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Jim Phelan & Davey Whitney

Saying Goodbye To Legends

Onions Archive

CHN Coaching Week

by Adam Glatczak

February 26th, 2003


Paying respects to some outgoing legends


If you see a coach looking grossly out of fashion Saturday, do not fear. It’s not a fashion statement, just a tribute to retiring Mount St. Mary’s coach Jim Phelan. March 1st has been designated as “Bow Tie Day,” and in honor of Phelan college basketball coaches around the country are going to be wearing bow ties. Among the coaches who’ve reportedly agree to wear bow ties are Bob Huggins at Cincinnati, Rick Barnes at Texas, Phil Martelli at St. Joseph’s, and Dereck Whittenberg at Wagner. Classy tribute to a true legend (and we can’t wait to see Martelli or Huggins in a bow-tie).


Also, college basketball fans, analysts and followers shouldn’t forget about Davey Whitney, either. The Alcorn State coach is presumably also retiring at age 72 and after 27 years at ASU. We’ll say “presumably”, because Whitney has been ‘retiring’ before, only to change his mind after the season; in fact, last year was supposed to be his last year, too. He says this will really be it, and if he does in fact hang it up, another piece of college hoops history will be gone. ‘The Wiz’, who actually played in the Negro baseball leagues in the 1950s, has more than 500 wins on “The Reservation,” and put Alcorn and historically-black colleges on the basketball map in the late 70s and early 80s. During that time, Whitney led the Braves to three wins in the NCAA Tournament and some near-misses against college basketball’s finest, as well as an NIT win in 1979. He came back to Alcorn in the mid-90s, and though he didn’t work quite the same magic, still had the Braves in the NCAA Tournament twice in four years. His final season hasn’t turned out quite as well as hoped, but we may not have heard the last from him yet. Alcorn has now won nine of 11, and looks like it just may be limbering up for one final run in the SWAC tournament. He was the Wiz, is the Wiz, and always will be the Wiz.
 

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