The Passion of Patrick Chambers
First-year b-ball coach grabs a handful of firsts
There were three things athletics director Mike Lynch liked about Patrick Chambers when they met last year to talk about the men’s basketball head coaching slot at BU.
Chambers had been around: he was the associate head coach at Villanova, he’d worked in sales and marketing, and he had a few years on most of the others Lynch had been talking to. Plus, Chambers was extremely well prepared for the interview; he clearly was a guy who did the work.
“But what really knocked me over,” recalls Lynch, “was his passion.”
The passion of Patrick Chambers, whose five years with the Wildcats included four NCAA appearances and a place in the final four, has become a familiar element of Terrier men’s basketball games. That and the work ethic Lynch admired fueled a minor renaissance for the long-struggling team, propelling the Terriers to the America East finals for the first time since 2003 and to their first 20-win season since 2004. Chambers’ first season marked the first time since 1986-87 that BU defeated two major conference members in the same season, plus took home wins over the Big 10’s Indiana and Pac-10’s Oregon State. It also saw Chambers become the fifth first-year head coach in America East history to lead his team to a championship game.
“Pat was a very quick study,” says Lynch. “Throughout the season, I’ve watched the guys gel as a unit and seen individual players keep getting better and better.”
Chambers says the study may have been quick, by necessity, but admits it wasn’t easy, particularly when it came to making tough decisions in the briefest of moments.
“You just move down the bench a few inches, and you’re in the seat where every decision is a final decision,” says the former associate coach. “Suddenly you are no longer offering an opinion, so you’d better really think through every situation and be prepared for the consequences.”
From the moment he accepted the job, he says, failure was not an option.
“When you take a job at BU there are high expectations,” he says. “The bar has already been set. You are expected to win.” Chambers did that 21 times this season, against 14 losses.
Lynch cites the early season defeat of Indiana as a milestone and a clear indicator of what the team could accomplish. There was also the late-season rally that took down Hartford and the sustained drive at the end of the year, when the Terriers won 10 of their last 12.
Chambers had big-time help. Corey Lowe (SHA’10), a 6-foot-2-inch guard, was America East’s leading scorer, at 19.9 points per game, and BU’s all-time leader in 3-pointers. And AE 2007 Rookie of the Year Tyler Morris (SMG’10), another 6-foot-2-inch guard, at times seemed capable of magic. In the season opener at Iona, Morris scored 21 points on 3-pointers and shot 8 for 10 from the line.
Chambers describes him as “the heart and soul of the team.”
In turn, Morris has much to say about Chambers’ “ability to bring positive energy anywhere he goes. He’s got an incredibly positive vibe, not just with the team, but approaching people in his everyday life. It’s one of those things you feel more than you see.”
Morris, who hopes to play overseas next year, believes that Chambers’ refusal to yield to adversity helped the team advance farther than anyone would have expected as the season began.
“I broke my hand,” he recalls. “Corey was out for a couple of games, but no matter what, coach just kept reiterating that we had to keep working hard, keep plugging, create good habits.”
Those habits should serve the team well even though the Terriers are losing nine seniors. Chambers does have three powerful returning players, John Holland (CGS’09, COM’11), Jake O’Brien (CGS’10), and Jeff Pelage (CGS’10), and he will also have three transfers available: Patrick Hazel (COM’11), from Marquette, Matt Griffin (SMG’11), from Rider, and Darryl Partin (MET’11), from La Salle.
Chambers says he will build and rebuild the team the way he knows best, recruiting from areas he knows best. “I have great relationships in Philadelphia, New York, and New Jersey,” he says. “I’ll rely on them until I get to know more about the New England area.”
He is confident, and as usual, passionate, about the program: “What we have to do is bring in the quality of kids who are competitors and good people. Regardless of wins and losses, the real foundation of this team has been attitude. Life is difficult at times. There are going to be bumps and bruises. The real question is, where are you going to be when times are hard?
Chambers will be back at the end of the bench next season.
Art Jahnke can be reached at email@example.com Comments