Earlier this year we asked the simple question — can Patrick Chambers save his job along with Penn State basketball? On Feb. 4 we got the answer, as Penn State lost at home 70-68 to Rutgers.
This was the same Rutgers team that blew a nine-point lead to a horrifically bad shooting Wisconsin team just a week ago. It’s also the same team that spanked by an Iowa team without Peter Jok earlier this week.
If we were to believe the preseason hype from Chambers and Co. at Penn State, this team was the best collection of talent the Nittany Lions have ever had. Yet, that same collection is producing the same underwhelming results that have become the hallmark of the Chambers era.
So, why was a two-point loss to Rutgers telling? It was telling because these are two teams with the same hope of showing they are an improving and quality team. Only Rutgers has the victory to show they are the ones moving forward this season.
Even those who don’t believe the sky is falling in Happy Valley recognize something needs to change. In fact, most are arguing not about Chambers, but over just who would want the Penn State job.
Sure, you could fire Pat Chambers, but then who are you going to get?
— MYERS (@2112marc) February 4, 2017
While it is an interesting question, the reality is that college basketball is full of great coaches looking for a chance.
Penn State just needs to look at the guy who coached Rutgers to a win at the Bryce Jordan Center for all the proof they need. After all, Steve Pikeill wasn’t exactly a household name, but he has transformed Rutgers in to a team that plays tough defense and is actually competitive overnight.
That’s what a coach with new energy and some talent to tap in to can do. No one should be suggesting there isn’t talent to tap in to at Penn State, because it is clearly there.
Getting talent to Happy Valley is great, but Chambers hasn’t done a thing with said talent once it has gotten to Penn State.
So far he has one postseason tournament appearance, making the 2014 CBI tournament. That’s not exactly what should be expected from a Big Ten program, even if it is one that doesn’t have a great basketball tradition to build off of.
Chambers has been given five years already and year six is proving to be just as bad as the previous five. At some point it is time to realize when things aren’t working out.
Rutgers at home should be a winnable game, no matter how improved the Scarlet Knights are by year six of your coaching tenure.
Some will point to early-season success as a sign that there are signs of hope for the future. There’s just one problem with that — those wins are far from the meaningful ones you thought they were at the time.
The earlier win over then No. 24 Minnesota has proven to be a “so what” kind of win as the Gophers sit at 3-6 entering their Saturday contest at Illinois. The Michigan State win? Well, MSU is proving to be a shadow of its national title contender self from most years.
The harsh reality is that Penn State is who it is at this point under Chambers — a mediocre team at best, and an underachieving team with Philly talent to tap in to at worst.
Chambers got his foot in the door of the Philly recruiting game and that is a huge step forward for Penn State, he just can’t get said talent to produce consistent victories for him.
Rutgers wasn’t the straw that broke Chambers’ back, it was just the latest sample of what isn’t working in Happy Valley.
Does Pat Chambers really get what he did wrong?
Penn State men’s basketball head coach Pat Chambers did the one thing you can’t do — get physical with a player.
During a player-led huddle following a timeout in the first half of a blowout loss to Michigan, somehow Chambers decided it was a good idea to “motivate” his team by shoving freshman Myles Dread.
I mean, what in the actual hell was that that we just saw? No, it wasn’t a punch in the face or a two-handed shove in righteous anger. It was a coach completely out of control.
On Friday, Penn State and Chambers released joint statements.
Chambers apologized for his actions, noting he spoke to the family and made some promises.
“I apologized to Myles after the game and I have spoken with his family. My actions were inappropriate; that’s not what Penn State stands for or what I stand for. I told Myles I was sorry that it happened. Sandy and I have spoken and agreed there are some things I need to address. I’ve assured her this won’t happen again and understand my actions last night come with consequences.”
For their part, Penn State made it clear his actions were not kosher and he would be suspended for the Wisconsin game on Sunday.
But, this situation is so far beyond the merits of getting physical with a player to me. It’s about a coach who feels the need to show up his own players in the middle of a game that’s the heart of the issue.
What exactly was Myles Beard supposed to do in this situation? How exactly did he hold any power to change what was happening and what would Chambers going off like a lunatic on his own players do to motivate his team?
Many have tried to note that this was all about “firing up” his team and good coaches find ways to shock their players in to doing what should be done to win games for sure.
But, motivating players isn’t about becoming a monster in a moment. It’s about finding out the why and then getting your players to buy in to what you want them to accomplish.
Did that moment from Chambers look like a coach who had his player’s back? Did that look like a coach who had a clear plan in place for his players success? Did that look like a coach who understood the why of his team in that moment?
Short answer to all of those questions…no.
