UNIVERSITY PARK - Brian Siegrist, Penn State's assistant director of athletic communications, apologized for the tardiness of the postgame statistics package.
"A little problem with the copier," Siegrist said.
Actually, a funky copier is the least of the problems for the Penn State basketball program.
After throwing a mini-scare into No. 10 Michigan State and leading midway through the second half, the Nittany Lions were swatted away like a pesky fly en route to a 65-54 loss Saturday afternoon at the Bryce Jordan Center.
The loss was PSU's 12th straight, sunk the Nits to 0-12 in the Big Ten and advanced the alarming possibility that they may go 0-18 or even 0-19, including the postseason tournament, in the conference.
Saturday's pattern was similar in that Penn State hung around much of the way before wasting another super effort from Talor Battle (30 points including seven 3-pointers) but different in that the normally mild-mannered Blue and White faithful are finally getting restless.
At one point the biggest crowd of the season, 14,017, showered the home team with boos. You'd have thought Joe Paterno had called for a draw with no timeouts left during a two-minute drill.
Lion coach Ed DeChellis called the crowd "great," and said he understands their frustration.
Michigan State coach Tom Izzo, on a short list of the game's best coaches and fresh from his fifth Final Four appearance, was impressed with the crowd's passion.
"I feel for Eddie," he said. "Losing wears on you. It's like a disease. I give the fans credit for showing up."
Penn State's laundry list of problems start with the lack of a post presence. The combination of Andrew Jones and Jeff Brooks has turned Jamelle Cornley into Wilt Chamberlain.
Jones' regression since an encouraging NIT when he put 16 points and 14 rebounds on Notre Dame's Luke Harangody was underscored Saturday when he was held to single digits for the 21st time in 24 games this season.
He did block two shots - his first blocks since the Virginia Tech game Dec. 12.
"We haven't been very efficient," DeChellis said of center position and power forward positions. "It's been a situation for us all year. Mel [Cornley] drew double teams, and other guys played off that."
Like all of his teammates, Jones will return next season as the Lions graduate no seniors and bring back essentially the same team plus Battle's brother Taran Buie. That itself raises a question on whether DeChellis might have to admit some recruiting mistakes and find a scholarship or two for a junior-college horse.
Yesterday wouldn't be too soon.
DeChellis, not surprisingly, wasn't willing to address the big picture Saturday, saying, "if you look too far ahead in this league, that's not good."
Plus there's no guarantee, even if his contract was extended through 2014, that DeChellis will be back.
He's not only 8-16 and 0-12 right now - in his seventh season - he's yet to make the NCAA Tournament. He scheduled himself into the NIT last year and then, to his credit, he won it.
But he was also extremely fortunate in that if Battle doesn't make the shot to beat George Mason in the first round - if Mason, up three in the waning seconds, fouls him first - the Lions' season ends in disappointment, and there is no contract extension.
Penn State parted company with Jerry Dunn, who accomplished way more than DeChellis, so it may not be a slam dunk that the same coaching staff that has not improved many of these players will be around.
Even the X's and O's seem stale. Normally a solid strategist, Eddie D's club went belly up in the last 10 minutes and barely got good looks at the rim, including after timeouts.
For all his humanitarian qualities such as the lead role he's played in Coaches vs. Cancer, DeChellis is now in the midst of his fourth double-digit losing streak in seven years.
And he's 29-83 in the Big Ten with, counting the league tournament, a better chance to hit 90 than 30 this year.
When you've got that kind of a record, you had better be a humanitarian.
At the very least, some upper-level administrative discussions likely will take place on DeChellis' future. Penn State's inclination, rightfully, is never to fire unless it's terribly obvious.
But that is exactly what completing a winless Big Ten season, unfortunately, would be.
Rudel can be reached at 946-7527 or firstname.lastname@example.org.