The past week and a half has been pretty stressful for every Penn State basketball fan. Between the odd timing of Ed DeChellis’ departure as well as a suspect list of coaching candidates coming into Happy Valley, many fans were wondering if the program was going to take a step backwards with it’s next hire. If anything, Tim Curley’s involvement with the search while using words like “Nation-wide” and “Competitive salary” made even the most positive of fans cringe.
But of the few names Penn State fans could agree, Pat Chambers was far and away at the top of most fan’s lists. Thankfuly it seems as though short of a disastor in the next few hours that Penn State will offically announce the hiring of Pat Chambers as their new head coach. And frankly, if Chambers doesn’t take the job Penn State is back to square one having rejected or have been turned down by other options.
Who is Pat Chambers? While coaching at Boston University, Chambers posted back-to-back 21-14 seasons in his first two years and took BU to the NCAA Tournament as a 16-seed this past season. He started his basketball carreer at Villanova as director of operations in May 2004. He was promoted to assistant coach after one season and finally Associate Head Coach in June 2008 and saw the Wildcats make the NCAA tournament four times, including a spot in the Final Four. Over this time Chambers was able to make many Philadelphia recruiting contacts.
This Philadelphia connection is possibly the most important asset that Chambers brings to the table. Over the past several years, Penn State’s biggest issue has been their inability to recruit in the Philly area. With Chambers’ connections to the city and experience coaching for Villanova, he has the opportunity to create a recruiting path from Philadelphia to Penn State. If Chambers can establish any sort of pipeline from Philadephia while furthering recruiting areas Penn State has grown in Texas and New England it will go a very long way towards improving the quality of players on the roster. At their core, Penn State’s problem has never really been the X’s and Os rather just having the players to execute at a Big Ten level.
Incidentally, Chambers ought to be a good enough hire to keep the likes of Trey Lewis and company interested in heading to Happy Valley next year. While none of them officially backed away from their commitments to the university, it wasn’t a secret that the wrong hire could send them packing. Juwan Staten, who reopened his transfer options after DeChellis’ departure is still technically in the mix but I wouldn’t be the farm on his return.
We’ll have more information and quotes as they come our way. Welcome to Penn State Coach Chambers.