Players, Coaches React To #ReturnToRec
Predictably, whenever a team makes a major announcement, there is excitement from everyone involved. Tuesdays’s announcement that Penn State will play Princeton at Rec Hall on December 14 is no different.
Fans, players, and alumni have all been asking for a game at Rec Hall, according to Chambers, which is why this game is happening.
“We listen to the fans.” Chambers said, “We listen to our alums. We listen to our former players. We heard you. And that’s why this game is now a reality.”
Chambers also credited many people within the athletic department for making this happen, including athletic director David Joyner, and the coaches of all the teams that reside in Rec Hall and will be impacted by the game (wrestling, men’s and women’s gymnastics, and volleyball).
“Without them, this is not possible,” Chambers said. “They made sacrifices for us to go into their gym for two days to take over. And we appreciate the One Team mantra. Like I always said, One Team is not a gimmick. It’s very real. And because they’re allowing us to do this, it just brings that One Team, it brings us even closer, closer together.”
Chambers spoke of going to games when his siblings attended Penn State, discussing Jean Row — “You remember that, Coach? To see all the students across the front row?” he asked former coach Bruce Parkhill, who was also in attendance — and also discussed some of the issues that came about planning something like this.
“(The floor) was probably our biggest challenge because you don’t wanna damage the current floor that volleyball plays on,” Chambers said, “That’s important. Plus it’s a smaller venue. We have to worry about all the logistics that goes with that: ticket sales, enough bathrooms, parking. You name it, we went through a ton of red tape. When we sat down and we just put our heads together and we just came up with every solution you could possibly think of.”
Chambers, Joyner, and Parkhill spoke for about 20 minutes, with much of the discussion being on the history and tradition of Penn State basketball, and trying to generate excitement among the Penn State community for something like this.
“I just think it’s the right time to inject some energy,” Joyner said, “Some extra energy in a different way into the program and get fans and our players and our coaching staff excited.”
“It’s just wonderful to kind of go back,” Parkhill said, “Take a night to go back and reminisce and appreciate what all those student athletes did through the years for sixty some years.”
“I think people need to know there’s a 117 year history,” Chambers said, “Our players, our current players need to know about that. They need to know of the guys that came before them. And know that they’re playing for them, too. They take great pride in Penn State basketball, and we just need to continue to bring that out. We need to continue to talk about the history, the tradition, and the winning ways of coach Parkhill and the other coaches that have coached here, and the great players that have come through here.”
Parkhill, who coached the Nittany Lions in Rec Hall from 1983-1995, raved at the atmosphere at Rec Hall, saying it was right there with, “some ACC places that were supposed to be the best in the country.”
Unfortunately for Nittany Lion fans, there is no plan in place to do this annually, but according to Joyner, “I’m sure that we’ll entertain doing more of this kind of thing and I think it will be fun for everybody.”
Once the coaches finished, Tim Frazier, D.J. Newbill, Ross Travis and Brandon Taylor met with members of the press in the practice gym underneath the BJC.
When asked about the kind of environment he expects, Travis said, “I expect a very exciting environment for the fans, you know, unlike the BJC they’re finally gonna get the chance to just be right there on the floor where they can almost touch you. I know they’re pretty close at the BJC, but that’s just gonna bring them a lot closer and give them a new experience.”
Newbill, who said that he didn’t even know the opponent until everyone else found out, compares the atmospheres to when he played in high school in Philadelphia.
“I think that it increases the intensity of the game,” Newbill said, “The fans are right there on your back. It’s kind of like how it is at Duke. When you’re taking the ball out of bounds, the fans are right there, you can probably feel them grabbing on your or something while you’re taking the ball out. I think it gives us a home court advantage, too. I think it’s a great atmosphere, man. I think it would be great for us to go back there.”