Posts tagged ‘Penn State Basketball’

Tyler Smith, A True Basketball Globetrotter

Our Nov./Dec. 17 issue includes an item on a new book by former Nittany Lion basketball player Tyler Smith, who spent much of his career overseas chasing a professional basketball contract. As you might guess, the extensive traveling involved in such a venture could lend itself to stories, and Smith ’02 has some pretty good ones. He detailed most of them in emails home to family and friends—having to take toilet paper to away games, playing on odd surfaces, and 30-hour bus trips one way just to get to games. It all lent itself to a pretty good outline for a book.

And so Smith compiled them all into just that: Called for Traveling: My Nomadic Life Playing Pro Basketball Around the World was released in October by Sports Publishing. “People seemed to get a kick out of the stories,” Smith said when we caught up with him by phone recently. “I loved hearing them kind of laugh through their emails.”

Smith’s LinkedIn profile tells the story. On it is a line: “Pro Basketball Player, 2002­–2013.” Under locations it lists Holland, Italy, Uruguay, Argentina, Utah Jazz, NBA D-League, Japan, and Thailand. “It’s such an unorthodox lifestyle—you’re in these foreign countries, you don’t speak the language, sometimes teams don’t pay you, you’re away from everybody and everything you know,” Smith said. “People wouldn’t believe some of the stuff that happens. They think, ‘Ohh, it’s traveling the world, and living this amazing life.’ Sometimes we have some pretty cool experiences and sometimes you’re bringing your own toilet paper to away games.”

He counts playing in Holland and Italy among the better experiences he had. Then there was Argentina: “I took a 30-hour bus ride, one-way, to play a game. They brought two bus drivers because we’d just drive as long as we could until one of them had to pull over and have a smoke.”

“I played in Uruguay three times, and the first time I went down there was the most shocking because there’s 16 teams in the league, and only four of them had wooden-floor courts,” he said. “It was like some kind of concrete or a tile or I don’t even know what you call it—you’re sliding all over the place. One time we were playing a game and my point guard wasn’t running back on defense and our coach is yelling at him and he says he can’t, his shoe is stuck in the floor. There, literally, was a hole in the floor and his shoe got caught in it.”

Still, Smith considers himself lucky to have had the experiences over an 11-year playing career. But the nomadic lifestyle is still in him: Smith has spent the past four years working as a medical device sales representative, still travelling across states to consult on medical equipment and prosthetic implants.

As for the book, “You don’t have to be a hardcore basketball junkie to like this book,” he says. “There’s a little bit of everything in there. I talk about family and bringing my kids with me—that adds a whole new element of challenge to the journey—and talking about my faith. I don’t know if anybody other than the three ladies in my mom’s book club are gonna read it, but if nothing else it’ll be down on paper and I can show it to my daughters.”

B.J. Reyes, associate editor





November 7, 2017 at 10:58 am 2 comments

Calvin Booth Is Heading to Denver

Photo via @PennStateMBB

Former Penn State basketball star Calvin Booth ’98 has accepted a job as the assistant general manager of the Denver Nuggets.

Booth moved into management after his 10-year NBA playing career came to an end in 2009: He has worked in the Minnesota Timberwolves’ front office since 2013, and held the role of director of player personnel for the last two years.

Jon Krawczynski of the AP notes that Booth has “quietly emerged as a respected evaluator of talent,” and that his new role will give Booth a voice in molding one of the league’s brightest young squads—Denver missed the postseason by just one game last year.

Booth appeared in 115 games for the Nittany Lions from 1995-99. He averaged 11.2 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 3.7 blocked shots per game for his career, and his 428 career blocks remain the most in Penn State history.

Bill DiFilippo, online editor

August 2, 2017 at 4:44 pm Leave a comment

A Night of Basketball in Happy Valley

Photo via Mark Selders

Photo via Mark Selders

For Penn State basketball, Wednesday night was all about the kids.

No, it wasn’t about the Nittany Lions’ highly-regarded recruiting class. Rather, it was about the children who participated in Growing the Game, the youth outdoor basketball league that formed because of a partnership between Penn State basketball and Centre Region Parks and Recreation.

The entire team made its way to Circleville Park on Wednesday for the boys championship games and wanted to get a message across to those in attendance.

“We’re here,” junior guard Shep Garner said. “We like coming out and supporting the community and let the little kids know that we’re fans, too. It’s not that they’re just our fans, we’re their fans, too. We want to come out and support as much as we can.”

Wednesday night resonated on a personal level with head coach Pat Chambers. He played basketball in environments like this when he was younger – outdoor courts on hot summer days – so this made him feel nostalgic.

“This is the way I learned how to play, in the parks,” Chambers said. “It taught me how to be tough, it taught me how to grow up like a man.”

