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Sunday, August 01, 2004

LaSalle Men's Head Coaching Search -- All is Quiet

The July recruiting period is now over, so perhaps there is no huge hurry for LaSalle to go out and ink their new men's head basketball coach. The Phila. papers have been rather silent, and the last speculation was that the Explorers were interested in Maine head coach John Giannini, who did a great job in the Phila. area when coaching Division III Rowan College to national prominence about 5 years ago.

But all has been rather silent since the announcement that Billy Hahn resigned. First Joe Mihalich, a former LaSalle assistant, now the Niagara head coach, took his name out of the running. Next, Fran O'Hanlon, a Villanova alum and the head coach at Lafayette, took his name out of the running and signed a 10-year extension -- to continue at the only Patriot League school that doesn't give scholarships (see one of my posts within the past week on Lafayette). Next, it looked like LaSalle alum Fran Dunphy, the Penn head coach, is no longer in the running because he wanted, rumor had it, to be named head coach and athletic director as well. And LaSalle already has an A.D.

SportsProf posted previously about LaSalle alums who are assistants at major college programs (including Kurt Kanaskie and Jeff Neubauer), and perhaps the LaSalle administration is looking past its alums to others with connections to Philadelphia.

Okay, so if they're looking to do so, then at whom might they be looking:

1. Walt Fuller, a Drexel alum, who is an assistant to Pete Gillen at UVA. Gillen is a fine man, but his programs have been lackluster as of late, and at one point it was rumored that UVA was considering a buyout. Fuller has been an assistant for a while, and he has the requisite Phila. connection.

2. Geoff Arnold, a Drexel assistant, played at St. Joseph's, and he assists the formidable Bruiser Flint, who had the misfortunate of succeeding John Calipari at UMass. Drexel has fared pretty well in an underrated Colonial Athletic Association, and Drexel's performance could draw Arnold a look.

3. St. Joe's asst Monte Ross. Now that top assistant Matt Brady got his head coaching job (replacing Phila. native Dave Magarity at Marist), it's probably Ross's turn to get some attention for one. St. Joe's has had a very hot hand in the past 5 years, and Ross (I believe) is a St. Joe's graduate. It's hard to get into a lot of credibility problems if you hire a Phil Martelli assistant.

4. Temple assistant Dan Leibovitz. A Penn alum, John Chaney's top assistant, great Philadelphia ties, Leibovitz will be a head coach somewhere some day.

5. I'd also throw East Carolina's Bill Herrion into the mix. He hasn't had the success at East Carolina that he did at Drexel (when he had an undersized center named Malik Rose and coached the Dragons to 25 wins a year). Herrion could be interested in returning to Philadelphia.

It's a hard group to fathom. SportsProf still would make Neubauer the favorite, as it's hard to see the attraction to Giannini (who hasn't gotten the Maine Black Bears to the NCAA tournament yet in league that should be up for grabs), and it's also hard to see the attraction to anyone with a St. Joe's tie (old rivalries die hard). That would leave Leibovitz, Herrion and Neubauer (unless UNC Greensboro's Fran McCaffery, a Penn alum and Phila. native who went to LaSalle HS, would be interested in returning to his hometown).

That's still a pretty good pool.

And the LaSalle administration should jump into its deep end very soon, so that they can begin restoring the lustre to their proud basketball tradition.


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