UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Media members packed the Bryce Jordan Center green room Thursday afternoon as Penn State men's basketball hosted its annual media day. Officially kicking off the 2017-18 season, Nittany Lion head coach Patrick Chambers opened the event, before moving into the practice facility for one-on-one interviews with the team.
"I'm really looking forward to this season. I want to see the development of these players," Chambers said. "I feel like we've really bonded and come together as a group. The connection and the love in the locker room is very strong and powerful and I'm noticing that through preseason and now through practice."
For senior Shep Garner, the close bond that the Nittany Lions have created this year is something unique and different from any other team.
"With that being said, it makes you just ready for the season, we want to play," Garner said. "We can't wait to play against somebody else because it's more fun that way."
Penn State opens its 2017-18 campaign hosting Campbell Friday, Nov. 10 before wrapping up opening weekend at home with a matchup against Fairleigh Dickinson Sunday, Nov. 12 at the Bryce Jordan Center.
Garner's Last Lap
Garner also noted that this year marks the last lap, as he prepares to head into his final season with the Nittany Lions. When it comes to the legacy he wants to leave behind though, Garner's looking to go out on top.
"Just a guy who went out there and gave it his all, and a winner," Garner said. "I want to go out a winner. I want to leave Penn State in a better place than when I came into it."
Bostick Poised for a
Both Chambers and Garner noted that sophomore guard Nazeer Bostick has been impressive from the offseason into preseason, with great potential ahead of him in 2017-18.
"He's one of the guys that might have a breakout year for us," Chambers said. "He got hurt, he was just starting to earn his minutes, playing critical minutes, especially in that Maryland game, he gave us some really good minutes late and I think he's going to be right there with Josh (Reaves) as those guys who are going to do it all for us and going to be stat sheet stuffers."
Sophomores Step Up
Chambers shared details on Penn State's leadership council, which includes Penn State sophomores Lamar Stevens and Tony Carr. For Chambers, with a year of crucial experience, he and the staff will look for sophomores to step forward into increased leadership roles this year.
"We're going to ask them to lead as sophomores and that's a great challenge, but we've worked on that all summer long," Chambers said. "We've had small group meetings, one-on-one meetings, discussing how to lead and sometime as coaches we're like, 'will you start leading?' But what does that really mean? We have to break it down on what leadership means and maybe share a story on how would you handle this, how would you handle that. It's definitely a process. It's not going to happen overnight, but they're so open-minded and willing that it's only going to bode well for them and our team."
Skills Academy Experience
Carr was selected as one of fewer than 21 players from across the country to attend the Nike Skills Academy this summer. Among a variety of diverse experiences, there were many takeaways he's look to carry over in the season, especially as it relates to leadership.
"I took a whole lot from that experience," Carr said. "Just learning from all those NBA guys and coaches out there, and just playing against the best players in college right now. It was great on a day-to-day basis just competing and learning little tips here and there from those guys."
Returning as Penn State's second-highest scorer this year behind Carr, Stevens spent a significant amount of time this offseason working on his 3-point shot and shaping his body to prepare for the challenges that come with the Big Ten Conference schedule.
"Mainly, I was just trying to get in shape," Stevens said. "I saw how much that can play into the game and there were times where if I was in better shape, I felt like I could have performed better last year so I wanted to make sure that wasn't going to happen this year. I really focused in on that over the summer, really worked on it and I feel like I was really successful."