UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State men's basketball is less than two days out from its official regular season opener. Nittany Lion head coach Patrick Chambers met with members of the media Wednesday afternoon for the first time since media day to preview Saturday's 4 p.m. opener against Campbell.
For Chambers, the Nittany Lions are better connected as a team than they've ever been, with a pair of exhibitions providing an early look at how the increased chemistry has translated to the court.
In his seventh year at the helm of the program, Chambers noted the Nittany Lions are right where they should be, but the emphasis Friday will all come down to playing hard and competing.
Echoing what he said postgame following an exhibition win against Bloomsburg, the dress rehearsal is over, and the focus has shifted toward stringing together promising spurts to shape a cohesive 40 minutes of Penn State basketball, all beginning with the 122nd season of Nittany Lion hoops, which starts Friday at the Bryce Jordan Center.
Chambers noted that the original plan was to open the 2017-18 campaign on the road, but one thing after another brought the Nittany Lions back to the Bryce Jordan Center for their opener, opting for a 4 p.m. tip time due to Lady Lion game at 7 p.m. in addition to Penn State's annual homecoming parade.
"I think it's going to be awesome, I'm hoping people get up here early," Chambers said. "Hoping there's going to be excitement on this campus - I know there will be, especially with homecoming and the game."
The Nittany Lions kick start the season with four games across an eight-day stretch, but all four games are at home with Penn State also hosting Montana and Columbia in the University Park Regional of the Legends Classic, which wraps up at the Barclays Center in New York the following Monday and Tuesday.
Following the opener, Penn State will also host Farleigh Dickinson at 5 p.m. Sunday.
The fast and furious start to the season is by design for Chambers, who said consistency is the top priority when it comes to challenges facing the Nittany Lions this year.
"We're the same team that beat Michigan State and we're the same team that beat Maryland and the same team that beat Minnesota, the same team that beat Georgia Tech," Chambers said. "We had some really great wins, but can we be consistent the next night? That's what I'm looking for."
Outside of the tight turnaround scheduling, there's also something called mental conditioning playing into the consistency, two words the Nittany Lions have been hearing and maybe even feeling, a lot from Chambers.
"They think practice is over and we'll do one more drill," Chambers said. "In practice, doing a shooting drill and it's got to be crisp and clean. I keep talking about mental conditioning, mental conditioning. The charity event came at a great time, to do that for hurricane relief was awesome and Lafayette did a wonderful job of welcoming us down there but it turned out to be mental conditioning for us too because we're able to play back-to-back."
A Great Day to be a
Earlier today, Penn State announced new roster additions in Rasir Bolton and Myles Dread, who have both signed a National Letter of Intent during the early signing period.
Chambers couldn't be more thrilled with the early signees, noting both check all the boxes when it comes to a pair that checks all the boxes from winning experience to competitive drive.
"Myles can play one through four, he's that tough," Chambers said. "When we first started recruiting him, he was playing small forward - lost some weight, got in shape, changed his body. He was always a very good shooter, that was always the case."
He also noted Bolton's shooting skills and high IQ as strengths.
"He [Bolton] played for a really, really good AAU program in Team Loaded and he's playing down in Massanutten right now and they're playing at a really high level," Chambers said. "It's a different stage and he's got to go against the best. The one thing I've asked him to do is really work on being more vocal and leading, and he's done that. He's been the loudest guy in the gym, positive or negative."
A Quick Glance at
Campbell will also open its 2017-18 campaign Friday afternoon, coming off a 19-18 season that included an appearance in the Big South final and an appearance in the CIT quarterfinal round.
Led by fifth-year head coach Kevin McGeehan, the Camels return the core pieces from last year's team, including All-Big South guard Chris Clemons, who finished the year ranked second nationally with 25.1 points per game with a school-record 904 points last season. Clemons also recorded six 30-point games, scoring at least 29 on three other occasions last year.
"From what I'm hearing, he's averaging 40 in his exhibition and scrimmages," Chambers said. "I've watched some tape already on them and he's dynamic, he's like an Allen Iverson except probably a better outside shooter. He can really score the basketball."