On Thursday night, Penn State Athletic Director Sandy Barbour announced that Patrick Chambers will be returning for his ninth season as head coach in the fall. Penn State ended its season earlier that night falling to Minnesota in overtime in the second round of the Big Ten Tournament, 77-72.
Penn State started 0-10 in Big Ten play but finished off the season with a 7-14 record and an overall record of 14-18. This falls right in line with Penn State Hoops in years past – win meaningless games at the end of the year to give fans hope for the following season and save Chambers job.
Chambers is 127-139 in eight seasons. He is the only coach of the 75 coaches in the six power conferences with a tenure of eight years or longer who has not led his team to the NCAA tournament.
Under Pat Chambers leadership, the Nittany Lions have epitomized mediocrity. Yet, since Penn State administration has proven time and time again that it refuses to cough up some money for an above average head coach, perhaps mediocrity is the most success this team will ever have.
So what can fans expect for next season? With Josh Reaves as the only key contributor who is going to graduate, and with Lamar Stevens and Mike Watkins not yet commenting on their NBA prospects, fans will once again have high hopes. We will try to find rationale to support the hope that the Nittany Lions will somehow find a way to squeak into the NCAA tournament next year, but we all know what will happen.
Penn State Basketball will start off the season to a very disappointing start and nearly instantly guaranteeing another year without making the NCAA Tournament. They will then finish strong and the cycle with continue the following year. Unfortunately, 14-18 wins is the best this team will ever do.
Though Penn State has shown over and over again what they are capable of, I know before next season I will fall into the trap of having my expectations far too high yet again. I know I will be disappointed in the end, but I cannot help seeing the talent this team has and continue to think that they cannot make the NCAA Tournament. So for me, if Watkins and Stevens both elect to stay for their final year, next year may actually be the year (sound familiar?) If either one decides to enter the NBA Draft though, an NIT appearance would be the best this team could hope for.