Of course, there was some talk of the 2016-17 Nittany Lions. There is a ton of hype around the program, partly because of the returning talent it possesses (Garner was 14th in the Big Ten in scoring last year and ended the season on fire, while sophomore guard Josh Reaves established himself as one of the league’s peskiest defenders), and partly because of the guys who will suit up in the blue and white for the first time this fall.

There are the freshmen – Tony Carr, Lamar Stevens, Joe Hampton, and Nazeer Bostick. The foursome makes up the best recruiting class in school history and the fourth-best class in the Big Ten, according to 247Sports. While they haven’t been on campus for long, Garner praised them for “meshing” and “buying in.”

Photo via Mark Selders

Photo via Mark Selders

There’s also a pair of players who were with the program last year but didn’t get the chance to play. Mike Watkins, a center out of Philadelphia, took an academic redshirt, while redshirt junior point guard Terrence Samuel sat out after transferring from UConn.

Neither guy has played a competitive basketball game since 2014, which is something that Chambers notices in the way they’ve played this summer.

“They just cannot wait to get on the floor and put that Penn State uniform on,” Chambers said. “Terrence worked really hard, Mike worked really hard, and they wanna see where their hard work is gonna take them and take this team.”

But on Wednesday, the future of Penn State hoops took a backseat to being a part of the community. Chambers mentioned that programs like this show that there is “a hunger for good basketball” in Happy Valley, while Garner was just excited to be around people playing the game.

“Any time you see a whole bunch of kids playing basketball,” Garner said, “I want to be a part of it.”

Bill DiFilippo, online editor

July 25, 2016 at 11:45 am Leave a comment

Tom Hovasse Hopes to Win a 金メダル This Summer

Photo via The Japan Times

Photo via The Japan Times

Penn State basketball fans may recall Tom Hovasse ’89, who suited up at forward for the Nittany Lions from 1985 to 1989 and averaged 14.7 points and 6.3 rebounds per game over his career.

Hovasse will be in Rio for the Olympic Games this year. Since he’s a little past his playing days, he’ll instead go as an assistant coach with Japan’s women’s national team. After playing in Japan for several years during his pro career, Hovasse returned to the country in 2008, when he became the head coach of a professional team. Then, in July of 2015, Hovasse joined the national team as an assistant.

While it will be a tough task knocking off the United States – the No. 1 team in the world and winners of the last five Olympic gold medals – Japan has a relatively favorable draw in group play, so medaling isn’t that crazy of a thought for the No. 16 team in the world. Japan has played well recently, beating two top-10 teams (fifth-ranked Czech Republic and eighth-ranked China) during the lead-up to the Games.

For more on Hovasse and the Japanese women’s national team, check out this story from PennLive. And if you would like to follow Japan during the Olympics, here is the team’s schedule.

Bill DiFilippo, online editor

July 18, 2016 at 10:29 am Leave a comment

Cumberland Posey Makes Another Hall of Fame

cumberland posey

Cumberland Posey is headed to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. It was announced on Monday that Posey ’11  and yes, that’s 1911 — who passed away in 1946 and was the first African-American athlete in Penn State history, was selected by the Hall of Fame’s Early African American Pioneers Committee.

Posey’s basketball career occurred long before the NBA existed. He led two teams — Monticello Athletic Association (1911-12) and Loendi Big Five (1919-23) — to five Colored Basketball World’s Championships during his hoops career. He formed Monticello Athletic Association after he left Penn State in 1911, and in addition to a playing career with Loendi Big Five, he acted as the team’s operator.

This election is historic because Posey is now the only person in the basketball and baseball halls of fame. Posey was selected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2006 by the Committee on African-American Baseball. He spent his entire career with the Homestead Grays of the Negro League, first as a player, then as a manager and owner. His outstanding career led to one Pittsburgh sports writer calling Posey “the smartest man in Negro baseball and certainly the most successful.”

For more information on Posey, we recommend reading this feature from Onward State.

Bill DiFilippo, online editor

April 5, 2016 at 12:40 pm Leave a comment

Mr. Walker’s Opus

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The Alma Mater is a little more special than usual after @pennstatembb's win tonight, as the Blue Band was conducted by the school's oldest alumnus, 104-year-old Ray Walker.

A post shared by Penn Stater (@pennstatermag) on

Thursday night’s basketball game at the Bryce Jordan Center was great for bevy of reasons. One was that Penn State took down Nebraska in a thrilling game to move to 15-13 on the year, and with a 6-9 mark in conference play, the Nittany Lions have tied for the most Big Ten wins in a season during Pat Chambers’ tenure.

But the coolest moment actually came after the game when the Blue Band performed the Alma Mater with special guest conductor Ray Walker ’35. At 104 years old, Walker is believed to be Penn State’s oldest living alumnus.

Walker was introduced to the crowd while sitting in his seat during a time-out in the first half. Later, after the final buzzer of the game, he made his way down to the floor to conduct the band. Per usual, the band’s performance was great, but we have to think that Walker stole the show.

Bill DiFilippo, online editor

February 26, 2016 at 1:36 pm 1 comment

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