Could Penn State Basketball’s NCAA Tournament Berth Spell End of Micah Shrewsberry Era?
After Micah Shrewsberry’s team picked up a huge win over Illinois in the second round of the Big Ten tournament, Penn State Basketball likely earned an at-large bid in this year’s NCAA tournament.
If the Nittany Lions do hear their name called on selection Sunday, it would be Shrewsberry’s first tournament appearance with Penn State and Penn State’s first appearance in the tournament since 2011.
Not only will Penn State Basketball be hoping for a better result than the 2011 team that got bounced in the first round by Temple, but Penn State fans will also be hoping that the tournament appearance is not the last time they will see Micah Shrewsberry on the side of the court in blue and white.
As with any sport, success brings suitors.
Penn State has been on the receiving end of this discussion for years with Penn State football head coach James Franklin, who had been rumored to USC among other schools over the past 5 years.
Likewise, with the success that Micah Shrewsberry has achieved in his first two years in Happy Valley, he will have no shortage of athletic directors reaching out this off-season for his services.
Could Micah Shrewsberry Era Already Be Ending in Happy Valley?
Why would Micah Shrewsberry consider leaving after having Penn State’s most successful season in over a decade?
After likely coaching Penn State into the NCAA tournament for the first time in over a decade, fans might question why Micah Shrewsberry would leave Penn State after only two years and the program seemingly on the rise.
However, for a power conference team, Penn State has a lower ceiling than many other teams in similar positions, especially for basketball.
First, while the Bryce Jordan Center is a newer, nice venue, it fits more as a concert venue than a basketball arena for Happy Valley. The venue is simply too large for Penn State to fill for a basketball game, especially secluded in the middle of Pennsylvania for weekday games. Second, Penn State has a limitation in basketball recruiting that Shrewsberry would not see at other power conference schools.
While Penn State’s football program can use the 107,000 person crowd, the pipeline of players sent to the NFL, and a deep history of team success to bring high-level recruits to Happy Valley, Penn State’s basketball program does not have a rich basketball history or the gameday experience to wow high level recruits.
Even though recently Penn State has sent a few players to the NBA, there is far from a pipeline of players heading to the next level as well.
Penn State will always be a football first school, even with success of the basketball team, and that is something that, if he stays, Shrewsberry will have to become accustomed to.
These reasons could cause Micah Shrewsberry to look for greener pastures while his name will be hot on the market with a return to the tournament.
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Who are Micah Shrewsberry’s most likely suitors?
The strongest rumor surrounding Micah Shrewsberry links him to Notre Dame, which has been rumored since January.
Notre Dame’s Mike Brey announced his retirement at the end of the season, leaving a very enticing job looking for an experienced, successful coach. Shrewsberry’s coaching experience began and stayed in the state of Indiana for the first 14 years, bouncing between 5 different programs before leaving the state to become an assistant for the Boston Celtics.
Shrewsberry’s tenure with the Celtics and now with the Nittany Lions are the only two coaching positions Shrewsberry has taken outside of the state of Indiana.
Returning to the state of Indiana could be very intriguing for Shrewsberry, especially for a great coaching position like Notre Dame. Shrewsberry’s experience in the state could be exciting for Notre Dame, as his knowledge of the area could help in recruiting and fundraising and become further security for Shrewsberry staying long-term with the Fighting Irish.
The second intriguing suitor would be Georgetown.
After six seasons, Georgetown finally fired Patrick Ewing, after posting a 75-109 record with the Hoyas and only one NCAA tournament appearance.
Georgetown is a school with a deep history in basketball that has not been able to sustain success in recent years.
Shrewsberry would be an intriguing option for Georgetown, as the Hoyas can see how quickly he took Penn State, a school with a relatively low level of basketball success, to the tournament.
Bringing in Shrewsberry would bring excitement back to the program and Shrewsberry could capitalize on the history of Georgetown basketball in recruiting to bring Georgetown back to being a powerhouse in the Big East conference.
A job that is less likely to open but is intriguing is Ohio State.
Many Ohio State fans were extremely displeased with Chris Holtmann’s performance this season, with Ohio State losing 13 of 14 games at one point this season.
If Ohio State did terminate Holtmann, Shrewsberry would be a great candidate for Ohio State. Ohio State does have a great basketball history and plenty of resources around the program. Being in the heart of Columbus also helps in basketball recruiting, with plenty of people to pack the Schottenstein Center on a weekly basis if Ohio State is performing well.
Ohio State also got to see Micah Shrewsberry in action this season, when the Nittany Lions beat Ohio State 75-71 on February 23rd. Although it is unlikely that this job opens, Micah Shrewsberry would likely be a top candidate for Ohio State if the position did open.
What can Penn State do to keep Micah Shrewsberry?
As Penn State saw with James Franklin, getting a long-term deal signed should be a priority for Pat Kraft.
Luckily for Penn State fans, Kraft is a very competent athletic director that is very passionate about Penn State being successful in all sports. The sooner Pat Kraft can lock up a long-term deal with Shrewsberry, the better for Penn State to keep suitors away from Shrewsberry with a large buyout provision.
Hopefully, Micah Shrewsberry’s first tournament appearance is a launching board for Penn State to continue to see success under Shrewsberry for years into the future, but until a long-term extension is signed, Penn State fans should be worried that the tournament could be the last time they see the Penn State head coach on the court in blue and white.