Opinion: DeChellis, Curley Need To Stop Yanking Our Chains
Well, we fell for it again. It was supposed to be different this time. For the second time this season, we had a game billed as “The Biggest in Bryce Jordan Center History.”
Surely the 15,000+ who packed the BJC would not be disappointed again. Maryland was an aberration. We were taking on an Ohio State team that we only lost to by three IN Columbus, and Purdue and Wisconsin showed that this team was beatable, that it did have flaws.
Lastly, it was Senior Night. It was the last chance for this team to make sure they had a shot to make it to the NCAA Tournament, something that Talor Battle and the gang had yet to experience. It was time for that last miracle to occur and who better for it to come against than the top-ranked team in the nation.
And then, we remembered that Ed DeChellis still coaches this team.
I was lambasted on Twitter Tuesday afternoon after asking whether Steve Kirkpatrick should start on Senior Night. I understood that it was an honor for seniors to start on this occasion, but getting off to a slow start against the number-one ranked team in the nation could sink any chance of winning, and that is exactly what happened when Kirkpatrick’s name was called during pre-game introductions.
Tim Frazier subbed in for Steve after he was called for a five-second violation. The score was only 5-2 (7-2 if you account for the fact that Ohio State scored off of Kirkpatrick’s turnover). While most people will say that the 3:28 stint had no bearing on the rest of the game, the evidence was apparent for the rest of the first half.
Jeff Brooks went 1-8 in the first half and many of his shots went in and out. At least four of those shots came off of curl routes where passes were thrown behind him. He could not recover in time and he had many shots go in-and-out of the hoop.
On another play, a play that has been worked to perfection throughout the season (including in Penn State’s first game with Ohio State), Frazier dribbled into the lane when Battle cut backdoor on Aaron Craft. Normally, this is an easy two points for Battle, but the pass was not thrown hard enough and Craft came up with the steal. Jon Diebler hit one of his ten threes on the way back down the floor.
As a whole, Penn State shot 27% in the first half. They found their stroke in the second half, shooting 67%, but by that time it was far too late.
It took the team the rest of the first half to finally get comfortable in the flow of the game and it was because a former walk-on who has not played for more than five minutes all season started a game against the number-one team in the nation with NCAA Tournament hopes were on the line. And who made the decision to put the final nail in Penn State’s tourney coffin?
You need your point guard at the start of a game like Ohio State if you want to give yourself a chance to win. He’s the quarterback of your team. Frazier has come a long way this year and has embraced that job. He ended up with six turnovers, far more than his season average, because he never got into his groove due to spending those first three minutes on the bench.
But let’s look away from that. Diebler could not miss all night, yet DeChellis decided to stay in a zone which allowed him to take open threes for most of the game. Granted, he did make some shots with a hand in his face, but I counted at least five of his three which were unguarded. Instead of switching defenses, he stayed in that zone and allowed Penn State to be shot out of their own building. I understand you then run the risk of Sullinger going off, but he was held to 13 points in Columbus when we switched defenses throughout the game.
The NIT should not be considered a consolation prize for a team with four senior starters who have shown the potential to win the big game. But unfortunately, the 2009 NIT championship was the ceiling for this team and for DeChellis.
After eight years, it is time to move on. The fanbase has grown tired of seeing this team fail to reach the NCAA Tournament because of the lack of a competent coach. And going off of that, they grow tired of an athletic department who doesn’t give this team a chance to win either.
When Penn State was going through its coaching search, Steve Lavin, former national championship winning coach at UCLA, sent his resume to Tim Curley looking into the job. A coach who won a national championship did not even get a callback as Curley decided to go with an alumnus who had success at East Tennessee State, because you know, that’s the hotbed of coaching in America.
After giving support to a coach who lost 20 games last season when never getting to an NCAA Tournament and not helping this program succeed at all, the calls for Tim Curley to step down may soon be as loud as the calls of #fireEd.