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Former Terp Johnny Rhodes Named ACC Legend

Posted on 09 February 2012 by WNST Staff

Johnny Rhodes Named An ACC Tournament Legend

Former Maryland guard one of 12 players selected to 2012 class

    GREENSBORO, N.C.— Johnny Rhodes, one of the most versatile players in Atlantic Coast Conference history, who helped lead Maryland back to national prominence in the mid-1990’s, has been selected to the 2012 class of ACC Men’s Basketball Tournament Legends.

    The 12-man class was announced Tuesday by Commissioner John Swofford and includes a member of the ACC’s 50th Anniversary basketball team, a National Player of the Year, three former All-Americas, six former All-ACC selections, ten former NBA Draft selections – including six first-round selections – and eight players who combined for 38 years of NBA experience.

    Rhodes, a native of Washington, D.C., is the ACC’s career steals leader and helped Maryland make three NCAA Tournament appearances in his four-year career. He is the only player in ACC history to score over 1,700 points (1,743) with over 700 rebounds (704), 400 assists (437) and 300 steals (344).

    Joining Rhodes in the class are former Wake Forest All-America Randolph Childress (Washington, D.C.), who led the Deacons to the 1995 ACC Championship, and former North Carolina All-America Kenny Smith (Queens, N.Y.), who led the Tar Heels to four straight NCAA Tournament appearances and was named the National Player of the Year by Basketball Times in 1987.

    Also in the class are Boston College’s John Bagley (Stratford, Conn.), who was named a third-team (NABC) All-America in 1982; Clemson’s Sharone Wright (Macon, Ga.), a powerful post player for the Tigers who earned All-ACC honors in 1993 and 1994; Duke’s Kenny Dennard (King, N.C.), one of the key cogs of the Blue Devils 1978 Final Four team who helped lead Duke to ACC titles in 1978 and 1980; Florida State’s James Collins (Jacksonville, Fla), a high-scoring wingman who was a three-time All-ACC selection in 1995, 1996 and 1997; Georgia Tech’s Malcolm Mackey (Chattanooga, Tenn.), a powerful post player who helped lead Georgia Tech to ACC Championships in 1990 and 1993.

    Completing this year’s ACC Legends Class are Miami’s Ron Godfrey (Coral Springs, Fla.), an Honorable Mention All-America forward for the Hurricanes in the 1960’s who also served as head coach for four seasons; NC State’s Todd Fuller (Charlotte, N.C.), a prodigious presence in the paint for the Wolfpack who earned All-ACC honors in 1994, 1995, and 1996; Virginia’s Lee Raker (Louisville, Ky.), a versatile forward who helped lead the Cavaliers to the 1981 NCAA Final Four; and Virginia Tech’s Dale Solomon (Annapolis, Md.), a high-scoring forward who helped lead the Hokies to two NCAA Tournament appearances and one NIT berth.

   The Legends will be honored at this year’s ACC’s Men’s Basketball Tournament at Philips Arena in Atlanta, Ga., March 8-11. They will be feted at the annual ACC Legends Brunch, which will be held Saturday, March 10, beginning at 10 a.m. at the Atlanta Marriott Marquis Hotel, and, later that day, will be introduced to the Philips Arena crowd at halftime of the first semifinal game. Ticket information for the ACC Legends Brunch is available on the ACC website at theACC.com.

   Rhodes (1992-96), the ACC’s career leader in steals, started four seasons for coach Gary Williams at Maryland, leading the Terrapins back to national prominence. An extremely versatile guard who played point or wing guard, Rhodes is the only player in ACC history to score over 1,700 points (1,743) with over 700 rebounds (704), 400 assists (437) and 300 steals (344). He helped the Terrapins post a 73-49 overall record during his four seasons in College Park, including three straight (1994, 95, 96) appearances in the NCAA Tournament. He was named to the 1993 ACC All-Freshman team, then earned 3rd-team All-ACC honors as a junior and 2nd-team All-ACC accolades as a senior in 1996. He still holds the ACC career record for steals per game (2.82), and his 110 steals and 3.7 steals per game in 1996 are still league standards. He totaled 704 rebounds in his career, the third-best mark by an ACC backcourtman, trailing only Georgia Tech’s Bruce Dalrymple (744) and Florida State’s Bob Sura (714). A native of Washington, D.C., Rhodes owns his own construction firm, Rhodes Construction, in the D.C. area, and is working towards starting the Johnny Rhodes Foundation.

   Bagley (1979-82), one of the top playmaking guards in Boston College history, played three seasons for the Eagles for Coach Dr. Tom Davis and led BC to a 64-27 record and one NIT and two NCAA tournament appearances. The first Eagle to earn Big East Player of the Year honors (1980-81), Bagley was an explosive scorer who averaged nearly 18 points per game and led BC in scoring in each of his three seasons at the Heights. A two-time All-Big East selection, he averaged 20.4 points per game in leading the Eagles to the 1980-81 Big East regular-season championship and the NCAA Tournament’s Sweet 16. The following year, Bagley upped his production to 21.1 points per game and led BC to the NCAA Tournament’s Elite Eight. He was named to the NCAA all-tournament teams for both the 1981 Mideast Regional and the 1982 Midwest Regional. Bagley left BC after his junior season and was the 12th overall pick in the first round by the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 1982 NBA Draft. He enjoyed an 11-year career in the NBA for the Cavaliers, the New Jersey Nets, the Boston Celtics and the Atlanta Hawks. Inducted into the Boston College Varsity Club Athletic Hall of Fame in 1995, he currently resides in Stratford, Conn., and is working to reintroduce athletics into the middle school system of his hometown, Bridgeport, Conn.

   Wright (1991-94), a dominating 6-11 presence in the low post for the teams of Coach Cliff Ellis in the early 1990’s, still ranks 5th on the ACC’s career list for blocked shots per game (3.13). An Honorable Mention All-America (AP) in 1994, he was one of 20 nominees for the Naismith Award that year. He led the ACC in blocked shots in 1992 and 1993 and finished 3rd in 1994. He ranked 6th on the Clemson career list for rebounds and 4th in rebounds per game. He still holds the Clemson single-season record for blocked shots (124) and was the only player in the ACC to average in double figures in points and rebounds in both 1994 and 1995. Named a Freshman All-America by Basketball Weekly in 1992, he was named a 3rd-team All-ACC selection in 1993 and 2nd-team honors in 1994. As a member of the U.S. team which participated in the 1993 World Games, he shot 73 percent from the field and averaged 10 points a game in leading the U.S. to the gold medal. He was the first Clemson player to declare early for the NBA Draft and was the 6th overall selection on the first round of the 1994 draft by the Philadelphia 76’ers. He played five seasons in the NBA with Philadelphia and Toronto and was named to the 1994-95 NBA All-Rookie team. His NBA career was cut short by a severe auto accident early in his fifth professional season. Wright currently resides in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., where he is involved in various basketball coaching projects.

   Dennard (1978-81), a versatile 6-8 forward who was effective inside or outside for the Duke teams of Bill Foster and Mike Krzyzewski of the late 1970’s and early ‘80s, helped lead Duke to the 1978 NCAA Final Four and two ACC Championships in 1978 and 1980. Dennard helped the Blue Devils compile a 90-37 record in his four seasons in Durham, including three NCAA Tournament appearances and one NIT berth. He was named to the 1978 ACC All-Tournament second team in his freshman season. Dennard played three seasons for Bill Foster (1978-80) and one for Mike Krzyzewski and was named team captain in his senior season. Drafted in the 4th round of the 1981 NBA Draft by Kansas City, he played three seasons in the NBA for Kansas City (1982-83) and Denver (1984). He finished his career shooting 51.3 percent from the field and is one of seven Duke players who have totaled over 1,000 points (1,057), 650 rebounds (671) and 200 assists (232) in his career. A native of King, N.C., Dennard is the managing partner at Dennard, Rupp, Gray and Lascar, an investor relations firm based in Houston, Texas. He will be a 30-year cancer survivor this coming September and has served on the Coaches vs. Cancer National Council since 1996. He has been married to his high school sweetheart, Nadine, for 27 years and they have a son, Mason (17).

