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Penn State vs Iowa
February 3, 2017
Bryce Jordan Center (University Park, Pa.)
Patrick Chambers || Penn State Head Coach
Opening Statement: I said this last week, I want to say it again: it was a win-win today. To be able to get this victory and then celebrate Team Ream, which is just an incredible cause, and then to be able to honor Mitch Stover, who’s been here forever, and we just love him so much, and to have our alumni back. So obviously a win-win for our program and everybody involved. I was concerned about our mental conditioning and our mental mindset coming into the game. They really stepped up after that Michigan State game and came back to work. That’s growth. That’s a little bit of maturity. Hopefully, we can keep this consistent play going.
Comfortable wins in the Big Ten are not frequent. What does it mean to you guys to have a game like this where you got a double-digit lead throughout the second half?
PC: They’re probably comfortable for you, they’re not comfortable for me. You know every team is going to run. The way Iowa has been playing; they’ve been playing some of their best basketball. They beat Minnesota, they hit 12 3’s, they played fantastic against Nebraska in a loss, but they still played them toe-to-toe. So the game really concerned me. Being up with a team that’s still learning how to win, learning how to lead, and being consistent, you know maybe the energy level and the toughness is going to drop a little bit. You might’ve seen that in the first couple minutes there in the second half, and then “bang.” They turned it right back to start winning possessions, defending and rebounding, and then we saw the ball go back in the basket. Again, there’s a lot of positives I’m going to take from this game.
Could you address getting past your win and your Big Ten win total from last year this early in February? Sandy [Barbour] has said that she’s really wanted to see improvement in the Big Ten, how important is that?
PC: I just have to get our team better. I can’t get caught up in wins and losses, because truthfully when I do, that’s when I become more stressed out and more worried, and that’s not being the best coach I can be. So I’m going to focus on this team, my staff, and how I can get them better every single day, and worry about my culture. So when my culture is good, the players are in a good place, I’m meeting with them individually, and I’m meeting with my staff as often as I am. Guess what happens. You start to win. So I’m going to stay focused on here and now, I’m going to stay present and get better tomorrow when we get up. I’m going to watch this film tonight, and I’m going to watch this film tomorrow and then we’re going to get better. But that has to be the approach for me. As far as Sandy [Barbour] goes, I’ve done that. I did that in year five. Guess what, it didn’t work out for me. It did because I still have my job, but if I’m worried about what administration is going to do, and how they’re going to handle it, it’s not good for anybody. I’m distracted. I can’t be distracted
How do you think their preference to play at up-tempo went with your offensive flow? What’s the biggest difference you see in your team today from when you last played Iowa in early December?
PC: They want to play fast. The pace, they want to go up and down, there’s no doubt about it. We were able to score some baskets early, and they missed some early. I think [Jordan] Bohannon got loose there for his only three in the first couple minutes of the game, you’re concerned. But then I thought our defense was really good, especially in their early offense. Early offense, they’re looking for [Tyler] Cook, they’re looking for [Luka] Garza, and then they’re looking for Bohannon. When I look back at that game, it felt like two years ago. We were two different teams. I think Iowa is much better than what the score indicates and the way they were playing today. Against Minnesota, against Nebraska, I thought they played some really, really good basketball. They’ve matured, Cook is a monster, and he’s an absolute beast. I think we’ve grown up and matured, you’re starting to see that connectivity shine through in games now. That’s what we need, we need to stay connected, and we can’t worry about the distractions on the outside, that’s why I say we just need to stay present and take care of what we need to take care of.
We saw Tony Carr, Lamar Stevens, and really a lot of the starters playing late into this game, can you talk about that decision to let those guys playing a bit more when they’ve had a lot of minutes here recently.
PC: I wanted to finish off strong. I really did. I didn’t want to get sloppy, and I wanted to finish strong. Right around that three-minute
You’ve probably had seasons here where you haven’t had 10 dunks. Do you get caught up in watching that? When you see Lamar [Stevens] do a 360 like that, are you concerned about showboating?
PC: I never want to show up a guy who has 400 wins. Who’s such a classy guy who I know really well, and that’s why I called that timeout. Hey, we’re not here to embarrass anybody. That’s not what we do. I have too much respect for Iowa and Fran McCaffery. I don’t get caught up in that stuff. It’s two points either way. But you have to let them have fun, they have to enjoy it. These kids sacrifice their summer, they sacrifice so much during the course of the year, that you want them to have some fun.
Tony Carr | So. | G
Do you think Iowa’s fast tempo game rubbed off on you guys and your performance?
TC: We had to switch our style up because we were playing slow while they were playing fast. I think them having a high tempo really helped us and ended up working to our advantage today.
What significance of equaling your total of wins from last year mean to you so far in the season?
TC: Progress and that is pretty much it. We are making progress as a team. Coach is making great progress with us, just getting us to compete hard every possession. I just find the only way for this team is up because we matched what we did last year and we are definitely not finished. We know that last year we kind of underachieved and didn’t achieve anything we wanted to at all, so we definitely want to take that next step as a team and win as many games as we can here on out.
Have you guys worried about Coach Chambers at all this year in terms of job security? Or can you not afford to do that as the season continues to stay focused?
