A compilation of Jim Phelan memories

"There is a calmed demeanor that you get when you are around Jim and you can see why he could connect to his players and get them to perform to their best. The thing that struck me was, how could a gentleman as nice as he was survive in a world like college basketball that constantly beats you up.  He treated us with great honor and it was fantastic to be there when he got into the big dance."
--Mike Tirico (ESPN/ABC Sports Announcer and play-by-play announcer of the 1995 NEC Championship Game)

“There are not many memories during practice that stand out as much as the time I totaled my car returning for practice on a Sunday night, which made me late by 30 minutes.  I explained the reason for being late and Jim's reply was, 'That's pretty good, very original.  Give me 10 laps!'  I was upset to say the least.  He didn't inquire about injuries or anything else and so I started my laps.  As with many Sunday night practices, Jim's son Larry would come with him and circle Memorial Gym on his bike behind the stands during practice.  After two laps, I exited the stands riding on the bike with Larry on the handlebars.  Larry and I were having a ball.  I could tell Jim and my teammates were not happy but coach didn't say a word, although, I'm sure he was not pleased.  It turned into a "killer" practice for the team.  I played with Larry the rest of the evening and coach never said a word.  The team (especially John Novey and Steve Murphy) had some very un-Catholic things to say to me after practice.  It was a great moment.”
--Luis Grillo (Class of 1970, current referee with the NBA)

"Coach has always been there for me.  My fondest memory of him was playing one-on-one after practice.  We would play everyday and in three years I never beat him because he never fouled.  My arms could be red or even bleeding but coach never fouled."
--Jack Sullivan (Class of 1957, holds Mount’s career scoring record with 2,672 career points)

"He is a good friend, excellent coach and a remarkable man.  I remember this one time at the Mason Dixon Tournament in 1962-63.  We were playing at Catholic University in Washington D.C.  After the semifinal games there was a party for the coaches and as we left the party together we each parted ways and said 'see you tomorrow'.  The next day Dave Maloney asked if I had seen coach while we were having our pregame meal.   I told I hadn't seen him since last night.  As our benches faced each other I kept looking across and with about three minutes before the game Jim finally came strolling down to his bench.  The Mount beat us in that game and afterwards I asked him where he was all day.  He said he was at the race track and was doing so good he almost didn't make it back for the game."
--Paul Webb (Former coach of Mount rival Randolph Macon, coached against Jim Phelan in Mason Dixon Conference for a number of years)

"My father thought a lot of Jim and I also think a lot of him.  He is a great example of a Philadelphia guard and he may be a great catcher but he sure can't hit a baseball.  I remember when he hit that homerun over the left field fence.  It was only 309 feet from the plate." 
--Edward F. Powers, Jr. (Father coached Jim Phelan at LaSalle College)

"Jim was always good to the team.  I remember my senior year.  He got right down on the court with us throwing his elbows.  I also remember this one time at Hampton Sydney we were heading off the court after a win.  Two guys jumped out of the stands and were going after me.  Coach stepped in the middle and said, 'need help fellows.'  They backed off right away.  Coach never catered to us and always treated us like men.  He used to tell us, 'I am not going to give you any restrictions on your hours because it is going to show in your school work, practice and play.”
--Sal Angelo (Class of 1955, Played on coach Phelan’s first team at the Mount, member of the Mount Hall of Fame) 

"I was there when coach first started at the Mount.  He realized that he had a bunch of players and didn't put any major systems in effect.  He coached to the player's abilities and it showed.  He always told me that the 1955-56 team was not the most talented team he ever had, but no team has ever played better during a stretch then we did when we scored over 100 points three straight going into the Mason-Dixon Classic.  I think one of the most memorable moments was when he was scrimmaging with us.   He was only about five years older but clearly the best player on the floor.  His forte was his defense.  Well I was guarding him and he looked the other way and then let a chest pass go straight into my face.  I had a bloody nose and he said, 'you are too close to me and I could easily get around you.'  I learned to back off.  He always commanded respect from us and he got it.  Besides my own dad I have never admired somebody as much and I think his wife Dottie is as much a part of his success as he is himself."
--Bill Stanely (Class of 1956, Played on coach Phelan’s first team at the Mount, member of the Mount Hall of Fame

"I think coach has mellowed an all full lot from how tough he used to be.  This one time Bill Stanley threw the ball away two times in row and coach hopped off the bench with his bow time almost pulled off and called timeout.  As we headed to the bench Bill, who was at least a four inches taller than me, hid behind me as we went to the bench because he thought coach was going to kill him."  
--Ed Bals (Class of 1956, Played on coach Phelan’s first team at the Mount)

"Playing under Jim was a great four years of my life.  Coach Phelan is responsible for where I am today.  He is the most influential person in where I am today and what I am doing and I have continued to follow him and his success."   
--Jerry Savage (Class of 1961, 35 year head coach at Loyola college)

