IONA’S NEW COACH EARNS RAVE REVIEW

Not that we’re looking to put any pressure on new Iona coach Kevin Willard, but his former boss, Louisville coach Rick Pitino, said Willard reminds him of another former assistant, Billy Donovan.

Yes, that would be the same Donovan who just became the first coach to lead his team to back-to-back NCAA championships in 15 years.

“Oh, geez,” said the 32-year-old Willard. “I think it’s very hard right now to compare anybody to Billy. I think it’s one of the biggest compliments because I know Billy’s work ethic. I know what type of person Billy is, so from that standpoint that’s one of the biggest compliments.”

Willard isn’t expected to compete for the MAAC title, no less the national title next season. What he is expected to do is improve on the team’s 2-28 record.

He seems to be the perfect fit. Not only did he spend more than a decade working under Pitino at Louisville and in the NBA but his father, Holy Cross coach Ralph Willard, is considered among the sharpest minds in college basketball.

“I told him it’s a tough business, so if you’re going to be in it, make sure you’re with people you can work with because you’re going to be in the foxhole together and don’t go somewhere that you have to re-invent the wheel,” said Ralph Willard. “There’s great tradition at Iona, so you don’t have to re-invent the wheel. You just have to put it back on.”

Kevin Willard, a Long Island native, said he’s retaining Vin Parise from Jeff Ruland’s staff and he’s brought Dan McHale with him from Louisville. He’ll add a third assistant in the coming weeks.

After yesterday’s news conference in which he was officially introduced, Willard was working with returning players. He said he’s already received assurances from top recruits Andre Tarver of The Bronx and Rashon Dwight of New Jersey that they will honor their commitments.

JORDAN WINS HAGGERTY

The improbable career of Marist guard Jared Jordan continued to defy all expectations last night when he was named the winner of the 74th Haggerty Award as the met area’s best college basketball player.

Jordan is the first Marist player to win the award outright. He arrived in Poughkeepsie four years ago from Hartford as an unheralded player, but this season led the nation in assists for the second consecutive time.

Marist coach Matt Brady received the Peter A. Carlesimo Coach of the Year Award. “Jared is a special player,” said Brady. “He has a lot of Steve Nash in him.”

Seton Hall’s Eugene Harvey was named rookie of the year. Joining Jordan and Harvey on the All-Met First Team are Loren Stokes and Antoine Agudio of Hofstra, Jason Thompson of Rider and St. John’s center Lamont Hamilton.

Seton Hall’s Brian Laing, Fordham’s Bryant Dunston and Marcus Stout, John Baumann of Columbia and Anthony Mason Jr. of St. John’s received Second Team honors.

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Source : http://nypost.com/2007/04/11/ionas-new-coach-earns-rave-review/

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