Furman and Penn State have taken care of business on the early part of their schedules. Now they get an early tip-off away from the comforts of home.
The teams meet Thursday in a pre-noon tip in the first round of the Charleston Classic in Charleston, S.C.
Penn State (3-0) will play away from home for the first time. Victories against Winthrop, Loyola (Md.) and Butler set the tone for the holiday trip.
Penn State coach Micah Shrewsberry has stressed defense and was pleased to see players bring that mindset to open the season for the Nittany Lions.
“We’re not giving people layups,” Shrewsberry said. “We’re making them take the shots we want them to take.”
Furman (2-0) has topped Division II North Greenville and also defeated Belmont.
“I think we can be one of the best teams that Furman has ever had this season,” Paladins forward Jalen Slawson said. “There’s no telling how good we can be.”
As part of its defensive-minded approach, Penn State has outrebounded all three opponents.
“We’ve made an emphasis for the team that rebounds are what we have to be successful in,” Shrewsberry said.
Offensively, the Nittany Lions have created better looks for Jalen Pickett, who produced the second triple-double in Penn State history in the Butler game.
“That’s the expectations that I have for him,” Shrewsberry said. “He’s adjusting as the game goes. There may be things he misses early on in the game, but he makes the switch pretty quickly after learning about it.”
Coach Bob Richey’s Furman team was 22-12 last season and motivated “to take that next step,” he said.
Slawson, a fifth-year player and the Southern Conference’s Defensive Player of the Year last season, grew up in Summerville, S.C., which is about 25 miles away from the tournament site. He needs 18 points to become the 50th Furman player to reach 1,000 career points.
This is the second Furman-Penn State meeting, with the Nittany Lions winning 12 years ago at home.
Both teams are assured Friday games in the second round of the tournament, meeting either Old Dominion or Virginia Tech.
–Field Level Media