(Originally posted Wednesday at 10:37 a.m., updated at 6:37 a.m.)
UPDATE: Corky Blake of the Express-Times e-mailed us a little more on Kyle Griffin, the Germantown Academy junior mentioned in this post as having been offered a scholarship by Bucknell. Griffin is the son of Bill (former Lehigh standout of late 70s) and Mimi Griffin (former women's hoops commentator and big-time golf organizer). Kyle went to Allentown Central Catholic for two seasons, then transferred to Germantown Academy.
Bill Griffin, who ranks ninth on Lehigh's all-time scoring list, played at Lehigh from 1976 to 1979, his career overlapping with Pat Flannery's playing days at Bucknell.
ORIGINAL POST: In a story on the Coaches vs. Cancer All-Star Doubleheader in Conshohocken (outside Philly), the Philadelphia Daily News reports 6-3 junior guard Kyle Griffin of Germantown Academy has two scholarship offers thus far, one from Bucknell, the other from Siena.
Griffin, who scored 11 points, dished a pair of assists and made 3 steals for a private schools side in a 96-89 loss to kids from the suburbs, is also receiving interest from Stanford, La Salle, Saint Joseph's, Old Dominion, Richmond, George Mason, UAB and Xavier, according to the Daily News.
While he shares a last name with Bucknell guard John Griffin, Kyle is not related to the Bison sophomore.
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The old two in four rule that limited teams to two multi-team tournaments in four years was eliminated Thursday by the NCAA.
That could be good news for the Patriot League since, as the Albany Times Union reports, it paves the way for Siena to go ahead with plans for an eight-team conference challenge to be played in November at the Pepsi Arena in Albany.
The idea is a good one. One team from each of eight mid-major conferences, with each team playing one home and one away game before converging on Albany, where each will play two more.
The Times Union says the tournament would follow a "challenge" formula, with all teams playing prescheduled matchups, instead of an elimination "Tournament" format. No champion would be crowned.
The Patriot League is mentioned as one of the potential conferences that might participate, along with the Ivy League, Northeast Conference and Colonial Athletic Association.
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Housenick says it looks like the Bison will be true road warriors this season, since Pat Flannery is having a tough time getting anybody to agree to come to Lewisburg. Right now, Northern Iowa's Bracket Busters return trip is the Bison's only non-conference home game. There is also a possibility the Bison could host a Bracket Busters game this season (they are set to take part again).
Otherwise, with what Housenick figures to be five dates yet to be filled on the Bison non-conference slate, even road games are tough for Flannery to find.
"We're working on trying to get some people to come here, to get some home games," Flannery said. "And we thought we had some guarantee games, but now, they don't want to play us."
Of course one possible solution Bucknell might have to look at is to use some of its NCAA Tournament bounty to buy a home date or two itself.
With Bucknell's attendance, it would be able to make such offers to visitors if it actually generated much revenue from its home games. But with the free tickets for students, faculty and staff policy, there's not much of a ticket sales pot to dip into.
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In his latest post on Coach Ralph.com, Holy Cross coach Ralph Willard takes issue with alums who were critical of his players this season and updates the status of a host of HC players with injury/health woes.
We've said it before, we'll say it again: Willard's site is a must-click for PL hoops fans.
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According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, Brown coach Glenn Miller will be introduced Wednesday afternoon as Penn's new coach.
A former UConn assistant, Miller reportedly beat out three other finalists, former Penn assistant Steve Donahue of Cornell, Billy Taylor of Lehigh and Penn assistant Dave Duke for the job vacated when Fran Dunphy left to take the Temple job.
Meanwhile, Lehigh has released an excerpt from a letter Billy Taylor sent to Lehigh alumni supporters regarding the various jobs he interviewed for since the season ended. One of those schools was Penn, and Taylor had been considered the frontrunner there as late as last weekend.
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Just a few days after being anointed the favorite to replace Fran Dunphy at Pen, Lehigh coach Billy Taylor's star does not appear to be shining as brightly in Penn AD Steve Bilsky's eyes.
According to this morning's Philadelphia Daily News Brown coach Glenn Miller, a former UConn assistant, now appears to be the favorite for the job.
The People Paper reports that Miller and Cornell coach Steve Donahue, another former Dunphy assistant, have both had second interviews at Penn. Taylor has not had a return visit as of yet, the Daily News says.
Sources tell the paper an announcement could come as soon as tomorrow.
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The College of the Holy Cross has named Guillermo Sanchez an assistant men's basketball coach, as announced by head coach Ralph Willard. Sanchez replaces Darryl Hillard, who left recently to accept a position at Hampton University.
Sanchez comes to Holy Cross from Assumption College, where he served as an assistant coach during the 2005-2006 season. He previously served as an assistant coach at Dominican College in Orangeburg, N.Y., during the 2004-2005 campaign, helping the Chargers to a sixth place finish in the Central Atlantic Athletic Conference.
