Burrell grad Fantuzzo returns to coach basketball at alma mater
Wednesday, August 21, 2019 | 7:50 PM
Mike Fantuzzo enjoyed a great deal of success as a member of the Burrell boys basketball team more than a decade ago.
Now, he hopes to generate the same success as the program’s next head coach.
The Burrell School Board on Tuesday hired Fantuzzo to replace Shawn Bennis, who resigned last month after six seasons at the helm.
“I am very excited,” Fantuzzo said. “Having played at Burrell, I have an attachment to the program. I am looking forward to getting back in as the head coach and start working on building a program from the ground up and hopefully seeing some success.”
Fantuzzo said he hopes to meet with his players as soon as possible.
“I know some of the guys are playing football and are busy with that,” he said. “But I am looking forward to getting to know them, find out what style they’ve been running and what works best. I hope to watch some film and see what I can do to set them up for success.”
Fantuzzo said assembling a coaching staff in efficient fashion also is high on his list in the early days of his tenure.
“I had been thinking of a number of things in my mind over the past week in preparing if this opportunity became reality,” he said.
“Since yesterday, I’ve been thinking about all the things I need to do and how everything is going to get organized.”
Burrell will attempt to return to the WPIAL playoffs after finishing 5-14 overall and 4-8 in Section 3-3A this past season.
The Bucs earned back-to-back postseason trips in 2016-17 and 2017-18. Both playoff opportunities ended in first-round exits.
In the weeks after Bennis’ departure, the returning Bucs players stayed busy with summer workouts under the guidance of coaches Joe Discello and Brian Misho.
Burrell made history during Fantuzzo’s senior season.
He helped guide the 2003-04 Bucs squad to its first section title in 20 years. The team went 18-5 overall and was a perfect 14-0 in Section 1-AAA. The section run included sweeps of section foes Deer Lakes, Knoch, Highlands and Valley.
Burrell fell to West Allegheny, 57-54, in the WPIAL first round.
Fantuzzo was the leading scorer that season and earned first-team all-section honors.
He was recruited to play in college but opted to concentrate on academics and attended Duquesne.
The call to coaching came in 2010 as the Burrell seventh-grade coach.
He moved on to Knoch in 2012 and served several seasons as a volunteer assistant under varsity coach Ron McNabb.
Fantuzzo was elevated to varsity assistant this past season and helped the Knights capture the Section 1-4A co-championship with Highlands at 9-1. The team went 18-6 overall and routed South Park in the WPIAL first round before falling to Quaker Valley in the quarterfinals.
“Coach Fantuzzo learned a lot from coach McNabb the past several years, and he has a great deal of basketball knowledge,” Burrell athletic director Drake D’Angelo said.
“He has that Burrell background, and we’re excited to bring in that basketball experience he has. We are confident he will be able to get the program going and do some great things.”
Michael Love is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Michael by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .