Blue White Illustrated

September 2023

Penn State Sports Magazine

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Page 43 of 67

4 4 S E P T E M B E R 2 0 2 3 W W W . B L U E W H I T E O N L I N E . C O M P e n n S ta te h ea d c oa c h M i ke Rhoades rattled off the number without hesitation. At a mid- summer news conference, the Nittany Lions' first-year basketball mentor opened with a quick synopsis of his time in State College, pinpointing the dura- tion of his tenure with great specificity. "It's been 103 days that we've been on the job," he said. "This is as exciting as the first day I got here. It's been an awesome journey so far. It's been a lot of fun. "We put this group together and we've been working hard here for a couple of weeks. We're building the foundation of our program with a lot of hard work, with a lot of time spent with each other, and working on the things that can show up during basketball sea- son. There's a lot of effort on and off the court to build this the right way with our stamp on it." When Rhoades met with reporters on July 11, the Nittany Lions were work- ing through the fourth of their eight weeks of formal summer practices. For all the geniality of his interactions with the public and media during his short time on the job so far, he has also of- fered a few glimpses of his competitive intensity. One of those glimpses came when he was asked by a reporter about whether the job was " living up to the hype" and whether he was as excited as ever "about coming back to Pennsylvania." In response, the Mahanoy City na- tive made clear that he wasn't focused on any of that. The home-state-boy- makes-good theme may have been prominent in the media coverage that followed his hiring in March, but it's not a storyline he particularly cares about. "I didn't come back here because it's my home state," he said. "I came back here because I want to win. And I want to win in the Big Ten, I want to win at a cool university like Penn State. The neat thing about it is, I was able to come home. "So, am I still excited? Probably more excited. I'm more excited because the guys are here. I like this group, and the way they've worked, the way they've gotten along to start this summer has me even more excited." Being competitive is a prerequisite at this level, but the moment offered a window into Rhoades' intentions at MEN'S BASKETBALL MISSION STATEMENT Having replenished Penn State's roster, head coach Mike Rhoades affirms his goals for the coming season and beyond NAT E BAU E R | NAT E . B AU E R @ O N 3 . C O M Before taking over Penn State's program in March, Rhoades went 129-61 in six seasons at Virginia Commonwealth. PHOTO BY STEVE MANUEL

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