Holy Family men's basketball coach resigns

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Holy Family men's basketball coach resigns

Thursday, February 24, 2011
Posted: 10:54 p.m. Updated: 11:17 p.m.
By Dan Gelston
The Associated Press

Holy Family men's basketball coach John O'Connor has resigned following his conflict with former player Matt Kravchuk.

Holy Family forward Sam Mushman told the Associated Press that O'Connor informed the team on Thursday he would step down.

The decision came after O'Connor learned he will not face criminal charges from the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office.

"I would have thought it would have gone a little longer before we found a solution," Mushman said by phone. "It was obviously very upsetting to hear. I'm still kind of, not in shock, but just taking it all in right now."

A Holy Family spokesman and O'Connor's lawyer both declined comment.

O'Connor apologized to Kravchuk when they appeared Thursday on ABC's "Good Morning America." On the morning show, O'Connor apologized. Kravchuk did not accept it.

Mushman said that O'Connor told the team in person. Mushman wanted to speak out because, except for "one or two people who are indifferent" the team backs O'Connor and wanted him to return.

"We never thought the situation would have gotten as blown out of proportion as it has," Mushman said.

According to a police report filed on Feb. 11, Kravchuk said he was grabbed and elbowed in the face by O'Connor, a move that allegedly resulted in a bloody nose and a bruised lip. The office's Private Criminal Complaints Unit reviewed the matter, and determined the event does not constitute a prosecutable criminal offense.

On GMA, Kravchuk said O'Connor apologized in a private meeting after the practice, saying he'd crossed the line. Kravchuk said he reported it to athletic director Sandra Michael, and was told it would be dealt with. He returned to practice. But then, after no apparent action was taken, he talked to Michael again, and she refused to divulge what action was taken.

O'Connor, on the show, repeatedly called the encounter an accident, saying he also "nudged" Kravchuk with his foot to keep the drill going.

O'Connor said he met with Michael, and they went through the tape together about what was appropriate and what wasn't.

"I just feel that I was coach and I was trying to get my team more competitive and in doing so, I made a mistake," he said. "I would take those 30 seconds back if I could."

Kravchuk wasn't particularly clear with what he wants the school to do.

"I just want some action taken," he said. "I felt the university owed it to me to take some sort of action and when they didn't, I took it to the police."

The coach and player then addressed each other.

O'Connor told Kravchuk, "I was just trying to make us a better team. ... I'm really sorry that it happened. If I could take it back, I certainly would."

Kravchuk responded, "It's kind of hard to accept your apology just because you claim it's justified and you weren't crossing the line."

Kravchuk said he attended the school to play basketball and now he couldn't, because of his wrist injury. He also said he couldn't play for O'Connor.

"As your player I'm supposed to be able to respect you," he said, "and I don't feel I can do that anymore."

Holy Family finishes the Division II regular season Friday at Felician College.

Mushman said the team considered some kind of tribute to their coach, but will simply play in his honor.

"We all know how we feel about him as a team," Mushman said. "It doesn't have to be said. We've spoken out in the news. We've written a team letter together. He knows we bought in to what he was trying to do."

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Big 5 Hall of Fame inducts 'maybe the greatest class we've ever put together'

Big 5 Hall of Fame inducts 'maybe the greatest class we've ever put together'

About midway through Monday night's Big 5 Hall of Fame ceremony, the oldest inductee of this year's class paid homage to the youngest.

That's how much hoops legend George Raveling, a 1960 Villanova graduate, was blown away by Penn alum Ibrahim Jaaber's impassioned speech that ended with a powerful poem about how basketball saved him.

"It kept running through my mind that you represent everything good about sports," Raveling said to Jaaber. "And I hope you'll continue to use your wisdom, your influence, to make the game better, to make the world better. As a 79-year-old-man, soon to be 80 in June, I want to tell you that if I come back in the next life, I want to be like you."

That touching moment, in many ways, was a perfect encapsulation of the ties that bind the Big 5, from one generation to the next. But aside from Raveling and longtime Philadelphia Inquirer sportswriter Bill Lyon -- who, despite battling Alzheimer's, courageously gave an acceptance speech to a standing ovation at the Palestra -- this year's class was filled with contemporary guards who clashed in some great Big 5 games not too long ago.

