For more than 30 years, the Sonny Hill Community Involvement Basketball League has been providing college basketball players with an opportunity to play ball in the summer. The league has players from Division I, II and III competing against each other.
The Sonny Hill College League was eventually renamed the Hank Gathers College League in memory of the late Hank Gathers, who starred in the league during the late ’80s. The league plays its games at Charles Audenreid High School, 32nd and Tasker streets. The college league has two games beginning Tuesday, July 17 at 5:30 p.m., featuring some of the best college basketball players in the Philadelphia area.
In taking a look back over the years, there have been a number of players who participated in one of the country’s best summer basketball leagues for college players. The list of some of the great players that have played in the league is very impressive.
Aaron McKie/ Temple
McKie grew up in the Sonny Hill League program. McKie played against his good friend and teammate Eddie Jones from Temple in the 1993 college league championship. McKie and Jones put on a show with both players scoring more than 30 points each. McKie’s team came out on top by four points in one of the league’s most exciting games.
McKie, former Simon Gratz and Temple star, was a key member of the 2001 76ers team that reached the NBA Finals. He is currently an assistant coach with the Sixers.
Jeffrey Clark/Saint Joseph’s
Clark was one of the early standouts in the college league. He was a terrific guard at Saint Joseph’s. A couple years ago, he was inducted into the Big 5 Hall of Fame. Clark is now a college basketball official.
Lionel Simmons/La Salle
Simmons had some great summers in the college league. Simmons improved his game each year at La Salle. In 1990, he was named college basketball’s player of the year. He scored over 3,000 points and grabbed more than 1,000 rebounds in his career with the Explorers. He was a first round pick of the Sacramento Kings. He played seven years in the NBA.
Richardson was a McDonald’s All-American coming out of Ben Franklin High School. In 1984, he led the Electrons to the Public League championship. He played four years at UCLA. In 1989, he was the first ever draft pick of the Minnesota Timberwolves. He played 10 years in the NBA. He came back to play in the college league to play with a lot of his colleagues during the summer.
Bo Kimble/Loyola Marymount
Kimble had a tremendous career at Loyola Marymount. He averaged 32.9 points a game his senior year. Kimble, a 6-foot-4 guard, was the eighth pick overall by the Los Angeles Clippers in the 1990 NBA draft. He had some huge games in the college league.
Hank Gathers/Loyola Marymount
Hank Gathers and Bo Kimble were a great inside-outside combination at Dobbins before they played together in college. Gathers was a great scorer, rebounder and defender. In 1989, he led the nation in scoring (32.7) and rebounding (13.7). Gathers always hustled at both ends of the floor.
Jones made his college debut in the college league. He was an explosive player in the open court. Jones and McKie played on three NCAA tournament teams at Temple. In 1993, they led the Owls to the Final Eight. In 1994, Jones was a first round pick of the Los Angeles Lakers. He played 14 years in the NBA.
Lowry scored 45 points in a college league championship game. Lowry, a 6-foot, 205-pound point guard, did a great job of penetrating and getting to the basket. In 2006, the former Villanova star was a first round pick of the Memphis Grizzlies. He spent the last three years with the Houston Rockets. He was recently traded to the Toronto Raptors and is one of the quickest playmakers in the NBA.
Blackshear was a magnificent basketball player. He was one of the early standouts in the college league. He had a great college career at Cheyney. The Wolves were one of the country’s best Division II teams during his career.
Allen was a two-time Ivy League Player of the Year. The college league prepared him for the Ivy League season. Allen played in the NBA and played professional basketball in Europe. He is now the head coach at Penn.
Evans was one of the top point guards in the college league. Evans, a former West Philadelphia High star, had a great career at Temple. He played on the Owls 1988 team, which was ranked No. 1 in the country.
Williams played some great basketball in the college league. He had a solid career at Villanova. He played 11 years in the NBA, mostly with the Toronto Raptors. Williams played for the Raptors in an exciting seven-game series with the Philadelphia 76ers in 2001. The Sixers won the series in seven games. Williams is currently a scout for the Raptors.
