Former Clarkson Coach Tobin Anderson enjoys success within the NCAA

Published: Apr. 16, 2023 at 5:09 PM EDT
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POTSDAM, New York (WWNY) - One of the Cinderella teams of the NCAA tournament this season was Farleigh Dickinson, a team that became only the second 16th seed to beat a top seed in the NCAA tournament.

The Knights were led by Tobin Anderson, an up-and-coming coach that got his start right here in the North Country.

In 1996, Tobin Anderson began his collegiate coaching career as an assistant at Clarkson University.

After spending two seasons as an assistant at LeMoyne College, Anderson returned to Clarkson for his first ever head coaching job.

”It was very important to me. A lot of my foundations as a coach as far as college coaching came from my time at Clarkson learning how to run a program, how to recruit and be part of the school, and understanding there was a pecking order in certain things, understand when you can push a little bit and not push too much. So, it was a great experience,” said Anderson.

Anderson took over a program that was 9-16 the previous season and led the Golden Knights to a 14-12 record.

In his 5 seasons at Clarkson, Anderson posted a 67-66 record, reviving the Golden Knights and making them relevant once again in the Liberty League.

”I think sometimes when a program has been losing, they want change, so change is a good thing. I’ve had 3 programs, all 3 that were losing a lot, and took them over and we’ve done well the first year. I think guys want something different. They don’t want to lose. They want to win. They’re more open to trying new things, to being receptive to certain things, to working a little bit harder than they’ve ever worked before and I think that’s been a big part of it,” said Anderson.

Anderson picked up his first collegiate coaching win in his 1st game of the season in 1999, beating Potsdam State 90-89 in overtime. A win Anderson says he’ll never forget for a few reasons.

”If not the top, definitely the top 2 or 3 wins of all time because it was an incredible game. Bill had a great team and we were coming off a 9-16 year and we played in our place in front of a packed crowd. It went into overtime, we ended up winning in overtime. We had 2 players, Josh Ordway and Ashton Fritz, combine for 82 points. I’ve got that video somewhere and I’ve watched that a few times. It was an unbelievable game and it was awesome. I’ll never forget that game. One of the best games of my career and one of the most fun games too,” said Anderson.

Anderson says one of the lessons he learned in his time at Clarkson was forging strong relationships with his players, something he’s done at each of his coaching stops.

Anderson says that was evident when Farleigh Dickinson played Purdue and FAU in Columbus as a dozen Clarkson alumni, including former players, flew in to watch their former coach on the big stage.

”Potsdam, there’s not a lot to do. You’re not in a big city like New York City here where there’s a lot of things going on. We had barbeques and cookouts and came over to the house and spent time. We played wiffleball and softball and were in the gym all the time working hard. Those relationships that were built then, that’s kind of the way I’ve always coached, even now, as you move up the chain you still want to have great relationships with your players,” said Anderson.

Anderson took over at Iona last month, replacing coaching legend Rick Pitino, and adds his name to a long list of Gaels coaches that includes North Country natives Jerry and Tim Welsh.

”Jerry and I- I’ve always talked to him and had such admiration for his career. He was a good friend of mine when I was young and just starting out. They’re both tremendous coaches, tremendous people. Iona has always had great coaches. That’s the history, here is a lot of success from all the guys that have been here. We’re just trying to continue that and hopefully build our own little legacy here and get that going,” said Anderson.

But Anderson says no matter where the road in his coaching career takes him, Clarkson and the North Country will always hold a special place in his heart.

”I love the North Country. I’m an Iowa guy who likes the small town, outdoorsy feel to it. I loved being up there. I wish I could get back up there more often,” said Anderson.

Tobin Anderson, making the North Country proud and never forgetting where it all started for him.