11-2 And the Sky is Falling at Penn State's Happy Valley

Richard DeLanceyCorrespondent IDecember 23, 2008

It ain’t easy being blue and white these days.  Just ask Ed Dechellis and the Penn State Nittany Lions.  PSU fans are roaring up a critical storm despite the fact that their team is off to an 11-2 start. With the Big Ten conference schedule right around the corner, many members of the Nittany Lion Nation are calling for a new direction for the long-suffering men’s basketball program. 

A casual observer would say that PSU is having a great year.  11 wins by Christmas would be seen by many as the sign of good times.  However most Nittany Lion fans aren’t buying it.  They claim the close calls against Army, Mount St. Mary’s, and Sacred Heart are a symptom of a much larger disease.  They say that not only are the 11 wins not impressive they are down right insulting.

A recent thread at pennstatehoops.com had 269 entries detailing the woe that is Penn State Basketball.  Reading through three pages of that thread is a sure cure for happiness and contentment.  Who would have thought that Happy Valley was so unhappy?

I’m the first to admit that Dechellis hasn’t exactly set the world on fire in his six years at the helm of Penn State.  One NIT appearance, no winning seasons, and a 161-184 record is nothing to write home about.  But an 11-2 start to this season would seem to be a step in the right direction.

Let’s assume that the team goes 6-12 in Big Ten play.  That would give the Nittany Lions a final record of 17-14 and most certainly another NIT invitation.  A 9-9 Big Ten record gives the program their first 20 win regular season in a long time.  I think six to nine wins are a realistic goal for this team. 

The Nittany Lions are young.  They have only three seniors and sport 10 underclassmen.  This team should be able to grow and develop over the next three years into a pretty strong club. 

Come January the team will get the services of Andrew Ott.  The red-shirt sophomore has sat out the last year after transferring from Villanova. Ott was a 1,000-point scorer at Germantown Academy outside of Philadelphia, a school that produced such recent college standouts as Matt Walsh at Florida and Lee Melchionni at Duke.  He was recruited by Penn State, North Carolina, Wake Forest, Purdue, Notre Dame, and Illinois among others out of high school.

So I say Happy Valley quit moping around and acting like Chicken Little.  The sky isn’t falling, the walls aren’t tumbling down, and the world isn’t coming to an end.  So grab your fake JoePa  glasses, floods and black sneakers and head over to the Bryce Jordan Center.  Your team may never become a Ohio State, Texas, or Florida (schools that have good basketball and football programs) but you are a long way from NJIT.