By Matt Leon
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The newest Penn men’s assistant basketball coach is a familiar face to Quakers fans. Nat Graham was hired recently to replace Scott Pera who left Penn to join the staff at Rice.
Graham is a former player for the Quakers, he was a member of two Ivy League Championship teams under Fran Dunphy in the 90’s. A couple of his teammates were current Penn head coach Jerome Allen and fellow Quakers assistant Ira Bowman.
“It’s great,” Graham recently told KYW Newsradio. “To be able to come back to the school I went to, and with guys I played with and knew is great.”
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Graham talks about the opportunity before him.
“I’ve never been, in all honesty, at a place like Penn which, for its level, is really a true destination spot,” Graham says. “I’ve always kind of been at places that were down the pecking order and a little bit of consolations. So that’s exciting, to be able to be at a place where you can beat people out in your league for recruits and stuff like that. I mean this is an awesome campus in a city that loves college basketball. Our facilities for this level are unbelievable. So that stuff’s really exciting for me. And then again, getting to work with guys that I have so much respect for and know well.”
Graham comes to Penn after spending several years working under Steve Donahue, first at Cornell and then at Boston College. During his stretch in Cornell, the Big Red dominated the Ivy league, but things never really came together at Boston College and the staff was let go after last season. He says his time with Donahue was very well spent.
“The duration that I went through with Steve Donahue and the ups and downs, I think he taught me a lot of things,” Graham says. “Just about trying to take out some of the emotion of it that has always been my inclination. So that’s something that recently has really hit home, with the difficulties we had last year, somewhat surprisingly, and just him kind of helping me through that process and learn from it and grow from it.”
Penn is coming off an 8-20 2013-14 season.
You can follow Matt on Twitter @mattleonkyw.