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Chambers' great personality and people skills are exactly what PSU needs

June 6, 2011 - Cory Giger
UNIVERSITY PARK -- There are only two kinds of people in the world: Those you want to hang out with and those you don't.

The ones you don't are boring. They have nothing to add to any conversation. They have limited or no people skills. They spend all their time staring at their cell phone instead of actually looking at and talking to others. They're no fun.

New Penn State basketball coach Patrick Chambers is none of those things.

He's the kind of guy you would definitely want to hang out with. Have him over to the house for a cookout. Watch the big game in the man cave. Have a couple of cold ones and shoot the bull.

Just an all-around good dude.

A dynamic personality.

Which makes him a perfect fit for the Nittany Lion basketball program.

Penn State needs an energetic, passionate coach who can go into a kid's living room and sell him on a dream. The dream is that PSU basketball can be not just a factor but a consistent force, year in and year out, in one of the nation's toughest conferences.

A boring coach can't do that. He can't visit a stud recruit in Philadelphia and get him to buy what he's selling.

And you know what, maybe Chambers can't either. Maybe no one can given PSU's limited basketball tradition.

But if any coach is able to, it has to be someone who can light up a room. A great speaker with a big personality who oozes charisma.

Based on first impressions from his introductory press conference Monday, you can put a check mark by Chambers' name in all those categories.

The coach who called Penn State his "dream job" has the "it factor," as Penn State Athletic Director Tim Curley said.

That may be hard to define, but it's easy to recognize. It was easy for about 200 people on hand for Monday's news conference to see when Chambers spoke, and it was easy for the PSU administration to see during the interview process.

"There was no doubt in my mind [after meeting with Chambers] that he was the right person for this job," Penn State President Graham Spanier said.

We won't know for several years how good of a basketball coach Chambers is, and of course, he may not be able to live up to any of the hype about actually going into his native Philadelphia and getting his share of recruits.

Penn State is a tough, tough job. Simply saying he can lure kids from Philly and other key recruiting areas is one thing, but following through is an entirely different story.

But consider this:

If Ed DeChellis, who's a great human being but clearly on the boring side, sat down in a kid's living room, there's very little he can do to energize that kid or get him to buy into Penn State basketball.

Chambers, on the other hand, used to sell pharmaceuticals and copiers. He can talk his way into getting people to buy things. He can charm them into believing him. He knows the tricks of the trade.

The guy's people skills are off the charts. He could meet a stranger in an elevator and strike up a conversation, a skill and comfort level that very few people have nowadays in our technological, do-everything-to-avoid-human-contact society.

Chambers also is genuine.

If you want to know the truth about a man, just ask his wife.

Courtney Chambers quickly dismissed the notion that maybe what the public saw and heard from her husband Monday was an act.

"I would describe him by saying that he can mix and mingle with any type of person," Courtney Chambers said. "Young, old, interested in sports or not, he's very good at adapting to situations. He's good with kids. Fantastic father.

"He's very well-rounded, and I don't think there's anyone he doesn't get along with."

Courtney met Patrick six years ago and "could tell right away" that he had the gift for gab and great people skills. She figures it comes from him being the youngest of 12 kids and having to speak up in order to get any attention.

"If we go to breakfast or go get a cup of coffee somewhere, he's very quick to be friendly and strike up a conversation with somebody behind the counter or anybody he passes," she said.

Who wouldn't want to hang out with a guy like that?

Now all Chambers has to do is convince elite recruits to hang out with him at Penn State.

If a coach with his personality and enthusiasm can't do that, then no one can.

Cory Giger is the host of "Sports Central" from 4 to 6 p.m. daily on ESPN Radio 1430 WVAM. He can be reached at 949-7031 or

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