Some of may favorite moments of my athletic observing career (and it is a prodigious one) have come at Alumni Gym at my alma mater, watching Bates’ men’s basketball roll through its most successful period in the College’s history, with coach Joe Reilly at the helm.
With the team tumbling in the last few years and having lost its two best players of the last ten years, Reilly has jumped ship for Wesleyan, closer to home in Connecticut.
“This was a difficult decision, but I believe it’s the best route for my family,” said Reilly, who has led the program since 1997. “Bates has been great to me and is a very special place. I’m blessed to have been involved with so many great student-athletes, parents, alumni and colleagues, and I’m grateful to the College for giving me a great opportunity as a 28-year-old assistant coach with no head coaching experience.”
I’d like to be angry at Coach Reilly (cause that seems to be how we deal with surprising sad news), but I really can’t. I’m sure he got a boatload of money, and he returned home (his wife’s home as well), where he has quite a legacy. His dad is a beloved, hall of fame coach in the state, and Reilly made his bones jacking treys (I mean, working hard and playing defense…) at Trinity.
This is a major loss for Bates, a program which anyone who follows NESCAC basketball (all eight of us) can attest has been sliding for a couple of years. The Bobcats should have been a major contender in the NESCAC, one of the strongest conferences in Division III in 2007 due to the strongest class Bates has ever seen, led by Zak Ray and Rob Stockwell, being seniors. But Bates only won 3 games in the conference and was sub-par outside of conference, and was ousted in the first round of the NESCAC playoffs.
2007-2008 saw Bates firmly entrenched in a rebuilding phase which is sure to continue. Reilly has always been an excellent recruiter and has had great success returning to areas and wooing new players where he got the old ones. Case in point: From the greater Bangor area, Reilly plucked Ray, Chris Wilson, Alex Gallant, and incoming freshman Ryan Weston.
I criticized Reilly a fair amount during his tenure, namely for his offensive system that was built to cater to undersized white gunners who therein put up stats better than they deserved (wonder why…). But he bred a culture of winning, confidence, and hard work. For all their struggles this year, and with woefully less talent, the team overachieved and actually fared better in conference play than in what should have been their banner year. Reilly put Bates men’s basketball on the map (as much as you can be in the NESCAC) and should be proud of his accomplishments.
Now some Padre Linktastica to get you through a tear-filled afternoon:
I. Outkast is looking at a new album in 2009. I hope they plan on Killer Mike, whose verses on “The Whole World” and “Bust” are among my favorite parts of Outkast tunes. [Paste]
II. Our friends at Perkisabeast review their preseason predictions. Yeah, that Rondo guy is pretty good, ain’t he fellas? And if you don’t jump out of your chair watching a clip of his dunk on Maxiell, you have issues. [Perkisabeast]
III. Fire Joe Morgan exposes some questionable thinking behind a piece that states that Brian Sabean is a better GM than Billy Beane. [FireJoeMorgan]
IV. A token list of the 20 acts that peaked with their debut album. Other thoughts? I don’t agree with Kanye or The Strokes on there (was I only person in America who really liked Room on Fire?). Some bastions of mid-90s radio rock definitely belong — Hootie and the Blowfish and Counting Crows certainly never got better (though for a while I pretended Recovering the Satellites was better than August and Everything After). I’m a little surprised Pearl Jam wasn’t on there, I thought most people like Ten the best (it’s No Code for me though). [Stereogum]