Coach Bruce Pearl (and Tennessee’s mascot) last March.(Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
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Hoop Jews

The Jewish coaches’ Final Four, and the real one

Marc Tracy
March 29, 2012
Coach Bruce Pearl (and Tennessee's mascot) last March.(Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Today, I wrote about the Jewish Coaches Association, which hosts an annual brunch on the Saturday morning of the Final Four (usually in a hotel ballroom or the like, though two years ago, they went here). Fired Tennessee head coach Bruce Pearl will likely be there this year; disgraced Syracuse assistant Bernie Fine, not so much (and only yesterday it was reported that he put his house on the market). I hope Pearl gets his job back, or another job, in two years: I don’t want to say he’s an innocent, but his misdeeds had as much to do with the NCAA’s schtick as his own behavior. Anyway, the game, and the games, must go on:

“It’s all about who you know, moving up in the ranks,” said Adler, of La Salle, who is also the JCA vice president. “It’s a great opportunity for other Jews to network, socialize, make friends in the coaching community.” Where the younger guys are eager for the helping hand, the more established ones feel noblesse oblige. “I thought it was really important to try to give back and help young coaches and develop a network,” Virginia Tech’s Greenberg told me. Added Hufnagel, of Harvard: “The one thing that I’ve really grown to be very fond of is the idea of Jewish coaches helping other Jewish coaches.” He continued: “Pastner would probably be the one who has done the most. If he meets you at this breakfast and gives you his cellphone number and you call him, he’s absolutely going to pick up your call—I don’t care how busy he is. There’s a sense of pride.”

One thing I was pleased to learn in the course of reporting the article is that Kyle Smith, head coach of the Columbia Lions, my alma mater, is half-Jewish. The Lions finished 15-15 this season, 4-10 in the Ivy League, though they did force the champion, Harvard, into overtime to beat them, so that’s something. And hey, they were better than Brown and Dartmouth.

Meanwhile, who you got this weekend? Kentucky is the smart pick to win it all, of course. I’ll be rooting for Carolina, though. The other competition is for the Red Auerbach Award, between Kent State’s rookie head coach Rob Senderoff; Emmanuel College women’s vet Andy Yosinoff; and Rice’s Ben Braun.

Grand Rabbinate of the NCAA [Tablet Magazine]

Marc Tracy is a staff writer at The New Republic, and was previously a staff writer at Tablet. He tweets @marcatracy.