February 10, 2005

Hertzog has 400 reasons to celebrate
Oops. Make that 401 CEGEP wins for Vanier Triple-A hoops coach

by JOHN MEAGHER, The Gazette

It took Andy Hertzog 17 years and two leagues to compile 400 wins as a CEGEP basketball coach. He reached the milestone Jan. 30 when his Vanier Cheetahs posted a 71-57 win over the Sherbrooke Volontaires.

But the longtime men's coach at Vanier College in St. Laurent says his greatest thrills are not so much his on-court successes, but of watching his players develop as student-athletes and as people.

"I've been very lucky to have coached so many terrific basketball players at Vanier," said Hertzog, who started coaching the men's Double-A team there in 1988.

A lawyer by profession, Hertzog spent 12 years at that level before replacing Henry Wong at helm of the elite Triple-A Cheetahs five years ago.

While Hertzog has his Triple-A Cheetahs riding high in first place this season with a sparkling 10-2 record, he said there are pros and cons to coaching at the higher level.

"In some ways, coaching Double-A is simpler because there is less of a time commitment than in Triple-A ," he said.

"In Triple-A we practise five times a week, instead of three times a week in Double-A. There is also a lot more recruiting involved in Triple-A. I'm not much of a salesman so recruiting doesn't come naturally to me. Still, I have to scout countless high-school and juvenile games whenever I'm free. In Double-A, there was no real recruiting."

He said many of his Triple-A players have designs on playing at NCAA schools in the United States. That means sending video and other documentation to support their goals.

"I don't mind though, because as a coach, you're always trying to help these kids move to the next level in their careers and with their education," Hertzog said. "But we're also very demanding of our kids. We want them to do well in life, not just basketball. We ask that they don't curse on the court and that they speak properly at all times."

Hertzog, 46, said he has remained friendly with many of his former players. "I've gone to several weddings over the years and I try to keep in touch with as many of them as I can," he said.

"Some have gone on to become doctors and lawyers; they have PhDs or have written books. It's nice to see that and know that I may have have helped them along the way."

Hertzog spends most of his days at his law offices in Westmount, before making his way to the Vanier Sports Complex for late-afternoon practices.

It makes for busy days, but Hertzog has no desire to coach full time at the university level. "No time," he said flatly. "Besides, I can't afford to give up my day job."

How many losses has Hertzog accumulated over the past two decades? "Oh, slightly under 200, but I keep those numbers at home," he said with a laugh.

Hertzog added win No. 401 to his totals on Friday when his Cheetahs outlasted the CPEQ (Basketball Quebec Centre for Excellence) 76-57 in an exhibition match.

© The Gazette (Montreal) 2005