Penn State Basketball: Big Ten Media Day An Example Of Challenges Ahead
Penn State basketball coach Patrick Chambers probably saw it coming.
Big Ten media day is really for the top dogs in the league to give a short state of the union address. So when Penn State's third year head man was asked only two questions during his turn at the podium it wasn't a surprise that Chambers ignored the water given out to each coach as they sit down in front of the assembled media. Unlike most of his counterparts, he wasn't going to be talking that much.
By comparison, Penn State's local media day was well-attended and full of questions. But the tune on Thursday morning was the echoing of the same expectations the conference has had for Penn State basketball for most of the past ten years.
"We don't expect much from you."
Of the few words Chambers did say, noting the fresh start the program gets this season was probably his most important.
"What I would say is new beginnings for us," Chambers said in his opening statement. "I look forward to new beginnings. Our record doesn't indicate how hard these guys have worked.”
In many respects this season is really Chambers' second attempt at a second year. The loss of then-senior guard Tim Frazier so early last season sent everything off the rails. An upset of Top 5 ranked Michigan was a large -- but singular -- highlight to an otherwise long season. Chambers had his players giving a great effort every single night, but hard work can only do so much to counteract and reverse the unofficial physics of losing in sports.
With Frazier healthy and a mixture of veterans like DJ Newbill and Ross Travis and young talent, Penn State has more depth than ever before under Chambers. It's not the fast track to a conference title, but the pieces are there to surprise people.
“I think DJ learned so much about the point guard position in general, and now you’ve got two guys that can make plays for teammates. You can’t just focus on one of them," Chambers said. "DJ has great appreciation for the point guard position and what Tim does. With Tim coming back healthy, what we’ve done, we did a foreign tour, we’ve had those guys playing together since the first practice, because we need them to learn to play together.
“(The freshman) compete every day in practice. We’re gonna need them. I haven’t had much depth in the last two years, and I think we’re going to have some depth. We have healthy competition in practice, and it’s exciting to see.”
There is reason for fans to be excited and there are also plenty of reasons to wait and see how the season starts out before making bold predictions.
Either way, if Thursday is any indication Penn State is firmly under the radar. Chambers is just hoping that when the Nittany Lions make their opponents' radar it's as a challenge not a formality.