Coach Serge DeBari's memorable career comes to an end
Coach Serge DeBari's memorable career comes to an end - Sports - Le Provocateur
Coach Serge DeBari's memorable career comes to an end
Published: Wednesday, March 2, 2011
Updated: Friday, July 15, 2011 11:07
After Serge DeBari
retired from coaching the first time 12 years ago he
never thought he
would step foot on the court as a head coach again.
However, seven years later he
found himself back in Laska gym bringing Assumption from finishing 15th in the NE-10 conference to finishing third, in just two years.
Now, after a long career of coaching basketball, Coach DeBari has made the decision to retire from his head coaching position of the men's basketball team at the end of this season, this time for good.
But as the saying goes, as one door closes another opens.
DeBari started his collegiate basketball career right here at Assumption, playing for the Hounds from 1967 to 1971.
was not just an average player for the Hounds; he
team to a national championship in 1971 and was named MVP of the team twice during his
, however, is modest about his
individual success; he
flourishes in the success of his
team as a whole.
"Perennially we were in the midst of the run where we appeared in the NCAA tournament for about 16 or 17 years in a row.
We were in the NCAA's every year; we were ranked at the top of the college division basketball in New England every year, and it sort of culminated senior year when we were voted the UPI National champions; which was a big deal back then.
Back then, he
also noted, being voted the number one team by the UPI coaching poll was much more publicized and desirable for teams in the college division than competing in the NCAA tournament.
Basketball was a much different sport when he
was a player.
played there was no three-point line, the only way to get a three-point play was to get fouled on a made shot and then sink your foul shot.
In other words, all field goals were worth two points.
There was also no shot clock for college basketball; players had as much time as they wanted to get their shot off.
remembered that the game was much more team oriented than it is today, "That was how I grew up in the early sixties, in the offences five men would touch the ball every time down.
Everybody could catch the ball, everybody could dribble the ball, and everybody could pass the ball because that was part of the game."
graduation from Assumption College
immediately found a coaching position at Dartmouth College
"I coached at Fairfield, Dartmouth
and then I came back here as an assistant coach.
So I was an assistant for about nine years, seven here, Dartmouth
and Fairfield were in there also, and then I became the head coach at Babson college
," said DeBari
Babson proved to be the first challenge and subsequent proof of DeBari's
superior coaching ability.
Prior to DeBari's
arrival at Babson
, the basketball program was in dire need of a complete overhaul.
"The program hadn't had a winning season in about 15 years-it was not a very high profile basketball program.
It was a great athletic school-- they had won national championships in soccer--but basketball was dismal.
The condition of the basketball program was only further exemplified by the condition of the gym where they held their home games, "[It] used to leak; it was crazy," he
was determined to make a change in the program, "We put it in the right direction because it was a phenomenal school, and then they decided to build a new athletics facility.
From there, the basketball program started to turn around seeing success that it hadn't in 15 years.
"When the athletics facility hit we skyrocketed: we became a real strong team, winning 20 games, we went to the NCAAs, we were the best team in New England one year. so we did some real nice things."
success in reigniting the basketball program at Babson, when DeBari
saw the opportunity to return to his
roots at Assumption College
jumped to it.
"You always think about coaching at your Alma Mata.
It wasn't an easy decision; I was very happy at Babson.
I really thought that [Assumption] was better than 1-53, so I decided that was the right thing to do for me." Similar to Babson, Assumption
was suffering a stretch of unsuccessful seasons.
once again took on the challenge of changing things around.
"We had to rebuild.
When you're 1-53 it's not because of bad coaching.
We rebuilt, and in my third year we won the conference championship.
We went to the NCAAs and we got to the final 16.
The turnaround of the program was a sure sign of DeBari's
ability to build and maintain a successful basketball team.
After just four seasons with the Hounds
, however, DeBari
made the decision to retire, but didn't stray far from the school.
was hired by the College to work in the admissions department.
recalled with admiration his
time spent working at the admissions office: "It was great.
They were great people and they work really hard.
Some of the ladies that I worked with are still down there, and they are just lovely people who are so dedicated, it's incredible.
One of those ladies was Dean of Enrollment Kathy Murphy, who mirrored DeBari's comments as she spoke fondly of his time in the office: "Before I knew him personally I was kind of intimidated by him; his size and his voice.
In the 2004 -2005 basketball season, DeBari's
former team suffered a dismal 4-23 season.
When the head coaching position opened up the following year, the former coach saw it as fate for him to return to the team, "I didn't think there would be any possibility of coming back.
But then fate's hands came in.so the opportunity arose."
final year at Assumption, DeBari and the Hounds
ended the season by qualifying to compete in the NE-10 Conference tournament, but ultimately fell to Saint Anselm 77-61 in the first round.
Senior Captian Mike Balderelli, who has had DeBari as a coach for all four years of his Assumption career, commented on his experience: "I couldn't picture myself playing for anyone but Serge.