Lions' Chambers won't use excuses

Penn State freshman guard Trey Lewis takes a shot during the team's media day on Tuesday. He's part of the core that coach Patrick Chambers hopes can turn around the program.
Penn State freshman guard Trey Lewis takes a shot during the team's media day on Tuesday. He's part of the core that coach Patrick Chambers hopes can turn around the program. (JOHN BEALE / Associated Press)
Posted: November 02, 2011

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. - Patrick Chambers has been presented with the tough task of coaching a Penn State men's basketball team that graduated four of five starters who led the program to its first NCAA tournament in 10 years.

But Chambers doesn't want to talk about that. The first-year Nittany Lions coach, who was a standout guard at Episcopal Academy and Philadelphia University, is talking about this year's team, which begins play Saturday with an exhibition game against Slippery Rock.

"We all have our pocket full of excuses," an enthusiastic Chambers said during the team's media day on Tuesday. "We have a new team this year. And that's OK. That's not going to be our crutch all year long."

Though the program's all-time leading scorer, Talor Battle, has graduated, another guard, Tim Frazier, is set to be the centerpiece of a team that has just four upperclassmen on its 15-man roster.

Chambers has raved about Frazier, his point guard and the team's only returning starter. At last week's Big Ten media day, Chambers, a former assistant to Jay Wright at Villanova, compared the 6-foot-1 junior to former Wildcats Randy Foye, Kyle Lowry, and Scottie Reynolds.

The coach stands by that lofty comparison, praising Frazier's speed, athleticism, basketball IQ, and shooting ability, which he said Frazier doesn't get enough credit for.

"I'm sure people are criticizing me for making that assessment, but I was with those guys every day during my tenure at Villanova, and I think Tim's right up there."

Not many outside the program have high hopes for Penn State's season. The Lions were pegged to finish last in the Big Ten preseason media poll, released last week. But senior guard Cammeron Woodyard said the Lions don't pay any attention to that.

"In every team, not just a young team, everybody's going to go through rough patches. We had rough patches last year and two years ago," Frazier said. "What makes the best teams and the great teams are the guys that can stay together through those rough patches and stay together as a family."

On and off the court, Chambers exudes a ton of energy. One of the team's mottos this year is "Attitude," the same word Chambers wears on a rubber bracelet.

"It's energy all the time. Even from free throws to rebounding," Frazier said. "It's just like energy coming out every time he's talked."


Contact staff writer Jake Kaplan at jake.kaplan1@gmail.com.

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