I've always been a fan of Ed DeChellis. He took over a program that Jerry Dunn left in shambles in 2003. Things were so bad they couldn't even scrape up enough players to have a scrimmage in practice. Assistant coaches needed to suit up and play just so they had enough guys. Nobody associated with the Penn State basketball program liked coming to work. Players were defecting, and the fans showed absolutely no interest. The facilities were on par with the Patriot League, and no self respecting high school kid wanted to come play for Penn State.
There was no easy solution to fixing Penn State basketball back then. The problems were not readily identifiable. The problems were cultural. It was going to take more than just a big coaching hire or some new carpet and a leather couch for the lockerroom. Penn State needed a coach that realized you can only build a castle one stone at a time. So I was willing to be patient and give DeChellis more time.
It took DeChellis about three years just to stabilize the program to the point kids wanted to stay for four years. He steadily upgraded the facilities. He got a few players and in 2005 he took the Nittany Lions to the NIT. They barely made it, and they didn't do anything noteworthy, but it was a sign of progress at the time. With sophomore Geary Claxton and freshman Jamelle Cornley logging major minutes it looked like the only place to go was up.
But the next two seasons were horrible disappointments. But I was still willing to give DeChellis some slack. Lack of decent guard play to compliment Geary Claxton derailed the 2006-2007 season, but there was an infusion of talent on the way with David Jackson, Andrew Jones, Jeff Brooks, and Talor Battle.
The 2007-2008 season went down the tubes when Claxton tore his ACL. Cornley was also plagued all season by injuries as well. But in a way it was a blessing in disguise as it allowed Battle to shine as a freshman. Despite the injury to Claxton, the Lions managed seven wins in the Big Ten and had a case for making the NIT again, though they were passed over.
In 2008-2009 Ed had his best team to date. They had a nice combination of senior leadership with Cornley, Stanley Pringle, and Danny Morrissey to go with the youthful Battle, Jones, Brooks, and Jackson. Despite finishing fourth in the Big Ten with an 11-9 conference record, they didn't make the NCAA tournament. The out of conference schedule was too weak to get any respect from the selection committee. It was a schedule that DeChellis had a major hand in putting together.
But they made the best of it. They went to the NIT, and they won. It was a thumb at the nose to the selection committee. And though the rest of the Big Ten had a good time in mocking our jubilation, I didn't care. Winning a post season tournament was inconceivable just two years prior. They had a good nucleus coming back the following season, and DeChellis had a verbal commitment from his first Top 100 player, Taran Buie. Penn State basketball was on the rise.
And then the 2009-2010 season happened. Cornley, Pringle, and Morrissey were gone. Role players like Jackson and Jones regressed. Brooks looked more lost than he did as a freshman. It was basically Talor Battle and four other guys standing around, and Battle pretty much gave up trying midway through the season. Penn State suffered an embarrassing 12 game losing streak to start conference play, and once again Penn State knew they were not going to be going dancing before the calendar ever flipped over into February.
But still I supported Ed as Penn State's head coach. They lost a lot of games by very close margins, and they won a few games to end the season. Penn State had a good mix of veterans like Battle, Jones, Brooks, and Jackson, and they had some promising young talent with Chris Babb and Bill Edwards. Plus Buie was going to be joining them very soon as was star recruit Trey Burke. I said several times last year that I still supported Ed, but there was no more room for error. It was either NCAA Tournament or bust in 2011.
Which brings us to where we are today, which is the day after a horrible double digit loss to Maine on our home court. Babb and Edwards have transferred out of the program. Burke has defected to Michigan. This was supposed to be an experienced team, and the schedule was set up so that an NCAA tournament spot was within reach. But they laid three eggs in the three games that were supposed to be the resume builders. Here we are not even through the end of December, and already the fans have given up on Penn State basketball for the year.
I have supported Ed DeChellis through it all. He's a man of character, and he has represented Penn State University with dignity and honor. He is a loyal son who has done a commendable job in lifting Penn State basketball out of the darkness and stabilizing it in the face of crushing despair. But it is clear that he cannot take this team any further.
For that, it is time for Tim Curley to do the right thing and let Ed DeChellis go. And if Curley doesn't have the balls to do it, then DeChellis needs to do the honorable thing and resign. In seven years, he has finished in last place in the Big Ten four times. This year is looking more and more like number five out of eight. By any standard, that is not acceptable.
I've always given Ed DeChellis the benefit of the doubt. In the early years he was given sour milk and rotten eggs and asked to bake a wedding cake out of them. In the middle years his teams were getting better, but they lacked depth and athleticism, and they suffered major injuries that were too much to overcome.
I've taken a lot of heat for my support of Ed the past few years, and I'm sure there are a few people reading this wishing they weren't banned from BSD so they could say they told me so. But now there are no more excuses. For me, the clock on DeChellis didn't start ticking until 2006. We are now five years down the road and on course to finish in last place. Again.
I've had it. Short of Penn State running the table and making the NCAA tournament, I'm done supporting Ed DeChellis. He needs to go at the end of the season if not sooner. It pains me to say this because I really like the guy and I was really pulling for him to succeed. But the time has come.
This is a major paradigm shift in my thinking. Long time readers of BSD know I'm reluctant to call for coaching changes. I'm not the kind of guy that jumps off the ledge with every loss. So I think it's safe to say that when you lose BSD, you have lost the fanbase.