By Ted Waddell
LOCH SHELDRAKE December 19, 2006 “It’s been a great ride,” said Chris DePew after he nailed down his 100th National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) victory as head coach of the men’s basketball program at Sullivan County Community College.
“I never thought I’d see the day,” said DePew after the Generals tamed the Nassau Community College Lions 77-62 Saturday night “Down in the Bunker” at Paul Gerry Fieldhouse.
With the ‘W’, he has racked up a 110-18 record at the local two-year college.
DePew came to SCCC the same day former Coach Will Brown was hired back on August 28, 1999.
“He was looking for an assistant coach and I was interested in getting involved on the collegiate level of basketball,” recalled DePew recalled.
“Thankfully, Will and I hit it off and I became his assistant,” he added.
In 2001, Brown pulled up stakes and headed off to a head coaching job at the University of Albany, a National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I institution.
A few weeks later DePew was named Sullivan’s athletic director.
While searching for a new coach, DePew took over the reins of the Generals until Chad Beeten was hired, and DePew and Beeten co-coached for about a year until Beeten left.
After meeting with the college president, DePew convinced the administration that he had the right stuff to take over the men’s basketball program as well as holding onto the duties as athletic director.
Now in his ninth year in charge of the Generals, DePew has weathered a few storms. Among them were a move to force him to choose between serving as men’s basketball head coach and being an AD in charge of a program poised to take on new challenges, a bunch of naysayers who continue to think the Generals aren’t for real and the recent arrest of a player for possession of marijuana and a wad of cash. (That player has since left SCCC).
“I try to go out and get the best kids I can find, that we know are going to be able to handle the load academically and socially,” DePew said. “That’s what I look for… and so far we’ve been fairly lucky in being able to do that.”
During the Brown/DePew years, Brown was credited with 90 wins. After DePew passed him on the SCCC career wins list earlier this season, Brown called up DePew to offer his congratulations.
In the 1990s, Coach Dave Possinger led the Generals to a 146-5 record along with a couple of NJCAA Division III national championships.
Today, Possinger is working for a scouting service in Alabama.
“I’m number two on the list, and he’s next in line,” said DePew of the prospect of recording 47 more victories to become Sullivan’s winningest coach.
“I don’t know if I can take it that long,” he said. “He had quite a run, but I want to have one of my own.”
DePew said Everage Richardson, who is now at NCAA Div. I Coastal Carolina University, was the best hoopster he’s coached at SCCC. But DePew noted that current sophomore Jason Johnson “is working his way up that ladder.”
“He’s a special kid, a great young man,” said DePew of Richardson, who while wearing a Generals’ uniform posted some impressive stats.
DePew got into coaching by starting a youth program in his hometown of Kerhonkson. Before coming to SCCC, he spent some time coaching at the high school level.
“I love the game of basketball,” he said. “You can teach these young men about responsibility and sportsmanship, and try to get the kids to love the game not just play it.”
Most of his hoopsters come to SCCC from New York City, and it takes a while for some of them to get used to playing on a team.
“They know the point of the game is to put that little orange thing through the orange hole, but getting them to understand there’s so much more to the game is my biggest challenge,” DePew commented.
“When you see kids finally click and understand what I’m trying to teach them, that makes it all worth while,” he added.
Now that the first semester is a thing of the past, DePew is looking forward to a few weeks of rest and relaxation.
But a national championship banner is still on his mind.
“We have a long standing tradition of winning and producing great players,” DePew said. “It’s a tribute to my staff, and the support of my family and the administration here at Sullivan.
“Hopefully, we can stay on top and bring that fourth national championship back to Sullivan.”