Colson has King seeking Public throne

Sean Colson , M.L. King coach. STEVEN M. FALK / Staff
Sean Colson , M.L. King coach. STEVEN M. FALK / Staff
Posted: February 24, 2014

I just wanted to tweet this. The King Cougars were absolutely TERRIBLE today!

A few hours already had passed since the Martin Luther King boys' basketball game ended, but coach Sean Colson still stewed.

The Cougars clawed out a win earlier this month to open the Public League Class AAAA playoffs. And Colson - not pleased - took to Twitter.

"Our guys didn't take it serious that we almost lost. We were almost done," said Colson, whose team will play for the Public League championship on Sunday.

"That would have been it. No states, no final four, no city championship. No nothing."

Sammy Foreman, Colson's star guard, read the tweet on his phone that night.

"That's just Coach," Foreman said. "Doing what he always does."

And what he always does seems to work. King rocked Math, Civics, and Sciences on Tuesday by 19 points, sealing the West Oak Lane school's first berth in the league final.

The meeting against Constitution at 3 p.m. Sunday at the Liacouras Center will be the first time in six years that two non-charter schools will play for the title. King could become the first neighborhood school to win a Public League title since 2006.

Colson, 38, grew up in North Philadelphia, not far from where the championship will be held. He played at Franklin Learning Center and bested future NBA star - and future Colson groomsman - Rasheed Wallace for the 1992 Public League title.

Colson enlisted at a prep school in Maine before attending three colleges. The 6-foot guard won two NCAA tournament games at UNC-Charlotte and played professionally, including two stints in the NBA, for more than a decade.

It is Colson's basketball pedigree, Foreman said, that allows him to motivate players.

"He comes from the neighborhood that I come from," Foreman said. "And to go as far as he went . . . If he can do it, I can do it, too."

Colson said it was not until 2003, five seasons into his pro career, that he first thought about being a coach. He was playing in Novara, Italy, when his coach instructed him to run the team's practices.

As a point guard, Colson said he was used to being responsible for the five players on the court. Suddenly, he was responsible for the whole team.

"That was interesting. That intrigued me about running the whole show," he said.

Colson was prepared for coaching, he said, because he played his whole career with some of the best instruction.

Current La Salle University assistant Horace Owens coached Colson when Colson was a teenager in the Sonny Hill League. Colson's college coaches have become top assistants at major programs.

He played under Rudy Tomjanovich with the Houston Rockets and trained in the offseason with John Lucas. And in Houston, Colson met Sam Cassell, whom he considers one of his greatest influences.

"I don't know everything, obviously. But I know a lot about this game," said Colson, whose assistants at King include former Olney High and Villanova star Jason Lawson. "You have to have a feel for the game as a coach."

After his playing career ended in 2010, Colson began training some of Philadelphia's best high school and college players. But when King offered him its coaching job, he turned it down.

Colson wanted to be a college coach, he said. It is his dream job. His old college coaches told him to think about starting at the high school level. Colson reconsidered and led King to a win last season in the first round of the state playoffs.

"It's crazy. I really, really love it now," said Colson, who also is a dean of students at King. "I wasn't even really excited about it, but now I love it."

Before King practiced Thursday, Colson put his arm around Foreman and walked with him around a corner of the court. The coach told him he needed a hard practice, a championship practice. And it was Foreman's job to get everyone together.

The Cougars broke for their first drill - a simple foul-shooting exercise - and Colson stood under the net with his assistants. Foreman, his white V-neck shirt already soaked in sweat, toed the foul line to start it off.

"Remember last year?" Colson asked, reminding Foreman that Vaux's loss in the Public League final was partly due to foul shooting.

Foreman nodded and answered the question by sinking the free throw. His teammates clapped louder as Foreman hit foul shot after foul shot. And Colson once again - this time with his voice, not a tweet - got his point across.

Public League Finals

Sunday at Temple's Liacouras Center.

Girls: Imhotep Charter vs. Northeast, 1 p.m.

Boys: Martin Luther King vs. Constitution, 3 p.m.


comments powered by Disqus