hiladelphia Daily News hoops guru Dick Jerardi called him a national coach of the year candidate. His administration and alumni are excited because fans are coming to watch his exciting 3-point-launching, up-and-down style. Could this really be Bruiser Flint?
After being dismissed last March after five years as the coach of the University of Massachusetts, Flint has found new life back in his hometown of Philadelphia, as his Drexel Dragons are the surprising success story of the Colonial Athletic Association.
Picked to finish ninth in the league with a team that lost all five of its starters from last year, Flint has the Dragons in second place with a 6-3 league mark and is 9-9 overall.
The Drexel administration is thrilled with the job he's done, a situation that is in considerable contrast from his final year at UMass, when he and Athletic Director Bob Marcum didn't see eye-to-eye on how to run a basketball program.
"They're tickled; we didn't think we'd win five games all year," Flint said. "It's nice to have everybody on the same page. So we can have exactly what we need to be successful. You can coach. You can handle your business on the floor and if you need something you know you can sit down and talk to people."
Flint didn't want to dwell long on his time at UMass. He's having too much fun.
"The school has a really good feel for where they want to be. They're not expecting to be in top 20, but they want to competitive in CAA and have a chance to win CAA," Flint said. "The players have worked really hard for me and have really bought into what we're trying to do."
Stylistically, his team in no way resembles his Minuteman squads. Gone is the slow-tempo offense designed around screens and utilizing the size advantage his UMass teams always seemed to have. Instead his teams push the ball on almost every possession.
"We play up-and-down, run, shoot lots of threes. I looked at our personnel. We don't have a lot of size, but everybody can shoot the ball."
The Dragons are averaging 73 points, five more than the Minutemen did in his final season. One of his better players has been Jeremiah King, the freshman guard who originially signed to go to UMass and followed Flint to Drexel. He's averaging 9.6 points per game.
"He can do some things other guys can't do," Flint said. "He can create his own shot get to the basket. He's going to be a good player."
After almost 15 years away, Flint is enjoying being back in Philadelphia, where he starred at Episcopal High School and at Saint Joseph's. He's grown up quite a bit since then.
"We don't have to try to get five people to use the same subway pass anymore," he said, laughing.
"My family is huge sports fans and the best thing is they can come watch us," Flint said. "My friends, guys I haven't seen in a long time, come to the game. They feel proud, like, 'Hey, my boy is out there coaching and I can go.' "
The city has changed too. The neighborhood Flint lives in now used to be undesirable.
"I live almost downtown. When I was growing up, downtown Philly was never a great place to live," Flint said. "Now, doctors, lawyers and politicians are living here."
Flint, always a vocal supporter of his hometown's sports teams, is enjoying being around them. He stops in at 76ers practices to see Larry Brown, and is particularly relishing the Eagles' current playoff run.
"We've been playing during the playoff games, so I haven't seen them," Flint said. "But we had a big tailgate at the Dallas game."
After the contentious end to his UMass tenure, Flint could be the embodiment of the saying, "The best revenge is living well." But he isn't looking at it that way. He's rooting for his old school.
"I'm not hoping they lose. I want those guys to do well and go to the tournament," he said. "Those are my guys. I want those guys to finish their careers by going to the NCAA Tournament at least once. I'm not rooting against them. That's not the case at all."
It helps, too, that he likes his successor.
"Lap is a good coach and I like him as a person," Flint said. "I knew they weren't going to bring in someone who wasn't a good guy. Plus he went through a lot of the same things at Villanova that I went through at UMass."
Flint's only senior barely plays and he has two solid recruits on board for next year. As good as things are for the former Minuteman coach, they should only get better.