On Jan. 14, at Francis S. Levien Gymnasium in New York City, roughly 350 miles from the Robins Center, Dan Geriot and Kevin Hovde will be on the court together. But unlike the previous five years, these two former University of Richmond basketball players will no longer be on the same bench.
The two players who graduated last year have been hired by a pair of Ivy League schools to be assistant coaches on their basketball teams. Hovde is a graduate assistant coach at Columbia University and Geriot is a volunteer assistant coach at Princeton University.
Although both have ended up as assistant coaches at Division I schools, the paths they took there were very different. After the Spiders lost in the Sweet 16 last year to the University of Kansas, Hovde turned his attention to finding a coaching job and Geriot signed with a professional club in Belgium.
Both faced a bit of adversity soon after leaving Richmond. Geriot lasted two and a half weeks before suffering a knee injury during training camp. After returning home to have the knee examined, Geriot decided to quit professional basketball when the doctors told him he suffered a torn meniscus. He had the option of getting surgery on it, but continuing to play would have eroded the entire meniscus in his knee and soon it would be bone-on-bone, Geriot said.
"I know my time playing is over and the knee ran its course," Geriot said in a phone interview. "I had my cup of tea playing professional basketball overseas a little bit. Now, I'm on my next phase of life, and I'm focused on becoming the best coach I can be and helping Princeton win some games."
Hovde did not play professionally - the lone one not to play professionally among last year's five seniors - but wanted to stay in basketball. After the loss to Kansas, Hovde met with Richmond coach Chris Mooney to seek advice on how to get into coaching and then started applying.
"I wrote about 90 letters to a bunch of Division I programs just introducing myself saying that I played at Richmond, that I played for coach Mooney, just saying that I would volunteer," Hovde said in a phone interview. Despite the numerous applications, Hovde did not get a position as a number of coaches told him their graduate positions had been filled, he said.
Geriot said although the injury had ended his playing career, it was a blessing in disguise. When he returned home in early September after the injury, Geriot was in Richmond for about a week looking into getting a job or applying for graduate school when he ran into Mooney.
It was then that Geriot first heard about the opening at Princeton.
Mooney, a Princeton graduate, made a call to Tigers head coach, Mitch Henderson, and helped set up an interview for Geriot. Geriot interviewed for the job on Sept. 12 and three days later, he joined the Tigers' staff.
"To be 23 and already be an assistant coach, I'm pretty fortunate," Geriot said. "This opportunity shouldn't happen. I should probably be a graduate assistant or director of operations somewhere but I was able to get around that."
Hovde also used a Richmond connection to get his job. Carlin Hartman, the head assistant coach with the Lions, coached at Richmond during Hovde's first two years. When Hovde got rejected initially, he asked Hartman for advice in early June, Hovde said.
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Hovde said Hartman told him that there was a graduate assistant coaching spot open at Columbia and if he could get into graduate school there, then the job was his.
There is also a familiar face for Geriot to turn to at Princeton, which lost on a buzzer-beater to the University of Kentucky during the second round of the NCAA tournament last year. Marcus Jenkins, who was the director of basketball operations for Richmond the past four years, accepted a job as an assistant coach with the Tigers in May.
Geriot said having Jenkins there has helped him transition into a full-time coach.
"I'm kind of getting thrown into the fire pretty quickly and with him being there, it really helps," Geriot said. "He answers all my questions, even if they are stupid questions."
Geriot is also familiar with Princeton's offense. At Richmond, Mooney ran a variation of the Princeton offense and the Tigers run a different variation of it.
Geriot was the prototypical big man in Richmond's variation of Princeton offense with his passing ability and shooting range. He said that if he were to become a head coach in the future - a goal he and Hovde have - then he would run a variation of the offense.
But for the time being, he said he would give the Princeton players some pointers on how to run it.
"I might give them a couple of tips on where to pass the ball," he said. "I'll tell you what, these guys have some good sky hooks already. I'll just keep pushing them to shoot it more."
Since both are at Ivy League schools, their teams will meet twice during the season, with the first one at Columbia in January.
"I'm sure he wants to get a win over me so he has some bragging rights," Geriot said of his roommate at Richmond for the past three years. "But hopefully, we have the better team with more talent so we might get them. "
Said Hovde about facing Geriot: "He's one of my best friends, and I still talk to him all the time so it's a little bit weird. But the players will be on the court playing, and coaches can only do so much, so it's not like it's me versus him.
"It will be Columbia versus Princeton and that's the game. Nobody cares that it's Dan Geriot versus Kevin Hovde."
But Richmond fans roughly 350 miles south of the Levien Gymnasium will certainly have an interest in that game.
Contact staff writer Andrew Prezioso at email@example.com
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