Pops, The Cobra, and Omar Moreno…
With no game until Thursday night and work-delaying snow on the ground, a man can only lose so many times to his spouse in Scrabble before he hightails it to the interwebs. You don't go crying to your mom; rather, you go crying to KenPom. And when Stella joins your basketball research pursuits, you end up diverging into any number of projects.
So I'm told.
For some reason, the fact that in the past three seasons VCU has lost a quality assistant coach to a head job popped into my noggin last night. I can tell you all three are outstanding people, exactly the kind of character men you want helping to mold the young men under Shaka Smart's charge.
All three are showing the college basketball world they are bright basketball minds as well.
Mike Jones, fresh off his tooth-losing Final Four trip, was named the head coach at Radford in the summer of 2011. There was a clean-up job to be done, as the Highlanders drew the ire of the NCAA for some recruiting and benefits issues.
The year before Jones hit SW Virginia, Radford was 2-16, 5-25. They currently sit at 10-6 in the Big South, third in its North division. The Highlanders are 20-11 overall. I watched a game of his on CSN a couple weeks back, and the student section was buzzing.
Next to jump was Jamion Christian, who zipped up interstate 95 to his alma mater, Mount St. Mary's. The Mount was 6-12 and 8-21 in the year before Christian arrived. Last season, Christian's first, the Mount Mayhem made it to the NEC tournament finals and went 11-7 in conference and 18-14 overall. This year, The Mount enters the NEC tournament tonight at 9-7.
Finally, let's get to first-year head coach Will Wade, named to the top post at Chattanooga. The Mocs had not finished above .500 in the SoCon since the year Wade elbowed Jones and knocked out his tooth. Chattanooga introduced chaos to the conference and finished the regular season 12-4 and in second place, behind Davidson (who is moving to the A10 next season).
I don't write this to talk about any coaching trees or some other half-cocked media creation. Rather, it's about three men we know well who were smart enough to pay attention, were open to learning, and attacked an opportunity when it was presented.
They are our family, and you should root for them with an earnest zest this week as they enter their respective conference tournaments.
Last summer I bought a The Mount t-shirt and texted a picture of me wearing it at the beach during my family vacation to Christian. He texted back "don't let Shaka see that–he will kill you!"
I know he was kidding, and I know he was wrong. Somewhere in Shaka Smart's house is a Mount t-shirt, a Radford coffee mug, and a Chattanooga game program. All three will be near Smart this week, too, as he roots for our guys.