Instead, that looked like a coach pissed off that his players weren’t on the same page as him and he had had enough.
The best coaches can be ornery, mean and full of cuss words, but they are also never one to show up a player in public. When is the last time you saw the Mike Krzyzewski’s, the Tom Izzo’s, hell even the Bob Huggins of the world do what Chambers did to his team on Thursday night?
Short answer to that question…no.
They may all yell, scream and gesture like crazy, but every one of those moments is followed by a hug or a laugh or a smile and words of encouragement from those coaches.
What Chambers did was decide to tear down a player and leave it at that. There was no other purpose in his actions, despite what Chambers may have said after the game and despite what his supporters are saying today.
Showing up a player on your own team accomplishes nothing other than making you look like a fool, especially in public. That’s the real problem of what Chambers did.
He’ll serve a one-game suspension just in time for a slumping Wisconsin to come to town. Talk about being selfish and unaware of the moment you are in.
If there is any wonder how a team can get all this talent from the Philadelphia area and still manage to stink as bad as Penn State has this season, that disappeared in one moment, one shove, on Thursday night.
Chambers needs to look inward, he needs to understand it wasn’t just that he got physical, rather that he felt the need to go on some power trip in the middle of the team trying to figure themselves out against one of the best teams in college basketball.
If Chambers can’t figure out that it wasn’t the physical contact, as much as the underlying power trip that is the heart of the matter, he doesn’t deserve to coach another game at Penn State.
2017 talking10 Big Ten Men’s Basketball Awards Special
The Big Ten may have its awards, but what is the point of watching endless hours of Big Ten basketball without putting our two cents in, right?
Welcome to the 2017 taking10 Big Ten Men’s Basketball Awards special. Our hope is to educate you on the names that dominated our conversations and the hardwood across the Big Ten this season.
So, sit back and enjoy our special for your viewing pleasure.
Can Patrick Chambers Save Penn State Basketball and His Job?
This was supposed to be the team that finally turned the corner for Penn State basketball coach Pat Chambers.
His time in Happy Valley hasn’t been all that happy, between player transfers and plenty of stumbling blocks on the court, nothing has really gone right. But, with arguably his best roster of players the 2016-17 season was supposed to be a good one.
Much like the rest of Chambers’ tenure, not much has gone to plan this season. That was specifically highlighted in the Nittany Lions brutal 85-66 loss at home to George Mason.
No, not the George Mason of Jim Larranaga, but the one that has struggled to be relevant even in the re-built Atlantic 10 conference. That’s not to say the Patriots aren’t quality, as they are on a six-game win streak, with wins over Kent State and Northern Iowa in that win streak.
However, the loss said more about the Nittany Lions than the Patriots, as they were out worked and out hustled in the loss. Defense and hard-nosed basketball have been the hallmarks of Chambers’ Penn State tenure, but that wasn’t the case in this loss.
Instead, George Mason had a 44-16 advantage on points in the paint and 14-2 on the fast break. That’s about all one needs to know about this loss.
Chambers didn’t sound the panic alarm after the loss, noting that all that went wrong against George Mason is correctable.
“That’s why with them, I’m not freaking out because it’s correctable,” Chambers said, via the Centre Daily Times. “These are all fixable things that we can get better at, that we can control.”
That’s well and good, but with a player like Shep Garner in the mix things should be far better than they are in the 10th game of the sixth year of Chambers’ era.
But, it isn’t just the performance of the team in this game, rather it was that this game was indicative of a larger problem with this team. This is a Penn State team that is 12th in scoring offense (), 13th in scoring defense () and field goal shooting (.413), are dead last in scoring margin (+0.9) and rebounding margin (-4.1), and finally 11th in field goal percentage defense (.420).
I think you get the point — things are as bad as a 6-4 record in non-conference play for a Big Ten team would suggest.
That kind of performance has also led to perhaps the most dangerous sign that things are over…fans giving up on you. While Penn State has never really packed the Bryce Jordan Center for anything other than Thon or the occasional concert, what is happening this season is awful.
Penn State has played seven of 10 games at home and are averaging just 5,833 fans per game. That number is down nearly 1,000 from the final attendance figures of the entire 2015-2016 season.
Chambers is a good coach and a good man. He’s run a clean program and done things the right way. But, this is a win-first business and Chambers has had five seasons to build his program.
He also continues to show this program isn’t getting over the hump, despite increasing the level of play from his team. Being a .500 program six years in to your tenure? That’s not a good look.
Even in Happy Valley, there is a level of losing that won’t be tolerated and Chambers has been given every opportunity to get his program in order. It just hasn’t happened.
If things don’t improve and quickly, Chambers could be looking for other employment by the end of the season.
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