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November 8, 2013

Former Hoya leads first opponent to Pitt

Horace Broadnax has quite a history. As the local pro football coach might say... this isn't his first rodeo.

He's currently the head coach of the Savannah State Tigers, the MEAC school that's been invited to the Pete to open the 2013-14 season Friday night.

And while Savannah State isn't expected to win Friday in what's a typical "buy game" scenario - we give you a large check for absorbing a big loss and your athletics program inches closer to meeting the yearly budget to fund each sport - if the Tigers have gleaned anything from their veteran coach, they will most definitely compete without fear.

Broadnax first made his name as a vital role-playing guard on some of the most dominant college basketball teams of the early-to-mid 80's in what was the Patrick Ewing era at Georgetown. John Thompson used to employ a pressure defense that swarmed opponents like a disturbed nest full of hornets. If you beat the pressure, all you had to deal with was Ewing, perhaps the most intimidating shot-blocker in NCAA history.

Broadnax laughs when asked if he uses his experiences from that time to help coach or motivate his current players.

"I pick my moments," said Broadnax. "I try to adjust expectations because obviously, the talent level and bodies are not the same as at Georgetown then or Pitt now but I can tell them I played next to a Hall of Famer for four years and that guy never, ever took a possession off!"

Broadnax did mention how sad it is for him to see the Big East and what's become of it.

"The Garden," said Broadnax, "just walking up to that place in March, all the great players and coaches that graced that court, that was the best it's ever been in college basketball in my opinion."

He did not get an argument from me.

Broadnax has had some success at Savannah State.

The Tigers won the conference in 2012 and qualified for their first ever NIT, something that other fans might scoff at, but an achievement that truly should be respected out of a league with the resources, or lack thereof, like the MEAC. Broadnax fully understands the challenge and, truth be told, seems to relish it.

"I enjoy it," said Broadnax. "One night you're riding the high and the next night you're feeling the lows, but this could be a rewarding year for us or, at the same time at this level especially, the bottom could fall out."

The challenge is similar in some ways, but very different, from the life Broadnax left when he accepted the job at Savannah State in 2005.

Broadnax was a lawyer with the top personal injury firm in the state of Florida. He was building a successful business for himself one day at a time, grinding in the world of what he jokingly described as "ambulance chasing," a profession that, while making his wife happy, left him longing for basketball.

He sounds satisfied with the career change and this is actually his second go-round with coaching - he previously was the coach at fellow MEAC school Bethune Cookman, where he won league coach of the year honors twice from 1997-2002. He would like his Tigers to mimic the Hoya squads he played for - two Big East titles and one NCAA ring - but he has to pick and choose the times when they do it.

"I like guys to play with energy," said Broadnax, "but at the same time we don't have the 11 bodies to throw out there with the skills needed to play that way like we did at Georgetown."

When I asked Broadnax how he felt about opening up at Pitt he kind of grunted before adding "they've got really good athletes with incredible bodies, we'll come ready to compete, that's for sure."

Before hanging up the phone, he did come up with one idea.

"Maybe we'll bring bats with us," he said, cackling with laughter.

That would truly be Hoya Paranoia...the MEAC Version.




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