UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State men's golf is headed to Columbus, Ohio, set to make its fourth consecutive appearance in the NCAA regionals.
Following a fast and furious end to the regular season, the Nittany Lions blazed through the Big Ten Championships, returning to Happy Valley just in time for final exams. Taking into account the busy finish, Penn State head coach Greg Nye opted to give his team some time to take a deep breath before diving into NCAA preparations.
It was just a little more than a year ago that the Nittany Lions were prepping for a cross-country road trip to the Washington Regional with a certain level of uncharted uncertainty in terms of course familiarity.
That won't be the case this year.
"We played well the last few weeks and we earned our way to Columbus rather than being shipped to the south so that's exciting that we've got a chance to go back to Columbus where we've played several times," Nye said. "That ramps up a lot enthusiasm there."
While course familiarity is certainly a major benefit, the Nittany Lions have the potential to build on the success of a nearly identical lineup from last year.
Among the group is senior first team All-Big Ten selection Cole Miller. Alongside Miller is sophomore Ryan Davis, who most recently advanced in the U.S. Open local qualifier, along with assistant coach T.J. Howe.
"It's exciting we've got two of our players who have gotten through local qualifying and I was fortunate enough to do it as well so that's nice," Howe said.
While all three will now have the opportunity to move on to the U.S. Open sectionals, the entire lineup will turn toward the Scarlet Course, which awaits Penn State at the Ohio State Golf Club May 14-16.
"It takes a ton of preparation going into this," Davis said. "It's a really competitive field. It always is, the best teams in college golf. We just have to go out there with the best intentions, do our prep work here and then don't force anything and whatever happens, happens."
For Miller, it's one last time for the Big Ten Championships runner-up to help guide the team toward the NCAA Championships round, having posted a three-round score of three-over 219 (74-71-74) as an NCAA Washington Regional medalist a year ago.
Prior to Miller, the last Nittany Lion to win an NCAA regional though, was none other than his assistant coach, T.J. Howe.
"It's my first time back since 2010 I believe so we're going to a place we know and we've had success at," Howe said. "I'm really looking forward to what this next week can bring us."
When it comes to Miller though, for Howe, it's more about his intangibles and mindset that stand out a bit further than the obvious talent on the course.
"He's such a leader. I think it's just his will," Howe said. "He's a good player, we all know that but he's able to come back from stuff that most players aren't able to come back from. If he has a bad score, he'll make birdies on the next three holes and he'll be right back where he was. That's kind of what I see from him, he never quits fighting."
For Davis, he'll make just his second appearance at the NCAA regionals, with a critical year of experience under his belt. Advancing with the team to the NCAA Championships, he closed out the event leading the Nittany Lions with a three-round score of two-over 218 (76-71-71).
Davis, like the rest of the lineup, is hardly a stranger on the Scarlet Course, having most recently tied for second at the Kepler Intercollegiate, registering his first career top five finish a few weeks ago.
"The Scarlet Course is all about course management," Davis said. "It's not a course where you can go out and shoot five or six under par, you just have to keep grinding. It's one of those places where if you lose your train of through and what you're trying to do, you can really make some big numbers out there."
While Penn State's experience playing the course multiple times will also serve as an added benefit, the addition of unpredictable weather conditions could play into shaping a variety of outcomes.
"What will be different for us is from three weeks ago - spring has sprung here and the grass is growing here," Nye said. "Their rough is going to be longer. The green should be a little better. We're going to have to be ready for that. Golf courses change, day to day so if we get different wind condition, hopefully maybe we've seen that wind condition maybe one of the years we've been down there."
Ask any Nittany Lion though and there's no easy way to describe the course, even among experience. Now rested and focused though, the Nittany Lions will spend their practice time here focusing on strategy and mindset before hitting the road for Columbus.
"It's definitely a two-step process," Davis said. "We have to do all the work out there on the course and we also have a lot of meetings and determining how we want to play the course. It's definitely a pretty strategic side to it so if we get those two aspects down, I think we have a really good chance."
