Basketball: Amos Connolly to lead Marauders

Amos Connolly ought to have a strong show of support from his new players when he's introduced as McMaster new men's basketball coach.

Connolly, a former assistant with both Marauders hoops teams, has been tabbed as the replacement of the Marauders, according to sources.

Speaking strictly from an outsider perspective, having a few players up on the stage would help with the optics. It would offer reassurance they're onside with the change and are ready to heal by the time it gets real in November.

Kirk Alfaro posted at The Hoop-la that McMaster and Windsor coach Chris Oliver could not come to terms on a contract. (That's unconfirmed, and beside the point anyway.)

Most recently, Connolly had been director of the basketball program in the Sport Academy at R.A. Riddell Elementary School in Hamilton. (The National Post wrote a feature on the academy three years ago.)

Best of luck to Connolly -- there's no such thing as an easy task where taking over a CIS program is concerned. He seems like someone whom you could take on face value as a first choice for the job, no mean feat when Oliver was also in the running.

Meantime, Windsor keeps a coach who might get it to the promised land. There's been no traditional media follow-up on all the bluster at Brock, so it might have been a lot of sound and fury signifying nothing. Sigh, the OUA West is getting back to sanity.

(Update, 3:45 p.m.: It's official.

Whoever posted on May 11 at 8:18 p.m., take a bow. You were closer than anyone to calling it.)
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  1. Amos Connolly is in a similar situation to the one facing Chris Oliver when he took the reins at Queen's several years ago, albeit a job with higher expectations. On the other hand, the cupboard is not as bare as the one Chris had to work with in Kingston. I think Amos will see this as a huge opportunity, and will make the best of this chance. All the best Amos!

  2. Kirk Alfaro is wrong. Check your facts before you post.

    Oliver chose Windsor over McMaster.

  3. OK anon 4:53...

    So Kirk was wrong and you are right.
    Do you know WHY he chose to stay at Windsor?
    Seems to me he came that close to taking the MAC job.
    Since you seem to know the inside story, what was the deciding factor for him to stay?

  4. There's nothing factually wrong with reporting what someone else claimed. Let's just say it's unconfirmed, and it's beside the point, which is that Mac has a coach named Amos Connolly and Windsor still has a coach named Chris Oliver. May they each live long and prosper!

  5. Good luck to the Fox 40 Marauders.....

  6. Gee...I wonder if "Mrs Disgruntled" approves of this hire?

  7. Oliver passed, did Greg Francis pass too? He would have made the most sense after Oliver.

  8. Amos Connolly what a joke...

  9. I thought Greg Francis said some time ago he wasn't interested in leaving Alberta.
    Was Darryl Glenn a serious candidate?
    Was he passed over....again?
    I'm beginning to wonder if he'll ever get a CIS job.

  10. Greg Francis was part of the final group that interviewed for the job last week. He would have been a great choice. Strong recruiter and international caliber coach. Which makes the Connoly decision even more confusing

  11. Somebody pass Jeff Giles a spatula so he can get that egg off his face!

  12. Anon 10:38...
    Who else besides Oliver and Francis were part of that final group?

  13. Congrats & Good luck Amos! You have a ton of Hamilton supporters.

  14. Apparently Ray Kybartas and Mark Walton were in the mix. I think that they decided not to interview Walton but Ray did interview and was notified prior to the weekend that he didn't get the job.

    Good luck to Amos...The MAC job is one of the best jobs in the country with a lot of expectations, especially after all this.

  15. Amos is very well respected in Hamilton. He will go a long way in bring a positive image back to the Marauders on a local level for everyone. Every kid in Hamilton knows him and respects him. The rest of the CIS community will, in time, do the same. Raso has gone on record in the press endorsing him. Now, hopefully, he will step aside and be just a parent of a player on the team and nothing more. Amos needs to put his own stamp on this program. I also expect to see many of the possible local coach candidates mentioned as being named assistants. I am excited for the future of this program.

  16. Brock won't be making any changes anytime aoon without an AD in place. Can't see it. And that means that program is in big trouble next year if Murray stays. Maybe he'll behave now that he knows no one is safe from scrutiny and a new AD can just pull the plug on him. But the cat is out of the bag and everyone knows.

