Bobby Gonzalez took in today's Manhattan/Monmouth game from Draddy Gym stands today, marking first time former Jaspers coach had visited Riverdale since leaving for Seton Hall. (Photo courtesy of Jaden Daly)
According to the Thomas Wolfe novel, you can't go home again.
Someone forgot to tell Bobby Gonzalez that earlier today.
Gonzalez, who is best known for his four postseason appearances during his seven years as the head coach at Manhattan College before leaving for Seton Hall University in 2006, made his return to Draddy Gym this afternoon for the first time since moving on to take over for Louis Orr at Seton Hall; where he met his untimely demise four years later, to watch his former program take on Monmouth and head coach King Rice, who grew up with Gonzalez in Binghamton, New York before becoming Dean Smith's point guard at North Carolina.
"It's been eight years," Gonzalez said of his absence from Riverdale after the game, "and it would have been eight more if it was anybody else but King." "King's family," he said of Rice, Monmouth's third-year head coach who is like a younger brother to Gonzalez, one of the many strong relationships he still has as he continues to work his way back into the coaching ranks.
Now in his fourth year removed from his firing at Seton Hall, who in four years under Kevin Willard has struggled to match the constant upward mobility that was negated by Pat Hobbs' decision to change coaches after the 2009-10 season, Gonzalez has spent his time making the rounds on the media circuit through various television and radio appearances, as well as doing freelance scouting and appearances at coaching clinics and speaking engagements. All in all, Gonzalez is still as visible now as he was before being dismissed at Seton Hall, with an ultimate goal of coaching in the NBA, a dream that the 50-year-old coach believes is still within reach despite the close ranks of the professional coaching fraternity.
Two things Gonzalez has going for him is his vast network of professional references, including SMU coach Larry Brown; who last week flew Gonzalez out to Dallas to work on defensive schemes with Brown's team as they prepare for their first season in the new American Athletic Conference, as well as his ability to win and win consistently, something many in attendance today stopped to thank Gonzalez for during and after the game, as his presence was warmly received for the most part. One particular Manhattan College employee who was at the game even went so far to tell Gonzalez to let him know if there was anything he could do for the coach as he tries to make his return.
Long story short, you indeed can go home again.