Echoes of Joe Paterno in Penn State’s recruiting, hoops coach Pat Chambers navigates tough stretch and more
We hope you’ll start your day with us here at the Landof10.com as we work to prepare you for everything that you need to know – Monday through Friday – around the world of Penn State sports. Whether it’s football, basketball, wrestling, hockey, baseball or just a wild story we hope you’ll find interesting, we’re here to share it all with you.
This is your Penn State Wake-Up Call for Tuesday, Feb. 7. Let’s get started.
Parallel paths in recruiting
Mike Poorman of Statecollege.com draws some interesting parallels between James Franklin’s first five recruiting classes at Penn State and the last 10 brought in by the late Joe Paterno.
Franklin, who upon being introduced as head coach in January 2014 declared that he wanted to “dominate the state” in recruiting, has lured 30 of his 101 recruits from Pennsylvania, including 2018 commits. That’s 30 percent.
Paterno wooed 72 of 209 players from the Keystone State over his final decade at the helm, according to Poorman’s calculations, or 34 percent.
Seventy percent of Franklin’s recruits have (or will) come from the Pennsylvania-New Jersey-Maryland-Virginia corridor, while Paterno drew 68 percent from the same area.
As PSU director of player personnel Andy Frank told Poorman on National Signing Day:
“I think you will always see Pennsylvania first, region second and then nationally will be icing on top. I think it goes back to the concept of being more balanced and being able to take the best player available. That allows you to be more selective in the region. Control the state and handle the guys you want in your state, and if they can play for you, you take them.”
The trick is attracting players from such talent-rich states as Florida and California, as Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh and Ohio State’s Urban Meyer have. By Poorman’s count the Wolverines have 11 players from Florida and six from California, while the Buckeyes have seven and one, respectively.
PSU has one from each state.
Here’s Frank’s take, per Poorman, about the composition of future recruiting classes:
“You hope that the national kids take off the bottom portion of the kids you are otherwise signing in your region. That kind of elevates your overall class. I don’t think the number is going to grow to some huge number. You’re not going to see a scenario where we’re signing 75 percent of our class from outside our region. That’s not who we are.”
Chambers plows ahead
A loss to lowly Rutgers on Saturday at home was the fifth in six games for the PSU men’s basketball team, dropping the Lions to 12-12, including 4-7 in the Big Ten. There has been, as a result, the expected message-board trolling of sixth-year coach Pat Chambers.
Mark Brennan of Fight on State writes that athletic director Sandy Barbour has stood by Chambers, but the coach was nonetheless asked about his job security Monday, with a home game Tuesday against No. 21 Maryland looming.
Per Brennan, here was Chambers’ response:
“I do feel secure. … Look, I’m only gonna control what I can control. And I’m gonna control these kids and what they do and how they play and how they perform. The best thing I can do for them is to keep pushing them and keep driving them to be the best team they can be.”
The Lions do not have a senior on their team, and of the eight guys who play heavy minutes, two are freshmen, one is a redshirt freshman and another is a sophomore.
Put simply, there was bound to be some tough sledding, and with it some heat for the head coach. But as Chambers said Monday:
“The most important thing I can tell you is, I can’t listen to the outside world. I refuse to. I’ll listen to Sandy Barbour and (Barbour assistants) Phil Esten and Lynn Holleran … and president (Eric Barron).
“But we’re gonna keep driving this bus, because we’ve got a great foundation. We’ve got a great foundation, which we can build upon. That’s exciting to me.”
Lady Lions snap road slide
Sophomore guard Teniya Page had 18 points and eight assists to lead the PSU women’s basketball team to a 74-58 victory at Northwestern on Sunday, ending a five-game road losing streak.
In all five players cracked double figures for the Lady Lions (15-8), and coach Coquese Washington told the Daily Collegian she was pleased with the her team’s cohesion and selflessness:
“Teams are going to have a very concerted and intentional effort to try and make it tough for Teniya. That’s going to open up things for other people. The key is to take advantage, whether it’s going out in transition or knocking down open shots. When you can spread it around like we did tonight it makes it really tough to try and just key on one person.”
PSU, which had last won on the road Dec. 7 at Holy Cross, hosts Minnesota on Wednesday.