O'Connor moves on without Holy Family

O'Connor moves on without Holy Family

Friday, February 25, 2011
Posted: 5:30 p.m. Updated: 7:14 p.m.
By Dan Gelston
The Associated Press

John O'Connor had his reputation forever stained by 40 seconds of videotape.

It cost him his job at Holy Family.

He only hopes he hasn't lost his career.

O'Connor wants to coach again, even after his first season at tiny Division II Holy Family was cut short after a videotape of a physical incident during a "combat rebounding" drill hit the Internet. His failed attempt at repairing his relationship with Matt Kravchuk caused him to resign Thursday night, a day before Holy Family's regular-season finale.

O'Connor knows what he'd tell university officials potentially concerned about the altercation if he's ever offered another coaching job.

"I never want to change my passion and my intensity toward the game and how I teach it," he said by phone Friday. "I certainly would take a look at how I might deliver it. I don't want to change the passion, but maybe how it's delivered is something I certainly would look at."

He described his life over the last month as both a "nightmare" and like being in a "plane wreck." O'Connor believed he'd still be on the sideline, calling plays, barking instructions, had it not been for the video leaked to local news.

"When they kind of hung and buried me without due process, it made it difficult for me and my team to really kind of go on as we had," O'Connor said.

O'Connor and Kravchuk became instant media sensations when footage of the incident went viral.

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.

Once it became clear the relationship could not be salvaged, O'Connor called his team together for an off-campus meeting and resigned.

Holy Family issued a statement Friday that it had accepted O'Connor's resignation. Holy Family athletic director Sandra Michael did not return requests for comment.

Holy Family forward Sam Mushman said the team supported O'Connor and wanted him to return.

"He's going to fight for us to the end," Mushman said. "No matter what happens, he was on our side and be there for us."

Holy Family guard Nate Hodge took to Twitter on Thursday night and Friday to express his unhappiness over the decision. In a response to a Twitter question, Hodge wrote, "... o'connor was the best coach I ever had."

When a follower wrote, "tell your ex-teammate to man up," Hodge replied "tell me about it."

O'Connor was touched by the support.

"When I was condemned without due process, they helped me get through it," he said.

Kravchuk said he attended the school to play basketball and now he couldn't, claiming he suffered a wrist injury in the dust-up. He also said he couldn't play for O'Connor.

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.

Attempts to reach Kravchuk's attorney were not successful.

O'Connor's life has been in upheaval since the drill backfired on him. He was shown pushing Kravchuk to the ground during a 1-on-1 drill, then kicked him. O'Connor berates his player and tosses him out of the late January practice.

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

Philadelphia 76ers forward Thaddeus Young played under O'Connor at Georgia Tech and they exchanged texts on Friday. Young had run the rebounding drill with O'Connor and called the incident "blown out of proportion."

"He's just trying to make the guys tougher," Young said. "He didn't really mean to do anything like that. I saw him nudge the guy off the court. I know the drill, so I know it was to get the next group onto the court."

Georgia Tech coach Paul Hewitt said his former assistant should not be judged on "40 seconds" of a conflict with a player. O'Connor spent the previous seven seasons at Georgia Tech working under Hewitt. Hewitt calls O'Connor "one of the best human beings I've been around, ever."

"I think it's a shame, a real shame, that people who don't know what he's about, don't know what he stands for, are making these summation on his character and what kind of person he is," Hewitt said.

Hewitt said he's known O'Connor since 1992 and had never seen the coach engage in similar behavior. He hopes the blowup won't cost O'Connor his career.

O'Connor started at Georgia Tech as men's basketball director of operations for the 2004-05 season. In June 2005, he was elevated to an assistant coach.

"I'm not going to sit here and defend anything," Hewitt said. "I'm just saying this man is a really good honest man."

Mushman also felt bad for Kravchuk.

"I don't think either Coach or Matt thought this was going to get to where it got," he said. "I have no issues or problem with Matt. Matt's a good kid. Maybe he felt disrespected."

O'Connor, a Penn State graduate, also was an assistant coach at Drexel and Lafayette.

He defended turning over the tape as the right thing to do because he felt he had nothing to hide. He apologized to Kravchuk and the team and believed it was all behind them.

Instead, Kravchuk and O'Connor's careers imploded on YouTube where the highlight can be found under "Holy Family Coach Attacks Player."

"My players know I tape every practice," he said. "If they ever found out one was missing, it would be saying I did something wrong."

He's received an outpouring of support from his peers. But O'Connor understands why critics who have never played competitive basketball have denounced him for the outburst. He wants to prove he's not a crazed coach who doesn't care about his players.

"I'm a good coach," he said. "There's nothing you could throw at me as head coach now I haven't been through.

"I'm not sure what's going to happen."