A native of Long Island City, N.Y., Sanchez graduated from Holy Cross in 2002 with a bachelor's degree in economics. He was a three-year letterwinner for the Crusaders during the 1999-2000, 2000-2001 and 2001-2002 seasons, and was a part of two teams which won Patriot League titles and advanced to the NCAA Tournament.
The Crusaders finished the 2005-2006 season with an overall record of 20-12, and finished in second place in the Patriot League with an 11-3 mark in conference games.
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The Wilmington News-Journal reportsMarek Koltun, a 6-foot-10 center from Caravel Academy has accepted a scholarship offer from Lafayette. According to Koltun's prep coach, the Polish exchange student, also drew attention from George Washington, Bucknell, Rider and North Carolina-Wilmington.
"Drew attention from" and got offers from are not necessarily the same thing. We know, for instance, that Bucknell handed out its three scholarships for next year in the early signing period, though it is possible the Bison might have another to use because of the John Clark situation.
Koltun sounds more like the kind of big man you get when you don't decide to start offering scholarships until after the season is over. He was an honorable mention all-state pick in Delaware, which generally equates to an all-district type pick in bigger states. His team went 22-3 and finished second in the state, with two losses to the eventual state champs. In the state final, a 73-71 2OT loss, Koltun fouled out in the first OT, finishing with 9 points, 7 rebounds and a pair of blocks.
Bob Gibbons All-Star Report, a recruitnik site, filed a report on Koltun in mid-February that said Koltun's best days are ahead of him.
That report also noted:
Schools that have seen him play are UNC-Wilmington, Penn, Georgia, Rutgers, Lafayette, and Delaware. He scored 650 on the SAT-M and 450 on the SAT-V. His GPA at Caravel is 4.00+ and he wants to major in International Commerce.
While Koltun sounds like a project, he appears to be a good signing for Fran O'Hanlon, who had only one player over 6-7 on his roster this season and has not had a quality two-way big man since Stefan Ciosici graduated in 2000.
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We'll preface this post by emphasizing that this is not the type of report that would be classified as solid or certain. It is merely a rumor at this point, but one reported to Hoop Time by a source with very solid Penn connections.
Word is that Penn and Billy Taylor have agreed on a deal and that Taylor will be introduced at a press conference Monday or Tuesday as the Quakers' new coach.
Keep in mind a whole weekend can leave plenty of time for minds to change. Lehigh could sweeten the pot to keep Taylor in Bethlehem. Taylor could have second thoughts. There are myriad ways this could change over the weekend.
Our source says he is not comfortable enough yet to report it as fact for his publication. Certainly it is not a solid enough report that we would report it as a done deal.
But where there is smoke, there usually is fire, and it certainly looks as if Taylor's candidacy at Penn has taken on the front-runner status that some Philly papers have conferred upon him.
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We're not linking to this Morning Call story because it says Lehigh's Billy Taylor is talking to Penn about its vacant head coaching job. That is old news.
What makes this story worth commenting on are a couple of little lines that typify what the media covering Lehigh has had to deal with all year:
He had no further comment.
School officials said they would not allow players to comment, either
Please Billy, take the job. Not because we want to see the league lose a talented young coach. Not, as many Brown and Yellow fans would love to believe, because we want to see Lehigh's program suffer.
No, we want Billy to take the job for one reason only: So we can watch the fun when he tries to duck the Philly media, which will never give him the free pass he gets in the Lehigh Valley.
Imagine Taylor trying to get through a Joe Knight-type situation without commenting, without telling the truth about why a star player is missing in the season opener. Imagine trying to tell Philly reporters covering a Penn game that questions have to be limited to that night's game during a postgame press conference.
Back in Bethlehem, Lehigh will still get away with the you can't talk to our players stuff because the Morning Call will continue to give them that free pass. But Billy in Philly will get the education in dealing with the media that he needs before moving on to the big time, as many think is his destiny.
By the way, the Philadelphia Inquirer is calling Taylor Penn's leading candidate in today's editions.
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Remember Billy Taylor's statement about having had no contact with Penn about its vacant head coaching job? Apparently that needs to be updated.
There are reports today in the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Philadelphia Daily News and the student Daily Pennsylvanian that Taylor has already interviewed with Penn A.D. Steve Bilsky.
The Daily Pennsylvanian also adds the name of former George Washington and St. John's coach Mike Jarvis to the list of candidates while saying former Lehigh coach Dave Duke, who was an assistant to Penn coach Fran Dunphy before Dunphy took the Temple job, has the support of a lot of current Penn players.
The Pennsylvanian also reports whoever gets the job will be the John R. Rockwell Head Coach of Men's Basketball, reflecting the decision of Rockwell, a Penn alum, to endow the head basketball coach position. The student paper speculates the move will give Penn more money to work with to attract and keep a new coach.
