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January 22, 2014
Lions keep heads amidst hard-luck streak
Patrick Chambers floated throughout, offering words of encouragement to his Nittany Lions as media members conducted interviews.Players got shots up in the Bryce Jordan Center south gym early Monday afternoon, a large panel television sat waiting in front of three rows of empty chairs with the Nebraska scouting report primed, and head coach
In other words, little seemed to have changed from the positive, upbeat atmosphere that Chambers has pushed into the third year of his tenure as the program's head coach, despite Saturday evening's gut wrenching 65-64 loss at Purdue.
Sitting at 0-6 in the Big Ten and having fallen to 9-10 overall for the season, Chambers is at once seemingly a picture of positivity and disbelief.
Dropping the fifth contest by three-or-less points this season, and completely avoiding the type of blowout defeats that marked all of the 2012-13 season, Chambers was asked what he would tell fans of the program that are now scratching their heads over a promising year gone sour.
"I would say I can't believe it's happening too!" he said. "We're doing the right things. We're almost there. Again, it's a shot, it's a made shot, it's a rebound, it's a free throw. We don't need empty possessions - by that I mean turnovers. And everybody needs to be on the same page.
"We're getting closer. I think Tim is really becoming who he was two years ago. It looked like he was back in that game, because that's the first time he's had a double-double in a long time. It was exciting to see. And Tim and D.J. are finally back. We had that in the nonconference, not so much in the Big Ten. So now you've got those two guys back. Now we just need a third guy, fourth guy to step up, somebody to hit a big shot. Donovon Jack has been doing a great job for us. He's been that guy who has hit some crucial buckets for us, but we need some more people to step up, more players to step up."
Reading between the lines, the Nittany Lions have simply not gotten the necessary production out of two integral pieces through the course of the Big Ten season.
Ross Travis' numbers, once good for 11.8 points per game during the nonconference schedule (48.2 percent from the floor, 31.8 percent from beyond the arc, and 8.4 rebounds per game), have dipped considerably. His rebounding numbers are down to 6.2 per game and scoring has checked in at just 8.5 points per game.
Meanwhile, Brandon Taylor, having posted a solid 10.8 points per game in the nonconference on 43.1 percent shooting from the floor and 32.3 percent shooting from 3-point land, has also seen his numbers plummet. Averaging just 6.8 points per game (aided by an 18-point effort to open the Big Ten against Michigan State), Taylor's 3-point numbers have bottomed out, hitting just 3 of 18 shots from beyond the arc in the past four conference games.
Though the results have been disappointing for senior point guard Tim Frazier, he said Monday there's no sense of panic among his teammates.
"We're fine," he said calmly. "Obviously, our record doesn't indicate how we're playing right now. We lost three straight close games in a row right now. All you gotta do is make that extra play.
"A lot of it has to do with the ball bouncing our way. When the ball bounces our way, it's going to be a great feeling, and I'm looking forward to it. But, I don't think there's any panic, especially with the guys here. We've been practicing hard. Still having great practices. We're just waiting for that ball to bounce our way."
Looking to his own attitude and senior leadership to help keep pushing the Nittany Lions forward, even in the midst of undeniable hard luck, forward is the only place to look, he said.
"They know that we're a possession away from getting some things done. It's unfortunate the way it ended. Trust me, nobody felt more sick to their stomach than me, but it happens and we just gotta learn from it," he said. "We gotta continue to learn from it and know that we're a good basketball team. Know that we are competing with everybody.
"It's going to happen. I don't know if it's going to be Thursday, I don't know if it's going to be next week, but it's going to happen. We have to just keep pushing forward and keep getting better, and we need some other guys to step up. We need some help."
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