Philadelphia University’s Magee Tries For #903 TonightPosted by jstevrtc on February 23rd, 2010
Herb Magee goes for his 903rd win as a college basketball coach tonight as he and his Philadelphia University Rams host Goldey-Beacom College. A win this evening, if it happens, will put Magee at the top of the all-time NCAA wins list for a men’s basketball coach. Magee tied Bobby Knight on that list this past Saturday by achieving his 902nd win in a buzzer-beater against Post University.
It’s easy to tilt our heads, offer a short patronizing applause, and then forget about men like Magee, or like Don Meyer, the all-time wins leader for a men’s college coach (many of his wins came at Lipscomb when they were a member of the NAIA) who announced that he’d be retiring at the end of this season, because they don’t coach at the so-called “elite” level. But these men don’t need our patronization. They don’t coach basketball because it’s cute, because it’s easy — yeah, you try it — or because they want attention. Magee (and certainly Meyer) could have had all the attention he wanted, given the number of offers he’s had for higher profile jobs. These are men who coach basketball and stay at the Division II level or lower because this is where they feel they can best be both coaches and educators. It’s where they feel they can do the most good for their student/athletes when teaching them about existence both on and off the basketball floor, and/or because they know that the brighter spotlight inherent in the higher-profile jobs also comes with innumerable extra headaches that might compromise what they’re really out to achieve.
An article that profiled Magee by Jameson Fleming which appeared on Bleacher Report today does well in illuminating Magee’s impact on his athletes and the game in general. As if a 43-year head coaching career that includes over 900 wins and a Division II championship wasn’t enough, Magee also has a near-perfect graduation record for his players — again, that’s 43 years’ worth. He’s also called “The Shot Doctor” because of his ridiculous accuracy from outside, and the fact that stars like Charles Barkley and Jameer Nelson and pros from almost every team in the NBA have come to him for jump shot repair. Several of Magee’s former assistant coaches have gone on to head coaching jobs at other places at every level of college basketball, including Division I — Steve Donahue at Cornell and Sean Kearney at Holy Cross, to name but two.
One of those assistants, Goldey-Beacom head coach Chuck Hammond, will be Magee’s opponent tonight as he goes for the win that would break the tie with Knight and put Magee alone at the top, not to mention extend Philadelphia U.’s lead in D2′s Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference. We’ll update you on how it turned out later on tonight in our nightly After The Buzzer roundup.
Even if he doesn’t get it tonight, it’ll still happen this year, and it’s not like Magee’s going anywhere. #903 is just a remarkable signpost, not a stop sign. At the very least, the occasion has given us a chance to reflect on the profession of coaching, no matter the level or the sport. Sure, there are some out there who care more about themselves than their players and just want to climb the ladder to see how far they can get. And then there are coaches like Herb Magee who, whether they’re coaching in D1 Final Fours every year or as assistants at NAIA colleges or even high schools, are in it not just to win, but also to be a lifelong positive influence on their players, and they end up having more of a fantastic and memorable impact on the game.