Penn State will carry a little extra motivation into Wednesday's Big Ten Tournament opener against Nebraska in Chicago. The 13th-seeded Nittany Lions (16-15, 4-14) take on No. 12 seed Nebraska (13-17, 5-12) in first-round action at the United Center.
PSU is fresh off a stirring 79-76 victory at Minnesota, where senior D.J. Newbill buried a game-winning 3-pointer as time expired. With 31 points in the game, Newbill sealed the Big Tens' regular-season scoring crown (20.7 ppg).
Yet when the All-Big Ten awards were announced Monday night, the coaches and media left Newbill off the first team. He landed on the second team of both panels.
I'm disappointed for him and for our team because you take him off this team -- and I think that's what it's all about -- you take him off this team and who knows where we'd be? Lion coach Pat Chambers said. It wouldn't be pretty, though, I know that.
He does everything for us, Chambers added. He's the top person on everybody's scout, everybody schemes for him. And he still was the leading scorer in the Big Ten. And last year, what was he, top two?
Chambers was particularly surprised the coaches did not vote Newbill first team. As noted, he was the focal point of every opposing defense, often dealing with double and even triple teams.
Sometimes we listed to pundits, reporters and social media, and we let that sway our decisions, Chambers said.
Later he added, That's their prerogative, that's what they chose. We'll have to go out this week and prove them wrong.
Chambers said he was sure deep down inside Newbill cared about the snub. Predictably, though, Newbill downplayed it.
It's definitely a motivator, he said. But I can't got caught up in the accolades. Right now I'm still trying to focus on my team.
Chambers admitted that PSU's poor conference record hurt Newbill's chances of landing on the first team and I'll take some heat here, but noted that State's Tim Frazier won first-team honors after a four-win league campaign in 2012.
The snub, he said, led to a spirited, intense and highly spirited practice before the Lions left for Chicago Tuesday.
I think the team's upset for D.J., Chambers said.