After a 65-58 season-opening win against Saint Francis, coach Patrick Chambers and the Penn State men’s basketball team will head to San Juan this afternoon for the Puerto Rico Tip-Off tournament.
The Nittany Lions will play three games in four days starting with Thursday’s opener against No. 6 North Carolina State, which won its opener Friday night 97-59 over Miami of Ohio.
While he wants his players to have fun at the event (some of their family members will also attend), Chambers wants his team to have a singular mindset over the six-day trip.
“We’re on a business trip,” Chambers said at his weekly press conference. “And we’re coming down there to compete and play hard and play a tough 40 minutes. That’s what I expect and that’s what they should demand of each other.”
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Chambers has experience at the tournament. In 2009, his Boston University team upset Indiana 71- 67.
Penn State will bus to Philadelphia this afternoon and take a nearly three-and-a-half hour flight to San Juan.
Looking for confidence
After a 17-for-47 shooting performance from the field against Saint Francis, Chambers said he wants his players to shoot with more confidence.
“You know you just have to go out there with people in the stands and when the cameras go on and the lights go on and get more comfortable,” Chambers said. “I think last year we were young and a little inexperienced but this year we shouldn’t have that … we should shoot it a little bit better and hopefully we can.”
Thursday’s game will be televised on ESPN2 and will be the first of 11 appearances the team will make on one of ESPN’s various platforms.
“This game isn’t going to be so much about N.C. State but more about Penn State and how far we’ve come in a year,” Chambers said. “And to see if we can handle playing on that stage on national television as opposed to last year where I thought we didn’t handle it as well. This year we have to rely on each other … and play team basketball. If we can do that we’ll see where we are.”
“Whether it’s NC State or Philadelphia University it doesn’t matter … we have to have the same mentality going in every game,” Chambers said. “Play loose, play with great confidence and when shots are there — shoot them.”
Penn State will face either Providence or Massachusetts on Friday. The Nittany Lions’ Sunday opponent will depend on the outcomes of other tournament games.