It’s not often that fans of Penn State basketball (men’s) get to write anything good. Hell, this is why I’m a Duke fan during basketball season. This year, however, Penn State pulled off a historic feat not seen since the 97-98 season…they swept Ohio State. Now, as anybody that knows me will attest, I hate Ohio State more than pretty much any school out there (Michigan is a close second, but my dad spent a year there before he found his brain and transferred to Penn State. I always need to keep this in mind). I, for instance, loved the Luke Fickell era and the 6-7 record it gained (yes I know they were under sanctions, but I don’t really care. Don’t you think all of the Penn State haters were hoping we’d go 0-100 after the Sandusky scandal sanctions?).
Penn State Men’s Basketball is such a ridiculous eyesore on what is otherwise a very good athletic department. They have a total of 9 NCAA tournament bids, with the best coming in 1954 when they reached the Final Four. They did get to the second round in 2011. They also won the NIT in 2009 when JamelleCornley and Talor Battle were on the team (a team that I thought stood a half-decent chance to get the sweet 16 if they didn’t get screwed on seeding). It should be noted that that team beat down Big Jim’s Fighting Irish in the semis 67-59.
Now, this season has not been great to Penn State (14-14, 5-10 Big Ten) (we lost to Bucknell…). We’ve lost a couple close games in conference (Minnesota by 3, Indiana by 3, Purdue by 1) yet we’ve been blown out a lot (Illinois by 20, Michigan State by 16 and 15, Nebraska by 13, and Michigan by 13). I like coach Chambers a lot (and wish DeChellis would’ve been fired much sooner than he had been). This team has some talent in D.J.Newbill and Tim Frazier, and Ross Travis is having a goodJunior year and should be a great leader next season with D.J.Newbill. I also like how Brandon Taylor is looking.
The perennial problem with PSU hoops is the shadow of Football. Dana O’Neil said it best “For years the basketball team has been a little sister of the poor stepchild to football, a winter afterthought given all the tending and care of a vegetable garden positioned in the middle of a nuclear field. Administrative support waffles between tepid applause and casual indifference.” Hell in 2010-11, they were kicked out of the BJC (and practice facilities) for a week so Bon Jovi could rehearse for their upcoming tour. They were also booted for a career fair (also THON every year, but anybody that would deny a space for THON for all of the good that they do raising money for Pediatric Cancer should rot in hell). So clearly there is an attitude that PSU Athletics takes towards men’s hoops, and it will be tough to get out under that.
But I wish them the greatest of luck doing that. Coach Chambers first two seasons have been pretty horrible (granted last year we lost Frazier early on due to injury which destroyed our offense), but they’re starting to make signs of a rebirth. Beating Ohio State (ranked 24 and 22 during each map) is a huge step. Ohio State isn’t a basketball heavyweight this year, but they’re a solid team that will get into the Tournament. They’re also a regional rival that we’ll fight for prospects. Wins like this will help our efforts in the future. And hopefully Coach Chambers can use moments like these to get this team turned around and rising into a better future.