There was a time that Rob Carcich would have never thought of himself as the head boys basketball coach at Wayne Hills.
After all, the one-time Passaic Valley head coach, who had more than his share of tremendous games against Hills, had built a tremendous program with the Hornets for over a decade.
But times change, and when Carcich, who was in an administrative role the past two years, found the opportunity to coach again too tempting, Wayne Hills was the ideal spot.
Practice began with three days of tryouts before the Thanksgiving holiday. The team then began regular practices on Nov. 26, and will begin a busy pre-season with scrimmages, starting on Dec. 4, when the Patriots host East Orange Campus, at 4 p.m. Scrimmages follow at DePaul, on Dec. 6 and at home against Ridgewood, on Dec. 8, at 11 a.m. The final scrimmage is set for Dec. 11, when Nutley visits.
The regular season begins on Dec. 14, when Teaneck comes to town for a 7 p.m. game.
Carcich is well known as a defensive coach, employing his stingy 2-3 defense built around speed and intelligence.
“We’re gradually working the 2-3 into our practices,” said Carcich. “You have to remember, I came onto the job (in October), so there was no summer time to get the kids acclimated. Right now, I want them to get comfortable with my defensive philosophy, and eventually, we’ll get the 2-3 rolling.
“I’ll tell you what, these are absolutely great kids to work with. And they’re talented. I like the speed, the size and effort in practice, as well as how smart these kids are, on and off the court. I couldn’t be happier. We had an excellent turnout of players, including a lot of freshmen, and there’s the possibility that a few freshmen will get the chance to play JV and varsity right away.”
Wayne Hills head boys basketball coach Rob Carcich gives instruction, as assistants Matt Aquno (standing, left) and Mike “Moose” Moussab listen in. (Click on photo for larger image)
When Carcich took over at Passaic Valley in 2004, the program had struggled, winning just six times in its last 69 games. In his first season in Little Falls, he guided PV to a 9-12 mark, and then followed with 11 straight winning seasons, including a state sectional title in 2007. There were also dominant teams in 2010, 2011 and 2012.
At Hills, he takes over a team that has won 20 games the past three seasons, including a Passaic County Tournament crown last season. But this is a new team for Carcich, and a new style.
“The kids are picking it up pretty well,” said Carcich. “They work hard in practice. I make corrections and they seem to pick up on it.”
While the team is getting established, a few new players should make their way to the hardwood on Dec. 3, as football season was set to conclude on Nov. 30.
“I wouldn’t expect them to come in a day after playing a (Bowl Game) against Phillipsburg, at MetLife Stadium,” said Carcich, with a chuckle. “I’m sure they could use the weekend off, but we’re expecting the football kids to be in practice in early December. And they will be a big help, as well.”
Carcich’s coaching staff includes assistants Mike Moussab, Kevin Milack and Matt Aquino. Milack and Aquino were on head coach Kevin Grimes’ staff last year while Moussab was an assistant to Carcich at PV a few years back and most recently coached girls basketball at Caldwell High.
‘It’s a really good staff,” said Carcich. “I’ve known Mike and Matt for a long time and it took about five minutes to realize what an energetic young coach Kevin is, and very knowledgeable, as well.
“This is a tremendous situation for me, to be back in coaching, and working with these guys. We have some good scrimmages lined up and before you know it, we’ll be playing Teaneck in the opener. It’s exciting.”