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Penn State Basketball: Chambers Hopeful for Closure, Banners and an Extension

by on March 20, 2020 2:00 PM

Penn State men's basketball coach Pat Chambers is hoping for a lot of things. An extension, some closure, some peace and that everyone just gets back to campus healthy.

It's hard to blame him for his emotions, nearly a decade of work turned in the NCAA Tournament berth that never was. His team may have stumbled to the finish line, but hope is eternal in the postseason, and the Nittany Lions had earned their shot as much as anyone.

"We were really excited about a new season, a new reset, a recalibration," Chambers said on Friday during a teleconference with the media. "I'm really proud of what we've done this year. Obviously, we're very disappointed about not hearing our name, and not seeing that selection show Sunday. Devastation would be a good word. But obviously, this is much bigger than basketball. This is about life, the way this coronavirus has taken over."

Throughout the call Chambers could be heard occasionally composing himself as the thoughts of what was and what could have been flowed through him. But as he admitted that he is still grieving, he also acknowledged that the program and his staff will continue to move forward.

And hopeful that his time at Penn State doesn't end when his contract does at the end of the 2021-22 season.

"I'm hopeful for an extension, hopeful that things will work out," Chambers said, adding that he and athletic director Sandy Barbour had been in talks prior to the season's end.

"Where the program is holistically, [Barbour] is incredibly fired up," Chambers added. "She said so. And I'm appreciative of Sandy and what she's done for me. There should be a case study here of being patient and sticking with somebody who saw on a daily basis the culture and the family atmosphere and the development of our program, of our staff and the direction we're headed in. She saw it, she believed in it and she trusted in it, and I'd like to thing Sandy is being rewarded for it."

Moving forward Chambers and his staff continue to recruit despite no in-person contact relative to the NCAA's mandates as it pertains to COVID-19. Chambers also meets with the entire team online through video messaging, trying to piece it all back together, trying to heal together, trying to move forward together.

Some of that healing will also involve celebration. While Penn State technically was not part of the NCAA Tournament since a field was never announced, there is hope that the Nittany Lions will still recognize themselves as what they were about to be: An NCAA Tournament team.

"We will [recognize the team as a tournament team] and I think that's fair." Chambers said, later referencing Penn State football's 2012 recognition at Beaver Stadium, a team of emotional importance to the program but no actual postseason accomplishments. "Put a year up on the banner, and do a stand alone banner, there's been ideas like that thrown around. Rings have been thrown around, to go through such a devastating, truly traumatic, thing...we were so looking forward to that, a new season of postseason play. The energy and excitement of being involved."

"We're definitely throwing around ideas of how to celebrate this group and celebrate these seniors and how hard they have worked." 

For now there will still be tears, still some sadness, still some regret. Chambers is hopeful for answers, wanting a bracket announced to make their accomplishment official.

As of Friday the NCAA has stated it won't announce a bracket for a handful of reasons, among them incomplete conference tournaments and an incomplete set of data.

Like so many coaches across the country Chambers is frustrated by that answer, but like so many things that have happened in the past week, there is nothing he can do about it either.



Ben Jones covers Penn State football and basketball for StateCollege.com. He's on Twitter as @Ben_Jones88.
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