John McGuffin had no idea what he was getting into in February 2004 when he invited Phil Stern, the women's basketball coach at the University of Maryland Baltimore County, to Patuxent to watch senior Amanda Robinson. Stern watched her practice, then offered her a scholarship.

Robinson later accepted Stern's offer, and McGuffin and Stern became fast friends. Even after McGuffin left Patuxent to start Huntingtown's program last year, the two stayed in touch as McGuffin kept tabs on his former player.

Now McGuffin won't have to look far to follow Robinson. He accepted Stern's offer to join the Retrievers' staff as an assistant coach last week.

"I had no intention of this at any time," McGuffin said, "and didn't have any intentions of anything until about three weeks ago. But I really trusted Coach Stern, and we communicated a lot more than I ever thought."

McGuffin, 36, said only a "dream job" like this would have pulled him away from Huntingtown, where he was eager to build the program and also had developed an AAU program with more than 60 players. He said the chance to become a college coach without having to uproot his family was impossible to pass up.

"The feelings that I have for Huntingtown players and future Huntingtown players are so strong that this is bittersweet," McGuffin said. "It was so hard trying to talk to some of my players."

Before going to Huntingtown, McGuffin went 64-43 in four seasons at Patuxent and won the 2003 3A South championship. For the previous nine seasons he was an assistant to then-Northern boys' basketball coach Rick Weber.

-- Alan Goldenbach

JOHN McGUFFIN