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Coach Raises the Bar for Yeomen Basketball
by Michael McIntyre
"Happy" Dobbs anticipates the day when Oberlin students
recognize the effort and tenacity of student-athletes on the basketball
court and support them by making the gymnasium in Philips resound
want to make that place a pit, a loud place where the fans can be
right on top of the action. They'll make it the place to be whenever
there's a game," says Dobbs, who became Oberlin's head basketball
coach last July.
basketball lingo, the fans are collectively known as the "sixth
man" on the team. Before Dobbs could begin recruiting his own
sixth man for Oberlin's team, however, he was traveling the country
recruiting players who will be in uniform.
looks for two qualities in recruits: intelligence and the ability
to play ball. As head coach at Brown University from 1991 to 1999,
he's had plenty of experience with such student-athletes.
going after the same type of student we went after at Brown,"
said Dobbs, whose easy manner conveys a sense of confidence and
enthusiasm. "We have a nice base to pick from right here in
Ohio, and we can look hard in Pennsylvania, Indiana, and Michigan.
We want to do a great job in those areas. But the reputation of
the College and the Conservatory extends throughout the country
and the world, so we also want to keep our eyes open across the
attained his position as Yeomen head coach after beating out more
than 100 other applicants. After his tenure at Brown, he worked
as an assistant coach at Cleveland State University under head coach
Rollie Massimino, for whom Dobbs played on successful teams at Villanova
Villanova, Dobbswho was the team captainhelped the Wildcats
make four consecutive appearances in the NCAA tournament, including
two appearances in the "Sweet 16" and two in the "Elite
Eight" of the single elimination tournament.
An eighth-round draft choice of the Philadelphia 76ers, Dobbs never
played professionally. Instead, he began his coaching career immediately
after graduating from Villanova with a bachelor's degree in business
marketing. He was an assistant at Dartmouth College from 1984 to
1988 before moving to Boston College as an assistant from 1988 to
1991, when he took the helm at Brown.
enthusiasm and experience has already inspired confidence on campus.
"He has coached at many fine institutions. He also has maturity,
passion, knowledge of the game, and the ability to relate well to
people," says Clayton R. Koppes, vice president of academic
affairs and dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.
Although he enjoyed working at the Division I level, Dobbs says
when the Oberlin job opened up, he decided he wanted to run his
own team again.
offered a lot of what I already knew, a lot of what my background
is in," he said. "Oberlin is a very good academic school.
It's very similar to the situation I had at Brown, and we were able
to build that into a respectable program."
says he's encouraged that the Yeomen improved last year, but that
expectations will be raised.
we're expecting is to be successful every year," he said, a
tall order since Oberlin's basketball program hasn't had a winning
record since the 14-10 season of 1991-92.
"President (Nancy) Dye has done a terrific job in trying to
kick-start athletics here," he continues "and we're trying
to make sure athletics are an important part of Oberlin, just like
music is an important part of Oberlin."
wants to improve the team while laying a foundation for good play
in the future.
"We're building piece by piece. We want success right away,
but we want to do it at a pace where we can fulfill our potential,"
job will not be easy. Although Dobbs' teams at Brown won some big
games'such as a 1991 overtime win against Providence College and
a 1996 victory over Northwesternhis best season there was
a break-even 13-13 in 1994-95. But Dobbs is no Pollyanna. He understands
winning will be difficult, and he sees his job as twofoldto
win and to teach.
student-athletes at a place like Oberlin are bright kids with the
books, but they're still students when it comes to life. My job
is to help them become better students in life," he said. "My
goal is to have a program that strives for success both on and off
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