Howard Herman | Designated Hitter: Now that spring is here, time to clean up the notebook
It is the middle of May. Now that it actually is starting to feel like spring (save for Saturday's hiccup), it is time for spring cleaning.
At home, that means gardening, moving the winter utensils to the shed and the like. In the journalism biz, it means cleaning out the notebooks and recorders of interesting interviews that I had plans for but never got around — for one reason or another — to using.
When Derek Kellogg was let go at UMass, he obviously ended up on his feet at LIU Brooklyn, taking the Blackbirds to the NCAA First Four in Dayton, Ohio.
But what of the members of his staff? When head coaches are fired, their staffs usually go as well, and we don't always think of them.
Adam Ginsburg had been an assistant under Kellogg for nine seasons, and had worked at UMass for three seasons under Travis Ford.
All of a sudden, he was out of a job.
That didn't last all that long as Ginsburg landed on Tim Cluess' staff at Iona this past season. With former Iona assistant Jared Grasso now the head coach at Bryant, Ginsburg becomes the Iona assistant with the second most amount of experience in New Rochelle, N.Y.
When I ran into Ginsburg at the Times Union Center before a Siena-Iona game, we talked about leaving UMass and ending up at Iona.
"Everything's been a transition, from being accustomed to the Pioneer Valley to going into the metropolitan New York area. Even though I'm a native New Yorker, it's definitely an adjustment," he said. "I'm having to do a lot more car travel than I had in the past, and dealing with daily gridlock stresses.
"But basketball is basketball, people are people. Guys at Iona have been really, really good to me."
The Gaels won the MAAC Tournament, beating Fairfield at the Times Union Center. Unfortunately for Iona, it got paired with Duke in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, and the Blue Devils won 89-67.
Ironically, Ginsburg replaced a former colleague at UMass. Tim Maloney had originally been hired for that slot, but family issues kept Maloney from taking the job. They were both assistants under Ford.
"It's an unfortunate part of the business," Ginsburg said. "I think all of us had been [at UMass] for so long, it had been very personal to all of us. You kind of didn't have to deal with that part of the business for a long period of time.
"That's more like the business, than having the stability."
Cluess is successful at Iona, and seems safe in his job. That means Ginsburg seems safe as well.
Nebraska Wesleyan won this year's NCAA Division III men's national basketball championship. Coach Dale Wellman's team went 30-3 and he was the national Division III coach of the year.
He was an assistant under Dave Paulsen at Williams in Paulsen's final two seasons at the Eph helm. From Williams, Wellman went to coach at Division III Alfred for six seasons before moving to Nebraska.
But his connection to Williams, as I found out, went back before he joined Paulsen's staff in 2006.
"I was an assistant at [Division III] Kenyon College. The head coach said to me 'Why don't we go over to Salem (Va.) to watch the Final Four this year?' I said 'okay, great,'" Wellman recalled during a pre-Final Four interview. "We went down there, and obviously, that was the year Williams won."
That was 2003, when Paulsen led the Ephs to their only NCAA D-III men's hoop title.
"I had always heard about Williams, Amherst and those type of schools," Wellman said. "Then I get to see Paulsen win a national championship. Fast forward a couple of years, I have a chance to be an assistant coach for Paulsen at Williams. I jumped on it."
He was on the Williams bench the year the Ephs went 16-12, but won the NESCAC Tournament and lost to Brockport State in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
"I remember the beginning of the year we lost some games that we shouldn't have. We lost to Framingham State. I remember kind of thinking 'This is not what I think of when I think of Williams basketball.'
"Then, all of a sudden everything clicked on that team."
That team ended up beating Trinity in the NESCAC semifinals in Amherst, and then knocked off the then Lord Jeffs 70-69 in the NESCAC title game. Freshman center Joe Geoghegan's tip-in with 15 seconds left was the difference in the game.
When I was at the NCAA Division I regional in Boston, I ran into old friend Gary Cohen.
Cohen is the long-time TV voice of the New York Mets, and was doing the tournament on the Westwood One radio network.
I actually first met him when he did the radio coverage for the East Regional in the Meadowlands the year before UMass went to the Final Four.
We talked before the start of the season, and I asked if he thought all the moves the Yankees made would suck the oxygen out of the baseball atmosphere.
"I think that's more of a media concoction than it is a fan consideration," he said. "Met fans are Met fans and Yankee fans are Yankee fans. There are a few transients that will go back and forth.
"It's more of an enthusiasm gap than it is a changing people's minds about who to root for."
There are a number of broadcasters who go between sports, and Cohen is first among equals. In addition to his Mets work, he is the radio voice of Seton Hall basketball and works for Westwood One.
"Baseball is a marathon. It's all-encompassing, it's 24-7 for six months, and it's more a lifestyle than doing games," he said. "For me, basketball is my vacation. It's a couple of times a week. It's two-hour games. It's all action and not a lot of storytelling, it's mostly about the game itself.
"They're two completely different experiences."
Time to break out the summer notebooks.
Howard Herman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, at @howardherman on Twitter, or 413-496-6253.
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