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Summer Season a Period of Growth for Hoops Senior Class

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blog_MBB_summer.jpgUNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Jordan Dickerson, Devin Foster, Donovon Jack and Brandon Taylor will not be looking around for a veteran leader come October when the Nittany Lion basketball team begins official practice.

The group of 2015-16 seniors has already laid the groundwork in taking ownership of the Penn State program thanks to a productive summer season on and off the court.

"I think we've done a good job of establishing ourselves as the guys who set the tone for the younger players," Dickerson said. "We have a lot of new talent on the roster, and we are just trying to set an example to help these guys become contributors."

Dickerson and his fellow seniors pointed to team chemistry and hard work as the driving forces behind what has been a strong preliminary phase of the upcoming season.

"Everybody is working hard right now," Taylor said. "I couldn't ask for more. We need to keep getting better, and we all can't wait for the season."

"The seniors have stepped up to show that we can lead this team," Jack said. "We have really good team chemistry, and the guys have worked really hard. The guys have bought in completely, and it's one of the closest teams I've ever been on."

The good chemistry starts with how the group gets along outside of the gym.

"It begins in our locker room," Taylor said. "We are all friends. We go out to eat together. We go to the movies together. That's where the chemistry on the court starts. You get to know your teammate as more than a teammate."

On the court, the Nittany Lions want to play fast. With the new 30-second shot clock in place for the season, the team wants to get up and down the floor to create more scoring opportunities. So far, the players are encouraged by the results during summer workouts.

"I like the way we are playing," Taylor said. "We are getting the ball up and down the floor, and we are playing unselfish. Our guards can get rebounds and push the ball to get better shots."

The Lions are moving the ball to get better looks at the basket, passing up a good shot for a great shot. The unselfish approach on the offensive end of the floor lends itself to more productivity.

"We are learning that when someone has a good shot, someone else likely has a better shot," Jack said.

"And we are doing it in July. Guys are getting better shots because we have been unselfish," Taylor said. "That just proves we are becoming a better team."

The ball movement aids everyone on the floor, but for a guy like Dickerson, unselfish basketball puts a 7-footer in a great spot to have success around the basket when he moves swiftly up the floor. Dickerson remained on campus during both summer sessions, and he has worked tirelessly to get in better physical condition because he knows how much it can help the team succeed.

"My summer has been really good," Dickerson said. "I stayed both summer sessions. I think the group has worked extremely hard during both sessions to continue improving on and off the court. I think I play the best when I have a clear head and when I'm not fatigued on the court. It's my last year, so I'm just trying to be a force on the floor."

That could not have been more evident than during Tuesday's 5-on-5 workout when Dickerson dove for a loose ball on defense before earning a trip to the free throw line and sinking two foul shots on the offensive end of the floor.

"Those type of plays are very important for our team to be successful," Dickerson said. "I felt really good after that play. It boosts your energy. And if we play like that, we are going to have a very productive year."

Dickerson's off court development and efforts on the floor aren't going unnoticed by his teammates.

"He's working hard for us, and we have to work hard for him," Taylor said. "To see a 7-footer get on the floor, that's not easy for him. That was big for us to see. It makes everybody else want to get that much better."

A play like Dickerson's dive and subsequent free throws equate to tallies in the program's "Attitude Club". Hard work and a positive attitude are the pillars of Nittany Lion Basketball. And while it may only be July, the program's core values are alive and well.

"One thing we are focused on this year is that no matter what happens on the court, we are going to stay positive," Taylor said. "When things aren't going your way and you get negative, that's when you start losing things. We are going to stay positive and stay together."



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VIDEO: 2014-15 Year in Review with Sandy Barbour

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - GoPSUsports.com talks with Director of Athletics Sandy Barbour to review a superb 2014-15 season for Penn State Athletics.





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VIDEO: 2014-15 Season Highlights

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State's 2014-15 season was one marked by excellence on the field, in the classroom and in the community. GoPSUsports.com takes a look back at the campaign in a season highlight reel.


VIDEO: Tim Frazier Talks Year One in the NBA

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Former Nittany Lion great Tim Frazier spent time in Happy Valley during the latter stages of May and early portion of June following a superb first season in professional basketball.

Frazier, who was named NBA D-League MVP and Rookie of the Year for his efforts with the Maine Red Claws, signed with the Portland Trail Blazers on March 30 following two stints with the Philadelphia 76ers during the winter. Frazier played in 11 games during the regular season and saw action in two games during the NBA Playoffs with the Trail Blazers.

