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Enthusiastic PSU hoops coach Chambers likes direction of program heading into second season
August 20, 2012 - Cory Giger
TIPTON -- Year one is always a crazy, hectic time for a college coach, and Patrick Chambers did just about everything as well as he could during his first season in charge of Penn State's basketball program.
He brought an enormous amount of energy and enthusiasm.
He and his staff coached up a team that didn't have great talent, and he believes they got the most out of the players and the squad.
He has represented the program and the university well, both as a basketball coach and as a prominent figure in the athletic department in the aftermath of the Jerry Sandusky scandal.
In year two and beyond, Chambers hopes to continue to do all of those things, plus most importantly put out a product that's better than last season's 12-20 record (4-14 in Big Ten).
"We should be better," Chambers, talking about this season, told a group of PSU supporters Monday at DelGrosso's Amusement Park.
"We've got to win some close games. We've got to win a game on the road. That's got to be our goal. And if it's 15-18 or 18-15, whatever that may be, we've still got to get better on the road, and we've got to win more games in the Big Ten."
To help that cause this season, Chambers unabashedly boasted of having "the best backcourt in the country" in point guard Tim Frazier and Southern Miss transfer D.J. Newbill. Whether that duo can live up to the coach's hype is questionable, but those two will at least be counted on to lead the Nittany Lions.
The bigger question for Chambers is what he can do for the long haul to make Penn State a viable contender in the Big Ten year in and year out. He believes the program is already on its way to that goal, and it all begins with recruiting better overall talent from the northeastern corridor.
"I think we've definitely made some inroads," Chambers said. "I think [other programs] are now worried about us, where in the past they may have not been worried about us."
Asked if that includes traditional Eastern powers such as Syracuse, Georgetown, Connecticut and others, Chambers gave an honest reply.
"I wouldn't say that -- the top five in the Big East, the top five in the ACC," he said. "But that six to 10, they're starting to hear Penn State a little bit more often than they've heard in the past."
That's at least a start. But simply having Penn State in the picture for top recruits won't be good enough.
To take a big step, Chambers said the Lions need a major recruit to "take a chance and say, 'I want to go there.'"
That's where things get into the chicken and egg scenario. Penn State needs a big-time player or two in order to become a major factor, but such recruits may not be willing to commit to the Lions until they prove they are indeed a factor.
"We need a kid that -- when we're going up against Georgetown, Maryland, Villanova -- to say, 'You know what, that's the right place for me, they're going to turn it around, I want to be a part of that,'" Chambers said.
One issue for Penn State basketball in the past has been whether the school's administration has been totally on board with providing everything the program needs to be successful. Chambers said that is not an issue now, particularly important in light of the NCAA's $60 million fine from the Sandusky scandal.
"Full support," Chambers said of the administration. "I'm still recruiting the same way I've always recruited. Nothing's changed. They've haven't pulled anything from me, they haven't cut anything. I have my budget, it's my budget. We're full steam ahead."
Chambers was not hired by acting athletic director Dave Joyner -- he was hired by Tim Curley -- but said he does have a very good relationship with his boss.
One thing that could only help the basketball program -- and all of PSU's athletic programs -- would be deciding sooner rather than later if Joyner will be the long-term AD or if someone else will be hired.
"I'd love to see Dave take that acting term off so he can really dive in and start to put his stamp on some things and his leadership, so we can follow his direction and his vision," Chambers said. "He has vision. He has what it takes to be an AD.
"It's whether the Board wants that or whoever is making those decisions will want to move forward with that."
BTN will air its hour-long PSU preview show tonight at 10. The BTN crew was on hand for practice Monday.
Patrick Chambers also was at football practice Monday and said, "They look really good, and they are competing at a high level." Chambers added, "[Quarterback] Matt McGloin looked great," while also noting the offense got the better of the defense.