"I remember my final game I ever played at the Mount I scored 49 points, just two shy of Jack Sullivan's 51 single-game point's mark.  After the game coach came in to the locker room and said, 'if you hadn't shot so bad from the free throw line you could have had that record.'  He kind of brought me back to earth.  Besides that one moment, what stands out about coach the most is his values.  There is no person that has a greater value system.  If there was anyone you would want to emulate, he would be that person.  He puts first and foremost his family, faith and friends.  He is a man of great strength and not influenced by anyone.  He makes decisions by his heart and head.  I put him and Dottie together; they just don't make people like them anymore.  He is a rock solid person with his feet on the ground and treats everybody the same.  Coach is not just about basketball at the Mount, he is about the Mount as a whole." 
--Dave Maloney (Class of 1963, member of National Championship team and Mount Hall of Fame)

"After playing for coach I entered the Mount's staff and finally became the Provost, holding that position for 17 years.  I think it is a true testament to the kind of man he is that in all those years he never once asked me about a concession about one of his player's grades.  Coach has great values and never diverges from them or allows anybody influence to diverge him from them.  One of my best memories of coach was back in Memorial Gym.  We had a cardboard box in our locker room as a trash can.  Coach came in at halftime and was so mad he kicked right through that box.  He was dancing around trying to get that box off his foot.  None of us would laugh but it was hilarious."
--Jack Campbell (Class of 1964, member of National Championship team and Mount Hall of Fame, Mount St. Mary’s Provost for 17 years)

"I have a lot of respect for Jim.  He practiced with us and was the dirtiest player I ever played against.  He always was able to get an edge on others.  The relationship afterwards with coach is absolutely priceless and worth every minute I was there."
--John Novey (Class of 1971, member of the Mount’s Hall of Fame)

"Jim Phelan has a warm inferior and is a very family oriented man. His children came to games and practices all the time.  They are a part of the program and were appreciated by everybody.  As a coach, he let us play and count on us to take care of ourselves.  He made each of us carry ourselves as adults."
--Rick Kidwell (Class of 1976, became Alumni President at the Mount)

"Jim is so supportive of his players on the court.  He fought with you to the end.  I personally got my share of technical fouls and coach always stood by me.  He never embarrassed his players.  I think of coach a perfect gentleman and he has had a very strong impact on my life after basketball.  I think one of my best memories of coach was on the way back from a game.  He drove one of the vans and the other coach drove the other one.  We were ranked high and winning a lot of games at the time.  On the way home coach got pulled over by a state trooper for speeding.  Coach got out and talked with the trooper and when he got back in we all asked how fast to he get you and how much.  Coach looked at us and said, 'it is pays to be No. 1.'  After the state trooper realized who he was he let coach off with just a warning."
--Steve Rossignoli (Class of 81, member of D-II Final Four Team)

“Coach makes the Mount a real family, even after you graduate and end your playing career.  He has always taken a genuine interest in everything and continues to ask about my family and career.  I have two really fond memories of coach.  One was from the 1980 regional game against UMBC.  The place was sold out and very loud.  Steve Rassignoli got a technical foul and Coach Phelan started yelling down the court to get the referee's attention.  When the referee finally came over Coach said, 'what did he say.'  The ref said that he told me I stunk.  Coach responded, 'you do stink.'  The ref then gave a technical foul to coach as well.  The other story involves me and Dennis Dempsey.  Both of us were known to take a lot of shots and so coach never started us.  One game he sent both of us in off the bench at the same time.  Neither of us had taken a shot and a timeout was called.  As we went to the bench coach pulled us to the side and said, 'I didn't put you into the game to pass, SHOOT.''   
--Tom Looney (Class of 1981,member of D-II Final Four Team) 

"One of my favorite stories of Coach Bowtie was at the Elizabeth City game.   At the end of the game Coach drew up a play for Jimmy Rowe to catch the ball near half court and hopefully get off a shot.  As we broke the huddle I said to Mike Johnson, 'before you throw the ball to Jimmy run down the baseline and I would set a pick and see if we could get a charge.'  The ref gave Mike the ball and I set a pick and the man harassing him on the inbounds followed Mike and ran me over.  The ref blew the whistle and called the foul.  I was really excited that it had worked and was celebrating. Elizabeth City took a timeout and we came over to the bench.  Coach Phelan was not really yelling but certainly trying to be forceful telling me, 'I don't know what happened BUT YOU STILL HAVE TO MAKE THE FOUL SHOTS.'  I said don't worry Coach we got the call and he said, 'It doesn't do any good if you don't make the foul shots.'  Coach Tom Haggerty, the assistant at the time said as we broke the huddle, 'These are in!' After the game when all the celebrating was done on the court and we as a team were in the locker room Coach Phelan comes up to me and says, 'I don't know what the hell you were doing out there but way to go, you really have ice water in your veins.'

