Nittany Lion leaders discuss the 2013-14 season and look to what is ahead
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Introduced as just the 12th head coach in Nittany Lion basketball history on June 6, 2011, Patrick Chambers quickly energized the Penn State fan base with his passion and enthusiasm and his team's all-out style of play.
Described as passionate, energetic, upbeat and dynamic by media in attendance, Chambers' first appearance as the leader of Penn State basketball was described as "less an introduction than a passionate call to arms" by Blue-White Illustrated's Nate Bauer.
"I hope you all embrace this new attitude that we're going to bring," Chambers declared. "We're going to follow in the traditions of Penn State basketball. Succes with Honor is our motto. We're going to recruit kids that are serious about their degrees, that love to play basketball, that will represent Penn State with integrity and will be out in the community and work charities and do whatever we can to help the area.
"We're going to play a style I hope you will enjoy and come out and support. We are going to play up-tempo. We're going to push the ball. We're going to get layups. If we don't get layups, we're going to shoot threes."
Chambers wasted little time in spreading that message to his Nittany Lion team and the Penn State fan base far and wide. He traveled 10,500 miles in his first eight days on the job to personally visit with each returning and incoming player and their families (except Sasa Borovnjak in Serbia). He ordered up a pair of golf carts and began making spur-of-the-moment trips around the Penn State campus distributing t-shirts and his infectious energy. He visited amusement parks, pep rallies, student groups, and classes and threw out first pitches. Chambers even went as far as to go behind the counter to serve free Big Macs to students at State College's downtown McDonald's and donned a Penn State football jersey and helmet to fire up the famed "Nittanyville" student campout prior to the Lion football team's 2011 clash with Alabama. He was seemingly everywhere in his first year on the job, most importantly the recruiting trail, and showed no signs of slowing down despite reconstructive knee surgery in the spring of 2012 that placed him on crutches for nearly two months.
On the court, he seized the attention of his team with fast-paced, high-intensity practices and his positive, relentless and direct in-game coaching. He guided junior Tim Frazier to one of the best seasons in Lion history as the 6-1 guard earned first-team All-Big Ten honors after leading the conference in assists and finishing second in scoring and steals. Frazier developed into the team's unquestioned floor leader and set a Penn State season record in assists (198).
The youngest of 12 children (nine boys, three girls) from a Philadelphia Irish Catholic family so large it ate dinner in shifts, Chambers' route to Penn State was anything but usual and stands as a testament to the values of family, faith and attitude, which he holds dear. It was a path shaped by 2011 Naismith Hall of Fame inductee Herb Magee, Philadelphia high school coaching legend Dan Dougherty and highly successful Villanova coach Jay Wright. It was also shaped by a life altering attack that nearly claimed his life 10 years prior to his accepting the Nittany Lion post.
Chambers rise in coaching has been meteoric. He served as a part-time assistant at Episcopal Academy (HS), Director of Operations at Villanova, assistant coach at Villanova, associate head coach on Jay Wright's 2009 NCAA Final Four team and head coach at Boston University in a short seven years prior to leading a Big Ten program. The dizzying pace is reflective of his no holds barred approach to every day.
Chambers came to Penn State from Boston University, where in 2010-11 he led the Terriers to the America East Conference Championship and the program's first NCAA Tournament berth since 2002. He posted a 42-28 record in two years in his first head coaching stint at BU. He was the only BU coach in history to earn 20 wins in each of his first two seasons and the fastest to earn a conference championship in program history.
The Terriers earned a 21-14 mark for the second straight year under Chambers in 2010-11. Led by 2011 America East Player-of-the-Year and two-time scoring champion John Holland, BU fell after challenging No. 1 seed Kansas in the Terriers' first NCAA Tournament game since 2002. Chambers led BU to the semifinals of the College Basketball Invitational in 2009-10. The Terriers won at Oregon State and beat Morehead State in the CBI, marking BU's first post-season wins since 1959. BU also posted its first perfect home conference record since 1998.
Chambers stocked his Boston University teams with Philadelphia talent, including six players from the Philadelphia area in 2010-11, relying on long standing relationships and his first hand experience in the basketball community in the "City of Brotherly Love." He also energized a stagnant basketball fan base at the hockey-centric school.
A native of Newtown Square, Pa., Chambers previously played for and coached with two of the nation's most successful college coaches. From 2004-09, he was a member of Wright's staff at Villanova University, serving as associate head coach in 2008-09. He helped the Wildcats earn four NCAA Sweet 16 appearances and advance to the 2009 NCAA Final Four during his tenure. Chambers played for Magee at Philadelphia University (formerly Philadelphia Textile), helping Magee become college basketball's all-time victories leader (941) and a 2011 Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame inductee.
During Chambers five seasons on Wright's Villanova staff, he was instrumental in helping lead the Wildcats to a 126-45 record (.737), including the school's single-season win record of 30-8 in 2008-09. The Wildcats advanced to the NCAA Tournament all five seasons of Chambers' tenure and posted a 56-28 (.667) record in Big East Conference games. Chambers had responsibilities in all facets of the program, including recruiting, scouting, on-court teaching and player development. He was instrumental in building the Wildcats 2009 recruiting class that was ranked No. 3 in the nation by ESPN.com and brought in ESPNU Top 100 players Maalik Wayns, Dominic Cheek, Mouphtaou Yarou and Isaiah Armwood to Villanova.