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For the second consecutive season, Bucknell junior center Chris McNaughton (Leuterhausen, Germany/Dientzenholfer) was named the Patriot League's Men's Basketball Scholar-Athlete of the Year. An electrical engineering major, McNaughton finished the 2005 fall semester with a 3.58 grade-point average while leading the Bison to its second-straight Patriot League crown and second-straight NCAA Tournament second round appearance.
The postseason honors were numerous for the towering McNaughton (6'11), who was also named First-Team All-Patriot League for the second-straight year as well to ESPN The Magazine's Academic All-District squad and to the NABC All-District team. In addition, McNaughton also earned his second-straight Patriot League All-Tournament team nod as the Bison capped off the first perfect League season in (14-0) Patriot League history.
The Patriot League's career leader in field-goal percentage (61.1 percent), McNaughton led the League and finished ranked 24th nationally with a 57.8 field-goal percentage last year. McNaughton will enter the 2006-07 campaign 37th all-time and the active Patriot League scoring leader with 1,158 points. His 12.8 ppg last season ranked him eighth overall in scoring in the League.
McNaughton is the third two-time Patriot League Men's Basketball Scholar-Athlete of the Year recipient, and first since former-Bison Dan Blankenship took home back-to-back honors in 2001-02. The first two-time winner was also from Bucknell, Valter Karavanic, who garnered back-to-back awards in 1999-00.
The biggest moment in McNaughton's young career came two seasons ago, when the Bison became the first-ever Patriot League team to win a game in the NCAA Tournament, as the second-year McNaughton hit the game-winning hook shot against Kansas in the first round in 2005.
McNaughton averaged 14.7 ppg in the Patriot League Tournament last season, and scored a career-high 29 points against No. 4 Villanova on Dec. 6, 2005 in Lewisburg, Pa. and led Bucknell with 15 points against No. 1 Duke on Jan. 2.
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Lafayette's Fran O'Hanlon had left a crack in the door, but yesterday he slammed it shut, withdrawing his name from consideration for the Penn job vacated when Fran Dunphy became the head coach at Temple.
"If the timing had been any different, who knows? Penn was certainly one of the places I would at least listen to. But after thinking about it, I just think this is what's right. Believe me, I've had a lot of sleepless nights lately. It wasn't easy, by any means. Penn is a great university, a great program. At the same time, I feel a sense of loyalty to the people at Lafayette. And now that we can give out scholarships, I think there's more to accomplish here. But I'm honored and flattered that the people at Penn thought enough of me to call and ask if I'd be interested."
The Daily News says Lehigh's Billy Taylor "remains very much in the picture."
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In today's Philly Daily News, reports that Fran O'Hanlon has agreed to talk to Penn about its vacant head coaching job.
If O'Hanlon is as sure he is staying at Lafayette as some reports out of the Lehigh Valley have said he is, why even bother?
Story also says the name of Lehigh coach Billy Taylor continues to come up in connection with the Penn job.
Taylor was also mentioned as a candidate to replace Jeff Capel at Virginia Commonwealth, but the Gainsville Sun reports this morning that VCU will announce the hiring of Florida assistant Anthony Grant at a press conference this morning at 11.
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In the Daily Pennsylvanian's latest installment on Penn's search for a new coach, the paper speculates that some coaches might be more interested in the job than they are saying in public, including Lafayette's Fran O'Hanlon.
Says the Pennsylvanian:
Those close to the search, however, say that both O'Hanlon and (Brown coach Glen) Miller may be more interested in the Penn job than their statements imply.
They do not want to appear eager to leave their current schools if they don't get the Penn job. Moreover, they do not want current and potential recruits to worry about their coach leaving.
The Pennsylvanian also calls Lehigh's Billy Taylor "one of, if not the, favorite" for the job.
Taylor's name also continue to be linked to the Virginia Commonwealth job, though the Richmond Times-Dispatch is not calling Anthony Grant, associate head coach at the University of Florida the frontrunner there.
American coach Jeff Jones' name had previously been mentioned as a possibility, but he is not on the paper's latest list.
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Less than a week after identifying American's Jeff Jones as a candidate to replace Jeff Capel at Virginia Commonwealth, the Richmond Times-Dispatch has added Billy Taylor to the list.
Taylor's name seems to come up for almost every job that opens at a mid-major lately. Just who the Times-Dispatch's sources might be is an interesting question, since VCU has indicated it will wait until it hires a new athletic director to make a coaching hire and that process is not yet complete.
It would be likely that the new A.D. might come in with a list of candidates quite different from the list in the T-D newsroom.
ON THE PENN FRONT: Terry Toohey of the Delaware County Times has his list of candidates for the Penn job and either Toohey knows something nobody else knows, or he has not been paying attention. He still includes Siena's Fran McCaffery on his list, even though pretty much everyone else on the Penn beat has reported he has re-upped at Siena and has no escape clause in the new deal that would allow him to go to Penn. McCaffery himself has said in absolute terms he is staying at Siena and has been quoted supporting Taylor for the job.
