Sunday, May 26, 2013
Larry Puzan Has Earned The Niagara Job
An opinion piece in which I go out onto a limb....
I didn't want to write about the Niagara coaching situation during the season, for various reasons. Ellie Chan had been hired as the Purple Eagles' coach last summer; the move was praised by this blog and others, including a prominent former Niagara player who had once played under Chan. The move turned out to be an utter disaster.
Today, the Buffalo News wrote of the situation:
Ellie Chan has stated recently that she has retired from coaching. That's surely for the best, and I would hope softball coaches everywhere, at every level, would take careful note of what happened at Niagara University this season. It never has to be that way. You'll note that a Purple Eagle states that she has no problem with "hard coaching"; I believe most top level players thrive on it. The situation there had nothing to do with coaching.
But the Niagara story took an amazing twist, as MAAC softball followers know. Long time pitching coach Larry Puzan took over the program, on an interim basis, and led the team on an amazing run from the worst record in the conference, to an appearance in the MAAC tournament, and the winner's bracket game. Coach Puzan has been at Niagara for quite a while; he's greatly respected there, and is respected by his colleagues across the MAAC. He has been a great pitching coach also; personally responsible for getting Jen Sansano to transfer to Niagara, and helping her become the 2013 MAAC Pitcher Of The Year. Jen struggled at her previous school, without the aid of a pitching coach. That all changed under Puzan's guidance.
I was told recently, by someone close to the situation, that Larry Puzan would not even get the courtesy of an interview for the Niagara job. The article today in the News seemed to mitigate that somewhat. I think Niagara has their coach already in place. You saw how the players responded to him. He has a great deal of experience, and is an athletic director at a local high school. Former Niagara coach Al Dirschberger, now an assistant at Canisius, recommended him glowingly. He won in the most trying of situations, digging his team out of the ditch.
It would be a crucial mistake, in my opinion, if Niagara failed to hire him as their permanent coach.