Saturday, December 29, 2012

'Bittersweet' return to Binghamton for Marlon Sears

If Marlon Sears gets the chance to be a head coach, he will remember Binghamton University as the place where his journey began.

Sears’ coaching career began in the Events Center, where on Sunday he will return. Sears is the top assistant men’s basketball coach on Bill Courtney’s staff at Cornell University and may soon be a candidate for a Division I head coaching position.

Cornell will provide the final nonconference tuneup for the Bearcats at 2 p.m. Sunday.

“It’s kind of bittersweet,” Sears said of returning to the Events Center as a visitor. “I still feel like it’s home.”

While Courtney will likely be the most animated figure on the Cornell sideline, Sears will seldom be more than a few arm lengths away, seated beside Courtney on the end of the bench. The senior assistant on the staff, Sears is often the most talkative in the coaches’ huddles during timeouts before they speak to the team.

Sears joined Al Walker’s staff at BU prior to the 2001-02 season, the program’s first year competing at Division I. Sears had finished his degree requirements that spring, and had spent a year and a half overseas playing professionally after wrapping up his collegiate career at Newman University in Wichita, Kan.

Sears played two seasons at Seward County Community College prior to Newman. Sears earned NAIA second-team All-America honors his senior year after he averaged 22 points, nine rebounds and six assists per game. After playing in Spain and France and returning to the United States to complete college, Sears joined his former coach from Seward, Lawrence Brenneman, on Walker’s staff.

Sears considered himself “fortunate” to walk into a position as the third assistant on the coaching staff. The program did not have a director of operations, so duties such as travel arrangements, collecting game film, overseeing student managers, and monitoring players’ academics also fell to him.

“It was an amazing experience,” Sears said of his time with the Bearcats. “It was an amazing time in my life. With a guy like Al Walker, he challenged you every day.”

Sears’ goal is ultimately to be a college head coach, and he admits he had interest in the BU head coaching job when it opened up in the spring when Mark Macon was fired.

However, Sears also said he thinks the program is headed in the right direction under Director of Athletics Patrick Elliott, who Sears described as a “basketball guy,” and new coach Tommy Dempsey.

Sears watched from afar as the BU program went through a scandal, including the dismissal of former coach Kevin Broadus as well as six players and a temporary reduction in scholarships.

“It was a little discouraging because I felt like Coach Walker had worked so hard to build that thing to where it was,” said Sears, who still talks two or three times per month with Walker, now an assistant coach for the University at Buffalo women’s staff.

Following the 2005-06 season, Sears left to become an assistant coach at Wagner College. He spent two years at Wagner (2006-07 to 2007-08) followed by a year at High Point University in North Carolina (2008-09) and a season at Columbia University (2009-10). Hiring Sears was one of Courtney’s first moves after taking over the Big Red following the program’s storybook run to the Sweet 16 in the 2009-10 season.

At each stop after BU, Sears has held the title of recruiting coordinator, bringing in three top-100 recruiting classes as ranked by the publication HoopScoop. At Cornell, he helped bring in Shonn Miller, last year’s Ivy League Rookie of the Year and the team’s leading scorer this season.

“Coach Courtney, he doesn’t want to recruit against the other Ivy League schools,” Sears said. “He wants to recruit against the other mid-major schools.”

Cornell played at Boston University on Dec. 22, reuniting Sears and former Columbia University head coach Joe Jones, now Boston’s head coach. Following the game, Jones said he thinks it is only a matter of time before Sears is a head coach himself.

“He’s ready,” Jones said of Sears. “I think Bill is going to help him get ready. I think him having a chance — Bill was talking to me yesterday — he lets him run practices and things like that just to get him ready. I never had a chance to do that kind of stuff. He’s going to be ready. A good opportunity is going to come and somebody’s going to hire him.

“He’s got all the tools. He’s very articulate. He’s very good with the players. He knows the game. He was a very good player. He’s compassionate. He’s a guy the families are going to like because he’s going to do want to do the right thing by them. He’s got all the qualities.”


Anonymous said...

Brown's Providence win makes me think I wouldn't be surprised if we ended up 6th.

For those who say "oh but Providence was undermanned and missing some star player", Providence is always undermanned and missing some star player.

