The two wins and 16 losses Penn State had in Big Ten play are no longer on coach Patrick Chambers’ mind.
He said it’s time to start focusing solely on the postseason, where every team starts at ground zero.
“You know what I’m a big believer of?” Chambers asked rhetorically at his press conference Tuesday. “Staying in the moment and focusing on today and not worrying about yesterday. Because it’s gone.”
The second-year coach and his players expressed a feeling of excitement regarding Thursday’s matchup against Michigan in the first round of the Big Ten tournament, as it offers them a chance to leave a regrettable conference season behind. This short-term memory even includes the recent spark in the Nittany Lions’ play to close out the regular season, highlighted by an upset over the Wolverines.
Chambers said he told his team to forget both the highs and the lows of the regular season in their preparation to embark on a “new season” in itself.
“Today, do your job. Today, live in the moment,” Chambers said of his advice toward his team this week. “Forget the schedule, forget the record, forget all that. It’s gone. Forget that you beat them. It’s over. Work today, work tomorrow and see what you can do on Thursday.”
The 12th-seeded Lions (10-20) have certainly had their low points in a conference season that began with a 14-game losing streak.
In an effort to help his players start to relax after the grueling conference schedule, Chambers gave them the day off from practice yesterday, instead organizing a team yoga session.
The team has done these exercises during this season, but guard D.J. Newbill said the laid-back day allowed players a chance to get their minds off the regular season and mentally prepare for the week to come.
“We did some yoga to clear the mind, clear the body,” Newbill said. “Yoga’s a good stress-free [activity] so I think our team really enjoys that. It’s team bonding too.”
Players said now that they’ve moved on from the regular season, they will look to pull a second surprising victory against the 5th-seeded Wolverines (25-6) by leaning heavily on the belief that every team is now on an even playing field.
Newbill said he agrees with Chambers’ attitude that the team is “playing with house money,” something he said they’ve actually been doing for weeks.
“That’s been the message for maybe 10 games now, nothing to lose,” Newbill said. “Just go out there and give it your all. Worst thing that can happen is you win or you lose. You got to go out there with amazing confidence and play with great heart.”
The results of this style of play have proven fruitful for the Lions, who won their first road game of the year against Northwestern and lost a buzzer-beater in the season finale to Wisconsin in addition to the Michigan win.
Redshirt junior Jermaine Marshall said the captains organized a team meeting during the lengthy losing streak that helped bring about the impressive turnaround.
“We sat down and talked about it as a team and said, ‘We got to go out with a bang,’ ” Marshall said. “ ‘You don’t want to reflect on how we started, but we can end great.’ So that’s what we’re trying to do.”