WASHINGTON - Penn State punctuated its 2018 Coaches Caravan with a final stop in Washington, D.C., greeted by yet another packed crowd. The Nittany Lion head coaches did not disappoint in the finale, wrapping up the evening program with one final singing of the Penn State Alma Mater to bring an official close to the Coaches Caravan.
"It's a great opportunity for fans of various programs to demonstrate their support of the program by coming out and interacting with the coaches and the various sports," Penn State women's volleyball head coach Russ Rose said.
Set to begin his 40th season at the helm of the program, not much has changed for the hall of fame head coach, who noted simply that it always has been and always will be about the players.
The first of the coaches to speak following director of athletics Sandy Barbour, Rose wasted no time recognizing one of his former student-athletes in the crowd, asking the former Nittany Lion to stand for a loud applause before he jumped into his segment.
This offseason is especially critical for Rose's current Nittany Lions as the departure of four All-American leaves plenty of question marks. All four are currently overseas playing professionally, joining a long list of former Penn State Nittany Lions who have gone on to play at the next level.
It's the nine newcomers in Penn State's incoming recruiting class that has Rose particularly enthusiastic about what's to come this fall.
"Some of the class it's based on the quantity as well as the quality of the players," Rose said. "We have a larger class so I think it makes it easier for people to identify the numbers. I think we have good athleticism. We have some kids who are competitive."
Losing roughly 65 percent of its offensive productive in the trio of All-Americans, it will be no easy task for the young roster. For Rose, while the unknown is certainly challenging, it's not exactly a negative.
"Sometimes you already know the answer. I'm going into the season hopeful that the new people will be able to improve in some areas where I thought the last group was unable to give it their full attention," Rose said.
Circling back to his portion of the evening program, as the longest current tenured head coach, Rose noted that what makes Penn State great is it's unique group of coaches all genuinely sharing support for each other.
"We have a great collection of coaches right now," Rose said. "I think that it's a supportive group. I think the energy of the group is headed in the right direction and people genuinely care about each other and the other programs. Those are the sort of things that lead to a positive work environment
For Barbour, the four coaches joining her on the stage all possess a certain quality.
"Our coaches are absolutely great entertainers," Barbour said. "Not only are they great coaches and great institutional fits for Penn State, but they have all got great senses of humor, all in their own way and I know that's very entertaining for our crowds."
Across all three stops, the Penn State coaches greeted fans and shared program records and stories and even invited the crowd inside the film room to break down one play from each participating head coach.
"There continues to be a building level of excitement within the Penn State community about what's going on, frankly, overall with the university and certainly from our perspective in athletics," Barbour said. "What our student-athletes are doing in the classroom, what they are doing in the community and certainly what they are doing in the athletic venues. That continues to build. We continue to work hard to make folks proud and I think we're showing appreciation for them. That's part of the caravan, for us to come to them."
Last Stop Snippets -
When it comes to getting better as a program, from a big picture perspective it's
easy to pin-point areas of improvement after a loss. For Franklin though,
keeping a sense of urgency in fine tuning any areas of concern after a win are
equally as important. Likening it to deodorant covering up a funk, Franklin
noted evaluations are just as intensive after a win than after a loss. -
With the success the program has enjoyed across the last season, Penn State
head coach Patrick Chambers noted a lot more phones are being answered when it
comes to recruiting on a national state. Looking toward the newcomers, he noted
Combination guard Myreon Jones Jr. has plenty of potential and will receive
every opportunity to compete for a spot come 2018-19.
- It's no secret Penn State head coach James Franklin and his staff have a keen interest in gaining insight from a variety of analytics reports. He hits on the some of the benefits, including how often times the dialogue between coaches is perhaps one of the best part of the findings.
- When it comes to getting better as a program, from a big picture perspective it's easy to pin-point areas of improvement after a loss. For Franklin though, keeping a sense of urgency in fine tuning any areas of concern after a win are equally as important. Likening it to deodorant covering up a funk, Franklin noted evaluations are just as intensive after a win than after a loss.
