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Recruiting is job one for Parrotta

"The defensive aspects will be instilled immediately. That's not coach's talk. That's what has to be.

News Sports Reporter


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 do."

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 three assistants.

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.


Parrotta spent 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 and defense.

"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 returning players.

"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 back.

"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 staff.

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."