Penn State men’s basketball hasn’t reached the NCAA tournament since 2011, and athletic director Sandy Barbour knows head coach Patrick Chambers is already putting enough pressure on himself to get the Nittany Lions back.
But Barbour made clear on Thursday afternoon that while she thinks Chambers’ program is growing, postseason success has to come soon.
“I believe we’re making progress, but it’s not a 10-year plan,” Barbour said at the sixth stop of the Penn State Coaches Caravan. “The time frame is a little shorter.”
Barbour said Chambers and the Nittany Lions “may need to take a step first to get” back to the NCAA tournament, possibly referring to first earning a berth into the National Invitation Tournament. Penn State hasn’t reached the NIT since 2009 when it won the tournament, beating Baylor in Madison Square Garden.
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In Chambers’ six-year tenure at Penn State, the Nittany Lions haven’t come close record-wise to reaching the NCAA tournament. The coach owns an 87-109 mark in Happy Valley, with his best record — 18-16 — coming in 2014-15.
The only postseason appearance under Chambers was in the 2013-14 season, when Penn State accepted an invite to the CBI and lost in the quarterfinals to Siena.
Still, Barbour is confident in Chambers’ ability to get Penn State back to the NCAA tournament. She demonstrated that in March 2015 when the coach received a contract extension through the 2018-19 season.
But Barbour doesn’t want to wait very long for the Nittany Lions to return to the postseason — and she doesn’t think Chambers does, either.
“That’s the goal,” she added. “That’s what we’re working for.”