Of course Toohey also is hyping former Lehigh coach Dave Duke, who has been an assistant at Penn since being forced out at Lehigh years ago for not winning, as the guy for the job. That alone makes his judgment questionable to folks who remember Duke's Lehigh teams.
After two winning seasons in his first three years, with talent inherited from McCaffery, who once was Lehigh's coach, too, Duke who started digging the hole that Sal Mentesana couldn't climb out of, eventually bringing about the Taylor hiring. In Duke's last four years, all in the Patriot League, where theoretically he should have had an easier go than in the old East Coast Conference, Duke's Lehigh teams went 29-79.
An by the way, is that Penn-Lehigh relationship a little incestuous? Didn't Lehigh's new football coach come from Penn? Do the two schools have a working agreement like minor league teams have with major league teams?
The Inquirer also reports that former Penn assistant Gil Jackson, who is now at Howard, has pulled his name out of the hunt at Penn. The Inquirer, in a separate story, also adds the names of Mike Jarvis and former Penn State coach (and current West Virginia assistant) Jerry Dunn to the list of Penn candidates.
Let us be the first to say that Dunn would be a poor choice. Dunn is one of those guys who makes a tremendous assistant, but just doesn't translate into a good head coach.
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A quick note for the Holy Cross old-timers who remember a guy named Larry Westbrook, a three-time letter winner in the early 80s. Westbrook wasn't a big scorer, but he led the 'Saders in assists in 1983 and 1984 and in steals in '84.
His son, though, is reportedly a true scorer. As a senior at the Winchendon School in Mass., Larry Westbrook Jr. averaged 18 points per game. Before prepping at Winchendon, he was the nation's top prep scorer, averaging 40 points per game at Chandler H.S. in Arizona, where he scored over 40 points in 14 of 22 games, including a 57-point showing in one contest, en route to a state season scoring record.
There is no doubt about his athletic pedigree. His dad played D-1 ball, his cousin is Brian Westbrook, the Philadelphia Eagles running back.
The kid also has a 3.7 at Winchendon.
Before the Purple faithful get too excited, we should reveal where we found this information. It came from a story in the St. Paul Pioneer Press about the kid signing with Minnesota.
From the sounds of things, he might not have exactly been a Holy Cross kind of kid.
The Pioneer Press story says there were "published reports that Westbrook had problems in Arizona" and he is also reportedly "wired for buckets", which hardly would make him a match for Ralph Willard's defensepfirst approach.
The fact that he originally committed to Memphis sort of signals that he might not be a Patriot League kid in ways other than just his "blue chip" athletic prowess. His 3.7 GPA came at a school that bills itself as being for students who "have good academic promise but may not have fully realized their potential."
That academic emphasis is so strong that kids there actually attend classes from 7:50 a.m. to 12:40 p.m. before knocking off for a mandatory two-hour athletics period, followed by what is called a "conference" period.
Interestingly, the kid's coach back in Arizona told the Pioneer Press Westbrook was "a hard worker" with "a good attitude."
"I think his dad just wanted more national exposure," said Ellsworth, who coached Chandler to a 10-16 record during his first season with Westbrook in 2004-05. "We got along fine. He just had a lot of young kids on the team and he didn't have much confidence in them."
Maybe absence really does make the heart grow fonder. Back when Westbrook was breaking all those scoring records, Albuquerque Tribune writer Jeff Carlton spoke to the coach about Westbrook, who was apparently on the New Mexico Lobos' recruiting radar at the time.
"No assists and no rebounds," Mike Ellsworth said. "All he does is shoot. So you'll have a ball hog on your hands."
Then I asked Ellsworth if Westbrook was a junior or a senior.
"He's a junior," Ellsworth said. "But you can have him this year."
Carlton later wrote that Larry Westbrook Sr. told him the coach was wrong about those numbers. Dad said his son had 9.5 rebounds, six assists and three steals per game. Dad also said he had a 3.7 GPA.
Just us, or do others wonder about the coincidence of that GPA being the exact same number as the Pioneer Press says he has at Winchendon. At the very least it makes us wonder two things: 1) If he had a 3.7 in Arizona, why a remedial sort of prep school and 2) Just who was the Pioneer Press' source for his current GPA?
Here is a quote from Westbrook Jr. from the Arizona Republic story on his final game, when he secured his state single season scoring record with 43 points in a 79-68 loss:
"A lot of people didn't want to see me get this," he said. "I even had teachers tell other people that I'm a ball hog and I'm a selfish player. I dedicate it to all the students and all the teachers who hated me and didn't want to see me get it."
By the way, Chandler was 10-15 that season. We don't know much about Arizona H.S. ball, but most places we have been, it is pretty unusual for a team to have a guy scoring 40 points per game and a losing record.
