20th & Olney hopes to repeat recent tournament run

 

It’s not uncommon for former La Salle players to return to Tom Gola Arena each summer to work out and play pickup basketball.

With The Basketball Tournament returning to Philadelphia in 2015, it only made sense that the ex-Explorers would band together and enter a team in the Northeast Region.

“The main reason [for entering] is how close the program is here,” said Andrew McGlynn, the La Salle men’s basketball video coordinator and GM/coach of its TBT team, 20th & Olney. “[Coach Dr. John Giannini] has done such a good job of making it a family atmosphere around here.”

20th & Olney, named after the major intersection on the La Salle campus, will follow in the footsteps of other Big 5 teams. Last year, a group Temple alumni played as the North Board Street Bullies roster, while Team ROBY represented Villanova and featured four players from the Wildcats' 2009 Final Four team.

20th & Olney will be comprised of several key players on La Salle’s 2013 NCAA Sweet 16 team along with some more recent graduates. Ramon Galloway, who averaged 17.2 points per game as a senior in 2012-13, and Tyrone Garland, who became an NCAA Tournament star with his game-winner -- called the 'Southwest Philly Floater' -- over Marshall Henderson and Ole Miss, are both on the roster.

Adding an inside presence will be 7’0” Steve Zack and forward Jerrell Wright, both of whom were sophomores during the Sweet 16 run. The two big men just finished their collegiate careers earlier this spring and are currently working out for professional teams.

“I think [our size will] be key for us,” McGlynn added. “I remember watching the tournament last year. It’s a lot of guard play, but no one really has the bigs who are both skilled and still in shape.”

Many of these alumni teams are constructed and organized by people with a long-standing connection to their school: former managers, like Matt Marske and the Majerus SLU Crew; ex-players like Kieran Piller, who led the Notre Dame Fighting Alumni to the TBT title last summer; alums-turned-media members, like Craig Belhumeur (Providence alumni), or Jeremy Davis (Wisconsin alumni). McGlynn, though, didn't even have a connection to the university until late September of 2014.

College coaching is a tricky business to get into and even tricker to stay in. Every spring/summer the coaching carousel causes chaos, not just for head coaches, but for those who work underneath them, creating a far-reaching domino effect. Last March, Bruce Pearl made his return to college coaching when he accepted the job at Auburn. He hired away longtime La Salle assistant Haris AdlerTo replace him, Giannini promoted director of basketball operations, Sean Neal, to assistant coach and Matt Bloom, the video coordinator to Neal's former position, leaving a vacancy on the Explorers' staff.

McGlynn, who had just finished up his second year as a grad assistant at Detroit, had already taken a full-time position with the Hoop Group when he got a call from Giannini in late September. McGlynn had met a La Salle business professor at a wedding that summer, which helped connect McGlynn, the aspiring coach, to La Salle. While he'll be coaching players like Galloway, Garland and D.J. Peterson for the first time, he benefits from having a year of experience with Zack and Wright.

La Salle doesn't host summer camps like most colleges do. The responsibility of those camps typically falls on the operations and coordinators' shoulders, as the head coach and assistant coaches are on the road recruiting during the month of July. Without camp obligations on his plate, McGlynn can focus on replicating 2013's tournament run, which could have added bonuses aside from the $1,000,000 grand prize.

"If our team makes it far, I’ll be coaching on ESPN," McGlynn said. "So, it could give me some exposure that way."

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