- With the success the program has enjoyed across the last season, Penn State head coach Patrick Chambers noted a lot more phones are being answered when it comes to recruiting on a national state. Looking toward the newcomers, he noted Combination guard Myreon Jones Jr. has plenty of potential and will receive every opportunity to compete for a spot come 2018-19.
PHILADELPHIA - The Penn State Coaches Caravan rolled into the City of Brotherly Love for the second of three stops along this year's scheduled route. A passionate crowd of Penn Staters packed Philadelphia's Crystal Tea Room located directly in the center of the city for an evening program.
The Philadelphia stop along the Coaches Caravan is more than just another city for a majority of this year's coaching lineup, with three from the group calling the surrounding area home sweet home.
For Delaware County Hall of Fame head coach Char Morett-Curtiss, the Aldan native felt memories come flooding back as soon as she stepped inside the historic building to greet the Penn State contingent.
"Coming here tonight it's really emotional," Morett-Curtiss said addressing the crowd. "I remember coming into this building when it was just the Wanamaker Building, with the big eagle out front. My dad used take me down here every Christmas to see the Wanamaker lights show. A little bit of heart there. Obviously coming to Philadelphia is really special."
Penn State head coach Patrick Chambers, a Newtown Square native, led a resounding Philadelphia Eagles chant to kick off his portion of the program.
In celebration of the Eagles' historic first Super Bowl victory, both Chambers and Morett-Curtiss surprised fans, donning a pair of (under) dog masks for a quick skit on stage.
Rounding out the group, Penn State head coach James Franklin popped out of his media obligations to take his position at the photo booth only to come face to face with his second grade teacher, Mr. B.
"He's been a big part of my family so I really appreciate you being here Mr. B," Franklin said after calling on his childhood teacher to stand and wave.
Adding to the hometown feel, Franklin announced a new recruit in 7-year-old Logan Simpkins, welcoming the young Nittany Lion fan to the stage for a quick introduction.
All nostalgia aside, both Franklin and Chambers looked toward the future of their respective programs in a pair of individual sessions.
Since arriving on campus, plenty has changed when it comes to the circumstances Franklin and his staff have recruited alongside. While the message hasn't changed, the Nittany Lions are no longer selling a dream that has yet to come to life.
"I think people see it," Franklin said. "They feel it and they see it, so that helps. I would say we probably get less tough questions though."
While the process of showing rather than asking for belief is most definitely easier, when it comes to the team, it's something Franklin is paying close attention to.
On trips in between cities, Franklin noted he's already started sending notes to begin a conversation with his staff at the annual staff retreat after reading something that sparked the thought process.
"Jason Cabinda was quoted and Jason Cabinda and the Mike Gesicki's and those guys, they have been through a lot of adversity," Franklin said. "As a program, they have been through a lot of adversity, individually. They had to overcome stuff, they had to work through things."
The byproduct of back-to-back double figure win seasons and a pair of New Year's Six bowl appearances is motivating in many ways, but as Penn State distances itself from some of its most tumultuous time, the aspect of overcoming adversity has started to fade.
"It's making sure that our team is mature enough to handle it and doesn't feel like winning is just a birthright at Penn State because it's not," Franklin said. "Getting our guys to understand the type of sacrifices, the type of investment they are going to make."
The solution for Franklin is spending time in the offseason identifying exactly what it is that will ultimately differentiate Penn State from a plethora of programs who are all already working at an extremely high level.
"Are we working harder, are we working smarter, are we working longer, what are we doing to differentiate ourselves," Franklin asked. "I think that's an important lesson for our guys because that's the same thing they are going to do for the rest of their lives when they are interviewing for jobs and things like that."
Looking ahead to another season is nothing short of thrilling for Chambers, who noted that amid a clear buzz surrounding the program, there's still room for growth and development.
