In case you hadn’t heard, Penn State is still winless in Big Ten conference play, most recently having lost 64-60 to Rutgers.
Let that sink in for just a minute.
Penn State lost. To Rutgers. At home.
So this is what it feels like to be Rutgers then. I knew this season could be a little rough, but coming off a NIT championship, it felt like the pieces were there for at least a decent season.
Instead, the Lions may very well end the season winless in the conference. Surely this past weekend’s game was one of the very best chances the team had to snag a conference win, and couldn’t do it.
It seems all but certain that Pat Chambers will not be retained after this season.
Which begs the question - how far back does this season set Penn State basketball?
Frankly, I’m not sure that it does.
Sure, we’ve seen teams struggle when replacing a coach - Pitt, for instance, had a horrendous go of things when they hired Kevin Stallings to replace Jamie Dixon. The team chemistry was off, the coach-player dynamic wasn’t right, and Pitt tanked for two seasons before running Stallings out of town.
Thing is, Pitt was decent under Dixon, and look to be on the upswing under new hire Jeff Capel.
Penn State hasn’t been decent in a long time.
Don’t get me wrong, a NIT championship isn’t a bad thing. But not making the tournament - at all - in eight seasons is a far cry from being a competent team.
So, will Penn State take a tumble with a new coach at the helm next year? Maybe? If the team does manage to lose out, it’s harder to be much worse, isn’t it? There may be some players that opt to transfer out, and recruiting may take a hit for a year or two, but again, could the on-court results be much worse?
Here’s hoping that the athletic department opens its checkbook, and finds someone capable of both recruiting AND managing the Xs and Os.
Otherwise, it could be nearly another decade from now without a tournament berth, and more winless Big Ten seasons.