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Milk Duds

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I have no idea why, but I woke up this morning with a vision of Jeff Van Gundy riding Alonzo Mourning's leg.

For those not familiar with him, he is an announcer for NBA games on some network that broadcasts those things. Dig a little deeper and he is a little bit remarkable in modern day team sport coaching ascension.

In reverse order, he was the Head Coach of the Houston Rockets.
Head Coach of New York Knicks.
Assistant Coach New York Knicks under Pat Riley.
Assistant Coach New York Knicks under Rick Pitino.
Assistant Coach Providence Friars under Rick Pitino.
Head Coach McQuaid Jesuit High School Knights after finishing his Division 3 career as a point guard. He was hired by Pitino after a request for an assessment of one of the McQuaid players (probably Greg Woodard, Scott Martzloff, or Glenn Taggart.)

His scouting report on one of his own players, at 24, got him a D-1 job offer. I think that is super impressive. He was then carried to the NBA by a hot shot young coach, and then RETAINED by the hot shot's Hall Of Fame successor, whom he then REPLACED. Pat Freaking Riley!

During his year at McQuaid coaching the varsity team (I thought it went without saying, but for completeness and clarity he was the varsity coach) I was on the McQuaid 8th Grade team. I was a hack. I was 5'4", 115 and while a devotee of the '80s Celtics my game was a straight ripoff of Rick Mahorn. I hurt guys. Scored 3 points all year in a 77-20 road loss to East High (that and our 32-20 road win over North Star Christian Academy were by miles our best games, with our 93-7* home loss to Benjamin Franklin easily our worst.) I had one interaction with him. He was waiting for his team to start practice, and he and his big wavy hair stood in the doorway to the coaches' office watching OUR practice and eating Milk Duds.

I may not have made it clear, But I was not a skilled player on a REALLY bad team, and I was the sixth man. I got serious minutes on the SECOND WORST TEAM IN THE LAND. He watched just about our whole 45 minute practice. On one occasion a loose ball rolled right to him and he tossed it to me. I said "Thanks."

That is the full extent of our history.

However, I want that guy on my staff. In his case he has the goods to be a head coach, but even if he didn't I want a bunch of guys who can't get enough of it. I don't give a **** about impressive sleep deprivation because I like efficiency and do not like showboating (seriously, if you live in your office there is at least one thing seriously wrong with you and I won't want to be around you) but I do want coaches and scouts who are interested every time they come across some football. More valuable than a pedigree. They of course have to have other skills, but that is the first requirement.

And to this day whenever I see him or hear his name, in my mind I call Van Gundy Milk Duds. I cannot help or stop myself. It isn't done to disparage him, and I don't assign nicknames to people very often and almost never use them when they are a pre-existing condition, but This one has stuck with me.

*We played four 8 minute quarters, so Franklin, taking it easy on us in the fourth, put up about 3 points per minute to our 2/15th.

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Updated 04-16-2016 at 12:51 PM by ScottDCP

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