DeChellis improved Bucs' hoops program

By Matt Hill
STAR STAFF
mhill@starhq.com

   Ed DeChellis has finally found his dream coaching job, but some people still can't accept the fact that he's no longer in Johnson City.
  The former East Tennessee State head basketball coach accepted the same position last week at his alma-mater, Penn State.
  DeChellis did wonders for this program. After having to rebuild the mess Alan LeForce and his staff made, DeChellis returned this program back to national prominence recently.
  DeChellis' teams slowly improved almost every year, but over the last three seasons, the Bucs have won outright or shared the Southern Conference's North Division title each year.
  Last month, the Bucs won the Southern Conference Tournament, then lost to ACC champion Wake Forest 76-73 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
  I figured most people would be happy for DeChellis, and would appreciate the job he did at ETSU. But an article I read recently kind of showed otherwise.
  In the East Tennessean last week, a student wrote an article about the problems DeChellis might run into at Penn State, and compared them to the dilemma that Les Robinson had when he left ETSU for North Carolina State.
  I gathered from reading the article that the writer thought it was a mistake for DeChellis to leave. I disagree.
  He mentioned that Penn State is a football school, and that Joe Paterno is king in that part of the country. He also used Duke and Tennessee as examples of schools that are good in one sport, but bad in another.
  Those are good examples, but the right coach and system can win. Duke basketball has always dominated over Duke football, but the Blue Devil football team won when Steve Spurrier was head coach.
  Same thing with men's basketball at Tennessee. I remember a couple of years ago, the basketball team was ranked higher than the football team.
  I personally feel DeChellis is the man for the Penn State job. He knows how to slowly build a program, and that's what it is going to take.
  This Penn State program was in the Sweet 16 just a couple of years ago.
Sure the program has hit hard times, but DeChellis inherited pretty much the same situation at ETSU several years ago.
  Every coach dreams of being in a big time conference, and the Big 10 is definitely that. Some coaches like the challenge, and going up against teams like Michigan State, Illinois and Indiana will definitely get you pumped.
  The writer goes on to say that Coach DeChellis will not find any better talent than he already has in front of him. I agree, but will that talent be there five years from now?
  The talent wasn't there for LeForce after Greg Dennis and Calvin Talford left. Mid major programs have a tendency to be there for a few years, then get replaced.
  For example, Kent State didn't exactly live up to the Elite 8 season it had last year. And whatever happened to Loyola Maramount?
  The final thing I have to say about the article is a comment made that says the program should find a local coach with talent and keep him in Johnson City.
  I just don't think high school coaches can make the jump to the collegiate level right away. Former Notre Dame football coach Gerry Faust found that out the hard way.
  The Bucs need to either keep the position in house or get an assistant at an elite program. One name that has popped up is Duke's Steve Wojeciechowski.
  That would be wonderful, but if he had success and the Duke job came open, there's a good chance he would leave as well.
  East Tennessee State has a great Southern Conference program, but it's not going to be at an elite level year in and year out.
  I do believe this group of Bucs could be the school's finest ever, but the bad part is they won't be around long.
  DeChellis might get a little jealous if he sees the Bucs in the Sweet 16 next year, but then he will look at how he is taking care of his family, and everything will be all right.
  And that's what matters.