In this day and age, having a brand name basketball program is essential to maintaining success. In just a few days, new Penn State men’s basketball coach Patrick Chambers has taken a huge step towards establishing a Penn State basketball brand.
Attitude. Success with honor. Passion. Energy. Heart.
Pat Chambers is giving Penn State basketball the face lift it has so dearly needed. Like a politician, Chambers is proposing solutions for everything that has plagued the program over the past several coaching regimes.
Chambers’ forte is his passion for the game of basketball and his ability to instill that very same passion into his players. At today’s press conference at the Bryce Jordan Center, Chambers reiterated his desire to motivate his players by saying to former Penn State coach Bruce Parkill, “I hope my teams play with the type of passion that yours did.” In basketball terms, Chambers has stated his goal of transitioning Penn State into an up-tempo team, “We are going to play up-tempo,” he told SID Brian Siegrist when he arrived in State College yesterday, “We are going to push the ball. We have a great point guard in Tim Frazier.” Without hard evidence (KenPom.com is currently down) Chambers’ BU teams were generally known for their ability to score and run over the past two seasons, even in the low scoring America East.
In addition to changing Penn State’s style of play, Chambers plans to install a blue collar attitude into his players, “We’re going to play a style that you’re going to like. We’re going to get layups. We’re going to defend and we’re going to rebound. We’re going to scrap for every inch.” Think of Danny Morrissey in the NIT Championship combined with Jamelle Cornley and his wrapped shoulder – I’d like to think that is what Chambers is aiming for.
Off the court, Pat Chambers seems to be everything Ed DeChellis was and more, “We’re going to be out there and help the area.” On the recruiting trails, I wouldn’t expect any recruiting violations or many bad eggs either, “Success with Honor is our motto. We will recruit kids that are serious about their degrees and will be good representatives of Penn State.” If there is one thing that is a given with a Tim Curley hire, its a solid person outside of his or her profession.
The first major Mount Nittany that Chambers has to climb is the apparent recruiting struggle that Penn State basketball is entrenched in. Without a natural recruiting base (rural Pennsylvania is known for its football players, not hoopsters), Penn State is destined to mine Philadelphia, New Jersey, New York, Pittsburgh and the New England region for recruits, just ask Chambers, “We’re gonna recruit Jersey hard. We’re gonna recruit New York hard. We’re gonna recruit D.C. hard,” said Chambers to Dave Jones of the Patriot News last Friday. “Wherever the players are that fit The Penn State Way, that’s where we’re gonna be,” he continued. Chambers rehashed the importance of recruiting today to a well populated Bryce Jordan Center audience, “We have to recruit. We have to get the best players we can so we can compete in the Big Ten. Really bring in that new attitude.” Chambers’ playing (Philadelphia University) and coaching (Villanova asst.) ties to Philadelphia are a major head start, but his work will be cut out for him. That being said, I don’t think Chambers will stop at any obstacle, he revealed Philadelphia as his main target to Dave Jones last Friday, “We are going to get into Philadelphia. We’re gonna recruit Philadelphia hard.”
While Chambers has yet to hit the recruiting trail for Penn State, his track record speaks for itself. Boston University’s 2010-11 team contained six players from Pennslyvania (two from Phildelphia), two from New York, one from Delaware and one from Massachusetts. Only two Terriers were from outside the Northeast (Washington state, Florida). Additionally, Chambers had two recruits in the 2011 class, one from Massachusetts and one from Connecticut set to join the team. While at Villanova, Chambers played a role in recruiting local talents like Reggie Redding, Corey Fisher and Corey Stokes.
Yet another task that Pat Chambers is determined to overcome is general support for the program. He seems to be taking it in stride, “I’m going to ask Coach Washington [Penn State women's basketball] for her golf cart, and I’m going to drive around and throw out t-shirts and stuff. Whatever we’re allowed to do, we’re going to do.” Chambers continued by conjuring the dreary atmospheres of Bryce Jordan Centers past by emphasizing the importance of coming out for every game, “We need to get the BJC rocking. We need you to come out, not just for the big games, but for all the games.” Lets be real, if Nittany Nation doesn’t even want to watch Penn State take on Mount St. Mary’s, Sacred Heart, UMBC and Gardner-Webb, how can we expect the players to play them with everything they’ve got?
While the fan support isn’t quite there yet, I don’t think the overplayed (yet valid) card of poor facilities and lack of support can be played this time around. Penn State president Graham Spanier gave his mandatory support for Chambers by reassuring that he “will have the unconditional support from the administration and the Penn State community.” Chambers answered the claim by verifying the love and support he has already received from Penn State, “we have eveyerthing we need. Great arena, great offices.” While this cordial exchange can be marked down as typical for a press conference, Chambers is already scheduled to visit Penn State recruit Trey Lewis (Garfield Heights, Ohio) via plane. That is some concrete evidence of change, people.
Most importantly, Pat Chambers is bringing something to Penn State that is difficult to describe. Chambers has an aura, a determination, a positive vibe about him that breathes hope into a program that despite its NCAA Tournament bid last season had collected a fair amount of dust. Chambers hopes that his breath of hope will resonate the Penn State athletics catch phrase of “Success with Honor”. As Chambers put it today, “The foundation is there, the bricks have been laid. We need to continue on that path of consistency.” In just a few short days, a charismatic Chambers has clearly laid out before Penn State and its supporters what he plans to do. The next step is putting these plans into action and succeeding, something that hasn’t been done on a consistent basis in Happy Valley.
Ed DeChellis produced ‘honorable’ basketball teams that were rarely the most talented on the court but were never something that reflected poorly on the University – he fell just short of the ‘success’ part.
“The goal is to be the best team that we can be.”
Chambers wants to finish the job.
“Play hard and play together and you’ll like the outcome – trust me.“