The coaching carousel started by Aric Kucel leaving the boys’ basketball post at Gloversville for a position at Shaker High School has led to multiple changes on the area basketball scene.
Kucel, who coached Gloversville for the last six years — including berths in the Section II Class A final four the last three years with an area championship game appearance in 2019 — was approved as Shaker’s new boys’ basketball coach last month. The opening left at Gloversville was filled Tuesday night when Ed Collar, the men’s basketball coach at Fulton-Montgomery Community College for the last 12 years, was approved by the Gloversville school board. Then, Thursday morning, F-MCC announced its replacement for Collar with the hiring of Gloversville graduate EJ Gallup.
“I’ve known coach Collar for a while, and he’s going to do good things [at Gloversville],” said Kucel, who has been working as a physical education teacher at Shaker since February. “EJ’s a guy I grew up watching and admiring his game, and we’ve become really good friends over the years.”
At Shaker, Kucel takes over after Joe Landers served as the interim coach for the Blue Bison during a 2019-20 season that saw the team post just one win. Landers filled in for former Mohonasen coach Josh Peck, who had been hired for the varsity job, but stepped down before the season due to undisclosed health reasons.
Kucel’s Gloversville teams went 79-53 during his six-year tenure, including a 54-14 mark over the final three seasons when led by the duo of Dante Bouchard and Joey Rowback, who wrapped up their Dragons careers this season with a 19-4 mark and a Foothills Council championship before falling to eventual champion Mekeel Christian Academy in the Section II Class A semifinals.
Kucel said he’s excited for the challenge of helping Shaker basketball build back up against a tough Suburban Council schedule.
“I think our three goals are to build, believe and belong,” Kucel said. “Those are things we did at Gloversville. I’ve got some experience rebuilding a program.”
One of Kucel’s most important friends and mentors is Fulton-Montgomery athletic director and women’s basketball coach Kevin Jones, who also served as a key assistant for Kucel at Gloversville.
“He’s one of the biggest reasons for the success of the Gloversville program,” Kucel said. “I’m smart enough to know that I didn’t get where I am entirely on my own.”
Kucel’s move to Shaker provided Collar for a chance to his coaching career to come full circle.
Collar spent the last 12 years as the men’s basketball coach at F-MCC, producing teams that consistently challenged for the top of the Mountain Valley Conference and in the NJCAA Region 3 postseason. He led the Raiders to the Region 3 championship game in 2018, and was named both the MVC and Region 3 coach of the year after taking F-MCC to the regional final four in 2019. This past season, he guided the Raiders to a 5-17 record.
This will be Collar’s second stint as a varsity basketball coach at Gloversville, as he spent nine seasons coaching the school’s girls varsity team from 1995-2004 after previously serving as an assistant coach on the boys’ team under Don Landrio.
“It’s kind of coming full circle with everything,” Collar said. “This is my 30th year in coaching, and I started my first six years under coach Landrio in Gloversville as an assistant coach who was thinking, ‘maybe one day I’ll take over the varsity.’”
He’s also the latest in a long line of Gloversville alumni to become the Dragons’ head coach.
“Ever since coach [Jack] Kobuskie, the basketball coach has been a Gloversville graduate,” Gloversville athletic director Mike DeMagistris said, “and that continues with Ed Collar.”
“It’ll be a nice opportunity to coach my alma mater,” Collar said. “I’m looking forward to it.”
Collar inherits a Gloversville team that will have to retool after heavy losses to graduation — Bouchard and Rowback combined for more than 3,600 career points and leave as the No. 1 and No. 3 scorers in program history — but he’s familiar with the players coming up through the program from his work with Gloversville’s youth basketball system.
Collar leaves the F-MCC program in the hands of a player in Gallup whom Collar coached at the modified level in the 1990s.
Gallup, a 1999 Gloversville graduate, played a year at a prep school in Maine before starting his college career at UAlbany, where he famously scored 36 points in a Nov. 27, 2001 game against Siena. He left UAlbany midway through his sophomore season after averaging 17.6 points in 37 career games and transferred to Coastal Carolina, where he finished his college career. A sweet-shooting 6-foot-4 guard, he moved on to a professional career overseas, including a successful stint in the top division of German basketball.
Gallup played this past season with the Spa City Gamblers of the American Basketball Association, and is slated to once again join Jimmer Fredette’s Team Fredette as part of The Basketball Tournament — a $2 million, winner-take-all event — this summer.
“I went from being an old player to a young coach,” Gallup said, “all in one day.”
Gallup and Jones are both hopeful that the former’s connections in the basketball community will help him continue the Raiders’ strong tradition on the hardwood.
“We’re really excited to find somebody at our level, with a part-time position, with a guy that has a resume like his and experience like his,” Jones said. “It’s just huge for us.”
“I had a good run in my career,” Gallup said, “and, hopefully, I can help these kids get to where they want to go in their careers. … I want to make a really strong effort to build around Section II and Section II kids, because we have a really good talent pool around here and I want to give these kids an opportunity to chase their dreams playing ball and get to four-year schools.”
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