In the 24 hours after The Washington Post reported on allegations that GW Coach Mike Lonergan inflicted “verbal and emotional abuse” on some of his players, several former Colonials stepped forward to defend their ex-coach.
The Post’s story was based on interviews with five current and former players, who said that Lonergan made inappropriate and outlandish remarks about the school’s athletic director, and that the coach’s behavior was at times bizarre and abusive. But at least three former GW stars took issue with such allegations, including one in a lengthy Friday interview with 106.7 The Fan.
“I have never felt like he crossed the line,” said Maurice Creek, who spent one season with Lonergan after transferring from Indiana. “As a basketball player, you know that coaches are gonna be who they are. But he never crossed the line with me; he never crossed the line with any of the guys. He just wanted to win games. And that’s what it’s all about is winning games for his family and his program and bringing in kids that he thinks are gonna win the games for him. Like I said, he’s done a great job with that. And it surprised me today when I heard this story, because I really never thought this would have ever taken place just by knowing him for that one year, knowing what he’s about. It was kind of crazy to me.”
(Creek’s interview was with the Junkies, who are longtime friends of Lonergan’s, and who have strongly defended the coach this week.)
— Eric Bickel (@EBJunkies) July 21, 2016
about to talk to Mo Creek now… He played for our guy @MikeLonergan at GW… and he wil actually go ON THE RECORD
— Eric Bickel (@EBJunkies) July 22, 2016
Another former GW star, Patricio Garino, posted a lengthy note of defense on Twitter. Garino — a native of Argentina who finished his college career this past spring — wrote that he was “shocked” to read the allegations and that he doesn’t agree with lodging anonymous allegations.
“Coach is very old-school and he’s gonna push you to the limits to reach your potential,” he wrote in part. “Even though we went at each other a few times I know he did it because he knew I was able to perform better, and that’s something that I appreciate now because it got me to where I am today. … If you have a problem solve it face to face. I will be loyal to the GW family, Nero, and Lonergan for life.”
A third former star, Isaiah Armwood — another transfer who spent three seasons with Lonergan — called the allegations “100% [BS]” during a series of tweets. Armwood said he couldn’t speak to Lonergan’s comments about Nero, “but as far as players saying Lonergan verbally and emotionally abused them. Go find another sport. It’s called MENS basketball,” he wrote. “I was under Lonergan for 3 years. We bumped heads often, but this story is ridiculous.”
I was under Lonergan for 3 years. We bumped heads often, but this story is ridiculous.
— Isaiah Armwood (@Zeek_Armwood) July 21, 2016
Creek had a similar message, telling the Junkies that “if a coach is too tough for you, then you don’t need to be playing college basketball, you know what I’m saying?” he said Lonergan’s teams have succeeded “because he expected the best out of all of us,” and that postseason transfers are just “the nature of college basketball.” He also said that players like him and Armwood, as team leaders, had it tougher than anyone else, and that he might have tried to dissuade any player from taking such allegations to the media.
“I wish I would have known who said it,” Creek said on the radio station. “I probably would have called him; I probably would have just told him ‘You transferred, but live your life. Don’t try to live it for somebody else.’ ”
Creek said that Garino was another player who had it tough under Lonergan, “so for us three to not really say anything about it or not cry about the situation — that made it for the betterment of us — and now these allegations and stuff is coming out is kind of wild.”
Lonergan has not spoken publicly in the past 24 hours, although he posted a team photo on his Twitter account.