Saturday, March 26, 2011

Hassler to Becahi rumors weren't true


"Did you hear? Hassler's got the Becahi job locked up."

"Yeah, and his son is going there and [assistant] Jerry Radocha's son, too."

This is the kind of stuff that has been rolling through the local basketball grapevine the past few weeks.

I'd like to have a $20 bill for every time I heard someone say local coaching icon Ron Hassler was going to be Becahi's next coach.

I might not have enough to retire, but I could probably swing a quick trip to Vegas off that cash.

Turns out, there's nothing to the rumor. Hassler's not going to Becahi. Neither is his son.Hassler

He said so tonight when I talked to him about his resignation Thursday at North Penn, which I truly believe was prompted by fatigue from the commute to Lansdale every day during the season and his desire to watch his kids compete in sports.

I also believe Hassler would like to coach again one day, and he will. Even though he's won 534 games and has been coaching for 27 seasons, he's only 54 and probably has another lengthy coaching stint in him. When he's ready to returnany sagging program would be foolish not to hire him. If there's one thing Hassler teams do, it's win.

You might have some kids and parents complaining about the style, but if you want to learn the game's fundamentals and win, you go with Hassler.

And next time he coaches it will be much closer to Schnecksville home.

Hassler wanted the challenge of coaching in the rugged District One and did a typically good job, improving North Penn's won-loss record each season -- 11-12 in 2008-09 to 13-10 in 2009-10 to 21-6 in the season just ended.

"Jerry and I both like to learn and we picked up some new things down there," Hassler said. "They played the game a little differently, they ref it a little different and this experience gave us a different view on things. In some areas, the competition was really at a high level. Down there you have so many good teams."

But it was all not good.

Hassler was troubled by the fluidity of the rosters with some high-powered programs.

"The rosters of some of those rosters really changed each year with new kids who weren't part of the program the previous year," Hassler said. "I am not sure I like the direction high school basketball is going and I got a bigger taste of it down there than we have up here. The teams trying to maintain a high level of play are using quite a bit of transfer students.

"I still believe the kids should come through own community programs and work your way up through the ranks and hopefully get a shot to play when you're a senior. But that's happening less and less. Some of the coaches and many of the parents are involved in shopping kids around all over the place. We've heard about Nike treating kids like a meat market. Well, that mentality has trickled down to the high school level and you are not seeing kids have loyalty to a program and working within that program all the way through."

Hassler's comments are what I've been saying all along -- especially now that the Pacchioli transfer went through. Free-agency has come to high school athletics

The PIAA can't stop the movement. Might as well take the transfer rule off the books, and you could start to see kids change schools from week to week and the kids who worked hard and waited their turn for a shot will simply get shoved aside in the name of winning.

Coach yell at you a little loud? Hey, just threaten that you're going to leave for the rival school and he'll pipe down.

It's despicable in my opinion, but it's clear where the power lies now and it's not with the schools and coaches, that's for sure. Loyalty to your community, your town, your district? Forget about it.

Not good enough to play? Not getting it done academically at one school? No problem. Just find a new, softer home. Just change uniforms like T-shirts in the summertime.

But I digress.

Hassler was very appreciative of the support he got at North Penn.

He went through hell last year when some absurd accusations were made, but said he got strong backing from the administration and had some terrific parents down there.

"We made some tremendous inroads down there and I hope they will continue the things we got established down there," he said.

He said this was a tough decision to make, but as someone who hated that drive to Council Rock South last week for the Allen-La Salle game, I can certainly understanding why spending your winter winding your way through the backroads of Bucks County can get to you after awhile.

Routes 22 and 33 and 309 are a piece of cake compared to some of those trips.

"If I was still 32 I'd probably stay down there for awhile," he said. "But at this phase of my life I really don't have the same level of energy to do all of that driving and give the same effort to a program. I know only one way to coach and I just couldn't continue to give all I could to the program the way I'm accustomed to. The time commitment was too much.

"I really am looking forward to going to watching my kids' play. I know they said it didn't bother them when I wasn't there, but it really bothered me."

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