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Chambers Era Kicks Off With 64-47 Win Over Slippery Rock

I don't think anything personified the start of the Chambers' Era more than Kevin Montminy's two minutes of playing time. The preferred freshman walk-on from nearby Penns Valley was determined to leave his mark on an exhibition contest that was all but over. With less than 20 seconds left and SRU in transition, Montminy ran down the Slippery Rock ball-handler and dove to knock the ball away. The deflection went out-of-bounds off Montminy, but that kind of all-out effort left an impression that Chambers' players will indeed run through a brick wall for him. 

In your typical, sloppy preseason exhibition, Penn State pulled away from the Rock to win 64-47. Tim Frazier expectedly led the way with 19 points, 7 assists, and 6 rebounds. Billy Oliver's new-found confidence was on display as he scored 16 points on 11 shots (including 4-8 from behind the arc). The rest of the numbers weren't particularly pretty, but plenty of hustle plays and deflections helped PSU force 25 turnovers and grab 13 steals. For practice, I ran the tempo-free numbers from the game:

Team Poss Score PPP eFG% TO% OReb% FT Rate
SRU 61 47 0.77 52.6% 41.0% 33.0% 28.2%
PSU 61 64 1.05 46.5% 14.8% 34.3% 28.1%

From looking over the numbers, obviously PSU won the game by forcing turnovers at a ridiculous rate, while everything was pretty even across the board. SRU had a great shooting percentage, but with all of their turnovers, they took 18 less shots than PSU in the game. PSU played primarily man in the halfcourt with some zone sets mixed in sporadically. They also showed many 1-2-2 3/4 zone press looks that forced a few turnovers. 

Another key observation from the game was the constant subbing from the PSU bench. Chambers switched up his lineup at nearly every break in the action. He made a total of 20 substitutions in the first half alone. For those math saavy at home, that's a substitution a minute. Obviously this is a polar opposite from Ed's 6 or 7 man bench. The starters were Frazier, Cam Woodyard, Matt Glover, Oliver, and Jon Graham, but Woodyard and Graham only played 13 and 11 minutes respectively.

A surprise for some could have been Nick Colella's extensive playing time (20 minutes). With Woodyard just back from his surgery and Marshall still suspended, PSU is a little thin in the backcourt at the moment. But to Colella's credit, he's a pretty good player in his own right (scored 4 points and grabbed 4 rebounds yesterday). I was impressed with both Colella and Montminy's competitiveness in the practice I saw. They will play if there are setbacks, and I wouldn't immediately write them off as incapable players at this level. 

Regardless, Chambers' settled on a 9-man rotation during the game. The frontcourt consisted of Oliver, Ross Travis, Graham, and Sasa Borovnjak. Peter Alexis didn't play and Pat Ackerman logged just one minute at the end of the contest. Usually two of the four were on the floor together, but there were times Ross Travis was at the 3. Sasa looked great in his first action back from the ACL tear scoring 6 points in 13 minutes. He showed he still has his mid-range shooting touch, but also displayed a couple of nice post-moves. Travis played 27 minutes and was on the floor at least 5 separate occasions going after loose balls and rebounds. And a tip of the hate to Oliver for taking 3 or 4 charges. 

Frazier was the one constant in the backcourt as he likely will be all year. He looked more confident and put up 16 shots, something that would have been unthinkable last season. Trey Lewis looked good in his 25 minutes (I guess his ankle is fine), scoring 10 points with 2 steals and no turnovers. Matt Glover was a little shaky offensively, but he made some plays on defense with 3 steals. Colella and Woodyard rounded out the rotation. For most of the game there were three guards on the floor. 

There's not too much you can't take from an exhibition like this one, but if the guys continue to play as hard as they did yesterday, they will make it easy to root for them.