Aside from an occasional Twitter remark, I don’t cowl Penn State basketball anymore, however I nonetheless watch it, and I feel Sandy Barbour has an fascinating state of affairs on her arms.
The Nittany Lions are 7-9 total and Four-Eight within the Huge Ten getting into Sunday’s recreation with Nebraska on the Bryce Jordan Heart (three p.m.).
Jim Ferry has performed a really serviceable job because the interim coach since Pat Chambers resigned underneath stress in October for making a racially-insensitive remark to a participant.
Penn State could also be underneath .500, however it’s been in nearly each recreation, together with on the highway within the rugged Huge Ten, the place it suffered shut losses to Ohio State and Michigan, two of the highest groups within the nation.
It’s crushed Prime 20 groups (Virginia Tech, Wisconsin) and ones within the Huge Ten regional footprint (Rutgers, Maryland).
The Lions have their share of perimeter expertise with Myreon Jones, Izaiah Brockington, Seth Lundy, Myles Dread, Sam Sessoms and Jamari Wheeler.
Their offense strikes the ball higher than previous years, and the Nits play extraordinarily exhausting, particularly heart John Harrar, who works like a canine beneath and is among the many nation’s high rebounders.
Can they make extra clutch pictures late in video games? Sure. They may have 4 extra wins, however with out frontline depth or a real heart — Harrah is listed between 6-foot-Eight and 6-9 — they’ve performed properly to be in place to win as typically as they’ve.
And that’s a credit score to Ferry and the teaching workers.
Barbour stated earlier this season that Ferry has performed an “excellent job” in his “hands-on audition.”
She’s vetting candidates and has been working her channels since Chambers was jabbed off the plank.
It’s extremely uncertain a longtime, big-name coach is taking this job. It extra possible shall be a coach who has performed properly at a mid-major program — much like what seems to be a very good rent on the ladies’s entrance with Marquette’s Carolyn Kieger — or an assistant from a big-time program in search of a primary head-coaching alternative.
And it might be that Barbour has somebody in thoughts whom she labored with up to now or just desires a recent begin.
By Barbour’s six-plus 12 months tenure, Kieger has been her most seen rent, what with James Franklin and Cael Sanderson already in place and Russ Ross predating everyone.
So possibly Barbour desires her personal stamp on this hiring. We’ll see.
She’s been round Penn State lengthy sufficient to know basketball has extra built-in challenges than soccer or wrestling.
Of the earlier coaches over the past 50 years, solely Jerry Dunn didn’t have head-coaching expertise. The job wore down many completed coaches who had been both nudged (John Bach, Dick Harter, Dunn, Ed DeChellis and Chambers) or surrendered (Bruce Parkhill).
The frequent thread was not technique or recruiting or league affiliation: It was Penn State.
Barbour must maintain that in thoughts.
Chambers did a wonderful job cracking the code with Philadelphia recruits and beat extra ranked groups than any of his predecessors.
That may’t be misplaced.
Penn State has performed at a better degree and extra competitively these final three years than any stretch in its Huge Ten historical past.
Ferry has been a part of that, simply as he was on the workers that gained the NIT in 2018, completed sturdy in 2019 by profitable 5 of their final seven Huge Ten video games and would have been within the 2020 NCAA area had been it not for this brutal, sickening coronavirus.
Ferry has been across the program lengthy sufficient to know what he’s in for, and he’s additionally been a head coach at outposts like Lengthy Island (two NCAA journeys) and Duquesne to understand what Penn State does supply.
A lot of being a Energy-5 chief is media publicity and communication and Ferry, 53, has dealt with that, too.
Barbour can go get the subsequent coach after which sit again and hope he shall be pretty much as good as Jim Ferry.
Then there’s the switch portal to think about. Gamers have freedom at the moment. Barbour wasn’t their favourite particular person for firing Chambers, despite the fact that he shot himself within the foot by way of indiscretion.
Ought to this nucleus go elsewhere — solely Harrah and Wheeler are seniors — this system could possibly be set again a lot additional than obligatory.
On the identical time, a brand new coach can often allure the present gamers as a result of he wants them, and fleeing isn’t at all times possible or the most suitable choice.
Presuming they’re loyal to Ferry, Penn State’s gamers ought to end sturdy, starting with a must-win over Nebraska, to assist make their case — a case Sandy Barbour can’t simply dismiss.
Neil Rudel may be reached at 814-946-7527 or by e mail at email@example.com.
At present’s breaking information and extra in your inbox