Marywood hires Mastroianni as new head basketball coach

John Ferraro, Sports Editor

Enrico Mastroianni begins his career as Marywood’s head basketball coach knowing he’s facing a uphill battle. That battle started when the men’s basketball head coaching job opened.

When former Pacer coach Bob Simmons left the men’s basketball team after they were only one win away from making the Colonial States Athletic Conference (CSAC) playoffs, the program took a hit.

Previous basketball coach Simmons, notified Marywood a month before the school year began. In response, Marywood hired Mastroianni as the new men’s basketball coach.

Approximately a month before practice officially begins on October 15th, Mastroianni was given command of a program seemingly on the rise.

Mastroianni recently came off attempting to build a program from scratch at Georgian Court University, with the team only winning seven games in its first two seasons. Now, he is being handed a team on the cusp of potentially making the playoffs for the first time in four years.

Mastroianni started out coaching at St. Paul’s School in Scranton. He was given a chance to get acclimated with the scene around the area with camps and clinics at Riverfront Sports, known as Hoop City back then. Mastroianni then left for Florida as his interest in coaching grew.

“I realized I wanted to pursue coaching as a career and actually left the area for Florida. I started teaching in the schools, coached high school basketball, and worked some similar camps that I was working in Pennsylvania at Florida International,” said Mastroianni. 

Mastroianni then made some connections and moved back to Pennsylvania to be the assistant head coach for Misericordia University from 2004 to 2008.

“It was a great experience for me which catapulted my career,” said Mastroianni.

Following his time at Misericordia, Mastroianni took over at Centenary College, one of Marywood’s CSAC opponents. “I got the opportunity at Centenary College from 2008 to 2012 – a program that had fallen on pretty hard times. I took over for a team that was 4-20 overall in the previous year. I stepped in and we fixed things. I got them going in the right direction.”

Mastroianni not only turned the dismal program around, but became the coach with the most wins in Cententary men’s basketball history.

This extensive coaching experience is exactly what Mary Jo Gunning, athletics director for Marywood, was looking for during the search process.

“The coach we bring in should have experience of a minimum of three years, preferably at the Division III level,” Gunning said. “Also, we look at what his or her past record has been as an assistant or head coach.”

That is not all the criteria that went into the search that ultimately hired Mastroianni.

“We look for long-term commitment to our program. Furthermore, how he will fit in terms of Marywood’s mission and what we are about in the athletic department,” she added.

However, with the very late hire, Mastroianni does not have the time a coach would normally have to build chemistry with the players. “The biggest challenge for me is that I cannot physically see what I have to work with. I can only go off the film from last season and set up meetings with the players currently on the team,” he said.

Even with that daunting task, Gunning has high expectations for the West Scranton native.

“My expectation in the next month is that he develops a cohesive unit with the team even though he cannot be involved directly with the team right now.”

As far as the season goes, Mastroianni said that he expects success to continue for the men’s team, but he did not make a championship proclamation.

“Should we be a playoff team this season? Probably. I’m going to hope and push for that. Are we going to win a championship this year? Maybe not. But, I wouldn’t sell us short either,” said Mastroianni.

Gunning thinks that winning attitude can go a long way in sustaining the success that Simmons brought over the last two seasons.

“I think he will bring a sense of enthusiasm. I think he will also expect a lot from his players and this team. I think that’s true of all of our teams. I think he will be great for the future of Marywood men’s basketball.”

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Corrections: When the story was originally written, it said that Marywood waited seven months to hire a coach. It was brought to the writer’s attention that this was false and that former coach Bob Simmons only gave Marywood a month’s notice. Additionally, Mastroianni was an assistant coach for Misericordia, not a head coach as originally written.