Former Maine West coach takes reins of CLC women's hoops program
John Bongiorno was surprised but interested to hear that the College of Lake County (CLC) women's basketball team would not post a team this season.
According to the school's athletic website, the Lancers women's program took a hiatus for the 2016-17 season “to reorient the program back to being an annual competitive force.”
Enter Bongiorno, the former Maine West High School boys' basketball head coach.
CLC made the announcement of Bongiorno's hiring last month, with the news release about his hire focusing on his packed coaching resume at both the college and high school level.
Before becoming the head coach for boys' basketball and girls' tennis at Maine West in 2013, Bongiorno's career stops included heading up the boys' program at Francis Parker High School in Chicago, assistant coaching the men's hoops team at Elmhurst College, assistant and head coaching the Kendall College men's team. He was also head boys' basketball and baseball coach as well as athletic director at Hales Franciscan High School in Chicago.
Bongiorno has collected hardware along the way: he was named Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference Coach of the Year twice at Kendall along with winning a pair of conference titles, to go with two regional titles at Francis Parker.
"I couldn't be more pleased with how this coaching search ended up," Nic Scandrett, CLC athletic director, said in the news release. "Coach Bongiorno has a tremendous amount of experience and has shown he can win at the college level. He's exactly the type of individual that we were looking for to build our program. The players are going to love him."
Bongiorno said that the biggest challenge in building the program will be getting players interested in going to CLC.
“After not having a team for a year, I'm sure that players might question the commitment to women's basketball,” he said. “My job will be to let every player in the county know that we are going to build a program that will sustain excellence.”
Bongiorno added that, with CLC being a two-year school instead of a four-year institution, it will be easier to make an immediate impact on the program.
He described his preferred style of basketball as “decision-making basketball under pressure.” In other words, the focus will be on forcing the other team to make frenzied choices on both ends of the floor.
“Offensively, we will get the ball up the court, and in the half-court I want players who can make decisions based on what they see,” Bongiorno said. “Our playbook won't be expansive, but what we do run we will run well. On defense, we will create problems for our opponents because we will make them make decision under duress."
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