Men’s Basketball Talks Up New High-Tempo Offense At Media Day
One of the main talking points at men’s basketball media day Wednesday at the Bryce Jordan Center was Pat Chambers’ new high-tempo offense that he’s rolled out for the fresh crop of players.
Last season with the strong presence of veterans like Jordan Dickerson, Brandon Taylor, Devin Foster, and Donovan Jack, Penn State’s game plan was to limit possessions and play to the strengths of the core. Expectations are high this year, even within the team according to Chambers. The main change is expected to be the offensive game plan, which Chambers expects will allow the Nittany Lions to score more.
“With the style of play that we’ll be playing, we want to score 80,” Pat Chambers said. “We’re going to press a little bit more. We’re going to push it, make or miss, as often as we can. We need eight or ten more steals. We’ve got to reduce fouls. So everybody understands and has a clear goal of who we’re going to be.”
The new offense is going to provide more players with quality minutes. Ideally, Penn State will regularly play nine or ten players each game.
It allows the team, which is relatively young and doesn’t have a senior on the roster, to get many of it’s newcomers and players that didn’t regularly get minutes last season more experience. It’s also going to be key in finding a chemistry between certain players on the court.
“We want to play ten guys right now,” Chambers said. “We might put a starting five out, but it’s really a starting ten. We’ve got to figure out the right first lineup and then the right second lineup. As coaches, that’s our job to marry guys up together that play well together.”
With the increased depth, Shep Garner won’t be seeing the same amount of playing time he received last season.
“I can’t pull a Tim Frazier and play him 40 minutes,” Chambers said. “Shep played 37 [minutes] last year. I think we’ve got to get those minutes around to the 31 to 30 mark to be the most successful team that we can be, so these guys aren’t worn out by January.”
The offense debuted for the Nittany Lions in practice over the summer and in the most recent month of training. The play is visibly faster and allows more freedom for the players according to Chambers, which plays to the strengths of the individuals on the roster.
The key to the offense has been the ability to get good shots off of great passing and ball movement. Chambers has been impressed with the ability of his guys to make the ball do the work.
“We can continue to put pressure on the paint and get the best shot available,” Chambers said. “We’re making the good to great passes and that’s what we need to see from this team. We’re looking forward to taking that next step in this process.”
Chambers is excited for what the offense can bring for the Nittany Lions. The players are as well, with many of the players expressing how well the offense has performed thus far.
“I’ve always been a part of an up-tempo offense,” sophomore guard Josh Reaves said. “Trying to score as fast as possible is something our team can do. We have a lot of talent, a lot of speed, athleticism. That’s something that plays to our advantage.”
Even if he’s not expecting to be on the floor as much, Garner is also positive about what this offensive change can do for Penn State.
“It’s fun, it’s more exciting,” Garner said. ” A lot of highlight plays. That’s how we like to play. We play all the time like this in practice, even when we play pickup games. We enjoy the whole process of this new style coach is trying to create here.”
While many positives have been pointed out as to what the new offense can do for the Nittany Lions, there are some worries with such a young team.
The offense is quick, but it might be too quick for players inexperienced at the college level. The quick style of play can make players loose with the ball and lead to turnovers. Chambers understands the concerns, but believes it’s going to be a growing process for his guys.
“We’re going to be fearless,” Chambers said. “There’s going to be some tough stretches. There’s going to be some high-turnover games. We’ve got to understand that and we’ve got to coach these kids. But we are going to play at a very high tempo, that’s what we want to do this year. I am committed to it.”
The Nittany Lions have more than three weeks left before the offense gets its first public test — an exhibition with Lock Haven. Regardless of what happens in the next three weeks, be prepared to see a much different style of play in the Bryce Jordan Center this season.