Not many players and coaches currently involved with Penn basketball have experienced great success with the program in recent years.
However, there will be at least one man in the Palestra on Saturday who has been a part of an incredible amount of Quakers' success: Lafayette head coach Fran O’Hanlon.
O’Hanlon was an assistant at Penn under long-time head coach Fran Dunphy from 1989 to 1995, helping to direct some of the most successful years in program history. From 1992 to 1995, the Quakers earned three trips to the NCAA tournament and posted a perfect 42-0 record in Ivy play.
“It was my first job as a college coach, so I learned a lot as far as that is concerned,” Hanlon said of his time in Philadelphia. “I got a chance to coach some terrific young men.”
One of those players was current Penn coach Jerome Allen, who won the Ivy League Player of the Year in 1992 and 1993 as the team’s star player during much of O’Hanlon’s tenure.
“He had such a tremendous love for the game,” O’Hanlon said of Allen. “He was a coach on the floor. He understood the game so well. He was a team leader, he related well to his teammates, and he was an absolutely tremendous player.”
O’Hanlon left his assistant position at Penn for the head coaching job at Lafayette in 1995, a position he has held ever since. O’Hanlon took over a program in shambles, as the Leopards had posted a 2-25 record the year prior to his arrival.
However, O’Hanlon quickly got to work rebuilding the program. By the 1997-98 season, his third on the job, Lafayette won a share of the Patriot League regular season title and O’Hanlon won the first of his three conference Coach of the Year Awards. The following two seasons yielded two more Patriot League titles and NCAA Tournament appearances.
“I look over a program that was very down,” O’Hanlon said of the rebuilding process. “But in three years, we tied for the league championship, so to turn things around [so quickly] was very rewarding. Here at Lafayette, I’ve had the chance to coach some really fine young men.”
Not many coaches get the opportunity to keep their job for two decades, but O’Hanlon is quick to brush off any accolades.
“I don’t think there’s any secret to my longevity,” he said. “I’ve just been really fortunate to be able to coach for 20 years. But I have had some really good assistant coaches, I’ll tell you that.”
So, while the Quakers are off to a 0-2 start in what is shaping up to be another subpar year, they will get a visit from a coach who knows as well as anyone the highs the program is capable of reaching.
Though O’Hanlon is decades removed from his time at the Palestra, he still harbors fond memories of what he was able to do with the program.
“My time there was a great experience, with great memories. I’ll always be indebted to Penn.”Comments powered by Disqus
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