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The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

Billy Lange is the best fit for St. Joe’s men’s basketball

Billy+Lange+is+the+best+fit+for+St.+Joes+mens+basketball

For the first time in 24 years, there will be a new head coach on the St. Joe’s sideline in Michael J. Hagan ’85 Arena. 

Phil Martelli’s firing is a wound still fresh among a large contingent of St. Joe’s fans. However, the Hawks’ new leader, former Philadelphia 76ers Assistant Coach Billy Lange, has an opportunity to quickly heal that wound.

Lange has Philadelphia basketball ties, working as an assistant at both La Salle University and Villanova University. He is exactly what St. Joe’s was looking for.

One aspect that Lange can have an immediate impact on is recruitment. This will be especially helpful for the Hawks because as of right now, all three of their commits have reopened their recruiting process. This came in the wake of the Martelli’s departure.

Having a coach who is not only coming from an NBA team, but from a playoff-bound NBA team, will add credibility to the St. Joe’s men’s basketball program.

Lange knows what it takes for players to be successful at the next level. He also knows how to get them there, as he was the Sixers’ player development coach, helping players like Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons and J.J. Redick reach their potential.

Lange should be able to leverage this experience and his connections with the NBA in trying to convince recruits to come to St. Joe’s. He knows how to take the next step, he has been there and understands how NBA teams function. Not many Atlantic 10 coaches can say that.

The next key area that Lange can improve on is St. Joe’s overall playing style. Lange’s previous Division I head coaching experience came at the United States Naval Academy. His record there was 92-115, but considering all of the challenges he faced as far as recruiting goes (Navy has both a height minimum and maximum requirement), one has to look past the wins and losses to gauge Lange’s ability.

When he took over as head coach, the Midshipmen were coming off of a 5-23 season. It only took Lange four years to turn the program around, bringing them to 19-11 in 2008. He  clearly has the ability to take a program, one with far less talent to choose from than St. Joe’s, and flip it in a short period of time.

During his tenure in Annapolis, Lange’s team led the Patriot league in scoring for five seasons. One of the Hawks’ weaknesses last season was a lack of consistency on offense.

This was derived  from a lack of direction as far as game planning and poor shooting from beyond the three-point line. Lange clearly knows how to implement a high octane offensive system, so hopefully gone are the days where St. Joe’s only scores 12 points in a half.

The most common criticism surrounding Lange’s ability to coach is on the defensive end. Many Sixers fans dislike the sets Lange implemented due to how often the opposing guards are able to tear right through the defense.

In this respect, Lange has been unfairly scapegoated. The reason the Sixers struggle to contain guards is purely based on lack of talented personnel. T.J. McConnell and Redick are both liabilities on defense and are routinely blown by in defensive sets.

At St. Joe’s, Lange will have autonomy over the roster and what systems he wants to put in place. He won’t be needlessly hamstrung by poor roster construction or by a head coach with differing philosophies.

For a lot of people, Lange will never be Martelli. That’s fine, but those people are just going to have to deal with the fact Martelli is gone.

As far as finding a suitable replacement, St. Joe’s succeeded. There aren’t many schools of our size who would be able to get an NBA assistant to come lead their program. Especially one who already has ties to the area and is coming from one of the most talented teams in the NBA.

It is time to welcome Lange to Hawk Hill with open arms because he has the ability to turn this program around.

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  • J

    Joseph ostaszewskiApr 2, 2019 at 6:43 pm

    No job’s last forever it’s embarrassing the way Phil acted after he was let go especially somebody in his profession I hate to see anybody lose there Job but that’s life.

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