March 24, 2011

Ed DeChellis's Second Chance

*This is the second of three posts that will wrap-up the 2010-2011 basketball season and take a look at the state of the program. The first post can be found here. The third and final post will be released on Monday.

Tim Curley reared his head the other day, unleashing another hate-storm due to what is being termed as 'his vote of confidence' in Ed DeChellis. This isn't (or at least, shouldn't) be a surprise to anyone, since there really isn't as much of a reason to fire him this year as there was last.

I still don't understand what the hell these cynics think Curley is suppose to say, as if he is suppose to come out and claim that Ed's job is on shaky terms with the athletic department. I mean, talk about counter-productive and undermining recruiting efforts. Is 'fantastic' a little too much fluff to describe this season? I would absolutely agree (no 'fantastic' season includes a loss to the Maine Black Bears), but this is nothing to get upset over. He's trying to sell the program and show support for the coach. I think it's up for debate that Tim's words to the press are not really how he feels. The program found the NCAA promised land for the first time in a decade, which was the goal. I think the AD would actually look a little foolish firing the guy who actually achieved a tiny bit of success in Happy Valley (not that I would be against such a move, however).

We all should know that this is going to buy Ed at least two years. Whether it's right or wrong, that's the reality of the situation. I'm not particularly thrilled about it anymore than most people, but there's nothing that can be done about it. If you're addicted to this program like myself, then we just gotta keep looking forward.

One of the more pressing issues going on right now with the program is the status of the assistant coaches. Kurt Kanaskie interviewed on Tuesday for the Lock Haven job. Dan Earl has been mentioned for the Monmouth opening. These guys are entitled to their own career pursuits, as strange as they may seem to our eyes (Lock Haven was 1-27 last year?). With such a core group of guys departing, now is the time to leave if you're an assistant coach. Next year's team is going to be about as green as you can get. I'm not sure how much interest Monmouth has in Earl, but I'd have to think Kanaskie has the D-II pedigree to get offered the LHU job. Coach K has been Ed's right hand man for the last 8 years and is responsible for the recruitment of Talor Battle. I have heard nothing but great things about the man, and it seems like he is well-respected and admired by everyone in the program. If Kanaskie decides to leave, which I would say is likely at this point, it would leave a pretty big hole in the coaching staff.

This is always a tough time in college basketball with the spring recruiting period just around the corner. The coaching carousel is in full effect as coaches, both head and assistants, are on the move all over the country. I always would rather see our coaching staff focused on just recruiting during this time, as it appears the staff is planning on filling at least one scholarship this spring. However, if an assistant coaching search must be conducted, it could detract from PSU's recruiting efforts. I would imagine a few prospects that Penn State is recruiting simply know all about PSU through Kanaskie.

But no more excuses. Ed's fortunate enough to be given a second chance on the recruiting trail. Yes, it's gonna be his 9th season at the helm, but only one other time did he have this type of buzz going on with the program. As I mentioned in the last post, that was all pissed away with a futile 2009-2010 campaign. That's easily the biggest challenge for this program. Maintaining their relevance once they get into the spotlight. However, the early returns on the recruiting trail right now have left me skeptical.

First off, PSU doesn't even have many scholarships to hand out, anyway. There was going to be 5 scholarships available for the 2011 class back in 2009 (and it turns out there still is). This is another example of the perfect setup DeChellis had back in 2009, since he had so much time to build the next foundation. This spring, Penn State has just two open scholarships, and that's assuming Taran Buie is out of the picture. It's not all bad, though. This staff has been desperate so many times in the past in the spring signing period, it's nice to know there are at least enough players here that are committed to the program. The coaching staff can be a bit more picky with these last scholarships.

Terry Turner, a 2012 recruit, has PSU
as his favorite school at this point.
Now I hate making this point because this isn't the kind of person I am. Everyone deserves an equal opportunity, especially if they have worked their butts off for it. But it always seem like the great players this staff has actually landed, were damaged goods to big time programs. Geary Claxton was too raw and needed to go to prep school. Jamelle Cornley was too short and had no true position. Talor Battle destroyed his ankle his junior year that kept many schools away. As of right now, as far as I know, the two prospects PSU has the best chance of landing fit this mold. The first is a player who last I heard was officially visiting this weekend. That would 25-year-old ex-con Anthony Hubbard, a 6'5" wing from Frederick Community College. Seems like the kid can ball, though, as programs like Kansas State, Nebraska, Louisville, Iowa, Rutgers, and Oregon State are after his services. The other guy is Terry Turner, a 2012 prospect who has permanently lost vision in his left eye during a freak accident in an AAU game last year. I want to say I have absolutely nothing against these two guys and if the coaching staff believes they are worthy of a scholarship despite their situations, then I support them. But this program needs to get to the point where they can go into Philadelphia and land a hot shot prospect, instead of hearing all the excuses of why not. Penn State can't afford to feast off of Villanova's rejects. The only way I can see this happening is making the NCAA tournament more than once every ten years. I would think something along the lines of once every 2 or 3 years might do the trick, but it seems were a long ways away from that.

Recruiting has still been Ed's biggest downfall, but it might not be the anchor that drags him down this time. Even if it is, it's too late to do anything about it now with 11 scholarship players ready to roll next year. To build off this NCAA tournament appearance, he needs to mold these inexperienced guys into a ball club next season. The last post in this series will take a look at the new roster, offer some very early projections, and compare the situation to Jerry Dunn's 2001-2002 7-win team.

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