Returning home after a tough loss to Nebraska on the road, Penn State looks to draw support from a special sixth man.
Earlier this week, coach Patrick Chambers announced that he will be donating $10 to the Interfraternity/Panhellenic Dance Marathon for every student in attendance at tonight’s game against Iowa. Penn State is ranked toward the bottom of the Big Ten with an average home attendance of 7,514.
However, due to Chambers’ ambitious pledge, the Nittany Lions (8-15, 0-11 Big Ten)are expected to draw a large crowd to the Bryce Jordan Center as they take on Iowa (15-9, 4-7 Big Ten) at 9 p.m.
“It’s special for these students and what they’re doing for pediatric cancer, and nobody realizes that it’s all year long what they’re trying to do,” Chambers said. “I just wanted to be a part of it in some way. My wife and I spoke Sunday night about how we could make a powerful impact and this is what we came up with.”
The team has followed in the example of Chambers’ with several players and coaches shaving their heads in honor of THON. One of those players is sophomore Kevin Montminy, who said that the extra support should be a boost to the team.
“We always love to have a great student section, and with this being right before THON weekend, I know a lot of students are revved up and ready to go for THON so hopefully we can get some of that energy as well,” Montminy said.
With just three home games remaining, the Lions will be looking to pick up their first win since they defeated Duquesne at home Dec. 29, 2012.
The Lions lost to Iowa on the road, 76-67, on Feb. 14 in disappointing fashion after playing the Hawkeyes tight in the early going. The Lions jumped out to a 10-3 lead in the first five minutes but had it wiped away just three minutes later and trailed the rest of the way.
Penn State will look to step up the defensive effort after forward Aaron White lit the Lions up for a career-high 27 points on 8-of-15 shooting.
“We want to keep being physical, we want to try to wear teams down,” redshirt junior D.J. Newbill said. “Always be physical on defense and rebounding; that’s one of our mottoes going into every game because we think we’re a gritty team and that’s what we want to do.”
Chambers went deeper into his bench against Nebraska last Saturday and it seemed to pay off a bit, especially with the emergence of junior Alan Wisniewski. The forward pounded the boards and finished with six points and nine rebounds. Chambers will look for bench production against Iowa after the Lions’ reserves scored just 12 points when the teams last met.
Though there is a lot of excitement surrounding the game with THON weekend just a day away, Newbill and the Penn State players are treating it as just another game.
“Every game is big for us, we don’t go into any game saying this one is not as big as another one,” Newbill said. “There all big for us so we approach all the games the same way.”
Chambers has made an effort to improve attendance all season long and spoke on how important it would be for his team to have fan support. At the same time he is has kept a greater goal in mind in his attempt to raise money for THON.
“It would be awesome for our team, it was be awesome for the BJC, it would just be great for the energy and to have all these students at the game,” Chambers said. “Obviously that’s probably the fifth thing on the list, it’s really about THON and what they’re trying to do, but it would be nice to get a good crowd.”