Pat Chambers needs more from his team.
Penn State lost on the road against Maryland in the Big Ten opener, and Chambers’ message after the game was clear: Lamar Stevens needs help.
The junior forward is averaging just over 22 points per game through the Nittany Lions’ first seven games. But he’s been the only consistent force Penn State has had all season. No other player is averaging over 12 points per game and only two other players are averaging double-digit points per game.
“We need another scorer out there,” Chambers told reporters after the game. “We need someone that’s going to make plays for us.”
Penn State’s 66-59 road loss to Maryland felt all too familiar. The Nittany Lions held a slim lead at halftime, despite a large disparity in free throw attempts, and a slow start to the second half was eventually the downfall of Chambers’ team. This felt eerily similar to Penn State’s loss in early January in the beginning of the Big Ten season. Maryland had 30 more free throws than the Nittany Lions the last time the two teams played in College Park, and this time around the Terrapins shot 19 more.
But after the game, Chambers wouldn’t put any blame on anyone but himself and his team.
“It seems like every time we come down here it’s a one possession game,” Chambers said. “We’ve gotta be more disciplined. It’s unfortunate.”
Looking at the stat sheet, it may seem like Penn State had a balanced scoring attack, with Stevens, Josh Reaves and Rasir Bolton all had 15-plus points. But, outside of those three players, Penn State got just eight points combined from the rest of the roster, and only John Harrar and Myles Dread got on the scoresheet.
“We can’t just rely on [Lamar] Stevens for 20 Big Ten games,” Chambers said. “That’s unfair to the kid, that’s unfair to our team. We have to do a better job spreading the ball around.”
There wasn’t a whole lot of spreading the ball around in the first half. Reaves had 17 of the team’s 31 points in the first 20 minutes of action.
“That was the best 20 minutes I’ve seen him play all season,” Chambers said.
But in the second half, he failed to score. This appeared to be Reaves’ best game of the season as he has battled foul trouble for many of the Nittany Lions games this season.
While Chambers was encouraged by Reaves’ play, he’s now searching for consistency on offense from his senior leader.
“He just becomes passive sometimes,” Chambers said. “He’s got to stay on the attack. For three years, he’s not used to being the second leading scorer on the team. He’s gotta get used to that role.”
The biggest negative from the loss to the Terps was undoubtedly the lack of a balanced scoring attack. But Chambers was still pleased with what he saw, specifically from Harrar, who has played much better in the last two games with Mike Watkins in the rotation.
“I thought John [Harrar] was terrific,” Chambers said. “He gives you everything he’s got every minute he’s on the floor. That kid is going to be a superstar for Penn State basketball for sure.”
This young team still has a lot of growing up and a lot of learning left to do. The Nittany Lions are already playing solid defensively, but it’s about making shots on the other end.
“I thought defensively we did enough to win the game,” Chambers said. “We need some consistency. We’ll keep learning, keep growing.”