TC: To be honest I was definitely worried about Coach when things were not looking good for us. But that did bring us closer together with our relationship. It made us play harder as a team. We always play hard, but we definitely want what is best for this program and this team, and we feel that we want Coach being ahead of everything. We want to win as many games as possible just for him, so he can be secure in his position. He deserves that. He comes to work early and leaves late every day, and he puts that time and effort for us, so we can be the best team that we can be. As we move forward we hope to keep the wins coming in, so he can have some more job security.
Seeing yourself and three of your teammates finish in double digits tonight, what does that say about your guy’s ability to share the ball and play as a team?
TC: It is a great team win like you said. We have great players on this team. Mike (Watkins), Lamar (Stevens), Josh (Reaves), Shep (Garner) - we all can get things going so on a night like this when we were all clicking, it makes the game easier and more fun to play.
Can you talk about your guy’s defensive plays and your strategy against Iowa today? You held [Jordan] Bohannon to just three points, can you talk about him?
TC: We just wanted to wear him down. He is a great player and a great shooter, so we wanted to close out with high hands and stop him from shooting threes. Him specifically we need to wear him down and put different defenders on him and pressure him at full court.
Comparing Mike’s (Watkins) performance from the Michigan State game where he got into foul trouble, what did you see from him today?
TC: It is definitely tough to play on the road because you don’t know what the refs are going to let you do. They might let you get away with something, but then the game gets a little tighter. So Mike (Watkins) has to change his playing style to that, but it was definitely big. Anytime we can have Mike in the game more than 30 minutes is big for us. He is the anchor for our defense. When he is out the offensive team tries to go to the glass more and do layups.
Talking about Alumni Day today, did you get a chance to talk to any of the guys personally or professionally? And what is the impact to see so many guys come back from across so many decades?
TC: I didn’t get the chance to talk to that many guys, but it is great to see them have that great Penn State pride, and it is great to get a win in front of the great fans that we have.
Fran McCaffery || Iowa Coach Quote
What did you see out there from your team tonight?
FM: I thought we started the game okay. They made a little run. The score was 14-14. They made a run. I didn’t think we responded there the way we needed to. Sometimes we have a tendency to go 1-on-1 in those situations, which doesn’t work for us. It just doesn’t. We’ve got to move it, especially with Bohannon struggling. He was sick. We tried to go. This team was putting a lot of pressure on you, on the point of attack. All the more reason why we got to get it moving. We wanted to go 1-on-1 like I said, and that stretch where we were struggling offensively and they were scoring, they shared the ball. They had multiple guys in double figures. They got the break on a little bit. It goes to nine or ten. You got to get it to five. You can’t go 10-18 that quickly. Started the second half, I thought we were really good defensively. We got some stops. We got some consecutive stops. We went 2-13 in that stretch. We had some good looks at it. They’re a team that challenges you at the rim pretty well, so we got some misses they needed, especially Luka [Garza]. He had it there a couple times and didn’t finish. We got into the bonus pretty quickly by driving the ball and throwing it inside and missing free throws, so we never really could make a mini-run but not really. We cut it to 13 or something like that.
What did you attribute some of the three-point shooting issues to in terms of the percentages?
FM: [Jordan] Bohannon is usually a guy that for us who
What, if any, significant differences do you see between Penn State now versus back in early December?
FM: I just think they’re further along in their development. You’ve got some really good players. The big three are the guys that when you are preparing for this team you are thinking about. Obviously, [Tony] Carr, [Mike] Watkins, and [Lamar] Stevens are really good, but I think Reaves is very underrated. He’s effective at both ends of the floor. You can’t forget about him, and then Garner coming into the game made 68 threes. I think Bohannon has made 69, so they’re two leaders in our league. They’ve got different weapons that make them hard to guard. They defend. They share the ball pretty good. I don’t see any selfishness there. With a lot of guys with reps, sometimes you don’t see that. You see some guys going for their own. I haven’t seen that with this team. I think that’s a level of maturity that you would expect over time to develop, so I say all-in-all they’re a better team than they were.
You haven’t had many teams that have been under .500 this late in the season. It’s your first one here. When you get to this point in the season, what’s your message with six games to go?
FM: It’s no different than if we were eight games over .500. It’s no different. Had we won tonight, you can’t get too excited about it. You’ve got to break it down. This is what we did well. This is what we did poorly. This is what we’ve got to do next game. What are we playing with? We’ve got to do this, this and this, and you’ve got to keep grinding. It’s not that you can’t get too high or too low. We’ll just keep drilling them, keep showing
Correct me if I’m wrong. You usually come with the team, but you stayed behind to watch a top recruit last night. Number one, how rare is that for you? Number two, obviously the guy had a great game.
FM: I’ve never recruited a guy that scored more points than the other team, so that was pretty impressive. He scored all the team's points in the first half and made 50 or 54. That was pretty impressive, but I’ve been watching him since he was in fifth grade. I’m not surprised. Excited that he’s coming to play for us. It was a great atmosphere. I’ve done this before. I’ve gone recruiting, and a lot of us do. We’ve practiced and met at a film session before we left, so the only thing I missed was one film session last night that the scouting coach ran.