    Collins (1993-97), a high-scoring wing guard for the Florida State teams of Pat Kennedy, was a three-time All-ACC honoree. Collins was named 3rd-team All-ACC in 1995 and 1996 and garnered 2nd-team honors as a senior in 1997. That year he led Florida State to a 20-12 record and to the finals of the National Invitation Tournament (NIT) where they lost to Michigan. He completed his career as the third leading scorer in school history with 1,793 points. He also still ranks in the FSU all-time Top 10 for field goals (645), field goal attempts, three-point field goals made (255) and three-point field goals attempted (686) and made 37.1 percent of his shots from three-point range. Collins was drafted as the 36th overall pick by the Philadelphia 76ers in the 2nd round of the 1997 NBA Draft. He played one season in the NBA with the Los Angeles Clippers (1998) and spent one year (1999) in the Continental Basketball Association (CBA) before playing professionally nine seasons in Europe. A native of Jacksonville, Fla., he currently is the head basketball coach at his high school alma mater, Andrew Jackson High School in Jacksonville.

   Mackey (1990-93), Georgia Tech’s all-time leading rebounder who was a low post force for the Jackets both offensively and defensively, helped lead the Tech to a four-year record of 87-43 which included four NCAA Tournament appearances. Mackey completed his career with 1,205 rebounds, a total which ranks 11th-best in ACC history. He also had 199 career blocked shots, which ranks 26th on the ACC career list.  Mackey was named 2nd-team All-ACC in 1993 and 3rd-team All-ACC  in 1992. An Honorable Mention All-America in 1993 by United Press International, he was also a 2nd-team All-District in 1993 by the NABC. Mackey remains Tech’s career leader in rebounds (1,205), games played (130) and games started (127). He was named to the ACC All-Tournament teams in 1990 (3rd team) and 1992 (2nd team). He is the only Tech player to start for two ACC championship teams (1990,1993). The 27th overall pick in the first-round of the 1993 NBA Draft by the Phoenix Suns, he played one season in the NBA and 11 seasons professionally in the CBA, Europe, China and Puerto Rico. A native of Chattanooga, Tenn., he currently is the Internet Sales Manager at Hennessey GMC Buick and is also serving as a landlord for several properties in McDonough, Ga.

   Godfrey (1958-61), one of the finest forwards to play at Miami, was an honorable mention All-America as a senior in 1961. He finished his career ranked in the Top Ten in seven career categories in the Miami record book including 7th in points (1,384), 7th in field goals made (518), 6th in free throws made (384) and 7th in rebounds (767). Godfrey’s totals of 159 free throws made and 207 free throws attempted in 1960 still rank 5th and 6th in the Hurricane career lists. His total of 22 made free throws against Oklahoma City in 1960 is still tied with Rick Barry for the most made in a game by a Miami player. For his career, he averaged 17.5 points a game. Playing alongside former Miami All-America Dick Hickox, Godfrey helped lead the Hurricanes to their first-ever NCAA tournament bid in 1960 as the Canes finished with a sparkling 23-4 record. In his senior year, Godfrey led Miami to a 20-7 mark and a berth in the National Invitation Tournament. In his three varsity seasons, Godfrey helped the Hurricanes to a 61-18 record. As a coach, he guided Miami for four seasons, leading the Hurricanes to championships in the 1967 Hurricane Classic and the 1968 Marshall Tournament and was inducted into the Miami Sports Hall of Fame in 1988. A native of Martins Ferry, Ohio, he now resides in Coral Springs, Fla.

   Smith (1983-87), one of the top point guards in North Carolina basketball history, Smith ended his career second in ACC history only to Wake Forest’s Muggsy Bogues in career assists with 768, averaging 6.1 per for each of his 127 career games. His assist total still ranks ninth on the ACC’s career list.  Coached by the legendary Dean Smith, he helped lead North Carolina to a 115-19 record during his four varsity seasons. Smith also helped North Carolina to four consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances, reaching the Elite Eight in both 1985 and 1987. He was named the National Player of the Year by Basketball Times in 1987 and also earned consensus first-team All-America honors that year. He was a 2nd-team All-ACC honoree in 1985 and 1986 and earned first-team honors as a senior in 1987. The 6th pick in the first round of the 1987 NBA Draft by the Sacramento Kings, he played 11 seasons in the NBA for Sacramento, Atlanta, Houston, Detroit, Orlando and Denver. A member of the 1988 NBA All-Rookie team while with Sacramento, he was a part of two NBA Championship squads (1994, 1995) while with the Houston Rockets. He scored 9,397 points (12.9 avg.), grabbed 1,424 rebounds (2.0 avg.) and passed out 4,073 assists (5.5 avg.) during his NBA career. In 1998, he joined Turner Sports and has since served as a basketball TV analyst for Turner Sports, NBA TV and CBS-TV for the NBA and for the NCAA Basketball Tournament. A native of Queens, N.Y. who attended Archbishop Molloy High School, he now resides in Atlanta, Ga.

   Fuller (1992-96), a strong low-post presence for the NC State teams of coach Les Robinson in the mid-1990s, led the ACC in scoring as a senior in 1996, averaging 20.9 points per game. The 6-11 center finished 4th in the ACC in rebounding in 1995 and 5th in 1996. He earned first-team All-ACC honors in as a senior in 1996 and was a third team choice as a sophomore (1994) and a second-team selection as a junior (1995). Also an excellent student, he graduated Summa Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Science degree from NC State in 1996 in Applied Mathematics. He was named to the All-ACC Academic team in each of his four seasons and he was a two-time first-team Academic All-America, earning that honor in 1995 and 1996. He declined to accept the prestigious Rhodes Scholarship in order to play professional basketball. He was the 11th overall pick in the first round of the 1996 NBA Draft by the Golden State Warriors and went on to play five seasons in the NBA with Golden State, Utah, Charlotte and Miami. He also played professionally six seasons in Spain, Poland, Greece and Australia. He sponsors an annual mathematics competition for Raleigh, N.C., area high school students through NC State, called the “Todd Fuller Math Competition.” He also has a scholarship fund arranged through the NC State Physical and Mathematical Sciences college. In 2007, the Wolfpack honored him by hanging his jersey, number 52, from the roof of the RBC Center.

   Raker (1977-81) combined with high school teammate Jeff Lamp and Virginia All-America Ralph Sampson to lead Virginia to two of the most successful seasons in school history in 1980 and 1981 for coach Terry Holland. An excellent shooter, defender and passer, Raker helped lead the Cavaliers to a 24-10 record which included the championship of the National Invitation Tournament (NIT) in 1980. UVa followed that up with a 29-4 record in 1981, including a 13-1 mark in the ACC and first place during the regular season. UVa advanced to the NCAA Final Four, garnering 3rd-place national honors with a win over LSU in the consolation game. At one point, Raker helped the Cavaliers win eight consecutive post-season games, still a school record. Virginia finished the 1981 campaign ranked 5th in the final AP poll and 3rd in UPI. During his four collegiate seasons,  Raker helped lead Virginia to a 92-32 overall record, averaging in double figures in scoring each year, and shooting 50.3 percent from the field for his collegiate career. He completed his career with 1,423 points, which still ranks 20th on Virginia’s career scoring list. He also led the 1979 squad in field goal percentage and was named a 2nd-team All-ACC selection that year. An excellent student, Raker was twice named to the All-ACC Academic Basketball squad (1980, 1981) and earned first-team Academic All-America honors in 1981. He was selected in the 4th round of the 1981 NBA Draft by San Diego. A native of Louisville, Ky., he is now the Head of Investor Relations with Camber Capital Management LLC and lives in the Boston, Mass. area.