Anderson was a tenacious defender. He could steal the ball and take it coast to coast. He was an exciting college player at Drexel. He led the Dragons to the NCAA tournament. He scored 2,208 career points. He also played for the San Antonio Spurs.
Doug Overton/La Salle
Overton used the college league to polish his skills. He played four years at La Salle. Overton scored 1,795 career points with the Explorers. He handed out 671 assists at La Salle. Overton played several years in the NBA. He is currently an assistant coach with the Brooklyn Nets. His son, Miles Overton, plays for St. Joseph’s Prep.
Hamilton used to make the trip down to the college league from Coatesville during the summer months. The 6-foot-6 guard led Connecticut to an NCAA championship. He won an NBA championship with the Detroit Pistons and currently plays for the Chicago Bulls.
Steve Black/La Salle
Black was a tremendous shooter. He could really connect from long range. He was a magnificent player at La Salle. He scored 2,012 career points, averaged 19.7 points a game and is a member of the Big 5 Hall of Fame.
Larry Stewart/Coppin State
Stewart won a college league championship in 1988. He played his college basketball at Coppin State for legendary coach Ron “Fang” Mitchell. He led the Eagles to the NCAA tournament. Stewart played in the NBA for the Washington Bullets, Vancouver Grizzlies and Seattle SuperSonics. He also played overseas. Larry had two other brothers, Stephen and Lynard Stewart, who also played in the college league. Stewart is currently an assistant coach at Bowie State.
Greer can really shoot the basketball. He had some big games in the college league. The 6-foot-1 guard had an outstanding career at Engineering and Science and Temple. He scored 2,099 points during his college career. Greer led the Owls to the 2001 Final Eight. He played one season for the Milwaukee Bucks in the NBA. He has played for several professional basketball teams in Europe. Greer played in Russia this past season.
Wayns has played a lot of basketball in the college league. He played every summer during his career at Villanova. The 6-foot-2, 200-pound guard, can play two positions. He led the Wildcats in scoring tallying 17.6 points a game. He also averaged 4.6 assists a game. Wayns is currently playing for the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas.
Christmas was a scoring machine in the college league. In fact, he had quite a career at Temple, where he was one of the top scorers in the Atlantic 10 Conference. The 6-foot-5 guard is playing for the Boston Celtics summer league team.
Jordan was a sensational player at Penn. He helped the Quakers win Ivy League championships in 1999 and 2000. The Penn backcourt ace played some great basketball in the college league. Jordan has played professional basketball in Israel, Belgium, Italy, Spain and Greece.
Collins really benefited from playing in the college league. The 6-foot-6 guard gradually improved his game throughout his playing days at Temple. In 2006, he was a first round pick of the New York Knicks. He also played for the Los Angeles Clippers.
Tyndale won a college league championship in 2007. He was the 2008 Big 5 Co-Most Outstanding Player of the Year. He scored 1,729 points, 733 rebounds and 377 assists during his college career. He has played pro basketball in Europe as well as in the NBDL.
Bruiser Flint/Saint Joseph’s
Flint played extremely well in the college league. He had a great career at Saint Joseph’s. He was one of the best point guards in the Atlantic 10 Conference. Flint is now the head basketball coach at Drexel.
Blackwell was a regular in the college league. The 6-foot-4 guard could get his shot off any time. He knew how to get open. He had a great understanding of the game. Blackwell had a brilliant career at Temple scoring 1,708 points. In 1987, he was a second round pick of the San Antonio Spurs.
Jackson looked forward to playing in the college league. Jackson was named the 1997 Atlantic 10 Conference Player of the Year at Temple. He played seven years in the NBA including two seasons for the Philadelphia 76ers. He was inducted into the Big 5 Hall of Fame this year.
Moore played a lot of basketball in the college league. The 6-foot-4 guard had a fine career at Temple. He was named first-team All-Atlantic 10 Conference. He averaged 17.3 points a game. Moore will play in The Basketball Alumni Legends League (The-Ball) game at Saint Joseph’s on August 5.
As the annual collegiate basketball coaching carousel begins, names are being thrown around aimlessly and rumors about impending job moves are circulating.
But Drexel University is putting an end to a rumor about its highly successful men's basketball coach, James "Bruiser" Flint. The Tribune has learned that the university and Flint have agreed to a five-year contract extension. The deal was formally announced on Monday, March 26, though details were not immediately known.
“This is where I want to be,” said Flint, who won his record-tying fourth Colonial Athletic Association Coach of the Year Award after guiding the Dragons to a 29-7 campaign in 2011-12. “We're building something here and I'm just happy to be a part of it.”
Flint and Philadelphia go together like pretzels and water ice. Separately, they are good. Together, they are awesome.
He's a hometown boy who has grown up to be an example for many youngsters to imitate. He starred at Episcopal Academy and later at Saint Joseph's University. He paid his dues, eventually becoming a head coach at the University of Massachusetts before moving on to Drexel.
This season, the Dragons were a hot topic in college basketball for not making the 68-team NCAA tournament field. Drexel lost to Virginia Commonwealth University in the CAA tournament championship game. The loss, which ended the Dragons' school record 19-game winning streak, put Drexel's post-season hopes into the hands of the NCAA tournament committee.
Not a good idea.
The committee didn't think much of the Dragons' non-conference schedule. And as a result, Drexel found itself NIT bound. The Dragons' season ended last week with a 72-70 loss to UMass in the NIT quarterfinals.
"We had a good season," said Flint, whose Dragons were fifth in the country in scoring defense at 55.7 points per game. "You never want to lose that last game. I've gotten over the disappointment of not being in the NCAA tournament and we played well in the NIT. They said our strength of schedule worked against us and we're addressing that. We played and beat the teams that were on our schedule. I guess that wasn't good enough for some but we're looking at ways of improving the caliber of teams that we play."
As for the Dragons leaving the CAA, anything is possible. However, Drexel Athletic Director Dr. Eric Zillmer said he's pleased with Flint and the program being in the CAA.
"We think a lot of (Flint)," Zillmer said. "He's family and has conducted himself as a coach, a person, and a family man extremely well. We had a great season and a lot of the credit should go to him and the fine young men that he coached.
"I see what is going on with teams moving around. You can't help but notice it. I can't say what will happen in the future but we're fine where we are right now."
Flint has talent returning. The NCAA snub and the decent NIT run has made the Drexel program more visible. Flint can see the difference on the recruiting trail.
"It helps when people know about your program, no question about it," Flint said. "We're talking to some kids now and it's good to see that they are interested."
Drexel had only one senior, Samme Givens. A 6-5 forward, Givens averaged 11.4 points and 8.0 rebounds. Flint has a budding star in CAA Rookie of the Year Damion Lee. A 6-6 forward, Lee averaged 12.7 points. Junior guard Chris Fouch averaged 10.5 points.
Sophomore guard Frantz Massenat was a first team all CAA selection who averaged 13.5 points and paced the league in three-point percentage, hitting .466 of his attempts. Massenat, who tied a school record with 34 consecutive free throws, was also third in the CAA with 4.5 assists per game.
Flint's team also gets it done in the classroom. The CAA named Jake Lerner and Stevan Manojlovic Honorable Mention All-Academic selections. Both are sophomores.
"I've been blessed in so many ways," Flint said. "I have the support of the administration and a loving family. I have a great group of players to coach. I have a great coaching staff. I feel I'm in a great situation. I know there is a business side to (coaching) but I'm happy. I'm where I want to be."
It’s been a busy week for Clarence Armstrong, former Drexel University basketball star, who has kept an eye on his Dragons who were battling for the Colonial Athletic Association conference championship. Armstrong was pulling for Drexel to win the tournament, but the Dragons fell to Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) in the championship game.
