Thursday, May 16, 2013

Melissa Flagg Latest MAAC Connection at Seton Hall

College head coaches like to populate their respective staffs of assistants with individuals they know well.

And, Tony Bozzella is no exception to that premise. Upon moving from Iona to Seton Hall earlier this spring, he brought along Lauren DeFalco, who both played under Bozzella at Iona (a 2008 graduate) and coached with him there as an assistant for the past two seasons.

When Bozzella had one more position on his staff to fill recently, one to be the entry level assistant coordinator for basketball operations, he had more than 100 applicants.

And, he once again reached out to hire one of his own, bringing in former Iona player Melissa Flagg.

Flagg played for four seasons at Iona (graduating in 2011), and had to earn her playing time there. She started just one game over her first three seasons, but earned a reputation as a heady, hard-working and solid reserve. She finally pushed her way into a starting role as a senior, and averaged 6.5 points with more assists than turnovers (89-to-82), playing both guard positions in the 2010-11 season.

She previously had been playing professionally in Puerto Rico, but tore her ACL last summer in a summer league game in New York City and opted to go into coaching.

"After the injury, I wondered what I should do next," Flagg told the New York Daily News. "Then, I realized that I didn't think life would be complete without me being around basketball somehow.

"With this opportunity, I'm just ecstatic. I'm fortunate. I'm blessed. I get to pass on the knowledge that I know to other girls."

Bozzell actually asked Flagg to join his staff at Iona last year in a part-time role, but she turned down that opportunity to concentrate on her graduate-school studies.

After the injury, though, she realized her basketball future would be as a coach.

"I love her personality and her understanding of the game is off the charts," Bozzella told the Daily News.
"When she played for me we fought and went back and forth. But, at the end of the day, she's as nice a human being as there is. She'll be able to relate to the kids and help them assimilate onto the campus and help be a liaison to the community and just get the word out about how we're going to resurrect the (Seton Hall) program.

"This is a great starting point for her and I would be surprised if one day she isn't a head coach."

DeFalco and Flagg aren't the only MAAC connections on Bozzella's staff.

Shortly after his hiring, Bozzella also brought in Stephanie Del Preore and Tiffany Jones to be assistants on his staff.

Del Priore was a four-year standout at Marist (graduating in 2004), who finished with 1,114 career points. She has been in coaching ever since, and her experience includes the last three seasons as head coach at Division II Bridgeport.

Jones had been at Saint Peter's for the past four seasons, and served as that program's interim head coach for much of the 2012-13 season while head coach Stephanie Wolfe was on maternity leave.

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