Posts tagged ‘Ed DeChellis’
Penn State basketball fans have been focused on the future since since Patrick Chambers took over the program last month. That’s understandable, but a couple of stories this week are keeping the Nittany Lions’ recent past in the headlines.
When he resigned unexpectedly in May to become head coach at Navy, Ed DeChellis ’82 said the move was all about what the Naval Academy could offer and had nothing to do with any issues he had at his alma mater. He reiterates and expands on his reasons in these profiles in the Washington Post and Washington Times. There’s interesting stuff about DeChellis adjusting to the military requirements his players deal with (and how they limit his ability to work with the team), and how the 2007 death of his friend and fellow coach Skip Prosser impacted his decision to leave Penn State. Both are worth a read.
Ryan Jones, senior editor
Eleven days after Ed DeChellis ’82 abruptly stepped down as Penn State’s men’s basketball coach, Penn State has named his replacement: Boston University head coach Pat Chambers. He’ll be introduced at a news conference at University Park on Monday afternoon.
Chambers was at BU just two years, but posted two 21-win seasons and took the Terriers to the NCAA tournament in just his second year (though the Boston Globe couldn’t resist pointing out that he did it largely with the players he inherited from the previous coach, Dennis Wolff).
Before BU—and this is the part that many Penn State fans find appealing—he spent five seasons as an assistant under Jay Wright at Villanova. The Wildcats went to the Sweet Sixteen in four of those five seasons, including their Final Four appearance in 2009.
Penn State athletic director Tim Curley ’76, ’78g surely found Chambers’ Philly-area recruiting ties appealing. Besides his stint at Villanova, Chambers also grew up in the Philly area and played at Philadelphia University under Herb Magee, who was just named to the Hall of Fame this year.
Dave Jones of the Harrisburg Patriot-News, often a harsh critic of the Penn State program, thinks Chambers has a chance to be the kind of recruiting salesman that Penn State badly needs.
ESPN’s Dana O’Neil ’90 is even more enthusiastic: “Penn State finally breathed life into a program that, for years, has reeked of mothballs,” she writes. “Bruce Parkhill begat Jerry Dunn begat Ed DeChellis, all decent coaches, all good men and all who moved the energy meter about an eighth of an inch every five years.” Chambers, by contrast, “is the typical kid from a big Irish family (12 kids in all), who is used to living large and loud and who has a fire and intensity that borders on manic.”
For an interesting profile of Chambers, check out this story from the Boston University website.
Tina Hay, editor
It seems nobody saw this coming.
Late Monday afternoon, word trickled out that Ed DeChellis ’82, the Penn State men’s basketball coach for the past eight years, was leaving to take over at Navy. That news was confirmed at a press conference Monday night, when DeChellis met the media to explain his decision. It was an emotional, occasionally contentious 15 minutes, but it left no doubt that the move is one DeChellis felt compelled to make.
You can read DeChellis’ official statement here, but the full audio of his Monday night presser is more revealing. Nearly breaking down at times, the coach said he felt the call of duty from the Naval Academy, and that the call was too loud to ignore. “Like this is something I needed to do,” DeChellis said, “somewhere I needed to be.” Anyone who knows DeChellis knows he’s a man for whom words like “honor” and “integrity” seem to hold real meaning, and he insisted that his decision had nothing to do with any issues at Penn State.
That didn’t stop speculation among fans and media, some of the most pointed of which you can read in the Patriot-News and on ESPN.com. DeChellis is moving to a lower-profile job at a substantial pay cut, but he waved off any suggestion that his decision was motivated by a perceived lack of support for men’s basketball at Penn State. “It’s a great job,” he said. “This is about what I wanted to do with my life.”