In addition to keeping up with his alma mater, Armstrong, who is one of the top college basketball officials in the Philadelphia area, had a pretty hectic time officiating two huge games. It’s been a big week of March Madness for him.
“I’ve been following Drexel,” Armstrong said. “It was a great season for them. They won 27 games. I sent Bruiser (Flint, Drexel head coach) a message. They lost a tough game to VCU in the championship. But I’m really proud of them. I’m just hoping they’ll get an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament.
“I had a couple of big games to officiate this week. I did the Penn–Princeton game. Then, I had the Patriot League championship game between Bucknell and Lehigh. That’s a lot of college basketball.”
It’s that time of year for college basketball players, coaches, and officials. Armstrong knows that as well as anybody. He was a terrific basketball player. He was an All-Delaware County standout at Chichester High School where he had a brilliant scholastic career. Armstrong continued his stellar play at Drexel. He played for the Dragons from 1988 to 1992. He finished with 909 career points and 422 assists. Armstrong, an outstanding point guard, averaged 12.8 points a game his senior year.
He also played in the Sonny Hill League and the Charles Baker League. Armstrong lives in New Castle, Del. He does a lot of traveling with his job as a Division I basketball official. Officiating has allowed him to stay close to the game.
“It’s the best part time job in the world,” said Armstrong, who works as an IT consultant fulltime for a bank in Wilmington. “After I finished playing basketball, I actually tried my hand at coaching some AAU basketball. Then, I ran into my fraternity (Alpha Phi Alpha) brother Jeff Hill. He was in charge of the SEPTA Men’s League. He asked me if I was interested in (officiating) in the league. They were playing at Overbrook High School.
“For whatever reason, I caught the bug and enjoyed it. The next year, I got my PIAA certification. I started doing PIAA basketball 12 years ago. I did that and started officiating high school basketball in Delaware. Then, I just progressed from junior high school up to high school. I was fortunate to officiate two PIAA state championship games and two Delaware state championship games. I just went from there to Division III, Division II and now Division I.”
“It takes time. I like to think my situation is pretty unique. I moved a little faster than average because a lot of guys who were making the decisions at the high school level and even at the college level used to officiate my games when I played. So, they gave me opportunities a little faster than most. I also went to a lot of camps and officiated in a lot of different leagues. I even officiated in the 35 and over league at 25th and Diamond (Streets, Hank Gathers Recreation Center). That was like my training ground.”
Armstrong is in his fifth season as a Division I official. He works college basketball games in a number of conferences such as the Colonial Athletic Association, Big East Conference, Atlantic 10 Conference, Ivy League, Patriot League, Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference and MAC (Mid-American Conference).
Armstrong is one of the former local college basketball players who have gone into officiating. Jeffrey Clark, a Big 5 standout at Saint Joseph’s, has done a great job officiating Division I games over the years. Armstrong has learned a lot from working with Clark.
“Jeffrey Clark has been officiating for a while,” Armstrong said. “Jeff is a little ahead of me in terms of Division I basketball. But any time I have a question or need some advice I know where to go. Jeff is one of the first guys I call. He has a lot of experience.”
Armstrong plans to do some more officiating in March. He has worked the NIT the last three years. Armstrong hopes that other former players will move into officiating college basketball games in the future. The pay is good and the opportunities are there.
“I would like to see a lot of guys go into it,” he said. “You have to arrange your schedule especially if you work a 9-to-5. I think it’s a great opportunity for a lot of guys. It’s been a great experience for me.”
It’s not easy landing a job as a Division I head basketball coach. It takes a lot of hard work and dedication to get to that level. Kevin Baggett spent 16 years as an assistant coach in college basketball. Baggett’s diligence and experience were rewarded this week when Rider University named him head basketball coach.
“I can’t tell you how blessed I am, first and foremost,” Baggett said. “It’s a very small select group of head coaches throughout the country and to be one … I couldn’t be happier or prouder. I’m looking forward to coaching this team and taking this program forward. I’m ecstatic.”
