Albany

For UAlbany men’s basketball assistant coach Jordan, 2022 has been a whirlwind year

UAlbany men’s basketball assistant coach Bobby Jordan during practice in Albany on Tuesday, September 27, 2022.
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UAlbany men’s basketball assistant coach Bobby Jordan during practice in Albany on Tuesday, September 27, 2022.

ALBANY When 2022 began, Bobby Jordan had no idea the adventure he was in for.

He started the year as an assistant coach at Wagner, a team that engineered a 16-game win streak and eventually reached the championship game of the Northeast Conference men’s basketball tournament, with a loss to top-seeded Bryant ending the Seahawks’ season.

Then, the dominoes started to fall.

The NCAA Tournament came, and as Jordan watched from home, Saint Peter’s went on its magical run to the Elite Eight as a No. 15 seed. That led to Peacocks coach Shaheen Holloway taking the vacant head coaching job at his alma mater, Seton Hall, with Jordan’s boss at Wagner, Bashir Mason, taking the Saint Peter’s job around Easter, with Jordan following him as an assistant.

“For the first two-and-a-half weeks, it was just me and him there,” Jordan said. “We didn’t have anybody on the staff except me.”

For a few months, Jordan started to get settled in at Saint Peter’s, commuting from Philadelphia to Jersey City — just as he’d done when working at Wagner’s Staten Island campus.

Then, the next domino fell.

One of Jordan’s closest friends in the coaching world, UAlbany men’s basketball head coach Dwayne Killings, had seen a raft of offseason departures from his staff. In July, just as Jordan was about to set off on a recruiting trip for Saint Peter’s, Killings called him up and offered him a job with the Great Danes.

Jordan took some time and sat down wife his wife, Caitlin — herself a former standout women’s basketball player who went on to work as an assistant coach at her alma mater, Penn — as the family weighed their options.

“She understands the whole way everything happens,” Bobby Jordan said. “And, you know, we made a decision to come to Albany.”

In the first week of July, Jordan was on the road recruiting for Saint Peter’s. By the second week, he was back on the recruiting trail, this time for UAlbany.

It’s a move, he said, that came down largely down his long standing relationship with Killings. The two both played for coach James “Bruiser” Flint in college — Jordan at Drexel, Killings at Massachusetts — and became extremely close when both were living in Philadelphia, with Jordan as an assistant at Drexel and Killings at Temple.

“Bobby and Dwayne, I think they talked every day sometimes,” Caitlin Jordan said. “I asked him, ‘Are you talking to Dwayne more, or are you talking to me more?’ That was the kind of relationship they had. Bobby usually called him on his way to work every morning, or they were always playing phone tag.”

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Bobby Jordan is part of a completely revamped UAlbany staff this season. With 2021-22 assistants Matt Griffin, Dannton Jackson and Hamlet Tibbs all gone from the program, Dan Madhavapallil was promoted from director of basketball operations to assistant coach during the offseason, and earlier this week Killings finalized his staff with the announcement of Ryan Daly as UAlbany’s third assistant coach and Rudy Wise as the director of program development and analytics.

For Bobby Jordan, the move was all about his belief in Killings. It had to be a strong belief, he said, as he’d only moved out of Philadelphia one other time in his life, when he was the head coach at the IMG Academy prep school in Bradenton, Florida in the 2018-19 season.

“I really believed in [Killings’] vision,” he said, “and what he’s trying to do here.”

For the Jordan family, the sudden change meant a lot of work — for both Bobby and Caitlin.

While Bobby was getting integrated in his new role at UAlbany, Caitlin was back in Philadelphia, sorting out the myriad steps to get the family ready for their move. That involved renting out their Philadelphia home, finding a school in the Albany area for the couple’s young daughters Mackenzie and Madison, finding new doctors for the kids and arranging doctor’s appointments before the move, and letting the kids’ school in Philadelphia know of their departure. Caitlin, a teacher herself, also had to let her former school know she was leaving, and find a new post of her own in the Capital Region.

“So,” she said, “hectic is a good word. It’s been a whirlwind.”

That Caitlin is a former college basketball player and coach herself has made the whirlwind nature of the coaching business a little easier on the family.

In fact, sometimes Caitlin feels just as invested in the teams her husband coaches as he does.

“Sometimes,” she said, “I think it’s hard for him coming home, because I’m such a coach sometimes as well. I used to write things down when he was at Wagner, because I was always watching the games with the girls. I’d be like, ‘At 22:08, this is what happened.’ He’s like, ‘I know. I watched the film.’”

And now, it seems, it’s spreading to the next generation of Jordans.

Last year, Mackenzie and Madison reached an age where it was easy enough for Caitlin to bring them into the stands for some of Bobby’s Wagner games.

Very quickly, it became clear that the passion for basketball had been passed down.

“They really love it,” Caitlin said. “They’re fans out there, and they’re like typical Philly kids and yelling at the refs already. 

“I blame myself for that, because they see me doing that when I’m watching the games.”

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