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Penn State Men’s Basketball: After Hot Night, Funk Looking to Keep Shooting Streak Going

DES MOINES, Iowa — As Andrew Funk walked off the court Thursday night having hit eight of his 10 attempts from beyond the arc against Texas A&M, the prevailing emotion was excitement. Your first-ever NCAA Tournament game in the books, a blowout win no less, and there you were in the middle of it all, living the dream and lighting up a stunned opponent from deep.

Texas A&M was a perfect team for the likes of Funk, a quick shooting three point specialists with unlimited range who is capable of scoring from anywhere with little to no time between the catch and the shoot. The Aggies were one of the nation’s worst at giving up the three, and it showed.

A day later a different emotion sits somewhere in the back of Funk’s head. Can he do that again?

“It would will be really cool to be able to do that forever,” Funk said with a laugh. “But what stays consistent is the confidence. That is really the only thing that can stay consistent. Like yeah, I expect to make eight out of 10 every game but like, I’m gonna have – like the Big Ten Championship [Funk went 0-5 from three in that game] I beat myself up because I feel like I let a lot of people down, but I’m still going to come out firing with confidence. The confidence game is the only thing that really doesn’t change. It’s realizing that Texas just saw me make the eight out of 10 threes – they’re probably not gonna let me do that. So what can I do? What else can I do to help my team lead and stuff like that?”

Of course there’s nothing saying Funk won’t do that again on Saturday night, but against a Texas team that is far better defending the three than their A&M counterparts, Funk knows that the looks won’t be as easy to come by. So when they do, he’ll have to make the most of them. The good news? The tournament can bring out the best in players and there’s nothing saying that Funk won’t continue to torch teams from the logo.

The bad news, or perhaps the dip back into reality is how hard it can be to find that sort of stroke multiple games in a row. So far this season Funk has made five or more attempts from beyond the arc on nine occasions. He has followed up those performances by making five or more threes in the very next game just once through eight attempts. On average Funk has put up a sub-30% shooting rate the next game following a 5+ make performance on five of the eight opportunities he has had to do so, averaging just two successful shots from deep over that span.

“I grapple with that [if it’s better to always be hot or just be more consistent on less volume] Like, I want to be more consistent,” Funk said. “This year has been a bit feast or famine for me, for sure. But from an alternate perspective, I also think that’s a weapon – how hot I can get. I think it’s more so managing the games where I am 1-for-whatever.”

Funk isn’t going to relent against Texas, a team prone to rushing players off the three-point line. And while he’s more than happy to still pull the trigger and let it fly, Funk will also keep an eye open for who might be the next best option to take the shot. That pass is a lot easier to make when you’re on a team full of players who can hit shots from beyond the arc. If you’re not open, just pass it to the shooter who is. In particular Seth Lundy, due for his moment, resting in his locker space just a few feet away.

And who knows, March is all about the unexpected so maybe Funk will go 9-for-10 on Saturday evening.