Frazier will play on Portland's summer league team. He returned to the West Coast over the weekend to begin preparations for the 2015-'16 season. Take a look at some remarks from Frazier on his year on the court and his summer ahead.




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Commemorating 25 Years of Penn State and the Big Ten

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Penn State has won 92 Big Ten titles, including 21 in women's soccer (16 regular season).



By Tony Mancuso
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Just four months into his tenure as commissioner of the Big Ten Conference, Jim Delany recalls an idea brought to the table by former Illinois President Stan Ikenberry.

It was October of 1989 when Ikenberry, who spent time as a senior administrator at Penn State earlier in his career, broached the thought of adding an institution to the Big Ten for the first time since Michigan State was invited to become a member in 1949.

The Big Ten then began a formal research process of an institution that would bridge a Midwestern league to the East.

The Pennsylvania State University was on the table for discussion as a superb academic institution with a rich tradition in athletic success.

Delany, whose sister attended Penn State as a graduate student, didn't need much convincing. He knew the level of potential a partnership between Penn State and the Big Ten could foster.

"The Big Ten hadn't changed in many, many decades, but I thought if the opportunity to expand presented itself it was a no brainer," Delany said earlier this week. "Excellent academics. Excellent athletics. And pointed towards the East Coast, I thought there was a lot of potential there. That was my recommendation at the time."

The process moved forward with the presidents and chancellors of the Big Ten institutions discussing the topic before news broke just before the holidays in December of 1989 that Penn State could be on its way into a new conference. Under the direction of athletic director Jim Tarman at the time, Penn State had been competing as an independent in football for more than a century, and the rest of the department had been a member of the Atlantic 10 since 1976.

When the news initially surfaced, women's volleyball head coach Russ Rose, who along with field hockey coach Charlene Morett-Curtiss are the two current Penn State head coaches who were on staff in 1989, was giving a presentation at the annual women's volleyball coaches convention (AVCA) about the importance of NCAA Tournament at-large bids for teams in smaller conferences.

"I remember talking in front of the group about the importance that not all of the at-large bids go to the bigger conferences and that there were good teams in other conferences even though they didn't have the same notoriety, said Rose. "We have a lunch break. I turn on ESPN at lunch, and I see that Penn State is going to be a member of the Big Ten. I come back. I say to some people that I would like to retract what I said about at-large teams."

The formal process concluded with a vote in Iowa City on June 4, 1990, at which time Penn State was officially accepted as a member of the Big Ten Conference. Twenty-five years have passed in a partnership that allowed both the University and conference to reach unprecedented heights on the field and in the classroom.

"From a broad perspective, at the time, my view was that it was a tremendous fit for both sides. And history has proven that," Delany said. "With all the other expansions around the country, I'm not sure there was one that benefitted both institution and conference as much as this did, largely because of the characteristics of Penn State were so well matched with the characteristics of the Big Ten."

The positive news zipped throughout campus shortly after the vote in Iowa.

"I remember hearing about the announcement from Mary Jo Haverbeck, from the Sports Information office," said Morett-Curtiss. "She told me about us going in and how it was going to have a major impact for women's athletics at Penn State."

It was an announcement that changed the landscape of funding and development for all of Penn State's 28 programs at the time, and it was a day Morett-Curtiss remembers quite well.

"Ironically, I had gone for a run that day on the trails near Sunset Park and as I'm running, I see someone walking in front of me and it was Joe Paterno," Morett-Curtiss said. "And it was that day, so I said to him, 'hey what's going to happen?' He said, 'I think this is going to be a really good thing for Penn State and the exposure all of the programs are going to get.'"

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The women's volleyball program captured Penn State's first Big Ten title in 1992, marking volleyball's first of 16 conference crowns.

 
Penn State's teams felt the impact of the Big Ten conference almost immediately.

"What it did for us when we joined the Big Ten is that it No. 1 it resulted in a reassessment of the levels of commitment we had to the various programs," Rose said. "We became fully funded when we joined the Big Ten. Prior to that, we were not fully funded. And we were not fully staffed. Entering Big Ten, collectively, for all of the sports resulted in us having a new commitment from the University to try and be competitive. From a volleyball perspective, we had been competitive prior to that, but playing in the Big Ten in women's volleyball made us better because the level of competition was better than we were experiencing in the Atlantic 10."

At the time, women's volleyball had just one assistant coach on the staff alongside Rose and nine scholarships to field a roster. Joining the Big Ten boosted the program to full funding and 12 scholarships.

