Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Mike Deane Reunited with Brady as JMU Assistant

Some of the greatest one-on-one confrontations in Siena's basketball history took place during the 1986-87 season.

They took place on the practice court, a daily battle of wits and hoops philosophy between a veteran and successful point guard and a first-year Division I head coach.

The combatants were Matt Brady, a Siena senior that season, and Mike Deane, who had just taken over the program.

Brady's first three seasons with the Saints (then known as the Indians) came under a conservative, half-court-style coach in John Griffin who encouraged Brady to operate as a prototypical pass-first point guard who directed an efficient half-court offense and found open teammates. That's how Brady played throughout his entire career, through high school and into college.

And, then, enter Deane, himself a Division III All-American point guard at Potsdam who considered the ability to score as much a part of his duties as getting an assist.

At Siena, Deane wanted a point guard in his own image. His philosophy was that having a point guard who was also a scoring threat created another option opposing defenses had to be concerned with. And, since the point guard, by nature, controlled the basketball, Deane reasoned, he should be best-suited for creating his own shot.

The on-court battle of wills between point guard and coach were particularly hotly contested during the preseason, but went on through much of the year.

Of course, the coach won out. And, Brady, who averaged 8.1 points over his first three seasons, led Siena in scoring as a senior averaging 14.1 ppg.

Ironically enough Brady has embraced Deane's desire for scoring point guards during his career as a coach.

As a longtime assistant at St. Joseph's, Brady became known best for his work developing shooters. Among his pupils there were Delonte West and Jameer Nelson who both became first-round NBA draft picks and are both still active at the pro level.

Brady's first position as a head coach came at Marist of the MAAC. There, he encountered Jared Jordan, a point guard who never saw a shot he wouldn't pass up to deliver the ball to a teammate.

Like Deane, Brady won that battle of wills and Jordan became a proficient scorer as well as one of the MAAC's all-time best point guards.

Deane, meanwhile, continued to develop shooting point guards. The most-prolific was Marc Brown, whose jumper when he arrived at Siena the year after Brady's graduation, could best be described as "ugly." Deane restructured Brown's shot and Brown is still Siena's all-time leading scorer.

So, why bring up all this history?

Because those 1980's on-court battles between coach and player have come full circle. The now-60 year old Deane, who had been out of basketball for the past two seasons after being fired by Wagner College, is reunited with Brady.

Deane, on Tuesday, accepted a position as an assistant coach on Brady's staff at James Madison University.

"I'm very excited about the opportunity to work with Matt," Deane told the Albany Times Union. "I'm more excited about being back into coaching. Third, I'm very excited about being in an assistant's position because it's where I'd like to be at this juncture. It's a beautiful place (Harrisonburg, Va.), as nice a campus as I've ever been on."

Deane had a 166-77 record in eight seasons at Siena, including bringing the program to its first NCAA appearance and first NCAA tournament victory (over Stanford) in 1989. Under Deane, Siena also went to two NIT events. After the 1994-94 season Deane moved to Marquette. He also coached at Lamar and Wagner.and has a career 437-332 record on the Division I level.

Deane previously applied last year for a position as an assistant at Siena under Mitch Buonaguro, but was not hired.

"I always wanted to coach, and I would have loved to have had the opportunity at Siena with Mitch. But, I certainly understand why he made that decision. I like to be in coaching some place where they'd take advantage of my experience, my individual skill development and concepts. What better place than to do that with Matt."

One thing is certain now. James Madison's point guards certainly will know the importance of being able to score as well as pass.

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