Baggett joined the Rider basketball staff during the 2006–2007 season. He has been the associate head coach the last four years. He replaces Tommy Dempsey, who left Rider to become the head coach at Binghamton University.
Baggett came to Rider from the University of Maryland Baltimore County, where he served as an assistant coach from 2004 to 2006 under Randy Monroe, former Roman Catholic and Cheyney University basketball standout. In addition to UMBC, he was an assistant coach at James Madison, Howard, Western Kentucky and Coastal Carolina.
When it comes to basketball, Baggett has some great roots. His father, Bill Baggett, was a terrific basketball player at Simon Gratz. Kevin was a sensational basketball player as well. He played some great basketball at Burlington Township High School. He played in the Sonny Hill League. Baggett played his college basketball for Saint Joseph’s University. He was a member of the 1985–86 Hawk team that put together a 26-6 record and reached the second round of the NCAA tournament. That squad featured Hawks Geoff Arnold and Bruiser Flint. Both Arnold and Flint are now coaches. Arnold is an assistant at Saint Joseph’s and Flint is Drexel’s head coach. Arnold and Flint have been big influences in Baggett’s coaching career.
“I was glad to see Bruiser and Geoff at the press conference to support me,” Baggett said. “That really meant a lot to me. We talk all the time. They’ve both been an inspiration to me. I have a good relationship with them. We were at St. Joe’s together. They’ve really helped me over the years. They knew coaching is something I really wanted to do.”
Baggett has always been interested in coaching as a career. He knew that even during his time as a player.
“I actually got started doing basketball camps and clinics,” Baggett said. “I was at St. Joe’s at the time. I really liked coaching and working with the kids. I wanted to give something back. I knew I wanted to be involved with basketball. I didn’t want to have a desk job. Basketball has been my life and my passion.
“I’ve been really fortunate. My first coaching job was at Cinnaminson High School (New Jersey). I worked there for five years. After that, I got my first coaching job in college. I became an assistant at Coastal Carolina.”
Baggett is excited about the Broncs team that’s coming back this year. Although the team struggled with a 13-19 overall record last season, he feels Rider has a chance to have a good year in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference. He has some good players on this year’s team.
“We have some great returning players like Danny Stewart (former Neumann-Goretti star) and Anthony Myles,” Baggett said. “Nurideen Lindsey (former Overbrook High standout) will be playing for us. He played at St. John’s, but came over here and wanted to be a little closer to home. Of course, we have Derrick Stewart (Neumann-Goretti product, Danny’s brother) coming here. I’m just excited about the guys coming back. They’re athletic and have a lot of talent.”
Baggett is ready to begin his new position with a lot of enthusiasm.
In case anyone hasn’t noticed, Drexel University is the hottest college basketball team in Philadelphia. The Dragons have won nine games in a row. Drexel is 16-5 overall and 8-2 in the Colonial Athletic Association. Bruiser Flint, Drexel head coach, has the Dragons playing well at both ends of the floor.
Flint has a solid group of players that include 6-foot-4 sophomore Frantz Massenat, 6-foot-6 freshman Damion Lee, 6-foot-4 junior Derrick Thomas, 6-foot-9 junior Daryl McCoy, 6-foot-2 junior Chris Fouch, 6-foot-8 sophomore Dartaye Ruffin and 6-foot-5 senior Samme Givens.
Givens played his high school basketball at Academy of the New Church. He has a chance to become just the third player in school history to score over 1,000 points and grab 1,000 rebounds. He currently has 1,055 points and 924 rebounds in his career. Givens has a lot of talent, but also exhibits hard work and determination.
Givens clearly reflects the style of play Flint has developed for his team. Flint has his team playing hard, scrapping for loose balls, battling for every rebound, looking for the open man, taking good shots, all the things that contribute to winning basketball games. And Drexel has done exactly that.
