BY JEFF FALK
An excellent player, one could tell at a young age that Mike Rhoades had all the qualities of a future head coach – the quick-processing mind, the knowledge of the game, the ability to relate to his teammates. Just a matter of time, Rhoades becoming a head coach was imminent.
Well, Rhoades’ time arrived this week. It was two decades, or longer, in the making.
Rhoades, recognized as the greatest men’s basketball player that Lebanon Valley College ever produced, was named the head coach at Division One Rice. The announcement came almost 20 years to the date that the dynamic point guard led the Flying Dutchmen to their only NCAA Division Three national championship.
Former Rice head coach Ben Braun resigned his duties on March 13. Fourteen days later, director of athletics Joe Karlgaard introduced Rhoades as the Texas university’s new head coach.
“From the time I first assembled the pool of candidates, Mike Rhoades topped the list,” Karlgaard told the Rice Thresher. “He was the focus of our search from day one, and we developed a strong relationship over the course of the past 14 days.”
Rhoades, a native of Mahonoy City, PA, had spent the past five seasons as an assistant coach at Division One Virginia Commonwealth University. During his time there, VCU compiled an overall mark of 137-46.
Rhoades also helped Virginia Commonwealth to four straight NCAA Division One tournament appearances, as well as a berth in the Final Four in 2011. After that run, Rhoades was named the lead assistant and VCU followed it up with a program-record 29 wins in 2012.
“We’re going after people, we’re going to have a lot of fun doing it,” Rhoades told The Thresher. “There’s a lot of stuff from VCU that we’re going to take from Coach (Shaka) Smart.”
“First and foremost, we were looking for a person of high integrity and a proven winner,” Karlgaard said. “We got everything we wanted.”
Upon his graduation from Lebanon Valley in 1995, Rhoades wasted very little time securing an assistant coaching position, at Division Three Randolph-Macon College, where he became the head coach in 1999. During his ten season at that helm, Rhoades’ teams amassed a 197-76 mark, qualified for four NCAA Division Three national tournaments, including two Sweet 16 appearances, won six conference titles and earned national No. 1 rankings twice.
“I’m going to sweat with my guys all the time; I think as a player you appreciate that,” said Rhoades, who added former Annville-Cleona head basketball coach Scott Pera to his staff. “My coaching staff and myself, we’re going to sweat with our guys. We’re going to jump in there.”
Rhoades, who played under Pat Flannery, is one of only a handful of players in Lebanon Valley’s long and storied history to have had his jersey retired.