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An Interview With NJCU’s Head Women’s Basketball Coach Pat Devaney

Pat Devaney views the opportunity as the new head women’s basketball coach at NJCU (New Jersey City University) as a dream come true. A storybook tale to be an alumni and come back where his wife Kelly is also an alumni of the university. Not to mention he gets to return home and get the chance to watch some basketball games having never stepped foot inside the John J. Moore Athletics & Fitness Center.

Devaney graduated from NJCU in 2012 and served as an assistant coach on the women’s basketball team from 2012-15. In addition, Devaney played on the men’s basketball team for two and half seasons (2007-08, 2009-10) under current men’s head coach Marc Brown. Devaney is also excited about working with new athletic director Shawn Tucker.

“Excited to have someone of Shawn’s caliber to be head of our athletic program and he is going to bring a great deal of knowledge from how Division I athletics works and bring that over here,” said Devaney. “He is a leader, been one at Rutgers and the energy he brings will make it easier to work with him. Two hungry 34 year-olds bringing a lot of success to the athletic program.

“I have known Marc Brown since I was ten years old, my dad coached him in a summer pro league they had in Belmar and East Orange. I played for him in 2007 and came in as a boy and left as a man. He was instrumental in my maturity and the success he has had since 2007 to now speaks volumes of who he is as a person in general. A father figure to many students and his success comes with hard work, love and dedication to the university. Being side by side with my college coach who has really groomed me to the person I’m today. We have an amazing President (Sue Henderson) and great people in place to make our university one of the best Division III universities in the country.”

Devaney recognized the daunting challenge ahead for the 2018-19 season. This past season, the Gothic Knights went winless (0-21) and the last time they posted a winning record was during the 2004-05 season. However, Devaney has enjoyed success on the recruiting trail especially with Bria Smith voted NJAC (New Jersey Athletic Conference) Women’s Basketball Rookie of the Year and named 2014‘s Athletic Region Rookie of the Year.

“I went to (Bria Smith) and talked to her mother, father and Bria,” said Devaney. “I asked her what she wanted to do since she was out of school at the time and what was going to be her major. She trusted me and I had her best interests in mind and she came aboard. One of the hardest working players on the team and I pushed her to be the best person she could be and reach that next level on and off the court.

“Division III recruiting is the life blood of the program and we really don’t have any restrictions in recruiting unlike Division I or II with certain periods of recruiting. Year round gives us a better advantage of getting kids and building relationships and something I’m big on. There are no scholarships and going to find out who wants to play basketball and for the love of the game. We’re selling NJCU on a place where we never won a playoff game or championship and not a lot of people can say we’re the first to ever accomplish something like that and opportunity to put a banner up in this gym.”

Devaney emphasized his strong New Jersey roots, as an assistant boys basketball head coach for St. Patrick’s High School in Elizabeth, now called “The Patrick School.”

“I have a lot of connections in the North and South, building on the fact people reaching out to me and I love going to basketball games and watching everyone,” said Devaney. “Hitting the recruiting trail to get people to buy into the culture and being a student athlete in order to play college basketball.

“You can play recreation and not have a degree, I’m just not on passing classes but achieving expectations in the classroom and push themselves like they do on the court. I want a team GPA of 3.0 or higher and 3.4 or 3.5.

“Basketball doesn’t last forever, what you learn in your classes you can’t buy at a corner store or rec gym. Something you can get at a university or college, you miss classes you will not come to practice and before it reaches the AD it’s going to hit me and you will feel my wrath.”

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Sunil Sunder Raj

Since July of 2014 Sunil Sunder Raj has been with In The Zone. Sunil has experience covering minor league baseball, high school and college sports. A beat writer for the Rockland Boulders for six years, Ramapo College men’s basketball for four years, NJIT men’s basketball and Seton Hall women’s basketball. Now focusing on feature articles about athletes, coaches and sports media professionals. A graduate of Ramapo College of New Jersey with a bachelor of arts degree in journalism.
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