   Solomon (1978-82), one of the best basketball players in Virginia Tech history, was a 6-9 center-forward who combined power with a soft shooting touch. He helped the Tech teams of Charlie Moir to a four-year record of 78-41 which included two NCAA Tournament appearances and one NIT berth. Solomon led Tech in scoring in each of his four  seasons and ended his career with 2,136 points which still ranks 4th on the Hokies’ career scoring list. Solomon’s career scoring average (18.4) is Tech’s 9th best. His career field goal percentage of .567 is the second best in Tech history and his 856 career rebounds rank 7th. He was named to the first-team All-Metro Conference in each of his four seasons. Solomon was named the Metro Conference Tournament MVP and Freshman of the Year in 1979, leading the Hokies to the Metro Conference championship. Solomon was selected in the 3rd round of the 1982 NBA Draft by the Philadelphia 76ers but did not play in the NBA. He did play professionally in Italy for 12 seasons. A native of Annapolis, Md., Solomon is currently living in his hometown.

   Childress (1991-95) turned in one of the spectacular performances in the history of the ACC Tournament in his senior season, as the sharpshooting guard led Wake Forest to the 1995 ACC Championship by averaging 35.7 points and 7 assists per game in the Tournament’s three contests. That year, Childress, playing for coach Dave Odom, saved his best for last, scoring 37 points and passing out 7 assists. In that title game, he connected on the game-winning jump shot with only four seconds remaining in overtime as Wake defeated North Carolina, 82-80. For his efforts, he was named the winner of the Everett Case Award as the 1995 Tournament’s MVP. He also was named the winner of the McKevlin Award as the ACC’s Overall Athlete of the Year for the 1994-95 school year. A second-team All-America selection in 1995, he was named first-team All-ACC in 1994 and 1995 and 2nd-team All-ACC in 1993. He scored 2,208 points during his career, which still ranks 18th on the ACC ‘s career scoring list, and he made 329 three-point field goals, the 5th-highest total in ACC history. He helped lead the Demon Deacons to a four-year record of 85-39 which included four appearances in the NCAA Tournament and two trips to the NCAA Sweet 16. He was twice named to the ACC All-Tournament team in 1994 and 1995. Childress ranked 3rd in scoring in the ACC in 1993 and 1994 and finished 2nd in 1994. Selected as the 19th overall choice of the Detroit Pistons in the first round of the 1995 NBA Draft, he played two seasons in the NBA with Detroit and Portland. He then played 14 professional seasons in Turkey, France, Italy and Australia. In 2002, he was named to the ACC’s 50th Anniversary Basketball Team as one of its Top 50 basketball players. A native of Washington, D.C., he recently returned to Winston-Salem to serve as an Assistant to the Athletic Director of Wake Forest.

LEGENDS BRUNCH

   The Legends will be honored at this year’s ACC Men’s Basketball Tournament in Atlanta at the annual ACC Basketball Legends Brunch, which will be held on Saturday, March 10 beginning at 10 a.m. at the Marriott Marquis Hotel. Hosted by television personalities Tim Brant and Mike Hogewood, tickets for the ACC Men’s Basketball Legends Brunch are priced at $35 each and tables of ten are available for $350 each. Information on purchasing tickets may be obtained at the official ACC website—www.theACC.com/ACCtournament.

   2012 ACC BASKETBALL TOURNAMENT LEGENDS ROSTER

   Name School Years Position Hometown (Current Hometown)

   John Bagley   Boston College 1979-82 Guard Bridgeport, Conn. (Stratford, Conn.)

   Sharone Wright Clemson 1991-94 Center Macon, Ga.  (Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.)

   Kenny Dennard Duke 1977-81 Forward King, N.C. (Houston, Texas)

   James Collins Florida State 1993-97 Guard Jacksonville, Fla.. (same) 

   Malcolm Mackey Georgia Tech 1989-93 Forward/Ctr. Chattanooga, Tenn. (McDonough, Ga.)

   Johnny Rhodes Maryland 1992-96 Guard Washington, D.C. (same )

   Ron Godfrey Miami 1958-61 Guard Martins Ferry, Ohio (Coral Springs, Fla.)

   Kenny Smith North Carolina 1983-87 Guard Queens, N.Y. (Atlanta, Ga.)

   Todd Fuller NC State 1992-96 Center Charlotte, N.C.. (same)

   Lee Raker Virginia 1977-81 Forward Louisville, Ky. (Boston, Mass.)

   Dale Solomon Virginia Tech 1978-82 Forward Annapolis, Md. (same)

   Randolph Childress Wake Forest 1991-95 Guard Washington, D.C. (Winston-Salem, N.C.)

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New Towson lax coach Shawn Nadelen: “I always feel like that I’m going to finish on top”

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New Towson lax coach Shawn Nadelen: “I always feel like that I’m going to finish on top”

Posted on 01 June 2011 by Ryan Chell

Towson University- like several other schools in the area-has had to go to work recently in replacing several institutions in their coaching staff, and over the last several months Towson reached out to Pittsburgh and Pat Skerry to replace longtime coach Pat Kennedy.

And when tasked with the same issue when it came to replacing the men’s lacrosse coach as Tony Seaman-who has been a lacrosse coach for 30 years-announced his resignation on May9th after finishing his thirteenth season at Towson with a 3-10, the coaching search for Seaman was a little bit closer to home.

The search committee led by athletic director Mike Waddell took three weeks to filter through the candidates, but in the end the best man for the job was right on their own doorstep, as the school announced that Shawn Nadelen-an assistant for Seaman over the last seven seasons-would move into Seaman’s office and take the job in a larger capacity for the Tigers.

Shawn Nadelen

He was introduced on Tuesday-where he also joined “The Morning Reaction” with Drew Forrester, who broke the story of Seaman’s departure back on May 9th.

The first thing that Nadelen told Forrester? That he expected to get the job from day one of the search.

“I always feel like that I’m going to finish on top,” Nadelen told Forrester. “It’s just the mentality that I have.”

“Going through the interview process, I felt like I delivered myself and my vision for the program well put myself in the best position-I thought-to have a good shot at this.”

A 2001 graduate of Hopkins-where he was a four year starter on defense and named an All-American- he got to learn under the best in Dave Pietramala.

“Coach Pietramala challenged us in practice every day,” Nadelen said later Tuesday in his introductory press conference. “He was completely prepared for practices and games and his intensity was contagious. To this day, I’m proud to have him as a mentor and friend.”

Nadelen said that his former mentor in Seaman has also made the transition seamless and that having Tony’s backing has been the best thing to happen for him and the program so far.

“Coach Seaman’s word is as good as gold,” Nadelen said. “To have his backing, it just allows me to have such great support, and it gives me the confidence knowing that he understands what it takes to be successful in college coaching.”

And with that, he has been sure to hold any criticism of his former boss when it comes to fixing the problems with the Tigers lacrosse team, which finished 3-10 and 1-5 in the CAA in 2010-2011.

“It’s not that we did things improperly or poorly under Coach Seaman at all-it’s just that I may do things a little bit differently and agreed with a lot of things we did in the past, but we might tweak things here and there as well.”

