It’s a new season, but Pat Chambers still has the same boldness.
In March, Chambers said he thought in the 2012-13 season, his team would have the best backcourt in the nation with guards Tim Frazier and D.J. Newbill. Practice started last Friday, the season-opener is less than a month away and Chambers is sticking to his guns.
“I am standing about two feet in with that one,” said Chambers, who opened a portion of Thursday’s practice to the media. “Just watching them play together, on a frequent basis like we’ve done, I’ve been very excited. There’s a lot more options. There’s more space out there. You have to worry about D.J. and his speed and his quickness and what he can do. They really like to play off each other.”
This season will mark Newbill’s second at Penn State, but the first the sophomore will be able to see the floor. A Philadelphia native, Newbill transferred to Penn State from Southern Missisippi last year.
Newbill, a 6-foot-4 shooting guard, averaged 9.2 points per game his freshman year in college and was named to the Conference USA All-Freshman Team. His gameday apparel now changes from a suit to his No. 2 uniform, and Chambers said he’s chomping at the bit to get started.
Meanwhile, Frazier is coming off a breakout season in which he led Penn State in nearly every major statistical category. The point guard averaged 18.8 points, 6.2 assists, as well as 4.7 rebounds per game and was named a First-Team All Big Ten player by the media.
Chambers noted Frazier improved many aspects of his game this summer, including his perimeter shooting. Frazier also spent time playing against some of the best college players in the country at both Deron Williams’ and LeBron James’ summer camps.
“He stayed here all summer and went out and proved to the nation that he’s one of the best point guards in the country,” Chambers said. “…And now he’s brought that into this locker room, into this program. This is how hard you have to work if you want to be successful, and these guys are following.”
Frazier, Newbill and the rest of the Nittany Lions were on the Bryce Jordan Center floor Thursday for the team’s sixth practice of the year. Coming off a 12-20 campaign, Chambers is entering his second year at the helm in Happy Valley and said the first week of practices were encouraging.
“Our veterans have done a very good job of understanding their approach every day and how you can improve every day,” Chambers said. “And the freshmen, you know, are freshmen, and they’ve got a ways to go still. But they are starting to pick it up. And I think most importantly, our locker room is as good as it’s ever been since my time of coaching.”
Chambers had knee surgery in the offseason, but he is mobile and looked to be moving around fine at practice. As far as player injures go, Chambers said sophomore guard Kevin Montminy had a concussion, and he was limited in practice, but the team was otherwise healthy.
In addition to practice getting underway in the past week, student basketball tickets went on sale this week. Chambers, as well as a few players, spent some time in the HUB-Robeson Center promoting the team, and numbers are up from last season.
Penn State had an average attendance of 6,937 last season, the second lowest in the Big Ten. Chambers said he understands why the team doesn’t draw well, but he’s hoping he and his team can change that.
“Everywhere we go, there’s a home-court advantage. We don’t have it,” Chambers said. “And we got to win, I get that. If you build it, they will come. If you win, they will come. But we’re playing a fun style. We have really good talent on this team.”