After eight games in less than three weeks, the Penn State men’s basketball team is still working to develop chemistry.
The Nittany Lions haven’t had as much practice time to do that as coach Patrick Chambers would like. But Chambers knows it will take time for everything to come together with four newcomers seeing significant minutes.
While they’re learning their roles and gaining a better understanding of how their teammates play, Chambers and his staff are working to help build that chemistry at practice.
“It’s a work in progress,” Chambers said on his teleconference Friday.
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The Nittany Lions (5-3) continue nonconference play when they take on Wright State (6-2) at 5 p.m. Saturday at the Bryce Jordan Center.
Chambers has seen his team improve since the start of the season, but with five games before the Big Ten opener, the coach wants to see everyone on the same page.
In some games, like in the team’s win over Duquesne, first-year players Tony Carr, Lamar Stevens and Mike Watkins have led the Nittany Lions on the offensive end while veterans Shep Garner and Payton Banks had off nights.
In others, like against Colgate, Banks and junior guard Terrence Samuel were the team’s top two scorers while Stevens went scoreless.
Stevens, a freshman forward who is third on the team in scoring, knows he won’t be at his best every night.
“There’s going to be days where it’s not your day, and it’s going to be someone else’s day,” Stevens said. “Even as a team, it might just not be our day.”
Chambers is looking forward to seeing his team play when everything clicks.
But he was encouraged by the Nittany Lions’ win over Georgia Tech on Tuesday because they overcame a poor shooting night.
Penn State shot 42.6 percent from the field and went just 4 of 15 (26.7 percent) from beyond the arc.
“We didn’t make shots, but we found a way,” Chambers said after the 67-60 win over the Yellow Jackets. “And that’s the sign of a team that’s maturing and growing up.”
Penn State relied on its defense in the win.
The Nittany Lions held Georgia Tech to 36.4 percent shooting, and they limited big man Ben Lammers to 12 points — more than five points below his season average going into the game.
While the team is working to build chemistry, Chambers has seen his players start to show trust in each other in their last two wins.
On the road against George Washington, the captains spoke up in huddles and the young players soaked it all in. They did it again as they held off Georgia Tech in a tight game in the final minutes.
“We won the game, but there was progress in the huddles when you’re seeing guys step up and saying, ‘This is what we need to do,’ before I even get in there,” Chambers said.
Notes: Penn State takes a three-game winning streak into Saturday. … Wright State is coming off an 81-74 loss to Georgia State. Mark Alstork leads Wright State in scoring with 22.4 points per game, good for 22nd in the country going into Friday night’s games. … The Raiders ranked 20th in the nation in 3-point field goal percentage (41.4) and tied for 11th in 3-pointers made (77) going into Friday night.
Wright State at Penn State
When: 5 p.m. Saturday
Where: Bryce Jordan Center
TV: BTN Plus
Radio: WQWK 1450
Mike La Tulip