When asked about his game plan for next season after only being in the position for a matter of hours, Nadelen said that at first glance the Tigers need to have better balance on both sides of the ball.

“I think that’s extremely important,” Nadelen said. “I’m a believer that a great face-off guy and a great goalie can make any team look great. You see teams out there that have had great guys in those roles and they have been able to be very successful.”

In the end, Nadelen said that he’s willing to do anything in order to win, and for a struggling Towson lacrosse program, that attitude is probably the right one for now.

“Anything that allows us to be the most successful in any game, I’m going to really do the best to put us in that situation.”

WNST thanks new Tigers lax coach Shawn Nadelen for joining “The Morning Reaction”! We look forward to covering him next spring! WNST-We Never Stop Talking Baltimore Sports!

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Towson U new head basketball coach Pat Skerry: “Let’s take a swing at it to make it happen”

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Towson U new head basketball coach Pat Skerry: “Let’s take a swing at it to make it happen”

Posted on 08 April 2011 by John Collingsworth

A new era has begun for Towson University mens basketball and the crowed Towson Center was evident of that optimistic future. Director of Athletics Mike Waddell and University President Robert Caret were on hand to announce the new head basketball coach Pat Skerry Tuesday.

Waddell joined Drew Forrester on “The Morning Reaction” Tuesday to shed some light on his new hire and the excitement surrounding the program.

 

“Well it was a lot of fun, throughout the search we talked to a lot of great people who gave us advice on the search, and we researched candidates,” Waddell said. “We could not be more happy to have Pat Skerry as our new head coach.”

 

Pat Skerry also joined Forrester on “The Morning Reaction” this past Wednesday to discuss the next chapter of his coaching career at Towson.

“It’s definitely a job I’ve had interest in because of how strong the league is, it’s such a strong institution with the new stadium being built, and the recruiting area that it’s in,” Skerry said.

 

Skerry is no stranger to area and his resume speaks for itself. He brings 19 years of coaching experience to the table including stints at nine different institutions: Pittsburgh 2010-11, Providence 2008-10, Rhode Island 2005-08, College of Charleston 2003-05, William & Mary 2000-03, Northeastern 1998-2000, Curry College (Mass.) 1996-98, Stonehill College (Mass.) 1995-96 and his alma mater, Tufts 1992-95.

 

Leaving Pittsburgh and Jamie Dixons staff after one year, where the team won the Big East regular season title posting a mark of 28-6, Skerry is known for being a recruiting guru and plans to bring his knowledge and expertise to Towson right away.

 

“I want to be a head coach, and any chance to coach in a premier league like the CAA was a great opportunity for me,” Skerry told Forrester. “Pittsburgh is a place you could stay at for a long time because you could win 25 games a year and working for a hall of fame coach, but I’ve been more used to going in to programs that needed to be jump start or infused with some energy, seeing this opportunity…a lot of people will tell you ‘I don’t know if you can do that, or this or that’ I’m looking at it the other way… why not, what don’t we have to try to improve, and let’s take a swing at it to make it happen.”

 

 

 

After a magical run in NCAA Tournament, VCU solidified the Colonial Athletic Association prominence as strong and powerful league. Forrester asked Waddell on what it meant to have that national exposure throughout the tournament.

 

“I think it definitely helped, and when you look at us being a three bit league right now in the CAA, that’s a real selling point. And along with the commitment we’re making to the program across the board at Towson University it’s going to be an outstanding opportunity for a coach to come and make his mark.”

 

The new coach also touched on the strength of the CAA and the team left by the former coach of Towson, Pat Kennedy.

 

You’re right it’s a prominent major conference in the country, and there’s great coaches throughout it,” Skerry said.  “I think Coach Kennedy and his staff, they did a good job of getting some pretty good players in here, and I think like anything sometimes injuries and the ball not bouncing your way can kind of hurt you and have a negative effect, but they’ve left some talented guys here and we’ve got to scratch and claw and get better and we’ve got to figure out a way to not just compete, but beat the teams in this league, and I think the kids are hungry to give ourselves a shot.”

 

Looking towards the future, Waddell envisions Towson basketball as a bright one with Pat Skerry at the helm.

 

“[I’m] behind Pat Skerry and his mission for building Tiger Basketball, we have a great program in terms of its history,” Waddell told Forrester. “What you look at now is what’s it going to take to get it back? It’s going to take administrative support, and that’s what we get them, and adding in some great opportunities, in terms of support staff, academic support, strength and conditioning support, better housing on campus for our men’s and women’s basketball teams, the conversion of the Towson Center into a new practice facility, until the new tiger arena is constructed in the Spring of 2013, all of these were long term commitments we were willing to make, and gladly as we wanted to make it to the race to be one of the top teams in our league, that’s the CAA. And fellas if you’re in the top of the CAA you’re on the brink of doing something special on the national scene.”

 

When fans come to Towson Center next fall, they are going to see a different style of basketball according to Coach Skerry.

“Ultimately, we’ve got to guard, we’ve got to rebound, and we’ve got to compete, we’ve got to get tough, and when we learn to guard we can start to play up-tempo environmentally, I’m a big believer in spending time on skill development every day, guys have got to spend time handling the ball and shooting the ball, and being able to create their own shot, develop some skill, play fast on offense, but we’ve got to guard and rebound and we’ve got to be tough mentally.”

 

 

 


 

 

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Towson hands hoops rebuilding project to Pat Skerry

Posted on 05 April 2011 by Drew Forrester

So the task of reviving the Towson University basketball program has been handed to former Pitt assistant coach Pat Skerry. He’ll be introduced at a press conference at Towson later today, but he better start recruiting by the evening news if he wants to meet the timetable established by athletic director Mike Waddell.

Here’s Skerry’s bio from the recent Pitt media guide.

Waddell spoke to the local media on Monday once word leaked out that Skerry was his choice and put his new coach on a 3-year watch-list with hopes of winning again by the time Towson’s new basketball arena opens in 2013.

I respect the effort and hours of pursuit that Waddell just went through in bringing on a new coach, but I don’t think he and I are watching the same Colonial Athletic Association if he thinks Towson can “win” in the next 3 years. Or maybe we just have a different definition of winning.

To me, when you say, “we plan on winning”, that means either a regular season conference championship or a conference tournament title that gets your program an automatic berth in the NCAA tournament.

No offense to Pat Skerry or Mike Waddell, but Towson would need a minor miracle to win in the next three years. Biggest reason? They don’t really have much of a nucleus right now. And their best player, junior-to-be Isaiah Philmore, is already dropping cryptic Facebook hints about “doing the right thing for my career.”

If Philmore leaves, Towson’s really in a hole.

Then again, they went 0-18 WITH him this past-season.

Skerry will take over a program that is in desperate need of a full-on infusion of just about everything that makes a college team successful. Towson needs it all: more money for the program, better players, more fan support, better players, better players and…better players.

If Pat Skerry can get those things together and on point in a year or two, they should name the new court after him when the building opens for the 2013 season.

This is not a job for the meek of heart.

But Skerry has been down this road before, with CAA experience at William and Mary nearly a decade ago. And he’s been toughened recently while working on the bench at Pitt, where he saw night after night what kind of effort and heart it takes to compete in perhaps the nation’s top conference, the Big East.

I’m sure he knows what he’s getting into.

All he had to do was watch the NCAA tournament for validation about the CAA and it’s potential.

And it doesn’t really matter if Skerry wasn’t the school’s first choice, because most job openings aren’t filled by the person that ranks as #1 on the team’s wish list. My guess — and it’s just a hunch — is that Skerry was one of Waddell’s ten hopefuls. That makes him a very viable candidate, to me at least, given how many successful assistant coaches and good mid-major coaches would be interested in a CAA head coach position. The only name Towson didn’t pursue that would have served them well to at least interview was Morgan State’s Todd Bozeman. Waddell refused comment a week or so ago when I asked him about Bozeman, but a source familiar with the hiring process says Bozeman wasn’t contacted. That’s a shame. He would have a good hire at Towson.

