By Anthony Caruso III | Publisher
In two weeks, a new regime takes over The College of New Jersey Athletic Department. Dr. Sharon Beverly takes over as the TCNJ Athletic Director on March 1st. And, in college sports, a new athletic director typically evaluates the head coaches before making a decision on their future.
But at the Division III level, it is tougher to fire a head coach. The Lions have two head coaches, who have been around for more than 20 years.
And others who have been around for less than 10 years at the school. Wayne Dickins, the head football coach, has been at the college for less than a year.
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He was hired in July after long time head coach Eric Hamilton retired. But many of the head coaches are going to be safe when Dr. Beverly does her evaluations.
However, sixth-year men’s basketball head coach Kelly Williams could be the lone coach on the chopping block. Williams is 49-100 in his Lions head coaching career.
The Lions are averaging 6.5 wins and 18.5 losses over the past four years.
“I’m excited that Dr. Beverly is coming in, and I know she is excited about the opportunity that she has here,” said Williams. “We (the coaching staff) know that we’re doing everything that we possibly can (to win), and our kids are graduating.”
The TCNJ Sports Information Office did not return a message about Williams graduation rate at the time of this post. Yet, Williams is not concerned with what may happen.
“The bottom line when you’re in college sports, you’re going to have your highs and your lows, but our guys are competing,” said Williams. “As long as my graduation percentage is higher than my win percentage, I think they (TCNJ President R. Barbara Gitenstein and Dr. Beverly) would want that. Basketball is only a part of it, and it’s only 19 weeks. I’m trying to build men here, who are going to go on and be successful in life. Sometimes when you do things right, it takes longer. There’s no easy way to success. We have to continue to build every day.”
Williams hopes he’s going to be around to continue to build the team around rising star Bobby Brackett, who averaged 16.4 points and 13.1 rebounds this season. He transferred into the Lions program before this season, and has two more years left of eligibility.
“Without question, if he maintains his work ethic, they (the recruited players) may be able to play with an All-American in two years,” said Williams about Brackett. “Now, we have to fill in the pieces around Bobby. We need consistent shooters to stretch things out. Teams are constantly doubling down on Bobby, so we need some balance. That’s part of recruiting.
“I am on the road (today) recruiting. I’ll be all over the state, and any type of lead I can get, we’re going to try to connect the dots. We want to get a little bigger and become a little more athletic. We have to stay consistent with the conference. We have to battle at every step. We didn’t shoot the ball very well this season, which surprised me. We’re going to try to cover anything.”
Williams hopes to build around Brackett, as women’s basketball coach Dawn Henderson built around star center Hillary Klimowicz a few years ago. Klimowicz transferred in from St. Joseph’s University after her freshman year, then Henderson added pieces around her.
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Klimowicz would be named the Division III National Player of the Year during the 2008-09 season. That same year, the Lions advanced to a third place finish in the NCAA Tournament, which is the best finish in school history.
Brackett has the opportunity to be named the Division III National Player of the Year, like Klimowicz did during her senior year.
“I’m trying to change the program here,” said Brackett. “I want to get this program back to our winning ways.”
While Williams is going to follow all of the leads that he can find on players at the high school and college level, Brackett said that he is going to talk to players that he knows, as well. The young Brackett said he wants to bring in players, who care about winning, yet he believes the team is only a few pieces away from being set and getting back to the Lions winning ways.
“The first step is to see if they can play in our system,” said Williams. “Then, they have to be able to get in this school. Other schools have more flexibility , where they can bring in anybody. But we have to find the right match, both academically and athletically.”
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