Another story is in 1983 I had come back for my graduate year and we were playing Randolph Macon at their place.  Coach put me in at the 10 minute mark of the first half.  Macon was playing a zone and they were up three or four when Durell Lewis found me in the corner for a jump shot to cut the lead to one.  He proceeded to find me the next four times we had the ball and we went from down three to up five in a matter of three to four minutes.  As we are running off the court Coach Phelan grabs me and pulls me aside and says, 'Don't ever listen to anyone, you have Carte Blanche with me when your in.'

We played at Virginia Union in 1980 in the South Atlantic Regions at UMBC.  We were losing by about 10 with four minutes left and I think Coach Phelan thought the game was over. I hadn't played the whole game and he put me in with no instructions or anything.  So I just got the ball, shot and made it and then proceeded to make the next four.  We ended up losing that game by one and afterwards coach said to me, 'I should have put you in a minute earlier.'
--Dennis Dempsey (Class of 1981, member of D-II Final Four Team)

"I always remember the many times that people would ask me if coach Phelan was as calm in the locker room as he appeared in the game. My response was always the same. 'Heecck NO!'  Once during a poor shooting first half, coach said that we couldn't hit a bull's ass with a bass fiddle. It was hard to keep a straight face on that one. Darryle and I love to tell that story. Boy do I miss those locker-room days and speeches about "Sweet Water" Clifton.
--Paul Edwards (Class of 1986, member of the Mount’s Hall of Fame)

"I remember we were playing Randolph Macon on the road and shot bad in the first half.  When coach walked into the locker room he was hot and mad at the team and you could hear a pin drop.   He said, 'you can't make chicken salad out of chicken s--t'.  That saying ended up catching on all around campus that year." 
--Robert Sutor (class of 1969, member of the Mount’s Hall of Fame)

"It was truly a wonderful experience to play for him.  He always would keep his distance from his players but after we graduated he is like a big brother.  We had a very successful two years with him.  He is a gentlemen and his family is great.  I played in coaches first year at the Mount and there were four of us from same high school.  We had everyone back from a team that won a championship in our sophomore year.  Ed Bals always jokes; if it wasn't for us coach would be a Philadelphia Bus Driver."
--Fran Smith (Class of 1956, played on Coach Phelan’s first team)

"There are a couple of memories about coach that really stick out in my mind.  One was practice and we ran the play perfectly.  Coach, who was chewing gum at the time, was trying to say something and he hit bit himself giving him a bloody mouth.  He looked at us and said, 'You ran play so damn good you made me bite my damn tongue.'  One of my other favorite memories is from practicing back in old memorial gym.  While we were on the floor Jim Deegan had his track team running on the outside.  Coach Deegan had apparently fired off the start gun and all the city boys on our team just hit the deck, laying face first sprawled out on the floor.  Coach said what the hell you firing a gun for in here and told him to get out of the gym during practice.  We were laughing hysterically."
--Darryle Edwards (Class of 1985, member of the Mount’s Hall of Fame)

"As Jim's assistant coach for 12 years, I experienced many momentous Mount basketball occasions, including thrilling victories, tournament championships, exciting nights in Memorial Gymnasium and a few frustrating losses.  I learned a lot of basketball from coach Phelan and sincerely enjoyed and treasure my association with Jim and the basketball program over the past 40 years.  However, the lessons of life that Jim passed on to me, especially the dignity, class and honesty with which he interacts with players, coaches, fans and friends, has truly influenced my life.  I sincerely wish the best for Jim and Dottie as they enter retirement."
--Tom Ryan (Assistant Coach from 1965-1977)

"Whether we won or lost, once the game was over coach moved on.  He has the ability to take basketball very seriously, but not himself too seriously.  In all the time I have been around basketball, I would describe Jim as "consistent."  I really have enjoyed my experience and I am really sorry to see him retire.  He will be sorely missed by me."
--Jack McLatchy (Current assistant coach for the Mount, a consultant for 10 years prior to joining the staff in 1998)

"I have called a lot of coach Phelan's games and have a lot of memories.  One that comes to mind is back in 1995.  Coach was at a press conference the day before they played Kentucky in the NCAA Tournament.  Somebody asked coach what he thought about the eight or nine All-Americans on Kentucky's team.  Coach replied, 'We have at least eight or nine kids on our team who like to eat at McDonald's."
--Roy Sigler (A 16-year color commentator for Mount basketball, former head men’s basketball coach at Boston University)

"I have known Jim for a lot of years and played baseball for him.  I remember this one time I was heading to the plate and we had runners on first and second.  Coach Phelan told me to move the runners up.  I was going to take a good cut at the ball to back off the fielders at the corner so I could bunt the ball.  I ended up hitting a homerun and as I came back to the dugout instead of giving me hell coach just said, "you got to make your breaks." 
--Woody Stoner (Men’s basketball official scorer)