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Penn State Basketball: Barbour Support Important As Key Offseason Approaches

by on February 28, 2015 2:00 PM

Pat Chambers says he has a plan to get Penn State basketball turned around.

Which makes sense if you figure he didn't take one of college basketball's biggest rebuilding jobs without some idea of how he was going to at least try and do it.

But even if he faces a herculean task, there have been critics of the first four years of Chambers' tenure at Penn State.

Some criticisms are fair - the losses, the up and down development of veteran players - others a reflection of a growing desire for immediate results.

Penn State's progress has been slow, but it has also been steady and positive in its own way. It wasn't by mistake that Ed DeChellis departed the program when it was set to make an abrupt dive only a season removed from an NCAA tournament bid. The rebuilding job was in place before DeChellis ever left.

How long does it take to rebuild a program and make it  better than it's ever been before?

It's hard to say. That path isn't clear.

What is clear, that when Penn State athletic director Sandy Barbour recently voiced her support for Chambers in public, it was as much a literal vote of confidence as it was water on the fire of fans questioning whether Chambers is the right man for the job. That isn't a conversation she plans on having, at least not now.

And for the man or the hour, public support is always a positive.

"It's huge. I know what people are saying. It's huge. I'm not going to deny the fact that I see it, I do. It's huge to have that kind of support and that kind of motivation to get up even earlier and want to fight for Sandy and this program even harder, if that's possible," Chambers said earlier this week.

"This is a process and I think we're doing some good things and she understands the position we're in and where we started and where we are. She believes in what we're doing and has faith in what we're doing and I can't ask for anything more than that."

"I can put my head on the pillow at night, I don't know about sleeping but I can put my head on the pillow."

Talk is cheap though, for Barbour to show real meaningful support for the future of the program it means continuing the trend of improvements that are much more tangible than verbal support. It's easy to say you want Penn State basketball to be a viable program in college basketball. It's another to take steps toward making that happen.

Some of those steps had already begun prior to Barbour's watch. The Bryce Jordan Center has new branding. The practice facility is labeled on the outside of the building. New shoe deals, new uniforms, little things, but the kind of things that were long overdue. The kind of changes that remind you that a Division I basketball program in the nation's top conference plays in State College.

The good news for fans, even more of those kinds of improvements, conversations, and investments are in the works.

"We talk about that, I talked yesterday about some things that we're going to do in the offseason. Sandy and I are going to sit down after the year and talk about investing and what that investing is. We're near finalizing a deal for the film room and new training table. Which is a step in the right direction.

"Small victories are success. The signs on the outside of the BJC, the branding, we're up 20 percent in attendance. All these are small successes and victories that people on the outside might not know but internally, it's going ... not according to the timetable, but we're at least getting there. So we'll meet after the Big Ten tournament and see what's in store for Penn State basketball, that means men and women and what we need to be successful.

"I have a very detailed plan, very detailed plan of what I think this could be and how I could get it done. It's going to take some time but so far so good. I appreciate that [Barbour] came out the past few weeks as hard as she has. it makes you feel good, it makes the team feel good it makes the recruits feel good and it makes the families feel good which is really important."

There isn't any question that for all the good Chambers has done that sooner or later the team has to start winning on the court. Improved recruiting raises the bar and this offseason will set the course for the remainder of the Chambers era.

If he can get back-to-back recruiting classes of note he could be on to something. If the momentum was a flash in the pan, it's anyone's guess what happens next.

But if nothing else, Chambers is equipped with a plan and the support of the university. Changing everything now would be doing something for the sake of doing something.

And that probably will only make things worse.

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Ben Jones covers Penn State football and basketball for StateCollege.com. He's on Twitter as @Ben_Jones88.
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