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My Name Is Chris and I Support Pat Chambers

It’s that time of year again. The middle of January. The time when many Penn State basketball fans lose faith.

NCAA Basketball: Penn State at Michigan Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

I support Pat Chambers because I enjoy watching Penn State basketball and Pat Chambers is the coach of the team. A year ago there were rumbles of unrest among some people within the fan base that felt that it was time to let Chambers go, to replace him with a newer, shinier version.

By early January of 2018 many Penn State sports writers were saying that it was going to be the final season for Chambers, if you go back and check their twitter timelines or writing. Everyone was sure that it was the end for Pat Chambers at Penn State. Then the team went on a 6-1 run in conference play, bringing their record to 9-6 in Big Ten competition, and began to get attention on the bubble watch for the NCAA tournament.

The team settled for a 9-9 B1G finish and went on to win 26 games and the NIT tournament championship. Chambers’ contract was extended through 2021-22 in May.

It was just the 3rd time in the past 20 seasons that the Lions managed a record in-conference of .500 or better. The only season that the team won more than it lost, a 10-8 finish in 2009, it failed to make the NCAA tournament and settled instead for 27 wins and an NIT championship.

Penn State basketball has made the NCAA tournament twice in the past twenty seasons. One of those teams, the Sweet 16 run led by Joe Crispin, finished with a 7-9 record in the Big Ten. Going back forty seasons, Penn State has made the NCAA tournament a total of four times, once per decade. Five appearances in the past 60 years, if you are seeing a trend.

There have been many coaches at the helm and none have found a way to sustain NCAA tournament-caliber success at Penn State. And for some reason there has become an expectation for the team to make the tournament or else fire the coach. In fairness, most of the calls for firing Pat Chambers come from the safety of the internet.

Inside the stadium during games the sparse crowd seldom has negative things to say about the coach, players or team. Those fans see the hustle, refusal to quit even while out-matched by ranked opponents, and respect the team that is on the floor and its coach.

I’m Really Not Even A Pat Chambers Guy

Anyone that will to speak in broad daylight in favor of Pat Chambers is taking the chance of becoming associated with a person that has lost favor. There is the possibility that the same net that scoops up Chambers when he is finally plucked from the sideline will snag up anyone standing nearby. I realized that before endorsing Chambers a year ago and offered my resignation were I wrong.

Last season when most people were cutting bait, pulling up their nets and looking toward this year I threw all-in for the team. I thought it had a run in it, and a week later, the 3-5 team went on a 6-1 run to get into the NCAA tournament conversation.

That was two days short of one year ago. While this team does not seem poised for a similar run, there are 14 Big Ten games remaining. I would prefer to wait and let the season play out before I get my pitchfork and light my torch.

A year ago, on January 17, 402 of the 767 votes in the poll included in the article responded Wait to see how the remaining games play out, then decide. That was 52% of all those who answered the poll. 25% wanted Pat Chambers fired.

Like most fans that are not ready to fire Chambers, it has more to do with the fact that there is a lot of season yet to play, and no need to make the decision now. If Sandy Barbour pulled the plug on Chambers at the end of the year, I would have no problem supporting the move. Were he to stay and play out the remaining years of his contract, through the 2021-22 season, that would be fine with me, too.

I just like watching Penn State basketball and have since Bruce Parkhill walked the sideline inside of Rec Hall.

What Will Save Chambers?

Unlike last season there are no visions in my crystal ball. It seems impossible to predict how it will play out. When looking ahead at the 14 games that Penn State has remaining on the regular-season schedule it is littered with teams aspiring to make the NCAA tournament.

Joe Crispin’s Sweet 16 team in 2001 had a strong non-conference run to go along with a 7-9 record in a powerful Big Ten that year. For Penn State to even sniff a chance at the tournament this season it would need to get to 9-11 in Big Ten play, and hope for multiple wins in the Big Ten tournament, as Crispin’s team succeeded in doing.

As was the case last season when the Lions needed 7 wins with 11 games remaining to get to 10-8 and have a shot at being selected, it is a long-shot. A 10-4 finish in Big Ten play, almost as unlikely as sell-out crowd at the Bryce Jordan Center, would be miraculous. That with a Big Ten tournament win would be enough for an NCAA invite.

We may as well save the miracles for now. Let’s think on the low-end. How many games does Pat Chambers have to win in order to remain as coach next season? While Sandy Barbour may not have a number in her head, it may come down to other metrics such as competitiveness, Chambers’ ability to keep his team’s focus and effort, most fans probably could toss one out.

I think most fans would agree that if Pat Chambers won 10 out of the 14 remaining games on the schedule, that he did enough to keep his job. 9 wins would probably be enough for most people and could give the team a shot at defending its NIT championship.

An 8-6 finish in the Big Ten schedule looks great but that without a deep run in the Big Ten tournament would result in a losing season. Anything less than that, well, it’s not good, right?

I personally do not have a win total number in my head and I doubt that Sandy Barbour does either. If the team continues to play hard, and Chambers is able to get it to compete each night as he has this season, I will continue to support him.

How do you feel, BSD reader?


How Many Wins Will Save Chambers?

This poll is closed

  • 25%
    None. 14-0 isn’t enough. Fire him. Fire him now. I don’t care how the season plays out.
    (162 votes)
  • 13%
    10-4 or better and he can stay.
    (84 votes)
  • 19%
    9-5 and he can keep his job with a couple Big Ten tournament wins and unlikely NCAA invite.
    (126 votes)
  • 19%
    8-6. It wasn’t as bad as it looked early, let’s see what happens next season.
    (124 votes)
  • 21%
    7 or fewer. Stay the course. Trust the process. It was rough but next year will be better.
    (136 votes)
632 votes total Vote Now