Sunday, April 06, 2008

Congratulations Coach; Phelan to be enshrined in KC this November

The Call came for Jim Phelan earlier this week.

The fact that it was no April Fool's joke was confirmed at a Press Conference at the AlamoDome in San Antonio today.

Phelan, the legendary head coach of Mt. St. Mary's, is going to be enshrined in the Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame at the College Basketball Experience in Kansas City, Missouri this November.

The wait was way too long but it doesn't sour any of the joy of a great moment for a great man and caps what has truly been a glorious few months of basketball for the University.

For those of you who aren't Mount fans and don't know the Phelan story. It goes something like this. After playing at Lasalle, Phelan left the streets of Philadelphia for the hillsides of Emmitsburg, Maryland. Originally, he signed a one-year deal because he didn't expect to be around long. 49 years later, he ended a tremendous career at the school in Western Maryland, just across the Pennsylvania border with 830 wins, the 1962 College Division National Championship, two trips to the NCAA Division I tournament, several other trips to the Division II Final Four, and the respect and admiration of so many within the basketball community.

For those of us who have had the pleasure of watching Jim Phelan coach, or more importantly knowing the person he was away from the basketball floor, we know there is so much more to him that makes him deserving of induction into any Hall of Fame than the credentials listed above. Finally, and justifyibly, he and his family will get to share this moment.

Phelan has said numerous times that being the Jeopardy answer (or question I suppose) to the statement, "The only coach with 800 wins not in the Hall of Fame" was his claim to fame and he was fine with that.
But it hurt those around him. It hurt his family, it hurt his former players, and it hurt those of us who are fans. Not only was the HOF saying no to Jim Phelan, it was saying no to Mt. St. Mary's. Simply because the accomplishments had occured at this little catholic school just south of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania playing most of its games in the Mason Dixon Conference and later the Northeast Conference. Other coaches have accomplished less at far larger schools and have gotten the recognition. But until today the Hall of Fame had refused to make way for this great man.

It didn't bother Jim Phelan, because's that the type of guy he is. And frankly because he knew he was good enough.

And now the rest of the world knows it as well.

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