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DeChellis Q&A: "That was a special moment"

March 13, 2011 - Cory Giger
Penn State coach Ed DeChellis discusses what it means to reach the NCAA Tournament. Plus, he describes the funny details about how he had to cut his celebration short because he had to use the restroom.

On getting in and as 10 seed: "You're sitting there and you see some other names pop on the board and you're certainly hoping your name's gonna pop up. But I wasn't really comfortable until I saw it pop up. I thought we'd be in the tournament. I didn't know where we would be. But it's nice to see your name pop up on the board."

Have you thought about Temple yet: "I've got Danny Earl on that. He's thinking about Temple. I'm gonna try to take at least an hour, hour and a half until we get home and try to relax on the plane. They've got some stats for me to look at, and I'll do that on the plane. But I just need an hour to wind down. It's been a long five days.

On what it means to the seniors: "Very, very happy for them. Very proud of them. They stayed the course. We've had some tough days, we've had some disappointing losses. But those kids have always stayed the course. They've been great kids for me, they've been great for the university and wonderful student-athletes. I'm very proud of them."

On the loss to Ohio State: "I thought the play of the game was Diebler's 3 at halftime. … Diebler hit that big shot and kind of took the wind out of our sails. … They're a very good team. I can't stress that enough. … Playing the fourth in four days, we didn't have it the second half."

On the run to the Big Ten title game: "It was really important for us. Our kids have done a great job. Our staff did a great job preparing the kids. … I thought the kids executed, had great focus, were attentive to detail."

On Selection Sunday process and anticipation: "When names start popping up and you get to the second bracket, you start to get that little feeling in your stomach in the sense that I hope this goes the way I think it's gonna go because I'm not sure what I would say to my team [if they didn't make it]. We had a pretty good indication that we were in, but until you literally see it pop up there, you never know. Stranger things have happened. I've had good friends today who I thought were definitely in the tournament and I find out today on the bus ride back did not get in the tournament. It's a hard feeling to explain."

On how team developed: "It's a long year, a long race, things happen. … For our team, we've all tried to express the attitude 'stay the course, just do what we do.' And there was times where it was very challenging. We lost a game that maybe we shouldn't have lost. We had an injury or two in the Big Ten season where I think really we probably would have won the game."

On what are goals now: "I've got to think about that on the way home, how I want to approach it. We want to win. I'm gonna grind 'em. But I think they need some air tonight. I mean, I've been on 'em since we left. This has been a two and a half, three-week deal. Not just this weekend. It's been tough the last two and a half, three weeks. Winning the games we had to win, putting ourselves in position to beat Northwestern at home, to beat Minnesota at home, and on and on. … And we get to the tournament where we've got to win, I thought, at least two, maybe three games. After we beat Wisconsin, Brian Siegrist and I huddled a little bit and looked at some things, and we both kind of thought we were gonna have to beat Michigan State to really solidify things."

On scrimmaging Temple in preseason: "Fran Dunphy's a great coach, and he runs an unbelievable program. What I took away from that was we needed to get better very, very quickly because I didn't think we played very well. I thought they were a stronger and tougher team, both mentally and physically, back in November when we scrimmaged. I haven't really seen them play on television because I'm so consumed with our games. But I know they've had a great year, I know they've had a couple injuries. But I'll focus on them tomorrow and try to enjoy this day as best we can. Maybe we should meet in Harrisburg rather than Tucson."

On what Talor has meant: "You coach for a lot of different reasons. Obviously you're a competitive person, you want to win. But the smiles and the joy on our kids' faces when our name popped up there and they jumped off that couch and Bubby leading the parade there is very, very special to me. That's why we coach. I just love to see the joy and the excitement that all their hard work and dedication to Penn State has paid off and now we've got ourselves in the tournament, and it's because of those seniors. And I've got to throw this out there. I got about a million texts here from people, the kids who played here in the past few years -- Jamelle Cornley and Stanley Pringle and Danny Morrissey -- who really took us to the NIT run, really set the stage for what we did this weekend, as well. Because we went through that NIT run several times the last few days, and those kids were very instrumental and very important in the development of Talor and Jeff Brooks and Drew and D.J. and Steve."

On what it means for him and the program to be in tournament: "It's not about me. It's all about our players, it's about the university. I'm very, very proud of our kids and what they've been able to accomplish. I never really, it's just all about them. As a staff, we try to prepare every game the same and give them an opportunity to be successful. … They've had a great run. They really have. They've had a great year. We were so close on a couple games that we didn't get that we thought we could have. But again, they were very resilient the whole year and I'm just really proud of the efforts and what they've been able to accomplish."

On if this is validation for work over the years: "I don't know validation. It has been challenging at times. There's been some things that happened to us -- injuries we weren't obviously expecting. We've had some crazy luck. We've really had some crazy luck, as well. And so there's always challenges for everything you do in life. I've always tried just to tell our kids just to keep fighting and get up off the floor when you get knocked down. We've been knocked down several times, but one thing about our staff and our players, we're always gonna get back up."

On whether it would have been unfair for Battle not to get to tourney: "There are some things in life you hope really work out, and this was one I was just praying for to work out. I went to Mass this morning, and I never pray for wins or for losses; I never have in my entire life. I pray for the Lord to watch over our kids so they can compete at the highest level and not be injured. I pray for that. I pray for giving them strength and courage to do what they have to do. The little guy has courage. He's a competitor and he has courage. I think that there are two great qualities that he will be successful in life, whatever he decides that he wants to do."

On being a 10 seed and thinking Big Ten got a lot of respect after seeing Michigan getting an 8: "I thought they were. We're tied with Michigan and with Illinois, as well, Michigan State. We were jammed in there together. I thought we played pretty well over the weekend. That didn't really shock me. Nothing shocks me with the NCAA Tournament and seeding. Anything can happen. So the seed is what it is. I think it's very fair. I think it's a very, very fair seed for us. And now, when they toss that ball up this week, all that seeding, it doesn't matter where you played, doesn't matter what league you're in. It's all about the next game, and the next game is the most important game."

On being concerned about playing Thursday so far away: "I am concerned. In a perfect world we'd like to play Friday. That's not gonna happen. So we're gonna meet tomorrow afternoon as a team and try to focus them and practice Tuesday and Wednesday and play Thursday. They need a day off. I can't practice them tomorrow. We'll watch some videotape maybe. But they need a day off mentally as well as physically. They're a drained group right now.

On if there were tears after seeing their name in the bracket: "They were very happy, and there was a lot of hugging. I gotta be honest with you: I had to go use the restroom. As soon as we came up on the board, I kissed my wife and my kids and shook hands with everybody in the room and my staff, I needed to go to the restroom. And that was the end of the party for me. … It's not about me. It really isn't. It's about our players. I'm happy for them and got a chance to visit with them after so we could kind of just be to ourselves. That was a special moment."

On the pressure of getting in the tournament this year with experienced team: "I thought our best chance was gonna be this year, for right now. I thought if we could be injury free we'd have a chance, and we did give ourselves a chance. … I thought it we just kept our nose to what we were doing and try to convince them to defend and rebound, I thought we could score enough somewhere along the way to win some games and be successful and get these kids in the tournament."

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