Penn State held the Media Day Press Conference today and coach Chambers was very optimistic about the team that he has to work with. Entering his sixth year with the Nittany Lions, he has never had the depth that is on the current roster. Here’s some of the topics that were brought up today.
Concerning the team’s preparation for the upcoming season:
It’s going to be very challenging, the non-conference schedule, and the guys are looking forward to it. I’m looking forward to it. We are going to have a lot of fun with it. We are going to be prepared when the Big Ten season approaches.
On what it is going to take to get the most out of the team:
Buying into what Penn State basketball is all about. Defending, rebounding, doing the right things on and off the floor. Excelling in the classroom. I’m really excited about this group. And what potential it has. There’s great potential and that word can sometimes be a little bit scary for us coaches. But there’s a lot of talent on this team. As long as they stay connected, the future’s going to be really bright for Penn State basketball.
On the integration of the new players:
You know it’s high school to the Big Ten. Right? That’s a leap. That’s a jump. So I think this summer session that we had and the fall preseason that we had kind of gave them an indication of what to prepare for and how hard practice would be. I think they’re adapting. There’s got to be a consistent effort every single day.
On which of the newcomers has stood out most in the early going:
I’m not going to say that he’s a newcomer but he’s eligible to play this year and that’s Mike Watkins. He’s doing a great job. Running the floor, rebounding, blocking shots, catching everything. And you’ll notice when we start playing games that he’s one of the best passers that we have on the team. So to have a big man who can catch everything, finish strong and a great passer. It’s something the fans and Penn Staters are really going to enjoy.
On Terrence Samuel:
Terrence can bring a toughness that we sorely need. He can bring leadership. He’s been there. He’s done it. He’s been a part of a national championship team. So he can constantly remind the guys in the locker room what it’s going to take to get to that level of consistency, sustainability, success day in and day out. I’ve tapped into that already. He’s been truly doing a great job as far as that. But he’s also going to push Shep off the ball a little bit so he doesn’t have to bring the ball up the court for 37 minutes, which can tire anybody out.
On the role that Shep Garner will fill as a team leader:
Shep knew coming into this year with Brandon, Jordan and Don graduating that he would have to step up into a leadership role. He has done a really good job of taking his time with that. You know sometimes we want to just jump into it, become a leader. Really what does that mean? There’s a process to that. The guys have got to trust you. They’ve got to believe in you. You have to be one of the hardest workers. And it doesn’t have to be vocal all the time, it can be just actions.
On the deep roster and the team’s rotation:
We want to play ten guys right now, that’s the goal. We may put a starting five out there but it’s really a starting ten. We’ve got to figure out the right first lineup and then the right second lineup. And I think as coaches, that’s our job to marry guys up together that play well together. That can work well together. We have not chosen a starting team. We’ve really had some healthy competition. Maybe next week I’ll put together our five with a rotation so that everyone understands when their minutes are coming. So that there’s a comfort level so it’s like, ‘I know when I’m going in.’
On Lamar Stevens:
You know it’s funny. Lamar and I spoke the other day. He said, ‘remember when I said I had to play the 3? Man, was I really immature or what?’ He goes, ‘This is awesome. I just want to play. And the fact that I’m playing multiple positions, that gives me more opportunity for playing time.’ He’s playing the three, the four and even the five in a pinch. We’re moving him all over the place and he has earned it. He’s strong. He’s 6’7, 220. Freakish athlete. Shooting the ball much better than I remember in high school. Really going out hard and making mistakes, and allowing us to coach him, which I think is huge. He’s receptive to coaching. He’s a ballplayer. He just wants to be on the floor.
On Davis Zemgulis:
He missed the whole summer last year and this year he was here for both the first and second summer sessions. He’s in unbelievable shape, he’s right around 215, feels great. He loves this style of play, doesn’t mind playing the small forward. Most importantly he’s seeing the ball go into the basket. You know, shooting percentages weren’t the best last year. I think he shot 5 of 7 from three a couple of practices ago. He’s rebounding the ball. I think Davis becomes very important to us at that small forward spot. He’s going to see his minutes increase tremendously.
On Payton Banks:
He wants to help this team. He has more confidence in practice. His game has gotten very consistent. He’s very secure with who he is and what his game is and that’s what we need in order for him to be the best player that he can be.
On the expectations that are being placed on the team:
It’s a great thing. I’m actually embracing it. We love it. We want those expectations. But for me, inside my locker room, we just need to be the best team we can be by the end of the year. We just have to be better than we were last year. Our ticket sales are already up. The Palestra game is already sold out. That right then and there is showing where we are and where the program is headed. It’s an exciting time to climb. But we need everybody to climb with us. Students. Everybody. Sandy Barbour is here, they are all going to climb with us.
On the available scholarship that the team has open:
The staff has done an amazing job on keeping our pulse on the 2017 recruiting class. We continue to recruit 2017’s because you just never know. But right now we are going to stand pat and take the best player for us. Whether that’s in 2017, whether that’s in 2018. Whether it’s a transfer. We’ll just have to see how things start to fall in place.