Rutgers Teammates Praise Expected Jordan Hire

A member of the 1976 Final Four team at Rutgers, Eddie Jordan has the support of his teammates. Jordan's Rutgers teammates Mike Dabney and Hollis Copeland discussed their relationships with Jordan and why he is the right fit for a program in desperate need of a fresh start.

When Eddie Jordan's expected Tuesday introduction arrives at Rutgers, he will have his own cheering section of former teammates and alums.

A member of the legendary 1976 Final Four team at Rutgers, Jordan has pride and support coming from all sides with a Board of Governors meeting being all that stands between him and taking over the program.

"I played with Eddie for three years and he recruited me to Rutgers, so this means a lot," said Hollis Copeland, who played on the 1976 Final Four team and averaged 12.9 points per game. "We're good friends and I think he's what is needed at Rutgers. It means a lot to all of the parties that are affiliated with Eddie."

Like most Rutgers basketball products, Copeland watched the ugly end of the Mike Rice era play out with frustration. Putting Jordan in place three weeks after the scandal hit the nation, Rutgers is getting a coach with the strongest "scarlet ties" possible.

"I know Rutgers basketball," said Copeland, who is also a member of the search committee for a new athletic director. "We were part of a winning tradition and went to the Final Four together. We were in a postseason tournament in every year that we played. We've been friends ever since. We play golf together. The people there were like family and it's huge that he's coming back."

Copeland will be on-hand Tuesday when Jordan is expected to be introduced and multiple teammates including Phil Sellers and Mike Dabney are expected to join him.

Dabney was second on the 1976 team in scoring with 19.1 points per game and said he is proud to see his teammate take over his alma mater.

"It's a part of my legacy," Dabney said. "We did some really good things together as teammates. I'm happy for him. I'm hoping that the fan base is patient because this is not a short-term project. It's going to be a marathon. It's not going to be a sprint to get back to respectability and regain credibility, but I know Eddie is the right fit for the job."

Jordan is 58 years old and has been away from the college game since a short stint as an assistant coach in the late 80s.

But as one of the best remembered head coaches in Washington Wizards history and a successful assistant with the New Jersey Nets, Dabney expects Jordan to be the one to turn the tides for Rutgers.

The Scarlet Knights have not reached the Final Four since 1976 and not been to the NCAA tournament since Jordan was a young assistant under Bob Wenzel.

"I definitely think it was a logical option," Dabney said. "I think the program needs a huge injection of new life and Eddie has a tremendous amount of experience in basketball. It doesn't necessarily have to be in collegiate ball. If you understand the game of basketball, you're in a position to prepare players for the next level because he's been there. I know it's a good fit."

Nicknamed "Fast Eddie," Jordan remains the all-time leader in assists in Rutgers history nearly 40 years later and averaged 14.1 points per game in the 1976 Final Four season.


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