Patrick Chambers: A Salesman at Heart
So when athletic director Tim Curley said of new men’s basketball coach Patrick Chambers, “There will be no one better at promoting, marketing, and selling the Penn State basketball program 24/7, 365,” he wasn’t just delivering a throwaway line.
Chambers is a guy whose sales experience goes beyond recruiting basketball players. He majored in marketing at Philadelphia University and began his professional life as a copier salesman.
“Bottom of the barrel,” he said Monday afternoon, not long after he was formally introduced to the Penn State community at a press conference/welcome party in the auxiliary gym at the Bryce Jordan Center. “Probably the toughest thing to sell.
“And it really just made me get more organized, created a work ethic I’d never had before. It made me get up early, really pound the pavement, it made me work on developing relationships. And follow-up. … You’ve got to follow up. You can’t just say, ‘Hey, I’m giving you a scholarship; talk to you in a couple of months.’ You’ve got to be consistent. You’ve got to follow up, and that’s what I’m going to do.”
There are those who say selling Penn State as a destination for blue-chip basketball recruits might be just as challenging. When Ed DeChellis ’82 resigned in early May, he faced questions about whether the Penn State administration was truly committed to basketball, partly because of stuff like this: In February, the Nittany Lions had to practice in the IM Building because their home court, the Bryce Jordan Center, was booked with a Bon Jovi concert and a career fair.
Asked about that Monday, Chambers said. “I’m solution-driven.” (Marketing major, remember?) And then he added, “The whole Bon Jovi thing is comical to me. As long as there’s 94 by 50 feet, two rims and a basketball … I played outdoors in Philadelphia. In Chester. Avalon, New Jersey.
“I’m not saying it wouldn’t have bothered me,” he added. “All I’m saying is we’ve got to find the solution, that’s all. I think this administration is going to find solutions. And they’re committed to winning, they’re committed to this program, they’re committed to me, they’re committed to hiring a great staff.”
As Chambers talked, his voice got louder, and his cadence got quicker. It’s clear that he likes to talk. Early reports from Boston University, where he had coached for the past two years, and Villanova, where he had risen to associate head coach under Jay Wright, spoke of Chambers’ energy and his recruiting prowess. His energy was evident as he glad-handed reporters, thanked his large family (50 or so of whom were in the audience), praised his coaches and mentors, and promised that he would do everything possible to win more fans, starting the latter by borrowing women’s coach Coquese Washington’s golf cart.
“I’m going to drive around in the golf cart and throw some T-shirts out there and throw some attitude bands and whatever I can do,” he said. “We’re going to the café and the dining hall and get on tables and do dorm storm and whatever we’re allowed to do, we’re going to do it. We’re going to be seen in this community often.”
And as for on the court?
“We’re going to play up-tempo, we’re going to push the ball,” he said. “We want to get layups; if we don’t get layups we’re going to shoot 3s. We’re going to play with great confidence; we’re going to create great habits every single day to prepare us for the most difficult environments in the Big Ten. On the other end, we’re going to defend and we’re going to rebound, we’re going to be in stances, we’re going to talk, we’re going to dive, take charges. We’re going to scrap for every inch to make sure we compete on a daily basis.
“The goal is to be the best team we can be by the end of the year, the best team that we can be. The foundation is here. The bricks have been laid: NIT Championship, NCAA Tournament berth. We need to continue on that path of consistency.”
Lori Shontz, senior editor