You'll notice that record indicates Chandler player 25 games, while Westbrook's stats reflect 22. That discrepancy is apparently due to Westbrook having been suspended after being thrown out of a game after two technicals for throwing elbows.
There is no doubt the kid is a player. And although he is a little undersized, there are those who think he could play in the NBA some day.
Patriot League schools don't get those kinds of kids unless their legal guardians teach at the school.
In today's Express-Times Lafayette's Fran O'Hanlon tells Ed Laubach he is "at least 99 percent" certain he is staying at Lafayette.
"I'd like to help Penn, but I'm committed here. I want Penn to get a good coach. I love the place. It's a great spot in a great city," O'Hanlon said, adding that it is not about money.
Still, he continues to leave the door open, saying if Penn A.D. Steve Bilsky called he would probably at least listen to what Bilsky has to say.
Meanwhile, acorss the way in Bethlehem, Laubach reports that Lehigh coach Billy Taylor still won't return calls, but issed a statement through the school saying he has not applied for the Penn job and has not asked to be interviewed.
Nah, but the Patriot League is going to Xavier, or at least two teams that should be among the PL's best next season. The Cincinnati Enquirer reports Xavier will host both American and Bucknell next season. The story says Bucknell is a one-game deal with no return visit to Lewisburg.
In today's Morning Call, columnist Gordie Jones writes about the possibility of Lehigh coach Billy Taylor being a candidate for the now-vacant Penn job.
According to Jones, Taylor's name seemed far down the list early in the week, but seems to gain some momentum. What makes Jones think so?
The Daily Pennsylvanian, Penn's student newspaper, reported Wednesday that several "big supporters" of Quaker basketball are lobbying for Taylor. The paper said McCaffery is among the most vocal of those, and that he "has Bilsky's ear."
Gordie . . . Pal . . . Buddy -- you could have written that column two weeks ago if you read Hoop Time.
Anyhow, McCaffery tells Jones that he thinks Taylor will be talking to Penn A.D. Steve Bilsky about the job and calls Taylor "a perfect fit" for the job.
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The Richmond Times-Dispatch updates its list of candidates for the Virginia Commonwealth job in today's edition, adding names to the list it speculated about yesterday.
Included in today's story, comment from American coach Jeff Jones, who certainly does not rule out leaving AU:
"If there is some interest from VCU, I'd be willing to cross that bridge when the time comes," said Jones, who has been at American for six years.
One of the names added to the Times-Dispatch's list is Randolph-Macon's Mike Rhoades, who was a Division 3 All-American point guard for current Bucknell head coach Pat Flannery at Lebanon Valley. Rhoades was the leader of Flannery's 1994 D3 National Championship team.
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In today's Richmond Times-Dispatch, American coach Jeff Jones is mentioned as a possible replacement for Jeff Capel at Virginia Commonwealth. Capel left the Colonial Athletic Conference school to replace Kelvin Sampson at Oklahoma after Sampson took the Indiana job.
Don't expect any hire for this job soon though. VCU is also looking for a new AD and will wait until they make that hire to allow the new AD hire the new hoops coach.
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With Temple finally making the hiring of now-former Penn coach Fran Dunphy to replace the retired John Chaney, folks in Philly and around the Ivy League are busy playing the "Who will replace Dunphy" game.
Among the names mentioned frequently are three with Patriot League ties; Lafayette's Fran O'Hanlon, Lehigh's Billy Taylor and former Lehigh head coach Dave Duke, who has been an assistant to Dunphy.
Duke had a 33-47 record in Patriot League games (62-104 overall) at Lehigh. Those numbers are for the years the then Engineers were in the Patriot League. Duke also coached Lehigh to an 18-12 record in his first season, 1989-90, before Lehigh joined the league. Duke followed that with a 19-10 record the first PL season, but that was his last winning season.
According to the Daily Pennsylvanian, when asked if he would be joining Dunphy's staff at Temple, Duke replied, "I'd like to be a candidate for the job at Penn."
The Philadelphia Inquirer says Duke, and Cornell head coach Steve Donahue, who was a Dunphy assistant for 10 years, have been promised interviews, though the Daily Pennsylvanian claims its sources say Duke is not a serious candidate.
O'Hanlon also was a Dunphy assistant and has been linked to the Penn job ever since Dunphy was courted by LaSalle two years ago. In today's Morning Call, Dunphy tells Andre Williams, "I don't foresee myself going anywhere."
But he does not exactly slam the door closed on the possibility, adding, "If they call me, because of my respect for Penn, would I talk to them? I would not be arrogant enough, because it's Penn, that I would not listen to what they'd have to say. That doesn't mean I'd go down there, but it's more because Penn gave me an opportunity.
"But I can almost guarantee you that this is where I'm going to be."
In his story, Williams translates that into O'Hanlon is staying at Lafayette. Andre sees the Leopards' glass half-full.
