Penn State Basketball: Stevens Seeing Court Well Despite Defensive Pressure
Lamar Stevens gets doubled, a lot.
In fact it's pretty much the default setting for Big Ten teams facing the Nittany Lions and their all-conference forward. Considering that it took until Monday night for Penn State to pick up its first Big Ten win of the year, it's hard to argue that the method hasn't worked, albeit just one of may factors that have played into the accumulating losses.
Whatever the case might be a basic principle of basketball still applies, if two players are covering one guy, someone else is open.
And this is where Stevens' game has grown, the junior has racked up 10 assists over the past two outings, equalling his entire total for the previous five. Double him and more often than not he's making the right pass.
"When I started getting doubled early in the season, I texted Coach Chambers and Coach Urgo and said that I wanted to watch film so i could make the right play," Stevens said on Tuesday afternoon. "And we did that and I think that really paid off."
Stevens was particularly strong on Monday as the Nittany Lions finally got over the hump, beating Northwestern 59-52 as he registered a career-high six assists.
And actually making those passes, that's all about trust.
"Just having my teammates getting into the open spots for me so I can make the right play and we can really take advantage of the opportunity," Stevens said. "Everything in basketball is about trust, you've got to be a good teammate, whenever you see a teammate getting doubled or in a tough situation you always want find an open spot and they trust me to make the right play."
So far Stevens has.
In he big picture, Stevens is having just about as good of a year as anyone in recent Penn State history. He's averaging 18.9 points a game to go with 7.7 rebounds and 2.2 assists. That's on par, if not slightly more well-rounded than his predecessors, particularly impressive considering he's the only forward on a list of guards.
(The best season of each player's career)
- Lamar Stevens: 18.9 points, 7.7 rebounds, 2.2 assists
- Tony Carr: 19.6 points, 4.9 rebounds, 6.2 assists
- DJ Newbill: 20.7 points, 4.7 rebounds, 3.1 assists
- Tim Frazier: 18.8 points, 4.7 rebounds, 6.2 assists
- Talor Battle: 20.2 points, 4.4 rebounds, 2.9 assists
This season may not have gone how Stevens would have liked so far, but if his game only continues to improve and his teammates make their shots, Monday night's win might not be the last of the year.