Lonergan Returns to His Bowie Roots
The new men's basketball coach at George Washington moved his family to his hometown while his team prepares to face Bowie State in an exhibition game to open the season.
Mike Lonergan, while growing up in Bowie, spent a lot of time at Bowie State University.
“I went to a lot of their games. When I was a kid the (Washington) Bullets practiced at Bowie State. I grew up with (former DeMatha star) Danny Ferry, and (his father) Bob Ferry would let us watch practice,” Lonergan said of the elder Ferry, who at the time was the general manager of the local National Basketball Association team. “I kind of grew up at Bowie State playing pickup games.”
Those Bowie State memories have come full circle for Lonergan, who was named the new head men’s basketball coach at Division I George Washington University in May.
When the Colonials begin the season with an exhibition game Nov. 6 in Foggy Bottom the opponent will be Division II Bowie State.
“They have a strong Division II program,” Lonergan, who grew up on Traymore Lane in Bowie, told Patch. “The game was already pretty much set” before he got the job at GW. The head coach of Bowie State is Darrell Brooks, a former assistant coach at GW under ex-head coach Karl Hobbs. The associate head coach for Bowie State is Larry Stewart, who played in college at Coppin State and with the Washington Bullets in the early 1990s.
Lonergan, who is once again living in Bowie, and GW will begin regular-season play Nov. 11 at home with Maryland-Eastern Shore. The second home game of the season for the Colonials is Dec. 7 against Loyola of Baltimore, where former Bowie State head coach Luke D’Alessio is an assistant coach and the head coach is former Maryland assistant Jimmy Patsos. Lonergan and Patsos are former teammates at Catholic University.
Lonergan told Patch that the past few months “have been tough” after leaving his job at the University of Vermont and moving his family to Bowie. “I tell people that May and August are the only down times as a college coach. Those were the out the window when you take a new job,” said Lonergan, who said buying and selling a house in the current economy was a challenge. “I have four young kids and they loved Vermont so it was a tough decision.”
Lonergan, 45, wife Maggie and children have moved to a house near Rt. 450 and Rt. 50. “It has been busy. It has been very busy. We moved back to Bowie and my roots,” said Lonergan, who was born in Silver Spring and graduated from Archbishop Carroll High in Washington, D.C. "It is a tough 15-mile commute" to GW.
His coaching staff at GW includes assistant Pete Strickland, a graduate of DeMatha Catholic High in Hyattsville who played for Hall of Famer Morgan Wootten with the Stags.
GW will play VCU, a Final Four team last year, in the BB&T Classic at the Verizon Center in Washington on Dec. 4. The other game will feature Maryland against Notre Dame, and the Irish are coached by former DeMatha High player and coach Mike Brey.
Lonergan and Brey, who grew up in Rockville and graduated from GW, have known each other for nearly 30 years. They were in downtown Washington on Oct. 6 to promote the BB&T Classic, along with Maryland head coach Mark Turgeon.
"I'm thrilled for my alma mater and equally thrilled for Mike Lonergan," Brey said in a statement on Lonergan's hiring. "I feel he is one of the prime young teachers in the college game, somebody who really understands the Washington, DC area and GW's place in it. Quite simply, he's the kind of coach you'd want your son or daughter to play for."
Said Catholic head coach Steve Howes, a former assistant under Lonergan: "He's the total package. He understands how to recruit, he understands how to develop talent, and he understands how to get those guys playing their best."
Lonergan was an assistant under Gary Williams for one season before he got the head job at Vermont, where he coached for six seasons. "Mike is a proven winner as a head coach because of his success at Catholic University and Vermont," Williams said in a statement. "His teams are fundamentally sound and he has had a number of players who flourish in his program."