Among them were two current NBA players in Saint Joseph's icon Jameer Nelson (class of 2004) and former 'Nova star Randy Foye (2006), as well as Temple's Lynn Greer (2002) and Jaaber (2007). La Salle women's player Carlene Hightower (2008) was the other member of the star-studded class defined by tough, gritty Philadelphia guards.

"The inductees here for the Hall of Fame have got to be maybe the greatest class we've ever put together," said Villanova head coach Jay Wright, who closed the night by accepting the Big 5 Coach of the Year award right after Josh Hart took home Player of the Year honors. "I grew up in Philadelphia and we always talk about what a great place the Palestra is -- and it is. But when you listen to Lynn, Randy, Coach Rav, Ibby, Jameer, you know why this is a great place. It's because of all the great man that have played here -- outstanding, humble, articulate, intelligent men that understand they're part of something that's bigger than themselves. That's what makes the Big 5. That's what makes the Palestra."

Nelson, the National Player of the Year during St. Joe’s historic 2003-04 season, certainly showed what kind of person he is, inviting all of his old Hawks teammates who were in attendance to stand behind him as he accepted his Hall of Fame award. And he even choked up at one point as he described what those teammates, coach Phil Martelli and Saint Joseph's University have meant to him as he's forged a long and fruitful NBA career.

"Without them, none of this would be possible," said Nelson, the Hawks' all-time leader in points (2,094) and assists (713). "These guys mean the world to me."

Nelson, now with the Denver Nuggets, just wrapped up his 13th season in the NBA, calling it an "unbelievable ride" for a 5-foot-11 kid from Chester. That's two more years spent in the league than Foye, who Nelson thanked for forcing him to be better back in their college days. He also called Greer one of his "great friends" and said that Jaaber's speech "touched me in so many different ways, I wish more young kids could hear it."

"I'm very grateful to be inducted with you guys," Nelson said, although he did point out that when he was at St. Joe's, the Hawks had Villanova down 43-9 at halftime one year. 

"But those next couple years, we payed y'all back," said Foye, now with the Brooklyn Nets, during his own speech.

Those rivalries were especially meaningful to Foye, who also played against Jaaber in both high school and college.

"Being from North Jersey, you never hear about the Big 5," said Foye, a first-team All-American and Big 5 Player of the Year in 2006. "For me coming here and witnessing it up close and personal, it's just something truly amazing."

Foye added that everywhere he goes, he tries to embody what a Philly guard is -- "small but play big," as he put it -- while reminding people that he's proud to be a Villanova alum. The same can be said of Raveling, a longtime college coach and executive who was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2015.

"I'm so proud to say I'm a Big 5 product -- and a proud graduate of Villanova University," Raveling said. "I look back many times and realize the wisest decision I ever made in my lifetime was to enroll at Villanova University."

Just as he opened his speech, Raveling also closed it by saying he was "proud" to enter the Big 5 Hall of Fame the same year as Jaaber, whose remarks touched on spirituality, family and a unique journey from Morocco to New Jersey to Penn.

Jaaber also made sure to thank the person who perhaps embodies the Big 5 more than anyone else: former La Salle player, former Penn coach and current Temple coach Fran Dunphy.

"I don't think I could have had a better coach for me in my situation than my Coach Dunphy," said Jaaber, the 2006-07 Big 5 Player of the Year and the all-time Ivy League leader in steals (303). "I'm almost embarrassed to be inducted into the Hall of Fame before Coach Dunphy."

Archbishop Wood basketball star Collin Gillespie signs with Villanova

Archbishop Wood basketball star Collin Gillespie signs with Villanova

Archbishop Wood's Collin Gillespie, the Philadelphia Catholic League's MVP, has signed a national letter of intent to attend Villanova and play for Jay Wright.

Gillespie, during his senior year, averaged 24.1 points per game. The 6-foot-2 guard lead Archbishop Wood to their first Catholic League title in school history and followed that up with a PIAA State Championship game victory -- also a first for the school. Along with the league MVP, Gillespie was named Player of the Year by the Philadelphia Daily News.

"We are excited to have Collin and his family join the Nova Nation," Villanova coach Jay Wright said in a statement. "Collin comes from a great program at Archbishop Wood and has been well prepared by John Mosco. His guard skills, basketball IQ and winning instincts will be a welcome addition to our program."

Gillespie will join previously announced signees Dhamir Cosby-Roundtree (Neumann-Goretti High School in Philadelphia) and Jermaine Samuels (Rivers School, Weston, Mass.) in Villanova's class of 2021.