Penn State men’s basketball head coach Pat Chambers did the one thing you can’t do — get physical with a player.
During a player-led huddle following a timeout in the first half of a blowout loss to Michigan, somehow Chambers decided it was a good idea to “motivate” his team by shoving freshman Myles Dread.
I mean, what in the actual hell was that that we just saw? No, it wasn’t a punch in the face or a two-handed shove in righteous anger. It was a coach completely out of control.
On Friday, Penn State and Chambers released joint statements.
Chambers apologized for his actions, noting he spoke to the family and made some promises.
“I apologized to Myles after the game and I have spoken with his family. My actions were inappropriate; that’s not what Penn State stands for or what I stand for. I told Myles I was sorry that it happened. Sandy and I have spoken and agreed there are some things I need to address. I’ve assured her this won’t happen again and understand my actions last night come with consequences.”
For their part, Penn State made it clear his actions were not kosher and he would be suspended for the Wisconsin game on Sunday.
But, this situation is so far beyond the merits of getting physical with a player to me. It’s about a coach who feels the need to show up his own players in the middle of a game that’s the heart of the issue.
What exactly was Myles Beard supposed to do in this situation? How exactly did he hold any power to change what was happening and what would Chambers going off like a lunatic on his own players do to motivate his team?
Many have tried to note that this was all about “firing up” his team and good coaches find ways to shock their players in to doing what should be done to win games for sure.
But, motivating players isn’t about becoming a monster in a moment. It’s about finding out the why and then getting your players to buy in to what you want them to accomplish.
Did that moment from Chambers look like a coach who had his player’s back? Did that look like a coach who had a clear plan in place for his players success? Did that look like a coach who understood the why of his team in that moment?
Short answer to all of those questions…no.
Instead, that looked like a coach pissed off that his players weren’t on the same page as him and he had had enough.
The best coaches can be ornery, mean and full of cuss words, but they are also never one to show up a player in public. When is the last time you saw the Mike Krzyzewski’s, the Tom Izzo’s, hell even the Bob Huggins of the world do what Chambers did to his team on Thursday night?
Short answer to that question…no.
They may all yell, scream and gesture like crazy, but every one of those moments is followed by a hug or a laugh or a smile and words of encouragement from those coaches.
What Chambers did was decide to tear down a player and leave it at that. There was no other purpose in his actions, despite what Chambers may have said after the game and despite what his supporters are saying today.
Showing up a player on your own team accomplishes nothing other than making you look like a fool, especially in public. That’s the real problem of what Chambers did.
He’ll serve a one-game suspension just in time for a slumping Wisconsin to come to town. Talk about being selfish and unaware of the moment you are in.
If there is any wonder how a team can get all this talent from the Philadelphia area and still manage to stink as bad as Penn State has this season, that disappeared in one moment, one shove, on Thursday night.
Chambers needs to look inward, he needs to understand it wasn’t just that he got physical, rather that he felt the need to go on some power trip in the middle of the team trying to figure themselves out against one of the best teams in college basketball.
If Chambers can’t figure out that it wasn’t the physical contact, as much as the underlying power trip that is the heart of the matter, he doesn’t deserve to coach another game at Penn State.
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