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Dec. 8, 2012
Penn State Coach Patrick Chambers
Q: How do you these guys handling the seven man rotation?
A: It's challenging. Every team is going to press us and then you're asking them to play hard on the defensive end. It's almost like something has got to give. You start well, you're playing great defense. For whatever reason we are tired. We find it again, we dig a little deeper, and find it within us. We have to get away from it. We did it with La Salle, we did it today, and we did it versus Penn. We need some consistency. We need to go a little deeper on the bench. Over the next couple of weeks we just have a crazy stretch, kind of like a Big Ten stretch. Now you got some time off. Give them a couple of days to get their minds and bodies right. It's a big concern. That is why I burned a couple time outs in that second half, I could see us headed the other way. I don't think that is the first time ever, as a head time coach, that we had six minutes to go and we didn't have a time out. And the other fact is that is how important possessions came in to play. We're diving on the ground, we're calling time outs.
Q: Are guys still trying to figure out their roles with Tim out and you looking for guys to try to emerge?
A: I would say they know their roles we just have to get better at our roles. They're trying. I'm trying to mix up D.J. and Jermaine bringing up the ball up the floor. I told Ross to bring it up sometimes. I told Nick to bring it up sometimes. You just have to be confident in doing it. We have to continue doing it in practice. We have to practice the way the teams are playing us. That is what we are trying to do. Hopefully we continue to get better. It's a win. Regardless of how I felt, it's a win. And well take it. Nobody thought we would win a game. We just won three. There's some positive right there.
Q: Could you talk about Ross Travis's work ethic?
A: He's playing great in the first half. Two really good first halves. Took some good shots, he plays hard. His next step is 40 minutes. And having a willingness to learn, and continue to learn. Be taught the game and understanding the game. He's posting a double-double, great production. He is probably right now, he and Jermaine, playing the most minutes on the team. He's so versatile; he can play in the guard spot, he can play the small forward where he is a nightmare match-up, which is good for us. He has to continue to shoot, he has to start making those free throws, and he has to start making shots in the second half. We are going to need that.
Q: Do you wonder if you are asking him to do too much?
A: I agree. He welcomes that challenge. He wants to be a big time player. Big time players want to be challenged and they want to play. He doesn't care what position he is in; he just wants to be on the floor. He has got to continue to do that. Its unfortunate I thought our big guys got going early, did some great things. But they got into foul trouble. One of our keys was play guard against their post man without fouling. Sasa had four, Jon had four, that is something we have to work on. We have to play hard without fouling.
Q: This was the first game we have seen Brandon with his back to the basket, a lot more then he shot the three, is that the kind of addition to the game you want to see?
A: We are trying to mix it up. Did he make the right decisions every time? No, but that's a freshman. You have to put him in the fire and see what he does. I thought he did some good things. He finished the game for us. He played 26 minutes, which is positive. He understood most of the game situations. It was nice to see him out there. He had some big shots for us, made some big free throws. That last six-minute stretch we found our energy again. We found that extra inch or two.
Q: Ross said that he felt that he wasn't thinking about the shots. Have you noticed anything that has changed?
A: I just told him to play for me with a clear head and confidence on the offensive end. On the defensive end you better defend and rebound. You better do the little things that make great programs and great teams. I want him to play free and clear. If anybody knows Ross that is probably not the case. But you are starting to see that more often, which is good for us.
Q: After the La Salle game, you said Sasa has been up and down. What did you see in the last game that made you decide to start him tonight?
A: Leadership, he wants to be out there and compete. He's making some good decision for us. I want to get Jon's confidence going again. He's ready to do it. As a senior he is ready to step up and make those decisions and choices for us.
Q: He has been able to capitalize on put back opportunities in the past couple of games. What do you think that say about his awareness?
A: He is doing his job. People are leaving our bigs and helping the guards. He is starting to become a better offensive rebounder, watching the flight of the ball and gauging where it might go. He is in the right place at the right time. That is usually what happens when you play hard. When you play hard, you get a little bit lucky. I always use this line but success finds you. I think he is starting to play harder and starting to understand his role. He is finding some success, which is great.
Q: The depth today was very heavy, having four plays in double digits for the first time all season. Is that what this team needs on a game-by-game basis?
A: Honestly, if you told me we were going to score 78 points I would be like you're crazy. We are a sixties team. We score in the low sixties, high fifties. It was nice to see shots fall. It was great to see Nick. Nobody works harder than Nick Colella. He is in the gym as early as I am in the office. He's in there shooting. He wants to be a great player, he wants to make shots. He plays so hard. It was great to see him take those shots. It's better to have four then two. It's better to have everyone spread out, sharing the wealth, which I think you saw today.
Q: How has D.J. impressed you?
A: He is gritty. He continues to show perseverance. He needs to continue to do that. I talked to Joe Christma before the game and he is like that is one of the toughest things in basketball to do, is to ask a two guard to play the point. He is doing a noble job. But I want more from him. I am very greedy. I think he can do more. He can play harder and he is trying. I told my assistants he is still rusty. He sat out a year. We learned that from Boston University when we had three chances. First we had a tough schedule, but it took them until January to really catch up and get the speed going. He is probably ahead of the curve if you think about it.
Q: Coach Army makes a run, get it to 52-50. We have seen teams go on runs on you guys. What are you telling your team at that point?
