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Smeltzer: Micah Shrewsberry Already the Type of Coach Penn State Basketball’s Never had, Needs to Keep

Penn State Basketball: Micah Shrewsberry
Photo by Penn State Basketball: Micah Shrewsberry

I don’t know where Micah Shrewsberry ranks on Penn State’s all-time list of men’s basketball coaches.

In most cases, it’s stupid to even ask that question when a coach has only been there for two season.

But this isn’t like most cases, and Shrewsberry isn’t like most coaches.

After just two seasons, Shrewsberry’s already become something Penn State basketball has never had; a coaching star.

Star players are nothing new at Penn State. The program’s last three NCAA Tournament teams have had a clear leading man. In 2001, it was Joe Crispin. 10 years later, it was Talor Battle, and most recently, Jalen Pickett was the man in Happy Valley. Even Penn State’s non-tournament teams have had studs. Lamar Stevens would have been in the tournament in 2020 if not for COVID-19. DJ Newbill didn’t play on good Penn State teams, but he still balled out from 2012-15 in Happy Valley.

Penn State’s had plenty of players become stars and, subsequently, fan-favorites.

Coaching has been a different story, and that’s one of the things that makes Shrewsberry so unique; he’s just as popular as any of his players.

Here’s breakdown of every Penn State coach from 1983 till now. With all due respect to John Lawther, Elmer Gross and John Egli, those who came more than 40 years ago are too difficult to judge because college basketball is so different.

So here’s the breakdown of Shrewsberry’s predecessors, going forward to backward.

PAT CHAMBERS (2011-20)

The last full-time coach before Shrewsberry (sorry, Jim Ferry), Chambers, took over the program a year after it made the NCAA Tournament… and failed to get it back there.

A referenced earlier, Chambers, Stevens and Penn State would have been dancing in 2020 if not for a once-in-a-lifetime event that nobody saw coming and nobody could control.

But because Chambers went eight seasons without making the NCAA Tournament, the general perception had Penn State made it in 2020 would have been more “it’s about time” than “yay, Pat Chambers!”

ED DECHELLIS (2003-11)

Before Chambers, DeChellis was Penn State’s man. He walked into an awful situation after Jerry Dunn’s departure (more on him later) and needed to rebuild the program. Over DeChellis’s first five seasons, a 15-15 record and NIT opening around trip in 2005-06 was the highlight. That’s not good.

DeChellis eventually put together a solid team that won the NIT in 2009 and probably should have gone dancing that year. Two years later, he got Penn State there.

But eight years is a long time to wait at Penn State, regardless of the sport, so like with Chambers, many gave more credit to Penn State’s players than its coach.

Any notion that DeChellis was a coaching star should have gone away after he left Penn State for Navy.

As much respect as the men and women of our service academies deserve, a basketball coach doesn’t leave Penn State for Navy if they’re all that.

To be fair, DeChellis has done well enough at the academy to be there for more than a decade, and he’s still there today. But his 168-192 overall record and zero tournament appearances prove that he isn’t on Shrewsberry’s level.

JERRY DUNN (1995-03)

Before DeChellis was Dunn.

Chambers and DeChellis’s tenures at Penn State were somewhat polarizing, and the fact that both left the program after winning seasons makes them remembered more fondly by some.

The same goes for Dunn.

Yes, he made the tournament twice, which only two other Penn State coaches have accomplished.

But his first appearance came in 1996, when he took over for Bruce Parkhill right before the season after Parkhill resigned. The second came in 2001, when Penn State got all the way to the Sweet 16.

Dunn deserves credit for both of those, but many feel he deserves more blame for finishing his time at Penn State 45-87 in the Big Ten.


Parkhill is the closet thing Penn State’s had to a coaching star. To this day, no Penn State coach post-Vietnam has matched Parkhill’s full body of work; 12 seasons and five postseason appearances, including NCAA berth in 1991.

Parkhill’s coached several good teams and, although I wasn’t alive, I’ve heard that he was popular amongst the fanbase. His career at Penn State could have been better if not for his resignation at just 46.

Parkhill is the closet thing to Micah Shrewsberry that Penn State’s had. But it took him eight seasons to do what Shrewsberry did in two; make the NCAA Tournament.

Plus, there are more ways to become beloved in 2022 than there were in the 80s and 90s, thanks to social media and what not, so Shrewsberry has an advantage in that sense.

I’m not ready to put Shrewsberry ahead of Parkhill overall, but I am ready to say his rise to stardom has been faster than Parkhill’s and I’m confident more of Shrewsberry’s teams will make it to the tournament in the years ahead, whether that’s at Penn State or somewhere else.


I spent most of this column talking about why Shrewsberry is unique from any coach Penn State’s had. I’ll spend the rest of it briefly summarizing the second part of my title. As a million people have already said, Penn State needs to do whatever it can to keep Micah Shrewsberry.

That topic will be discussed until Shrewsberry either leaves or gets extended.

Until then, Penn State fans should appreciate what Micah Shrewsberry has done and the fact that, for now, Penn State men’s basketball’s head coach is a star.

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