Pat Chambers is about to enter his sixth season at the helm of the Penn State basketball program. And for his first five years in Happy Valley, his stated expectations for the program were always the same.
Namely, for the Nittany Lions to be the best team they could be at the end of the year. He said it so often it became kind of a running joke whenever PSU gathered for its preseason Media Day.
Media Day for season No. 6 of the Chambers’ era was held Wednesday at the Jordan Center. And he did not mentioned the end-of-the-year business until someone else brought it up.
With the top recruiting class in school history now part of the program — as well as a redshirt freshman big man (Mike Watkins) who wowed the staff in practice last season and a veteran transfer from UConn (Terrence Samuel) now eligible to play — there is finally a buzz about Nittany Lion hoops.
And Chambers is doing nothing to quell it.
“There’s no limits on this team,” he said. "There’s gonna be expectations — and there’s never been expectations before — (so) let’s enjoy it, let’s have fun with it. That’s been the mantra.”
Chambers’ record to date at Penn State is 114-119. The Lions went 16-16 last season, marking their second-straight year of finishing .500 or better.
Chambers pointed out that the expectations he mentioned were not necessarily his own.
“I’m saying what all of you kind people (the media) are saying, what the social media world is saying,” he said. “It’s not a bad thing. It’s a great thing. I’m actually embracing it. I’m loving it. That’s where we need to be. We want those expectations.”
For Chambers, the key for his young team is not to worry about the past and not to look too far into the future. There are no seniors on the active roster and only four juniors.
“I think this is a brand new team of younger guys that are extremely talented and eager and buying in and want to be coachable,” he said. “So I’ve been really focused on them. Staying in the moment. To be fearless in this approach.”
And what does that mean when it comes to communicating with his team? Well … you might already have guessed it.
“For me, inside my locker room, we just need to be the best team we can be by the end of the year,” Chambers said. “And for the years that I’ve been here, we’ve done that. We have to be better than we were last year.”
With true freshman Joe Hampton abruptly leaving the program recently, Penn State finds itself with an available scholarship for the Class of 2017. The Lions previously had no grants available for this recruiting cycle.
But Chambers said he will not spend it in November’s early signing period. Instead, the staff wants to keep it open in case a transfer possibility presents itself
If not, Chambers will likely stash the scholarship for the Class of 2018.null