"As I look at it now, we could have had some great teams if we had funding in the early years," said Rose. "That was just the way that it was.  When you take a job, that is the job you took. When we joined the Big Ten, a lot of us got a better job without having to move. But it's way more competitive. Recruiting is a lot different than what we had experienced in the Atlantic 10."

The same can be said for what Morett-Curtiss experienced within the field hockey program.

"The financial support from a scholarship standpoint was huge right away," said Morett-Curtiss. "And knowing our field that we were going to build was going to be a first rate facility."

The investment for success around the Big Ten stood out during Penn State's transition. Every institution and athletic program strives to be the best. It's a trait that has not changed during the department's 25 years as a member, and it's something that will be a trademark of the Big Ten for decades to come.

"The level of commitment to being good across the conference, everybody cared," said Rose. "I don't believe every conference across the country has that sort of commitment in all of their sports. I think that is one of the things that makes the Big Ten really unique. If they offer it, they care and they want to be relevant."

Penn State's time in the Big Ten has been marked by excellence in the classroom and on the field of play. In all, Penn State's programs have accounted for 92 Big Ten championships from 15 different programs - 76 regular season and 16 post-season. Additionally, more than 170 student-athletes have accounted for nearly 300 individual Big Ten titles.

Penn State student-athletes have earned more than 5,000 Academic All-Big Ten recognitions since it joined the conference, with its three highest totals during the past three years, led by 296 in 2012-13.

"Penn State's entrance into the Big Ten not only changed the intercollegiate sports landscape, it also changed our academic landscape and our future. Our size, our academic reputation and our athletic tradition matched up well with Big Ten schools," said Penn State President Eric Barron, who also noted that all Big Ten schools are flagship universities for their states. "The academic side of the Big Ten is known as the Committee on Institutional Cooperation (CIC) and the institutions together have annual research expenditures topping $10.2 billion -- more than the Ivy League and the University of California System combined -- and they educate a total of nearly 600,000 students. The benefits from being part of such an outstanding and prestigious organization with such an expansive footprint across the nation are immeasurable."

The women's volleyball program earned Penn State's first Big Ten crown during the 1992 season, just one year after the team began competing in the league. The title marked the first of Penn State's superlative 16 Big Ten titles in women's volleyball, in addition to seven NCAA Championships since 1999.

Like women's volleyball, the women's soccer program has been a benchmark of success in conference play. The program became the department's 29th varsity sport in 1994. Since then, Penn State has won an unprecedented 16 conference titles, including a string of 15-straight from 1998-2012.

The football program claimed the Big Ten title in its second season of competition during an undefeated Rose Bowl championship campaign in 1994. Coach Joe Paterno's '94 squad became the first Big Ten team to ever post a 12-0 record. The '94 crown marked the program's first of three Big Ten championships to date (2005 and 2008).

The fall season of 2005 stands out as a monumental period in Penn State's history within the conference. Nittany Lion teams clinched five Big Ten titles in a span of 30 days. The list included field hockey, football, men's soccer, women's soccer and women's volleyball. Since the fall of 2005, Penn State teams have won 51 Big Ten championships (5.1 titles per year in a 10-year span).

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Penn State clinched five Big Ten titles in a span of 30 days during the fall of 2005, including one for the women's volleyball team.



It's impossible to quantify how the partnership between Penn State and the Big Ten altered the recruiting landscape for the teams on campus and how the recruiting gains equated to success on the field of play. But pitching a world-renowned education with an elite conference affiliation cultivated relationships with premier student-athletes.

"The name recognition was big for football, but when you see how many of the Universities and programs have been successful on a national level, I think that has greatly helped," Morett-Curtiss. "Exposure for all of the Universities within the conference has helped us all grow. Combining the academic side of what these Universities have with the athletics, it's a very powerful combination when we go out recruiting student-athletes."

A big piece to the exposure of Penn State teams during the past 25 years was the launch of the Big Ten Network on Aug. 30, 2007. More than 800 Penn State sporting events have aired live on the BTN since it launched. The benefits of the conference's TV network, which is in more than 60 million homes,  increased visibility across the country for the department in a way that cannot be measured.

"The Network was a major step for us," Morett-Curtiss. "Just having the opportunity to have games on TV so that little girls can watch and learn about the sport. It's helped, not only exposure for the program, but it's helped the sport grow. It's just a phenomenal avenue for us to showcase our University and the sport."

The BTN's impact goes back to what Rose talked about as one of the immediate impacts his program felt - funding. Not only did the BTN infinitely increase exposure for Penn State teams, it has played a paramount role in increased revenues for each institution.

