Thursday, April 8, 2010

Catching Up on MAAC Coaching Moves

Plenty of comings and goings on the coaching front and, maybe, the end of the off-season coaching carousel for conference teams.

Here's what's happening ...

- At Siena, it is all but certain that Mitch Buonaguro, the associate head coach under Fran McCaffery, will be named the Saints' new head coach at an on-campus press conference this afternoon (Thursday).

Buonaguro is a widely popular choice among players, fans, staffers at the school, and this blogger who has advocated for his hiring since McCaffery moved on to Iowa.

Buonaguro becomes the first assistant at Siena ever promoted to the head position, but he isn't exactly the typical assistant.

He is believed to be the school's first assistant to own a national championship ring (from his days as a Villanova assistant in 1985). Following that season, he became head coach at conference member Fairfield and took that program to back-to-back NCAA tournaments his first two seasons there. But, the next four seasons resulted in a 33-80 record and Buonaguro was fired there.

He subsequently worked as an assistant for five years at Texas A& M, for seven years at Cleveland State and, then, joined McCaffery for a season at UNC-Greensboro. Buonaguro came to Siena with McCaffery prior to the 2005-06 season. Over his career, he has been on the sidelines for more than 1,000 Division I games.

Reports indicate that Siena officials also interviewed current Northeastern coach Billy Coen, Jacksonville coach (and, former Siena assistant) Cliff Warren and former St. John's coach Norm Roberts at the Final Four. None of those coaches, though, were brought back to campus for a second interview.

Buonaguro's hiring should result in an atmosphere of continuity at Siena that rarely occurs during a coaching change.

Buonaguro's greatest challenge might be to replace himself. A tireless film-viewer, evaluator and creator of scouting reports, he will become more of an administrator and less of a nuts-and-bolts coach in his new role.

But, the candidates to take on Buonaguro's former role are already lining up and don't be surprised if a former MAAC head coach joins his staff.

- At Iona, Tim Cluess replaces Kevin Willard (who left for Seton Hall). Cluess moves to the Division I level after considerable success, most recently at Division II C.W. Post, where he had a 93-23 record over the past four seasons.

Prior to that, he coached one season at Suffolk Community College where his team finished 22-10, qualified for the National Junior College Division III's tournament and finished fourth in that event. It was the program's first-ever trip to the national JC tournament.

Cluess had also been the coach at St. Mary's High School in Manhasset, N.Y., where he compiled a 264-78 record from 1991-2005. By all accounts, he is highly regarded as a coach with strong ties to AAU and high school programs regionally.

Cluess is somewhat of a surprise choice, considering bigger names were involved in the search, including former Manhattan coach Fran Fraschilla and former St. John's coach Norm Roberts.

- At Fairfield, it looks like Ed Cooley will be back for another season. Cooley had reportedly been one of four candidates interviewed to fill the vacancy at Boston College that went to former Cornell coach Steve Donahue earlier this week.

That won't be the last time Cooley is involved with a higher-level program. His Stags will likely be the preseason favorite to win the MAAC next year.

And, this blogger perceives Cooley to have done the best coaching work in the MAAC - better than either Fran McCaffery or Kevin Willard, the last two Coach of the Year winners - over the past two seasons.

- Manhattan coach Barry Rohrssen looks like he will remain with that program. St. John's new head coach Steve Lavin had been persistently chasing Rohrssen to join the Johnnies' staff as an assistant. But, after conversations earlier this week, Rohrssen announced that he will not be moving and will stay on as Manhattan's head coach.

- OK ... things aren't entirely set in the MAAC just yet. Holy Cross is looking for a new basketball coach and central-Massachusetts TV station is reporting that Niagara's Joe Mihalich could get an interview there.

Holy Cross, according to reports, is also considering rehiring its former coach, Ralph Willard, who left the program to become an assistant at Kentucky this past season.

AND, MORE COACHING NEWS (with MAAC connections) ...

- Dino Gaudio was fired at Wake Forest on Wedneday. Gaudio had been in the MAAC for several years at Loyola, first as an assistant under the late Skip Prosser and, then, Loyola's head coach when Prosser left the program.

- Steve Nash has resigned at St. Francis (N.Y.), reportedly for personal reasons. Nash had formerly been an assistant coach at Siena. There are reports that Nash could wind up as an assistant at a higher-level program.

- Drexel Assistant Coach Tony Chiles became Steve Lavin’s first hire on the St. John’s coaching staff earlier this week. Chiles had been at Drexel for the past six seasons. Before that he was an assistant at Iona under Jeff Ruland and at Manhattan under Fran Fraschilla.

No comments: