Three nationally reknowned college basketball coaches who have their roots in the Delaware Valley, have been selected as recipients of the fourth annual Lapchick Character Award, one of the newer but more prestigious honors for college basketball coaches.
Fabled former Princeton coach Pete Carril, and equally well-known Mount St. Mary's coach Jim Phelan, and Virginia women's coach Debbie Ryan will be honored at a luncheon at Madison Square Garden on Nov. 17, it was announced Thursday.
Carril, still coaching at the age of 81 (he's an assistant with the Sacramento Kings), played for Bethlehem Liberty High and at Lafayette College. He coached at Easton High and Reading High, before spending a year at Lehigh, then moving to a nationally prominent tenure at Princeton. In 29 years, he compiled a 514-261 (.658 winning percentage) record, the best of any coach in Ivy League basketball history.
Phelan, who is 82, played at La Salle High and La Salle College, before moving on to Mount St. Mary's, where he spent 49 years and amassed a stupefying 830 wins (overall record of 830-524), including the 1962 NCAA Division III national championship.
Ryan, 58, played high school ball at Hopewell in Mercer County then played point guard at Ursinus College. While in grad school at Virginia she was offered the Cavalliers' head coaching position and stayed there for 34 years and 776 victories. She retired this spring.
Needless to say, all three have well-deserved places in the basketball Hall of Fame.