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The Nittany Lion returned to its natural habitat on Monday as Penn State Men's Basketball Coach Patrick Chambers led more than 20 members of the Legion of Blue student section, the Nittany Lion mascot, media and staff members to the top of Mount Nittany.
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When Patrick Chambers climbed Mount Nittany last summer, leading a contingent of members of Penn State’s spirited student section the “Legion of Blue,” staff members, members of the media, and even The Nittany Lion, the focus was on the destination.
As the head coach of Penn State, while Chambers’ focus is on leading the program to a higher elevation, so to speak, it’s the journey that has revealed the intense commitment and true leadership.
There have been many small, but important, milestones on this trek to sustained success as they pertain to the progress made by Chambers and the Penn State basketball program.
In 2016-17, the Nittany Lions recorded their fourth-straight season with at least 15 wins, a first-ever accomplishment in Penn State’s Big Ten era. Another indicator shows increased offensive production with three of the program’s top-10 team scoring averages in conference play coming in each of the last three seasons. The stalwart defense, a Chambers’ hallmark, harassed and frustrated opponents and allowed the Nittany Lions to claim positions at or near the top of the Big Ten’s statistics for blocks and steals per game and make significant improvements in other categories.
More obvious, though, is the relentless attitude his Nittany Lions possess, both in practice and on gameday. Their work ethic and perseverance are starting to pay off: four-straight victories over ranked opponents on Penn State’s homecourt over the last two seasons; hard-fought wins in the Big Ten Tournament; and the establishment of a culture of teamwork built on accountability, faith, humility,
Named the 12th head coach in program history June 6, 2011, the Philly native has poured his energy into building the Nittany Lion program.
Signing the top two recruiting classes in program history in back-to-back years, the 2016 group was ranked in the top 25 and the 2015 class in the top 30. A trio of players with freshmen eligibility started the 2016-17 season opener, another first. They combined for 90 starts, and added another 23 from a sophomore, giving the young Nittany Lions a birth by fire, but positioning them for future success.
The impressive performances of the rookies earned them several honors during the course of their initial campaigns with three Big Ten Freshmen of the Week accolades and Big Ten All-Freshman team selection Tony Carr. Chambers has guided six other players to a combined eight All-Big Ten honors, including Tim Frazier’s first-team nod in 2011 and Brandon Taylor’s third-team selection in 2016.
Frazier ended his career as the all-time leader in assists – a record Chambers also holds to this date at his alma mater Philadelphia. When D.J. Newbill’s PSU career was complete, he was the fourth-ranked scorer in Nittany Lion history, after just three seasons, and Ross Travis has the third-most rebounds of any player to wear the Blue and White.
Chambers has sent Frazier, Newbill and numerous other players into the professional ranks. Tim Frazier (2009-14) is with the Washington Wizards, and D.J. Newbill (2013-15) signed a new contract to play for the National Basketball League’s New Zealand Sky City Breakers. The 2014-15 senior class produced a professional basketball player (Newbill), a Kansas City Chiefs tight end (Ross Travis), a Ford engineer (Alan Wisniewski) and a Penn State graduate student in accounting (Kevin Montminy) who recorded eight-consecutive semesters of a 4.0 GPA, proving all avenues of success are available as a member of the program.
Maintaining academic success and graduating players is a primary priority for Chambers and his staff. The Nittany Lion program earned 100 percent Graduation Success Rate from the NCAA for the fourth-consecutive year and was the only Big Ten men’s basketball team with a perfect score in the 2016 NCAA Graduation Rates report. The men’s basketball graduation figure was 24 points higher than the Division I average in last fall’s NCAA report and 20 points above the Big Ten
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,
Chambers’ rise in coaching has been meteoric. He served as a part-time assistant at Episcopal Academy (HS), Director of Operations at Villanova,
AT BOSTON UNIVERSITY
Chambers came to direct the Penn State program 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 in more than a decade. He posted a 42-28 record in two years as head coach of the Terriers, becoming the only coach in BU history to earn 20 wins in each of his first two seasons and the fastest in program history to earn a conference championship.
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 as the Terriers won at Oregon State and beat Morehead State in the CBI for BU’s first postseason wins since 1959. BU also posted its first perfect home conference record since 1998.
Chambers’ Boston University teams reflected his strong ties in the “City of Brotherly Love” as his 2010-11 squad featured six players from the Philadelphia area. His personable nature and winning teams 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
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 institution’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 instruction and player development. He was instrumental in building the Wildcats’ 2009 recruiting class, 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 bench and won at least 22 games in each of his five seasons, including the 2009 senior class posting a program-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
PRIOR TO COLLEGIATE COACHING
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 as an assistant coach at Delaware Valley (Pa.) College in 1995-96. He left coaching to help operate the family
Chambers himself played for Dougherty at Episcopal. 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.
THE CHAMBERS FAMILY
Three of Chambers’ 11 siblings are Penn State graduates -- brothers, Chris and Joe, and a sister, Megan, who resides in State College. 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 four children: Grace, Ryan, Caitlin and Patrick.