Morelli OnLion: Excuses, Excuses

It was an interesting week for the Penn State men’s basketball program.

Ed DeChellis earned the program some unwanted national headlines when he complained about his Nittany Lions’ practice woes. In today’s edition of Morelli OnLion, we’ll take a closer look at the Nittany Lions’ practice situation.

Let’s look at the controversy.

Excuses, Excuses

At his weekly news conference last week, Penn State men’s basketball coach Ed DeChellis publicly complained about his team being forced out of the Bryce Jordan Center and into the IM Building across the street. Why did the Nittany Lions need to vacate the BJC? Well, a couple of weeks ago, there was a Bon Jovi concert. Last week, there was a career fair and a little event called THON – you know, the student-run event that raised $9.5 million for children with cancer.

Basically, DeChellis’ gripe with the athletic department, the Jordan Center and the Penn State administration is that the university doesn’t take basketball seriously.

It shouldn’t be taken seriously.

In his eight seasons as head coach, the Nittany Lions have NEVER made the NCAA tournament. With just one road win this season, that’s unlikely to change. The last time the Lions made the big dance, Jerry Dunn was head coach. Yes, the same Jerry Dunn who was run out of town to make way for DeChellis. With Steve Lavin ready and waiting to come to Happy Valley, DeChellis was brought in. That decision has resulted in an NIT championship and zero tourney appearances.

Back to the matter at hand, though – the issue of being pushed out of the Jordan Center and into the IM Building. It’s been reported that the hoops at the IM Building were crooked and multiple holes for volleyball net stanchions needed to be taped over as to prevent tripping over their caps.

Boo hoo.

Penn State coach Ed DeChellis was not happy with the conditions at the IM Building.

The apologists for the basketball program will tell you that Ed and his squad should not be subjected to the horrendous conditions at the IM Building. Crooked hoops? A dangerous playing surface? Say it ain’t so, Ed, say it ain’t so.

It says here that DeChellis doesn’t have a leg to stand on. If his program were in the NCAAs year in and year out, he’d have a right to gripe about things like practice facilities and travel accommodations. Heck, he could even complain about the chicken fingers at training table and no one would bat an eye. But this is a losing program that has done very little in DeChellis’ eight seasons.

Here’s some food for thought: Bon Jovi, the career fair and THON also displaced the Lady Lions. Did we hear a peep out of women’s basketball coach Coquese Washington? No. Of course, Washington has her squad on the verge of her first NCAA women’s tournament appearance. Barring a collapse, Washington will have her squad there in just four seasons while DeChellis is still looking for his inaugural appearance in the Big Dance after eight seasons at the helm.

The Lions’ chances took a huge blow on Sunday night in a 76-66 loss to Wisconsin that wasn’t as close as the score might indicate.

While DeChellis didn’t like holding practice at the IM Building, he said that it made watching film extremely difficult.

Yes, watching film.

Check out this quote:

“We’re trying to figure out whether to watch tape before we practice or after we practice. Will we have enough time on the practice floor? But, in the same sense, a couple of the staff guys said, We have to see it before we go over there and do it because they won’t get it, they won’t understand. It’s the first time we played Minnesota,” he said. “If we had played them before, it’s a little easier, OK, remember this, and it all comes back to them. But, this is the first time we play. It’s a 30-40 minute presentation before we play them and I’m not there yet whether we watch tape before in our film room and then walk over, or, go practice, and then bring them back after, let them shower up and watch tape after we watch practice. So, I’m still tugging with that. Then, the actual practice tape at the IM building is a little bit challenging to watch because the film angle and the lighting, more guarding Minnesota stuff, we like to break that down tonight after we actually did it on the floor so we can show the kids tomorrow. Hey, this is how you guard them. Hey, this is good, this is not so good, but it’s hard to see over there, and it’s nobody’s fault, it’s just the lighting with the floor and the reflection. All we see when we tape it is lights that shine back up off the floor. It’s just the way that it is. It’s nobody’s deal, it’s just the lighting situation.”

So it’s not just the hoops and the floor. It’s also the lighting.

Give me a break.

I’ve often said that if you have a great coach, it doesn’t matter where you practice. Perhaps the team needs to spend some time in a small college or high school gym to realize just how good it has things. Remember that NFL coaches are often forced to practice at college and high school fields as they ready their teams for the Super Bowl. Perhaps “roughing it” would toughen up DeChellis and his squad.

Keep in mind that if Penn State were to make the Big Dance, it would be playing at a neutral site, practicing in a gym that it’s never practiced in before.

Of course, DeChellis wouldn’t know anything about that.

Chris Morelli is a writer/editor who lives in Centre County and covers Penn State athletics. He is also a regular on “Sports Central,” which airs on ESPN Radio in Altoona and State College. E-mail him at Also, be sure to check out Morelli OnLion on Facebook!

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3 thoughts on “Morelli OnLion: Excuses, Excuses

  1. psufan76

    Mr. Morelli,

    I would like to go paragraph-by-paragraph to explain all that is wrong with what you have written here, but unfortunately I do not have the time. Luckily there are people with jobs just like yours to do that for me.

    After reading an “article” as crass and obtuse as this piece, I have to comment. I must take it upon myself to make sure anyone who has the misfortune of wasting their time reading this “article,” may also have the opportunity to read something of value.

    The purpose of this seemingly inept conniption is unclear. If it’s purpose is to call attention to Ed DeChellis’ job performance, I must admit that it appears you have more effectively called attention to your own professional shortcomings. I can only hope that you will retract this piece, for it is nothing but a display of irresponsible writing.

    Furthermore, I must also admit that I find the most disturbing quote on the page to be this:
    “Chris Morelli is a writer/editor who lives in Centre County and covers Penn State athletics. He is also a regular on “Sports Central,” which airs on ESPN Radio in Altoona and State College.”

    Sincerely yours,
    A true Penn State fan.

    • clfdman

      Thank you PSUfan76! This guy is an idiot. I wrote a LTE to the Progress several years ago when he wrote for that paper and realized what this guy was all about.
      I actually quit reading his ramblings on gantdaily a couple years ago when I also realized that he never grew up. I cannot believe that he is employed in this profession.
      To be honest, though, I did read one of his articles last fall and actually agreed with it! But that was one out of about twenty. Then I quit reading again, until this article that you are referencing.
      I love your last comment! I always thought that was a riot. You have to associate your name with ESPN? LMAO! I have never in my life seen/heard/read a sportswriter who constantly has to tell his listeners about his so-called credentials.
      I remember him also feeling the need to tell his listeners/readers (if there are any left) about him “sitting in the locker room” of the Pirates and Steelers.
      What a classic name dropper!
      This guy is a cartoon character who really should not be taken seriously. Like I said, I cannot believe he actually gets paid for this.

  2. smokeybandit

    Did DeChellis kick your dog or something?

    You rant on DeChellis, but he has nothing to do with why PSU was in the IM building. You even begin your article hinting at the real reason, then you enter rant mode.

    “With Steve Lavin ready and waiting to come to Happy Valley, DeChellis was brought in…”

    Yes, PSU, the school and athletic department, chose to bring in DeChellis, just as they’ve chosen to allow a situation in which a profitable sport has to practice in a junior-high quality gym.

    And please name these Super Bowl coaches who have to practice at venues of the same quality as the IM building.

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