Popovich gives Ephs a boost

The Williams College soccer team picked a good motivator for their pre-game speech before the NCAA Division 3 semifinals Friday. San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich will meet with the Ephs at their hotel, as they prepare to meet defending champion Messiah.

Popovich, who regularly vacations near Williamstown, made a connection with the team through Curt Tong, a former Williams coach who was athletic director at Pomona Pitzer College when Popovich was coaching there.

“He was a great coach and a great leader as an AD,” Popovich said of Tong. “I’ve been to Williams before and talked to the tennis team. Since the soccer team is out here – they probably feel at home with this weather.”

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Popovich coached at Pomona Pitzer before going to the NBA as an assistant coach.

“I love Division 3 basketball – purest basketball there could be and I still believe that,” Popovich said before the Spurs played host to the Celtics Thursday night. “Warm place in my heart for Division 3, all sports.”