"Certainly, the Big Ten Network has been instrumental in generating funds for the Universities and the conference and the bowl revenue sharing has resulted in more money for all of the schools and the conference," said Rose.

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In 2008, Penn State captured its third Big Ten title in football en route to a trip to the Rose Bowl.

 

While the competitive atmosphere is intense between teams across all of the conference's sports, each member institution understands that the individual success aids in the growth of the collective conference.

"I think the relationship has been a really positive one," said Rose. "There are a lot of similarities between the various Universities."

"Everybody in the Big Ten shares what they do and why they do it; best practices," said Dave Baker, Associate Athletic Director for Business Operations. "We share lots of ideas, at least from the business manager and ticketing perspective. We learn things from one another. And there aren't secrets. We all work together and try to help each other out...We all don't do things the same way. We all have limitations, but we are all looking to help one another out for the betterment of the conference.

"Some people would find it hard to believe that people in the Big Ten root for other Big Ten teams in the postseason, but we do. We follow what is going on...It is a cooperative spirit and a partnership."

Baker is one of just a handful of Penn State administrators and coaches who have been with Intercollegiate Athletics during the past 25 years. That list includes Jan Bortner, who was head coach of the men's tennis team in 1990 and has since transitioned into a role as an associate athletic director. Among the key changes Baker felt from the business operation centered on travel. Bus trips were the norm for Penn State teams in the Atlantic 10, but the geography of the Big Ten led to more plane travel.

A quarter century has passed since initial discussions of a new relationship took place and bonds were formed. Many things have changed significantly for Penn State, the conference and intercollegiate athletics nationwide, but it's been 25 years marked by growth stemming from a vision in 1989.

"Pennsylvania is a very important state. It served as a bridge to the East for us. It made our football offerings stronger," said Delany. "It has been excellence with national championships in a variety of sports. And I have always felt that the 1994 Penn State team was the best team in the country; no disrespect to Nebraska. When you look at the players that team had (five first team All-Americans on offense) and what that group accomplished. That team was the national runner-up. That was a tremendous football team. I've seen some very good basketball teams both on the men's side and the women's side. And obviously, the wrestling and volleyball programs have been dominant on the national scene."

Penn State has won a total of 27 national championships since joining the Big Ten, including three in 2013-14, and the department's collective success speaks for itself.

By no means was the integration in 1990 an easy one, but the partnership between the University and Big Ten is a match that enabled both sides to mutually prosper in a way neither side could have envisioned when the formal vote concluded 25 years ago today.


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The wrestling team began a string of four-straight Big Ten titles in March of 2011.





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CvC Golf Tournament Leading the Fight with a Positive Attitude

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VIDEO: Patrick Chambers CvC Golf Tournament Press Conference

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - There is no better man to be the centerpiece of an event and fight driven by a positive attitude than Nittany Lion basketball coach Patrick Chambers.

The basketball program lives by the motto of approaching any type of adversity with a choice. You can either face challenges with a great attitude or dwell on them with a negative attitude.

For Chambers, there is no choice because everything he touches has a positive tone.

The atmosphere at Friday's Coaches vs. Cancer Golf Tournament was again proof of that.

Chambers was hired on the day of the CvC golf outing in 2011, and a sun-splashed Friday provided the backdrop for another fantastic event held at the Penn State Blue and White Golf Courses. More than 300 golfers took the courses during morning and afternoon flights of the 19th Annual Tournament.

"This is just an awesome event," Chambers said. "It's the event we look forward to all year. It's just such a premier event with everyone coming back to participate and fight for an incredible cause. The community is full in tow with everything we are doing. Everyone is so dialed in to fight this thing and raise as much money as we can."

The list of participants included several Penn State head coaches and Athletic Director Sandy Barbour. Baseball's Rob Cooper, women's lacrosse's Missy Doherty, men's volleyball's Mark Pavlik, men's hockey's Guy Gadowsky, women's gymnastics' Jeff Thompson, men's golf's Greg Nye and men's soccer's Bob Warming, women's soccer's Erica Walsh and field hockey's Char Morett participated in this year's outing.

cvc_15_2.jpgAdditionally, former Nittany Lion great and current Portland Trail Blazer Tim Frazier spent time on the course to show his dedication to fight for the cause, along with five-time NBA champion Ron Harper, who returned to the CvC event for the second-straight year.

For Chambers, this event has taken on a different meaning in recent years. Chambers lost his brother, Greg, to lung cancer at age 60 in March of 2014, and the CvC event has touched him personally.

