Ken Dagostino is looking to revive another program after taking Mohonasen to Section II’s highest level.
The defensive mastermind was offered Colonie’s varsity boys’ basketball post by new athletic director Joe Guardino Wednesday and accepted. His appointment needs to be approved at the South Colonie Board of Education’s next meeting.
“They’re a Suburban Council school that’s in a very similar situation as when I went to Mohonasen,” said Dagostino. “That was very attractive to me.”
Dagostino’s Mohonasen’s teams weren’t always pretty, but with an emphasis on ball stopping, contesting and rebounding, the Mighty Warriors made four Section II final four trips in his nine seasons and captured the school’s first Section II title in nearly two decades in 2011.
“Mohonasen is in a different place than it was nine years ago,” said Guardino. “At certain timees in a program’s life, you need a little kick. He provided it. He’s a basketball guru.”
Dagostino’s run at the Rotterdam high school included four Kirvin Cup championships and a share of two Suburban Council division crowns.
“I think defense made our program,” Dagostino said. “We didn’t have scoring-machine kids. We definitely had kids who played defense. I hope the Colonie kids play some defense for me, too.”
Dagostino stepped away from the Mohonasen post after guiding his teams to five winning seasons, including a 12-10 mark in his second campaign. In his third and fourth seasons, the Mighty Warriors reached the sectional semifinals both times and went 12-10 and 14-8, respectively.
“Biggest accomplishment? You’d think it would be the Section II title, but we had nine consecutive losing seasons before the rebuild,” said Dagostino. “How we went about doing it, the year in and year out, the building. To take it from where they were to where they got, that’s the big accomplishment.”
Mohonasen beat Scotia-Glenville, 53-36, for the 2011 Section II Class A championship, behind Grant Massaroni, Ben Dalton, Billy Manikas, Garrett Sisson and Jeff Kruzinski. Mohonasen’s last title before that came in 1992.
“I’ve got a lot of feelings for Mohonasen. You know that,” said Dagostino, who graduated from the high school before attending SUNY-Cobleskill and Castleton State in Vermont. “For us to get that title after so many years, it was so special. It’s still special.”
Mohonasen’s 17-5 championship season included a share of the Suburban Council South Division top spot and sectional wins over Queensbury (71-45) and Lansingburgh (48-33) before the triumph over Scotia-Glenville. The Mighty Warriors had an eight-game winning streak halted in the regionals by Jamesville-DeWitt, 67-50.
“That team held a lot of teams in the 40s,” said Dagostino. “They played their butts off on defense.”
A 62-61 overtime loss to Scotia-Glenville in the 2012 sectional semifinals kept Mohonasen from a return trip to the Class A title game. Mohonasen went 12-8 that season, and though the Mighty Warriors had a combined nine wins in Dagostino’s final two seasons, two of those victories came in sectional games.
“Our kids played hard,” said Dagostino. “No one can deny that.”
Mohonasen went 0-21 before Dagostino came on, and his first team logged a 2-19 record.
“Our student-athletes and their families are the ones truly responsible for the success at Mohon. They allowed us as a coaching staff to change the basketball culture by being open minded and receptive to our new program philosophies,” Dagostino wrote in his resignation letter. “No longer were we making excuses about being a small ‘A’ school in the big ‘AA’ Suburban Council. Our mindset was to compete as if we to were an ‘AA’ school, to be as tough as any Section II team in any league, in any classification, and to always make the Mohon-Rotterdam community proud of us. I am sincerely going to miss our players, past, present and future, and really hope their memories and experiences of Mohon basketball are good ones.”
Dagostino said he had no coaching plans when he decided to step down at Mohonasen.
“All of the guys I talked to said Colonie and myself would be a good fit,” said Dagostino, who sent in his coaching resumé in late July and interviewed for the position Tuesday. “I didn’t know a lot about Colonie. The more I looked into it, the more appealing it was to me.”
“He’s a rebuilder. We need it right now,” said Guardino. “I don’t think a better guy could have landed in our lap.
“We had a very good pool of candidates, and he is the right guy for the position. We’re fortunate.”
Colonie has not fielded a winning varsity basketball team since the 2009-10 season (10-9). The Garnet Raiders went 5-14 last season under coach James Boland.
“When you rebuild, you are a program coach. You are a fourth-grade through varsity coach,” said Dagostino. “A big part of rebuilding is connecting the youth program with the high school program. You cannot rebuild without youth.”
Before his move to Mohonasen, Dagostino coached high school ball at Poultney, Vt., Duanesburg and Guilderland, where his freshman team in 1998-99 went 20-0. He also served as an assistant at Schenectady County Community College, and has an extensive youth league background.
“I am very appreciative and will always be so grateful to Mohon for the opportunity they provided me to be their varsity basketball coach for nine years, especially being born and raised in the Rotterdam community and as a Mohon alumnus,” Dagostino wrote in his resignation letter. “The people, atmosphere, and environment at Mohon, top to bottom, are very professional and very supportive. Everything is always about the kids, first and foremost. Mohon is really a great place to coach.”