A: At that point it is about attitude, about keep plugging. We just took a big punch, now we got to get off the floor and punch back. We have to continue to fight. Don't get down on each other. Find the energy. If you are tired ask me and I'll pull you out or I'll use my timeouts. You can't get nervous we can't fold to tenths. Just keep grinding and get a stop. That is what we did, I think we hit a three. It was a big shot for that kid (Nick) and a crucial point in the game. But it goes back to attitude.
Penn State Player Quotes
Q: Ross, in the last few games you've been more aggressive shooting the ball. Is that something you have been working on yourself, or has coach said you need to be more aggressive?
A: I've always had confidence, and have just been waiting for the shots to fall. They're finally falling. That's a big part of it.
Q: D.J., are you guys still trying to figure out what your roles since Tim Frazier is hurt?
A: I think guys realize that with Tim out other guys have to step up and fill the spot that he left. Ross (Travis) is being more aggressive. Jermaine (Marshall) has been more aggressive, and Sasa (Borovnjak) as well. Everyone has just been stepping up to fill the missing blank that Tim left.
Q: D.J., how important is it to have a balanced attack from so many different players?
A: That's big. That's one thing that we try to do is share the ball, and play with confidence. If a guy has an open shot, just stick it. That's what Coach tells us to do, and I think that's what we're doing. I think that's how we got four guys in double digits.
Q: Ross, what was your mentality coming into this game playing a guy like Army's Ella Ellis?
A: We just played team defense, and Penn State basketball. I knew if I was going to get beat then my teammates would have my back. I knew I had to just play him hard and stop him the best I could.
Q: Ross, Sasa only scored four points tonight but he got the start. What do you guys see in his confidence level?
A: His confidence is there. He's working hard, and his shots will fall. I'm confident his shots will fall. He's working hard, and we have faith in him.
Q: Ross, why do you think your shots are falling now when maybe they weren't earlier?
A: I'm just shooting the ball without thinking about it, and shooting the ball with confidence. I think that is playing a huge role.
Q: D.J., what were you telling the guys when Army brought it within four?
A: I was telling them to keep playing hard. They made their run, and now it was time for us to make the final run to win the game. I was basically just trying to motivate the guys to keep playing. They got some shots and rebounds, and obviously I didn't want our guys to get down. I told them to keep up our energy, and keep fighting.
Q: D.J., what about that fast break alley-oop?
A: I forgot how we got on the fast break. I just got on a 2-on-1 opportunity, and Ross can jump out of the building. So I just threw it up there and I had faith that he was going to get it, and he did. I've seen Ross do crazy dunks, especially in practice, so I didn't think it was too high.
Q: D.J., do you feel like everyone's starting to get in a rhythm and figure out their role, or were things just clicking a little differently tonight?
A: I think guys are finding their flow. We had some shooting days at practice this week, where we just got up shots and worked on our habits. This morning we got up a lot of shots in walk-through, and that transferred over to the game.
Q: Ross, what gives you and Jermaine (Marshall) the ability to play so many minutes recently?
A: It starts at practice when we're playing 5-on-5, and just going hard all the time. All the conditioning just transfers over to the game. Our training coach always says that if you go hard in practice, you'll go hard in the game. That's what we're doing.
Army Coach Zach Spiker
I look at the stats and I think we had a chance to control for 40 minutes. I don't know that we did that. For those of you that haven't seen us play, I think the final 20 minutes was much more indicative of what our institution is about and what our program is about. I regret for our seniors, and I regret for all our guys that we didn't bring that tonight. Is the outcome different? I don't know. But I think we feel a lot better in the locker room how we played. You guys saw the game too. Penn State plays hard. They're a direct reflection of their coach. They play hard. It was not a surprise that they did that. It's what they are. It's who they are. That's how they're going to be good. That's how Patrick is going to build a program. I think the game, if you think about it, we shoot 37 percent the first half. They shoot 56 percent. It doesn't matter if you're at home or on the road, non-league league, you cannot win when a team shoots 56 percent to 37 percent. They cooled of certainly in the second half, but not that much. Not enough. So, those are my initial thoughts. I did think our pressure defensively...I know they have had some adversity in the point guard position, and we were hoping to take advantage of that. I think we forced a number of turnovers there. Nine turnovers by their starting backcourt. That is positive for us. But, we need to shoot the ball better ourselves.
Q: Coach, you talked about the slow start. It seems like in the second half you guys expended so much energy just to get back in the game. Did you feel like there was nothing left?
A: No, I didn't feel that way. That's how we play. That's what we've done. We opened the season with a game against VMI. If you have ever seen VMI play, they lead the nation in scoring just about every year. We wore them out. It's kind of what we do. I don't think the legs were an issue. We had 20 fouls. They had 21. There's 41 fouls in the game. There wasn't a rhythm to get a lot of looks. I do think we had some open looks from some really good shooters in our program. They didn't knock them out. Typically they do. Certainly Ellis is an all-league player. You saw today what he is capable of doing. I would love to see him on the court more than 22 minutes. I think that affects the outcome too. The credit today goes to Penn State and their coaching staff. They found a way to hold a lead and keep us at bay in the second half when I thought we were playing pretty well. I also think with seven freshman in our rotation and go on the road in the Big Ten environment and play them to eight points, that is something we can build on for the next four years. We have a very young team. You guys know what freshman can do in your program as well. At times it can be a roller coaster. But we've known these guys, and we've believed in them as we recruited them. They're doing good things. It's still their first rodeo though. With that, there is good and bad.