A little over two weeks ago, after his Iona women's team lost in the MAAC tournament's championship game to Marist, your Hoopscribe pulled Gaels' coach Tony Bozzella aside very briefly to whisper "I hope we (the conference) keep you."
That was because Bozzella is such a terrific person, and has become a good friend in recent years.
In truth, one always roots for good guys to advance, although that happens a lot less, for whatever reason, for mid-major level women's coaches than their counterparts on the men's side.
But, Bozzella's opportunity to move on was already a strong rumor back then that made perfect sense. Seton Hall had a need, after its former coach Anne Donovan, announced she was leaving to take a position in the WNBA. Bozzella is a Seton Hall grad. And, the school's athletic director, Pat Lyons, used to be Bozzella's boss at Iona.
All of that fell into place, and Bozzella was introduced as the new Seton Hall coach earlier today.
"It is an honor to have the opportunity to come home and coach at this great university," Bozzella said, in remarks released by the school. "Seton Hall has always been a special place to me. This is where I grew up, met my wife and now I have a beautiful family that I look forward to sharing this wonderful experience with. ... this is a school where we havce a great opportunity to be very successful."
Seton Hall is one of seven Catholic schools that will be part of the "new" Big East beginning next season. Its team, this past season, finished 11-20 this season, but four of its top seven players return.
And, Bozzella is no stranger to revitalizing a program.
There was no MAAC program more downtrodden than the Iona women before Bozzella's arrival. The Gaels had just one winning season (14-13 in 1981-82) in its first 21 MAAC seasons. Over that time its overall record was 152-404.
Bozzella turned things around quickly, and he had a 138-116 record there over the past eight seasons, including a 20-13 mark this season, his third 20-victory season with the Gaels.
"We are excited to welcome Tony back to the Seton Hall family to lead our women's basketball program," Lyons said, in a release issued by the school. "He brings a wealth of experience to his alma mater after enjoying a plethora of success at his previous stops. Tony emerged as the unanimous selection by the committee in a thorough search process. We believe his track record mentoring student-athlete success both on and off the court will continue at Seton Hall."
We have no doubt about that. Bozzella is a proven winner, a terrific basketball coach. And, an even better person.