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SportsColumnistsSteven Marcus

Marcus' analysis: For continuity's sake, Hofstra should promote Macon

Assistant coach Van Macon today at Adelphi University.

Assistant coach Van Macon today at Adelphi University. 3/16/2001. Photo by Richard Slattery. Photo Credit: Sports/Richard Slattery

Hofstra's search for a basketball coach could mark a dramatic turning point in the direction of the program.

That is why the university should stay close to home in its pursuit. It need look no further than down the hall from the now-vacant head coach's office, where associate head coach Van Macon has been dutifully waiting his turn.

Never heard of him, right? Let's take a history lesson.

When Hofstra parted ways with Butch van Breda Kolff after the 1993-94 season, a virtually unknown Jay Wright was selected for the job.

It turned out that Hofstra got two coaches in one, as Wright brought along Tom Pecora. Who could have predicted that tandem would create the best years of Hofstra basketball in the Division I era? And now the Wright-to-Pecora-to-Macon link seems a natural.

Someone at Hofstra very correctly said it is easier to go down than up in the Colonial Athletic Association. A Charles Jenkins-led team next season promises to be a contender, assuming key players do not transfer in the aftermath of Pecora's departure to Fordham. Certainly, Jenkins isn't going anywhere in his senior year, but the same might not hold true for his younger teammates. If Hofstra has any chance at winning the CAA Tournament for the first time and earning its first NCAA Tournament bid since 2000-01, it would be a shame to see that scuttled by players transferring out. That will not happen if Macon remains.

Secondly, Pecora already has said - and he can be believed - that if Macon were to get the job, Pecora essentially would divvy up the area recruits so the next Hofstra coach would not have to compete one-on-one with Pecora steering them all to Fordham.

Why would he help Macon? Pecora knows his legacy would only be enhanced if his time at Hofstra produced an assistant worthy of taking over the program and keeping it on the winning track.

But Pecora's offer is good only if Macon remains. Pecora will freeze out anyone else looking for recruits in his territory. He owns the block for recruits below the Big East level.

Another reason, this one on the pragmatic side, is finances. Pecora raised a good deal of money through fundraising, and his contributors still are willing to give some of it to Hofstra. But only if Macon remains.

Macon's coaching credentials? He has nine years at Hofstra but, frankly, is otherwise without a strong resume. But it largely matches his predecessor.

Macon was an assistant at then-SUNY Farmingdale (where Pecora got his only other head-coaching job). He then went to Adelphi (Pecora's alma mater) before heading to assistant's jobs at Lafayette, Marist and Adelphi again.

Hofstra certainly could find candidates with more impressive resumes. But that does not guarantee success. Image cannot win over substance in this search. Hofstra does not necessarily have to win the news conference by proving it is a desirable coaching destination. Macon can win, and he'll be happy to stay for a decade.

This should not be a stepping-stone job for an overly ambitious newcomer or the way back for a retread. The best chance at maintaining continuity for the program is to give Macon the job.

History has shown the last two hires to be exceptional. In this search, those who learn from history can expect to repeat it.

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