Sixers assistant coach Billy Lange agrees to become next head coach at St. Joe's

Sixers assistant coach Billy Lange agrees to become next head coach at St. Joe's

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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Phil Martelli out as St. Joe's head coach after 24 years

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Phil Martelli out as St. Joe's head coach after 24 years

It's the end of an era on Hawk Hill. After 24 seasons, Phil Martelli is out as the men's basketball coach at St. Joseph's University. 

The Hawks finished the 2018-19 season with a 14-19 record, losing in the Atlantic 10 Tournament quarterfinals last Friday in Brooklyn.

"Following a comprehensive review of the men's basketball program, I have decided to make a change in the leadership of the program. The decision was not an easy one, but I believe it is the right one - for both the men's basketball program and the institution as a whole," St. Joseph's athletics director Jill Bodensteiner said in a statement Tuesday morning.

Martelli took over as St. Joseph's head coach in 1995. He compiled a 444-328 record in 24 seasons and won six A-10 regular season championships, three A-10 Tournament titles and guided the Hawks to seven NCAA Tournament appearances. He is the winningest coach at a school known for producing coaching legends such as Jack Ramsey and Jim Lynam. However the St. Joseph's program slipped in recent years. Following a 28-win season in 2016, the Hawks had a 41-55 record over the last three years. 

Martelli led St. Joseph's on a tremendous five-year run from 2000-05, winning five straight A-10 regular season championships and appearing in three NCAA Tournaments over that span.  The 2004 season was the high point. Led by national player of the year Jameer Nelson, the Hawks completed a perfect 27-0 regular season and advanced to the Elite Eight before losing to Oklahoma State in the final seconds. Martelli was named the national coach of the year following that 2004 season. But the Hawks have won just one NCAA Tournament game since 2004.

"Basketball is an important strategic asset for the University," said Bodensteiner in her statement. "We have a storied history, and we move forward with the desire and intent to build upon that history, develop a sustained and consistent culture of excellence, and compete for NCAA tournament appearances and conference championships every year." Martelli's dismissal comes during a changing of the guard across the Big 5. Temple's Fran Dunphy will step down at the end of this season following 30 years as a head coach at Temple and Penn. Ashley Howard just completed his first season at La Salle.

St. Joe's hangs tough but loses to Davidson in Atlantic 10 Tournament quarterfinals

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St. Joe's hangs tough but loses to Davidson in Atlantic 10 Tournament quarterfinals

BOX SCORE 

NEW YORK — Jon Axel Gudmundsson scored 18 points and grabbed 11 rebounds to lift second seed Davidson past 10th seed Saint Joseph's 70-60 in the Atlantic 10 Tournament quarterfinals Friday.

Kellan Grady also had 18 for the Wildcats, who will meet the winner of sixth seed Saint Louis and third seed Dayton in the second semifinal game Saturday. Davidson beat Saint Louis 54-53 on Jan. 26, but dropped a 74-73 decision to Dayton on Feb. 19

Luka Brajkovic finished with 15, and Carter Collins had 10. The Wildcats improved to 24-8.

Saint Joseph's season came to an end with the loss. The Hawks finished with a 13-19 record. Charlie Brown Jr. led Saint Joseph's with 16 points. Lamarr Kimble added 15, while Chris Clover chipped in with 12.

The teams had split the two regular season matchups, with each team winning on its home court.

The rubber match started slowly as neither team shot well in the first half. At halftime, Davidson led 27-26 despite making just 10 of its 37 shots from the field, while Saint Joseph's missed 23 of its 32 shots.

Perhaps the biggest play of the half was Gudmundsson's up-and-under layup with three seconds left. The lay-in gave the newly-named conference Player of the Year six points.

Davidson started the second half by outscoring Saint Joseph's 9-2 in the first 2:04 to extend the lead to seven, 35-28. But the Hawks would hang around before responding with a 12-2 run spanning 4:48 that would give them a 56-52 advantage.

The lead lasted 33 seconds, as Brajkovic and Grady knocked down jumpers on consecutive possessions to tie the game at 56-all. Following a timeout, a Collins putback and a Gudmundsson layup allowed the Wildcats to go ahead, 60-56.

Saint Joseph's drew even following a Taylor Funk layup and two Brown free throws. But Gudmundsson responded with a 3-point play and two-handed jam on Davidson's next two possessions to give the Wildcats a 65-60 lead that they would not relinquish.