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There’s Plenty of Legroom on the Pat Chambers Bandwagon

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The grains inside the hourglass are dwindling for Chambers. Can a late-season run flip the sand over and give the coach a new start, or will Sandy Barbour finally pull the plug?

NCAA Basketball: George Mason at Penn State

Prior to the 2017-2018 Penn State basketball season many fans and onlookers went on record with the belief that the team would be able to make the NIT or even make a run at the NCAA tournament. Since the start of the season, with the results that have come in to guide them, a vast majority of those who once had faith in the coach and team’s chances of making the post-season have seen those hopes go up in flames, evaporating before their eyes with each late-game loss.

I for one have not lost faith in this team or the coach. Maybe I am standing too close to the smoke and vapor that others have released with their hot takes following each debilitating in-conference loss. It is possible that my viewpoint is clouded with my own wishes that the team and Chambers will do well; a little Visine would help me see the writing on the wall, some would say.

My vision and mind are as clear as the lane is late in the game just before Tony Carr takes his defender on an ISO journey toward the hoop. Some would counter with the observation that many times the lane is fully occupied while Carr makes a drive to the hoop in the closing minutes of most games, so I should pass this article to a writer on the perimeter that has a better look.

The Penn State basketball team, led by its successful, rising coach Pat Chambers, will play at least one game following the Big Ten tournament this season. I’m not talking about the CBI or any consolation-type situation; the team will make a run at the NCAA tournament, and if it falls short, will play in the NIT. This year. Not with a different group of players and a new coach. This year, in just a couple of months, with this group of hardwood fighters we will watch the team play in a meaningful game past the Big Ten tournament. And Pat Chambers will lead them to this promised land.

I know what a lot of people are thinking, This blogger has lost his mind. I can assure you that all is well down here in my mother’s basement while I type this manifesto. My eyes have witnessed the Rider game, the Wisconsin debacle, the three near-misses versus Maryland, Indiana and Minnesota. And yet there is still a glimmer of hope deep inside me, adjacent to the meatloaf that my mom reheated for snack an hour ago, that feels that the season has something positive left to it.

Many supporters of the Penn State basketball program have seen enough following the heart-wrenching overtime loss to Minnesota earlier this week. While these fans’ support of the players and program will never waver, they feel that it is time to find another coach to lead the team. The reasons for this viewpoint vary but one consistent fact is that these fans no longer support Pat Chambers to remain as coach of the team.

There are some fans that remain undecided on whether Chambers will or should return as coach next season, taking the approach that there are still events that could go either way that would make the choice clearer.

I am on a third side at this point. A majority of fans seem to be choosing another vessel to rescue them from the sinking ship that they perceive to be the Pat Chambers era at Penn State. I am locking myself to the stern of the dinghy captained by Chambers and tossing the key into the wild, foamy white caps that crash against and sometimes into the our tiny, rapidly-emptying boat. There’s water up to our ankles and it looks as though we may not be able to bail faster than it comes in, but we’re not done fighting yet. I’m going where Chambers and the current players on the team are going, win or lose. They have my full support for the remainder of the season.

There are eleven Big Ten regular-season games remaining for Penn State. With a current record of 3-4 in conference play, the team would need an 8-3 finish to get its record near consideration for an at-large selection to the NCAA tournament. That would be 11-7 in Big Ten play and there would still be some work to do in the Big Ten tournament as well. Should the Lions finish 7-4, for a record of 10-8 in conference play, it would take a minor miracle for the team to be able to play itself into consideration for the NCAA tournament without winning the Big Ten tournament.

Let’s save the miracles for when the team loses its fourth game of the final eleven. Until then, hard work and accomplishing the best play that it can muster will keep the team in line for a shot at the NCAA tournament. I may be one of the last people who is holding on to hope that this scenario will unfold. A Chambers-led team has never won more than 7 Big Ten games in a season, I’m betting that it will win 7 or more of the next 11. Should the team fall a game or two short, an NIT run will likely be enough for Chambers to remain as coach.

For those who are now in full support of removing Chambers, the majority of the remaining eleven games would have to be losses for this to happen, in all likelihood. Should the team win six or more games it should be enough for Chambers to continue into next season.

For anyone who holds on to hope for the Penn State basketball program’s future, it would be an insult to suggest that they would wish the team to lose more than it wins. However, those in the ‘get rid of Chambers at all costs’ ship have now aligned themselves in such a way that should Penn State make a run into the NCAA tournament or NIT, their long-term hopes for the team would not be fulfilled; Chambers would be the coach moving forward.

Those of us that are holding out hope for the team and its coach could take this time to reflect on the possibility that the finish will not go well, and that the coach and some players may not return next season. Were that the case, we in this camp would have to keep an open mind for whatever comes next. Others that are currently in favor of a regime change could also consider the possibility that should the Lions make an improbable run into the NCAA tournament or deep into the NIT, that their opinion of Chambers could remain malleable.

To support the team and program is not always to get what you want for players and coaches. Sometimes you have to accept what the team is, rather than what you want it to be, in order to give it your full support.

If it doesn’t work out, and Chambers is let go at the end of the season, people such as myself will have to suck it up and do our best to support the next coach. Likewise, if the team pulls off a turnaround that saves Chambers’ job, fans that wish for a coach other than he will have to find a way to support the team without harping against its leader on the sidelines. To believe that you support the team wholeheartedly while constantly being negative toward its coach is to lack perspective.

It’s my belief that there will be a clear consensus on whether Pat Chambers should remain as coach of the team in just a few months. The successful finish that we are about to witness will make his retention and extension a no-brainer. It’s time to slide my chips to the center of the table in support of Pat Chambers. This is the hand we have been dealt, this is the hand we must win. I’m all in. There’s nothing special in our two obscured cards, no aces in the hole, pairs or potential flush or straight combinations to hold out for. We’ve got an eight and a three of different suits and we need to make something happen. Our hand does not have to be the best possible, a royal straight flush, it has to be the best on the table each given night.

Let it be known that I fully understand the implications of what could be considered a bold and career-defining moment. Should the team and Pat Chambers take a nosedive moving forward, Sandy Barbour will have a difficult decision to make as athletic director at Penn State. Likewise, should my ability to predict the future prove faulty, the readers of this publication could decide that it is time for me to step aside and let some new blood give it a shot. What good are media credentials when you have lost your Penn State basketball street credibility?

By April Pat Chambers may be looking for a new job and I could be out on the streets, left only to blog about Penn State football and hockey, sometimes chipping in on the Days Until football season posts. It’s a risk that I have to accept but not a scenario that I expect to play out. This team, with these players, coached by Pat Chambers, is going to play in the NCAA tournament or make a deep run in the NIT.

Poll

What Do You Feel Is The Right Thing To Do?

This poll is closed

  • 24%
    Fire Pat Chambers and ban Chris Taylor from blogging about PSU hoops now, enough damage has been done already.
    (188 votes)
  • 52%
    Wait to see how the remaining games play out, then decide.
    (402 votes)
  • 16%
    Even if the team does not make the NIT or NCAA tournament, keep Chambers.
    (126 votes)
  • 6%
    Fire Chambers. Don’t fire Chambers. Just make it stop. I don’t care that the next coach will be maligned just as badly, I just want to hear people complain about a different guy for a while.
    (51 votes)
767 votes total Vote Now