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Penn State 84, Monmouth 52
Nov. 26, 2013
Bryce Jordan Center
Patrick Chambers, Penn State head coach
Q: (Allen) Roberts had a big night offensively, but the one play he was chasing down someone from behind and dove. Is that a play that he makes last year? Is that a play that has been ingrained as he’s been here?
A: He’s getting there. We always talk about having two feet in. You’ve got a guy that’s been somewhere else for the last four years, had two different coaches, different styles and different philosophies. That’s something we’ve been stressing during the non-conference for him to become a Penn State player. We have to speed up the process with him. I think he took one very large step today in doing that. I don’t think it was because he was making shots. I really believe; I could hear him before the game, “I’m winning attitude club, I’m getting after it. When you’re saying little things like that, it means a lot. It means a lot to your teammates and, more importantly, it means a lot to me. I think the bench erupted, we all did.
Q: Did you get a sense that they were physically fatigued in the second half because of the press?
A: First of all, I’ve watched every game of Monmouth’s and King (Rice) does a fantastic job with his youthful team. What they did in the second half against Seton Hall and St. John’s; it was just amazing for them to stay in those games. We need to come out and we need to play Penn State basketball. If we can do that, we’re going to be really good. I felt like we did that. We had more energy, we played a lot harder and I think we sped them up. I don’t know if they were fatigued, I wouldn’t say that. I like to think that we played harder and that was the goal, because they play hard. We’re starting to mature, starting to gain an identity and we have to keep that going because the next one is a tough one, on the road, in New York.
Q: Good teams are able to put other teams away. You have this game in hand and finish it out strong. How important is it to get these guys to play a full game no matter how the game is going?
A: We talk about that constantly, playing 40 minutes of playing Penn State basketball and it’s not easy. Human nature sets in. You have foul trouble. BT (Brandon Taylor) in foul trouble, Donovon Jack in foul trouble, missing shots and little things like that. When you get your guys coming off your bench, your second and third team, playing the same way the starters did, then you’re building something, then you have a program. You have 15 guys who are completely in to defending, rebounding and playing the right way. That’s what practice has been. You can see us getting better. I really believe we’re heading in the right direction.
Q: Allen said that he would rather be a role player on this team than the leading scorer on another team. That kind of chemistry, are you feeling that coming together six games in?
A: It’s getting there. It still needs a little work. We had 17 assists again, which is great. We’ve had 18, 25 and 17 the last three games. That’s great for us. I would still like to see a little more chemistry, guys understanding their roles a little more. I think you saw that in the second half. I think guys took the right shots. We defended, we rebounded and we did the little things. You’re right, but we’re still not all the way there yet.
Q: What about the fact that he said that?
A: That’s huge. I’m almost flabbergasted. That’s huge. You have a fifth-year senior, who’s been the leading scorer on his team the last four years, and he’s willing to be selfless and understand his role because he wants to win basketball games. In this day and age, that’s a beautiful thing.
Q: What’s the biggest difference you’ve seen since the Bucknell game? Have you or the players made any adjustments?
A: We’ve made our adjustments, there’s no question, after Bucknell. We learned our lesson. Our defense is a lot better, we’re rebounding the ball better, we’re not fouling as much. We had 19 fouls tonight, I’d like to be under 20 every game. We’re doing some good things. We’re understanding that Tim (Frazier) and D.J. (Newbill) can’t do it by themselves. They need everybody. Donovon Jack against LaSalle, Brandon Taylor against Longwood, Allen Roberts today and Graham (Woodward) played well. We have some depth, we have some skill, we have some players. We just have to continue building that trust with one another.
Q: What was the key to the run early in the second half?
A: Sometimes it just happens that way. We got a couple steals, a couple deflections, made a couple shots and then it kind of steamrolled after that. I give our leaders credit: Tim, D.J., Ross (Travis) and Wiz (Alan Wisniewski). Wiz gave us incredible minutes, he came in the game and really sparked us. He probably deserves more credit for that run, just doing all of the little things and that’s what we’re all about.
Q: You’ve put in some full-court pressure early in games. How much of that is just to fire up your guys?
A: I think when we go to our three-quarter court pressure, we play harder. We have to defend more of the floor. I’ve been going to that because of that. I also have to be careful with fouls. Our bigs got in foul trouble because we opened the floor a little bit. We have to be smart when we use it. We can’t foul, but we have to play hard and together. As long as we do that, we’ll get some turnovers like we did today.
Q: What’s it been like having this kind of depth?
A: I’m still getting used to it, to be honest with you. For the last two years, I played six guys. Now, you’re trying to get Tim, D.J. and Ross out, but you trust them so much, you want them on the floor at all times. It’s nice to gain a lot of confidence in A.R., Graham, Julian (Moore) and Wiz. It’s good to see. We have to continue on that path, because they have to get minutes as we get to the Big Ten.
