MAAC basketball followers might know Mike Romano from his two seasons as a "graduate manager" (2010-11, 2011-12) on the Marist men's basketball staff.
If you know Romano at all, you know he wasn't born with basketball's version of a silver spoon.
He graduated from Division III Western Connecticut State University where he came to realize he wanted a career as a basketball coach.
He wanted it so bad that he began paying his proverbial dues as an assistant boys' basketball coach at Webetuck H.S. for three seasons. He moved from there to be a volunteer assistant at Dutchess County Community College, followed by another season as an assistant at Western Connecticut.
From there, he moved to his Marist position, basically that program's director of basketball operations.
That was, basically, seven years of virtual poverty-level salaries learning the profession, honing his skills and waiting for an opportunity for something better.
Something better happened two years ago when he was hired as a full-time assistant at Rhode Island College, a Division III program in Providence, under well-regarded head coach Bob Walsh.
And, now, something even better might happen for the personable Romano.
RIC's Walsh has reportedly accepted another job. A variety of sources are reporting that he will be introduced on Monday as the new head coach at Division I UMaine.
RIC finished with records of 26-4 and 20-9 in the past two seasons with Romano on the staff. This past season's team won the Little East's post-season tournament and a trip to the Division III NCAA event. Its top scorer was a freshman guard who Romano helped recruit.
Romano, now, is interested in replacing Walsh as RIC's coach, and should not only be a leading candidate, but THE leading candidate.
He has earned that status through hard work, dedication, determination and perseverance.
In a sense, he is like the back-up catcher in baseball. Not a star, but someone who had to work hard to learn the intricacies of their chosen sport.
Those types traditionally make the best managers/coaches. And, Romano fits that mold.
We can attest to Romano's positive characteristics from first-hand experience.
Your Hoopscribe, for the past six years, has been the coordinator of the staff that watches the annual AAU GymRat tournament in the Albany, N.Y., area. That staff evaluates players and selects the event's all-star teams.
Romano has been on that staff for the past five years, and is considered one of, if not THE, strongest evaluator at the event each year. He has shown himself to be not only a tireless worker, but an extremely personable sideline observer who interacts so well with coaches and players that they look forward to seeing him each year.
We have no doubt that those traits are inherent in everything he does as a basketball coach, one who has more than paid his dues to be ready for this potential opportunity.
Romano, surely, could move to Maine with Walsh if he desired. And, by the way, Walsh also has MAAC connections. He was on the Iona staff for two seasons as an administrative assistant (1994-96) under then-head coach Tim Welsh.
But, Romano professes to be a "Division III" guy, who would rather have the opportunity to run his own program.
The very strong guess is that if Romano does get promoted at RIC, he would be there for many years.
It's not unusual for former MAAC connections to take over sub-Division I programs and remain in place for a considerable length of time.
Two that come immediately to mind involve former Siena coaches. Steve Evans, at Siena for two seasons with Paul Hewitt, has been a successful head coach at D-II Le Moyne for the past 14 seasons.
And, Brad McAlister, who was on Mike Deane's staff at Siena for several years, has been the head coach at Division III Lebanon Valley College for 20 years and is that program's all-time winningest coach.
It's not hard to envision Romano having similar success and longevity if afforded the opportunity.
For sure, it's one he deserves and has worked hard at to be in position for consideration.