Sure, it was only an exhibition game and did not count for any type of record purposes.
Yes, it was a Division-II school pit up against a Division-I Penn State team.
And of course, the Lock Haven University men’s basketball team was not expected to win. The Bald Eagles fell 91-65 to the Nittany Lions at the Bryce Jordan Center last Friday.
However, if you talked to Lock Haven head coach Mike Nestor, his squad got everything out of that experience that they wanted to.
“We broke it down into three categories for our guys,” said Nestor. “We wanted them to be competitive throughout the entire game and really get after it and play our style.
“We wanted them to improve on the week before with the previous scrimmage. The third part, and the most important one, was we really wanted them to enjoy that experience.”
Redshirt freshman Amir Hinton certainly enjoyed the experience of playing at the Bryce Jordan Center as he scored 32 points on 10-20 shooting, going 3-7 from behind the arch and 9-10 from the line.
Hinton also tied for the Lock Haven team lead in rebounds with four while also leading the team with four assists and 37 minutes played.
“He has all the tools to be a very special player,” said Nestor, who spoke highly of the second year player who is seeing his first action this year.
“Since I’ve been here, obviously Wali Hepburn was a very special player here. He has all those intangibles. There is always room for improvement, for sure, but he has the ability to do it.”
Hepburn was achieved All-American honors during his Lock Haven career.
“Skill level, he’s at a very high level.”
Hinton dazzled with a series of tough threes in the first half, while also showing the ability to get to the line and get his teammates involved.
“He can create his own shot, he can put the ball on the floor, he can knock down open threes, he’s a good foul shooter.”
“His ceiling is very high and it’s just a matter of putting it all together on the floor.”
The Bald Eagles are a bit of a undersized team this year, with their tallest player being six feet, seven inches. On top of the lack of size, the roster includes 10 new players this year, eight of whom are freshman. That’s a giant roster turnover from last season.
Nestor noted how the size could end up being a concern at time and the biggest thing he preaches to his team is rebounding, rebounding, rebounding.
In regards to having a young team, in college basketball, the need to adapt each season can be very difficult. Nestor is experiencing those challenges head-on this year.
“This being my sixth year here and this probably being the first big, new group we’ve had over the past couple years, we want to challenge our guys and push them as much as possible.
“Also, understanding there’s going to be a lot of room for improvement as we go along.”
Strong starts followed by a sort-of falling-off towards the end of the season have plagued Lock Haven in recent years. Nestor thinks this year is going to be the opposite, and that path begins Friday as the regular season kicks off in Shippensburg against Penn State Fayette.
“I think we are going to have some struggles early on because we are so young and so new.
“But if they stay with the gameplan, I think we are going to improve each week and that’s where you want to be when December and January rolls around, playing your best basketball.”
Photo: By Tim Barnhart