A team on an 11-game losing streak may be vulnerable to having disputes within the locker room.
And as Ross Travis explained, there have been beefs among members of the Penn State basketball team as recently as last week, but not the kind a struggling team might be worried about.
“What’s going on in the locker room is a little rap beef,” Travis said. “I’m the producer, so I’m producing the tracks for them, so I just watch them and let them go at it.”
The Nittany Lions haven’t allowed their shortcomings on the court to affect their ability to have fun off of it, as many players said they’ve continued to find different ways to express their senses of humor — rap battles being toward the top of this list.
Although it remains up for discussion whether any of the musical participants have a looming hip-hop career after graduating, redshirt junior Jermaine Marshall said the team’s easy-going environment allows for lots of memorable moments.
“The locker room is crazy,” Marshall said. “Guys do crazy things in there. Rap battles, guys freestyling, [while] playing instrumentals in the locker room. It’s pretty funny and it keeps guys lose.”
The guard added that while most players don’t have the musical abilities to take their talent to the next level, Travis may be the only exception since he has his own studio.
Travis, who performed at the team’s Hoops Madness event in Rec Hall prior to the start of the season, said he has assumed the producer role because he would dominate the “rapper beef” a bit too easily.
“They wouldn’t want me to get on it,” Travis said with a laugh. “It wouldn’t be fair.”
The main participants in ‘the game’, however, appeared to be the guard trio of D.J. Newbill, Akosa Maduegbunam and Tim Frazier.
As one of the veteran players on the team, Frazier said he doesn’t get involved in the battles too often, primarily doing so to help keep things from getting too out of hand.
“Oh, no…I dib and dab,” Frazier said. “But, I just make sure everything is still legal, everything is still fine.”
Meanwhile, Newbill, whom coach Patrick Chambers dubbed as the class clown of the team, maintained that they haven’t been experimenting with their rapping abilities due to any apparent skill with this hobby.
Rather, the Philadelphia native said the battles are an easy way for the team to become closer.
“That’s just something we do to keep our brotherhood going,” Newbill said. “Just rap. It’s something we do in our spare time, instead of going out or whatever. We’ll just go to our apartments and be together, making up raps.”
Chambers said the coaching staff takes pride in creating an environment that allows players to stay loose, regardless of the outcomes of games — while at the same time striving for improvement on the court.
Maduegbunam said it’s a mastering of this balance that has allowed for a winless Big Ten team to not only remain tight-knit, but also continue to enjoy the season.
“I think the biggest thing is through this tough struggle and this tough stretch, it’s easy for everyone to fight…But not here,” the guard said.
“With the tough bond that we have in the locker room, we just keep moving forward and keep going to work and keep getting better each and every day.”