Q: Not to jump too far ahead, but do you think about your depth and then realize to still have John Johnson waiting in the wings?
A: There’s no doubt. I put him on blue. When we have a couple days of practice, I always put him with the starters and give him a couple reps just to get those guys used to playing with him. He’s always playing as the best player on the other team, so he’s taking 15-20 shots in practice, so we have to get him on blue to make sure he understands his gaps and how to defend and rebound and understands the offense.
Tim Frazier, graduate guard
Q: You guys have been able to score the basketball for the last five games now pretty easily but the defense has always been something you guys have been working on. Tonight in the second half when things started to go your way more. What was different about tonight?
A: It just happened. They [Monmouth] have a great group of guys on the other side of the floor, great coached guys. We threw some pressure on them and mixed things up. We went to our pressure and we were able to create turnovers. That led to quick baskets.
Q: When you have a game where two starters don’t necessarily score very much and [Allen Roberts] is able to do what he did, what does that mean to the team?
A: It’s great. To have anybody able to step up is what’s great about our team. Like you said, we have new guys leading us in scoring and new guys stepping up having great games every game and for Allen [Roberts] to step up and shoot the ball as well as he did and do other things as well such as rebounding, getting deflections and just talking out there on the floor is great. Like I said, with our team one guy might not be having a good game but the other four guys on the court are going to pick him up.
Q: How easy is it to play with these guys? Coming to a new team over the summer it seems like you are pretty comfortable with these guys out on the floor.
A: I’m very comfortable playing with these guys now. I’ve been here playing with Tim [Frazier], D.J. [Newbill] and Ross [Travis] since June in the second summer session. I’m just a lot more comfortable with these guys on the court. I can tell and I can read when Tim’s about to drive and pass and when he’s about to do the no-look pass. I know when to follow them when they drive to the rim, just little tips like those. I can remember those things and after doing it so many times its just becoming more familiar and it’s locked in my head now to get open for these guys because they are going to find me. They are great teammates so they are always going to look to get an assist. They are always working hard so I’m going to just work hard with them and get them better every day.
Q: You go from being a leading scorer to being a guy who they are asking to do different things in different games. How much of an adjustment has that been for you?
A: It’s not that bad. It’s an adjustment because you have to learn different traits. Out there on the court I’m used to dribbling the ball a lot coming off ball screens. Now I’m trying to be a more complete player where I’m actually moving without the ball, offensive rebounding, crashing the glass and doing other things other than just dribbling the basketball. I would rather be on this team than be a leading scorer anywhere else.
King Rice, Monmouth head coach
Q: Was there a point early in the second half where you just went away?
A: No, I am a fighter. So I am always going to continue to fight, but as it started going, we are turning the ball over, they are getting second chance baskets, their press, their three-quarter court press, threw us off a lot. We usually handle those things a lot better, and tonight we just could not do it, and I felt bad for my kids out there. This is on the coaches because we put them in a tough spot going three in a row against the bog boys.
Q: What can you take away from this three-game stretch, now going back home to play two games presumably on paper that are more winnable for you?
A: Well what we are going to do, and as I just told them, we are getting back to work tomorrow. Everybody will be in practice. We lost our fight a little bit tonight. Penn State made us lose our fight. They just kept coming at us, and we did not fight back as hard as we have in every single game this year, and before that becomes a problem we are going to clean it up tomorrow.
Q: What was the message to [Andrew Nicholas] when you pulled him there late in the first half after a missed three?
A: Red (Andrew Nicholas) did not start the second half. I have got to do something to get him playing. He is too good of a player to play this way. We give Red a lot of freedom on our team to be the leader on our team, and right now he is in a little bit of a rut, and we have to do something to get him out of it, and the way I have learned through Coach Smith and Coach Williams, and all of the Carolina guys that I have been around, the quickest way to get a kid to understand that he is not doing what we need right now is to sit him down, and I hate it for Red because he is a competitor, but he has to play like the Andrew Nicholas that we all know, and right now he is not. So we are just trying to give him some time to get it back.
Q: They bring a guy like Allen Roberts off the bench, a graduate. How much does he bring when you have to deal with him along with everybody else that is already out there?
A: I think what happens is when you look at Penn State’s team, I have been reading about them since the books came out, and everybody say that they have one of the best backcourts. I know Brandon Taylor. We watched him a lot in High School. So to have those three guys that are high-level guys that are scoring the ball, then all of a sudden you have got to look at double-teaming either Frazier or Newbill. One of them you have got to double team or both of them go crazy on you, and then Brandon can get going too. So now you bring a kid in that can shoot the ball, and you are focusing on the other guys, and he is a big-time shooter, and he made them tonight. I am going to watch all season and see if he continues to do that, but he definitely made them tonight.