Chambliss happy for Wisconsin opportunity

Senior guard transferred from Penn State and battled back from torn ACL

Senior guard Sharif Chambliss' face changes when asked about the future.

The grin that usually is a staple disappears and he becomes quite stoic.

But it is hard to blame him for choosing to focus on the present considering all it took to get him here.

After leaving Racine, Wis., to play for Penn State, he led the Nittany Lions in scoring both as a sophomore and a junior. He was also among the Big Ten's leaders in free-throw percentage and 3-pointers.

But the desire to be on a winning team began to tug at him. His junior year at PSU the Badgers won the Big Ten title outright after sharing it the year before, while the Nittany Lions went 2-14 in conference play.

Chambliss returned to Wisconsin, knowing that regulations stipulated he must sit out a season and that he would have to pay his own way, a sacrifice that impresses coach Bo Ryan. Then, as the 2003 season was drawing to a close and the Badgers were prepping for the NCAA Tournament, Chambliss was dealt another setback: a torn anterior cruciate ligament threatened to disrupt the senior year he had spent so much time working for.

Nonetheless, after rehab, Chambliss managed to make it back on the court, but he has had a season that has mirrored the ups-and-downs of the Wisconsin season.

"He might show that extra gear every once in a while," Ryan said. "For anyone who's ever gone through ACL surgery, they know…He's never complained about it. Never whined about it. He just competes."

Chambliss currently leads UW in assists with 2.9 per game while averaging only 1.3 turnovers per game, but at 8.0 points per game he is far below the 14.7 points he averaged in his last year at Penn State. However, Chambliss recognizes that his role on the team is not the same as what it was with the Nittany Lions.

"I just go out there and try to take care of the ball and keep the team moving smoothly," Chambliss said. "I think that's my job right now. It's not for me to go out and score like when I was at Penn State. I had to sacrifice, but that's what I wanted. I wanted to be on a winning team."

With Saturday's game the last one at the Kohl Center for Chambliss and four other seniors, there is not a whole lot of time for reflection as the Big Ten Tournament and the NCAA Tournament loom. For Chambliss, it allows a few more times to play the game he loves.

"I grew up a lot just being a year at Wisconsin and all the stuff I went through," Chambliss said. "If you don't sacrifice it's not worth anything in the end."

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