"I'm really pleased with the class that we have coming in and we also have a transfer coming in, which is fabulous for us," Chambers said. "Our development, our consistency and sustainability for what we're trying to do over the long haul, the extension was critical."
At a quick glance, Chambers noted he feels his freshman class is prepared to contribute.
"I think the they are ready, they are prepared," Chambers said. " They can pass, they can dribble, they can shoot. They are great in the classroom. From high school to the Big Ten is a huge jump o we're going to see early on here in summer session one and summer session two for some of the guys and I think they'll be ready to go. After that summer session, we'll gauge where they are and the sooner they grow up and mature will dictate how well we do this year."
Part of Penn State's striking success this season though meant critical extra time together as a team for its younger Nittany Lions to develop, giving Chambers even more options when it comes to giving freshmen the opportunity to learn the ropes before being thrust into the spotlight.
"Once we kind of get under the hood and see what we've got and I start to put the players and lineups together and see where we are - right now, it's exciting," Chambers said. "I think there's a buzz about the program. I think there are seven or eight veteran guys, coupled with some guys who are coming in as well as some youth."
By Jeff Sattora, GoPSUsports.com
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- The Penn State women's lacrosse team has made a habit of playing late into the season, and in its seventh consecutive postseason appearance and coming off back-to-back Final Four runs, the program is ready for the pressure and high-stakes matchups again this May.
"We had a really young team this year, we learned a lot throughout the season," Doherty said. "We're really focused in, it's a new season for us and a chance to prove where we are at this point in the season," she added.
While Doherty's squad is young, the team still is led by players with postseason experience. Junior Madison Carter leads the Lions with 57 goals on the year, followed by senior captain and Big Ten Midfielder of the Year Katie O'Donnell and sophomore Maria Auth with 56 and 52 respectively. That group is three of seven double-digit goal scoring Nittany Lions that have been members of at least one of the last two Final Four runs. O'Donnell echoed her coach, knowing this time of year is a clean slate.
"Postseason is a new season, your record is 0-0 again," she said. "It doesn't really matter what you did in the regular season because this is when it really counts."
Penn State will begin its clean slate against in-state rival Penn (13-4), who the Nittany Lions took down in the 2016 postseason to reach the Final Four. The matchup and this time of year brings a level of excitement for the program.
"We're really excited for the tournament," Doherty said. "It's such a great place to be in your season to be practicing and getting ready to play some of the best teams in the country. Going to Stony Brook and playing Penn, Penn is such a great team and it gives us another opportunity to bring our best."
"We had kind of an up and down year so to make NCAAs this year was a big thing for us," O'Donnell added. "We're really happy that we just get to keep spending the days together and keep playing lacrosse. It's pretty awesome."
For members of the 2016 and 2017 Final Four teams, like O'Donnell and junior defender Kelly Daggett, looking back and using that previous big game experience will be key for this year's younger squad.
"It's a great memory for us, the past two years we've gone all the way to Memorial Day weekend and that's been incredible for us," Daggett said. "From a heart and an effort point we really want to get their again and we keep reminding the freshmen this is what we do, we get to the Final Four."
While the freshmen have gotten that reminder and are heading into their first postseason run, the Nittany Lions are confident the group will step up.
"They've been great, it's been really awesome to see them grow from the time they came in August til now," O'Donnell said. "I really can't wait to see how they finish the season."
The Nittany Lions hope that finish to their season doesn't come anytime soon, as Penn State will take its first step to the Final Four again as they travel to Stony Brook, New York to take on Penn Friday at 5pm. The winner will face fifth-seeded Stony Brook Sunday at noon.
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NEW YORK - The Penn State Coaches Caravan is back for its sixth year, hitting the road bright and early before arriving at the iconic New Yorker Hotel in midtown Manhattan. In a bit of a new format, the Coaches Caravan will visit three cities in a span of three days, with tonight's program officially kicking off the three-day event.
Penn State football head coach James Franklin and Nittany Lion director of athletics Sandy Barbour joined Penn State men's basketball head coach Patrick Chambers, field hockey coach Char Morett-Curtiss and women's volleyball head coach Russ Rose.
