New coach hired

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Jim Driggs, a former assistant coach for the University of Rochester, was announced as the new head basketball coach by Athletic Director Betsy Mitchell on Tuesday. Mitchell was excited to say that Driggs is the perfect man for the job.

“What we were looking for was a dynamic educator: someone who cares about the overall experience of the students, who knows basketball, and also someone is very well versed in recruitment of not only our area, but also the national stage as Allegheny emerges from being a strong local to strong national liberal arts college,” she said.

Driggs comes from a highly successful Rochester program that advanced to the sweet 16 in 2008 and held the No. 1 ranking in Division III for six weeks. Also in his time at Rochester, Driggs coached three All-East Region players and two All-Americans. This kind of success grabbed the attention of the returning Allegheny players, who were very involved in the decision-making process.

“When it came down to it, out of all seven of us [returning players] he was the guy that we wanted,” said Seth Eisner, ’11.

Devone McCleod, ’13, agreed with Eisner.

“He was the majority of our favorites,” he said. “We are really excited.”

The team is looking to rebound after a solid season that ended earlier than they had hoped, and Eisner believes that Driggs will be able to step in and bring a new approach to the team.

“I think he is going to establish more of a program, and overall I think he will establish discipline and a better involvement with the community as well as a brighter future,” Eisner said.

McCleod also pointed out that with Driggs comes the potential for Allegheny to establish a strong, lasting program.

“I feel like he’s a young guy and the team can be successful in the upcoming years even after I graduate,” he said.

The new head coach now faces major challenges as he gets his team read for the 2010-2011 season. Driggs will be taking the helm of a team that is losing five senior impact players, which will be amplified by the inherent negative effect that finding a w head coach has on next year’s recruiting class. Mitchell believes that Driggs has qualities that will help him as he begins his tenure.

“At some point in everyone’s career, they hand you the ball and say ‘it’s all yours now,'” she said. “And certainly there will be a learning curve there. But the thing that impressed me about coach Driggs was that he has a lot of self-awareness about that and he is willing to a be a learner in that process.”

As far as basketball is concerned, returning players are not exactly sure what to expect from a strategy standpoint, but expect to see a shift in attitude and off-the-court commitment.

“The seriousness of our preseason might pick up, and I think he is going to come in and get us working hard from the get-go,” Eisner said.

“He has a weightlifting schedule that he wants us to start doing, and we will be playing every day with a change of attitude of just being a gym rat, basically,” McCleod said.

McCleod pointed out that the returning players only know him personality-wise, and really aren’t certain about anything next season, but plan to work hard as a team.

“I think it’s a new adventure for a whole new group of kids,” he said. We don’t really know what to expect.”

Hopefully, the change in leadership will help steer the Gators towards a successful campaign next season and many seasons to come.

“It’s going to be exciting to see how we blend new students in with that really strong core of returning guys,” Mitchell said. “And I’m just glad for the players.”

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