O'Hanlon has the security of a 10-year deal at Lafayette that runs through 2014, and now the Leopards have scholarships. Had the trustees not voted to allow scholarships, it would be far more likely O'Hanlon would be headed back to Philly.
But here is the half-empty view, if for no other reason than to play devil's advocate. O'Hanlon's statements leave an opening wide enough to drive a moving van through. If he has no interest whatsoever in the job, it would be easy enough to say "I have tremendous respect for Penn, but I am not interested in the job." That would not be arrogant, just definite.
After all, nobody is calling Penn grad Fran McCaffery, another former Dunphy assistant who is now head coach at Siena, arrogant for saying, "I will be Siena's coach next year."
It could be O'Hanlon is leaving the door open as leverage for a better package at Lafayette. It could also be that he is downplaying the possibility of leaving because he is scrambling to sign his first scholarship recruiting class and does not want to hurt recruiting since even if he goes after the Penn job, he might not get it.
But as long s the door is left ajar, no matter how slightly, the possibility remains for a Godfather deal.
In some ways, O'Hanlon's comments remind us of a press conference a few weeks ago in Dallas. After losing to Texas in the second round of the NCAA Tournament, then North Carolina State coach Herb Sendek was asked if he could definitely end speculation that he might be seeking other jobs.
Sendek downplayed it, saying, "I don't know the source of that speculation. I've never commented about any job speculation as long as I've been at N.C. State."
Some papers covering the Wolfpack interpreted that as Sendek was not going to leave.
Three weeks later Sendek was introduced as Arizona State's new coach.
We have discussed Taylor's connection to Penn before. Thus far the Philly media has mentioned him only in passing, listing Taylor among other names that have been mentioned, so it is tough to gauge how serious a candidate he might be.
For now, suffice to say after weeks of writing about the possibility of Dunphy taking the Temple job, Philly hoops writers like Mike Kern of the Daily News and the Inquirer's Kevin Tatum will now turn their attention to speculation about his replacement.
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As you might have expected, Charles Lee and Kevin Bettencourt headlined the list of award winners at Bucknell's banquet Sunday. The two seniors shared the team's MVP and leadership awards. Bettencourt's parents won the Backcourt Club Award given each year to a friend of the program.
Temple has scheduled a 3 p.m. news conference today, during which the North Philadelphia school is expected to make official what everyone has been saying for weeks: Fran Dunphy will leave Penn to become the Owls new head coach.
In addition to the Philadelphia Inquirer link above, the Dunphy hiring is also being reported by the Philly Daily News, the AP and the Daily Pennsylvanian, which reports Dunphy spoke in the past tense a lot during the Quakers' team banquet Sunday night.
Once Dunphy's departure becomes officials, expect a flurry of speculation on his successor. Among the names that have already been mentioned are Lafayette coach Fran O'Hanlon, a former Dunphy assistant, and Lehigh coach Billy Taylor, whose ties are less direct (he was an assistant at UNC-Greensboro to former Dunphy assistant Fran McCaffery, the head coach at Siena, and McCaffery reportedly is tight with Penn AD Steve Bilsky).
It will be interesting to see if Penn is able to lure a Patriot League head coach to take a non-scholarship Ivy League job now that the Patriot League has scholarships. On the surface, it would seem like a step backwards. But Penn's national profile, the lure of Philly's legendary Big Five, and Penn's rumored deep pockets might make the job awfully attractive, especially to O'Hanlon, who is a Philly guy born and bred.
A lucractive five-year contract could set O'Hanlon, who will be 58 in August, up for retirement. That was part of what lured former Bucknell coach Charlie Woollum from Lewisburg years ago when he took the job at his alma mater, William and Mary -- retirement security and a chance to go back home.
Our comments yesterday about Lehigh's awards banquet brought a torrent of e-mail from indignant Mountain Hawks fans.
We weren't surprised to get e-mails about that post. We did find it interesting that none of the e-mails defended Lehigh's handling of the Joe Knight situation.
Instead, they were full of righteous indignation about our comments on the Sixth Man Award being given to the guys who paint LEHIGH on their chests for every game.
Here's a quick sample:
"lehigh 6th man award is given to a person outside of the team. a thirty second search of the lehigh website shows that past recipients include mike staggnita (sports info) and andrea legg (trainer)" Writes firstname.lastname@example.org, a courageous soul with a phony e-mail address who doesn't let a broken shift key get in his way.
"Lehigh's 6th man of the year award never goes to a player. It recognizes someone not on the team, suchjas a trainer or media relations person, who have won the last 2 awards. But then again, you just interpret the information so you can take a shot at Lehigh." wrote a reader with what looks like a real lehigh.edu address
Forgive us for not searching the archives to see who else has won Lehigh's Sixth Man Award. Truth be told, we really didn't care who won in the past. Still don't. We just figured we'd take advantage of the opportunity to comment on Lehigh's lack of a quality bench and its lousy attendance numbers.