Drexel was a preseason favorite to win the CAA championship. The way they’re playing now, the Dragons have a chance to capture the league title. George Mason leads the conference with a 9-1 record. Drexel is tied for second with Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) and Old Dominion with 8-2 records. In this nine-game winning streak, Drexel has beaten George Mason, Old Dominion and VCU. The last time they lost a game was to Georgia State on Jan. 2. On Wednesday night, Drexel spanked Georgia State to avenge the earlier defeat with an impressive 68-46 victory at the Daskalakis Athletic Center, better known as the “DAC.”
This shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone, especially if you know Flint’s background when it comes to basketball. Flint grew up in West Philly and played a lot of basketball at Sherwood Recreation Center near 56th and Christian Streets. He was a terrific player at Episcopal Academy and Saint Joseph’s.
He started his coaching career in the Sonny Hill League where he sharpened his basketball skills as a player. He had some great mentors like Claude Gross, Tee Shields, John Hardnett and his father, James Flint.
Flint landed his first college coaching job as an assistant at Coppin State under the legendary Ron “Fang” Mitchell. After a few years, he moved to the University of Massachusetts where he worked with head coach John Calipari, who now coaches Kentucky. When Calipari left the Minutemen’s program, Flint took over as head coach. He spent five years at UMass before coming home to become head coach at Drexel. This is his 11th season with the Dragons. He has 186-139 record at Drexel, which includes four NIT appearances. In 2006–07, Flint had an outstanding team that should have received a NCAA tournament bid. That team finished with a 23-9 record. It’s possible this year’s team could be just as good.
“It remains to be seen right now, we still have a lot more games to go,” Flint said. “We had a good year last year. We knew we were returning a lot of players. So, the expectations were high from the start. We knew we had an opportunity to play well this year. We still have some time to go. We just have to stay the course and try to get better every week.”
Drexel will host Delaware in a big CAA game on Saturday, Jan. 28, at 2 p.m. on The Comcast Network. Flint will face his good friend Monté Ross, the head coach of the Blue Hens. Ross, like Flint, grew up in the Sonny Hill League. He gradually climbed the ladder in the coaching profession, working as an assistant at Lehigh and Saint Joseph’s. Actually, Drexel dropped a 71-60 decision to Delaware earlier this season. However, Flint knows when it comes to the Drexel-Delaware games throw the records out the window.
“It’s a rivalry game,” Flint said. “We know they’re going to be ready. They’re always ready for us. I told our guys they have to understand the type of intensity they bring. We know it’s going to be tough.”
It won’t be easy for Drexel as it goes for its 10th consecutive victory. Then again, that’s nothing new for Flint and the Drexel Dragons, who have been rolling their sleeves up all season long with great success.
Swarthmore College recently held a tennis clinic with tennis star James Blake with the kids from the Chester Boys and Girls Club. The tennis program was sponsored by the Philadelphia Freedoms and the Loomis Racquet Academy, organized by Jeremy Loomis, Swarthmore College women’s tennis coach.
Blake was selected to play for the Philadelphia Freedoms this season. The Freedoms are owned by Billie Jean King and compete in the World team Tennis League. The clinic provided the youngsters from the Chester Boys and Girls Club a chance to learn the game from Blake, who is one of the game’s terrific players.
Rodale Books acquires memoir by NBA legend Earl Monroe
Rodale Inc. recently announced the acquisition of NBA great Earl Monroe’s memoir, Earl The Pearl: My Story, written with bestselling author Quincy Troupe. The book will be published in April 2013 to coincide with the 40th anniversary of the Knicks’ last NBA championship.
Monroe, former Bartram High and Winston-Salem State basketball standout, is among the NBA’s 50 Greatest Players. He is a Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame player whose style and flair made him a major attraction to younger players including Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan. A sensational ballhandler who could break his man down with breath taking moves, Monroe changed the way the game of basketball is played and his influence can still be seen with today’s stars such as Kobe Bryant, Dwyane Wade and LeBron James.
