Sunday Sports: Massena native Tim Welsh’s head coaching history
WATERTOWN, New York (WWNY) - Saturday, we told you about Tim Welsh’s transition from playing college basketball to being an assistant in the college ranks.
Now, we take a look at Welsh’s first head coaching job, which would propel him to one of the biggest stages in college basketball.
During the 1994-95 season, Tim Welsh took over the program at Iona as head coach from his father on an interim basis when the elder Welsh became ill, leading the team to a 5-5 record.
After the season, Tim Welsh took over the reigns from his father and made the most of his first ever head coaching job.
In 3 seasons, Welsh led the Gaels to a 70-22 record, 3 first place finishes in MAAC Conference play and one NCAA Tournament appearance.
He was also named MAAC Coach of the Year twice.
”You know, the Iona program was ready to win when I took over, you know, just because of my father’s hard work in recruiting. And so we were very lucky that we had great players there and I had a great staff, tremendous athletic director in Roch Pettrochoine and, you know, 3 years there that was also hard to leave there, too. We won 27 games in 1998 and we lost on a buzzer beater to ironically Syracuse in the NCAA Tournament in Lexington, Kentucky and we had everybody coming back from that team pretty much, we had like 9 out of our top 10 guys and I’m like geez, I think we can maybe make a run next year,” said Welsh.
With that success, Welsh’s phone began to ring from other high profile schools looking for a head coach, and in 1998, Welsh got a call from Providence to take over the Friars program, a job he needed some convincing to take.
”I came within a whisker of not accepting the Providence job, and Jim Boeheim called me up on the phone and said ‘What are you out of your mind?’ he said ‘You’re getting a Big East head coaching job, you’re taking it,’ and that was it, that was the end of that,” said Welsh.
Welsh spent 10 seasons at the helm of the Friars, leading them to a 145-126 record, 72-92 in Big East play with 2 NCAA Tournament appearances and 3 trips to the nit.
Welsh says the expansion of the Big East Conference to add football schools changed the landscape of play for the basketball teams.
”It was a lot of fun, it was a lot of fun and it just- It became harrowing at the end of our tenure because of the expansion of the league, and to be honest with you, when the Loiusville’s and the West Virginia’s and the Virginia Tech’s and the Miami’s and all those schools came flying into our league, it really became a monster. When it became 16 teams, that’s when really you know there were kind of the haves and the have nots at that point. You had the football schools, then you had the smaller schools, and it took a little bit of a while for the smaller schools to catch up and be in that league,” said Welsh.
After his days with the Friars, Welsh became an analyst and has continued to do that for a number of networks, something that allows him to spend more time with his family and stay involved with the game he grew up with.
”Well, its been fun, you know, its a great way to stay attached to the game. It’s a different feeling of course, you know, you don’t get that itch right before the game to you know, go out there and be competitive, but still you get to go out and see a lot of great places and great teams, programs and coaches and watch and see what they do and stay in touch with the game, and still you get a lot of respect from all of the coaches out there because they know you’ve been in there seat before,” said Welsh.
Tim Welsh, a part of basketball royalty in North Country history still doing what he loves at a high level.
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