Mike Brennan named new AU basketball coach
Having served as an assistant under notable coaches for a baker's dozen worth of seasons, Mike Brennan is now in charge of cooking up basketball success at American.
Part of John Thompson III's staff at Georgetown the past four campaigns after previously coaching under Jeff Jones at American, Brennan was introduced as the Eagles 17th head coach on Tuesday evening. His time in the spotlight starts now. Good thing the New Jersey native has been dreaming of this moment.
"As an assistant, you always think you're ready, you always to be the head guy," said Brennan, who also played and started for four seasons at Princeton under legendary coach Pete Carril. "I wanted to work at a place like American University. My background, I think it's sort of tailored me, I saw the positive impact of working at a place like this, the type of kids you can attract nationally and internationally. It's a unique place."
According to sources, Brennan was among three finalists for the American job, including Virginia assistant Jason Williford and former Ball State and Lehigh coach Billy Taylor. The trio were on the Ward Circle campus Monday for final interviews.
With Brennan winning out, Thompson, along with current players on the American roster and family were among those at Bender Arena on Tuesday
"I'm extremely happy for him," the Georgetown head coach said. "I think it's a great fit. I know he'll do a terrific job. His world is changing today."
American's athletic department world certainly changed recently. Athletic director Billy Walker took over in February only to see longtime coach Jeff Jones bolt to take the same position at Old Dominion earlier this month.
Brennan joined John Thompson III at the Hoyas program in June of 2009 after two seasons at American where he served as an assistant under Jones. The Eagles won the Patriot League Championship and reached the NCAA Tournament in each of those two seasons.
"Having been here and taking recruits on tours of campus, seeing familiar faces...it makes the transition that much smoother, that much easier," Brennan said. "It's great to be back."
What American has coming back is three starters. The Eagles lost six players off last season's 10-20 squad including their top scorer, rebounder and point guard. They also were without a head coach for the past several weeks.
"We've definitely been restless waiting to get a new coach and get back to working out, preparing for next season," said John Schoof, American's leading returning scorer. "It's definitely been a transition. We were kind of sad to lose Coach Jones, but now that we have Coach Brennan we're definitely excited for next year."
Brennan met with the team before the press conference and said his initial goal is to re-recruit all the players, though both he and Schoof expect all to return. Center Troy Wroblicky and swingman Jesse Reed are the other returning starters. Stephen. F. Austin transfer Darius Gardner likely takes over at point guard after sitting out last season.
Brennan reached the NCAA Tournament as a player in 1991 and 1992 under Carril. He later served his Alma mater as an assistant for seven seasons including four under Thompson.
As for whether he would install the "Princeton" offense made famous by Carril and carried on to varying degrees by disciples including Thompson, Brennan sought to avoid having his system labeled, but acknowledged a sharing-the-ball style was coming with a desire to push the tempo. No additional coaching hires were announced though Brennan is anxious to assemble his own staff.
American's program in a transition as is its conference. The Patriot League will jump from eight to 10 members with Boston University and Loyola (Md.) coming on board next season.
"I think it raises the competitive profile," Brennan said.
As for a certain game against a highly competitive cross-town foe, Brennan has no interest in ending the series with Georgetown even now that he is on the other side. Back in December at the Verizon Center, the Hoyas won their ninth straight over the Eagles. Otto Porter Jr., who announced this month he is entering the NBA Draft, led Georgetown with 16 points and 13 rebounds.
"I think it's a great game. It's an easy game to bus on down there," Brennan said before stating the best reason to face the Hoyas this upcoming season.
"Otto is gone," Brennan cracked. "I know they got some pieces over there that are equally as dangerous. We still want to play that game for sure."
That is exactly the kind of call a head coach gets to make.