Penn State Basketball: Trust And Learning, Shep Garner Headed Into Senior Season
Penn State basketball enters a pivotal seasons of the Pat Chambers era in less than a month. With it will come expectations, hype and anticipation. If the Nittany Lions make the postseason it might be the start of the newest phase in the program's history.
If not, it might be the start of a new era.
And one player who will be at the center of this chapter, senior guard Shep Garner who caught up with StateCollege.com on Thursday afternoon prior to practice.
Do you think much about the pressure that your coach is facing? Is that something you can avoid?
"We're closed off to everything here. Of course when you leave here you can't avoid it, but when we're in here, where we are most of the time, we don't think about that stuff. Just think about the years prior where we were like almost last, in the Big Ten. And every time we went out to play, we went out to play like we were going to win those games. Because of that, we're good at shutting off the outside world and we do a great job at it. So together, we've just got to make sure we're getting better every day. Because this team has great potential."
Did you learn about yourself last year?
"Yea, because last year you know, playing injured, trying to have a new role for the first time without the ball in my hand, having to learn how to play like that. It was rough, it was rough at first. After a while you learn how to play that way. And this summer I've done a lot of work and watched a lot of film on different players who play my position the way I want to play it. And I've gotten a lot better.
Similarly, do you think you put too much pressure on yourself last year?
"Sometimes that's natural. You're so used to doing certain things at certain times, and that's something you revert back to. But last year was a great learning experience, it taught me that you've got to be able to lean on your teammates. That when you're not playing that well you have lean on your teammates."
"And that was the first time that I've had to do that, I never had to do that. I wasn't used to it and you can see it. You watch the films from last year and you can see, you can see the difference between now and then. I'm grateful that I went through that because in the future, you're not going to play on teams that don't have great players, and you're going to have to lean on your teammates."
How much of that is a trust thing? You've always been the guy who gets the ball, and you might know that Tony (Carr) and Lamar (Stevens) are good, but you still have to trust them when you decide to make that pass.
"I think time, spending time together and building more relationships does that. I hadn't played with those guys in so long, and they come here and something different. But the time and the experience that last year brought, definitely grew a lot of trust, both ways. And this summer we put in a lot of work together. Together. We've been in the gym together, working out together, not individually."
Is it nice not to have to be the guy? To have a team that is this deep that you have those guys that you can lean on and take some of that pressure off of you?
"It's much easier that way. Even though they might go into a game and say 'Hey we have to stop 33' well now, no you don't. You can't just stop 33 you have to stop 11, you've got to stop 10, you've got to stop 24, you've got to stop 3. There are so many people that they've got to stop. Everybody right now has their job and their role, and now they just have to do it. That's it. You do your job and you do your role to the best of your abilities, and our team will be great. We establish roles and play them to the best of our abilities."