A new season brings new coaches to Foggy Bottom. Both the men and women’s squads will benefit from the addition of a new assistant to their coaching staffs.
This season the Colonials welcome Phil Rowe, formerly the head coach at several New Hampshire colleges, to the men’s staff; and Mike Bozeman, an acclaimed high school coach from Maryland, to the women’s staff.
GW picked up Rowe to replace now-Stony Brook head coach Steve Pikiell. Rowe comes to GW from the University of New Hampshire, where he was head coach for six seasons. Rowe said his decision to join the Colonials was due in large part to a desire to work with head coach Karl Hobbs, whom Rowe has been friends with since they were both assistant coaches at Boston University in the early 1990s.
“Working for Coach Hobbs is absolutely the number one reason,” Rowe said about his decision to come to Foggy Bottom. “He is one of the most respected coaches in the country.”
Before his six seasons as head coach at UNH (1999-2005), Rowe was head coach at two other New Hampshire schools: Keene State College (1996-1999) and his alma mater, Plymouth State College (1985-1990). While at Plymouth State, Rowe also coached the women’s soccer team to three NCAA Final Fours.
Rowe said his experience coaching both men and women between the two sports has made him better “understand the psychological growth of student athletes” and “deal with larger groups.”
He said the staff has “a really shared approach, what Coach Hobbs is most comfortable overseeing.” Rowe said that he and the other assistants, Darrell Brooks and Roland Houston, “kind of share everything,” including scouting, recruiting and preparatory roles on Hobbs’ staff.
Rowe joins a team that the USA Today/ESPN coach’s poll has ranked no. 24. Rowe expressed confidence in the defending Atlantic 10 Conference champions’ offense.
“Offensively, our team flat out can score,” Rowe said. “We are a running team, a pressing team.”
The coach said the Colonials’ defense is the area that the coaching staff is focusing on as the offseason winds down.
“We need to tighten up defensively,” Rowe said, citing that he wants to see the field-goal percentage of GW’s opponents fall.
Rowe also said he is encouraged by this year’s new recruits.
“(The recruits provide) quality depth and quality starters for the future,” Rowe said.
Head coach Joe McKeown also needed a replacement for the departed Jacob Solomon. The veteran head coach turned to a close friend in Mike Bozeman to help lead the GW women’s basketball program this season.
“I think this is a great fit for me because coach’s philosophy is very much like my philosophy,” Bozeman said. “I consider him a player’s coach and I consider myself a player’s coach.”
Bozeman leaves high school coaching after six seasons at Bishop McNamara in Forestville, Md., with a record of 151-35 (.812) and several titles and national acclaim.
“I just felt like it’s run its course at McNamara,” Bozeman said. “We were in all senses and purposes the national champions in 2004.”
The coach, who was named head coach of the year by several organizations during his time at Bishop McNamara, said he was ready for a new challenge.
Bishop McNamara was first in the Street & Smith preseason rankings as well as second in USA Today’s poll for 2003-2004. The team finished third in USA Today with a 27-1 record while winning the Lone Star Invitational Championship, the Dell Curry Invitational and the NIKE Tournament of Champions. Bozeman also led the school to three consecutive conference titles in the regular seasons 2002-2004 as well as the tournament title in 2003.
“I’ve accomplished a lot at Bishop McNamara and coach has always been a mentor to me and we were already fast friends,” Bozeman said, “I’m just excited about the opportunity to work with Coach’s staff. I have a lot of respect for Coach McKeown.”
Bozeman was frank about his high expectations for the Colonials, ranked 23rd in Street & Smith’s 2005-06 Preseason College Basketball Yearbook.
“The minimum goal in my personal eyes is to go to the Sweet 16,” Bozeman said. The Colonials lost in the second round of the NCAA tournament to North Carolina last March.
Bozeman said he believes the Colonials will be improved this year because of the “great recruiting class” put together by McKeown and assistant coaches Lisa Cermignano and Tajama Ngongba, both GW graduates.
“I think that it’s a very good (recruiting) class . the biggest improvement we have is bigger bodies, more athletic bodies,” Bozeman said.
Bozeman, a graduate of Fairleigh Dickinson, is in his first year as president at the Center for Academic and Sports Excellence (CASE), an organization that works with student-athletes toward their success on the playing fields, in the classroom and eventually in the workplace. Bozeman also founded and serves as director of the NIKE Elite Summer League and the D.C. NIKE Elite Girls’ Travel Team.
“He’s good,” McKeown said of Bozeman. “He will definitely bring an added dimension to recruiting.”