Named Villanova's associate head coach in 2008, Chambers helped lead the Wildcats to the 2009 NCAA Final Four, the school's first in 24 years, and saw Villanova advance to the Sweet 16 for the fourth time in five NCAA appearances during his tenure. Villanova posted an 11-5 mark in the NCAA Tournament during Chambers' time on the Wildcat staff and won at least 22 games in each of his five seasons, including the 2009 senior class posting a school record 126 career victories.
Chambers also served as Villanova Director of Basketball Operations (2004-05) and as an assistant coach (2005-2008) under Wright, the 2009 Big East Coach-of-the-Year. Four Villanova players Chambers worked with played in the NBA and five other Wildcats from his tenure have played professionally overseas. He recruited four McDonald's All-Americans to Villanova.
Chambers was a standout guard under Magee, known as "The Shot Doctor," at Philadelphia U. graduating from the University in 1994 with a degree in marketing and a minor in finance. He joined the NCAA Division II University's basketball team as a walk-on in 1990 and went on to have an outstanding career, becoming the team's starting point guard, earning first-team All-ECAC honors and leaving as the school record holder in assists with 709. Chambers helped lead the Rams to four NCAA Division II Sweet 16 appearances and two Elite Eight appearances.
Chambers began his coaching career with a one-year stint as an assistant coach at Delaware Valley (Pa.) College in 1995-96. He left coaching to pursue the family business, but returned in 1999 after being named the top varsity assistant coach at Episcopal Academy, a position he held through 2004. High School All-Americans Wayne Ellington (North Carolina) and Gerald Henderson (Duke) were among the players he helped develop at Episcopal Academy under coach Dan Dougherty.
Chambers himself played for Dougherty at Episcopal on the same team with current Nittany Lion associate head coach Eugene Burroughs. Dougherty logged 621 victories at Episcopal, the most of any city high school coach, and also served collegiate coaching stints as the successor to Bob Knight at Army (1972-75) and as an assistant at Villanova (1967-72). Dougherty coached such standouts in the college game as Fran Dunphy, Bruiser Flint, Fran O'Hanlon and Jerome Allen.
Three of Chambers' 11 siblings are Penn State graduates -- brothers Chris and Joe and a sister, Megan, who resides in State College. A nephew, Patrick Flanagan, is a defensive back on the Nittany Lion football team. Chambers' older brother, Tim, was the 1984 Ivy League Player-of-the-Year as a defensive back on a Penn football team that won three-consecutive Ivy League titles. Another older brother, Paul, was a three-year starting point guard (1989-92) on the Penn basketball team and stands fifth all-time in career assists for the Quakers with 396.
Chambers and his wife, Courtney, have three children. They welcomed their second daughter, Caitlin, in March 2012 following their first season in State College. She joined a sister, Grace, and a brother, Ryan.
What They are Saying about Penn State Basketball Coach Patrick Chambers
"Penn State and Pat Chambers are a perfect match - class, pride and integrity. Pat is a talented coach and an outstanding recruiter. I know how fired up he is about Penn State and I know Penn Staters will love him."
"He's a leader. The success he's had in his coaching career doesn't surprise me at all. If you put him in charge of something, it's going to get done. No one will work harder and his players will do the same. They're going to get better each year."
"He was selling for the family business and doing well. But, I just had that feeling he would make a great coach. He was one of those people who love the game so much and know the game so well. He had that Philly ability to recognize situations and know what people should be doing and know what to do with the ball and that intense desire to win. I loved the way he interacted with the players. He's quick to jump on them if they're not doing everything exactly the right way. There's no short-cuts with him."
"Pat Chambers has been fortunate enough to play for and work for some of the most successful coaches in the Philadelphia area. Hopefully, in addition to leading Boston University to an NCAA Tournament appearance in his second year as a head college coach, these experiences will provide a toolbook and a resource for him to build a program that will be competitive in the Big Ten on a regular basis and make Penn State fans proud."
"It's hard to imagine Penn State finding a more promising coach and better fit than Patrick Chambers. It certainly helps that he worked for one of the best, classiest coaches in Jay Wright, but Patrick showed in his two years at BU that he could stand on his own as a coach. Penn State has every reason to be thrilled about its basketball future."
"Before I joined ESPN.com, I worked in Philadelphia and watched Chambers tutor alongside Villanova coach Jay Wright. His passion for basketball and his eagerness was so overwhelming that more than one person asked, "Is this guy for real?" The implication being that Chambers' personality might be somewhat disingenuous. It is not. It is who he is.
At Boston University, he coached hard and recruited well, the two biggest tools in a head coach's tool belt. But he also recognized that involving the fans and inspiring the campus was key. That's what Penn State needs. In Chambers, that's what it has: an architect."