"I've been involved for a number of years, but this took a whole different level when I lost my brother a year ago," Chambers said. "And now that Kathy Drysdale who is in our marketing department and our equipment manager Mitch Stover are dealing with this disease, it's really starting to hit home. We've got to continue to do this, and some how some way, we've got to continue to make this bigger and bigger."

cvc_15_3.jpgChambers spent the morning session making the rounds on the golf course saying hello and greeting the participants before playing golf in the afternoon. Head football coach James Franklin visited the event prior to the afternoon tee off to show his support for Chambers and the CvC group.

"It's great to see everyone in the community coming together like this for such a great cause," Franklin said. "I lost both of my parents to cancer and it seems like this disease has had an affect on everybody in one way or another. So it's awesome that the Penn State community comes together to help raise money and make a positive impact."

Chambers kept the mood light in his five-man group on the golf course. He thoroughly enjoys his time on the course during the CvC outing, and it's event that he looks forward to all year long.

But beyond the laughs and lighthearted talk on the course, Chambers is among a group of many leaders who play an integral role in a battle much bigger than a win or loss on the court or field of play. A great deal of credit goes out to former Nittany Lion basketball leaders Bruce Parkhill, Jerry Dunn (both played golf on Friday) and Ed DeChellis for helping lead the Penn State CvC into what it has become today.

"This runs like a well-oiled machine right now, so I can't even fathom what they went through to get this thing off the ground," Chambers said. "The level that it is at now is unbelievable...To get this thing off the ground the way they did is pretty amazing. I am going to carry the torch as long as I can to keep it going."

The CvC Golf Tournament is the flagship event of the organization created to raise funds year-round to support the American Cancer Society affected by the disease in Centre County through the Bob Perks Cancer Assistance Fund (BCAF). In addition to the golf tournament, Coaches vs. Cancer conducts a year-round calendar of seven events.

The golf tournament has more than doubled in size since it began in 1996-'97, and there could not be a better man with a better attitude continuing to lead the Penn State CvC fight than Coach Chambers.

With the funds raised last year, CvC is on the brink of $2.5 million raised in the fight against cancer. While it was a fun day on the golf course, the bigger fight cannot be stated enough.
To get involved as a sponsor or participant in Penn State Coaches vs. Cancer please visit CVCPENNSTATE.ORG or call 814-330-3337.

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VIDEO: Patrick Chambers Press Conference at CVC Golf Tournament

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Head coach Patrick Chambers spent some time with the media on Friday before the afternoon tee time at the 19th Annual Coaches Vs. Cancer Golf Tournament.





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2015 Coaches Caravan Day V - New York City & New Jersey

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Coaches Caravan Registration | Download Your PSU Caravan Photo Booth Pictures Here

Photo Gallery - New York City | Photo Gallery - New Jersey

Day IV Recap (Philadelphia & Langhorne) - Photos, Video & More

NEW YORK - The Coaches Caravan paid its annual visits to New York City and New Jersey on day two of the second leg on Wednesday.

After two great events in the Philadelphia area, the bus traveled north to Midtown Manhattan for a stop inside the Edison Ballroom. Take a look through highlights from the first two stops of the six-event second week of the Coaches Caravan.

Stop No. 9 - New York City (Edison Ballroom)
For the second time in three years on the Caravan, Edison Ballroom on 47th Street in Midtown played host to the Coaches Caravan stop in New York. It's always special when the Nittany Lion contingent pays a visit to the Big Apple, and with a superb lineup of coaches again on Wednesday - Patrick Chambers, James Franklin, Russ Rose and Cael Sanderson - Wednesday's lunch was terrific.

On the heels of the thrilling Pinstripe Bowl victory in December, the folks in the room gave a rousing cheer when Director of Athletics Sandy Barbour opened the speeches by talking about the special night in Yankee Stadium.

With more than 32,000 alums in the metro area, it's shaping up to be a big year ahead for Penn State Athletics and New York City. Chambers and the Nittany Lion basketball team are slated to meet Michigan in a unique doubleheader at Madison Square Garden. On January 30, 2016, the Nittany Lions will take on the Wolverines on the hardwood and ice.

"We love coming to New York, and we hope everyone in this room makes MSG like Yankee Stadium was during the Pinstripe Bowl," Chambers said.

In addition to the hoops and hockey games in MSG, the 2016 NCAA Wrestling Championships are set to take place in The Garden from May 17-19. It will mark the first time that the championships will take place in Manhattan, and Sanderson is looking forward to a strong Penn State contingent cheering on the Blue and White.

"That's something we are really excited about. When we saw that, we were very excited about that," Sanderson said. "We are going to have a solid team, so we are excited to come back."

