The process of building a strong men’s basketball program at UBC’s Okanagan campus continues as Pete Guarasci is named as the replacement for the retiring Darren Semeniuk.
“I’d like to thank UBC Okanagan for giving me this opportunity. To return to Kelowna and have a chance to build a basketball program is a dream come true,” said Guarasci after accepting the position.
“I feel excited about the potential for the program and look forward to working with the basketball community as UBC Okanagan moves into its second year of CIS competition,” continues the new coach.
“We were very fortunate to have the interest in the position which we did. After a search that saw qualified candidates apply from across Canada, the US and even Europe, I’m confident we got the right man for the job. Over the course of his two interviews, Pete presented a detailed plan on how he would build a strong program at UBC Okanagan, and his extensive basketball experience and obvious passion for the sport made this the right choice.” says Johnson.
Guarasci becomes the school’s second men’s basketball head coach since becoming the Heat and he takes over a team that has just completed its first year of CIS competition. He spent the last season as the head coach of the MacEwan University (Edmonton) Griffins men’s basketball team taking the upstart Griffins to the ACAC (Alberta Colleges’ Athletic Conference) final four in his first year at the helm.
“His basketball resume is impressive. Pete has played at the international and professional levels and coached at the post-secondary and international levels,” says Johnson. In addition to his head coaching duties at MacEwan, Guarasci worked as an assistant coach at the Simon Fraser University, the University of Alberta and UBC Okanagan. He has coached with Team Canada at the Under-19 Championships and also several years with Canada’s National Junior team.
During his playing days, he was twice named MVP and All-American at Simon Fraser. He also spent ten years with Canada’s Men’s National Team including appearances at the 1995 World University Games, the 1998 World Basketball Championships and the 2000 Summer Olympics in Australia.The rest of his considerable basketball background includes 12 years playing top-level professional basketball in Italy, Spain and Germany.
With the program being in its infant stage in Canada West, Guarasci is excited to have the opportunity to mould the program and continue to build on what has been implemented by Darren Semeniuk.
“Anytime a new coach is hired to build a program there are different basketball philosophies to implement. I was fortunate as a player to have experienced elite basketball at the international level and I plan to teach the game with these learned concepts in mind,” says Guarasci.
“Defensively, it will be important to follow the scouting report and game plan. Our rebounding presence will be a focus from day one. Offensively, we will be up-tempo, and will continually work to improve our skill set and our decision making. I’m looking forward to creating a basketball culture which relies on hard work, positive energy, and a strong belief system for success.”
As a former Kelowna resident and assistant with the Heat, Guarasci is familiar with the current roster and the two recruits already committed to the Heat for the upcoming season, Guarasci will look to prepare for the coming season immediately.
“I think the first step is to familiarize myself with the returning players and introduce myself,” speculates Guarasci. “At that point I will have a better idea of the roster, and its needs to become more competitive. I’m looking forward to working with the returning players and the new additions as we lay the groundwork for the program.”
“The recruits, Matthew Matear and Dario Gini are players I’ve seen or worked with. Matear is an athletic forward that can really outwork his opponent. His aggressiveness when rebounding is a special talent. Gini is a player I’ve coached in the Regional Training Center of 2009/10. Dario already has an excellent skill set and good court vision which will help him at the next level. I’m excited to work with these young players and help them maximize their potential.”
“Recruiting potential student-athletes that are the right fit both academically and athletically will be a priority,” states Guarasci. “Coaching last year in the ACAC I have a good feel for some potential student-athletes that could be wearing the Heat uniform. To compete in the Canada West it will be important to thoroughly identify the top players both provincially and nationally.”
Guarasci is a NCCP level three coach and is “also very committed to my own coaching development and I believe to coach well you have to be a life-long student of the game.”
Pete will start immediately as a head coach and continue the process of filling out the roster and setting next year’s schedule, yet he will not be on campus full time until August 1st.