Sellitto goes back to school
STORY SUMMARY »
He says he's been sitting on the couch the past six seasons, watching a lot of basketball on TV.
Profile: Tony Sellitto
The veteran coach is returning to lead Hawaii Pacific's basketball program:
» Age: 69
» Career record: 298-136
» NAIA title: Won Hawaii's only national championship in basketball with HPU in 1993
"Probably 500 games, and I haven't lost a single one," Tony Sellitto said.
He also hasn't lost his sense of humor. Or his enjoyment when it comes to coaching.
Yesterday, Sellitto removed the "former" from "former Hawaii Pacific men's basketball coach" when he was named as Darren Vorderbruegge's replacement. Vorderbruegge will remain as HPU's athletic director. Sellitto coached HPU to the NAIA title in 1993 and has collected 298 wins on the college level.
The 69-year-old Sellitto, who stepped down in 2002 for health reasons, said his doctor gave him the go-ahead.
"He said if I was crazy enough, to be his guest," Sellitto said. "I've never lost the passion."
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STAR-BULLETIN FILE / 2001
Tony Sellitto is back as Hawaii Pacific basketball head coach. He's two wins away from No. 300.
A lot of things make Tony Sellitto happy.
Coaching basketball is one of them.
Yesterday, Sellitto was very happy. He officially "unretired" his whistle to return to Hawaii Pacific for a second stint.
"I wouldn't be doing it if I wasn't happy, and this makes me happy," the 69-year-old Sellitto said. "It's an opportunity to be able to come back.
"Since I retired, I've been sitting on the couch, watching 500 basketball games. I haven't lost one of them. The only problem with coming back is now I know I'll lose some."
Sellitto stepped down as basketball coach and athletic director in 2002 for health reasons (a stroke and prostate cancer), finishing with a 298-136 record over 12 seasons. In 1993, he gave the state of Hawaii its only national basketball title when his Sea Warriors won the NAIA championship.
But more than the victories and honors -- Sellitto was the 1993 NAIA national coach of the year -- he is most proud of the success his players had after their careers were over. Sellitto, who led Maryknoll to its only state championship in 1984, said his recruiting philosophy remains.
"My team will not be without local players ... ever," he said. "I'm not worried about recruiting. When I got the job first time, I was hired in August and had no players. We won the conference that year.
"I never lost the passion for coaching. You know early on if you're going to be a coach or not be a coach. It was always easy for me to distinguish between right and wrong. If we won, I was right, if we lost, I was wrong."
Sellitto replaces Darren Vorderbruegge, who was 30-29 in two seasons, including 8-19 this year. Vorderbruegge will remain as HPU's athletic director.
Sellitto said HPU contacted him about returning about a month ago -- before the school honored him at halftime of the Feb. 6 game between the Sea Warriors and Brigham Young-Hawaii.
"Tony Sellitto Night" included a reunion of the 1993 national championship team with a special appearance by ESPN anchor Neil Everett, a former HPU associate athletic director and sports information director.
Asked if Everett helped talk him into taking the job, Sellitto said: "Actually, he tried to talk me out of it."
Sellitto says he's as healthy as ever. He continues his daily walks around downtown and the Ala Moana Shopping Center, a routine that lasts from 9 to 11:30 a.m.
"My doctor said if I was crazy enough to go back to do it ... ," he said. "I have a very good relationship with the president (Chatt Wright) and I've always loved working with young people and working at HPU.
"If I can help a young man get a scholarship and help him succeed as an athlete and in life, that makes me happy."