Anjali Moncrieffe’s face lit up and a wide smile appeared with the mention of Mike Toro being her varsity basketball coach at Bishop Ford next season.
“I knew he was going to get it,” the rising junior point guard said. “I knew it in my heart. I was happy because he is my coach for AAU and now high-school varsity.”
Toro coaches Moncrieffe and a few other Bishop Ford players, such as junior Diani Mason and sophomore Shonice Vaughan on the Exodus Falcons AAU team. He was the Brooklyn school’s junior varsity head coach and a varsity assistant under John LoSasso last season. LoSasso retired earlier this month and Toro, 21, was promoted to varsity head coach last week. He is now the youngest head coach in the CHSAA Brooklyn/Queens division and one of the youngest in the city.
“He is younger, but he is also an adult,” Moncrieffe said. “He still has the higher power over us. You still have to listen to him.”
She said Toro has the ability to walk that thin line of confidant and authority figure and he knows there are times to be a player’s buddy and another to get down to work and be their coach.
“He is like our coach and our friend,” said Mason, a rising junior guard. “On the court when it’s down to business and time to play basketball he is down to business. When we are off from basketball, we have fun.”
While the players are confident in Toro – Mason believes he will bring a championship to the school – they are interested see how he is as a high-school head coach, since many have just experienced him in that role on the AAU level. They do believe he will work them hard and foster good team chemistry, but know there will be a transition period.
“I would have much rather have [still] had Coach LoSasso because I played with him for JV and I had him for varsity,” senior forward Vanessa D’Ambrosi said. “This is going to be something new, so I am looking forward to it.”
They look at Toro getting the JV team to the Brooklyn/Queens championship game, where it lost to Christ the King on a buzzer beater, as an indication of how good a coach he can be.
“He is going to acknowledge the players who need time on the court,” Mason said. “He is just going to be a good coach, like he did with the JV team. He made them good. He’s a good coach.”
©2009 Community News Group
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