Pat Chambers Talks Leadership, Social Media, and Yoga at Media Day
Let’s get it out of the way now: Tim Frazier is gone, and Penn State basketball enters the 2014-15 campaign with a different dynamic minus the leadership of its former point guard. But at yesterday’s Media Day, coach Patrick Chambers kept the focus on making leaders out of the players he has now instead of talking about the past.
“What I’m seeing is a transfer to the leaders… We have a leadership council, we have captains [and I’m] working with these guys,” Chambers said. “For me, that’s part of the process of being a better program and a better team.”
Chambers made a point out of veteran leadership and depth for this year’s squad. The fourth-year head coach said he’s given individual players more chances to step up and become leaders, taking a more hands-off approach than usual. Chambers, normally seen as a very intense coach, hopes that the style change will lead to a more relaxed team that will perform better on the court.
Chambers says he’s given players specific responsibilities, like keeping the Gatorade cooler full, or making sure the locker room is clean. And so far, the players have reacted well. Brandon Taylor said being forced to move out of his comfort zone and call people out if the locker room is dirty has translated to being a better on-court leader. D.J. Newbill also praised the newfound flexibility of Chambers.
“It’s him adapting to the team he has,” Newbill said. “He’s like, ‘I’ve got a group of great leaders.’ He trusts us. He gives us rope to do things. Just to keep a great environment. He wants to give us input. That helps the team chemistry.”.
Inevitably, Chambers was forced to answer that looming question for these Nittany Lions: Who will replace Tim Frazier at point guard? As of now, Chambers said, Newbill has been practicing mostly as a point guard, switching from shooting guard. While Chambers couldn’t give a definitive answer on who would take Newbill’s spot, he said the race is mainly between sophomore Geno Thorpe and senior John Johnson, though redshirt freshman Payton Banks is also in the hunt.
Other press conference notes:
- The University may want to change Pat Chambers’ official title from Head Coach to Zen Master. He says he’s been going with all the coaches to do yoga regularly as a way to improve on-court performance. “This year we’re doing yoga as a staff, 10-12 guys do yoga together. It brings us closer together, clears our minds,” Chambers said. “When our staff works out together and prepares together, I think we’ll coach better together.”
- Despite letting team members use social media during the season this year, Chambers said he is still wary of its potential pitfall, and said that he and his staff have adopted football coach Herb Hand’s approach when recruiting, and have stopped recruiting players based on inappropriate social media posts.
- Chambers announced that the team’s captains are senior D.J. Newbill, junior Brandon Taylor, senior Ross Travis, and senior Kevin Montminy. Montminy, a central PA native, was a walk-on until this season, earning a scholarship and a spot as captain, despite playing just 14 minutes last year.
- Speaking of recruiting, Chambers said that he is extremely pleased with the job his staff has done getting recruits to commit. “They’re doing a heckuva job,” he said. “We’ve got 28 days to go here til Signing Period. It could be an incredible week for us.”
- One of the recruits from the class of 2014, Isaiah Washington, has already made big strides, according to Chambers. “Washington has one of the highest IQ’s on the team and he has been a sponge. He’s in my office frequently asking questions. He wants to get better, wants to learn. He’s really stroking the ball, knocking down threes. He’s long and rangy. He blocks jump shots. He might be able to touch the top of the backboard. I’m going to give him every opportunity, because he’s working so hard.”