“Last year, we weren’t really coaching,” DeChellis said. “We were just managing what we had.”
From former coach Jerry Dunn, who was dismissed after a seven-win season in 2002-03, DeChellis inherited a group of inexperienced players and a few malcontents.
There were only two scholarship guards, both true freshmen. The big man was a gangly German who preferred shooting clunkers from beyond the arc to mixing it up under the basket.
By the end of the season, a couple of unhappy veterans had departed, the big man was openly courting scouts from European leagues, and a walk-on with a surgically repaired eye was the team’s most exciting player.
“In the long term, all that (turmoil) probably was a good thing,” DeChellis said. “Because we found out who wants to be here.”