As Penn State struggles through a less than memorable season of basketball, Patrick Chambers does not want his team to forget where it came from.
The coach took his squad through a little history lesson yesterday when the team held practice in Rec Hall, open to the public. The Nittany Lions have not played in Rec Hall as a team since the 1995-96 season.
“Rec Hall is where it all started at with Penn State basketball,” redshirt sophomore D.J. Newbill said. “So it was good for us to just go over and see that we’re not just playing for this team this year we’re representing the generations that came before us. It was some new scenery and great for the guys to see.”
The team got to see the banners of previous teams as well as some as some footage after practice.
It is no secret that this has been one of the worst years in recent memory of the Lions with an 8-15 overall record and 0-11 standing in the Big Ten. Despite the disappointment Penn State continues to work hard in practice under Chambers moniker of “attitude.”
Players continue to respond to their coach’s message, showing plenty of hustle in practice, from diving for steals to taking charges. Practice opened with players taking contact as they drove to the basket, coaches lined up with large pads whacking players as they prepared to finish at the basket.
For a team that has struggled on offense with shooting and turnovers, maintaining toughness and physicality has been a focal point in practice.
“I think it’s very important with the Big Ten conference in general,” redshirt junior Jermaine Marshall said. “Teams are very physical, guys are very strong so we have to bring that toughness every day. If we do it in practice we’ll be ready for it when the game comes.”
Throughout practice players receive “attitude points” for hustle plays. These plays include diving for the basketball, taking charges and getting defensive stops. Chambers employed some extra incentive with rewards for those who earned the most points.
Sophomore Kevin Montminy has served in a reserve role for the Lions, averaging just 2.8 minutes per game. Even with limited in-game minutes, Montminy makes his impact known in practice with his hustle.
Montminy earned “gold” after a defensive close out drill for his efforts and was exempt from running wind sprints along with Newbill and senior Nick Colella.
“Coach really stresses attitude, every single day, every single film session, everything we do is about the ‘attitude club,’ ” said Montminy, a Centre Hall native. “I just try to emulate that and I just try and do whatever I can, hustle and dive for loose balls everything like that. Just bring a physical toughness to the team so that everyone else can feed off of that.”
A light crowd was on hand to watch the Lions as they ran through their drills. Though the practice was as focused as usual, players were able to stay loose with the change of scenery.
“I was talking to D.J. yesterday it kind of felt like going back to high school almost in that gym,” Marshall said. “You never really notice the people in the stands, you’re so focused on the team and what we’re doing. But the feel of the gym was different, a lot more loose.”