UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Nittany Lion basketball team welcomed the media to the Bryce Jordan Center on Thursday afternoon to preview the 2013-'14 season.
Penn State began preseason practice on Sept. 28. Now 20 days into the practice season, optimism is high for head coach Patrick Chambers and the Nittany Lions. The Lions begin exhibition play on Nov. 3 against Northwood at 2 p.m. inside the Bryce Jordan Center. Penn State opens the regular season against Wagner on Nov. 9 at either 1 or 4 p.m. in the BJC.
Check out some news and notes from Nittany Lion Basketball Media Day.
Media Day Videos:
Brian Daly - Associate Head Coach
Compete Each Day
The one thing that stood out listening to each player and coach talk on media day is the collective competitiveness from the 2013-'14 Nittany Lions. As is the case for every team under the direction of Chambers, he wants the unit to play with tremendous energy and fire every time it steps on the floor. With a talented group of newcomers in the mix competing with the veterans for playing time, Chambers said practices have been full of intensity. Additionally, with the competitive nature of the freshman class and transfers, Chambers said the depth on the bench has improved significantly this fall. From top to bottom, every man on the roster is hungry for playing time, creating an environment for Chambers to be able to lean on the bench for quality minutes when he needs to. Simply put, the head coach of the Nittany Lions said that he wants to defend and rebound at a high level.
"I like this team. I feel good about this team," Chambers said.
Frazier Back in a Big Way
Redshirt senior Tim Frazier has a hard time containing his excitement level for what it will be like to put a Penn State jersey on and run onto the floor for opening night. After missing virtually all of last season with an Achilles injury, Frazier is back to full strength, and then some. When asked about the senior point guard's physical progress since the injury, Chambers said that Frazier tested better in a vertical leaping test this fall than he did prior to the injury. Frazier's vertical is currently 35.5 inches, a half-inch better than it was before the Achilles injury.
Sitting on the sideline last season, Frazier spent five months of the season filling the role as a player coach. He is seeing the game differently than he did before the injury, and Chambers said the point guard's basketball IQ is off the charts right now. Being the middle man between Chambers and the team last season, Frazier said the time on the sideline tremendously helped his growth as a player and a leader leading up to his final season in the Blue and White.
New Shot for Newbill
When junior guard D.J. Newbill returned to the University Park campus for the first summer academic session, Coach Chambers had a project for him on the floor. Newbill's task was to spend one month without taking a shot outside of the paint. Frustrated at first, Newbill said the process of breaking down his mechanics and taking hundreds upon hundreds of shots near the basket with perfect form on his follow through and guide hand and an eye on the back of the rim has paid off with a significant increase in shooting percentage during the first part of practice. Chambers sees Newbill, who will play at the shooting guard spot, as the team's leading scorer. The big thing for the Philly native is confidence. Newbill said he is shooting the ball with a belief that every shot is going in. Credit that to the 30-day emphasis on his shooting mechanics without taking a jump shot in May.
Lions Prepping for New Hand Checking Rules
The NCAA men's basketball rules committee approved a series of new rules pertaining to block/charge calls and placed a re-emphasis on handchecking in June. The handchecking rules boil down to a defensive player's ability to impede an offensive player on the floor. Under the new rules emphasis, fouls will be called for:
- Keeping a hand or forearm on an opponent.
- Putting two hands on an opponent.
- Continually jabbing an opponent by extending an arm or placing a hand or forearm on the opponent.
- Using an arm bar to impede the progress of a dribble.
Chambers said on Tuesday that the Nittany Lions have been preparing for the new emphasis on handchecking with "towel slides" at practice. Players are forced to slide their feet with their hands holding a towel around their necks. On the offensive side of the ball, Chambers and Frazier feel like the new rules changes will benefit Penn State's quick guards in an effort to create more free throw attempts.
Lineup as of Today
While the starting five is not etched in stone, Chambers noted on Thursday that his starting five on Oct. 17 would be Tim Frazier at point guard, D.J. Newbill at shooting guard, Ross Travis at the three-spot, Brandon Taylor at the four-spot and Donovon Jack in the middle. Taylor and Jack's ability to shoot the ball from the perimeter as big men gives the Nittany Lions the ability to pull post defenders out of the paint. Additionally, the athleticism on the floor plays into Chambers' vision of playing at a fast tempo behind Frazier and Newbill. Seventeen days remain until the exhibition contest against Northwood.
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