Wood grad builds team for $500,000 tourney

Fran McGlinn 's Philadelphia Patriots are one of 32 tourney teams.
Fran McGlinn 's Philadelphia Patriots are one of 32 tourney teams.
Posted: April 27, 2014

An hour had passed since Fran McGlinn finished some light drills with his father, but the Archbishop Wood junior's heart was racing wildly. It was not a strenuous workout, just some simple fine-tuning of McGlinn's shot before a summer AAU tournament.

McGlinn's mother checked his heart rate. It was more than 100 beats per minute and would not slow down. He was diagnosed days later - Aug. 15, 2005 - with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. It is the same heart disease that killed Hank Gathers.

McGlinn would not be going to Florida for that AAU tournament. His basketball career was finished.

With playing no longer an option, McGlinn tried coaching. He spent the next two summers coaching friends in the Sonny Hill League. He was the men's basketball manager for two seasons at Penn State before graduating in 2011.

McGlinn returned to Archbishop Wood, where he played two seasons before his diagnosis, and helped coach the freshman team. He was promoted before last season to freshman coach. He aims eventually to coach a varsity squad.

With a solid foundation in coaching, McGlinn is quickly getting a taste of player personnel. He assembled a team mostly of former local stars to play in The Basketball Tournament. The inaugural 32-team, single-elimination event will take place in June at Philadelphia University. Members of the winning team will get shares of the $500,000 prize.

McGlinn's squad, Philly Patriots, is led by former Penn Charter guard Sean Singletary and Sam Zeglinski. Both played at Virginia. Fran Dougherty, who played at Wood and Penn, also is on the team, as is Zeglinski's older brother, Joe. He was a star at Archbishop Ryan and Hartford.

McGlinn's assistant is Eric Dethloff, who also helps him at Wood. The team name was inspired by the Patriots AAU squad that many of them grew up playing for. The Zeglinskis' father, John, was the head coach.

"I like our chances," McGlinn said. "I think we've got one of the most talented teams. Most of us played together before. And it's a big advantage that it's in Philly; location should be huge."

Of the tournament's 32 teams, 24 will be selected by fan voting on the tournament's website. Another eight will be selected by organizers. The Patriots have more votes than any other team, including a team featuring members of Villanova's 2009 Final Four squad. Fan voting is open until May 1.

McGlinn and Dethloff swarmed their social media, badgering friends to log onto their team's website (thetournament.com/teams/philly-patriots) and become "fans" of the Patriots. Everyone who became a "fan" was entered into a drawing to win prizes, including a trip to Las Vegas or $25,000.

While composing his team, McGlinn had to assign "salaries" to each player. His big-ticket players are Sam Zeglinski, Singletary, and Jason Cain, who went to Bartram before playing at Virginia. Each is in line to make $60,000.

But the salaries are realized only if the team wins the $500,000 championship. And it will be the coach's job to guide the players there.


mbreen@phillynews.com

@matt_breen

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