  17. Was reading the Hamilton area based Hoop-La and long time
    anti Raso troll "disgruntled" finally weighed in.
    First, he describes Amos as "another of Raso's cronies",
    even though he admits he doesn't know him personally.
    I think he was genuinely shocked that Oliver wasn't named coach.
    I guess Giles isn't quite the hero he thought him to be.
    Anyway, I hope this guy shows a little bit of class for once and
    not criticize every move the new guy makes.

  18. This again! Spare us this useless information. I think there would be better insight and opinion to bring to this forum.

    I've asked around. Amos has been instrumental in the Sports Academy program at the senior grade school level. It also involves recruiting city wide, development and execution of the program. It's been successful for many different sports and has lured many an athlete to either stay within the Hamilton Public school or transfer from the Hamilton Catholic School system. Anyone from the city will tell you of the stranglehold that the catholic schools have had over athletics for decades. Amos is a big part of the recent shift towards progressive thinkers in the Hamilton Public board. It's not perfect but its a start. Mac has taken a maverick with proven skills. I say give him a chance to go with it.

  19. I attended the Mac press conference (in Coach Connolly's words "my first ever press conference"), and if that was any indication, he will do just fine. He indicated that he had talked to several of the players from this year's team already as well as some of the potential recruits, and that everybody is gung-ho and on-board. It was also mentioned before he took the podium that Amos was the best-prepared of any of the candidates who were interviewed for the position.

  20. According to what Giles said there were a number of highly qualified applicants for this job. Offering it to Oliver makes a certain amount of sense, given his ties to McMaster. However, when he turned it down, it makes very little sense to then hire someone with only low level experience, after firing Joe Raso. McMaster turned down the opportunity to hire other successful coaches? in favour of a local grade school/high school coach? Hmmm. Doesn't quite add up properly.

  21. Here we go again with the Murray battle. Leave the guy alone for a while till facts are sorted out.

  22. I think we are doing that, by pointing out there has been no announcement from Brock.

  23. No announcement from Brock because there is no AD to make it, or no announcement because there is no problem? A little insider info told me it is the former.

  24. Just to address John Millar's original comment from yesterday at 4:14...
    I have to respectfully disagree with you John on your point that Amos is in a
    similar position to Chris Oliver when Oliver took the Queen's job.
    The only similarity is that it is/was their first CIS head coaching jobs.
    Apart from that, there is no comparison between the two situations in many respects.
    First, the ouster of Joe Raso touched off a firestorm of controversy,
    over how it was done and whether it was necessary to begin with.
    A coach with 12 national appearances and well over 300 career wins
    one does not expect to be out of a job.
    The previous coach at Queen's before Oliver was 10-34 his final two seasons there so
    no controversy obviously when he was replaced.
    The Queen's job at the time could be described as a perfect stepping stone,
    an intermediate step towards a more promising position.
    Not so with Mac.
    Obviously, Connolly has a much better roster to work with than did
    Oliver in his first season at Queen's.
    But the expectations for McMaster and the pressure on this team to perform is
    exponentially greater than it ever was at Queen's.
    Mac is expected to be a Queen's, everyone would be thrilled with a .500 season.
    So while Connolly should be congratulated for getting the job, there
    may be times he'll wonder what he got himself into.

  25. Kybartas has been out of coaching for a while, Francis is ultimately Toronto bound (Katz retirement?), Oliver lost some enthusiasm when Windsor upped the ante, Connolly is from Hamilton, is respected by local players and coaches, is a Mac grad, assisted Raso for years and was the best prepared for the interview, so...

  26. Word today out of Saskatoon is that Greg Jockims will be taking a year's
    leave of absence and will hand the reigns over to Barry Rawlyk for the upcoming season.
    U of Sask head coaches apparently all have the option of a professional year's
    leave and Jockims chose to exercise his for the 2010-2011 season.
    I suppose coming off a first ever Canada West and CIS championship is as
    good a time as any to take a sabbatical.
    Especially since not only Linklater and Gottselig are through, now
    Glover supposedly will forgo his 5th year and will turn pro.

  27. As a court side club member it's dissapointing to hear Amos Connolly say that Mac is 3-4 years from being a national championship contender.......Greg Marshall took a young Western team in his first year and won the yates cup and went to the national final.... To me the expectations don't seem to be very high which is dissapointing....

