Penn State Basketball: Chambers Hopeful For Postseason And Nittany Lions Could Use It
Coaches can't recruit it. They never have enough of it. It slips away just as fast no matter what program is paying your bills. It's an asset and it's the biggest enemy. It's a gift and curse.
So as Penn State men's basketball enters what could be the final game of the season on Thursday in the first round of the Big Ten tournament. Coach Patrick Chambers is still holding out for a little more time with his 2013-14 Nittany Lions.
"I want to play in the postseason," Chambers said on Tuesday following practice. "If it's the CBI, the NIT, you never know it could be the NCAA Tournament. This team has earned the right to play in the postseason, they have. Some bad bounces, some bad luck, some crazy things that I've never seen. They deserve to play in the postseason so whatever happens this weekend I'm hoping that we're going to play next week."
In all likelihood the CBI Tournament is the most probable destination if Penn State is destined for postseason play. The NIT requires a .500 or better record which means Penn State will have to win at least two games in the Big Ten Tournament for an eventual loss to bring the Nittany Lions back to .500 on the year.
The NCAA Tournament still a possibility in theory but only through what would be essentially a cinderella run through the Big Ten Tournament and probably having to win the tournament title as well to secure an automatic bid. No team in the Big Ten is unbeatable, but bets aren't being placed in Vegas on Penn State's championship odds.
There is little doubt that on the surface the CBI has been something of an afterthought following its creation in 2007. The 16-team tournament is single elimination until the championship game which is decided by an un-basketball like best of three series to determine the winner.
But while winning the CBI may not alter the direction of the program, the additional practices could go a long way towards the development of Penn State's roster which is deceptively youthful despite so many familiar faces. A run to a CBI title game series that goes to Game 3 would add six games to Penn State's schedule and even more practices.
Don't think practices are a big deal? While at Penn State, Bill O'Brien's biggest disappointment in his team's bowl ban was not the lack of the actual game but the loss of 15 practices that would lead up to the game. That practice total equal to an entire session of spring practice. Coaches want to work with their team, and the more they can do it the better.
So for Chambers there is little doubt that he wants to see his team rewarded for its hard work and effort this season, but looking towards the future, it's undeniable that the team will benefit from every additional practice, game, and film session it can get.
"They deserve it but it's also great for your freshman and your sophomores," Chambers said. "It's more game speed, game time. Jordan Dickerson is a perfect example. He's needs more games, he needs more game speed. He's getting better. I thought he was one of the bright spots the other day. Geno Thorpe, I thought he was one of the bright spots the other day. We just need to finish strong here."
Are the Nittany Lions CBI material? Fellow Big Ten member Purdue entered the 2013 CBI with a 15-17 record, the same mark Penn State would have if the Nittany Lions fall on Thursday in the third meeting of the season with the Minnesota Golden Gophers. A not-all-that-impossible victory on Thursday would only improve that mark and Penn State's overall resume.
So while the the CBI may not bring with it the glitz and glamour, all Chambers wants is more time and that's what the CBI will give him.