In the locker room at Madison Square Garden after Penn State’s loss in the Big Ten semifinals, Lamar Stevens offered praise for the team’s senior leader.
Stevens said guard Shep Garner would be remembered forever at Penn State. Garner scored a career-high 33 points that night in New York City in a loss to Purdue — and he’s only added to his legacy with the Nittany Lions during their run to the NIT semifinals.
Garner and Penn State will return to Madison Square Garden in the NIT to take on Mississippi State at 9:30 p.m. Tuesday. He’ll have a chance to make program history — he’s four 3-pointers away from tying Pete Lisicky for the Penn State career record — and he’ll also have a chance to help the Nittany Lions capture the NIT championship.
“It’s a big deal to have those records at Penn State, obviously,” Garner said Friday. “But with me, everyone knows with me, man, I’m more about the team, and I want to win. I want to win. I think the championship is bigger than any of that stuff. They’ll remember the championship far long after we leave here.”
Garner has helped keep Penn State’s title hopes alive in the NIT with big 3-pointers in a close win over Temple, a 15-point effort against Notre Dame and 19 points in the team’s win over Marquette to advance to New York. Garner finished 5 for 8 from 3-point range against Marquette to set the single-season program record for 3-pointers with 112.
After topping Joe Crispin’s 108 in 2001 on the single-season list, Garner has 328 3-pointers in his career — ranking him second behind Lisicky’s 332.
“I’m just so happy for Shep,” Penn State guard Tony Carr said. “He’s having a great year. I’m grateful to be out there on the court with him.”
Penn State coach Patrick Chambers is happy for Garner, too.
Chambers and Garner have developed a “father-son” relationship during his career.
“We’ve shed our tears together personally,” Chambers said. “I think he genuinely and authentically knows the love that we have for one another and for this program.”
Garner and the Nittany Lions will head to New York with a 24-13 record and a chance to capture an NIT title.
“We want to cut down some nets,” Garner said. “It’s no secret. It’s no secret. We didn’t come this far — it’s a special team, and we want to do something special. We want to finish this thing out special, so it’d be fitting for us to do that.”
Chambers discusses contract
With one year left on his contract, Chambers isn’t focused on an extension right now.
“Sandy (Barbour) and I spoke, I think a couple weeks ago, maybe two weeks ago, and we’ll sit down after the season,” Chambers said. “Right now, I’m focused on getting this team better and seeing if we can win a championship, and I think that’s the way I would prefer it, and I think she’s OK with that.”
Chambers said he is “definitely coming back next year.”
“The length of terms of it, we still haven’t talked about that yet,” Chambers said. “But when that occurs after the season, which is in a week either way, we’ll sit down and see what’s best for Penn State and Penn State basketball.”