Life seemed good for Pat Flannery.
He was the highly regarded coach at his alma mater, Bucknell. He put the scenic small university in Lewisburg, Pa., on the basketball map by upsetting Kansas in the 2005 NCAA Tournament. The following year, the Bison knocked off Arkansas in the first round of the NCAAs.
Even though Bucknell failed to qualify for the NCAA tourney the past two seasons and was a disappointing 12-19 this past winter, it came as a surprise when Flannery decided to retire as the coach at age 50 to become a fundraiser for the school.
“I couldn’t be happier,” Flannery said during his farewell news conference. “My kids and family are happy about it. Coaching is really a young man’s game. I really can’t see returning to the bench. I’m not a guy that looks back. I’m looking forward to a new role at the university I love.”
While the stresses of Division I basketball would seemingly be lower in the Patriot League, Flannery has had his share of health problems in recent years. He missed two games in the 2004-05 season, five games in 2005-06 and two more this past season while falling ill during games.
Furthermore, the death of Wake Forest coach Skip Prosser last summer also hit close to home for Flannery and his program. Prosser’s son, Mark, is an assistant at Bucknell.
However, Flannery said health is not an issue.
“I feel great,” he said. “It’s just a matter of wanting to move into a role that I think is going to a great challenge.”
Winning at an institution that stresses academics such as Bucknell can be a challenge, but Flannery went 234-178 in his 14 seasons with the Bison and 329-221 overall, including a stint at Division III Lebanon Valley.
“I’ll still be wearing a tie in my new job but I won’t be chasing after officials anymore,” Flannery said with a laugh. “That will be a nice change of pace.”
Memphis got to the national championship game this past season before it blew a late lead and lost to Kansas in overtime. However, the Tigers could have an all-new starting lineup when they tip off the 2008-09 season.
While forward Joey Dorsey was the only senior among the starters, junior forward Robert Dozier, junior guards Antonio Anderson and Chris Douglas-Roberts and freshman guard Derrick Rose all have declared for the NBA Draft.
That means Memphis’ most experienced player next season could be forward Shawn Taggart, who averaged 17.1 minutes a game this past season as a sophomore with averages of 5.9 points and 4.2 rebounds.
Taggart has the potential to be a guy to build around, though, as he was second on the Tigers with a 117.8 offensive rating, just behind Douglas-Roberts’ 118.0. Taggart was also 47th in the country in turnover rate at 11.5
Douglas-Roberts seemingly spoke for all the underclassmen who declared when he said in a prepared statement, “I am truly grateful to the coaches and the university for giving me the opportunity to play and develop at Memphis, and I hope to represent them well in my NBA career. The ride that we all took together this year is what dreams are made of, and now I feel it is time to pursue my ultimate dream of playing in the NBA.”
Another Bruin Declares
UCLA is another Final Four team that has been decimated by underclassmen declaring for the NBA draft.
Junior forward Mbah a Moute became the latest Bruin to test the pro waters, though he has not hired an agent, which leaves open the possibility he could return to UCLA for his final college season. Mbah a Moute joined freshman center Kevin Love and sophomore guard Russell Westbrook in declaring.
Mbah a Moute said he would stay in the draft if he got positive feedback from NBA teams in his individual workouts. He also said he made his choice independent of Love and Westbrook.
"We each made our decision individually," Mbah a Moute told the Los Angeles Times. “Everybody is doing what's best for them."
As of now, the Bruins will have just two starters back in guards Darren Collison and Josh Shipp, who will be seniors. However, Collison might also declare before Sunday’s deadline.
Collison averaged 14.5 points last season and Shipp scored 12.2 points a game. Collison also had a 121.2 offensive rating, 58th-best in the nation and second on the Bruins to Love’s 127.3.
Tragedy at Alabama State
Barely a month after Alabama State won the Southwestern Athletic Conference regular-season title and appeared in the NIT, tragedy struck the Hornets’ program. Sophomore guard Deshean Porchea collapsed and died during a pickup game on campus Wednesday. The cause of death was not immediately determined.
“Deshean was such a good kid, such a good student and person,” Alabama State President Joe Lee told the Montgomery Advertiser. “It’s just hard to believe he’s gone.”
Porchea averaged 8.7 points and 2.1 points a game in 2007-08.
John Perrotto is an author of Basketball Prospectus.
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