And Pat Skerry might very well turn out to be a good hire too.

He brings a wealth of experience to Towson.

He’s known as an outstanding recruiter.

There’s no doubt he’s keenly aware of what it takes to win at the highest level of college basketball.

If the school provides him with the necessary resources and Skerry can sell young men in the Mid-Atlantic on Towson, he’ll have something to work with in this uphill battle he’s taking on today.

I wish him nothing but success.

And may this edition of “Pat’s Cats” have more success than the previous version did.

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Towson’s AD Waddell: “We appreciate the past, but we are excited about the future”

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Towson’s AD Waddell: “We appreciate the past, but we are excited about the future”

Posted on 11 March 2011 by John Collingsworth

After seven seasons as Towson University head men’s basketball coach, Pat Kennedy resigned from his position this past Monday. As his Tigers went 4-26 this season, and winless in the competitive Colonial Athletic Association, Kennedy joined Drew Forrester on the “Morning Reaction” Tuesday to discuss his departure from the program.

“That’s all part of the business,” Kennedy explained. “As I take a look at the group of players I inherited seven years ago and look at the group of players that will be left here for the new coach, it’s a positive. We left the university and the program actually in good shape in terms of the level of players that are here.”

The 2010-2011 season capped Kennedy’s 31st as a Division 1 head coach, with previous stints at Iona, Florida State, DePaul, and Montana. His 488 career victories rank in the Top 25 among active head coaches on the Division 1 level. Kennedy is also the winningest coach in CAA, along with his ten 20-plus win seasons, but could never eclipse the 15 game-mark while at Towson compiling a 71-144 record during his tenure.

Towson University’s Athletic Director, Mike Waddell, also joined Drew Forrester on the “Morning Reaction” Tuesday to talk about Kennedy’s resignation.

“You go into every interaction with a co-worker hoping it’s going to lead to great things and be a long term relationship and in this case, Pat was with us for seven years. [He] put his heart and soul in it and at the end of the day it just didn’t work out.”

 

With speculations looming during mid-season about a possible coaching change, Kennedy was quick to note, that never crossed his mind. “As a coach, you are concerned about how your guys are playing and what we are doing every day in practice,” he told Forrester. “Quite frankly…this is probably one of the best coached teams I have ever put on the floor… I always felt going through the entire year that we were playing very good basketball at times.”

Kennedy admitted to Forrester the one thing he would have changed as head coach at Towson. “I probably would of just brought in groups of freshman. Like three or four freshman one year, three or four the next… what we did is that we had some opportunities that we thought [would] be great [bringing in transfer student-athletes],” Kennedy said. “One thing I would recommend to the new coach is don’t try to do it too fast. Get your freshman groups in there and develop them.”

As Towson sets in his rear view mirror, Forrester asked Kennedy what his next step would be. “Coaching is definitely something I really want to do,” he explained. “The NBA down the road as an assistant with an NBA organization, maybe start on the bench or do some scouting…A lot of opportunity in the media… which has already happened. I’m going to be a national analyst for Sporting News Radio. I feel blessed to have three or four very clear avenues that I can pursue.”

 

Mike Waddell is excited and focused for the future of Towson basketball. His job now is to find a new head coach that will lead the program to the top of a very powerful CAA, which Waddell described as the “Big East of Mid-Majors.”

Forrester asked Waddell specifically, what kind of coach he wants at Towson. “I’m looking for someone that has great passion for being around young people, that can relate to young people and lead them,” the AD enthusiastically said. “Players want to play where they can have a good time, where they can be treated the right way in terms of respecting their opinions… we are looking for a leader.”

 

 

The head coaching position is wide open and Waddell was not afraid state that fact. “I would consider anybody right now. When we say we are having an open search, we are going to have an open search. Are there people on the radar screen? Absolutely there are,” he said. “The interest already… has been very impressive. Some of the names people hear ‘here and there’ have reached out. You are looking for the best fit for our program across the board.

During the fall, football dominates the Baltimore area, and baseball consumes folks during the spring and summer. In the winter however, basketball has been an after-thought for the locals, and the Towson AD has a vision for that to change. “It’s a wide open landscape in the winter time, that basketball has to be the lead sport at Towson University,” Waddell announced. “That no other team in this market, that no other school has captured the imagination of the market to make them Baltimore’s team.”

 

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Add Springmann’s name to list of Towson hoops candidates

Posted on 08 March 2011 by Drew Forrester

As is always the case whenever there’s a coaching opening, plenty of folks throw their name in the hat and some have their name thrown in for them.

One name that is starting to bubble up now that Towson is looking for a new head basketball coach is longtime Texas assistant Russell Springmann.  The Tigers are in need of a new coach – and staff – after Pat Kennedy’s 7-year run came to an end on Monday.

Springmann has been part of a great run at Texas and has been a finalist for several head coaching jobs in recent years.

Here’s his biography, but it’s worth noting he’s from Silver Spring, MD and has plenty of history in the Mid-Atlantic region.

Springmann was a finalist for the VCU job when Anthony Grant left two years ago, but the Rams eventually hired Shaka Smart.

“Springmann’s definitely a guy they’re going to look at,” said a local basketball source who was part of the informal group who recommended Todd Bozeman to Morgan State.  ”The only issue with Russell will be the kind of package that Towson can put together.  He’s making a great living at Texas.  But X’s and O’s?  Basketball?  Recruiting?  Russell Springmann would be a great hire at Towson.”

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Towson basketball: Pat Kennedy out…let the search begin

Posted on 07 March 2011 by Drew Forrester

The worst kept secret in town is no longer a private matter.

Pat Kennedy is out as the head basketball coach at Towson University.

Don’t let the press release fool you, Kennedy didn’t “step down” or “resign” or “move on to another venture”.  He was relieved of his duties.  Or, at the very least, Pat was told he wouldn’t be offered a new contract.  Call it what you want, but this much is certain:  Towson didn’t want Pat Kennedy to coach their basketball team any longer.  Evidently, the team’s assistant coaches were also dismissed today, although no formal word of those departures has been made by Towson’s athletic department. (EDIT: Two basketball staffers WERE retained, including assistant coach Phil Cohen, but they are both remaining on board in an “interim” capacity to see the program through the coaching transitional period.)

It should be noted that Kennedy’s contract was set to expire next month, anyway, so his removal earlier today was merely getting a head start on the obvious.

I like Pat Kennedy.  And I know there were a handful of mitigating circumstances that led to his 7-year run of disappointing seasons.  It wasn’t ALL on him.  But I also know that Pat Kennedy would have fired Pat Kennedy if he were in charge of the program and Pat Kennedy-the-coach produced a 4-26 campaign.

I’m not sure why a school with a 4-26 basketball record – and an unmentionable 0-19 conference mark – can’t just say “we fired the coach today”, but Towson – perhaps at Kennedy’s request – tried to make everyone in town believe the 7-year Tiger coach “stepped down”.  And as far as “classy moves” go, it’s at least a decent-enough going-away gift to let Kennedy word the press release to his liking by giving him the opportunity to “resign”.

Of course he didn’t resign.

But that’s neither here nor there, honestly.

After 7 seasons on the job and a stunning 2010-2011 campaign that saw the Tigers fail to win a game in the CAA, it was time for Towson to look past Pat Kennedy and make a decision on where they want their basketball program to go in the next few years.

Athletic Director Mike Waddell said all the right things in today’s press release, talking about restoring pride to the program and giving the fans an exciting team and all the other stuff you say when the coach and his staff get jettisoned.  But the one thing Waddell needs to reinforce at this point is simple:  This job, even at Towson…this opportunity…in the CAA…should be highly coveted by the right individual.  And it will be, as long as the Tigers and their national search firm look at the right people and ask the right questions.

Initially, the names that pop out as viable candidates include Mike Lonergan, the erstwhile Maryland assistant who has enjoyed tremendous success at the University of Vermont, Tommy Dempsey of Rider, who hasn’t had a sub .500 season since taking over the program five years ago, Billy Hahn, another former Maryland assistant under Gary Williams who is currently on the West Virginia staff and former Towson assistant Eric Skeeters, who played his college ball at Coppin State and has been on the University of South Florida staff for the last two seasons.

A college basketball source says Dempsey – whose Rider club lost to Iona in the MAAC semi-finals yesterday – is considered a strong candidate for the job as is Lonergan, who saw his team’s chances for an NCCA bid go up in flames over the weekend when the Catamounts were shocked by Stony Brook in the America East tournament.

Skeeters was responsible for recruiting in and around the Baltimore area when he was on Kennedy’s staff from 2004-2009 and has prior experience with the local AAU circuit.

The search process will also include coaches who are dismissed in the next week or two once their conference tournaments conclude.

Towson would also serve themselves well to look at two area coaches who might see the Towson job as enticing; Loyola’s Jimmy Patsos and Morgan State’s Todd Bozeman.

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Towson Hoops Coach Pat Kennedy Resigns

Posted on 07 March 2011 by WNST Staff

Here is the official release, courtesy of Towson University…

Men’s Basketball Head Coach Pat Kennedy Resigns from Towson

TOWSON, Md. – Towson University head men’s basketball coach Pat Kennedy resigned from his position effective immediately, TU Director of Athletics Mike Waddell announced today. Kennedy completed his seventh season at Towson with a record of 4-26 as the Tigers head coach.

“Pat Kennedy is a class act and a great basketball mind,” said Towson Director of Athletics Mike Waddell.  “It is unfortunate the past seven seasons have not met our mutual expectations.  I am sure he will continue in the basketball world as he should.  We thank Pat and his wife Jeannie for all their efforts the past seven years and wish them the best in the future.”

The 2010-11 season marked Kennedy’s 31st as a Division I head coach. He ranks among the Top 25 active winningest Division I coaches with his 488 career victories, coming in at No. 22 before the start of the 2010-11 campaign.

Kennedy has taken teams to eight NCAA Tournaments and five NIT’s. He has had ten 20-plus win seasons and is the winningest coach in the Colonial Athletic Association. Over his career, 17 of his players he recruited went on to NBA careers, including former Towson Tiger and all-CAA selection Gary Neal from Baltimore’s Calvert Hall College, who is currently with the San Antonio Spurs.

A number of Kennedy’s former assistants have gone on to become head coaches or assistants in the NBA.

For over a decade, Pat served on the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) Board of Directors and was the organization’s President in 2004-05.

A confidential national search for the next head coach of Towson basketball will begin immediately. Towson will be utilizing the services of Fogler Enterprises, a nationally recognized firm that conducts searches for championship caliber basketball coaches. TU Director of Athletics Mike Waddell will not be making any further comments on the search until the process has concluded.

Q&A with Director of Athletics Mike Waddell

What are you looking for in a new head men’s basketball coach?

First and foremost we are looking for the best fit for the long term benefit and development of our men’s basketball program. That takes into consideration a coach’s knowledge of the game and the ability to be an effective teacher and communicator. Our coach must have solid East Coast recruiting ties and a proven track record of being able to recruit a high caliber of player.  We will talk with existing head coaches, former head coaches, current college and pro assistants. Being able to build a coaching staff is a very important element towards building a winning program.

Specifically when you talk style of play, I would like to see someone who values a tough minded, physical style of basketball, intense defense, solid fundamentals, and up tempo offense that is fun to watch.  Win or lose going forward teams need to remember the Tigers the morning after we play them.  That will breed an attitude amongst our team and our fans. There is nothing like watching student-athletes who give their all, dive for loose balls, and play with great emotion. The type of coach that we will bring to Towson will value these traits, along with others.  This will all come to the surface when we interview candidates over the run of the process. There are things that you know going in are 100 percent essential and then there are other traits that will become apparent when the right person is in the room with you. I cannot over communicate the need for a true fit for this position.

What is the timeline to have a new coach in place?

Ideally, we would have our new coach and his staff in place soon after the Final Four is complete in Houston, sometime during the first week in April or thereabout.  A lot of this depends on when the coaches we want to talk to are finished with their seasons.  The spring recruiting period begins around the middle of the month following a dead period immediately after the Final Four.  By meeting this timeline, we set ourselves up to be able to fill out our roster spots with some recruits in the spring signing period.

What are your selling points that you will use when talking to coaches about the position?

I believe that we have one of the best jobs in mid-major basketball when you look at the facts. We have a great city to live in, a great recruiting area to draw talent from, and an outstanding University for our prospective student-athletes to get a first-class education.  Probably the most exciting attribute is that starting in two years Towson will have the best basketball arena in the CAA as well as a new dedicated practice facility.  Off the court we are making improvements such as improved academic support, a dedicated basketball strength and conditioning coach and sports medicine professional, plus enhancements in housing assignments for our basketball program and the best meal plans to enhance their physical development.  We will also be looking to upgrade the competitive schedule to include some additional television appearances for the program and will be working with Under Armour to maximize our basketball brand, nationally and internationally.  We are very fortunate to have some enhanced support coming in from a variety of areas and that will be a booster rocket behind Tiger Basketball. We’re going to be successful here at Towson because there is simply no other outcome that is acceptable.

Who will be running the program during your search for a new head coach?

I have asked Assistant Coach Phil Cohen and Director of Basketball Operations Kerry Kinard to stay on during this interim period. Phil was the director of basketball operations last year before becoming an assistant coach. Kerry joined the staff this past October following stops with the Utah Jazz and Charlotte Bobcats of the NBA. They will conduct off-season workouts, help monitor academic performance while Assistant A.D. for Sports Performance James Shipp will oversee the weight room workouts and the rehabilitation of any lingering seasonal injuries.

Are you using a committee to assist you in the process of selecting the new head coach?

I will be speaking with a lot of different people over the course of the search who will share knowledge and counsel on the various candidates that we will visit with. There will be no formal search committee. Once I have a candidate that I am comfortable with, I will forward that name to the President for final approval.

When will you update fans on the progress of the search?

This interview will be the only time during the process that I will be communicating with the Tiger Nation until we have a press conference and welcome in our new coach. Over the last 22 years, I have been a part of a lot of coaching searches, some more high profile than others. One thing that I have learned is that you really can impair the process by conducting business through the media, intentionally or otherwise.  We have a plan on how to find a new head men’s basketball coach for Towson University and we will go out and bring back the best coach to lead us to the top of the CAA and beyond. Once we have a coach, we’ll call a press conference and will have that for you live on www.TowsonTigers.com.  Once something is decided, we will not let time pass before we share that with our fans and alumni. The more secure the process can operate the better quality of people who will be involved.

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Thursday Morning’s Crabs and Beer

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Thursday Morning’s Crabs and Beer

Posted on 09 December 2010 by Glenn Clark

Happy Thursday!

It’s a Happy Thursday for me because I left “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” playing on a loop on my DVD player the other night, which means I’ve seen THIS scene play out about twenty times now since Thanksgiving. It hasn’t gotten old.

