Following suspension, what does Pat Chambers future at Penn State hold?
Penn State head basketball coach Pat Chambers is under fire after an altercation where he shoved freshman guard Myles Dread in the huddle during a timeout. The incident led to Chambers being suspended for Sunday’s game against Wisconsin, a 71-52 loss for Penn State.
The general consensus surrounding that suspension is that it was unwarranted. Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo even came out as a supporter for Chambers in the wake of his suspension. What Chambers did was not a good look for Penn State, but it was far from the terrible incident it was made out to be.
For a school that has been the center of controversy over the last decade, Penn State must be extremely careful when it comes to protecting an image it has worked so hard to repair. Suspending Chambers for something that appeared trivial might have looked harsh on the surface, but athletic director Sandy Barbour was not ready for the media storm should Chambers have not been disciplined.
This incident also raises questions about Chambers status at the helm of men’s basketball, with many curious to know what the future holds for him at Penn State.
To say this season has been a disappointment for Penn State would be an understatement. Following an impressive 2017-18 campaign that was capped off with an NIT Championship, expectations were high for Penn State basketball this season. These expectations have quickly come crashing down following a 7-8 start.
The win over Virginia Tech seemed promising, but loses to DePaul, Bradley and an 0-4 start in Big Ten play seem to have Chambers quickly thrust onto the hot seat. For a coach that has not made the NCAA Tournament in his first seven seasons, and a bid unlikely this year, how much more time does Chambers get in State College?
Chambers has two seasons where he finished over .500 and has only surpassed 20-wins once. Going into this season, the program was believed to be on the way up, throwing around the phrase “Climb as One.” But what was once known as “The Climb” has quickly turned into a steep and utter descent.
A pristine division one program such as Penn State should not struggle the way it has under Chambers. Penn State has been able to attract talent but turning that talent into a winner is another thing, and it is something Chambers has not succeeded at.
How many more disappointing loses, Lamar Stevens isolations, or wasted offensive possessions must occur until enough is enough? The talent is there but the lack of continuity on offense has continued to hurt the Nittany Lions, wasting plenty of strong defensive performances.
While the suspension may have seemed unwarranted, it may speak more to Chambers’ future with the program than the immediate repercussions of his actions. If he was not on the hot seat already, the suspension, along with the team’s shortcomings, should put him squarely on the seat now.
Time is running out for Chambers and there appears to be no light at the end of the tunnel with a daunting Big Ten schedule looming. How much more of this can Penn State take before accepting what Chambers has to offer is no solution?
He gets the benefit of the doubt with Penn State being a football school, however, with football season over and more eyes turned to the basketball program Chambers’ shortcoming as head coach are going to be heavily scrutinized.
Change could come at the end of this year, or it could be next year. If Penn State wishes to “climb” up the Big Ten latter, it is going to have to move forward. Whether Chambers is part of that move forward is remains unanswered for now.
Jake Starr is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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