New York is a place Coach Rose always loves visiting. It's a place he has spent a great deal of time at, and on Wednesday he shared a great tale of a trip to Manhattan with legendary head coach Joe Paterno. Rose said the last time he was in town for a big sporting event was when the Nittany Lion basketball team captured the 2009 NIT title. He traveled to the game in Manhattan with Coach Paterno and shared about the time the two walked the streets of Midtown on the way to the game, with Coach Paterno stopping for a hot dog while mingling with folks on the streets of NYC.

Much of Wednesday's program felt like a comedy act, especially from Sanderson, whose one-liners had the room roaring during his 12-minute speech. Chambers also took some time to share a few things he has learned on the bus during the trip. The list included that he has learned what wrestlers wear for matches are not known as "tights", rather they are called singlets and that he was nine when Coach Rose began his tenure at Penn State in 1979.

The quartet of coaches is a tremendous group of ambassadors for the athletic program, and they are all individuals who love to have fun. Their personalities feed off of one another, and the New York crowd was treated to an event filled with laughter and insight as to why Penn State is in great hands with the current coaching lineup.

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VIDEO: New York City Press Conference


Stop No. 10 - New Jersey (Hilton Hotel Parsippany)
For the first time in the Caravan's four-year history, an evening reception was held in New Jersey on Wednesday. In previous years, the Caravan visited the Garden State and the host of Penn State alums during lunch stops.

Much like New York, Coach Chambers triggered the crowd with an opening speech that had the room roaring with approval. He called the Nittany Lion up on to the stage to help lead a series of cheers to get the crowd engaged and then had the Lion knock out some one-armed pushups.

Wednesday night marked the final stop for Chambers during his stint on the Caravan this year. The leader of Nittany Lion Basketball has been part of the events since the idea began in 2012. He is a tremendous speaker in a public setting, and Chambers is a superbly passionate individual about his role as an ambassador and leader for not only men's basketball, but Penn State in general.

caravanNJ_2015_1.jpg No one has more respect for what he has accomplished at Penn State than Coach Rose. He has led the Nittany Lions to seven national titles, including six of the last eight years. A big piece to the volleyball team's success has been the talent Rose has recruited out of New Jersey, including Ridgewood, New Jersey, native and All-American Ariel Scott.

"New Jersey has been very good to the Penn State volleyball team during the time I have been in Happy Valley," said Rose.

Sanderson followed Rose with another stand-up act with jokes about everyone on stage. The rooms tend to laugh from start to finish during Sanderson's speeches, and he rarely refers to his notes. As fierce of a competitor as college sports has ever seen, Sanderson is equally as personable when he gets in front of a crowd. That's in large part due to his love for the fan base.

"The thing that inspires me is when we get out on the road and you hear the passion for the University and the programs we coach," Sanderson said. "That's what makes Penn State a special place. You just see the support everywhere you go."

Speaking of passion, Franklin wrapped up the evening's speakers with a speech that left everyone in the room excited for the seasons ahead. The foundation is in place for the football program Franklin envisioned when he took the job 16 months ago.

He's said from stop one on the Caravan, but it rings true every time he addresses a crowd, "I'm more excited about the future for Penn State Football today than I was when I got the job. Why is that? Because I believe in Penn State."

The 2015 Coaches Caravan will conclude on Thursday with stops in the Lehigh Valley and Wilkes-Barre.

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Coaches Caravan Miles Traveled:
Day 1 - 129 miles

Day II - 142 miles
Day III - 444 miles
Day IV - 220 miles
Day V - 107 miles

Caravan Total - 1,042 miles


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2015 Coaches Caravan Day IV - Philadelphia & Langhorne

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Photo Gallery - Philadelphia | Photo Gallery - Langhorne

PHILADELPHIA - Leg two of the 2015 Coaches Caravan kicked off on Tuesday with a pair of stops before two great crowds in the Philadelphia area.

The Penn State Fullington Trailways rolled out of the Bryce Jordan Center parking lot just after 6:45 a.m. en route to downtown Philadelphia for stop No. 7 of the Caravan inside the Hyatt at the Bellevue. Take a look through highlights from the first two stops of the six-event second week of the Coaches Caravan.

Stop No. 7 - Philadelphia (Hyatt at the Bellevue)
Week two of the Coaches Caravan is set to be a treat for the fans in attendance. The coaching lineup is a who's who of leaders in Happy Valley, featuring Patrick Chambers (men's basketball), James Franklin (football), Russ Rose (women's volleyball) and Cael Sanderson (wrestling). It's rare to have four of the highest profile head coaches sitting in the same room and speaking to a crowd of passionate Penn Staters.

