Collegian: Lions hope to thrive off transition

Ed DeChellis has been through it. Aaron Johnson is stuck in the middle of it. And both are guiding the Nittany Lions through this transition period, fazing out the Jerry Dunn persona and embarking on the DeChellis era.

Reform is nothing new to the second-year Penn State men’s basketball coach. DeChellis landed his first head-coaching job at East Tennessee State University, where he was greeted with a 7-20 Buccaneer squad. Seven years and three conference divisional winners, a conference tournament champ, and an NCAA tournament team later, DeChellis’ resume garnered considerable attention.

DeChellis was offered two or three positions before patience again paid off for the 1982 Penn State graduate. He held out just long enough for the Lions’ head-coaching job to open up with the resignation of Jerry Dunn in March 2003. DeChellis was welcomed back to the Lions squad, this time as a head coach, after a previously successful 10-year stint as an assistant. DeChellis would be treated to a struggling 7-21 squad. But why start from scratch again?

“I think number one is it’s my alma mater and I love Penn State, and I always felt like we should be as good as anybody else in the country in basketball,” he said. “You want to coach at the highest level and challenge yourself.”