Arriving in New York, there was perhaps no better memory for Nittany Lion coaches Chambers and Franklin. Less than 30 days ago it was Chambers who led his 2017-18 squad to an NIT Championship a mere block from the very building Penn State opened its first of three programs. While celebrating with All-American running back Saquon Barkley and his family in Dallas, Texas, it was Franklin who watched the New York Giants select Barkley with the second overall pick in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft.
As Franklin reflected on the emotional moment he heard Barkley's name called, it was perhaps a full circle moment as he saw the entire evolution of legendary Nittany Lion take shape.
For Franklin, there's certainly being legendary for talent on the field, but when it comes to Barkley, there's more to it for the Happy Valley community.
"People I think were amazed whenever they got a chance to spend time with Saquon, with how kind he was and how thoughtful he was and how intelligent he was," Franklin said. "Just how he treated people. I think that rubbed off on a lot of people and people saw that if you make the type of investment that he made and have the type of success that he did, at the end of the day you're still going to be remembered based on how you treat people."
It's that type of investment though that Franklin noted has rubbed off on more than just the community, setting a tone for the entire organization. Barkley set the tone in a variety of ways, but when he's no longer around on a day-to-day basis, those who were around with him know just what it takes when it comes to watching hard work translate to an NFL opportunity of a lifetime.
"I think there are going to be a lot of residual effects on our program from all those perspectives from him," Franklin said. "I think we have a hungry team and I think Saquon's experience has probably made a lot of our players hungrier because someone that they know and someone they have seen in our program was able to chase all of his dreams at the very highest level," Franklin said.
Chambers also reflected on the impact of a program-defining student-athlete, noting the great foundation potential NBA-bound Nittany Lion Tony Carr set during his time with the program.
As Chambers noted in his portion of the evening program, much like Barkley, there were times it was Carr who put the team on his back.
Less than five days ago though, it was Penn State announcing Chambers and his staff would have the opportunity to continue building on the foundation, as the Penn State Board of Trustees compensation committee approved a contract extension for Chambers through the 2021-22 season.
In the days since the announcement made headlines, the response from the community has been simply mind blowing to Chambers.
"It was almost like winning the NIT Championship," Chambers said. "I think I received more texts and emails and people reaching out, and when I'm walking downtown and even in New York the last couple of days, it's been mind blowing the people who have come up to me and supported how hard my staff and I have worked over the last seven years to get it to this point."
Like any great coach would say though, with every successful climb, there's another mountain right behind. For Chambers its keeping the trajectory headed in the right direction when it comes to progress and player development. There's perhaps no better example than the offseason strides Carr made before dominating his way through the 2017-18 season.
"Just the fact of watching him all year from the player development aspect, changing his body and putting on the weight," Chambers said. "He shot the ball so incredibly well. Then his leadership. Then he almost gets a triple double in the championship game. He did everything for us."
There's simply no doubting the blazing trajectory the Nittany Lions have already forged, signing off in his program speech though, Chambers noted it's time to change the narrative.
"We need to change the narrative of Penn State basketball because Penn State basketball is back," Chamber said.
Few Minutes with Barbour
Fresh off another successful graduation which saw nearly 100 Penn State student-athletes approved to graduate, Barbour was of course pleased with another year of continued academic excellence. Among the 97 student-athletes, a total of 28 teams were listed as approved to graduate, with nearly 60 percent of the group earning Academic All-Big Ten honors during the past four years for earning at least a 3.0 cumulative grade-point average.
"Our student-athlete continue, to number one, amaze me and number two, make me really, really proud and should make all of us proud at the rate of which they are graduating and the level of which they are performing academically," Barbour said. "From their grades to the different curriculums that they are pursuing and the things they are doing in their postgraduate careers."
More from Barbour below.
The Penn State Coaches Caravan pulls out of New York early Wednesday morning, headed to Philadelphia for an evening program.
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