Feb 5, 2013; University Park, PA, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions head coach Patrick Chambers reacts from the bench during the second half against the Purdue Boilermakers at the Bryce Jordan Center. Mandatory Credit: Matthew O

Don't Give Up On Penn State Basketball Just Yet

By now the news about Jermaine Marshall’s surprising move to forgo his senior season has circulated around the Penn State twitterverse. Marshall, who would’ve been a redshirt senior and one of the top returning scorers in the Big Ten, has decided to pursue a professional career overseas in order to help support his son and his family.

Marshall’s leadership, experience and shooting ability will definitely be missed. His 25-point performance in Penn State’s huge upset over Michigan was one of the best individual games in recent Penn State basketball history. He was expected to team up with Tim Frazier and D.J. Newbill to form one of the most formidable starting backcourts in the conference.

While Marshall’s departure is a huge blow to a team with pretty high expectations for this upcoming season, it does open up opportunities for other players. Geno Thorpe and Graham Woodward, who are two incoming freshmen guards, will certainly see increased roles on the team. Whether it’s actual playing time or contributing in other ways, these two will need to step up to help fill the void left from Marshall’s departure.

I’ve been high on Thorpe for a long time. I’ve been able to watch him play in-person twice and plan on watching him again on June 2 in a high school All-Star event that will feature some of the top high school players in the country. His on-ball defensive skills and his ability to drive and get in the paint are what make him a great player and a candidate to get significant playing time as a true freshman. He’s also not a bad shooter. It’s probably too much to think that Thorpe will become a starter this season, but who knows.

John Johnson will also help ease the loss of Marshall once he’s eligible to play. Obviously we haven’t gotten a very good look at what Johnson is capable of, but word is that he’s a great shooter and scorer. Hopefully that’s true and hopefully Johnson can become an offensive threat once he’s able to take the court. No more Marshall also frees up another scholarship. Maybe Chambers will be able to pick up a JUCO player in the super late signing period.

Once the news broke that Penn State will be without Marshall this season, my initial reaction was not a positive one by any means. But Penn State will get a huge boost with Frazier’s return (even if he’s not fully in 2011-2012 form) and Newbill will have more scoring chances without having to handle the ball all the time. Penn State basketball is familiar with the phrase “next man up” and Thorpe, Johnson and the other newcomers will have to do just that.

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