The signs were there after the Sino-European games, after the Hibernia team played in the FIBA EuroCup and, particularly, after the senior men’s team competed in the European Small Nations this past summer in Moldova: The Irish Senior Men’s Basketball team is back and now it has a new head coach, former George Washington University Assistant Pete Strickland. Strickland will hold the position for two seasons (2016/17 and 2017/18), culminating in participation in the FIBA Small Nations European Championships in 2018.
A product of the famous DeMatha high school under legendary coach Morgan Wooten Strickland would go on to a career at the University of Pittsburgh where he started 104 games and left as the school’s leading assist-getter with 363, which is still good enough for fourteenth all-time for the Panthers. Strickland spent two years as a player-coach at Neptune from 1980 until 1982 and you can read more about his time in Ireland from his chapter in Kieran Shannon’s excellent hanging from the rafters book.
His coaching career has taken him to the Virginia Military Institute, Old Dominion University and Dayton, each time as an assistant, before he spent seven years as the head coach of the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers. He then was an assistant at NC State before moving to GWU where he was assistant to Mike Lonergan from 2011 until 2013 when he stepped down to spend more time with his family.
Pete now runs his own motivational speaking service and reflects fondly on his time in Ireland as can be seen in the video below:
More recently, he has been working as a Development Consultant with De Matha High School and Sport Changes Lives and is now looking forward to beginning his new role as Ireland’s Senior Men’s Head Coach.
“I’m very excited about it. It feels great to be appointed,” he said. “My heart was in it straight away, having played in Ireland in the 1980s with Neptune and I’ve been back and forth since. I love Irish basketball and have worked with many coaches and players here.
“From nearly my first day in Ireland in the 1980s, I always wanted to coach the national team. I was so jealous of Bill Dooley when he had the opportunity to do it and knew it was something I wanted to do. Cork and Ireland was a hot bed for basketball at the time and if we can get that kind of a fire going again, that will be exciting. Wearing the green of Ireland will be a proud endeavour, and the senior Men’s and Women’s teams are two teams all underage players aspire to be on. They are the shining lights of Irish basketball and I can’t wait to see these players play smart and hard like Irish basketballers have always done.
“The work itself will be challenging, and I’m looking forward to it. I can’t wait to be on the court, evaluating different players, bringing them in for training sessions, and of course, working with other coaches in Ireland. I’m excited about picking a team, it’s always a daunting task but it’s going to be fun too, and there will be a lot of work between now and then. The ultimate moment will be being on the court with the final team and being ready to go and play some teams.”
Speaking about the announcement, Bernard O’Byrne, Basketball Ireland Secretary General and Chair of the MNCC, stated: “We are delighted to appoint Pete who is extremely well-known in Irish basketball circles. Pete brings a lot of experience to the role and will take Irish international basketball to a new level. We will support him in any way we can.”