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Lions' Offseason Work Shines in Exhibition Debut

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By Kelsey Detweiler, Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - If the Nittany Lions know one thing and one thing only about their style of play once they hit the hardwood this season, it's this: They're going to play hard.

"When we play Penn State basketball we're a very special team," said senior Tim Frazier after his team's 79-54 exhibition win over Philadelphia University on Saturday night. "We play gritty, we play hard, smart and together."

8270978.jpegThe attitude of the Lions is something that head coach Pat Chambers says is a product of a dedicated team that has fully adopted their coach's mentality in just his second season with the program. And if you ask his athletes, they'd agree.

"This time last year we had a new coach and now we're a year under his belt," said Frazier. "So we know his concepts, we know exactly what he's looking for so it makes it that much easier to step out onto the floor and come out to practice knowing exactly what to expect."

The Lions blocked shots, made dives, hustled to the ball and even threw up an alley-oop in their season-opening competition, defining what they say is the 'play hard' attitude that Chambers expects them to have.

Penn State started off slow in the first half, trading possessions with the Rams out of the gate. But the Lion offense got going toward the end of the half and the team went on a 15-0 run thanks to tough rebounding and a spreading of the wealth on offense. At the end of the first half, the Lions led 40-28 in the Bryce Jordan Center.

The team in blue and white came back out after the half and went on a 20-6 to open up the second period. From there, the Lions' defense continued to hustle and supplied the offense with the ability to keep shooting.

Coach Chambers said that he wasn't surprised at his team's slow start to the contest.

"Once the game got going a little bit and they got hit a little bit and there were fouls and things like that, I think we settled right in," said Chambers.

But if the head coach is known for anything in his ways on the court, it's that he's always looking for more.

"There were too many open shots for my liking," said Chambers. "I was excited about playing a team like [Philadelphia University] because it was going to challenge our habits and challenge our foundation. Some possessions were very good. Some possessions were very poor when they got open shots. The score doesn't indicate that but we've got to do a better job."

The Lions went 10-of-12 at the free-throw line and shot just over 41 percent from the floor. Frazier led the team with 17 points even though he was taken out of the game with more than ten minutes remaining in the second half. Sophomore Jon Graham followed with 16 and sophomore D.J. Newbill added another 15. 

In addition to his offensive input, Graham grabbed seven rebounds and created tension down low when the Rams were on offense. The forward said that he was happy to be back on the court and even happier to see his teammates gel together from the get-go.

"We're a lot more cohesive," said Graham. "There's a great feeling in the locker room and that's where it all starts. It starts in the locker room and carries on into practice and also into the games. I feel like we're on the right track and going to have a much better season this year."

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