(Edit from GMC: You know damn well there’s an “F word” in this clip. Act accordingly.)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mk74WprmZxY[/youtube]

Let’s see what everyone has to say…

1. WNST.net’s Drew Forrester says John Harbaugh didn’t intend to direct Tuesday night comments to all Baltimore fans

But there’s no doubt how folks in Charm City TOOK the comments, and that’s what Harbaugh is going to have to keep in mind moving forward.

I’m a little spent on Harbaugh comments following my column yesterday comparing him and former Ohio State coach John Cooper (you should go here and read it). I’ve talked to a number of football fans in town over the last 24 hours and there’s no question the comments stuck with fans.

I understand where John Harbaugh’s emotion came from Tuesday night. I understand that he’s as frustrated (if not more) than anyone in town right now.

But he HAS to be more respectful to fans-even when they’re insane. (Edit from GMC: Says the guy who loses his mind on football fans on a regular basis.)

It’s part of the job, whether he wants it to be or not.

2. WNST.net’s Glenn Clark says Ravens LB Jameel McClain will appeal $40k fine

There’s no doubt McClain’s fine was a bit excessive for a first time offender who had no intent to hit Pittsburgh TE Heath Miller in the head. But something tells me the NFL has decided they need to make a statement in this case because the game was seen by a HUGE audience on NBC’s Sunday Night Football.

Make no mistake. This will absolutely be a significant issue as the NFLPA enters labor discussions this offseason and we head towards a potential lockout in 2011. If the league wants any concessions from players regarding revenue, they are almost certainly going to have to concede this outrageous fines even if they are simply trying to protect their players.

It’s not going to be an easy fight.

3. BaltimoreRavens.com’s Mike Duffy says Ed Reed believes Steelers WR Hines Ward deserved fine as well

Speaking of fine, here’s a picture of Danielle Dwyer. (Thanks Brosome via Busted Coverage!)

danielled

4. National Football Post’s Aaron Wilson says Ravens lost CB Prince Miller to Detroit Lions, signed CB Danny Gorrer to practice squad

And before we move on from the Ravens, a couple of things…

-The Ravens return to the practice field at 1 Winning Drive in Owings Mills today. Harbaugh, QB Joe Flacco, RB Ray Rice, LB Ray Lewis and others are scheduled to address the media. We’ll have full coverage, so make sure you stay tuned to AM1570 WNST, follow us on Twitter (@WNST) and keep checking back at WNST.net.

-Did you miss Ravens TE Ed Dickson with Drew Forrester Thursday on “The Morning Reaction” on AM1570 WNST? Make sure you head over to the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault here at WNST.net today to check it out. Some other things you can hear in the Audio Vault include…

  • Sean Salisbury (“Sean Unfiltered”-Voice America Sports Radio)-who went around the NFL with Drew Thursday
  • Michael Bradley (Philadelphia Magazine)-who talked about his decision to not give his Heisman Trophy vote to Cam Newton with Drew Thursday
  • Our Morning Reaction “Cheap Shots From The Bleachers”, as Drew took a shot at Cam Newton winning the Heisman, and Glenn Clark took a shot at fans who don’t “get” the Army/Navy Game
  • Vinnie Iyer (Sporting News)-who went around the NFL with Rex Snider Wednesday on “The Afternoon Drive”
  • Barry Barnes (Fanhouse)-who went around the AFC North with Rex Wednesday
  • Jean Fugett Jr. (Former Washington Redskins & Dallas Cowboys TE)-who discussed the loss of Todd Heap with Rex Wednesday
  • Lee Hull (Terps WR Coach)-who joined Thyrl Nelson Wednesday for “The Terrapins Coaches’ Report”
  • Steve Beck (Military Bowl Executive Director)-who discussed the Maryland-East Carolina matchup with Thyrl Wednesday on “The Mobtown Sports Beat”
  • Mike Bauman (MLB.com)-who checked in with Thyrl Wednesday from the MLB winter meetings in Orlando
  • Plenty of audio from 1 Winning Drive Wednesday; including Dickson, Jameel McClain, Le’Ron McClain, Todd Heap, Derrick Mason, Anquan Boldin and Kelly Gregg
  • Post-game audio from Maryland’s win over UNC Greensboro last night; including Gary Williams, Jordan Williams, Cliff Tucker and Adrian Bowie

It’s all in the Audio Vault, so make sure you take a few minutes today to check it out. You know you want to.

5. MLB.com’s Kelly Thesier says Orioles, Minnesota Twins could finalize deal for JJ Hardy today

Between this and Mitch Atkins, I’m not sure how the Birds CAN’T win the World Series next year!

If they’re still looking to make a splash before the end of the meetings, I have a suggestion for Andy MacPhail. Consider Alina Vacariu. (Thanks Guyism!)

vacariu

(Edit from GMC: UPDATE-CBSSports.com now says the deal is done. Hooray!)

6. The Sun’s Jeff Zrebiec says O’s agreed to terms with Koji Uehara on one year deal

I don’t know if this has ever happened before, but if I were the Orioles I might go ahead and consider a ticker tape parade BEFORE Spring Training.

The Orioles made other news Wednesday, as they distanced themselves from comments made by Luke Scott in an interview with Yahoo! Sports.

I can’t imagine why…

7. D1scourse’s Patrick Stevens says Adrian Bowie, Cliff Tucker respond to adversity as Maryland crushed UNC Greensboro

The Spartans stink. That being said, even they could beat Penn State.

Gary Williams said after the game he considered making lineup changes following the Terps’ poor offensive output against Temple in the BB&T Classic.

Cliff Tucker said he didn’t know he was starting until earlier in the day Wednesday.

Gary Williams WANTS to stick with Tucker and Bowie all season. Fans want to see Terrell Stoglin and Pe’Shon Howard in the lineup.

What ends up happening will have everything to do with whether or not Tucker and Bowie can play with consistency over the next few weeks.

Maryland opens ACC play Sunday afternoon (4pm on Comcast SportsNet/Fox Sports Net) when they host Boston College at Comcast Center.

8. TowsonTigers.com says Josh Brown and Rashawn Polk scored 18 points each, but Towson couldn’t hold off George Washington in DC

A loss to the Colonials probably won’t impress anyone, but a six point game against GWU at the Smith Center is likely a sign of progress for Pat Kennedy’s team. One major problem from last night? They got just one point from Troy Franklin. I don’t think they’ll win many games that way.

Towson now heads to Catonsville next for a contest with UMBC at RAC Arena Saturday night. The Retrievers had a rough night last night, as they were pounded by Rider 81-39. I’d tell you something about that game, but what the hell is there to say?

9. The AP says Shane Walker & Robert Olson each scored 14, but Loyola lost to George Mason in Fairfax

Tough night for Jimmy Patsos’ Greyhounds last night at the Patriot Center.

In honor of the holiday season, I’m going to try to make some spirits bright here. Here’s a picture of Tehmeena Afzal. (Thanks The Smoking Jacket!)

afzal

10. Washington Post’s Eric Prisbell says Terrapins Offensive Coordinator James Franklin finalist for head coaching gig at Vanderbilt

This COULD end up being helpful for Kevin Anderson and the folks in College Park.

James Franklin did a HELL of a job with Danny O’Brien this season. Should he leave for the Commodores, his leadership would be missed.

But the Terps have a MESS on their hands with this transition. Either they’re going to have to force Ralph Friedgen out and give the job to Franklin (which didn’t seem so unlikely a season ago), or they’re going to have to dish out a million bucks they don’t have.

If Franklin heads to Nashville, Maryland avoids that problem. Either they can extend Friedgen should he have another good season or they can hire whatever available coach they want to hire.

