I’ve never met anyone who doesn’t like and respect Monte Ross, Delaware’s men’s basketball coach.
I’ve also never met anyone who thinks he’s a bad coach. Why? Because he’s an unambiguously good coach. A really good coach. Strong recruiter, smart dude, extremely likeable. He also led the Blue Hens to the CAA title last year and a birth in the NCAA Tournament. Delaware was outmatched by Michigan State, and rightly lost. But the Hens weren’t embarrassed. They played hard, played well, kept the game closer than it should have been.
Now, it seems, Ross is on the way out.
According to a piece from Kevin Tresolini in the Wilmington News Journal, Delaware athletic director Eric Ziady anticipates hiring a new coach for next season. He actually probably wanted to fire Ross after last season, but—dammit—a conference championship spoiled that plan. Oy.
I can go on and on about this, but Kevin’s story explains the details best. What I will say—and it’s uttered as a very proud, very loyal University of Delaware graduate—is that my school has an uncanny way of screwing sports up. Whether it’s joining the wrong conference (Colonial over Atlantic 10) or refusing, for years, to play Delaware State in football or getting rid of the men’s running programs, the Blue Hens always seem to mess this stuff up.
But getting rid of Monte Ross … well, that’ll take the cake.
Coaching men’s basketball at Delaware is a beast. Your team plays in an OK conference, but any high-quality regional players will turn to Villanova or Temple or Rutgers over your school. Even though people in the state live and die with the Blue Hens, the school has very little national recognition. Which is weird, because UD grads include Joe Biden, Chris Christie and Joe Flacco. Attendance at games is pretty pathetic, school spirit is meh … it’s just a bad scene.
But Ross is a shining light. He’s passionate, detailed, wise. He makes you want to play for the Hens; makes you proud to be a Hen.
If he doesn’t return (and he almost certainly will not return), we can once again be reminded why sports at Delaware always struggle.
It’s a self-imposed fate.