- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 25, 2001

Mike Lonergan hears the whispers among his brothers in the coaching fraternity and reads of those who, suddenly, inexplicably, have a profound desire to spend quality time with their families, and he wonders about his place in the game within the game.
He has seen this or that coaching job come up since he led Catholic University to the Division III national championship last month, and he is in the mix at Towson University, and now, across the city from his office in Brookland, he is intrigued by the goings-on at George Washington.
Tom Penders, of course, has left the George Washington basketball program to be with his family, because that is the kind of guy he is, a devoted family guy, loving to a fault, and this overwhelming commitment to family came to him after the Colo nials posted a 14-18 record last season and treated at least two black eyes off the court.
Attila Cosby stayed in the news because of his unfortunate bodily fluid exchange with a woman, and four players became long-distance chatterboxes after they discovered an access code, and it was obvious that the love in the basketball family was dysfunctional.
This was not unexpected. Penders left Texas with a posse hot on his trail, but as he explained it, after he made it across the Potomac River and received institutional immunity in Foggy Bottom, it was all a big misunderstanding, nothing serious, and he had the career record and name recognition to finesse the red flags, alarm bells and suspicions.
Penders could talk a good game, as college basketball coaches are required to do, especially in the homes of tall nitwits trying to decide whether to major in basketball or cold fusion.
This is another one of the games within the game, chasing the next batch of indentured servants, and everyone plays along, because it is about securing as many victories and Benjamins as possible. It is not much of a job at times, being a fraud, selling your honor, dignity and principles to tall nitwits, but it pays well, and America seems to think it is important.
Penders, empowered by a $1 million parting gift, is no longer in the business after opting to free the family man trapped inside his basketball self, and Jack Kvancz, George Washington's director of athletics, is searching to find the right person to take the Colonials back to those glorious times of the Sweet 16 in 1993.
Joe McKeown, the women's basketball coach at George Washington, is an appealing candidate, if not overqualified.
McKeown has built a powerhouse program while maintaining his integrity in the highly politicized wing of the sport. He has won, and won big at times, and won with players who were not necessarily on the usual short lists.
His is the lead program in the area, the men's programs included, and if you think it has been easy, somehow less than genuine, you don't know how it works in women's basketball. You don't know how shallow the talent pool is. You must have missed this first-round score in the NCAA tournament last month: UConn 101, Long Island 29.
McKeown is considering the move, as well he should, because as a man in a woman's world, he is one of them, one of the oppressors, and if he ever gets too big for his britches, he can be placed in the same region as Geno Auriemma, Leon Barrmore and Andy Landers.
Leonard Hamilton's name surfaced last weekend, and as another recently avowed family man, there was a certain symmetry to it before he dismissed the compliment. Hamilton elected to become a family man after going 19-63 with the Wizards and meeting with Michael Jordan, and his sudden yearning to spend more time with his family is eased by the three years left on his contract.
Lonergan is a family man, too, if that really matters in basketball, the father of one, married to Maggie Meagher, a product of Melvin Whitaker's 72-stitch family at Mount St. Mary's College.
Whitaker used to interest Jeff Jones, who now explains his basketball philosophy at American University instead of the University of Virginia, and yes, it is a small world.
Lonergan, who has no criminals or whores or scams in his past, is untainted by the morally bankrupt thinking in Division I, which is a good thing. He keeps hope alive. He won a national championship at an institution that refuses to compromise its educational mission, and it just so happens that Kvancz, small world that it is, has firsthand experience with Catholic.
Kvancz spent seven seasons as the basketball coach at Catholic, starting in 1975-76, four of them at the Division I level, and can appreciate what Lonergan has achieved there. If you must know, Kvancz is planning to call Lonergan after he sifts through all the appeals coming across his desk.
Lonergan never has had to get down on all fours in the home of a tall nitwit, which either is a positive or a negative, depending on your point of view, and a phone call his way may be too obvious, not creative enough, but you could do a lot worse.
Kvancz and George Washington are looking to come out of the worse now, and that is not to get into the forgettable John Kuester years, undertaken because of his link to Dean Smith.
They do not have to look too hard. McKeown is on campus, and Lonergan is across town, and each man, in his own way, for different reasons, can be the air freshener to the odor that often envelops Division I.

Copyright © 2019 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide