Niagara Gazette — I was pleased to get to know the Mihalichs a little bit, Joe, who made the Sign of the Cross with his thumb on his forehead while his player was on the foul line, was faithful at Mass. Sometimes we would bump into each other at the Kiernan Center. He worked on his bad hip and I had a gentleman’s work out — sauna and swim.
He complained about my University of Buffalo jacket, which my daughter’ brought for me at Steve & Barry’s. He was borderline serious. Joe didn’t like UB for some reason, but the big state school and the little Vincentian School, less than 20 miles up the road, had some intense games. In my mind, the rivalry was good for both teams. Joe didn’t seem to buy into that and offered to go off the record as to why he didn’t like my alma mater. I declined the offer.
Mihalich earned the reputation as a quality coach who ran a clean program. St. Bona had some problems and offered him the basketball job a decade ago but he declined. St. Bonaventure, while it played in a stronger conference, was not special, he said.
Niagara was, very special.
I was surprised when Mihalich took the Hofstra job last week. I had to look up the Long Island school on Yahoo and found the big private school had more than 7,000 undergraduates and is twice as big as Niagara, It’s 25 miles from New York City while Niagara is 25 miles from Buffalo. They used to be called the “Flying Dutchmen” but now the teams are called “Pride.”
Part of me is happy for Joe. He picked his spot and found a good place to retire. Moreover, he left Monteagle Ridge a proud basketball program.Bill Wolcott is a Lockport Union-Sun reporter.