Post-season: The 2018-19 Roster

 

Senior Shep Garner, Penn State’s all-time three-point leader, and sophomore Tony Carr, Penn State’s leading offensive player, are leaving Penn State — hopefully for successful professional careers.

For a program that hopes it has achieved a higher, sustainable level of play, these are significant departures.

Using Bart Torvik’s tempo-free numbers at T-rank, Shep and Tony accounted for 39% of Penn State’s offense in 2018-19:

Min% * ORTG * USAGE  % of PSU Offense
Tony Carr 27.5 25.91%
Shep Garner 14.1 13.27%
Lamar Stevens 21.2 19.99%
Mike Watkins 11.6 10.90%
Josh Reaves 17.6 16.56%
Jamari Wheeler 4.3 4.05%
Nazeer Bostick 6.3 5.94%
John Harrar 1.9 1.83%
Satchel Pierce 1.6 1.55%
106.2 100.00%

Losing two high-minutes, high-usage, highly effective guards would seem to put a lot of pressure on 2017-18 reserves Naz Bostick and Jamari Wheeler, and on two incoming freshmen, Myles Dread and Rasir Bolton.

All four were expected to contribute next season, but they would have undoubtedly been able to slip into their roles more comfortably with junior  Tony Carr running the show from the point.

With the roster as it stands today, Torvik Projects:

Min% * ORTG * USAGE
% of PSU Offense
Lamar Stevens 23.2 21.98%
Mike Watkins 20.2 19.17%
Josh Reaves 15.5 14.69%
Nazeer Bostick 11.8 11.13%
Jamari Wheeler 8.8 8.31%
Myles Dread 7.9 7.50%
Rasir Bolton 6.0 5.68%
John Harrar 5.5 5.23%
Satchel Pierce 4.1 3.85%
Daniil Kasatkin 2.6 2.46%
105.6 100.00%

That 2019 projection has Penn State at No. 37 nationally, a drop from its 2017-18 No. 18 finish.

The good?:

Penn State started the 2017-18 season projected at No. 49, so it climbed throughout the season to a higher position from an even lower spot.

The bad?:

Most “eyeballs” analysis of college basketball calls guard play especially important, and experienced Shep Garner and Tony Carr in the backcourt would seem to be a much better starting spot than starting with reserves Jamari Wheeler, Naz Bostick and two true freshmen.

With Penn State reportedly active in the grad transfer market, the conventional wisdom would suggest that it should be prioritizing a guard.

As he seems to be to the fan bases of virtually every other college program with a hint of interest, Joe Cremo is a great fit for Penn State’s situation: A shooting guard with a ton of experience, a high three-point-shooting percentage and a high assist ratio.

Indeed, adding Cremo to the Penn State lineup pushes Penn State up to pre-season No. 24 – a 13-slot improvement. It breaks down this way:

Min% * ORTG * USAGE
% of PSU Offense
Lamar Stevens 22.3 20.52%
Mike Watkins 19.6 18.03%
Josh Reaves 15.2 13.96%
→ Joe Cremo  14.6 13.40% 
Jamari Wheeler 9.2 8.44%
Nazeer Bostick 8.7 8.00%
Myles Dread 6.5 6.01%
Rasir Bolton 5.8 5.34%
John Harrar 4.1 3.75%
Satchel Pierce 2.8 2.55%
108.9 100.00%

 

2018-19 Projected ADJ. OE ADJ. DE PYTH RK
Current Roster 111.5 95.3 0.8331 37
+ Cremo 114.7 95.5 0.8666 24

So, yes, adding Cremo would be huge for Penn State.

Penn State is also said to be involved with Illinoi grad transfer Michael Finke, a 6-10 stretch-forward type (who Penn State fans should be very familiar with).

And, as Clark Kellogg pointed out during this year’s NCAA tournament, “There’s a lot of different ways to get to a good result.”

Plugging Finke into next year’s lineup has a similar positive effect on Penn State’s projections for next year:

Min% * ORTG * USAGE
% of PSU Offense
Lamar Stevens 22.3 20.39%
Mike Watkins 19.5 17.77%
Josh Reaves 16.0 14.61%
Michael Finke 13.8 12.60%  
Jamari Wheeler 9.2 8.38%
Nazeer Bostick 9.2 8.39%
Myles Dread 6.9 6.30%
Rasir Bolton 5.8 5.31%
John Harrar 4.1 3.73%
Satchel Pierce 2.8 2.53%
109.6 100.00%
2018-19 ADJ. OE ADJ. DE PYTH RK
Current Roster 111.5 95.3 0.8331 37
+ Finke 114.1 94.5 0.8732 22

Obviously, a ton of assumptions are baked into all these scenarios. But as we move into the late-signing period (and crazy time for college rosters), it is important to recognize that a lot of things can happen, and that there are a lot of ways to win (and lose) college basketball games.*


* Another example: Pitt grad transfer Ryan Luther would project Penn State to 21. Penn State has not been reported to be involved with Luther.