Pat Chambers Era Begins with Win over Hartford
The Penn State Nittany Lions (1-0, 0-0 Big Ten) began the Pat Chambers era on the right note Saturday with a 70-55 win over the Hartford Hawks (0-2, 0-0 America East).
Fans were invited to watch the season-opener for free at the Bryce Jordan Center, with a start time an hour after the conclusion of the Penn State-Nebraska football game at Beaver Stadium. Those in attendance were treated to a competitive, exciting game.
The Nittany Lions’ defense lived up to their “Pure Energy” marketing campaign, playing aggressive defense throughout the game. Penn State had 15 steals, the most by a Nittany Lion team since 2001, and did not allow Hartford’s offense to find any kind of rhythm during the game. The Nittany Lions took the lead within the first four minutes of the game and never looked back, leading by as much as 26 points in the second half.
Offensively, the team has yet to come into its own, a fact that is not lost on Chambers. However, he liked the improvement he saw during the game.
“Guys are starting to understand their roles a little bit more,” Chambers said.
While Chambers acknowledged his team’s strength is defense, some Penn State players did make an impact on offense. Freshman guard Trey Lewis finished with 17 points and four assists and at one point scored ten straight points in the second half.
Lewis saw 31 minutes on the floor, due in part to the fact that junior guard Tim Frazier dealt with foul trouble in the second half. Frazier did finish with 16 points, six assists and five steals in his time on the game and will be relied upon heavily going forward.
When asked if he is looking forward to the big matchup against basketball powerhouse Kentucky, Chambers was quick to reject that notion.
“Kentucky is not in my mind at all,” he said. “We have to take it one day at a time. This is the mindset we need to have, and that is what I am trying to get across to my team.”
Hartford, meanwhile, has dropped to 0-2 to start their season. Saturday’s game against Penn State was their second game of back-to-back games. And with seven freshmen on the Hawks’ roster, it would seem they do have room for growth and improvement.
Hartford head coach John Gallagher would not use that as an excuse, however.
“We don’t want any excuses,” said Gallagher. “This program is in its infancy stages. We’re not doing some basic, fundamental things.”
The Hawks tried to stay in the game with the three point shot. Wes Cole paced Hartford with 12 points on 4 threes. Genesis Maciel and Mark Nwakamma chipped in with eight points apiece.
Gallagher was highly complementary of Chambers and thinks the Nittany Lions are at the beginning of a good era of basketball.
“I think Pat Chambers is going to bring Penn State basketball back,” Gallagher said. “The energy he brings will be great for the program.”
He went on to say he believes this team can finish in the top half of the Big 10 conference this year, which some people would consider to be an over-achieving season.
Penn State will take on Radford on Monday at 7 p.m. That game will be broadcast live on ComRadio, beginning with the Pregame Show at 6:30 p.m.
Artyom Kneuer is a sophomore majoring in Broadcast Journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.