January 23, 2010

Penn State Basketball: Only 12 More Losses Away From Perfect Big Ten Suckage

As I watched PSU flirt with a comeback against Indiana the other night, only to come up short once again, I felt this old, familiar, and awful feeling begin to creep inside of me. It was that feeling of complete hopelessness, where you realize the situation you're in is broken beyond repair and all you can do is just laugh and try to enjoy the implosion..not so much because you find it funny, but because it gives you comfort and solace.

Such was the case with Conan O'Brien as he declared on his second-to-last Tonight Show, "I'm going to have some fun on television" and over this past week, brought out the gamut of old Late Night characters including the Masturbating Bear, and has also bought a whole bunch of expensive shit that NBC will have to pay for. Such was also the case seven years ago during the longly-awaited end of the Jerry Dunn era, and such is the case right now in Year Seven of the Ed DeChellis era: I can only sit back, laugh, enjoy the crap-filled fireworks, and unleash the sarcasm.

This most recent loss to the Hoosiers magnified just how dismal things have become: Players not named Talor Battle failing to show any signs of caring (although props go out to Andrew Ott, for being the only post player out there who looked like he belonged in the Big Ten), the lack of execution on offense, the lack of hustle, the lack of defensive rebounding (which is one thing this team has prided itself on in the DeChellis era), Andrew Jones inexplicable decline, Jeff Brooks's raging inconsistency, and Ed looking more flustered than Will Ferrell's Alex Trebek character on SNL Celebrity Jeopardy. This is not a problem that can be solved with a 6-foot guard in Taran Buie joining the team next year, as a solid backcourt only makes half of a team. The lack of any post presence whatsoever is the real culprit here, and unless there's plans to 'encourage transfers' out of a few players, that's not going to improve much.

It's truly baffling how this team could perform well enough to win at Virginia, push Temple and Virginia Tech to the brink, and yet look so horribly incompetent against teams such as Iowa and Indiana, whom everyone was pointing to as the two most likely wins on the schedule, and with good reason: Iowa resembles an intramural team full of white shooters, and Indiana is a lousy road team with a still-significant void of talent compared to Hoosier teams of years past. Hell, their top scorer Maurice Creek, was already out for the year due to injury. At this point, the only remaining games I can envision victories in are home contests against Illinois, Minnesota, and Northwestern. Forget about avoiding sweeps from the likes of Purdue, Ohio State, Michigan State, and Michigan.

I absolutely hate seeing a good guy and great ambassador for PSU such as Ed DeChellis struggle like this, but I have to call a spade a spade: Ed's ceiling was reached last season with the NIT championship, it will never get better than that. If it wasn't apparent after the Iowa game that Ed has lost this team, then it became crystal clear the other night against Indiana. This program is seriously flirting with perfection of the abysmal variety (0-18 in the Big Ten), which should not be happening with a team as talented as this. This is not the 2006-07 season where there was no athleticism outside of Geary Claxton and Jamelle Cornley, this team is better, and it's what makes this season the most frustrating of all the dismal seasons in the DeChellis era.

I know folks want to dismiss Tim Curley as a giant cheapskate who would never 'fire' a coach and only cares about turning over a profit at the smallest possible costs, but that extension with Ed was signed last year not just for recruiting purposes (you don't EVER want to leave a coach not named Joe Paterno hanging around with only two years left on his contract), but with the intent that the winning would remain steady and would continue to increase. Instead, this team is on a path that could very well lead them into elite suckage territory whose only occupant is the 1999-00 Northwestern squad. The aforementioned Northwestern squad has the dubious distinction of being the only team to go winless in Big Ten play. Even Curley himself would have to find this unacceptable and realizing the mistakes he made last time in waiting too long to cut Jerry Dunn loose, I wouldn't put it completely past him to make a change come March.

And yes, this is easily the longest basketball post I will write for the remainder of the season...Yeah, I know, I can't believe I wrote this much about such a crappy commodity myself.

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