Who are the potential candidates to take over as the next coach of Saint Joe’s basketball?
Phil Martelli has been fired by Saint Joe’s basketball, and now Jill Bodensteiner and the Hawk’s athletic department has the never-simple task of finding someone to not only run their basketball program, but be a major face of the institution at-large. Replacing a man of Phil Martelli’s caliber, an icon of both Saint Joe’s hoops and the Big 5, will be especially difficult, and I’m sure the school is acutely aware of the level of criticism they’ll receive if their next hire doesn’t work out.
Every offseason, there are plenty of qualified candidates looking to either take a step up from the low-major ranks or earn a promotion from the assistant ranks of a successful bench, and this year is no different. Between people like that, potential candidates within the Saint Joseph’s family, or coaches from the Notre Dame tree (SJU athletic director Jill Bodensteiner was hired from Notre Dame in June), there is no shortage of candidates for the Hawks’ staff to consider.
But hiring a coach for a Philadelphia program is a unique undertaking; virtually no coach has ever had sustained success in this city that was hired with no connections to Philadelphia. Jay Wright grew up going to Big 5 doubleheaders at the Palestra, John Chaney coached at Simon Gratz High School and area division two school Cheyney before being hired by Temple, Rollie Massimino was hired by Villanova from Penn. Mr. Big 5, Fran Dunphy, played at Malvern Prep and under Big 5 legend Tom Gola at La Salle, coached on both of those staffs before being hired as head coach at Penn, and Phil Martelli played at Widener before ten years as an assistant at St. Joe’s until he was given the reigns there.
Attribute it to what you will; maybe it’s because Philly programs rarely hire from outside the area, maybe it’s because it takes someone local to navigate the complicated and close-knit basketball community in this city, but the process for hiring coaches here is more complex than just plucking the most impressive resumé out of the stack.
Nothing official, as far as I know, has come from St. Joseph’s as to who it might target in the early stages of this process, but I’ve dug through traditional and social media, and relevant message boards, to discuss many of the preliminary rumors and wildest speculations; these suggestions range from compelling to comical to completely absurd, so be prepared.