College Basketball: Who is Furman?


Furman Paladins may sound like a person’s name, but it’s actually a college in Greenville, South Carolina. It’s basketball program is 5-0 to start the 2018 season, with wins over two 2018 Final Four teams – Loyola-Chicago and defending champions Villanova, both wins coming on the road.

So, who is Furman?

  • The play in the Southern Conference (SoCon, for short), along with Wofford, Chattanooga, UNC-Greensboro, East Tennessee State, amongst others
  • They are coached by Bob Richey, who is in his second year after being an assistant at Furman fro 2011-2017.
  • Richey led the Paladins to a 23-11 record last season, which was good enough for a CIT (College Invitation Tournament) appearance, where they lost in the semifinals to Saint Peter’s, after winning their first two games against USC Upstate and Campbell.
  • They play in a 4,000 seat arena (Timmons Arena)

Postseason History

  • 1-7 all-time in the NCAA tournament in 7 appearances – lone win came against South Carolina in 1974
  • Most recent appearance was in 1980
  • 1 NIT appearance, a loss to West Virginia in 1991
  • 3 trips to the recently formed CIT (2011, 2016, 2017) – overall 3-3 record

Notable coaches who have worked at Furman

  • Mike Boynton – current Oklahoma State head coach. He was a graduate manager from 2004-2005
  • Jim Cleamons –  veteran NBA assistant coach, who has recently worked with the Knicks, Bucks, Lakers, Hornets and was a player in the NBA in the 70s. His first job was a Furman assistant in 1982-83
  • Ed Conroy – former The Citadel and Tulane head coach, current Minnesota assistant coach. Furman assistant from 1994-1997
  • Larry Davis –  former Cincinnati assistant coach from 2006-2017. Furman head coach from 1997-2006
  • Niko Medved – head coach at Furman from 2013-2017. Spent one year at Drake as head coach in 2017-18, and is now head coach at Colorado State
  • Ryan Odom – current UMBC head coach, who famously led #16 to upset over #1 Virginia in 2018 NCAA Tournament. Odom was an assistant coach at Furman from 1997-1999.

Famous Alumni (athletes)

  • Frank Selvy – #1 overall pick in the 1954 NBA draft. Selvy was a 2x NBA All-Star (1955, 1962). Spent time in his NBA playing career with the Lakers and Knicks. Selvy once scored 100 points in a game for Furman against Newberry College in 1954. He played a large role in the Lakers game 7 comeback of the 1962 NBA Finals, but the Celtics prevailed in overtime winning the title
  • Clint Dempsey – key member of Team USA Soccer team from 2004-2017. 141 total appearances and 57 goals. MLS from 2004-2014. Multiple World Cup appearances with Team USA.
  • Sam Wyche – former NFL QB, who played for Cincinnati Bengals and helped lead them to Super Bowl XXIII. Coached the Bengals from 1984-1991 and the TB Bucs from 1992-1995.
  • Jerome Felton – former Pro-Bowl Fullback in the NFL who played for Lions, Vikings, Bills and retired after the 2016 season

Fluke or reality?

The reality is Furman received 2 first-place votes in the pre-season SoCon polls and were projected to finish second, behind Stamford. Coming off a 23 win season, this team has experience with some success and it really all comes down to the SoCon tournament in March, since they won’t be able to contend for an at-large bid, despite the impressive OOC wins thus far. Jordan Lyons, 23 ppg, will be a key player for the Paladins, as will Matt Rafferty and Clay Mounce.

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