  28. "It was also mentioned before he took the podium that Amos was the best-prepared of any of the candidates who were interviewed for the position." - John Millar

    Is this perhaps because Mac purposely decided not to interview anyone who applied for this job and was "more prepared" than Chris Oliver, or Greg Francis, or Amos Connolly? It's a joke of the worse kind to fire someone like Joe Raso, say you got a whole bunch of applications from highly qualified coaches and then give the job to a local grade school/high school coach, while claiming that he was actually "the most prepared of those candidates who made it to the interview". If Mac really wanted to win, then they wouldn't have fired someone like Joe Raso in the first place. If Mac really wants to win going forward, then they wouldn't have hired someone like Amos Connolly from their pool of applicants. An appointment like this makes it look like someone at Mac is trying to play both sides of the fence, regarding the decision to go in a different direction from Joe Raso. Amos Connolly was supposedly "the most prepared"? Really? ROTFLOLWKAS

  29. I highly doubt that guys like Chris Oliver and Ray Kybartas who has a Phd and coaching experience in europe weren't prepared....

  30. Does the fact that Raso endorsed this new coach mean anything. If I know one thing, it's that Raso would never say anything positive unless he meant it.
    We all get it. People are still miffed by Raso being forced out. But to publically slam Amos is unfair. Raso had similiar background when he took the job 18 years ago. And he didn't come home with a Gold win in all those 18 years. Maybe it is time for someone else to give it a go. Harping on the new guy just makes you look sour and bitter.
    Give it up people.

  31. Exactly, let's move on. Anyone out there know if there have been any interviews for the OttawaU job? Or maybe even who applied?

  32. At Anon 8:27

    I agree, as a court side club member, after everything you put into the program, in particular, your financial commitment, you deserve much more than this.

    Wait.....Hold.... What's your membership cost? $75 for life?

    You deserve nothing.

    Come on - get out of here with that garbage.

    DE LA G

  33. I heard that Stu Julius applied and Mark Walton applied, both did not get an interview ?

  34. A word of advice for Amos....don't read chat boards, son.
    You'll probably don't like what you see.

  35. "Most prepared" means he had the best interview, he came prepared. Whether he is "prepared" to be a great coach, only time will tell. With regard to the interview process, no business grants an interview to all applicants - they're reduced to only a few (4).

    Mark Walton is an excellent coach, but is 60ish and they wanted someone younger, presummably for the long haul.

  36. FYI, Marshall had a season as offensive coordinator, then won the Yates Cup his first full season at Western and had a Vanier Cup appearance in his second. He's No. 1 or 1-A for best coach in CIS football, but it didn't happen overnight for him.

  37. Amos is a good man and has worked hard he deserves a shot. To be considered a 1-A coach like a Greg Marshall, Blake Nill, Steve Sumarah it takes a lot of work and an ablility to related to your players. Good Luck Amos!

  38. What's the reason Mac chose to interview Oliver, Francis, Connolly, Kybartas and Maga over the other people who applied for this job? According to Giles, they supposedly got applications from many different people across Canada and the USA. Do you really think these 4 people were "the best" candidates from their pool of applicants and that Connolly was "the best prepared" to lead the Marauders in a new direction, away from where it was under Coach Raso? No disrespect intended to anyone specific but, to this point in their careers as neophyte coaches, more than one of the people interviewed has done very little of substance. At least, Oliver and Francis are coaches in the CIS already. Do you really think they were the only 2 CIS coaches (heads or assistants) to apply for this job? How about other coaches with extensive experience in FIBA, the NCAA, NAIA, NJCAA, or CCAA? Do you really think none of these other people were "better prepared" to succeed in the current situation at Mac, compared to the others who were interviewed? If someone at Mac wanted to hire "the best local coach with existing ties to their school" then that's certainly their right. However, please don't try to suggest that someone with the limited coaching background of the person Mac chose to hire actually fit the bill in a way which was somehow superior to the other high calibre coaches who took the time to apply for this job. When you try to do something like that it (1) makes a mockery of the job that Joe Raso did building up the Mac program in the first place and (2) the other high calibre coaches who applied for this job, at a school allegedly "going in a different direction". Given the accomplishments to-date of the new coach, pray tell, what "direction" might this be? Upward? Really? Best wishes to Amos Connolly. He has done nothing wrong in this situation. Hopefully he can build the program back to where Joe Raso had it a few years ago. It's the rest of this nonsense purpetrated by other individuals in/around the Mac program that I disagree with. Shame on them for conducting their affairs in this way.

