Loyola's Harried plays to strengths Assistant: Herman Harried thought his playing days were over when he joined Greyhounds' coaching staff, but injuries have forced him to take a more physical role in practice.

February 04, 1997|By Roch Eric Kubatko | Roch Eric Kubatko,SUN STAFF

Check out a Loyola College basketball practice, and chances are you'll find assistant coach Herman Harried giving some instruction to Roderick Platt, polishing the 6-foot-10 sophomore center's jump hook, urging him to go strong to the basket.

This is how the former Dunbar Poet imagined his role on the Greyhounds' staff when he accepted the job back in July. He would be a teacher, a motivator. The aches and pains that came from running the floor and banging bodies the past five years while playing overseas would be discarded, along with the sweaty uniform he peeled off for the last time.

"One thing I said to myself was, 'Oh good, I won't have to come home with a sore back anymore and with the bumps and bruises and stuff.' That part was over," he said.

Or so he thought. Injuries struck the program to such a degree that coach Brian Ellerbe didn't have enough able bodies to run a normal practice, so he hit the recruiting trail one more time and landed a 6-7, 220-pound post player -- Harried, 31, who agreed to lend a hand, and much more.

"Before you know it, I'm walking through the door and I have a full practice uniform on," he said. "I practiced more here than in Europe. I was running out there with 19- and 20-year-olds, and I could still hold my own."

"He's doing more than holding his own," Ellerbe said. "He's our best post player, without question."

Harried's professional career spanned five years and three countries -- England, Greece and Portugal. He won two championships with the Worthing Bears Basketball Club in England and twice was named to the league's All-Star team.

He had offers to return for another season, but decided to join Ellerbe's staff as a replacement for Ronny Thompson, who took a job in the Philadelphia 76ers' front office.

"I wanted to get into coaching eventually. This just came a little sooner than I expected," he said. "Coach Ellerbe has been very good at giving me responsibilities as though I've been coaching for years. I got the job, a week later I took the NCAA test to get certified, and then I was on the road [recruiting]. I was saying, 'Well, Herman, you don't have a lot of experience at this, but you know basketball, you should have an idea about talent, so it shouldn't be difficult.' And I have no problem learning."

Said Ellerbe: "The best way to learn is through experience. That way, you develop your own tendencies.

"Herman was an overachiever as a player and a lot of guys he's been recruiting see themselves through him. He's had to fight for everything he's gotten. He's had a couple knee surgeries, he was an undersized power forward who played at a high level. He's got all the tangibles to become a good coach. He'll move on, just like Ronny did."

Harried's transition from player to coach was made easier by his past success. He was a reserve on the 1982-83 Dunbar team that went 31-0, won a mythical national championship and produced such future NBA players as Muggsy Bogues, Reggie Williams and the late Reggie Lewis.

He was part of the 1986-87 Syracuse team that came within a baseline jumper by Indiana's Keith Smart of winning a national title. And he had a double dose of good fortune in England, where he would go to various schools and "teach basketball," a good way to get his feet wet before plunging into the coaching waters.

He would hark back to the lessons learned from some of the biggest influences in his life: his coaches at the Cecil-Kirk Recreation Center, Bob Wade at Dunbar and Syracuse's Jim Boeheim, who described Harried as "one of the hardest-working, classy young men we have ever had in our program."

Wade knew his former player had the traits to succeed in coaching. He just didn't think Harried had the interest.

"He always talked about how he wanted to have his own business," said Wade, the city director of interscholastic sports. "He was the only boy in the family [with four sisters] and always talked about getting himself situated in a business and doing whatever he could for his mother [Esther] and father [Herman], who had been so loving to him."

For now, basketball is Harried's business. He wants to become a head coach, but gladly spends his afternoons at Loyola, teaching and motivating. And, if needed, he'll pull on the practice uniform, keeping the jersey tucked in, just as Wade always preached.

"I expected to carry a briefcase when I came to the office in the morning, but I still carry a basketball bag," Harried said, laughing. "I'm far from complaining about it, though. It's part of my job. Whatever it takes to help these guys win."

"He can still play," Platt said. "It's good, except Coach blows the whistle every time we touch him."

Pub Date: 2/04/97

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