Since Andy Pogach joined the Penn men's basketball team as a freshman, he has helped the Quakers capture two Ivy League titles and experience a pair of NCAA Tournament games. Pogach has been at nearly every practice, where he's typically one of the first to get there and one of the last to leave. And he's played an integral role in every game -- except the three he missed his first year on the squad. But Andy Pogach will never be a first team All-Ivy honoree. Princeton doesn't fear him. And despite being coach Fran Dunphy's go-to guy for everything, Pogach has never touched a Geoff Owens pass or set up a Ugonna Onyekwe dunk. In fact, Pogach knows the only Division I action he'll see this year -- his senior season -- is from the same Palestra pine where he's spent the past three seasons. After all, Pogach is the head manager of the men's basketball team. And he couldn't be more thrilled. "You get to sit behind the coaches during the games; you get to go to the locker room at the half," he says. "To top it off, you get to be part of a Penn team -- and one with such history." But Pogach's life is no fantasy camp. The position -- a volunteer job -- is hard work, plain and simple. And Dunphy considers Pogach an important contributor to the team. "I am reluctant to use Radar as an example, but that would be as much of an example as I could give," Dunphy said, referring to the clipboard-toting corporal on the television series M*A*S*H. "You tell him something to do and he's already three steps ahead of you." The players, of course, have their own analogies. "We like to refer to Andy as the Michael Jordan of managers," sophomore guard David Klatsky said. "He does it all." During Quakers practices, Pogach is responsible for doing everything except the team laundry. He makes sure the basketballs are out, the water and towels are available, the videotape is running -- all while overseeing a staff of four other undergraduate managers. And when unexpected problems inevitably arise, Dunphy puts him in charge of solving those, too. "[Dunphy] will come into the Palestra and say it's too hot or too cold, and then ask me to fix it," Pogach quips. "And I'll say OK -- even though I don't know how to fix the air conditioning." At games, Pogach is essentially Dunphy's lifeline -- the person the coach calls upon when the heat is on in the second half to find out how many fouls a player has or the number of timeouts remaining. Pogach even catches flak from players during the heat of battle. Somehow, Pogach says, he gets blamed when one of the players has seven turnovers by his name -- as if it's the manager's fault. All joking aside, what comes across loud and clear is the bond that Pogach shares with the rest of the team -- one formed over pregame chicken parmigiana meals at Smoke's and seven-hour bus rides to Dartmouth. And outside the Palestra, senior forward Josh Sanger has been his roommate for the past two years. But Pogach shares at least one more thing with the rest of the Quakers squad. "In a sense, you could say I met [Dunphy] at an AAU tournament and got recruited by him like every other player," he jokes. Indeed, Pogach was introduced to Dunphy by the basketball coach at his Newark, Del., high school as a senior. However, at a wiry 5'8", Pogach didn't play -- even then, he was a manager. When he arrived on campus his freshman year, Dunphy told him that a varsity manager position was available, and Pogach jumped at the chance. He's been the team's manager ever since, and the experience has spurred his interest in college athletics. In fact, Pogach, who is concentrating in Accounting at Wharton, says he hopes to someday become an athletic director. That may be so. But he already turned down his first job offer from another program. When former Penn assistant Steve Donahue left the Quakers to take the head job at Cornell earlier this fall, Donahue jokingly offered to pay Pogach to keep the Big Red's stats when they play at the Palestra. "He is tremendous with stats during practice and games," Donahue said. "We have no one up here [at Cornell] who can do even close to what he can do." But Pogach wouldn't even consider leaving the Quakers. "Are you kidding me?" Pogach says. "When [Donahue] comes, I'll be saying 'Good to see you and I hope we beat you.'"Comments powered by Disqus
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