The stage is set.
Penn State head coach Patrick Chambers and the Nittany Lions are traveling to Brooklyn Thursday for a two-game set at the Barclay's Center Classic starting Friday night against St. John's, followed Saturday by either Georgia Tech or Mississippi.
At 5-1 on the young season, the Nittany Lions' only loss came against Bucknell the second game of the season, which they were able to rebound from by rattling off four-straight wins at Penn and back at the Bryce Jordan Center against LaSalle, Longwood and Monmouth.
"We've made our adjustments, there's no question, after Bucknell. We learned our lesson. I think our defense is a lot better," Chambers said. "We're rebounding the ball better, we're not fouling as much. I'd like to be under 20 every game. We're doing some good things."
Heading into Friday's game against St. John's, the Nittany Lions now have four averaging double figures in scoring, with senior point guard Tim Frazier and junior D.J. Newbill leading the way with 18.3 and 18.0 points per game, respectively.
Throw in career-high scoring efforts from Donovon Jack, Brandon Taylor and Allen Roberts along the way, and Chambers said he has a team that is starting to understand its own capabilities.
"Tim and D.J. understand that they can't do it by themselves - they need everybody. Donovon Jack LaSalle, Brandon Taylor Longwood, Allen Roberts today. And Graham (Woodward) played well," he said. "We have some depth, we have some skill, we havesome players. We just gotta continue building that trust with one another."
Beyond the scoring numbers, of which Penn State is blowing away its season average from a year ago with more than 82 points per game this season - good for fifth in the Big Ten, the Nittany Lions have also limited their turnovers to 9.5 times per game (No. 9 nationally) while stabilizing their early setback from the free-throw line, now reaching a 75 percent clip at the charity stripe (No. 2 in the conference).
"We're starting to mature, starting to gain an identity, and we gotta keep it going because the next one is a tough one on the road in New York."
With a tough matchup against the 4-1 Red Storm and head coach Steve Lavin on the horizon, Chambers said he's looking forward to the challenge and opportunity of the weekend.
"Just watching the film, we still have little things that we have to work on to continue to get better," he said. "I think this weekend is really going to prepare us for the Big Ten. That's why we set up the schedule way we did. Playing St. John's, pretty much a home game for them in Brooklyn, that type of energy and intensity is exactly what we're looking for at this point in the season."