Deadline for Lincoln Hall of Fame nominations extended
Lincoln University’s Athletic Hall of Fame has extended its deadline for nominations to July 31. The hall of fame induction will be a regular event to take place in conjunction with the football season. The first class will be inducted during halftime of the Lincoln-Johnson C. Smith University football game on Sept. 29 at 1 p.m. For more information, go to www.lulions.com
Cheyney ‘C’ Club to hold golf tourney
The Cheyney University “C” Club will hold the Wade Wilson Golf Tournament at Penn Oaks Country Club, 140 Penn Oaks Drive, in West Chester. The event will be held on August 27. Registration begins at 7 a.m. Tee time is at 8 a.m. The golf tournament is the club’s biggest fundraising event. The club is comprised of alumni athletic supporters that have shown a great commitment to the school’s athletic programs. For more information, go to www.cheyneycclub.com
Bobby Jordan named Drexel basketball assistant coach
James “Bruiser” Flint, Drexel head basketball coach, has named Bobby Jordan as assistant coach. Jordan has been on Flint’s staff the last two years as the team’s operation assistant. He replaces Ashley Howard who accepted an assistant coaching position at Xavier University.
Jordan has been around the Dragons’ program for the last six years. He stayed at Drexel following his playing career in 2010 when he took the operations position. He was responsible for the day-to-day operations of the office and assisted with team travel and academics.
He was a four-year letterwinner on the basketball court at Drexel. He originally walked-on the team as a freshman and eventually earned a scholarship. Jordan graduated from the school with a degree in sports management and is currently enrolled in graduate school, where he is working on an advanced degree in the same field.
Jordan was an All-Catholic League selection at Roman Catholic. He was also a Markward Award winner.
St. Joe’s women’s basketball adds Pierce as assistant coach
Saint Joseph’s has named Jada Pierce as assistant coach for the women’s basketball team. Spending the past two seasons at Army, Pierce brings more than 15 years of successful coaching including helping three schools earn NCAA tournament berths. Pierce played her scholastic basketball at Central High where she was an All-Public League star. She brings a lot of coaching experience to Saint Joseph’s.
Temple to open basketball season at Kent State
Temple will begin the basketball season playing on national television as the Owls will face Kent State on the road for a noon game on November. The game is part of the 2012 ESPN College Hoops Tip-Off Marathon which includes 11 men’s college basketball games all aired on ESPN.
Drexel will entertain Massachusetts in the quarterfinals of the NIT at the Daskalakis Athletic Center on the Drexel campus Tuesday, March 20 at 7 p.m. The game will be televised on ESPN. The Dragons had a big 65-63 win over Northern Iowa on Sunday in the second round. Samme Givens had a huge game for Drexel, tallying a game-high 28 points. The Dragons senior forward has been major player in the team’s success. The former Academy of the New Church star has averaged 11.6 points and 7.8 rebounds a game this season.
Drexel has an amazing 29-6 overall record. This should be an interesting game. UMass upset Temple in the opening round of the Atlantic 10 Conference tournament. The Minutemen are 24-11 this season. In addition, Bruiser Flint, Drexel head coach, used to be the head coach at UMass prior to him taking over the Dragons basketball program. Flint was the Minutemen’s head coach from 1996 to 2001.
Former Eagle Staley joins S.C. Hall of Fame
The Philadelphia Eagles recently announced that former running back and current special teams quality control coach Duce Staley has been elected to the University of South Carolina Athletic Hall of Fame. Staley finished his two-year college career at South Carolina with 1,852 rushing yards and 17 touchdowns on 345 carries and caught 59 passes for 489 yards and two scores. As a senior, he ranked 13th in the nation with 1,116 rushing yards en route to earning first team All Southeastern Conference honors.
Staley had a great career as a running back with the Eagles. His 4,807 rushing yards rank fourth in team history. He was also voted by his teammates as the Eagles offensive MVP three times during his playing days.
He will be inducted in a ceremony at Columbia, S.C., Metropolitan Convention Center on May 14.
