Anyone who attends the men’s basketball games are familiar with Head Coach Joe DeSantis’ vocal and enthusiastic coaching methods, whether he congratulated good effort or let his team know they needed improvement. “I am who I am, although I have mellowed over the years. I have always been a self-motivated person. I like to get into it. The more I am into it, the more the [players] are,” said DeSantis during an interview after a Saturday afternoon practice.
Born and raised in the Bronx, N.Y., he played basketball at Fairfield University. He averaged 18.4 points per game, while accumulating a career total of 1,916 points, second all-time, 667 assists, second all time, and is first in free throw percentage with .849, in the Fairfield record books.
After his collegiate days, DeSantis was an assistant coach for 14 years at Fairfield, Duquesne, Pittsburgh and St. John’s. DeSantis took over the coaching position at Quinnipiac in 1996, when the team was still nicknamed the Braves.
Since then, the program has flourished into Division I play. In the pre-season NEC coaches’ poll, the Bobcats were picked to finished first in the conference this season.
“It is good to know that we as a team are respected by the other coaches,” said DeSantis. “Last season the poll picked us to finish 4th and we did. Hopefully, they were right again this year.”
He also acknowledged the supporting cast, assistant coaches Robert Tipson, Darren Savino, and Mitch Oliver. “I have a great staff,” he said.
In May of 2003, DeSantis was awarded a contract extension through the 2007 season.
He said the team has a slogan, “our turn now”, which refers to the fact that they have been in the running for the NCAA tournament the past two seasons, just coming up short.
Despite falling short to Central Connecticut State in the NEC championship game in the 2001-02 season and Wagner in the semi-finals in the 2002-03, DeSantis said his team has been, “knocking on the door” as of late. Even ESPN.com has picked QU to make the NCAA tournament by 2004.
Despite the attention, he does not let this hype pertaining to the season stand in the way of the team’s goals. “We have to get better than we already are. Everyone is number one as of now. You have to work today and cannot lose sight of what you’re trying to do,” said DeSantis.
However, he is very confident in his players; four of five starters are returning starters from last season. “We have a nice make up per year of guys,” he said. The 2003 roster includes four freshmen, including Christian Burns from Hamilton, N.J., four sophomores, as well as three juniors, including C.J. Vick, of Springfield, VA and Rob Monroe, of Lanham, MD, and three seniors including Kason Mims, of Astoria, N.Y. and Rashaun Banjo, of Far Rockaway, N. Y.
A family man with four children, as well as a monetary donator to the Children’s Center of Hamden, DeSantis does not focus only on the productivity on the hardwood floor. “I am not obsessed with winning. Getting my guys ready to compete is my focus. I want these guys to reach and fulfill their potential. I want them to do well in the classroom,” said DeSantis.
He even emphasized talking with his players about their plans for after college. “I want them to be good citizen,” he said. In order for this to happen, DeSantis said he has to push his players. “I have to do things in a way so that I will earn their trust,” said DeSantis.