Kind of reminds us of a joke we once heard: A guy is standing on the corner outside of a bar in Bethlehem cracking jokes about Lehigh. A couple of big dudes decked out in Yellow and Brown walk past just as he tells this one: "Why don't they teach drivers ed and sex ed on the same day at Lehigh? Because it is too much stress on the mules." Well that really makes them mad, so they huff up their chests and walk over to the guy to confront him. "Hey tough guy, we hear you are making Lehigh jokes. We're from Lehigh. Want to tell us some?" they ask. "No thanks buddy," the guy answers. "Why not? Ya chicken," they ask. "No comes the reply. I just don't feel like being here all night explaining the punchlines."
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We were not going to bother linking to it, since team banquets and awards rarely interest us. But then we found the release about Lehigh's banquet, and there was an award there that we could not pass mentioning, so we decided, this year, we will link to banquet releases when we stumble upon them.
What was it about Lehigh's banquet that we could not pass up? Was it Jose Olivero winning Athlete of the Year ahead of senior Joe Knight? Or maybe the Sixth Man award given to the LEHIGH guys, the six students who show up at almost every game sans shirt, spelling Lehigh with brown letters painted on their chest.
That one was interesting in that we did find it telling that the Mountain Hawks had no player worthy of the honor. Or at least not more worthy than the guys who most nights make up about half of the student attendance in Stabler (not counting cheerleaders and pep band).
No, here is the one that made us just have to link:
Senior Joe Knight was named the Scholar-Athlete of the Year. The Scholar-Athlete award goes to the student-athlete who in the eyes of his/her teammates exemplifies the ideal of the scholar-athlete. Knight earned a 3.11 grade point average in the fall 2005 semester, while working through adversity on and off the court . . .
We can almost see the T-shirt now: "My school's administrators screwed up and cost me half my senior season and all I got was this lousy trophy."
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The Patriot League Friday finally made official Lehigh's forfeiture of 13 games from the 2004-2005 season in which Joe Knight played.
Knight's individual records, including his 45-point game against Colgate in the league tournament, will stand, but Billy Taylor's coaching record will be adjusted to reflect the forfeited games.
As has been the case throughout this saga, Lehigh continues to refuse to acknowledge any wrongdoing or to apologize to the league, or more importantly, to Knight, who lost half his senior season thanks to the actions of athletic department officials.
Lehigh spokesman Jeff Tourial, in an AP story, says "We misinterpreted an NCAA rule."
It is wonderful PR for a league that basked in the glow of all those nice stories about Bucknell and the league's academics during the NCAA TOurnament. You can almost hear the Memphis fans snickering, eh?
The question the print media has ignored from day one of this whole mess is how a rule that seems pretty clear could be "misinterpreted." We have writted more than enough about this whole affair throughout the season. Rather than rehash it, here are a few links to some of our season-long coverage.
Adam May, a Holy Cross recruit, has been named boys basketball Player of the Year for Lake and Geauga counties by the Cleveland Plain Dealer. May averaged 23 points and 9 boards as a senior.
The Plain Dealer's scouting report reads like this:
Opposing defenses became more and more committed to stopping May, but they couldn't deal with his vast offensive repertoire. May's shooting range extends to 25 feet. He scores in post-up situations and in transition. He constantly drew fouls on drives to the basket, and made 82 percent of his free throws.
You are showing your age if you remember when Jean Prioleau played in the Patriot League. A two-time second-team All-Patriot pick, Prioleau helped the Rams to two Patriot League titles, including one in the first season of league play (1990-91) when he his a three-pointer at the buzzer of Fordham's 84-81 overtime win over Holy Cross.
Why do we bring up Prioleau's name after all these years? Because Friday he was named to Greg McDermott's staff at Iowa State. Wondering where Prioleau has been all those years? It's all here in the press release on his hiring.
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Maggie Dixon, who coached the Army women's basketball team to its first-ever appearance in the NCAA Tournament, died Thursday after suffering what her brother, Pittsburgh men's coach Jamie Dixon, called an "arrhythmic episode to her heart."
The Associated Press reports died at Dixon died Thursday at 3:10 p.m. at the Westchester Medical Center, where she had been taken Wednesday after collapsing at the home of a friend.
According to the Times Herald-Record, Dixon was taken to Keller Army Community Hospital at West Point after she collapsed, then transferred to Westchester Medical Center.
Bucknell coach Pat Flannery has won the 2006 Hugh Durham Award, poresented to the nation's top mid-major coach.
Flannery, who received nine first place votes from the 20-voter panel, had 65 points. George Mason’s Jim Larranaga and Wichita State’s Mark Turgeon tied for second with 32 points each. The voting was completed on March 12, prior to the start of the NCAA tournament.
