By Tony Mancuso & Kelsey Detweiler, GoPSUsports.com Staff
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Although there are only two regular season contests left on its 2013 schedule, the Nittany Lion basketball squad is treating the season like it is the first day of practice on Oct. 16.
Head coach Patrick Chambers said his team treats every day the same in the quest to reach its full potential when the season comes to a close.
"We're becoming the best team that we can be by the end of the year," said Chambers. "You're seeing guys playing their best basketball of their lives, of their careers."
Jermaine Marshall is one of those guys.
Averaging 15.2 points per game, Marshall has become a reliable scoring option for the Lions.
The 6-foot-4 junior recently posted back-to-back 20-point performances for the first time in his career against Michigan and Illinois, and really heated up beyond the arc. Marshall was 10-of-18 from three in the two contests and notched his 100th career three in the game against the Wolverines.
So what's making the difference?
"It's really just confidence," said Marshall. "For a while I went on a little stretch where I was struggling and coach just told me to shoot it, don't worry about anything else."
The guard said that his head coach has been more than just a coach, acting as a constant cheerleader on the sideline and in the locker room as well.
"He's had confidence in me and he's given me confidence at the same time," said Marshall. "I'm just shooting and he's believing in me so that helps."
Marshall said that it also helps to have a guy like D.J. Newbill in your court. Combined, the two are the second highest scoring tandem in Big Ten play averaging 31.5 points per game.
Aside from leading the team on the hardwood, both Marshall and Newbill serve as captains for the Lions this season alongside Nick Colella and Tim Frazier. Marshall said that it's important for him and his teammates to constantly communicate in order to perform at a high level.
"We come together, we talk and we discuss what we need to do better and ways to get better," said Marshall. "We're still trying to focus into the now. There's still time to get better."
And Marshall said that it's important that the team understands that finding success isn't something that happens overtime. The guard said that he and the rest of the Lions know that the process of getting better isn't always the easiest, but it's one that only they can control.
"We continue to do what we do, coming in every day just trying to work hard and stick together," said Marshall after practice on Tuesday afternoon. "As we speak there are guys in there just talking and hanging out and we're going to come in later and get some shots up and it keeps on going."
Head coach Patrick Chambers is expecting a very challenging game inside Welsh-Ryan Arena on Thursday night in Evanston. It is Senior Night for the Wildcats, who are desperate for a win having lost six-straight games. Northwestern (13-16, 4-12) lost senior Jared Swopshire to a season-ending knee injury in mid-February, marking the third key Wildcat player who has been lost since practice began October. Swopshire was the team's leading rebounder and fourth-leading scorer.
The Wildcats have struggled to score since Swopshire's injury, averaging just 44.5 points per game during their last four outings. Reggie Hearn (13.5 ppg) and Dove Sobolewski (10.3) are Northwestern's primary scoring threats in the Princeton-style offense. The Wildcats posted a 70-54 victory over the Nittany Lions in the first meeting between the two teams on Jan. 10. Sobolewski had 18 against Penn State in the first meeting.
Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. on Thursday in Welsh-Ryan Arena with TV coverage from ESPNU.
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