Austin Petolillo (@AustinPSports)
After the winningest head coach in Haverford College men’s basketball history, Michael Mucci, retired back in March of 2017, it was time for a new face of Haverford basketball to step in.
Enter Patrick Doherty.
Doherty arrives at Haverford after spending eight seasons as an assistant coach under head coach Fran O’Hanlon at Lafayette College, including the last two as associate head coach. He also suited up for Lafayette, as a freshman walk-on back in 2001 before health issues ended his playing career.
“It’s just really exciting getting a chance to call some timeouts and draw up some plays,” Doherty said. “It’s bittersweet leaving Lafayette, because I went to school here, I’ve been around this college for twelve years of my life, so it’s hard moving on -- but I’m excited for it.”
Having been around O’Hanlon for the better part of this century and spending eight seasons working with him, Doherty is looking to bring some of the lessons that he was taught by O’Hanlon with him to Haverford.
“I would say the principles that he coaches by and runs his program by will be very similar,” Doherty said. “It might not necessarily look exactly the same in terms of what’s out on the court, but the things that he talked to our guys about every day.
“To give you an example, we talk about sharing the ball and giving yourself up and making good, quick decisions on the court, all of those things are translatable and adaptable to however you want to play so I’m going to bring plenty of lessons from Fran with me down to Haverford and then we’ll figure out how we’re going to kind of put it all into action on the court.”
Haverford is coming off of a 4-21 season (3-15 Centennial Conference) in 2016-17 and an overall record of 29-94 in the last five years, so Doherty is looking to improve on those numbers from day one.
“My big thing is that I’m going to get right to work at it and try to get a jumpstart on recruiting and try to figure out how I can help these guys improve their games over the summer,” he said.
Fortunately for Doherty, every player on Haverford is returning except for guard Matt Sherman who was the team’s lone senior on the team last season. But he’s got a long road ahead to bring the Fords up to the level of defending league champion Swarthmore and other perennially high-level programs in Johns Hopkins and Franklin & Marshall, as well as the rest of the Centennial.
This is Doherty’s first head coaching job since he was the head coach of the Central Bucks East JV basketball team in the 2006-2007 season.
Prior to coaching at Lafayette, Doherty spent one season as an assistant at The College of New Jersey during the 2007-2008 season and then in the 2008-2009 season, he was an assistant coach at Williams College for head coach Mike Maker.
During his one year tenure with Williams College, Doherty got a taste of what it’s like to be a first-year head coach as that was Maker’s first season in that position.
“I think the biggest thing I’ll pull from my time at Williams is just how to get started with a program and some of the things that are really important right away to get a jump start on,” Doherty said. “The thing I learned from coach Baker is that building relationships with the kids that you’re going to coach is far and away the most important thing you can do to get started with a program.”
Having experience at Lafayette and the Patriot League, one of the more high-academic conferences at the Division I level, Doherty said that the type of players he will be looking for will be familiar, even if the names are different.
“I do think having been a recruiter in this academic world and knowing all the AAU programs and the high school programs all over the country, year-after-year they have the kind of kids that end up in the Ivy, the Patriot and the NESCAC and the Centennial, I think all those things are going to help me enormously,” he said.
Joining Doherty as first-year head coaches in the Centennial Conference are Josh Loeffler, the former Loyola (Md.) assistant coach who is taking over the Johns Hopkins program, and Kevin Hopkins, who is taking over the Muhlenburg program. Swat’s Landry Kosmalski adds to the group of under-40 bosses.
With a handful of successful young coaches in the conference along with the veteran of the Centennial, 72-year-old Franklin and Marshall head coach Glenn Robinson, there seems to be a new wave of youth taking over the conference.
“We’re all going to be duking it out here and I’m really excited for it because all of these guys I know are going to do tremendous jobs,” Doherty said. “I know they’re going to work really hard and it should be a lot of fun.”