Frank Leonard joins Temple football coaching staff
Frank Leonard, who has 27 years of coaching experience on the college and NFL levels, has joined the Temple coaching staff as the tight ends coach. Leonard, a 24-year college coaching veteran, spent the last three seasons as the tight ends coach for the St. Louis Rams (2009–11). Leonard’s group played a key role in the Rams’ offensive success in 2010. Daniel Fells finished fourth on the team in receptions as he set a new career-high with 41 receptions. Billy Bajema also set a career best as he hauled in 14 passes while continuing to play a key role in the running game. In addition, Michael Hoomanawanui caught 13 passes, including three touchdowns, in eight games and showed a promising future.
Prior to making his NFL coaching debut for coach Steve Spagnuolo, Leonard served as tight ends coach at Kansas State in 2007–08. He also spent three seasons (2004–06) as a special assignment scout for the New England Patriots.
Leonard joined the Patriots staff after 10 years at the University of Richmond, where he coached the offensive line (1994, 1997–2003), running backs (1995–96) and served as the school’s recruiting coordinator (2003).
In 1998, the Spiders posted a 9-3 record and earned their first Atlantic 10 title, a berth in the NCAA I-AA playoffs, and a No. 5 final national ranking. The Spiders earned a second Atlantic 10 title and a No. 6 national ranking in 2000 after a 10-3 record, rushing for a school-record 3,669 yards and reaching the quarterfinals of the NCAA I-AA playoffs.
Leonard coached at the University of Connecticut (1990–93), Western Connecticut (1982–84, 1987–90) and Central Connecticut State (1985–86).
The college basketball season in Philadelphia is right around the corner. Actually, some Big 5 teams will be in action this weekend. ESPN college basketball analysts Dick Vitale and Jay Bilas offered their views on Drexel and Saint Joseph’s basketball teams this week. Drexel and Saint Joseph’s are favored to win the Colonial Athletic Association and the Atlantic 10 Conference championships, respectively.
“When you look at Drexel, Bruiser (Flint, head coach) has done a heck of a job down there,” Vitale said. “Those kids play hard, they play with passion, feeling, and they’ve got a nice nucleus coming back. You talk about St. Joe’s, it’s going to be dynamite this year. They’re in a tough conference. That conference doesn’t get any publicity. There’s probably nine good teams, with the addition of Butler now and VCU in that conference takes them to another level.”
“The one thing I love about the Big 5 is the emotion, the passion, the level there. It’s obviously not the level that it was years ago, but it still makes for some interesting, exciting competition, and I think that’s healthy for the game, I really do.”
Bilas envisions a big year for the city teams. Like Vitale, he’s very impressed with the Dragons and the Hawks.
“I think it’s going to be a great year in the Big 5,” Bilas said. “Villanova will be better, and I think there will be more experience. They’ve got some good newcomers coming in. I think that we might wind up saying at the end of this that Saint Joseph’s is the best team because they’ve got some really good experience coming back. I’m a big fan of their guards. Carl Jones is a scoring guard, a senior and then Langston Galloway is probably one of the five or 10 best shooters in the country.”
St. Joe’s had a solid turnaround last season after a disappointing 2010-11 campaign when they lost 22 games. The Hawks registered a 20-14 mark and an NIT berth last season. Under head coach Phil Martelli, the Hawks were one of nine teams to win 20 games a year after losing 20 the previous season.
Bilas really likes the team’s depth and complementary pieces.
“CJ Aiken is a really good shot blocker, the (Ronald) Roberts kid, I know he was more of a reserve last year, kind of a sixth-man type, but he’s a guy doesn’t matter whether he starts or not. That’s a really good team that’s paid their dues together and they’re not going to take anything for granted.”
Bilas said Drexel is probably the best team in the CAA and is the preseason favorite along with Delaware.
“Drexel will probably play with even a little bit more of a chip on its shoulder, not that Bruiser doesn’t have it on both shoulders for that team. But not having gotten into the tournament after winning 27 games last year, they made the most compelling case of any team that didn’t get in that they should have gotten in, and I’m a big fan of Frantz Massenat (Drexel point guard). He’s a Jersey kid and a really terrific player.”