Nearly 100,000 Penn State alums call the Philadelphia area home, and for Chambers and Franklin the stops in Philly are a homecoming. Hailing from Newtown Square, Chambers is always fired up to spend time talking in front of his hometown crowd.

"It's a lot of fun to have a bunch of Philly guys with us here today," Director of Athletics Sandy Barbour said during the program's introduction.

Chambers kicked off the coach speeches on Tuesday with some humor.

"They chose me because I have the most hair of all the coaches," Chambers joked.

The room roared as he continued to poke fun at the other coaches on stage. Chambers has a great deal of positivity to convey about the direction of the Nittany Lion basketball program. From the team's finish at the Big Ten Tournament to the program's incoming recruiting class that ranks as the program's all-time best, the men's hoops program is on its way to a place Chambers is excited about.

"We are taking the right steps," Chambers said. "We are headed in the right direction. We are getting there. It is a process."

caravan2015_philly_1.jpgRose followed Chambers with remarks about a University he has called home for the past 36 years. The women's volleyball program's accolades speak for themselves, as do Rose's individual accomplishments. But what makes Rose so unique is that he does not care about the individual awards and honors, he cares more about the well being of Penn State as a whole.

"When Penn State wins a championship in any of our sports, we all win," Rose said. "It's not about individuals or individual teams. When one team wins, we all win."

Continuing with that theme, Sanderson has set the benchmark for success in college athletics, but never draws attention to individual accomplishments. The process of reaching the peak of success is all about approach to Coach Sanderson.

"Whatever you tell your student-athletes, you tell yourself the same thing," Sanderson. "These guys (up here on stage) live what they preach."

Franklin is a living example of what Sanderson talked about. He has spent the first 16 months on campus laying the foundation of the Penn State football program. Franklin believes in the process, and he is embracing the work that goes into being a successful program on the field and in the classroom.

"One of things we love so much about Penn State is the standard (everyone sets)," Franklin said as he looked at his fellow coaches on stage.

All four coaches on the Caravan are tremendous ambassadors for the University, largely because of their passion for the jobs they do. They all love the school and know what it means to be a Penn Stater long after the time when individuals receive their diplomas, much like the crowd in the room.

"It's part of a family and a relationship that carries on for much longer than the four years (people are on campus). That's why it is so special," said Sanderson.

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VIDEO: Philadelphia Press Conference




Stop No. 8 - Langhorne (Sheraton Bucks County Hotel)
Following lunch on Broad Street in Center City, the Caravan bus moved to Langhorne for the week's first evening reception. Just four miles from the childhood home of Coach Franklin, a crowd of more than 250 loyal fans attended the program inside the Sheraton Bucks County Hotel.

Several friends and family members of Coach Franklin, including his sister Debbie, spent the evening with the Coaches Caravan in Langhorne. It was a special day all around for Franklin. Visitor after visitor said hello to the leader of the Nittany Lions during both stops throughout a day in his hometown. At the lunch stop, Franklin's second grade school teacher waited in the photo booth line before surprising Franklin.

"It's really cool to be back here today," Franklin said. "This has been a big part of my life, and it's really cool to be back.

The Langhorne crowd was among the best thus far during the two weeks of the Caravan. The group was engaged and lively from start to finish during the program. Barbour opened the evening by explaining to the room how important the "why" is for the growth and development of the department.

"It all begins with the why," Barbour said. "Our purpose at Penn State is about delivering a world class student-athlete experience for more than 800 student-athletes.

You can't begin to think of four better representatives of Penn State's "why" than Chambers, Rose, Sanderson and Franklin.

Chambers has a way of making everyone in the room feeling so positive about Penn State. He led a rousing chant at the beginning of his speech that brought the room to a roar.

He yelled, "it's a great day to be a...." before the fans in the audience finished the remark, "to be a Nittany Lion." Chambers brings so much enthusiasm to a room that is infectious. And when it happens in Philly, his hometown fans love it.


Rose followed Chambers with a speech on why Penn State is truly unique as an athletic department. Every team matters to him. Why? It's because Penn State means everything to Rose, and that's why he has been so prideful as a leader for 36 years.

"I want to thank you for all of the things you do and the dreams and passion you bring to the University," Rose told the crowd.

Sanderson had the crowd in stiches with his one-liners and humor on Tuesday evening, but like the other coaches on stage, his message and passion are clear.

"Penn State is unique, and it's unique because of people like you," said Sanderson.

The Caravan heads to New York City and New Jersey on Wednesday.
    