DeChellis leaves his alma mater with a record of 114-138 in eight seasons. The record wasn’t what the coach or Penn State fans had hoped for, but DeChellis leaves with some impressive entries on his resume: The 2009 NIT championship (the first postseason tournament title in program history), a 2011 NCAA tournament berth, and having recruited and coached Talor Battle ’11, arguably the best player in Nittany Lion history. He was also named 2009 Big Ten Coach of the Year. A cancer survivor, DeChellis was heavily involved with the national Coaches v. Cancer program, and was named that organization’s Man of the Year in 2006.
Athletic director Tim Curley ’76, ’78 MEd said the University will immediately begin a national search for DeChellis’ replacement.
Ryan Jones, senior editor
This isn’t how we hoped Taran Buie’s story would turn out.
We assume most Alumni Association members recall our Sept/Oct 2010 cover story on Buie and his half-brother Talor Battle, the basketball teammates on whose talents Penn State’s 2010-11 season figured to rest. In that, we were half right: Battle wrapped up arguably the finest career in Nittany Lion history by leading the team to its first NCAA tournament berth since 2001. Buie? The highly touted freshmen showed flashes of promise early in the season, but was suspended indefinitely for violations of team rules at the start of Big Ten play. That suspension ran through the end of the season, leaving most observers to assume Buie wouldn’t be back.
Well, now it’s official. On Monday, coach Ed DeChellis ’82 announced that Buie has been released from his scholarship, leaving him free to play at another school. Buie’s history of minor legal scrapes—most recently, he was one of a handful of Penn State athletes charged with disorderly conduct following a scuffle last month—likely won’t prevent him from finding a suitor, particularly among college coaches who remember him as one of the most talented high school players in the country. It’s a shame he couldn’t follow his older brother’s example: Battle, by all accounts, has been a model student-athlete during his four years on campus.
Ryan Jones, senior editor
I asked Talor Battle the first question of Tuesday’s post-game press conference. He seemed to know it was coming. He’s heard variations of it before.
“You know what’s funny?” he said with a smile. “Whenever we win, someone mentions how we lost to Maine.”
He can smile now, but at the time, there was nothing funny about it. Three weeks ago, the Nittany Lion basketball team closed out its non-conference schedule with a 10-point home loss to Maine. It was a brutal way to head into conference play, the sort of loss that implied this team might be headed for a dismal winter in Big Ten play.
Instead, the Lions are 3-2 in what might be the best conference in the nation (and 10-6 overall), with wins in the past four days over Michigan State and Illinois. Both were ranked in the top 20 at the time, giving Penn State its first back-to-back wins over ranked teams since 1954 — the year the Nittany Lions made their only trip to the NCAA Final Four.
Penn State still has much to do to get back to the NCAA tournament this season, but these two most recent wins will help. Which led to my question for Battle, the Nittany Lions’ inspiring senior star: What happened to turn that team into this one? Battle figures the loss to Maine itself might have inspired this team’s apparent rebirth.
“Maybe that’s what sparked the fire in us,” he said last night, still smiling. “The last few games, we’ve really played hard for each other.”
That they have. The 57-55 win over the Illini marked the second straight game Penn State outrebounded a bigger, stronger opponent. (more…)
The Penn State men’s basketball team held its annual media day Monday afternoon, suiting up for interviews and pictures before running through an open practice. As you’d expect, the mood was good: These preseason gatherings tend to be optimistic, with players and coaches focused on the season’s potential and a schedule loaded with winnable games. But even by those standards, these Nittany Lions seem like an especially positive and confident bunch. That’s encouraging, and perhaps a little surprising.
Last season, (more…)
On the final weekend of a a terrific NCAA tournament, the Centre Daily Times today runs an interview with Penn State athletic director Tim Curley ’76, ’78 MEd on the state of a Nittany Lion basketball program that hasn’t been part of that tournament in almost a decade. My friend Jeff Rice ’03 Com conducted the Q&A, in which Curley talks about his support for coach Ed DeChellis ’82, the state and direction of the program, and why DeChellis, despite finishing last in the Big Ten in six of the past nine years, has earned the benefit of the doubt.
Ryan Jones, senior editor