Tommy Dempsey knew the building process was going to take a long time at Binghamton.
After taking over for his boss at Rider, Don Harnum, Dempsey’s teams finished under .500 just twice in his seven seasons. However, he knew that building the Bearcat program to get it to a level of how smooth the Rider programs were in his years at the school would take time.
“This is about starting our own tradition and building a program here that can stand the test of time,” Dempsey said. “I’ve seen the blueprint for how to successfully run a Division I college basketball program at the mid-major level and so I’m very comfortable in the things that we need to do here to become a proud program.”
After three seasons during which the Bearcats’ overall record is 16-76 and they have yet to finish better than fifth in the conference standings. Still, the administration felt enough progress has been made to extend Dempsey’s contract two more seasons, until the end of the 2018-19 season.
“I think it was a show of faith through a struggle that there’s belief from the administration, and I think that’s important, I think that it’s appreciated by myself and my staff and it gives you the peace of mind,” Dempsey said. “There’s the believe that all of your hard work, laying a foundation for future success and you’re going to be able to see that through, that’s a peace of mind that I have.”
“Everybody was bought in when I took the job and my philosophy of program building and that through three tough seasons, from a win loss standpoint, I think everybody still believes in that plan and that’s important.”
This past season Binghamton was assessed an APR penalty that included a practice reduction, but Dempsey said that the program should be able to move on from those now. The Bearcats will no longer be dragged down by past APR scores, as the program’s scores have been solid ever since earning a two scholarship reduction and historic penalty after a score of 893 in the 2009-10 academic year.
“My eyes were wide open that we had to address academic piece as well as the basketball piece and we’ve done those things,” Dempsey said adding that they are in “great position” in terms of their APR for next season and moving forward.
Now it will be about turning around the program from a wins and losses standpoint. After coaching the youngest team in the country, the Bearcats will return all of their experienced players as well as Dusan Perovic missed the second half of the season after tearing his ACL.
“The losing has been difficult, but when I made the decision to come here, it wasn’t because I thought there was going to be this instant success,” Dempsey said. “This was a long term build, especially to do it the way that I feel is going to be sustainable.”
Ryan Restivo wrote the America East conference preview for the 2014-15 Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook. He covers the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, the America East conference and Hofstra for Big Apple Buckets. You can follow Ryan on Twitter @ryanarestivo or contact Ryan at rrestivo[at]nycbuckets.com.