Jon Teitel continues our season preview series by chatting with Lafayette coach Fran O’Hanlon about facing Hall of Famer Bob Lanier in the NCAA tourney.
You open the season on the road against Villanova: is it just another game to you or is it weird to face your alma mater? I love going back to Nova. It holds such great memories and I will get to see many old friends, so going back there is never “just another game”.
What are your expectations for the upcoming season? We will try to get better each day and be playing our best basketball come Patriot League Tournament time.
In the 1969 NCAA tourney as a player at Villanova you scored 10 points in a loss to Davidson in Raleigh, and in the 1970 NCAA tourney you scored a team-high 20 points in a loss to St. Bonaventure. What made Mike Maloy (31 points, 17 rebounds) and Bob Lanier (26 points, 14 rebounds) so unstoppable? Maloy was a very good player and we were very flat that day for whatever reason. We also played in Davidson’s backyard: it was like a home game for them. We had beaten the Bonnies earlier that year (which was their only regular-season loss: I think they were the country’s best team when healthy), but Lanier was just too much. You had to pay such attention to him and they had other good players as well.
In February 1970 you had 16 assists in a game vs. Toledo (which remains the most in school history). What is the key to being a good PG, and do you think anyone will ever break your record? One of the keys is that I had excellent teammates who were great finishers. As a point guard you take pride in knowing your teammates’ strengths and weaknesses and setting up their strengths. Records are broken all the time so I expect it to go 1 day: I am just proud it lasted this long.
You played 14 games for the Miami Floridians in 1971: what is your favorite memory from your short time in the ABA? I only got into 14 games but loved the whole experience. I played with and against so many good players, made lifelong contacts, and thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience.
In 1992 as an assistant at Penn under Coach Fran Dunphy, you began a 42-game Ivy League winning streak. How on earth were you able to keep your team focused every night for several years in a row?! Once again it comes down to some excellent, motivated, and focused players. They learned how to win and did not like losing. Coach Dunphy is one of the best and did a great job of keeping them focused.
You were named head coach at Lafayette in 1995, why did you take the job, and how long do you plan on sticking around for? Lafayette is a great school and I loved the challenge of taking a program that was down and building it back up. I plan on coaching as long as I can and as long as it continues to be so exciting for me: I love what I do.
In the 1999 Patriot League tourney title game Tyson Whitfield scored 15 points including a 70-footer at the halftime buzzer in a four-point win over Bucknell to earn the school’s first NCAA tourney bid in over 40 years. How big of a home-court advantage did you have, and where does Whitfield’s shot rank among the most amazing that you have ever seen? The crowd that day was electric: they were a huge help. Tyson’s shot was a huge momentum swing for us. Bucknell had just hit a three point shot with two seconds to go and our response was an 80-footer. It was amazing: just the way I drew it up!
You are a three-time Patriot League COY, what did it mean to you to win such outstanding honors? It just means that I have a great staff and really good players.