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New PSU men’s basketball coach emphasizes defense

From Mirror reports

UNIVERSITY PARK — Though new Penn State basketball coach Micah Shrewsberry served as offensive coordinator at Purdue, he pledged a defensive focus with the Nittany Lions.

“We have to be a great defensive team,” Shrewsberry said during his introductory press conference Tuesday. “If you go through the (Big Ten) stats, the top seven defensive teams made the (NCAA) tournament.

“Unless you have an elite offensive team, like Gonzaga, that (defense) has to be your mindset.”

Shrewsberry, 44, spent the last eight years of his career under Matt Painter at Purdue and Brad Stevens of the Boston Celtics.

“Two of the best and I’m forever grateful,” he said. “I learned so much from them.”

Six Nittany Lions entered the NCAA transfer portal following Shrewsberry’s appointment.

He said Tuesday he welcomes them to stay, and guard Izaiah Brockington has confirmed he’s returning.

“I’ve talked to every single one of the guys that have entered, and we are actively trying to get them back,” Shrewsberry said. “We’re talking about them, we’re having conversations face-to-face, over Zoom, on FaceTime. But we are actively recruiting as well. And my goal is to have a great team in place when it’s time to tip off next season. That’s what we’re striving to do.”

Late Tuesday night, Jamari Wheeler, one of the PSU players in the portal, announced on Twitter that he’s committing to Ohio State.

Sandy Barbour, PSU athletic director, said she discussed the possibility of players leaving with Shrewsberry during the interview process.

“I always believed that regardless of our situation, there was going to be lots of athlete movement across men’s basketball,” Barbour said. “I talked to Micah about it in the process, and he pointed out, it’s all about relationships.”

Barbour said she spoke with “hundreds of people” about candidates after Pat Chambers resigned under pressure in October and was replaced by interim coach Jim Ferry.

Barbour said the search was to find “the right leader” to create “sustained success” with the goal to compete for a Big Ten title.

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