Bulldogs legend named new head coach of men's hoops squad
By John Torenli, Sports Editor
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Rich Micallef left Brooklyn College three decades ago as the most prodigious scorer and arguably the best player the Bulldogs’ program had ever produced.
Now he’s back in his old digs and hoping to coach his Alma mater to the CUNYAC Championship.
The BC Athletics Department announced Monday that Micallef, who was recently named the Bergen County High School Coach of the Year, would be replacing long-time head men’s basketball coach Steve Podias.
"I am so excited for the opportunity to come back home and I look forward to the challenges ahead," Micallef said, who played for the Bulldogs from 1980-84, completing his career with a then-program-record 1,740 points while guiding BC to a Division III Final Four appearance.
With a full squad returning from last year, the Bulldogs hope to make a push for their first CUNYAC Championship since 2010. Photo courtesy of BC Athletics Dept.
"I'd like to thank Athletic Director Bruce Filosa for giving me this opportunity to return to my roots and once again be a part of the rich history and tradition here at Brooklyn College,” added Micallef, who has his No. 24 jersey retired in the BC Athletics Hall of Fame.
The multiple BC Athlete of the Year and former team MVP will inherit a team that appears on the brink of taking over the conference.
Though they were knocked out in the opening round of the CUNYAC Championships a season ago, the Bulldogs will return their full squad in 2014-15.
That roster includes the likes of junior Jai Kellman and sophomores Egzon Gjonbalaj and Jamel Gist, all three of whom ranked in the top-15 in the league in scoring.
Micallef, who graduated from Xaverian High School in Bay Ridge, enjoyed a long and successful career in the private sector following his playing days before catching the coaching bug.
He returned to basketball as a head coach in 2003, and most recently served in that role at Fair Lawn High School, taking the reins of a struggling program and rebuilding the team into a contender in the region.
Fair Lawn made the Bergen County Jamboree Tournament this past season for the first time in eight years. He also led the school to its first state tournament appearance in over a decade, earning his BCCA Coach of the Year honor.
The Bulldogs, who have not captured the CUNYAC title since Podias led them to back-to-back crowns from 2009-10, had reached the championship semifinals in two of three seasons before their first-round ousting at the hands of Hunter on Feb. 22.
Micallef, who did serve as both a full- and part-time assistant coach at BC immediately after his playing career, is scheduled to make his head coaching debut with the Bulldogs Nov. 15 in Wayne, N.J., against William Patterson University.
His true homecoming at the West Quad Center will be in the Bulldogs’ CUNYAC opener against CCNY on Nov. 25.
In other BC sports news, Shani Abrahams, who helped lead the Bulldogs’ women’s soccer team to the 2013 CUNYAC Championship, addressed her fellow classmates as the Class of 2014 representative at the BC Baccalaureate Commencement that was held in the Central Quadrangle last Thursday.
"I felt incredibly honored to be chosen to represent my graduating Class of 2014," said Abrahams, who played a vital role in the start of the BC women’s soccer program two years ago.
"To speak on behalf of so many amazing individuals who worked so hard to complete their degrees and who have bright plans for the future was such a humbling experience and made me so proud to be a member of the Brooklyn College family,” she added.
In local baseball news, I.S. 318 from Willamsburg is on the verge of its second consecutive New York City Middle School League Baseball Championship.
Brooklyn’s dynastic club knocked off the Bronx champs Tuesday at Heritage Field in the shadows of Yankee Stadium, earning the right to play in the title game for a second straight season.
The Championship Game will be held at Columbia University on Saturday at 9 a.m. as I.S. 318 looks to complete a repeat.
Last June, I.S. 318, which has captured five consecutive Brooklyn Middle School titles, defeated J.H.S. 22 of the Bronx, 12-8, at Columbia for its initial NYC championship, outlasting a field that consists of 53 schools from across the five boroughs.