As St. Bonaventure Director of Athletics Joe Manhertz tried to process a difficult regular-season setback to Rhode Island, he was introduced to a man and offered a quick handshake before he started walking 10 steps towards the door.
That was when Manhertz processed that the man he just shook hands with was Jim Crowley, the women’s basketball program’s all-time leading winner as a coach, totaling 258 in 16 seasons, spanning 2000-2016, which included two NCAA Tournament appearances and four WNIT berths.
“I’ve never gone too far from the program,” Crowley stated. “A lot of people here who mean a lot to me and obviously the school does. My staff at Providence were all former players, so whenever the Bonnies were on ESPN we were watching and supporting. When (Executive Senior AD) Steve Campbell reached out the initial conversation was about a shortlist and that conversation turned into me being on that shortlist. It’s been great to be back, today has been a whirlwind, but very familiar which feels great.”
Crowley will return back to St. Bonaventure and look to rebuild this Bonnies team. The Atlantic 10 Conference has changed in many ways since Crowley last was with the team and just three of the 14 teams still have their head coaches in place from when he departed, Saint Joseph’s Cindy Griffin, Duquesne’s Dan Burt and VCU’s Beth O’Boyle.
“(I’ve) never have been too far away from it, still have good relationships with some of the coaches who were here, there are not too many left, but know a lot of the new ones and have for a long time,” said Crowley. “I always thought the camaraderie in the A-10 was really special and I appreciated that even more after leaving. Looking forward to getting back.”
Throughout Crowley’s press conference and mini breakout interview, two concepts emerged, that of love and people.
There is a clear love for St. Bonaventure a feeling that has remained from the start and a belief in both university and community.
This is the place Crowley desires to raise his daughter Jocelyn and it is where he hopes to find a likeminded roster from staff to players.
Crowley plans to bring some of what he learned at Providence back to Bona, whether it was x’s and o’s or the understanding that previous success stemmed from the culture in and around the program.
How will this program move forward? That checklist has already been set.
For starters, everyone in the program will both desire and hunger opportunities to succeed at Bonaventure.
From there, the focus will be placed on going to work with a disciplined mindset. Communication will be very direct, with the understanding that there is a lot of work to be done, in order to return fans back to the Reilly Center.
This will be built on the defensive end and then offensive components will include ball movement and playing through the paint, whether that be through motion, continuity, hitters or any combination of this trio of thoughts.
“The vision is the same, where it ends up, that takes care of itself,” Crowley assessed. “We’re going to put a team on the floor that plays really hard and competes and plays together with discipline. Year one we want people to want to come back and watch us play again. If we’re doing that we’re probably improving and that’s a goal every day.”
The transition back to St. Bonaventure came together quickly after Crowley and Providence parted ways. It all centered around being excited to take on this opportunity if it arose once again.
Once a clear line of thought was established, everything came together within a couple of days.
Now, Crowley departs his family, to return back to his second home and another one.
“(My family) know that probably the best version of me is here and they want that for me,” concluded Crowley.
Photo credits: St. Bonaventure Athletics