PennStateHoops.com Discussion Forum

Neil Rudel article "New PSU men's basketball coach working on perception"


#1

Chambers was at an event over in Blair County last night. According to Rudel, one of the things that he wants to do is change the perception that “people aren’t into basketball [here]”. In support of his point, Chambers added "“That’s not true. They just went to the NCAA Tournament. It’s my job to keep the enthusiasm where it is and take it to a new level.”

So having laid out his mission to the crowd at DelGrosso Park in Tipton, what was the first question he got from the audience?

Sure enough, it was “Have you met Joe?”

Welcome to the world of Penn State basketball Pat. ::slight_smile:

Here’s the article.


#2

Maybe the person who asked the question was referring to Joe Crispin. (Probably not. ;D)


#3

March 2001 and the Penn State Club of Georgia was hosting a happy hour at the “Jocks and Jills” in CNN Center in Atlanta prior to the mens hoop team taking the floor that evening. People were there who couldn’t name but maybe one or two players on the current team, but because it was Penn State and it was the Sweet 16 they were interested.

All of a sudden L. Budd Thalman escorts Joe Paterno into the party. Suddenly basketball took a backseat.
(I think JoePa laughed at me because I was the first one to greet them both walking down the entrance hallway and my total attention and focus was on my friend Budd and not Joe, since I hadn’t seen Budd in a couple of years - it was actually a funny intro to Joe after that…sort of “I know who you are” type response from me after Budd introduced us…another story for another day).

Anyway, Penn State basketball is and will always be equivalent to the US mens soccer team. The masses in this country won’t notice we have a soccer team until they are in the World Cup and making noise. Then, there will be some buzz and by the Fall everyone is back to paying attention to the NFL and the World Series and so on…

The US mens soccer team can win the 2014 World Cup and still they will play sixth fiddle to the NFL, NBA, MLB and both college football/basketball (seventh fiddle if you’d like to include the NHL which I consider regional by nature).

Likewise PSU basketball can win the NCAA title and still most “Penn State” fans will still pay their only attention to the football team…until the hoops team makes their next run at the title again. To most PSU fans, a football win against lowly Indiana State is bigger than a basketball upset of Michigan State. It’s just that way.

I genuinely hope Chambers can change that perception that Penn State will never be anything but a “football school”. And I like the way he’s approaching it as not competing against football, rather trying to embrace what football has meant to Penn State and try and pull anything he can from Paterno and the football team’s success.


#4

The hardest thing about PSU basketball, to me, is the fact that this just isn’t a basketball part of the country. There’s no pro team, no consistently good college team, and we really don’t produce a lot of great high school players when compared to other sports.

That’s a bit “chicken or the egg” I guess, I won’t pretend to know the actual cause behind this scenario but I do believe it to be the truth. People just don’t care about basketball, it’s not a sport they can get behind here even when things go very well. I still don’t think most people realize what an accomplishment State High winning the PIAA championship several years back actually was. Nor do they really care.

But if one of these local wrestling or football teams would win states? Completely different story. It’s just hardwired into the hearts and minds of central PA. How do you break the cycle? I am going to guess that winning would go a long way. Consistently winning and competing. I would not have been watching US women’s soccer a few weeks back if they were playing some exhibition against awful competition. I became a fan of their team and their sport momentarily because it became a huge stage and they became a compelling story.

Now that it’s over I won’t be necessarily thinking about them or following them for the next 3.5 years, but best believe come the next women’s world cup I will be taking a look out of the corner of my eye to see if it’s worth tuning in again. I think it’s the same way for fringe fans of PSU basketball right now. We’ve got their attention but confirming that we are still an inconsistent program this coming year would be more than enough to turn them all away again until the next real compelling moment were to come.


#5

I still think the “cycle” can be broken! Sure many adult locals are older and white and like football and wrestling and now hockey! I know where State College is located…BUT…the local adult fans are NOT the problem. NOT NOT NOT NOT NOT There is a good size adult number of season ticket holder fans. Has been since we started winning games in Rec Hall. They enlarged and transfered over to the BJC.
The problem is the VERY small # of students attending the games. These students are all not farmers from Potter County!! I keep saying that there are 40,000 close students. MANY MANY within walking range. Solve this issue and you have plenty of fans! When I was a student I had plenty of free time…looking for something to do! I doubt that has changed in 40 years.
We live in a trendy (what is cool) society! People pay > $50,000 for autos. $4.00 for bottled water. Many are addicted to text messaging! Get students into the BJC…HOW…I’ll let the wise guys (I mean smart guys) figure it out!


