Penn State Basketball: Chambers Focused On Moving Forward After Loss
Penn State coach Patrick Chambers couldn't do anything but watch with his hands folded as the Nittany Lions missed 5-of-6 free throws in a single possession, falling, 68-64 to Nebraska on Saturday.
Down three with just more than 30 seconds to play in the game, a combination of a flagrant foul and a pair of shooting fouls gave the Nittany Lions six attempts from the line in a single possession. In total, each facing critical free throws, DJ Newbill, Ross Travis and Jermaine Marshall all missed from the line, with Newbill connecting on the Nittany Lions' only make.
For Penn State it's a cruel irony. The Nittany Lions have struggled in myriad ways this season; defense, and consistency on offense have shown their respective faces throughout Penn State's six-game losing streak. However as Newbill took to the line on Saturday, the Nittany Lions were ranked at the top of the conference in free throw percentage, a 73 percent rate that would have given Penn State 4-of-6 from the line and a one-point lead had it converted that season average.
With that in mind, Chambers looks at Penn State's full 40-minute effort rather than the final sequence of events.
"We didn't play hard in the first 20 minutes, I was shocked," Chambers said. "Absolutely shocked. We had two great practices and a short shoot around this morning. We were in a good place, good energy. We just came out and I don't know. I felt like they played tight and that they felt pressure. We created an environment of being loose, being confident. I've been saying all year long that you put people in the stands, cameras on, things change a little bit."
Following a game that saw Newbill and Marshall combined for more than 50 points against Michigan State, the two put together a 29-point performance, Marshall scoring all of his 18 points in the second half.
"Look, we just need production from other guys," Chambers said. "DJ and Jermaine are trying to do everything and they are playing the best guys on the other team. So you have to score 20 and then you have to defend the best guy on the other team."
"We need Brandon (Taylor) to be a sophomore and we need Sasa (Borovnjak) to be a 23-year-old senior. That's what we need. Whoever comes in off of the bench needs to get it done with energy with enthusiasm. They need to bring spark."
Penn State will need all the spark it can get as the Nittany Lions will travel next week to take on then-No. 2 Indiana. Keying in on Marshall and Newbill will likely be the focus in Bloomington much like it was for Nebraska on Saturday.
"The first thing was getting those two, cutting the head off the monster," Nebraska coach Tim Miles said. "Screen and role defense and than box out and rebound. I thought that we did a nice job of not letting those guys get a head of steam. They're so physical, they're great at going in and kind of seeking contact and bouncing you off and scoring the ball. They're really strong guys. That backcourt with (Tim) Frazier next year is going to be really good."
Even in the middle of a six-game losing streak, Chambers is looking ahead, leading by example as the Nittany Lions look to pick up the first, and most crucial, conference win.
"I would just say there are still a lot of games and practices left," Chambers said "It's a long season. We are on a marathon. We just need to come back Monday, prepare, get better and work on our fundamentals and habits. There's progress.
"I don't know if you guys see it, but I see progress with certain players. But we need to continue that progress. They can't feel sorry for themselves because no one else feels sorry for us. We just need to keep going out and working."