By Frank Rizzo
LOCH SHELDRAKE August 31, 2001 Feeling that he has burnished his resume enough at Sullivan County Community College, mens basketball coach Will Brown has moved on.
Brown, 29, accepted a position as an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator at SUNY-Albany, a Division I school.
Earlier this month, Brown had given his commitment to the University of Pittsburgh of the Big East. That was on a Friday. The next day, there were four messages on his answering machine from Albany coach Scott Beeten, offering him the first assistant position.
Scott was familiar with our program, Brown noted. He had been to several practices and had watched us play in the regional and national tournaments.
Beeten had already signed Browns point guard, Earv Opong, along with center/forward Ty Brunson to scholarships.
Brown decided to go with the less prestigious but more promising Albany offer.
It was a no-brainer, Brown said of his decision. Pittsburgh is a higher level, but I would have been a third assistant there. My goal is to be a Division I head coach. There would have been too many levels to climb at Pittsburgh.
Brown said his responsibilities as Albanys recruiting coordinator would also enhance his curriculum vitæ and make a name for myself.
Beeten, reached for comment, said he could not talk about the hiring until Brown signs the contract on September 7.
Brown and his wife, Jamie, have already made the move to the Albany area, where Jamie has her roots.
I give her credit because she told me that if Pittsburgh was the best situation as far as advancing my career, then we would go there even though shes from here, Brown said.
Browns collegiate coaching career began as an assistant at the College of Saint Rose in Albany. In his three years there the team went 8713 and made the NCAA Division II Tournament Elite Eightall three seasons, with one appearance in the Final Four.
Brown came to Sullivan in 1998. The basketball program had just ended a year of probation imposed by the National Junior College Athletic Association because of eligibility violations.
In his three season at SCCC, the Generals went 9210 and made two appearances in the NCAA Division III national tourney. The squad lost in the national championship game to Cedar Valley College of Texas last March.
Being at Sullivan helped to develop me as a coach, Brown said. I ran my own program, called my own shots.
Assigned just one assistant Willis Easley the first year, Chris DePew the last two Brown had to do many tasks himself.
I think the experience helped turn me into an all-around well-rounded coach, Brown reflected.
Program Will Carry On
Browns departure has moved Chris DePew to acting mens basketball coach and created more problems in an athletic department already short with the resignation of athletic director Jack Mager.
In addition, SCCC needs to fill one coaching/instructor and one coaching position as the school has added mens and womens cross country to its fall womens volleyball offering. Mager had been the volleyball coach for the past three seasons.
Dave Thomson, the Dean of Enrollment, Management and Student Development, oversees the athletic department at SCCC.
Ive asked Chris to step in and keep in touch with our recruits and determine whos still coming, said Thomson, who added that its too early to say that Chris will be offered the full-time head coaching position.
DePew said that he and Brown worked closely in recruiting the new crop of Generals hopefuls.
I met every one of them with Will and Im pretty confident we can secure our current recruiting class, said DePew, 32, of Kerhonkson. We have five coming back from last years team and were having them contacting the recruits as well.
Brown said his leaving caused four 6-foot-7 or taller recruits to change their minds about coming to Sullivan.
Its the nature of this business, Brown said. I told them that if they wanted to be part of something special, then they should come to Sullivan. But I understand them moving on.
Brown said he backs DePew getting the head coaching slot.
It would be in the best interest of the program if Chris took over, Brown said. I wouldnt have any questions about his [coaching ability].
Soon after losing the national championship game, Brown and DePew sat down and plotted as difficult a schedule as they could make.
The result is that Sullivan will play nine Division I junior colleges and perennial Division III national tournament powers Roxbury CC of Massachusetts (national champ in 99) and Ocean County CC of New Jersey.
People will have to be patient with Chris, Brown noted, anticipating a tough road if in fact DePew will be officially named head coach. We didnt want any gimmes in the schedule.
DePew said he hopes to convince recruits that what Sullivan offers, especially the exposure and the potential for scholarships when moving on will continue even if Brown is gone.
More than the on-court success, Brown is proud of his players academic success.
Eight from last years squad not only graduated, but went on to earn scholarships:
Opong and Brunson at Division I Albany.
Six-foot-8 center Kris Ibezim to Division I Quinnipiac College in Hamden, Ct.
Justin Dawson of Monticello, a 6-7 swingman, will continue his playing career at Division II California State in California, Pa.
Five-nine guard Dereck Rankin will play at Division II Clarion College in Pennsylvania.
Derrell Keys, a 6-2 guard, will continue at Division II Dowling College on Long Island.
Curtis Henry, a 6-8 center, entered Division II New York Institute of Technology.
Laverne Goulbourne, a 6-5 guard, is enrolled at the University of Bridgeport, Ct., a Division II school.
Rankin, Keys and Goulbourne all belonged to the Phi Theta Kappa National Honor Society with a grade point average of 3.7 or higher.
When Mager hired Brown three years ago he wanted him to bring the program back to national prominence after a disappointing 1997-98 season.
Brown is certain he fulfilled that charge.
I felt confident that we had enough talent to compete at the highest levels, Brown said.