They were missing their Wooden-watch PG before last night, didn't stop them from blowing out earlier opponents. And whatever they missed in scoring was probably made up for by the guy who had an insane 37 points.

I just don't think we've clearly been better than anyone but Dartmouth and Penn so far, and even then I'm not sure they wouldn't beat us on any given game. 6th or 7th place is suddenly seeming possible to me. Cornell needs a serious reality check. We are playing even with bottom 50 teams right now.

Anonymous said...

Anon 10:49: took the words right out of mouth. An ivy title is out of reach unless this team undergoes a huge transformation in the next two weeks, so right off the bat a 4th place finish may be the best we do.

Anonymous said...

Really is a shame for a team with this much talent not even considered to be in the running or even competitive. Coach appears to ignore some of his better talent to play lesser players! No such thing as 9 equal players, whoever believes that still believes in Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy! Start your best players and let them play extended minutes if you truly trying to compete! Guess the only way to drive that message home is to lose a few close games and look back at that body of work and do some real soul searching on what players could have help you more, possibly even have prevented the game from being even that close! Until then

Anonymous said...

Who were the other candidates Cornell considered for head coach two years ago?

Anonymous said...

even Boston College beat Providence, don't worry

Anonymous said...

Great comment from Anonymous 10:49 AM above: "Providence is always undermanned and missing some star player." So true, they probably average one player per game on suspension, if not in jail.

Congratulations to Brown for winning with the Pizz stuffed full of Friar fans while the Brown kids were home eating turkey and ham. It was only nominally a home game for the Bears. Best three nonconference wins for the Ivies so far this season:

(1) Princeton over Bucknell
(2) Brown over Providence
(3) Columbia at Villanova

Anonymous said...

We have a better record than Penn but I'm not sure we are better.

Except for the 23-point loss to Delaware when they were missing 5 players, none of their losses have been embarrassing. Their schedule has been light, but they've been in most games, including the games against Villanova and Lehigh, while Cornell was blown out by Stony Brook at home. They just went to OT with a decent enough Wagner.

If we come 6th or 7th, I will not be shocked. I have been feeling like that for a few days. We are now like one of the cupcakes that Cornell 2010 used to blow out and use for bench practice.

Anonymous said...


(1) Harvard over Cal
(2) Princeton over Bucknell
(3) Brown over Providence
(4) Columbia over Villanova

Anonymous said...

Aaand Harvard beats Cal. So the Ivy has three top 100 wins in about a week, and Cornell is playing winless #236 St. Francis pretty evenly for 17 minutes of the second half? This should be pretty.

Anonymous said...

Harvard looked really good tonight in beating a decent Pac 12 team on the road. Amaker also outcoached Cal tonight.

This has been a frustrating season. We have some nice, athletic players, for sure, but so does Harvard. This blog just recently said that this team will compete for the Ivy title next year -- I just don't see how that's a credible statement when Harvard gets back a favorite for Ivy player of the year, a more seasoned team dominated by freshman, and the best recruit this league has seen -- ever.

We've beaten some really poor teams and have lost every other game so far. We've got one good recruit coming in, but that's it. I don't see how we contend for the next couple seasons at least unless something significant changes. Sorry for the rant, but this year has been extremely discouraging.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 8:01 PM here again. Yeah, I agree with Anonymous 10:00 PM that Harvard now owns the best nonconference win, especially because they were on the road in Berkeley while Princeton beat Bucknell in Jadwin.

My prediction for the Ivy race is the following:

March 16, 2013: Princeton vs. Harvard in New Haven

Anonymous said...

It's annoying when some Ivy beats a BCS schools and Cornell fans try to belittle it, like "oh Providence also lost to BC" and "Nova lost to LaSalle". Do we have any BCS wins like that under Courtney? No. Even if it is a fluke, or even when we get low-hanging BCS schools in rebuilding phase like Vandy this year or Maryland last year, or not so great BCS schools like Penn State, we can't pull it off.

We are not contending for the title next year because our problem is the coach. He either recognizes he is doing a poor job and has a coming to God moment like Coach D had midway through his time here, or we put up with this until he is fired.

Anonymous said...

How could Marlon/Courtney allow Binghamton to come back in 2nd half? Defense, Quality Screens for good shots, Movement, 80%FT are all easily done - and we should be doing them by this time!