Someone asked me how my blog and newspaper column came to be titled "Bleachers Brew". It's like this, it's an amalgam of sorts of two things: The bleachers area in the stadium/arena where I used to sit when I would watch baseball, football, and basketball games and Miles Davis' great jazz album Bitches Brew. That's how it got culled together. I originally planned on calling it "The View from the Big Chair" that is a nod to Tears For Fear's second album, Songs from the Big Chair. So there.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Ateneo Blue Eagles The Drive for Five: On the search for the next Ateneo head coach Part 1

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Ateneo Blue Eagles The Drive for Five: On the search for the next Ateneo head coach
Part 1 The usual suspects
by rick olivares

However this season ends for Ateneo, one thing is for sure – Norman Black ushered in not only an incredible era of basketball greatness for Ateneo but also upped the ante for all schools in acquiring the big name coach.

But it would be hard to give Norman credit for all of this. For sure there was Franz Pumaren and Joel Banal before him. Remember when there was this furor over Tim Cone allegedly going to coach La Salle?

In this era of big time recruiting and big bucks basketball, it is considered a coup for a school to land a big name coach. While five of the eight UAAP coaches and six of the 10 NCAA coaches have had professional basketball experience, only two have not had creditable coaching stints in the pros – FEU’s Bert Flores and Lyceum’s Bonnie Tan.

Ateneo – Norman Black
FEU – Bert Flores
Adamson – Leo Austria
UST – Pido Jarencio
NU – Eric Altamirano
La Salle – Gee Abanilla
UP – Ricky Dandan
UE – Jerry Codinera

San Beda – Ronnie Magsanoc
San Sebastian – Topex Robinson
Letran – Louie Alas
JRU – Vergel Meneses
Mapua – Chito Victolero
College of Saint Benilde – Richard del Rosario
EAC – Gerry Esplana
Arellano – Koy Banal
Perpetual Help – Aric del Rosario
Lyceum – Bonnie Tan

For sure it will be no easy task to follow Norman Black. He will be subject to intense scrutiny even if it is unfair. That however, is the reality of the situation. That is why I believe that you need a big name coach who not only will pass the criteria set in the selection -- leadership, X & Os, and the ability to recruit – but also go one better.

Those deemed worthy candidates will be interviewed and asked to present their case for their program.

I do not believe that the next head coach should be an alumnus. Three of our last four head coaches have done the school proud – Joe Lipa, Banal, and Black. The last alumnus to steer us to a title was Fritz Gaston and that was in 1988. Who are the only ones available now? There’s Chot Reyes, Nash and Olsen Racela, Jojo Lastimosa, and Sandy Arespacochaga. 

Reyes still has Talk ‘N Text and Smart Gilas. So that will not happen. But down the road this will be a reality. Mark my words. As for the Racela brothers, it is Olsen who is perhaps a more apt candidate. I did ask Olsen and he said that it is not that easy as he has to secure permission for a release. I also heard that there has been a change of heart. But that remains to be seen.

Lastimosa enjoys the pro league so much that I don't think him going down to the college ranks. 

Arespacochaga has grown from the time he first handled the team in 2004 having now apprenticed under Lipa, Banal, and Black. He is a great teacher and a positive force. Maybe I am biased because he is one of my all-time favorite Blue Eagles. I believe that he will do better the second time around. The question is, will he be interested?

I heard that the search has been expanded to foreign coaches. I disagree with this for several reasons.

One, he doesn’t know the local college basketball scene. Two, he will be coaching from the ideal standpoint and NOT what is realistic.

I know that years ago when there was a search for the replacement of Arespacochaga, ‘the foreign coach’ was thrown in the mix. It was Ricky Palou who suggested Black since the two were also in Sports Vision; their sports management company. Black was not only a ‘foreign coach’ but he has been a long time resident. Even so, it took him a while to get the hang of the local college game.

There are only three foreign resident coaches in the country. The first two are Tim Cone and Rajko Toroman and I do not need to explain why this will not happen. The third is Alex Compton. I wanted to prep his application but I had to ask his permission first and coach declined because of his work at the National Basketball Training Center will be compromised. I have worked with coach and I believe that he is a most excellent choice. And God bless him and his endeavors. I am proud to be working alongside him.

Leo Austria might be one of the best candidates out there but as much as he is intrigued by the idea, he will not abandon Adamson. Unless he is fired or what. But do you see that happening? He has brought respect to the San Marcelino-based school’s basketball program. Some knock Austria saying that he has not won. See here. Just because Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls won six titles in the 1990s that doesn’t mean that Charles Barkley, Patrick Ewing, John Stockton, Karl Malone, Reggie Miller, and Brad Daugherty were lousy. How many of those guys are in the Naismith Hall of Fame? Austria had the misfortune of running smack in the middle of a dynasty in Loyola Heights but he is a damn good person and coach. Nevertheless, both Ateneo and Adamson have a very good relationship and it doesn’t look good for one school to be poaching another’s head coach and Ateneo University President Fr. Jett Villarin S.J. will have none of that.

Jamike Jarin is an excellent coach. I think he has done a great job with Talk ‘N Text. You see how the Tropang Texters play defense? That has Jarin’s imprint all over it. Underrated? For sure. It sure would be nice to see him elevated. Others wonder though if he has earned enough cache to recruit blue chip players.

There are others who shall go nameless. For now. Until Part 2.


Other reading:

Someone asked me, "Why 'The Drive for Five' and not 'High Five'? Well, for starters it is a drive. High five is what we all will do when the deed is done. The term is not original as the New York Islanders used that slogan when they were going for five straight Stanley Cups in the 1980s. 

1 comment:

  1. Is Frankie Lim a possibility since he is banned in the NCAA? I think he is more than qualified to coach the white and blue.