John Truhan III Takes Home Hoop Group High School Coach of the Year Honors
They refer to him as the “program builder.” Hoop Group, labeled Coach John Truhan as the Bill Parcells of NJ Girls High School Basketball, as they presented him with the 2018 Girls High School Basketball Hoop Group Coach of the Year honor. Coach Truhan, took time away from his busy schedule to reflect upon his most recent achievement and to share his journey.
Coach, how does it feel to be recognized as the2018 NJ Girls High School Coach of the Year by Hoop Group?
Humbling and prestigious – it should be a team of the year award, I’m nothing without them. We have a young team and only met for the first time on November 6, but we bonded together immediately, all the girls bought in to the program, and they really deserve the award more than me.
So, where did your coaching journey start?
Began teaching mathematics in 1993. I was hired by TR schools. My coaching career launched when Bill Hewitt and Joe Arminio allowed me to volunteer on the boys staff and I sat thru freshman JV and varsity games, I found it addicting – I was hooked and all in.
How did you get your first coach opportunity at Toms River South?
Received a call in November of 1998 from Mr. Lundy, (AD) and asked me how I felt about coaching girls? At this point I was coaching the boy’s JV team, under Greg Albano. Then our girls varsity coach gave notice. The next thing I know, I’m on a three-way call when Mike Ritacco chimed in and said “We’d really like you to be our girls varsity head coach, we know you’ll do an outstanding job.“ That was all I needed to hear. As a matter of fact, any success that I’ve had in the classroom and courts can be directly attributed to Mike Ritacco, I’m forever grateful.
Our greatest accomplishment was winning 33 straight home games, 26 straight division games, 3 straight division titles, and 22 wins in a season; all school records.
How hard was it to get a small school like Colts Neck on the basketball map?
Colts Neck was a brand-new school in 98, in 2003 became a group 1. I received a call through a friend that told me about an opening for a mathematics teacher. I’m a better teacher than a coach. It was the perfect storm. Meghan Kelly and Caitlin Burton a pair of Colts Neck seniors, had two coaches during two prior years. The girls wanted stability and that’s what I delivered. The result, won 21 games that year and lost in the states to Willingboro who had Crystal Langhorne a future WNBA player. Our 2007 class was comprised of 6 incoming freshmen – destined to rewrite the record books. By the time they were sophomores, our starting line-up was 100% sophomores. That team, ended a 19-year drought of public schools winning the Shore Conference.
I’m personally familiar with your work at Central Regional, the program was a disaster before you got there and it’s 7-40 since you left, how do you approach the rebuilding process?
My formula is the best players play. No politics, the eye test doesn’t lie. I don’t care about anything else. I also believe my wife and children were watching and it’s important for me to instill the values of fair but strong competition.
Coach, you’re also a teacher, tell us about how you use the classroom lessons on the court?
Paying attention to detail. Lesson plans are like playbooks. You must understand the material in the class room, you must understand the plays on the court. I believe all coaches are teachers first, for me coaching is simply a hobby.
Most memorable high school game?
Shore Conference Semi Final 2008, we upset Rumson in 3 OTs and won the Championship the next day as my wife was holding both my children who had fallen asleep her arms.
Also, I must mention another exciting game, the 2009 Tournament of Champs, upset Malcom X Shabazz who were ranked 8th in country.
You coached for a year at Caldwell College – tell us about that experience.
Loved every second, Coach Danella, is an up and coming coach. The greatest thing were the practices, you have 12 girls competing for 5 scholarships. The drills and competitive nature was the best I’ve ever seen.
How’d you land at Red Bank Regional?
Our head coach at Caldwell left for San Francisco State and I wanted to get closer to home. I met with Mr. Dalpra, at Red Bank Regional and we came to an agreement, I was offered the job in the fall. I honestly believe it was fate.
What was your plan taking over a team that saw its entire starting line-up graduate?
Show that I was there for them. Also, I planned on delivering everything I promised to them. I knew if I supported them and they bought in things would be easy. These girls embraced the plan from the onset. I’m so fortunate to coach this group.
What do you look for in the girl’s you coach?
Cerebral – tough thick skinned – no worrying about mistakes – forget about turnovers, missed shots, bad passes. You must have a short memory and be prepared for the next play.
Are you more of an offensive or defensive coach?
More offensive, I like having an identity. We play different defenses, but we want to be the best offensive team on the court. Let’s say we run a scaled down version of the Princeton Offense, very scaled (with a smile).
How do you feel about the FBI investigation into college hoops – what do you think we’ll see moving forward?
I’ve seen some of the dark side already as my 7th grader plays AAU. Negative outside influences are all over these kids and it’s ugly. I don’t see the colleges as the problem, they are inheriting a broken system.
Here’s what two Red Bank Regional Players had to say about their coach:
“Coach Truhan led our team to one of the greatest seasons our girls had in 20 years. He taught me that there is always time for hard work and a love for the game of basketball. Always displayed a positive attitude and plan to get better, we had such a great season and I will never forget it. Thank you!” -Bridget Tobin
“Coach Truhan willingly took on a challenge. He came into a situation with low expectations because of the team’s age, yet amazingly produced 17 wins and a trip to the semifinals of the state tournament. The last time RBR did this was 20 years ago! He strategized, made quick decisions, and built confidence in individual players and the whole team, all with a sense of humor. If that’s not Coach of the Year material, I don’t know what is!” – Christa Teter
Best player you ever coached: Becky Zak, TR South – Canisius, Lauren Clarke, Colts Neck, Brown, and Brooke Hampton, Colts Neck, West Virginia
Best player you ever competed against: Crystal Langhorne – Willingboro HS – Washington Mystics
Your best team of all time: 2009 Colts Neck 29-4 TOC Final, Group 4 Champions, Division Title – KSA Showcase, FL.
Best team you ever saw: The 2009 St. John Vianney 8th Michaela Mabrey came off the bench – enough said! 8 D1 kids.
Your favorite college team: Princeton
Who’s winning the NCAA tournament? Texas A&M
Your favorite professional basketball team? Cavaliers because my son loves LeBron
Best professional player you ever saw: MJ -not even close
What professional past or present plays the game the way you would play it? Mark Price, GA TECH – Cleveland Cavaliers
Describe what Geno Auriemma has accomplished in one word: Mind-boggling
Favorite food: Pizza
**Picture and quote thanks to www.hoopgroup.com and Tiny Green**