Lack of Support an Issue

Penn State basketball coach Ed DeChellis was at a loss for words Wednesday night, when his team, fresh of a thrilling road upset of then-No. 6 Illinois, took the floor for a home game against Minnesota in an arena that was less than one-third full.

But the third-year coach, whose rebuilding program is 11-10 and fighting for its first winning record since 2000-01, was not at a loss for words Friday when discussing fan support.

“I'm just being perfectly honest with you,” DeChellis said. “I think our kids were really disappointed the other night, [from] the comments they made to our managers. You go on the road, you beat Illinois, and you've got 3,500 people in the stands on Wednesday night. That was the actual count.

“Maybe people will take offense to that. But in the same sense, this is Big Ten basketball,” he added. “Minnesota came in here, they were putting 14-15,000 people in their place and they had won one league game.”

The Nittany Lions played one of their most lackluster games of the year vs. the Golden Gophers, dropping a 77-66 decision. Official attendance was listed at 6,186, but PSU based that figure on the number of tickets sold, not on actual bodies in seats.

The Jordan Center can seat up to 15,261 fans.

Though he said fan support is an issue, DeChellis added that he's as much to blame as anyone.

“I don't think I've done a good job,” he said. “It's not our fans. I don't think I've done a good job of trying to get people excited about our program, and I'll take the blame for that, I guess. That's been the frustrating thing for me, is that I've not been able to get out into the communities, I haven't been able to get out across the state and sell our program the way I needed to. That's got to be my fault somewhere.”

DeChellis said there are clearly issues with the way the program is being sold, especially in terms of clearing TV markets to carry games throughout Pennsylvania. That, he said, has a negative impact on recruiting. He said he intends to address such issues after the season.

“Athletic department-wise, internally, we need to take a step back and look at everything we're doing,” DeChellis said.

Penn State faces Wisconsin at the Jordan Center Saturday at 4 p.m. The game, PSU's only national TV appearance of the year, will be carried on ESPN2.

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