But bear in mind-the leadership at the University of Maryland WANTED James Franklin to be the next head coach. The move wasn’t just made to keep him from going back to Kansas State. They ABSOLUTELY thought Franklin represented what they wanted in a head coach.

It’s just become a much stickier situation than they originally expected.

And finally, I leave you with this.

Time for a few new versions of “The Greatest Song(s) of All Time This Week.”

It’s a Christmas edition this time around.

The retro version of TGSOATTW is “Christmas Song” by Dave Matthews & Tim Reynolds. WIN.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x33XlnWWfaI[/youtube]

The new version is the version of “Last Christmas” they did on GLEE. Please don’t judge me because I like this.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WoNvv7hq364[/youtube]

Flexing my mic muscles since 1983…

-G

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Gary Neal Traveled Far And Wide To Make NBA

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Gary Neal Traveled Far And Wide To Make NBA

Posted on 30 July 2010 by Ryan Chell

Gary Neal
For Gary Neal, at the end of his amateur career in basketball, he was determined to make it to the NBA.

So much so, that he said to himself that being in the NBA’s Developmental League, essentially the minor leagues of the NBA, was not an option.

He took his skills overseas, playing in Turkey, Spain, and Italy in an attempt to garner attention from NBA scouts as they kept an eye on guys to invite to their Summer League teams.

And that is exactly what happened. The San Antonio Spurs saw what Neal, a former standout at Aberdeen and Calvert Hall, and signed Neal to a 3-year guaranteed contract.

“It for me was a dream come true,” Neal told Thyrl Nelson Monday. “It was definitely something that I was grateful for…to be able to play in the NBA.

“This is a dream that you think about when you’re 5 years old, and you’re running around with your brothers and your cousins playing basketball. Everybody just dreams of being in the NBA or the NFL and playing professional sports, and I’m extremely thankful and grateful that I got the opportunity and now I’m trying to just make the most of it.”

This is quite the honor for Neal, who last played his college ball right here in Towson, playing for the Tigers in 2007. That year, Neal, a shooting guard, averaged 25.3 PPG, 3.5 assists, and 4.3 rebounds as he helped Towson reach the second round of the CAA Tournament.

Neal came to Towson after being kicked off the La Salle basketball team for allegedly raping a female basketball player from the University of New Haven, but the charges were dropped after a lack of evidence could not prove that the victim was  drunk as she so claimed and that it was not consensual sex.

Neal was very productive in Summer League play, averaging a team-high 16 PPG, 2.6 rebounds, and shot 50% from the field and from beyond the arc, a statistic in particular that Neal felt made it a done deal.

“I’ve always been known as a 3-point shooter, but that raised a lot of eyebrows in Vegas. For a guy to come in and shoot in five games 50% from the the 3-point line, that really put the nail in the coffin for me as far as being an NBA shooter.”

When Neal left Towson after his senior year, he got a taste of what the NBA had to offer, but his name was not called in the First-Year Draft that year.

“I had a couple NBA workouts, but I didn’t get any serious interests,” Neal said.

After that occurred, Neal decided that he wasn’t going to give up on his dream. But he also had to support himself financially, so the D-league was not an option.

Neal then signed with the Pinar Karsiyaka of the Turkish of the Turkish Basketball League, and in just four months of action, he was leading the league in scoring (26.5 PPG).

Neal learned a lot from playing in Turkey, which he said was a huge culture shock, but yet a confidence-builder on its own.

“My father was in the military, so I had been in Europe before. But Turkey was a different and new experience…definitely a different culture. It was totally different. It helped me get mentally stronger, from being away from my family and being in a social environment like Turkey… it’s so far way from anything you encounter in America.”

But Neal said it was something he knew he had to do to return to America and play in the NBA.

“When I started in Turkey for my European career, I said I want to play in the NBA, so I just have to play my best and produce at a high level so that the NBA will eventually give me a chance.”

FC Barcelona then purchased his contract from Pinar, a team that has had big time NBA players on it such as Pau Gasol. It got even better when the Italian Lega A team, the Benetton Treviso, wanted his services. Widely regarded as one of the top teams in not only Italy, but Europe as a whole, Neal’s name started to be mentioned back in the states, most notably with the San Antonio Spurs.

Neal said that the European experience really was a huge asset for him.

“Ive been doing the overseas thing for the past few years. Ive had a pretty good career over here which allowed me the opportunity and the exposure to have a chance play in the NBA for a team like San Antonio.”

Neal said the Spurs were ecstatic about bringing him into the fold.

“They were following me, they called me this summer to a couple of their mini-camps, and then they invited me on their summer league team, and after that, they offered me a contract.”

And already, Neal said he knows the differences between playing in Europe and America. It’s simple. The game steps up when you hit the hardwood in the NBA.

“As far as the difference between the NBA and the European game, it has to be the athleticism. In the NBA, you have guys who are longer, quicker, and more athletic than you would in Europe. That’s a big difference.”

And already, Neal is building new relationships and maintaining old ones that he had several years ago when he was a promising prospect in this league. One player in particular, and one of his current teammates, is none other than a former Maryland prep star and former Terp in James Gist, who the Spurs drafted in the second round in 2008 and like Neal decided to play overseas to build his NBA resume.

James Gist

“He’s a guy that as soon as we both saw that we were going to San Antonio in the airport when we were going down to the mini-camp,  a guy I connected with, and linked up, and a guy that I got along with great.”

And despite Gist breaking his wrist in Summer League action, he heard some good news from the higher-ups in the organization that the Spurs intend to keep him around or at least keep him in mind when he is on the mend.

“San Antonio is a first class organization. He’s still going to be down there, and they’re still going to give him an opportunity to make the team and to get signed. I wish James the best, and hopefully he can sign that contract, and become great friends as San Antonio Spurs together.”

Also during Summer League play, one of his games was against the Memphis Grizzlies, who have Maryland guard Greivis Vasquez on the team. Neal liked what he saw out of Greivis and said he has the stuff to be great in the NBA.

He’s a very good player,” Neal told Nelson. “He has great size for the point-guard position, especially in the NBA. And I just think a guy like that, who plays with a lot of enthusiasm, he has a great future.”

And Neal already has an idea of how his future with the Spurs panned out.

“Its definitely a situation where I’ll have to earn the spot because San Antonio drafted another shooting guard from Oklahoma State in James Anderson. It’s realistic I could be coming off the bench getting between 12-18 minutes behind Manu Ginobli at the shooting guard spot if I play well in training camp and the exhibition games.”

“There’s definitely a lot of opportunities in San Antonio for me, and that was one of the major reasons why I decided to sign with San Antonio because there is opportunity for me.”

And even though he is ready to hit it big time in the NBA, he still keeps in contact with the Towson staff and still considers himself part of the Tigers community. And Towson has embraced him right back.

“Ive been talking, working out, and playing with Kurk Lee[former Towson and Western Kentucky Standout] for the last five years. I’m down there all the time. He’s a great guy and he’s a very positive guy. As far as with the Towson program, they’ve been very open to me when I come home in the summertime. I can always get in the gym and work out.”

“The Towson University athletic staff and the program and the basketball community has always been open with me and great with me. I’m going to continue and try and stay involved and active in the Towson basketball program.”

So much so that when he’s done with his NBA career, he wants to be a part of the Tigers coaching staff. And I’m sure Pat Kennedy or whoever is the coach at the time will surely save Neal a seat on the bench.

“When I’m done running up and down the court, I would love to be a coach with Towson, an assistant or something like that.”

Tune into WNST and WNST.net as we continue to track Gary Neal’s career in the NBA. WNST-We Never Stop Talking Baltimore Sports!

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