Ex-PSU hoop coach happy in the NBA

Few players in the NBA receive more criticism than New York’s Carmelo Anthony, but former Penn State coach and current Knicks assistant Jerry Dunn said comments about the star player being selfish and one-dimensional are unwarranted.

“I think it’s very unfair,” Dunn said Friday at PSU’s Coaches vs. Cancer golf event. “Carmelo, first of all, is a great person, a very giving person, a very good teammate. And he doesn’t get the credit for playing both ends of the floor. Almost every night he’s asked to guard the other team’s first- or second-best player, and he’s also a guy we depend heavily on to score a lot of points.

“He’s a competitor. He’s played hurt. I’ve been really impressed with him.”

Anthony led the NBA in scoring at 28.7 points per game, but he averaged only 6.9 rebounds and 2.6 assists and gets ripped repeatedly by national media for only caring about scoring.

“I think he handles it professionally,” Dunn said. “He’s a professional. I think it starts with him being a good person, because he is a good person.”

Dunn has always been considered a good person by those familiar with Penn State basketball. He led the Nittany Lions to their most memorable moment in program history, a Sweet 16 berth in 2001, and was the head coach for eight years after serving as an assistant to Bruce Parkhill for 13 years.

Dunn resigned following the 2002-2003 season, in which PSU finished 7-21 and 2-14 in the Big Ten, and he compiled a 117-121 record with the Lions.

He served as an assistant under John Beilein from 2003-09, first at West Virginia then at Michigan. He was associate head coach for the Wolverines when he took a leave of absence from the team early in the 2009 season, and when he came back a couple of months later it was in an administrative role.

A relationship Dunn forged during his time at Penn State ultimately led to an NBA job with the Knicks.

“Mike Woodson, the Knicks’ head coach, is a great guy who I’ve known, and I met him actually when I was here at Penn State,” Dunn said. “He was an assistant coach with the Sixers, with Larry Brown, and they did camps here.

“So as coaches we all got together after practice and would talk basketball, and then we’d go out and have dinner later on and talk basketball. The relationship developed just with those relationships with the Sixers.”

Dunn maintained a friendship with Brown over the years. When he moved his family to Charlotte, Brown, then the Bobcats’ head coach, gave him a chance to hang around the team.

“He always told me if you’re interested in getting into the NBA, the first chance I have to get you in, I’ll get you in,” Dunn said. “He’s actually one of the few people who did what they said they were going to do, so it worked out well.”

That relationship with Brown and Woodson led to Dunn getting his current job with the Knicks in October of 2012, and he just finished his first season with the team. His official title is assistant coach for player development.

“It’s totally different,” Dunn said of the NBA game versus college. “You don’t have the practice time, number one. A lot of stuff is done through filmwork, individual player development. You just don’t have the practice time because you play 82 games, and between the games and travel, that’s where it’s so different.

“The other thing is rest for the players. They have to have their legs, which means you don’t have practices as hard or as long.”