  39. I see it as simply starting over. Raso had his chance for 18 years and didn't get the brass ring. If he hasn't by now, ne likely never will. It's time for someone else. One can argue the logistics of the search for the successor but unless you were behind those closed doors, no one knows what truly transpired. It doesn't concern me at all as I prefer to move forward and see this change as a positive move. It's unfortunate that there are a few that prefer to beat a dead horse.

  40. "One can argue the logistics of the search for the successor but unless you were behind those closed doors, no one knows what truly transpired." - Bob

    When there are 30 applicants, according to the AD, from across Canada and the USA, and the people who were supposedly interviewed were Chris Oliver (former Mac assistant), Greg Francis (former NEDA coach, housed at Mac), Amos Connolly (former Mac assistant) and Mark Maga (former Mac player, local high school coach) and Ray Kybartas (former Mac assistant), then it tells you this school was not looking for the "best prepared" coach it could find. Someone at this school had a specific agenda going into this whole process, and they then made sure this agenda was met by the person Mac eventually hired. Case closed. All others need not have applied.

  41. "Bob"..."Disgruntled"...."Halftime"....."Sybil"

    Same person, same same old.
    You're ain't foolin' no one.

  42. I can see why a new AD would do what he did. Those so resistant to change, even if it meant improvement, is not conducive to a successful end.
    I am not unhappy (or disgruntled?) at the prospect of a new beginning. I prefer to look forward and if Amos is the best candidate overall, so be it. The AD and his co-horts will have to live with the decision.

  43. It's pretty simple Bob...Giles swung for the fences trying to land Oliver...he gave it his best shot.
    But Windsor just kept upping the ante until it became pointless for Oliver to leave.
    So Windsor won the tug of war and Giles flies out at the warning track.
    So he took the best local product, in his mind, anyway.
    A guy people respect and won't resent.
    But make no mistake he wanted Oliver pretty bad...just couldn't land the big fish.

  44. A large component of this job is fund raising and a guy with well established local connections has a huge advantage. They would have hired an outside guy, but it would have had to be a very "Smart" coach (for example).

  45. Kevin McKenna Sr6/02/2010 7:44 am

    Whatever happened to the coaching apprenticeship whereby a prospective coach HAD TO spend a year at UBC taking courses and acting as an assistant coach? To me this made a lot of sense. I know Oliver went out there and took the course. Others mentioned as candidates did not and yet they are labelled as "qualified". This is where legitimate qualifications used to be included. You weren't even considered as a candidate if you had not taken this course, gone to clinics, run clinics, coached at a high level in the off season, etc. and of course had some experience with varsity CIS teams. A coach coming out of high school hardly can match those qualifications listed above, the main one being the apprenticeship program if it's still running. However, if a school doesn't care about real qualifications anymore, so be it.

  46. There's alot to be said for on-the-job training too. Taking a course, in and of itself, does not make one qualified for anything. Both formal education and practical experience is the ideal but without that, my money is on those who learned on the job. Connelly spent years in the CIS system. First as a player and then about 10 years as an assistant. There is plenty of opportunity to develop the necessary skills. And don't discount the value of his work in developing the Sports Academy program. That is new territory for any school board and he has made it successful. That kind of initiative and success should be recognized and not tossed aside as it does translate well into his new position. He has proven skills for making things work.

  47. Kevin McKenna Sr.,

    A coach with each of the job qualifications you out-lined above did apply for the position at McMaster but the "search" committee, in it's infinite wisdom, chose not to grant this coach an interview. Trust instead that certain "good people" connected with McMaster are getting exactly what they've wanted all along, i.e. a new "local" coach to replace Joe Raso, not the coach who was actually the "most prepared" to do a great job for the Marauders' program going forward. When you hire for a position like this one and only interview candidates with a prior connection to McMaster then you get what you deserve. Expect Windsor, Western, Lakehead and Laurier to be among the top group of teams in the OUA West this coming year. Unfortunately, what was once a top flight program in "the hammer" may not be any more.

  48. Why don't you do us all a favour and reveal the identity of this "qualified candidate" that was passed over for an interview? BTW, are you sure that the new coach isn't qualified under the NCCP program?