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VIDEO: Langhorne Press Conference Video




Coaches Caravan Miles Traveled:
Day 1 - 129 miles

Day II - 142 miles
Day III - 444 miles
Day IV - 220 miles

Caravan Total - 935 miles


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Follow GoPSUsports.com's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony


Nittany Lions Look to Be More Balanced in 2015-'16

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10937792.jpegBy Matt Allibone, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK. Pa. - It was a short offseason for the Penn State men's basketball team.

Following a run to the Big Ten Tournament quarterfinals, head coach Patrick Chambers gave his players a week off to clear their heads and reflect on the season. Starting this week, however, the Lions wanted to get back into the gym.

"We're excited and we've already started," Chambers said. "We already started our spring workouts and our guys wanted to get back in the gym. That's exciting, especially for me. We're going to start lifting [Monday] and I think they're in a good place heading into the offseason."

While Penn State went through plenty of ups and downs this season, three straight wins in March, including two in the conference tournament, offer plenty to build on for the future. With six players who averaged double-digit minutes returning next season, the Lions will have plenty of experience entering their next campaign.

At the same time, there will clearly be big shoes to fill with leading scorer D.J. Newbill graduating. Not only was Newbill the unquestioned leader of the Lions, he scored nearly 31 percent of the teams points (20.7 per-game) in 2014-'15.

As much as the team relied on Newbill the past three seasons, Coach Chambers doesn't want a single player scoring the majority of the team's points next season. In the Big Ten Tournament, the Lions got double-digit scoring efforts from senior forward Ross Travis, sophomore guard Geno Thorpe and freshman guard Shep Garner, a trend Chambers hopes continues in the future.

"We were close to averaging four guys the last six games in double-digits," Chambers said. "I'd like to see us play like that. I'd like to see really good production. Now do I want to see the disparity between the leading scorer and the second leading scorer? No, I don't. If we can get it to [five different players averaging] 14, 12, 11, 10, 10, that's going to make us a very difficult team to guard."

Even without one dominant scorer, it is likely that Penn State will continue to get a bulk of its offense from its backcourt. Garner and Thorpe, two players that showed exceptional growth this season, will be counted on even more.

A true freshman, Garner started every game at point guard and scored in double figures 15 times, while Thorpe showed such offensive improvement that Chambers inserted the team's sixth man and defensive ace into the starting lineup even though that meant shifting Newbill from shooting guard to small forward.

Still, that doesn't mean that both players don't have room for improvement. Garner, who averaged 9.1 points-per-game, will have even more ball handling responsibility and will need to be more consistent. Thorpe, who improved his scoring average from 3.2 to 8.8 from his freshman to sophomore campaign, will need to continue to adjust to being relied upon on offense, as well as defense.

"We're going to count on them a lot, for different things," Chambers said. "Off the court first, leadership. And they have a lot to get better at and they know that. We're just scratching the surface with both of them.

"Geno really shot the ball well at the end of the season, he was close to 40 percent from three the last six or seven games. Shep gave us that roller coaster ride but a maybe a little more consistent towards the end. I think his assist to turnover ratio was outstanding the last six games."

Although Penn State has had a host of high-scoring guards in recent years, it will be paramount for the Nittany Lions frontcourt to help them carry the load next season. In Jordan Dickerson, Donovon Jack and Brandon Taylor, the Lions have three rising seniors that Chambers believes are capable of doing it.

Out of the three, Taylor is the most accomplished scorer, having finished second on the team in scoring this year with 9.3 points. His ability to score in the paint and from the outside is shared by the 6-foot-9 Jack, while the 7-foot Dickerson will look to further develop his postgame this summer.

"I think Jordan is coming, he shot 60 percent from the floor the last six games," Chambers said. "This offseason is going to be critical for him. We need to put the ball inside, because it's going to put you on the free throw line, but they've got to make their free throws too."

Overall, there will certainly be some transitioning to do as the Lions get used to life without Newbill. With a top recruiting class featuring two ESPN top 100 recruits in Josh Reaves and Mike Watkins and Lithuanian star Deividas Zemgulis, as well as rising sophomores like Julian Moore and Payton Banks, Penn State has more than it's share of young talent.

The goal however, is still to win. Players come and go every year in college basketball, and Chambers is excited to coach the group that he has now.

"I think [the Big Ten Tournament] taught our program and our younger guys that we can compete and we are good enough," Chambers said. "After that game (season ending loss to Purdue), I didn't see a dry eye and I knew we were closer than we've been. We're gonna be young but we're coming."