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A-10 Offseason News Update

October 23, 2003 Conference Notes No Comments

Atlantic-10 Offseason News Update

by Jonathan Scherner



In April, head coach Oliver Purnell left Dayton after nine years as coach to take over as coach of the Clemson Tigers. Dayton acted quickly and four days later reached an agreement with Brian Gregory to take over as coach of the Flyers. Gregory had spent the previous four seasons as an assistant coach under Tom Izzo at Michigan State, including the last two seasons as associate head coach. With all four assistants leaving with Purnell, Gregory found four new coaches to help with the transition. Billy Schmidt is the associate head coach after three seasons as the associate head coach to Tommy Amaker at Michigan. The other assistants are Morgan Cassara and Mike Jackson. Cassara was the head coach at Worchestor Academy and last season won the New England Prep School Championship. Jackson spent the last two seasons as an assistant coach at Toledo. As the new Director of Basketball Operations, Gregory added Jon Borovich who was a graduate assistant at Michigan State with Gregory.


Duquesne head coach Danny Nee hired Rodney Perry as the new Coordinator of Basketball Operations. Perry spent last season as an assistant at Southwest Baptist University and is a graduate of Southwest Missouri State. The Dukes also had two players transfer in the off-season. Junior guard Aly Samabaly transferred to the University of Maryland-Eastern Shore. In two years at Duquesne, Samabaly averaged 2 points and 1.5 rebounds a game. Another junior guard left the program when Simplice Njoya was released from his scholarship this summer. It has not been announced where Njoya will transfer.

George Washington

Head coach Karl Hobbs received a contract extension after leading the Colonials to a 12-17 record last season. Hobbs’ contract has been extended through the 2007-08 season and he is 24-33 in his two seasons as head coach at GW.


Head coach Billy Hahn announced that Louis Twigg is the new Director of Basketball Operations. Twigg has six years of coaching experience at Temple and the College of Charleston.


Along with South Carolina and Southwest Missouri State, Richmond will host the Guardians Classic from Nov. 17-18. Completing the 12-team field will be Elon, Gardner Webb, Idaho, Mississippi Valley State, Mount St. Mary’s, New Hampshire, San Francisco, Tennessee Martin, and Western Illinois.


Senior guard Romain Sato spent the summer playing for the Central African Republic National Team in the Olympic Qualifying Tournament. Xavier also announced that the 2003 Black Coaches Association Classic Basketball Tournament would be played at Xavier from Nov. 15-17. The field will include San Diego, Illinois-Chicago, Ohio, UC Irvine, Mercer, Oakland, and Coppin St.



After four seasons as coach of Fordham, Bob Hill was fired in May after leading the Rams to their worst season in school history. Dereck Whittenburg was hired to replace Hill on May 15. Whittenburg has 18 seasons of coaching experience, most recently as head coach at Wagner where he went 67-50. Last season, Whittenburg led the Seahawks to the NCAA Tournament. Whittenburg is best known for taking the desperation shot in the 1983 National Championship game that Lorenzo Charles slammed home to give NC State the upset victory over Houston. Whittenburg hired four assistant coaches to round out his staff. Travis Lyons spent the last two seasons as an assistant at Manhattan. Ross Burns was most recently at Youngstown State, but also spent time as an assistant to Whittenburg at Wagner. Ray Martin was an assistant at Tennessee St. and was the former head coach at Long Island University. Alex Groothius is the Director of Basketball Operations and spent last season as an assistant at Brooklyn College. Groothius also was an assistant at Wagner under Whittenburg.


After one season as Athletic Director at UMass, Ian McCaw left to take over as AD at Baylor University. Head coach Steve Lappas announced in July that redshirt freshman Stephen Briggs was dismissed from the team for violating team rules. Briggs was previously dismissed from the team in Oct. 2002 for violating team rules but was reinstated in January 2003.

Rhode Island

Senior guard Brian Woodward will return to the team for his fourth season after he successfully graduated in four seasons. Woodward sat out his freshman year under Prop 48. Last season, Woodward was the team’s leading scorer and rebounder. The school also announced that Midnight Madness would return after not having it last season. It will take place on Oct. 17.

St. Joseph’s

Senior guard Jameer Nelson announced that he would return for his senior season. Nelson had originally declared for the draft in May and participated in the Chicago pre-draft camp, but decided to withdraw his name from the draft and return to the Hawks. Nelson is expected to be a candidate for both the Wooden Award and an All-American candidate.

St. Bonaventure

In April, St. Bonaventure fired head coach Jan van Brenda Kolff and accepted the resignations of University President Robert Wickenheiser and AD Gothard Lane. The resignations and firing resulted from the scandal that emerged when the school was forced to forfeit six wins and the team decided not to play their final two games against UMass and Dayton and accept them as forfeits. Anthony Solomon was hired as head coach along with three assistants. Solomon was an assistant coach at Notre Dame for the last three seasons before taking over the Bonnies. The assistant coaches are John Brannon, Jason Gee and David First. Brannon was an assistant at Eastern Kentucky for the last three seasons. Further fallout from the March scandal led to second leading scorer Mike Gansey deciding to transfer. It is expected that Gansey will transfer to West Virginia.


In May, it was announced that associate head coach Nate Blackwell resigned from the team for personal reasons. Blackwell had been on suspension since March after he did not show up for the Owls’ game with LaSalle. It was previously thought that Blackwell, who was a player under head coach John Chaney at Temple, would take over the Owls once Chaney retired. In September, Mark Macon was announced as Blackwell’s replacement on the coaching staff. Macon is the Owls’ all-time leading scorer and spent six seasons in the NBA. His last position was as youth recreation program director for the Abington Pennsylvania YMCA. In other news, junior guard Brian Polk declared early for the NBA draft. Last season, Polk averaged 13 points and 4.5 boards a game.


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