For the first time this season, coach Patrick Chambers opened his post game press conference with an opening statement:
“I have to do a better job, I have to do a much better job of preparing my team and getting them ready to play. This one’s on me,” Chambers said. “Sometimes in this lifetime you have to look yourself in the mirror and I have to look myself in the mirror and ask, ‘did I do everything I could to get this team prepared?’ And I didn’t. It’s obvious because that was embarrassing.”
The usually optimistic Chambers entered his press conference animated and visibly heated after his team suffered a 70-54 romping from Northwestern. The Lions have struggled to get started lately, but the loss to Northwestern showed one major difference from their previous two Big Ten losses.
The Lions (8-7, 0-3 Big Ten) could not connect on shots, turned the ball over and watched key players get into foul trouble once again as they were beaten badly on their home court. Chambers took full responsibility for his team’s poor play citing better preparation as a focus.
“I need to get them ready mentally and if they have other things in their head then I’m not doing my job,” Chambers said. “They should be thinking about Penn State basketball, play smart, play together, play hard, and play with pride.
Penn State shot a miserable 30.8 percent (8-26) from the field in the first half and leading scorers D.J. Newbill and Jermaine Marshall failed to get it going with four and zero points respectively in the half. The poor play of his guards combined with foul trouble for starting forward Brandon Taylor forced coach Pat Chambers to go to a bench that has struggled to produce so far in conference play, and only let the game slip further.
“I was just disappointed we weren’t playing hard [at the end of the first half]. If you’re not playing hard, you’re not going to give yourself a chance to win,” Chambers said. “I felt like we were going through the motions and that’s my fault. I’m a positive guy but I don’t know what positivity I can take out of that one.”
The Lions faced similar struggles in their first two conference games. Against Wisconsin, the Lions were able to hang with the Badgers part of the way but did not commit 10 turnovers in the half and did not connect on any 3-pointers. However, they were able to fight back, getting the game within three points with just more than three minutes remaining before eventually losing 60-51.
At home, against Indiana, the Lions ended the half down 44-27 and despite a solid defensive effort in the second half could not fight back against the Hoosiers’ superior offense.
Unlike there first two games, the Lions failed to challenge the Wildcats at any point, watching Northwestern’s lead balloon to as much as 23 points. Chambers said that he his seeing effort from his players in practicing but is in the process of figuring out how this can translate to games.
“We are practicing hard and with great enthusiasm. I can’t tell you what happens when we get in the game, though,” Chambers said. “When you put people in the stands and turn those cameras on I’m not sure. But it’s my job to find out.”