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Pat Chambers Eager For Another Opportunity To Play At Rec Hall

Penn State men’s basketball makes its triumphant return to Rec Hall Thursday night against 3-4 Canisius, marking the first time the hallowed arena hosts a basketball game since the Nittany Lions lost in heartbreaking fashion to Princeton in 2013. Of course, that ceremonious game marked the first time the team played a game in Rec Hall since 1996, meaning this will be only the second time in almost 20 years that the Lions return to their roots.

The 2013 event was a spectacle, and rightfully so. It provided the roughly 6,200 fans in attendance a more intimate basketball experience, and provided Penn State its first true home-court advantage since the height of the Talor Battle era. It isn’t just the fanbase that feels excited about the return; Head Coach Pat Chambers understands the significance of the arena, and looks forward for the opportunity to host another game in the legendary facility.

“I felt like it was such a great event the first time around even though we did not win, but I thought everything around it was positive,” Chambers said during media availability. “It gave us a great home-court advantage, and I think there’s a lot of tradition and a lot of history here. You tap into some emotions with alums coming back and students experiencing something their parents experienced during their time at Penn State.”

Chambers noted that it wasn’t just himself who wanted to see these games come to fruition, but also key members of the Athletic Department who shared a similar passion for reviving the arena’s basketball culture.

“It was really Sandy [Barbour], Phil [Esten], and Lynn [Holleran] who wanted to play two games instead of one,” Chambers said. “The last time felt too quick. We had one game in here, and then we were out of there. We really didn’t even practice in here, but I believe that it’s important to come back here and experience this.”

Chambers is on point there, because the electric atmosphere created by Rec Hall is second to none. You think of the nation’s most prominent college basketball programs, and the one thing that’s synonymous with all of them is a frenzied ambience created by the passionate fanbase attending those games. Lately, that unique atmosphere is something the Bryce Jordan Center has severely lacked, but Thursday’s contest will show just how potent an effect a dynamic atmosphere can have on both the team and the fanbase.

Former star guard D.J. Newbill drives to the basket against Princeton in 2013.
Former star guard D.J. Newbill drives to the basket against Princeton in 2013.

It also helps that the team will wear its alternate pink and black “throwbacks,” and will help add to the sheer novelty of the experience. From the sound of it, Chambers’ players are just as excited as the fans.

“Our guys are fired up,” Chambers said. “We’ll be wearing pink and black, and hopefully we have a great crowd over the next couple days. It’s exciting that our guys get to enjoy the history that’s going on here at Rec Hall.”

Exciting as it may be, there are a number of logistical challenges faced by the team in leaving the Bryce Jordan Center’s familiar confines, some even similar to those faced during road games.

“There’s a lot of logistics that go into this,” Chambers said. “You have to bring the floor in, there’s a lot of hands in the pot of communication between the BJC and Rec Hall. We have to communicate with the coaches who normally play at Rec Hall, making sure they’re out of town. Just a lot of preparation that went into this.”

Tip off will be at 7 p.m. on Thursday, followed by Saturday’s matchup versus the University of Louisiana-Monroe on Saturday at 2 p.m.

About the Author

David Abruzzese

David is a senior from Rochester, NY, nestled right in beautiful Western New York. He is majoring in Broadcast Journalism, and as an avid sports fan, he passionately supports the Buffalo Bills and Buffalo Sabres. He is the first Penn Stater from his family, and couldn’t be prouder to represent Penn State University. In his free time, he likes to alpine ski, and play golf. You can follow him on Twitter @abruz11, and can contact him via email at [email protected]

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