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

Challenges await Darryl Reynolds, Villanova in run to repeat as national champs

Challenges await Darryl Reynolds, Villanova in run to repeat as national champs

VILLANOVA, Pa. — Darryl Reynolds said it hurt. And he wasn’t alone. 

A month ago, Reynolds and the rest of the Villanova Wildcats found out five-star freshman big man Omari Spellman would not be eligible to play in 2016-17.

And despite Spellman — at 6-foot-9 and 260 pounds — being the biggest competition cutting into Reynolds’ playing time for his senior year, Reynolds understood the ramifications from losing what was expected to be a key cog in Villanova’s next run for glory.

“We lost a — no pun intended — big piece to the puzzle,” Reynolds said Tuesday at Villanova’s media day. “He went down, but everybody else has realized that we need that much more from everybody else.

“Me and Omari are close, in more ways than on the court. It would’ve been exciting to play with him. But it also provided that much more motivation.”

Motivation because Reynolds, a Lower Merion grad, also understands what the ramifications mean for him, too. The 6-foot-9, 240-pound senior may arguably be the most important player on the 2016-17 Wildcats. 

For three years, Reynolds has largely taken a backseat, hidden by the shadow of Daniel Ochefu. Now he’s front and center.

“He battled through that,” fellow senior Josh Hart said. “Never complained. Never had any down moments. Brought it every single day. We know he can play at this level.”

Reynolds heads a position in which Villanova was supposed to have depth. Now it has question marks. Reynolds and Spellman were going to be a 1-2 punch inside and a perfect supplement to a bevy of offensive talent around them. The question marks up front include sophomore Tim Delaney and freshman Dylan Painter. How quickly the two of them get going will be big. And so, too, will be figuring out where Fordham transfer forward Eric Paschall fits in the rotation.

Coach Jay Wright, who said Reynolds would be a starter, talked more about the other pieces behind Reynolds when asked what he’d be expecting from the senior big man.

“I think part of our challenge is Tim Delaney and Dylan Painter,” Wright said. “Which one of them, if not both of them, can step up and give us the depth that Darryl gave us last year up front when we needed size? Down the stretch in big games against big-time teams, you need that size. We’ve got to develop Tim and Dylan and see how they do with that, see how Eric Paschall can do. Can he play bigger? We definitely have our challenges.”

Those challenges also include replacing leadership roles vacated by Ryan Arcidiacono, Ochefu and a trio of walk-ons.

Insert Reynolds there, too. The Wildcats will start three seniors this year. Hart and Kris Jenkins may do most of the scoring, but they’re pretty reserved off the court and when talking to the media.

“Obviously Ryan (Arcidiacono) was a great leader for us. He was our rock,” Hart said. “When you look at this team, a lot of times we look at [Reynolds]. He calms everybody down. He vocally tries to make sure everybody’s on one accord. Basketball-wise, he’s always been good. You saw the Providence game last year when we needed him to step up and he had, what, like 19 and 11?”

Hart remembers the numbers well, even if he added an extra rebound to the ledger. Reynolds was 9 for 10 from the floor and had two blocks in 36 minutes of action to help the Wildcats earn revenge with a road win after the Friars beat them in Philadelphia two weeks prior.

That game was the last of a three-game stretch in late January into early February when Ochefu was sidelined with a concussion. Reynolds’ minutes over that stretch: 29, 31 and 36, respectively.

That experience, Reynolds says, coupled with the rest of 2015-16 — when he saw an uptick in minutes from his sophomore season’s 5.4 per game to 17.1 per game — will be easy to draw from in 2016-17.

“There’s nothing like getting out there and actually playing,” Reynolds said. “You see a lot from the sidelines. You learn a lot playing spot minutes. You get different things. But just being out there throughout entire games, playing 20-plus minutes, it teaches you things that you could never have learned from another perspective. I learned a lot from those experiences and I think it made me the player that I am in many ways. It’s the same thing with this year. I’m still going to learn a ton in a sense of being out there that much more and not having Daniel. 

“In many ways he taught me a lot. So not having him, not having that voice in my ear, not having that guy to go against in practice, it will make me grow up. 

“Nothing wrong with that,” he said with a smile.

Temple picked to finish 6th in AAC preseason poll

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Temple picked to finish 6th in AAC preseason poll

This is starting to become a trend. One Temple hopes to continue to prove wrong.

For the third straight year, Temple was chosen to finish sixth in the American Athletic Conference preseason poll. The poll, which was released on Monday, is voted on by the conference's head coaches.

Also selected to finish sixth last season, the Owls posted a 21-12 overall record and a 14-4 mark in the AAC to reach the NCAA Tournament. In 2014-15, TU tied for third in the AAC with a 13-5 record and was one of the last teams left out of the Big Dance.

Cincinnati was tabbed to win the American title in the poll, just ahead of UConn.

Temple, who returns three starters from last season's team, opens the 2016-17 campaign against city rival La Salle at the Liacouras Center on Nov. 11.