Updated: 1:29 p.m.
Brett Brown’s coaching staff is losing a key member.
Assistant coach Billy Lange has reached an agreement to become the next head coach at Saint Joseph’s.
Lange will replace Phil Martelli, who was unceremoniously let go on March 19 after 24 seasons coaching the Hawks. The agreement was first reported by the Inquirer.
This is a tricky situation for Brown and the Sixers. It seems likely Lange will be forced to leave his current post and begin recruiting.
"I am proud of his appointment and he and his family will be missed as friends and Billy in a professional capacity, very much," Brown said in a statement. "He has been with me from day one and to see where he started and now where he has ended up, is a fantastic human and basketball story. We will be following him closely. Go Hawks."
With the departure of Lloyd Pierce to take the head job in Atlanta this past offseason, Lange has been in charge of the Sixers’ defense.
The team’s new switch-heavy scheme has had some growing pains this season — especially in the pick-and-roll. With Lange out, it will be tough to make a change with just eight games remaining. Monty Williams, who has plenty of experience in the NBA as a player and head coach, could step into the role.
For St. Joe’s, Lange seems like a solid hire. It’s going to be tough for the school to restore the goodwill it lost with Martelli, but Lange has as many local ties as anyone — if not more.
Lange is a Haddon Heights, New Jersey, native. He has tons of Philly college hoops connections, having played for John Giannini at Rowan University and having coached under Herb Magee at Philadelphia University, Speedy Morris at La Salle and Jay Wright at Villanova. He’s also had two head coaching stints with the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy and Navy.
For the Hawks, getting a coach with so much history with Philly hoops and with NBA experience seems like a good get. For the Sixers, it adds a little uncertainty to a season filled with high expectations.
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