots a week. I have done enough repetitions to know as soon as I release the ball if it is in or out. I am just going to get back in the gym tomorrow and shoot some more and keep doing what I've been doing for my whole life."

The issue for Penn State is that Dread is far from the only player struggling from the floor. The combination of Dread, Izaiah Brockington and Curtis Jones are 8-for-37 from beyond the arc the past two games with Jones accounting for six of those makes. Jones and Dread are 1-for-24 from the field over the last two games and Brockington's skillset around the rim has made him more prone to shoot from within close, just three attempts from deep to his name the past two outings.

"My confidence isn't going anywhere," Dread said following Penn State's loss to Wisconsin. "I am going to continue to shoot the ball because that's my job. I am going to continue to do my job, and my teammates feeding me the ball is a part of the offense. They feed me the ball, and I feed them the ball. That is just how it goes."

While Myreon Jones has been a bright spot for Penn State offensively, his lone contributions at the guard spot are all the more noticeable as his teammates struggle. Coupled with point guard Jamari Wheeler's limited offensive game, the Nittany Lions have been reduced to forward Lamar Stevens as their most reliable asset, in particular as Mike Watkins struggles to find his footing against talented bigs.

The good news for Penn State is all of these players have seen the ball go through the hoop. It appears to be a matter of when it happens, not if. But in the meanwhile they'll keep plugging along.

"I'll get back in the gym tomorrow and shoot some more shots," Dread said. "I'll continue to play hard, play defense, rebounds, going down the floor, taking charges, and doing the little things and the ball will find its way into the basket." 



Ben Jones covers Penn State football and basketball for StateCollege.com. He's on Twitter as @Ben_Jones88.
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