It has not been uncommon this season to see Penn State guard D.J. Newbill try to make an ill-advised pass or drive and lose possession in the process. It also has not been uncommon to then look to the Penn State bench and see Patrick Chambers clapping his hands and offering encouragement.
D.J. Newbill leads the Nittany Lions in scoring, assists and minutes played.
"I can't bury him for turning the ball over," Chambers said Friday of his sophomore point guard. "Now in practice, that's a different story. In practice that's where I teach and coach and guide."
Chambers believes what Newbill is learning in practice and on the floor on game days about a position that is still new to him is helping Newbill develop into a better player. But it has led and will likely continue to lead to some rough nights for the Nittany Lions.
Newbill is second among all Big Ten point guards in scoring (15.5 points per game) and leads them all in rebounding (6.0). His assist-to-turnover ratio, however, is exactly 1 to 1.
"You're talking about a guy that has to hold the ball for 40 minutes," said Chambers. "Not only does he have to bring the ball up, run the offense get everybody involved, then he's got to guard the point guard on defense."
Newbill, who is second in the conference in minutes played per game (35.8) will likely expend some serious energy when the Nittany Lions (8-11, 0-7 Big Ten) host No. 14 Ohio State (14-4, 4-2) at noon. Buckeyes point guard Aaron Craft, one of the nation's most persistent and disruptive defenders, will likely shadow him all afternoon.
The rest of the Nittany Lions will have to take some of the pressure off their point guard, whether that means helping with the scoring or even taking the ball out of his hands. Penn State's off-the-ball movement was stodgy at times Wednesday against the tough man-to-man defense of Indiana, which forced 18 turnovers, but Chambers likes the way the Nittany Lions have developed there as the season has gone on.
"We're trying to get the ball side to side, share the ball a little bit more," Chambers said. "I like the shots we're getting, the layups we're getting. I like the ball movement. It's only matter of time before it all comes together."
Chambers also likes the way Newbill "kept grinding and kept plugging" even in the lopsided second half against the Hoosiers. He compared him to fictional boxer Rocky Balboa.
"He wants to be coached and he wants to get better," Chambers said. "As long as you have a willingness to get better, the sky's the limit."