Penn State endured plenty of ups and downs during Micah Shrewsberry’s first season as the leader of the program. That’ not uncommon for a first-year head coach, looking to implement a new culture and new philosophy.

After finishing the season below .500 and receiving the No. 11 seed in the B1G Tournament, the Nittany Lions found a way to make a run. They defeated Minnesota in the Round 1 matchup and defeated Ohio State on the second day in Indianapolis.

On Friday, Penn State hung tough with No. 3 seed Purdue, but didn’t have enough firepower to make it to the weekend, falling 69-61 in the quarterfinals.

Seniors John Harrar and Jalen Pickett were major factors in Penn State’s success this week in Indianapolis. Harrar averaged a double-double over the three days at 11 points and 11 rebounds per contest. Pickett was the high-volume scorer, averaging 18 points per game, including a 22-point performance vs. Minnesota.

Following the game, Shrewsberry reflected on the opportunity to coach Harrar and Pickett for a full season. He couldn’t hide his emotion.

“I did a Zoom call with these guy (when I was hired) and I told them, ‘I can’t get on this Zoom call and tell you I love you guys. We’re gonna do great. … I don’t even know you.’ That’s fake, that’s phony,” Shrewsberry said. “But being here for a year and being able to coach (Harrar) and being able to coach Jalen — what they’ve done, not just for this week, the entire season — I love these two dudes. I love these two dudes. I’ll go to war with them any day of the week. I appreciate everything they’ve done for this program.”

Penn State finished the year with a 14-17 record. Maybe the first year didn’t go quite the way anyone wanted, but Shrewsberry says the future is bright in Happy Valley.

“We’re going somewhere. This program is going somewhere,” he said. “And the guys — maybe their impact wasn’t great, all of them, but the people that are Penn State supporters are never going to forget those guys’ names. Ever. I’ll make sure of that because they deserve it. Because of how they fought, what they did. When the chips were down, every single time, they answered the bell and they responded.”