Howard Herman: Jumping through a few hoops


University of Vermont men's basketball coach John Becker is a fine fellow and a darn good basketball coach. But there is no reason he should be the America East coach of the year. After all, the Catamounts were the conference's preseason No. 1 team and ended up that way.

Anybody who watches college basketball knows that Pat Duquette of UMass Lowell should have been the America East coach of the year.

Phil Jackson and Red Auerbach had the best teams of their eras and they have a combined two coach-of-the-year awards. Vince Lombardi and Tom Landry won one award each while Chuck Noll never won one, despite winning four Super Bowls.

The coach with the most talent obviously does a good job. But can we honestly say Becker did a better job than Duquette?

All Duquette did was take a team picked to finish ninth in the league and have it finish fifth. He did it in the River Hawks' first year in Division I.

One year ago, Duquette was finishing up his run as the associate head coach at Northeastern while Lowell was wrapping up its final season as a Division II team in the always-tough Northeast-10 Conference. UMass Lowell finished eighth in the 16-team league.

Now, the Dalton native is running his own Division I program that by any measure overachieved in 2013-14. No coach or media member in America East land would have predicted an 8-8 conference record.

Maybe we need a recount.

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At one point during the NCAA Division III doubleheader at Williams on Friday night, I tweeted about Gordon coach Tod Murphy and got a response from Mike MacAdam of the Schenectady Gazette, who said that was the same Tod Murphy who played for the Albany Patroons.

Sure enough, during a break in the action of the Williams-Mitchell game, I asked Murphy if he played in the Washington Ave. Armory. He smiled, said yes and laughed when I said he must have plenty of Bill Musselman stories.

Musselman coached the Patroons in 1987-88 to a gaudy 48-6 record and a title. Later, Musselman would coach the expansion Minnesota Timberwolves, and Murphy would play for him there. Musselman passed away in 2000.

Murphy's sideline demeanor is far different than Musselman's was. As hot as Musselman was on the sideline, that's how cool Murphy acts. But the Gordon coach said that he is very much a Bill Musselman disciple.

That Patroons team had Rick Carlisle and Scott Brooks on it, and both are now head coaches in the NBA. Sidney Lowe played for them, and he spent several seasons as the head coach at North Carolina State.

Small world, isn't it?

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I hope you had a chance to read my story in Friday's Eagle about Williams basketball assistant coaches Scott Day and Derek Johnston. It doesn't matter if it's Williams, UMass or Kansas, assistant coaches tend to toil in the shadows. It's nice to shine a little light.

The Eph assistants actually kind of knew each other before they came to Willamstown.

On Nov. 11, 2009, they played against each other. Johnston was a reserve at Alabama-Huntsville and Day started for Ouachita Baptist. Huntsville won the Gulf South Conference matchup 56-50.

"We didn't know each other," Day said. "I transferred to Ouachita Baptist and we played at Huntsville my junior year. His teams were really good, unfortunately. They got the better of us."

To reach Howard Herman:,
or (413) 496-6253.
On Twitter: @howardherman.


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