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Rounding out Nickelberry's staff: Hartford assistant Chris Pompey and Brian Merritt, the director of basketball operations at Louisville.
Nickelberry says Hilliard, Merritt and himself are coaches from "the Pitino Family Tree," which of course includes Willard, who was a Pitino assistant with New York Knicks and at Kentucky.
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With the Final Four in the rear view mirror, the folks in Philly have resumed the Who will replace Fran Dunphy game if he takes the Temple job. Kevin Tatum of the Philadelphia Inquirer rounds up the usual suspects, beginning with Lafayette's Fran O'Hanlon.
Tatum's top four also includes current Penn assistant Dave Duke. Folks who remember Duke's teams when he was head coach at Lehigh have to scratch their heads at that suggestion. Current Lehigh coach Billy Taylor is on Tatum's "others worth a look" list.
"I like it right where I am at and my family likes it here. Besides, they have a coach."
O'Hanlon also says the Leopards have one commitment thus far for their first scholarship recruiting class. As Blake points out, most scholarship quality kids sign before their senior season these days, so the full impact of scholarships at Lafayette won't start to kick in for their recruiting until this summer, when they go after next year's high school seniors.
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The Bison finished fourth in the final Mid-Major Top 25, dropping from the No. 2 spot they held at the end of the regular season.
It was not so much a case of the Bison falling from grace as it was an uptick for George Mason and Wichita State, which both impressed in the NCAA Tournament. George Mason moved up from No. 5 to claim the top spot, grabbing 26 of the 31 first place votes. Gonzaga got the other five first place votes (what a crock, eh?) to finish second after holding the top spot all season.
Third was Wichita State, which lost in the Sweet 16 to GMU.
Holy Cross received one vote in the others receiving category.
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The Bison are the first Patriot League ever to be ranked in the final poll of a season. Earlier this season they became the first league team to make an appearance in the Top 25 when they were voted No. 24 in the Feb. 13 poll.
The ranking caps a season in which Bucknell received votes in the poll in all 19 weeks of the voting.
It will be interesting to see where the Bison finish in the final Mid-Majors Top 25. That poll was expected to be released today, but as of 8:38 p.m. has not been posted. The Bison were ranked No. 2 in the final Mid-Major Top 25 of the regular season, behind Gonzaga. Conventional wisdom would expect George Mason to claim the top spot after their run to the Final Four. The Patriots were ranked No. 8 in the final coaches poll, Gonzaga was 10th. Two other mid-majors made the final coaches top 25, Wichita State (21), and Bradley (24).
The final AP poll is also due out, but has not yet been released.
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Just like the championship game, in the end, the Hoop Time Bracket Challenge wasn't even close.
TThomas blitzed the field, piling up 157 points to easily outdistance runner-up Steve, who finished with 113 points. TThomas' domination was so complete, he would have won easily even without upset bonus points. After correctly picking Florida to win it all, he finished with 134 "regular" points. The 23 bonus points for upsets picked along the way were just icing on the cake.
Last place went to Kevin, who finished with 44 points, 7 behind next-to-last finisher johnny.
Congratulations TThomas and johnny. Please shoot us an e-mail with your address so we can get you your prizes.
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Just like the tournament itself, the 2006 version of the Hoop Time Bracket Challenge has come down to two entries vying for all the marbles when Florida meets UCLA Monday night.
Current leader TThomas has 124 points, and will win the contest if Florida wins the title, as he has predicted from the start.
But despite TThomas' 29-point lead over Bill H., the guy currently in seventh place, Bill H. can still pull out a win in the Bracket Challenge is UCLA wins Monday. Bill H. currently has 95 points.
A Florida win in the final will be worth 33 points (32 plus one bonus point for a 3 beating a 2). UCLA will bring 32 points to anybody who has the Bruins.
Best we can tell from a quick scan of the 55 entries, they are the only two who have picked UCLA or Florida to win in the final. It is possible we missed someone else who has picked one of those two to win it all, but if so, it would be someone more than 32 points behind the leader TThomas, so it would not matter anyhow.
At the other end of the standings, Kevin has clinched last place with 44 points, 7 behind No. 54 johnny. To add a little insult to injury, Kevin, who had Duke, North Carolina, Kansas and Ohio State for his Final Four, is 26 points behind first round leader imaputz, a "novelty" entry that picked every lower seed all the way through, except for Bucknell, who imaputz had winning it all (beating the play-in winner in the title game). Imaputz didn't pick up a point after the second round, yet still managed to score 70, better than 26 folks who actually put a lot of thought into their brackets.
For Kevin, we offer this glimmer of hope: Last year, Brother of Hoop Time SteveC. was awarded the Kansas postseason media guide for finishing dead last. This season he looks to finish fourth and actually held the lead going into the Sunday of Elite Eight weekend, when his beloved Villanova Wildcats went south, a loss that was the ruin of many a poor boy in the house of the Hoop Time Bracket Challenge.
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