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Sunday, August 08, 2004

Olympic Hoops, LaSalle, Philadelphia Eagles, Penn

No, this isn't a Karnak (or was it Carnac?) the Great riddle, just four topics to addres briefly on a Sunday morning.

1. U.S. Men's Basketball Team. A Peja-less Serbia-Montenegro team, the defending world champions, were just what the doctor ordered for the U.S. team. This is relatively old news, but I wanted to make the point that the reason so many of us came down so hard on U.S.A. Basketball is that we thought that outside Tim Duncan, Carlos Boozer and Amare Stoudemire, the other 9 guys are basically the same player at different sizes -- gifted, athletic slashers. I am still worried that in the Olympics Team USA will run into a hot-shooting, zone defending team that gives it fits. And, one game does not a trend make. Still, Larry Brown (and Stu Jackson for that matter) has to be happy about this convincing win. Certain pundits (drive-time radio types on local stations who don't like anything that Allen Iverson has become the face of) predict that this team won't win a medal. Perhaps they're prescient, but then riddle me this: name the three teams that will win the medals instead of Team U.S.A.? I don't think you can.

2. LaSalle Coaching Job. There's a good local Phila. area columnist named Tom Sielski who has reported that as part of the offer LaSalle made to Fran Dunphy, Dunphy would not have to report to the Athletic Director but would be reporting to someone else, presumably the university's president. If that's the case, say it ain't so -- both LaSalle and Fran Dunphy. LaSalle shouldn't let any coach rise about the authority of the athletic department. That sets an awful precedent. And, if Dunphy really has insisted upon it, then perhaps he isn't the absolutely great, magnanimous guy he has appeared to be. No coach should insist upon this type of reporting relationship, as no coach should be bigger than the school he is going to be a part of. If this is true, then it does make you wonder whether both Penn A.D. Steve Bilsky and LaSalle A.D. Tom Brennan are awful bosses or whether Fran Dunphy has a problem with working for anyone.

3. Philadelphia Eagles. How high are expectations in Philadelphia? Well, 25,000 people showed up at the Eagles' training camp in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, about 1 1/2 hours outside Philadelphia, this past Friday. One of the Eagles, whose name escapes me (it probably was DT Darwin Walker), said that the Eagles had more people at training camp this past Friday than the Arizona Cardinals did at regular-season games when he was with the Cardinals. 25,000 people? Expectations are high in Philadelphia. As they are in Baltimore, where approximately 16,000 people showed up one day last week to watch the Ravens practice at the college once known as Western Maryland, which is not all that close to Baltimore. Expectations are high in Crab City as well.

4. The Penn Coaching Job. Should Fran Dunphy leave, the pressure will be on Penn A.D. to make the right choice in a tight time frame. One poster commented that Penn should go with top assistant Gil Jackson, and it's clear that Coach Jackson has paid his dues, bided his time and has made great contributions to the Penn program over the years. The last time Penn anointed a long-time college assistant was, well, in 1989, when they tapped Tom Schneider's top aide, a guy named Dunphy, to take over the top spot (Schneider bolted for Loyola (Md), where he could coach at a scholarship school). The comparisons between 2004 and 1989 are interesting, because Jackson has assisted a (much) more successful coach than Dunphy did (Penn fans don't remember much about the Tom Schneider era as Dunphy has eclipsed his one-time boss). In other words, Jackson's pedigree, having assisted Dunphy for years, is stronger than Dunphy's was in 1989. It's hard to say that the pressure is any greater on the Penn administration now than it was in '89 to pick an excellent coach. In '89, there was always the lingering threat of Princeton, and that threat is there and pronounced given that the Tigers are the defending champs in the Ivies, have a great team coming back, and have a hot, young coach in Joe Scott. The same way Princeton went the current assistant route in 1999 when Bill Carmody left, the safest play for Penn about a month before school starts would be to go the current assistant route too. Unless, of course, they go the former assistant route -- in the names of Steve Donahue or Fran O'Hanlon. Make no mistake about it, there will be plenty of great candidates to choose from, making it hard for Penn to make a bad or wrong choice.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Howard University will name Penn assistant Gil Jackson as its next men's basketball coach, a source close to the search told Thursday.

Jackson was offered and accepted the position.

This is Jackson's first head coaching job in Division I. Jackson, 57, spent 16 years as an assistant under Fran Dunphy at Penn.

Howard finished 5-23 last season, 2-16 in the MEAC.

Howard, located in Washington D.C., is known to be the toughest academic school in the MEAC. Howard was looking for a coach from a strong academic school, something that Jackson obviously fits coming from Penn.

Frankie Allen spent five seasons (52-83) at Howard. Howard won 18 games four seasons ago but then followed that up with 13, six and then five wins. The Bison lost 17 straight games this past season.

Allen was fired on March 9, making this job search the longest in college basketball this spring.

Andy Katz is a senior writer at

9:55 AM  
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8:57 AM  

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