|Ex-Bucknell coach Flannery enjoying new life|
|Written by Admin|
|Thursday, 06 November 2008 09:22|
These days, the former Bucknell basketball coach known for his sometimes fiery court demeanor treasures little things like watching his 14-year-old son Ryan play football, or going to a wedding with his wife, Patti.
He has no regrets seven months after stepping down from a successful 14-year run leading the Bison from small-school basketball obscurity to a reputation as an NCAA tournament giant-killer.
``I know it was the right reason. I felt good about that,'' the 51-year-old Flannery said after his son's football game. ``I'm doing things that I haven't done in ages, and I'm really enjoying it.''
They are moments that Flannery wouldn't enjoy as much if he was still on the court.
He said his intensity for the job overwhelmed him at times. There were practices to organize, film to analyze and those constant recruiting calls.
l pressure was perhaps most evident when Flannery suffered what he likened to a fainting spell during a Jan. 30 game against Lehigh. He remained on the bench for two minutes before returning to the locker room, then missed two more games after a brief stay in the hospital.
Life changed on April 18 when he announced he was leaving the bench to take a new job with Bucknell as a fundraiser.
``We've gone to a wedding where we danced. We hadn't danced in a couple years. We had an absolute blast,'' Flannery said. ``That's the type of thing when you're usually obsessing with practice. Literally for months, I would literally go underground when the season started.''
His last season was tough, as Bucknell went 11-18 before losing in the second round of the Patriot League tournament. The Bison in large part were doomed by a spell of injuries to key players.
Overall, though, Flannery was a success with a 234-178 record at Bucknell, winning three regular season league titles.
His tenure will be best remembered for Bucknell's upset of Kansas in the 2005 NCAA tournament, a win that capped a season full of upsets for a school better known for its academics.
The next season, Bucknell became the first Patriot League team to be ranked in the Top 25. They went to the NCAAs again as a No. 9 seed, beating Arkansas in the first round.
for small-school success.
The team's accomplishments also built up the intensity in Flannery, a proud Bucknell alum who wanted his alma mater to succeed. He was known for his occasional outbursts on the court. Last season, he was reprimanded and suspended for one game by the Patriot League for arguing a call during a Jan. 18 win at Holy Cross.
``Everything gets embellished, but if you watch 28 nights a year, there were 17, 18 games, 19 maybe, when I was a normal coach,'' he said.
Twelve days after that outburst came his sideline slip early in the second half of the home loss to Lehigh following an argument over an official's call.
Recounting that night, Flannery said he had been mostly quiet during the game ``sitting like a choir boy'' but had bottled up his intensity. ``When I got up, it just kind of cut off my oxygen. It was like fainting,'' he said.
An assistant told him he briefly had slurred speech and had the shakes. Friends feared it might be a heart problem, but medical tests revealed he was fine physically.
``My health wasn't bad, but it wasn't healthy,'' he said. ``It wasn't healthy physically, it wasn't healthy mentally.''
Other things weighed on him. His father died two years ago. The sudden death last year of Wake Forest coach Skip Prosser also had an impact - Prosser's son, Mark, was a Bucknell assistant under Flannery.
tunities in athletic administration at other schools in the past.
Still, Flannery said stepping down wasn't on his mind when he had a regularly scheduled meeting with school president Brian Mitchell in mid-April to talk about the program and things like upgrading the locker room.
That's when Mitchell presented him with the new opportunity.
``One hundred percent my decision,'' he said.
Flannery said he's not ruling anything out in the future, including a return to coaching. He's thought about becoming an athletic director at some point, too.
But, he said, he genuinely enjoys his new job.
``I don't anticipate going back to coaching, that's not where I'm at,'' he said.
``This stepping back is absolutely the best thing I've ever done. I just feel like a kid again. It feels wonderful.''