Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXII, No. 36
Wednesday, September 3, 2008
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PASSION PLAY: Howard Levy shows his passion for the game as he ran a practice for the U.S. Youth Team in preparation for the 2005 World Maccabiah Games. Princeton resident Levy, a former Princeton University basketball star and assistant coach, is bringing his love for the game to Mercer County Community College as the new head coach of its men’s hoops program.

Former PU Basketball Assistant Coach Levy Primed to Run the Show for MCCC Men’s Hoops

Bill Alden

There is little question that Howard Levy is afflicted with the basketball coaching bug.

Levy has a law degree and runs a business in New York City but he hasn’t strayed from the game he loves.

The former Princeton University hoops standout got into coaching in 1987, joining the Trenton State men’s program as assistant coach of the varsity team and the head JV coach.

After his stint there, Levy went to George Washington University Law School where he served as a volunteer assistant for the Colonial men’s hoops team.

A 1990 law school grad, Levy then practiced law for three years and founded HYP Hats in New York City.

Levy, a 1985 PU alum, couldn’t stay away from coaching, returning to his alma mater as an assistant coach for the Tiger men’s program in 1996.

The Princeton resident became a fixture with the program, remaining on the Tigers’ staff through the 2006-07 season as head coaches Bill Carmody, John Thompson III,, and Joe Scott came and went.

Levy didn’t confine his coaching efforts to Princeton, helping to guide U.S teams to medals in the 1993 and 2005 World Maccabiah Games in Israel.

Last year, Levy was out of college coaching as Sydney Johnson took the helm at PU and brought in a new staff. Levy, though, was still connected with the game as he coached his children’s youth teams.

Now, Levy, who turned 45 last Thursday, is back in the college game, having accepted the post as the head coach of the men’s basketball team at Mercer County Community College.

For Levy, the MCCC job was a good fit on several levels. “I was ready, willing, and able to be a head coach,” said Levy, the replacement for Kelly Williams, who is now the head coach for TCNJ men’s hoops program.

“It was a college-level job with a program that has a good tradition. I liked the mission of the school; they want to make a difference in kids’ lives. Lastly it fits into my schedule; it’s part-time so I can continue to work with my company in New York City. The time commitment is manageable.”

Levy acknowledges that he was anxious to get back into the college game. “You miss being part of something; working together and trying to win games,” said Levy. “I missed the daily interaction with the guys.”

The 6’10 Levy believes he is going to develop a good connection with his MCCC guys, who posted a 17-13 season last winter.

“I have met a couple of the guys already and I liked them,” said Levy. “I have seen that these guys love to hang out at the gym; everybody is willing to compete.”

With his deep knowledge of the Princeton system, Levy will be giving his MCCC players a daily seminar on tenacious, disciplined play.

“I will coach what I know,” asserted Levy, the PU leader in career field goal percentage with a .647 mark.

“We are going to work on developing individual skills; making sure they are good at dribbling, passing, and shooting. I want them to defend every possession and not take off any possessions. We are going to move the ball around. On defense, we may play zone, man, or a match-up zone. It depends on the guys. We will teach tough defensive principles.”

The principled approach of the MCCC administration has excited Levy.

“I have been really impressed with the people I have met there so far in the athletic department; there is a real focus on helping the kids,” said Levy, who will be assisted by former Seton Hall star Bryan Carver.

“The school has a lot of good programs. If you maintain a good GPA, you can get scholarships from the school. There are other programs where you can get into TCNJ, and Rutgers.”

Levy is hoping to help his players excel at MCCC and beyond. “I hope I can have an impact on the kids; I’m not looking at this as a stepping stone to something else,” said Levy.

“We haven’t moved from Princeton; we love the area. I like to coach, that’s enough for me. It will be the same for me as it is for John [Thompson] at Georgetown and Craig [Robinson] at Oregon State. A win is great and a loss really hurts.”

And it should be great for MCCC to have a veteran coach like Levy running its program.

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