Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Broadcasts, Ceremony A Reunion Tour For Buonaguro

Mitch Buonaguro, who has been a coach in the MAAC for 14 of the conference's previous 32 seasons, is making a reunion tour of sorts in coming weeks.

Most recently the head coach at Siena for three seasons, prior to his dismissal after the 2012-13 season, Buonaguro will be doing television color commentary for three upcoming women's broadcasts.

His first time behind the microphone will be Thursday when the Siena women play at Fairfield.

He says he'll have no problem finding his way to the Connecticut school. After all, he was the head men's coach there for six season, a tenure that included two trips to the NCAA tournament (1985-86 and '86-87).

After those two years, though, the program couldn't duplicate those accomplishments and Buonaguro was fired.

Still, he'll be back at Fairfield again on Saturday. This time he'll be on hand for a halftime ceremony of that day's men's game to honor the program's two NCAA teams he coached.

"I'm looking forward to it," said Buonaguro, whose record at Fairfield was 72-103. "I have no animosity toward Fairfield. I still know a lot of people there. It should be a lot of fun.

"Sydney Johnson (Fairfield's current men's coach) had a big hand in bringing this together. It was a nice gesture on his part."

Buonaguro's first Fairfield team finished 24-7 and was the only MAAC team ever to have a perfect record (15-0) in away-from-home games.

That record included a 13-victory improvement from an 11-17 finish the previous year, before Buonaguro arrived. It was the largest victory improvement by any program on the Division I level that season.

After the graduation loss of three starters and some injury woes, the Stags finished seventh among eight teams in the MAAC in 1986-87. And, then, they swept the conference's post-season tournament to once again earn a berth in the NCAA tournament.

After Fairfield Buonaguro worked as an assistant at Texas A&M, at Cleveland State and, then, connected with Fran McCaffery for two seasons at North Carolina-Greensboro. When McCaffery was named Siena's head coach in 2005, Buonaguro came along as his top assistant.

They were together for five seasons, the last three all resulting in trips to the NCAA tournament.

When McCaffery left to take over Iowa's program, Siena promoted Buonaguro to be its head coach.

But, the proverbial cupboard wasn't well stocked. He had a 35-59 record at Siena in a stretch also hindered by an overabundance of injuries and some player suspensions. He was fired this past March and is currently out of full-time coaching for the first time since his graduation from Boston College in 1975.

He returns to Siena on Jan. 30 to work another television broadcast, this one a Manhattan at Siena women's game at Albany's Times Union Center, part of a double-header that precedes a Siena men's game.

Buonaguro jokingly says he hopes he doesn't get booed, as he did when he was the program's head coach.

Still, his overall positive achievements as a coach are worth mentioning.

He is one of just two coaches in MAAC history to be on the staff of conference teams that advanced to the NCAA tournament five times, twice as Fairfield's head coach and three times as a Siena assistant.

The only other MAAC coach with five NCAA trips is former Niagara head man Joe Mihalich, a La Salle assistant for that program's three NCAA appearances when it was a conference member and, then, two more times at the Big Dance when he was Niagara's head coach.

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