TUCSON, Ariz. - Going one and done in the NCAA Tournament is, in Penn State's case, undoubtedly better than winning the NIT two years ago.
It's not even close, either.
Sure, it's a fun water-cooler debate, and two years ago many Nittany Lion fans convinced themselves that the NIT championship was more exciting and meant more to the program than making the NCAAs and losing in the first round.
But consider this: When Ed DeChellis and his staff go out and recruit high school kids from now on, what's the first thing they'll tell them?
That they won the NIT title?
The first conversation will be about how the program made it to the big dance this year, not that it took dancing lessons winning the afterthought tournament.
Now, the second part of the conversation will include a statement like this: "We made it to the NCAA Tournament, and two years earlier we won the NIT."
Couple the two achievements, and the coaches will try to convince the recruits that the program is going in the right direction.
But make no mistake about it. Without the NCAA appearance, no recruit would believe that.
There is only one standard in college hoops, the standard by which coaches are judged and by which players judge their own careers.
As Talor Battle said time and again the past few weeks, he would give back everything he had accomplished at Penn State for the opportunity to play in the NCAA Tournament.
In many ways, it justified his career, even if it lasted only one game.
Ed's now safe
This will come as frustrating news to the large and vocal segment of PSU fans who want DeChellis gone, but there's no chance the coach will be ousted after going to the NCAA Tournament.
Yes, it took eight years. Yes, there were a lot of low points along he way. And yes, the team is still going to stink next season as it loses Battle and three other senior starters.
But DeChellis has earned the right to try and build on the tournament appearance over the next couple of years by seeing if it can provide a boost in recruiting.
There's a chance it will. And there's a good chance it won't, meaning PSU basketball once again will take its seat at the back of the Big Ten bus for a prolonged period.
Regardless of your feelings about DeChellis' job performance in the past, he now deserves a chance to finish out his contract (through 2014) and see if he can sustain a level of success - or at least respectability.
Penn State assistant Kurt Kanaskie is one of three finalists for the head coaching job at Lock Haven University, according to a report in the Lock Haven Express.
Kanaskie was LHU's head coach from 1985-88. He left to take over at IUP from 1988-96, then was head coach at Drake from 1996-2003.
Kanaskie is scheduled to interview for the job Tuesday. The other finalists are Shippensburg assistant Mike Nestor and Chuck Hammond, head coach at Goldey-Beacom College in Wilmington, Del.
On a personal note
I've covered a lot of bad college basketball for 17 years before finally getting to cover an NCAA Tournament game Thursday.
The game itself was a blast, but having to scramble to and from Tucson (14-hour travel days) on short notice was a pain in the you know what.
If Penn State or St. Francis get back to the tournament at some point, I'll be desperately hoping for a more convenient site.
Still, the excitement of finally getting to cover a game and seeing such a terrific finish were some of the highlights of my career.
Cory Giger is the host of "Sports Central" from 4 to 6 p.m. daily on ESPN Radio 1430 WVAM. He can be reached at 949-7031 or firstname.lastname@example.org.