By From the Lowell Sun
By Lynn Worthy
LOWELL -- It's been 25 years, but Greg Herenda can call Costello Gymnasium home again.
UMass Lowell named Herenda, a former University of Lowell assistant coach and Merrimack College alumni, the new head coach of the River Hawks men's basketball program yesterday. He replaces Ken Barer, the program's winningest coach, who resigned on April 22 after seven seasons.
Herenda served as head coach at Division 3 Cabrini College in Pennsylvania this past winter. His resume includes more than 20 years of experience coaching at NCAA Divisions 1, 2, and 3.
"I'm very very excited about coming back home," Herenda said. "I started my coaching career there 25 years ago. My first recruit was my brother Bill."
Bill played for what was then ULowell from 1984 to 1988. His older brother remained on the staff until 1985, just long enough to recruit the two classes that formed the core of the 1988 Division 2 national championship team.
The difference between the coach that left and the coach that returns? "I have no hair and I wear glasses," said Herenda, who signed a 4-year contract. "But I'm still the same person inside. I love the game. I have great reverence for college basketball."
After leaving Lowell, Herenda went on to coach at Merrimack (1985-1989), Holy Cross (1989-1994), Seton Hall University (1994-1997), Yale (1997-1999), and East Carolina (2000-2005) where he was the associate head coach under Bill Herrion, currently the head coach at UNH.
A two-year player at Merrimack, Herenda still holds the school record for assists in a game (22) and shares the record for the single season average (9.0). He graduated in 1983 with a degree in business administration and marketing.
"I've personally watched Greg for a lot of years," UML Director of Athletics Dana Skinner said. "I actually tried to hire him 15 years ago."
Skinner, the assistant AD at the time, was taken by Herenda's energetic and upbeat coaching style. He attempted to lure Herenda from the Division 1 ranks, but Herenda didn't bite.
"I finally came to my senses and took the job," said Herenda, adding that he felt the situation was right this time.
He wasn't the only one who thought the moment was right. The UML exploratory committee tasked with finding a new coach, co-chaired by Skinner and Bobby Licare (a former recruit of Herenda's), received interest from more than 40 to 50 applicants from across the nation.
Ten individuals had initial discussions, and four were brought in for on-campus interviews. Current members of the men's basketball team were involved with the process, both serving on the search committee and meeting the candidates who visited campus. UML Chancellor Marty Meehan also met with the two finalists recommended by the committee.
Herenda, who insisted he was indebted to Skinner, Meehan, and the rest of the committee, also said he was eager to work with assistant coaches Marc Kuntz and Necus Mayne, both of whom he's heard great things about in coaching circles.