Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Giorgis' Influence Leads Marist Alums To Coaching

Schools take considerable pride when their own think highly enough about their own competitive athletic experiences to remain in a sport and become coaches.

The classic example is Miami (Ohio) University, which sent so many of its connections on to guide others that it became known as the "Cradle of Coaches."

MAAC schools have sent more than their share of athletes/coaches into positions elsewhere. Just last week we wrote about the staff of the Le Moyne women's basketball team being entirely comprised of former Siena connections while that school's head coach on the men's side also spent time with the Saints.

But when it comes to sending connections on to coach elsewhere, it appears one MAAC program stands above all others, and it's no surprise which one that is.

Much like the Marist women's program has dominated the MAAC during the tenure of its head coach Brian Giorgis, the Red Foxes similarly dominate in pure numbers of connections in the coaching ranks.

All of this came to mind when Kristina Danella, the MAAC's Sixth Player of the Year award winner for this past season, was recently hired to be an assistant at Urbana University, an Ohio-based Division II program.

In making the announcement, head women's coach Danny Wingate said: "Coach Danella was exactly what we were looking for in an assistant ... Her balance of competitiveness and professionalism was evident in our first meeting. (She) has competed at the highest levels, and I am confident that her passion for learning ... will be contagious throughout the program."

By unofficial count there are at least 15 women who played for Giorgis at Marist who are currently involved in coaching at some level. While most MAAC programs have each sent at least a few of its alums on to the coaching profession, we can't imagine any having more than Marist.

"I don't know why that is ... you'd have to ask them," said Giorgis, humbly, when addressing the phenomenon. "I guess it's because the players we've had here really have a passion for the game and a lot of them want to continue on, to stay involved, as coaches.

"Plus, most of those we get are smart players. They're good people and they have that passion for basketball. Those are all traits that make for good coaches."

And, while Giorgis won't say it, that his players have played at Marist ... and, for him specifically ... doesn't hurt. He is widely acknowledged as the league's best coach, but his reputation goes beyond those bounds. Any coach whose program has been able to dominate a league for so long has to have an exceptional architect, and Giorgis' reputation stamps him as one of the game's top coaches at any level.

That he operates an offensive system that involves complicated reads and reactions to opposing defenses requires his a certain level of on-court awareness from his players. It helps develop their basketball IQ and that, too, serves them well as coaches after playing days are over. that

Heck, even his peers recognize the value of having former Marist players as coaches. Long-time MAAC counterpart Tony Bozzella, who had been at Iona for more than a decade before becoming head coach at Seton Hall during the off-season, recently hired former Red Fox Stephanie Del Preore for his current staff.

And, Giorgis is certainly comfortable bringing back some of his own to pass on their Marist-learned lessons to future generations of players. Three of his four assistant coaches are former Marist players.

Here's a list of former Marist connections currently active in coaching. The list was provided by Brendan Thomas, of the Marist sports information office who tells us that much of the research was done about a year ago by Ken McMillan of the Middletown Times Herald-Record newspaper. Your hoopscribe has updated the status of several of the coaches.

- KRISTINA DANELLA: Played at Marist from 2011-13. She was recently named an assistant coach at Urbana University in Ohio.

- FIFA CAMARA: She played at Marist from 2004-06 and was the MAAC's Player of the Year for the 2005-06 season. She is the director of basketball operations at Marist, a position she has held since the start of the 2911-12 season.

- MEG DAHLMAN: She played at Marist from 2004-08 and is currently a volunteer assistant at Victor (N.Y.) High School. Prior to that she was an assistant coach at Nazareth Academy.

- STEPHANIE DEL PREORE: She played at Marist from 2000-04 and was a second-team all-MAAC pick for the 2003-04 season. She accepted an assistant's position at Seton Hall recently, where former Iona coach Tony Bozzella is now coaching. Prior to that, Del Preore had been the head coach at Division II Bridgeport for three seasons. She had also been an interim head coach at Stevens Institute of Technology, and an assistant coach at Caldwell College.

- NIKKI FLORES: She played at Marist from 2004-08 and was an assistant at Colgate this past season, but is no longer with that program. She had been an assistant coach at Holy Family University for three years prior to moving to Colgate.

- KRISTIN HEIN: She played at Marist from 2003-07. She is currently the head coach at Marlboro (N.J.) High School, her alma mater.

- LYNZEE JOHNSON: She played at Marist from 2006-10. She is currently the JV coach at Charminade Julienne High School in Ohio, and also coaches on the AAU level.

- COURTNEY KOLESAR: She played at Marist from 2004-07 and in 2008-09. She is currently the freshman coach as well as an assistant varsity coach at Lake Catholic H.S. in Ohio.

- ALISA KRESGE: She played at Marist from 2003-07. She is entering her fifth season as an assistant on Giorgis' staff at Marist.

- ERIN LEGER: She played at Marist from 2002-05 and served as an undergraduate assistant coach in 2005-06. She is entering her ninth season on Giorgis' staff at Marist.

- MAUREEN MAGARITY: She played at Marist from 2001-04. She is entering her third season as head coach at New Hampshire. She previously had been an assistant at Marist, Fairfield and Army.

- SARAH SMRDEL: She played at Marist from 2004-08. She is currently a volunteer assistant freshman coach at Lake Catholic High School in Ohio.

- EMILY STALLINGS: She played at Marist from 2008-12. She is entering her second season as a graduate assistant at East Stroudsburg.

- KERRY SULLIVAN: She played at Marist from 2000-04. She is currently the varsity head coach at Clarkstown North High School.

- NINA VECCHIO: She played at Marist from 2000-04. She is currently the varsity head coach at Union Beach (N.J.) High School, and had previously been a coach at St. John Vianney (N.J.) H.S.

- VICKI WANCEL: She played at Marist from 2000-04. She is entering her seventh season as an assistant at Northeastern and has also been an assistant at New Haven.

And, there's at least one non-Marist individual influenced by Giorgis currently coaching. That's Chrissy Vozab, who played for him at Our Lady of Lourdes High School in Poughkeepsie. Vozab is entering her second season as the head coach at Georgia Southern.

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