#6

Penn State Men’s Basketball: Coach Chambers Visits DelGrosso Park


#7

[quote=“tundra, post:5, topic:2578”]I still think the “cycle” can be broken! Sure many adult locals are older and white and like football and wrestling and now hockey! I know where State College is located…BUT…the local adult fans are NOT the problem. NOT NOT NOT NOT NOT There is a good size adult number of season ticket holder fans. Has been since we started winning games in Rec Hall. They enlarged and transfered over to the BJC.
The problem is the VERY small # of students attending the games. These students are all not farmers from Potter County!! I keep saying that there are 40,000 close students. MANY MANY within walking range. Solve this issue and you have plenty of fans! When I was a student I had plenty of free time…looking for something to do! I doubt that has changed in 40 years.
We live in a trendy (what is cool) society! People pay > $50,000 for autos. $4.00 for bottled water. Many are addicted to text messaging! Get students into the BJC…HOW…I’ll let the wise guys (I mean smart guys) figure it out![/quote]

You can say this same thing over and over until you’re blue (and white) in the face, but that doesn’t make it accurate. Selling a loser is not the same thing as selling a winner. You’re talking pet rocks vs ipods. We would have a student problem if we were consistently winning and nobody was showing up, but that’s not the problem we’re facing right now.

When we win people generally show up.

And for what it’s worth, I don’t believe getting fans should be goal #1 for this team. It’s not the reason we lose so many games, and it’s not the reason we don’t recruit better. It all comes down to winning. Winning solves everything.

If we won more games, we’d have more fans and more interest/culture, we would attract more recruits and probably even hire bigger name head coaches. But achieving any of these things without the first part is a temporary gimmick that will never last. We don’t need marketers, we need ball players.


#8

I don’t understand the whole football school excuse.

Name me the school that excels at football where basketball is more important than the football program? That school doesn’t exist. Football is king everywhere.

If you polled Penn State alumni and students and asked them to name as many Penn State basketball players and wrestlers as they could, basketball would BURY wrestling. I have had season tickets for Penn State football for over 30 years, graduated from the school, I couldn’t name you a single member of the wrestling team if you put a gun to my head.

Craftsy is right, winning is keeping people from the BJC, nothing else. Penn State has never had any sustained success or built any momentum w/ the program. It’s never built the momentum or had the preseason expectations to really get the butts in the seasons. Outside of the first season that the BJC was open, when has Penn State ever been a frontrunner in the Big Ten? Never. The 01 and 11’ teams that made the NCAA’s made late runs to get in and were led by coaches who were on the hot seat. By the time you knew those teams would make the NCAA Tournament, the regular season had already ended.

The truth is, a really good basketball program to me would be much more fun to follow than the football program.

Playing a home schedule filled w/ doormats for the opportunity to play another meaningless game in the Outback Bowl? Yeah, it doesn’t get more exciting than that.


#9

[quote=“ChambersEra, post:8, topic:2578”]I don’t understand the whole football school excuse.

Name me the school that excels at football where basketball is more important than the football program? That school doesn’t exist.[/quote]

Doesn’t this kind of make the point that one sport is going to dominate in the perception of a school?


#10

People talk about how “winning” will indeed change everything. But that does little to change the perception of Penn State basketball for the people who will change this program for the long run…top talent from Pennsylvania and specifically the Philly area.

Penn State can win the Big Ten, but to kids in Philly and the East Coast (who Coach Chambers seems to have thrown his efforts toward recruiting hard), it’s not Villanova and The Big East or Temple and The Big Five or Duke/UNC and the ACC. Kids in that area who have grown up on those schools and that kind of basketball philosophy still realize that PSU is fairly far west in the middle of the mountains and the places they mostly play are even farther west, beyond those mountains. Add to that, the brand and philosophy of Big Ten basketball and therein lies your problem.

And as good as Big Ten basketball is, the league is still set up as a football conference.

However, with all that said, I and many others are willing to give Coach Chambers more than an opportunity to work on changing perceptions around the program…even though my feeling is he is not just fighting perceptions on Penn State basketball alone, but that of Big Ten basketball with so many recruits in his recruiting area of expertise. Even for the best schools of the Big Ten, not many, if any, of their recruits come from the East Coast (or Northeast). Top Big East recruits (and Big Ten recruits) all look to stay home unless they get recruited to upper echelon programs elsewhere, which usually means better climates as well, and PSU unfortunately is not any of that.

I honestly can’t think of any other program in the country with this sort of challenge. And to me, that makes rooting for Penn State basketball and the people who live and die for the program (ED and now Pat) all the more enjoyable. Because when we do win and when we are successful, it is because of hard work and nothing else.

Go get em, Pat.


#11

Go to this board and you will get the exact opposite answer.

I spent the weekend with a bunch of former Penn State wrestlers and, for the most part, they couldn’t name a basketball player if you held a gun to their heads.


#12

[quote=“ChambersEra, post:8, topic:2578”]I don’t understand the whole football school excuse.

Name me the school that excels at football where basketball is more important than the football program? That school doesn’t exist. Football is king everywhere.

If you polled Penn State alumni and students and asked them to name as many Penn State basketball players and wrestlers as they could, basketball would BURY wrestling. I have had season tickets for Penn State football for over 30 years, graduated from the school, I couldn’t name you a single member of the wrestling team if you put a gun to my head. Craftsy is right, winning is keeping people from the BJC, nothing else. Penn State has never had any sustained success or built any momentum w/ the program. It’s never built the momentum or had the preseason expectations to really get the butts in the seasons. Outside of the first season that the BJC was open, when has Penn State ever been a frontrunner in the Big Ten? Never. The 01 and 11’ teams that made the NCAA’s made late runs to get in and were led by coaches who were on the hot seat. By the time you knew those teams would make the NCAA Tournament, the regular season had already ended.

The truth is, a really good basketball program to me would be much more fun to follow than the football program.

Playing a home schedule filled w/ doormats for the opportunity to play another meaningless game in the Outback Bowl? Yeah, it doesn’t get more exciting than that.[/quote]

I guess it’s who you “hang with!” My guess would be the student body would be far and away more basketball aware. In the local 60-80 year old crowd wrestling would have a stronger appeal, but they would still have “basketball awareness.”


#13

The Big 10 is a tremendous basketball conference and it is not set up as an “after football” conference at all. It’s just the perception here in the East.


#14

There is no way in the world that alumni and students can name more wrestlers than basketball players. It’s not even close.

Between attendance, visibility on TV and the overall popularity of the sports nationwide, to even imply that Penn State nation is more familiar w/ the wrestling team is ridiculous.

In the ESPN/BIG TEN/HIGH VISIBLITY era Penn State has never had a single person running the program that had a demonstrated ability to recruit top 100 players on a yearly basis or at least worked for a program that could. Parkhill didn’t have the experience and it was well known he didnt’ embrace recruiting, he went to Ohio State just to coach as an assistant. Ed Dechellis only ever worked for Penn State and Jerry Dunn to my knowledge never worked for a big time program before Penn State.

We’ve never had a guy, regardless of his standing within the coaching staff that knew what it was like to compete for the top players, land the top players and regularly do damage in the NCAA Tournament.

Don’t know if Chambers will succeed but at least there is a guy in place now that knows what it’s like to win a and get top players, despite what you think his contribution was. I know it isn’t a prerequiste for success, but at least we have a guy who has that on his resume now.


#15

[quote=“ChambersEra, post:14, topic:2578”]There is no way in the world that alumni and students can name more wrestlers than basketball players. It’s not even close.

Between attendance, visibility on TV and the overall popularity of the sports nationwide, to even imply that Penn State nation is more familiar w/ the wrestling team is ridiculous.

In the ESPN/BIG TEN/HIGH VISIBLITY era Penn State has never had a single person running the program that had a demonstrated ability to recruit top 100 players on a yearly basis or at least worked for a program that could. Parkhill didn’t have the experience and it was well known he didnt’ embrace recruiting, he went to Ohio State just to coach as an assistant. Ed Dechellis only ever worked for Penn State and Jerry Dunn to my knowledge never worked for a big time program before Penn State.

We’ve never had a guy, regardless of his standing within the coaching staff that knew what it was like to compete for the top players, land the top players and regularly do damage in the NCAA Tournament.

Don’t know if Chambers will succeed but at least there is a guy in place now that knows what it’s like to win a and get top players, despite what you think his contribution was. I know it isn’t a prerequiste for success, but at least we have a guy who has that on his resume now.[/quote]Ed never worked elsewhere? I think you better do some fact-checking.


