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Pope didn't want to talk much about Gonzalez, but the little he did, he sounded like a guy who had gotten out of a dysfunctional relationship and was appreciating a saner life.
He was in the hospital for nearly a month but had no contact with his former coach during that time -- or, maybe more telling, since then. Gonzalez told The Star-Ledger in an interview this spring that he had tried to reach out, but if he did, the message never got to Pope.
"No, no, no. I haven't talked to him. Not once," Pope said. "He was the only one who didn't show up (at the hospital). It kind of shows you his character. It didn't surprise me because you expected that out of a man like him."
It had been all of 30 days since Willard was hired at Seton Hall, taking over after Bobby Gonzalez was fired. And now he stood next to the hospital bed of one of his best players, a player who up until that moment had been toying with going pro.
"You see someone with such a bright future … I cried a lot,'' Willard said. "This kid had his whole life in front of him.''