For Fulton-Montgomery Community College men’s basketball coach EJ Gallup, this is a long way from a Mountain Valley Conference game on a snowy night in January. There are no Jimmer Fredettes there.
The Gloversville native and graduate Gallup is head coach of The Money Team in The Basketball Tournament, a 64-team, single-elimination, $1 million-winner-takes-all tournament currently taking place. The Money Team, backed by former champion boxer Floyd Mayweather and for whom Gallup played last year, went 2-2 in last year’s tournament, reaching the quarterfinals.
Gallup took over the F-MCC men’s basketball team this past season, going 11-11 in his first experience as a head coach.
This summer, Gallup walked into a situation where he has Fredette, the Glens Falls native who is a former NBA and overseas player, in the lineup. The Money Team is the No. 1 seed in the Dayton Region. With Fredette scoring 29 points, The Money Team beat Athletics Miami, 71-67, in its first game Sunday.
Tuesday, The Money Team topped Men of Mackey, 92-75. It will play the winner of a later Tuesday game between Red Scare and Golden Eagles on Wednesday at 7 p.m. [ESPN2]. If it wins that game, it will play the West Virginia region winner in a quarterfinal at 9 p.m. Friday. The semifinals are Saturday, with the final on Tuesday, Aug. 2.
Gallup played with Fredette on Team Fredette in the 2019 The Basketball Tournament. He played 2020 on Team Fredette, but Fredette himself, didn’t play on the team that year.
“For me, it was the end of my playing career,” Gallup said by phone Monday about his transition to coaching The Money Team. “I wasn’t playing major minutes anyhow, it’s sort of a natural progression to coaching, plus now I’ve had a year’s experience coaching the junior college guys. I guess it’s just as easy to slide from the end of the bench up to the first seat.”
Gallup said Fredette is a special player.
“I might be the only guy to have played with him and coached him,” he said, laughing. “With his level of skill, it’s really nice to coach guys like that.”
Gallup noted that it’s not just Fredette and a bunch of guys. The team also has talented overseas player Jordon Crawford starting in the backcourt and several other former NBA players and overseas stars.
Gallup played two years at UAlbany before graduating from Coastal Carolina in 2004, Gallup mostly played overseas as a professional, primarily in Germany. He also had some stints with the Albany Patroons. At Coastal Carolina, he was a first-team Big South selection and was the runner-up for Big South Player of the Year. He is a member of the Capital District Basketball Hall of Fame.
The play in The Basketball Tournament has Gallup hearkening back to his days playing overseas.
“When I played in Germany, I was used to seeing that kind of athletic level – the bigger, faster player,” Gallup said. “But I’ll be honest, from my junior college guys to these guys is a huge step up.
“I consider myself young as a coach,” he added, “and I’m definitely a player’s coach. I listen to guys’ suggestions for things I may not see out there. These are high-IQ guys. I would be an idiot not to listen to them.”
It’s already been a busy summer for Gallup, who is also doing some auto racing at Utica-Rome Speedway on Friday nights. He currently is eighth in points in the limited sportsman division, and placed second in his last race July 15.
Gallup knows next season’s F-MCC team is watching the tournament. He hopes they take certain things away with them from viewing it.
“These guys are making a living playing basketball, and look how hard they play,” Gallup said. “The teamwork, the little things I preach during the season, those are the things I hope they’re seeing these guys execute. It’s a nice teaching tool for me.”