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Chambers confident ongoing shooting slump will be short-lived

By the time he met with the media for his normal weekly press conference Monday afternoon, Patrick Chambers’ reflection on his Nittany Lions’ 58-49 loss to Wisconsin Saturday hadn’t changed much.

Crediting the Badgers with making big plays both defensively and in the form of tough shots on the offensive end of the floor, much like Rutgers, Chambers acknowledged Penn State’s lack of the same. Unlike his team’s win against Iowa at the Palestra two weekends ago, or through many of the 11 other wins the Nittany Lions had accumulated to this point in the season, Penn State simply did not make the plays necessary to win the game.

More specifically, Penn State didn't shoot well enough to win the games.

Knocking down just 6 of 26 3-pointers at Rutgers and 5 of 21 against Wisconsin, both in games with a slower pace and fewer possessions, the Nittany Lions' 23.4 percent shooting from beyond-the-arc proved cataclysmic.

Chambers doesn’t believe that the two-game funk will continue, though.

“I thought we had good (shots) against Rutgers and Wisconsin,” he said. “I think we just somehow need to get the swagger back. They know they have the green light. They never look over me after a shot taken; never, and I don't want them to. So you have to have great conference, keep taking those shots.

“They're gonna go in. You guys know this. This happens during the course of a year. Sometimes you make shots. Sometimes you don't. Hopefully, we can get on a run here.”

(File photo: AP Images)
(File photo: AP Images) (AP Images)

The Nittany Lions’ upcoming schedule will dictate as much if they hope to return to the form that brought the program its first Top 25 ranking since 1996 following a 12-2 start to the year.

Next up, they’ll travel Wednesday (9 p.m.) to face a Minnesota team coming off a 75-67 win against No. 19 Michigan Sunday before returning home to take on No. 21 Ohio State Saturday back at the Bryce Jordan Center at noon.

A merciless stretch of games that won’t subside through the rest of the season given the Big Ten’s quality top to bottom this year, the league currently placing all but Nebraska and Northwestern in the NCAA NET ranking top 50, Chambers insisted the onus is on Penn State (NET No. 35) to make improvements on its two most recent performances.

“On any given night, if you don't play your best game, you're gonna lose. And even when you do play your best game, you still might lose,” he said. “We weren't great, and give Wisconsin credit. We weren't great at Rutgers, and give them credit.

“We’ve got to get better. We got to get closer to great if we want to continue to win. We're 12-4, that's great. We're 2-3, that's great. But we have to show up and compete and play as well as we can and give ourselves a chance. We just didn't play great I didn't think on Saturday and Rutgers the second half, we just didn't play well.”

Questioning whether or not mental fatigue or the program’s new status as a ranked team played into it, Chambers said the causality is something he’s determined to see this team learn and grow through.

Noting that the players “responded well” via group text Sunday, which was a “mental and physical health” off day, Chambers said the key now is to quickly pick themselves up and move on from the losses. Regrouping for a film session Monday followed by practice, the primary elements needed to get back on the right track would be at the forefront.

“I think today is important for us to continue the process of getting a little bit better on the defensive end, although I thought we played pretty good defense, and then on the offensive end, continue doing what we're doing,” Chambers said. “The guys gotta continue to shoot it.

“I’m sure you're going to say, what are you gonna do about shots? Nothing. Keep shooting it. Out of the 21 threes. I thought three were bad. I thought all the others were very good; very good, in rhythm, uncontested shots. And you got to keep taking those. And the right shooters are taking those. Unfortunately, this last week, they didn't make them. They were making them. We just didn't make them this week. So it's going to change and as you see in this league, anything can happen. So we just got to stay the course and keep getting better.”


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