#16

[quote=“ChambersEra, post:14, topic:2578”]We’ve never had a guy, regardless of his standing within the coaching staff that knew what it was like to compete for the top players, land the top players and regularly do damage in the NCAA Tournament.

Don’t know if Chambers will succeed but at least there is a guy in place now that knows what it’s like to win a and get top players, despite what you think his contribution was. I know it isn’t a prerequiste for success, but at least we have a guy who has that on his resume now.[/quote]
I guess Florida never did any damage in the NCAA Tourney when Preston was on board. I heard the ring on his finger is just one crazy wedding band.

Ed Dechellis only ever worked for Penn State
He coached at ETSU and took them to the big dance, before he returned to PSU.

Not saying I disagree that Penn State hoops hasn’t attracted top talent on a regular basis, but perhaps your post could use some fact-checking.


#17

I’m quite familiar w/ Ed’s time at ETSU. I watched him beat Lebo in his conference title game and watched him lose to Wake. I also know the program made the NCAA’s the following season after he left, which means he built something more than a one year wonder. I’ve aknowledged Ed’s accomplishments at ETSU plenty.

My point is that Ed never worked at a big time program that had consistant NCAA Tournament success and Ed never worked at a program that was consistant player w/ major recruits.


#18

Was Preston the head coach at Penn State? I’m talking about head coaches at Penn State and where they had experience. And Boyd would have been a much better example, he helped recruit the Fab 5 at Michigan.

My buddy locksmith loves to talk about the fact that our new assistant was demoted at Villanova. I think going from Florida to Penn State is a greater demotion for several reasons. I think there was more to that than Preston just really wanting an opportunity to coach at Penn State. Kind of like Penn State giving Ed the hint, if you can get another job, take it.


#19

And that’s the precise perception that Coach Chambers will fight. Recruits in NY, Philly, Baltimore, DC are more use to the Big East/ACC up-and-down variety of hoops. Not the 38-33, 36-33 slugfests that PSU has played in the Big Ten. Chambers not only has to win at Penn State in order to turn heads west, but must win with style. In a league where style points are hard to come by, it’s doubly tough at PSU going against teams and coaches who thrive on stopping their opponents cold.

Not arguing that the Big Ten is not tremendous basketball…it’s the best as far as I’m concerned since teams are forced to play both sides of the court. You don’t play solid defense, you don’t play. The way basketball ought to be.

And, whereas the Big East’s big moves were to add Marquette, Cincinnati, Louisville and the like over the past several years, the Big Ten’s big move was adding Nebraska. The big rivalry in the Big East… Syracuse/UConn or Villanova/Syracuse or Pitt/Nova or Georgetown and name any of the above. In the ACC …Duke/UNC. Whereas in the Big Ten…Ohio State/Michigan football…period. Ohio State vs Michigan in hoops…ho hum. Same in the SEC…Georgia/Florida in football, let’s make a cocktail party out of it. Alabama/Auburn …they fight about that one 365 days a year…Georgia/Florida, Alabama/Auburn in hoops, whatever.

So Coach Chambers is spot on when talking about needing to change the perception of Penn State basketball and Big Ten basketball as a whole. To those top recruits, the Big East and ACC are far “better” basketball leagues than the Big Ten, which they undoubtedly perceive as a “football” conference.


#20

[quote=“ChambersEra, post:14, topic:2578”]There is no way in the world that alumni and students can name more wrestlers than basketball players. It’s not even close.

Between attendance, visibility on TV and the overall popularity of the sports nationwide, to even imply that Penn State nation is more familiar w/ the wrestling team is ridiculous.[/quote]

Check your reading comprehension. What was said was that in some circles some people can name more wrestlers than basketball players. I absolutely guarantee that was true among the crowd that I was with this weekend. Most of them couldn’t name a single current basketball player, probably couldn’t name the current coach, but might remember a couple of hoops alumni from their days in school. On the other hand, when it comes to wrestling, most of them could probably name close to a dozen or so of the current wrestlers, certainly know the current coach, and could maybe come up with a few score of wrestlers through the years.

Wrestling has almost as many season ticket holders as basketball. If you ask that group how many wrestlers that they can name vs basketball players, wrestlers would win handily (for one thing, there are many more wrestlers on a team than basketball players so there’s just more of them to name to begin with).