Community College of Allegheny County-Allegheny Campus men's basketball coach Frank Halloran reached his first coaching milestone last Wednesday when the Cougars beat Pennsylvania Highlands Community College.
It was Halloran's 100th win with the Cougars, but he laughs because he knows he has a long way to go to achieve what the coach he replaced -- Bill Shay -- did during his time at CCAC-Allegheny.
"I think Bill Shay was the coach for 809 wins, give or take a few, and he coached for about 39 years," Halloran said. "That's a long time and a lot of wins. I am just hoping that I stick around so that I get to 1,000 wins -- well, 1,000 wins when you combine mine and coach Shay's.
"I don't ever look at it like I am competing with coach Shay. He is one of my mentors. He taught me a lot about how to do this job and how to build and maintain and run a program like this the right way. And we talk twice a week, so it isn't like he isn't still a part of the success here.
"I look at like this -- I am not trying to replace coach Shay -- nobody could -- I am just sort of acting as a landlord for his program right now."
Although Halloran, who is from Lawrenceville and played at now-defunct Lawrenceville Catholic, jokes about how much longer he will be at CCAC-Allegheny, he actually is quite happy in his job. He has had opportunities to coach local varsity teams, but figured out this job suits him better than any high school job, so he is going to stick around for a while.
"I thought about the high school route but I just don't think that was the direction I wanted to go," said Halloran, who is a supervisor with the Allegheny County Probation Office. "The thing about this is there is a lot of coaching going into this, as the players we get are almost always flawed in some way. Maybe academically, maybe just a bit slow or small -- but at the end of the day, I am dealing with young men and not their parents, and there is something to be said for that.
"There are other headaches in this job, but I really enjoy working with the guys."
This is his Halloran's sixth season at CCAC-Allegheny, where he has had plenty of success. The Cougars were 9-19 his first season but improved to 23-7 his second year and advanced to the NJCAA Division III national tournament and finished fourth.
The Cougars were 19-7, 21-8 and 19-10 his next three seasons, but this year have slipped a bit. They are 9-10, but 7-2 at home, which is significant because they will be host to the regional tournament and should benefit from that home-court advantage.
CCAC-Allegheny's top two players are Marcus Smith from Perry (21 points per game) and Matt McKenna from Central Catholic (15 ppg).
His story was told by KDKA-TV's Jory Rand last week but it bears repeating -- Geneva College freshman basketball player Brian Rice is not at all a typical rookie.
That's because Rice, a New Castle graduate -- from the class of 1987 -- spent 24 years in the Navy before enrolling this season at Geneva and pursuing his degree. And also his dream of playing college basketball.
So at the ripe young age of 43, Rice is the oldest college basketball player in the country. But he needed to go through two days of tryouts to prove he was capable of handling the rigors of what is considered a young man's game.
"Never give up on your dream," Rice told Rand. "You are never too old -- you are only as old as you think you are."
California is 9-13 (8-10 PSAC West) and if the Vulcans are looking for a reason they are not faring well, it is this -- they have played 12 games decided by five points or fewer and are 4-8 in those games.
Last week, the Vulcans split two more close games -- a win against Edinboro and a loss at Gannon -- but lost to IUP, 70-53, Wednesday night.mobilehome - sportscollegedistrict
Paul Zeise: firstname.lastname@example.org and Twitter @paulzeise.