As players and then assistant coaches, Dave Dickerson and Doug Wojcik each spent 13 seasons at Maryland and the Naval Academy, respectively.
Dickerson was on the Terps' staff when the team won the 2002 NCAA title, while Wojcik recruited the core that won for North Carolina in 2005.
Both are in the second season of their first head coaching jobs, in a league loaded with recognizable veterans, but they view a certain force of nature from different perspectives.
"Doug and I both worked our butts off to become head coaches," Dickerson said, "but from the time we were named, our situations have been totally different."
The two meet tonight (8, CSTV) in a Conference USA game in New Orleans, where Dickerson had perhaps the worst honeymoon in the history of college coaching. Just as he was preparing to assemble his first Tulane team, the campus was wrecked by Katrina. A year and a half later, his program is still getting its bearings.
"One thing that attracted me to Tulane was its academic reputation. I figured that would help me recruit nationally," Dickerson said. "Instead, recruiting has been a bear. We've had to get kids from the region, who know the truth about New Orleans, that we're rebuilding, and not just what they've seen on television."
Sure enough, Tulane's top freshman, Kevin Sims, is from Jackson, Miss.
The Green Wave (9-9, 2-4) is coming off its best win of the season, over Rice. That came last Saturday, when Tulsa (13-6, 3-3) honored Nolan Richardson, who coached the Golden Hurricane in the early 1980s. A decade later, Tubby Smith was the Golden Hurricane's coach. The two were the second and third African-Americans, respectively, to win NCAA titles, at Arkansas and Kentucky. Bill Self got Tulsa to a regional final in 2000, then bolted.
"The banners speak for themselves," Wojcik said. "When you talk to a recruit about what has happened here, talk about [what] the teams under Nolan and Tubby and Bill Self did, you're not lying. I knew the history before I came."
Wojcik was hired 19 years to the day after Navy beat Tulsa in the 1986 NCAA tournament. He had the pleasure of running the point with classmate David Robinson, as Wojcik set a career assists record for the Mids that might never be broken. Two decades after they were commissioned, Robinson got an indirect assist, because Tulsa's top freshman is Ben Uzoh, a guard from San Antonio, where The Admiral remains a hero.
"It didn't hurt," Wojcik said, "that I could mention that David and I were teammates."
His Tulsa staff is filled with men who have ties to Maryland. David Cason starred at Southern High. Hassan Booker was recruited by Wojcik to Navy, and led the Mids to their last two NCAA appearances, in 1997 and '98. The lead assistant is Wojcik's brother.
Dave Wojcik played at Loyola College and got his coaching start as a graduate assistant at James Madison in 1991. With whom did he share an apartment? Dave Dickerson, who was Lefty Driesell's restricted earnings coach.
Don't sell Coppin State stock just yet.
The Eagles lost five of their first six in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, but they'll take a three-game win streak to MEAC leader Delaware State on Saturday. They play five of their last eight at home and figure to have junior point guard Darryl Roberts back for the conference tournament.
Roberts was coming into his own at the end of last season, but in late December, fell into disfavor with coach Fang Mitchell and rode the bench for several games. When Mitchell was ready to return Roberts to his rotation, Roberts came down with a stress fracture in a foot, but could be back in as soon as two weeks.
Minus Roberts, Mitchell said he is manning the point "by committee." Tywain McKee, one of the top returning scorers in the conference, leads the Eagles in points and assists.
Gonzaga is 15-7 overall, 6-1 in the West Coast Conference and No. 50 in Ken Pomeroy's simulation of the Rating Percentage Index, numbers that do not bode well for an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament. The Zags, however, are one of only two teams to beat No. 3 North Carolina, and they also took out No. 22 Texas and Washington.
Derek Raivio and the gang left Spokane to play No. 8 Duke, No. 13 Butler, No. 15 Nevada, Georgia and Virginia. Tonight, Gonzaga is at No. 23 Stanford, which just beat No. 5 UCLA. By the time the Zags get No. 11 Memphis at home Feb. 17, they will have played what should compute as the nation's most difficult nonconference schedule.