Tom Parrotta's career resume is built on his reputation as a recruiter for
mid-major programs like Niagara and Hofstra. So the new coach at Canisius
knows the only way he'll turn around a struggling program is to get
players in town fast.
"The "program-changer' is the most important thing and then others will
follow," Parrotta said after being introduced Monday in the Koessler
Center. "I'm going to get one. . . . I'm happy to become the face of
Canisius basketball. I know what that entails and I know what I have to
Parrotta, 39, signed a
four-year contract and will be making in the $125,000 range, nearly
$40,000 more than former coach Mike MacDonald made last year but still in
the bottom half of salaries for coaches in the Metro Atlantic Athletic
Conference. The school has also upped its budget to about $125,000 for its
Parrotta was selected over Marshall assistant Bob MacKinnon, son of the
former Canisius coach of the same name.
John Hickey/Buffalo News
Fairport's Corey Magee, the top recruit by former Canisius coach Mike
MacDonald, plans to talk with coach Tom Parrotta.
the last five years at Hofstra, helping to recruit players like Buffalo
native Loren Stokes to a team that won 26 games this season. He was at
Niagara the previous six years and helped lure the core of the Purple
Eagles' 2005 NCAA Tournament team. In addition to adding local talent,
Parrotta is expected to heavily recruit New York City and would like to
continue overseas trips he took annually at Hofstra.
"He can really inspire leadership in the
team and the community," said Rev. Vincent Cooke, Canisius president. "He
can be the face of Canisius and that's an important job. He has to spark
the enthusiasm of the team and the community."
"Having an understanding of Western New York was very important," said
Athletics Director Bill Maher. "It's a unique community in that many other
people who don't live here want to say, "Why would you go to Buffalo?" We
need people who can sell that in a positive way."
Parrotta said his core principles will center around effort, rebounding
"The defensive aspects will be instilled immediately," he said. "That's
not coach's talk. That's what has to be. I don't know work ethics of these
kids but they will do those three things."
As part of the interview process on campus Friday, Parrotta met with the
"He reassured us things will be OK," said guard Chuck Harris. "There's a
lot of things going through our heads, especially the seniors. It's like
the world is spinning right now but he said we have to learn to trust him
and he'll learn to trust us."
Parrotta said he will first "re-recruit" the current players, although
Harris said he was confident the team's 10 returning letterwinners will be
"We're starting a new season with a clean slate," Harris said. "Everybody
is a freshman right now, even us older guys."
Parrotta also needs to contact the three incoming freshmen who signed with
MacDonald. David Johnson, a 6-foot-4 guard from Detroit, is expected to
honor his commitment. Plans are unclear for 6-3 Jovan Robinson of Boston
and MacDonald's top recruit, 6-8 Fairport High star Cory Magee.
Magee signed with Canisius after an intense recruiting battle with
conference rival Siena.
"I'm still in a wait-and-see mode," Magee said by phone Monday. "I'll sit
down with Coach Parrotta and give him a fair chance."
Magee said he wants the process wrapped up in the next week or two.
"Everything I've heard about [Parrotta] has been good," Magee said. "It
will be interesting. It's just weird thinking of playing for Canisius
without Mike MacDonald there."
Parrotta plans to interview returning assistant coaches Brian Miller, Mike
Trzybinski and Clive Bentick as well as other candidates to fill his
He also said he had no problem with his contract. Most new head coaches
want five- or six-year deals.
"I have every notion that I know what needs to be done and I will be
successful," he said. "I trust [Maher]. He's been great to me and he gave
me a chance. When push comes to shove, he's going to look after me because
I'm going to do the same for him."