Joe Cascio has a difficult job. He’s the caretaker (interim coach) of the Santa Monica College men’s basketball program that was thrown into chaos when Jesse Teplitzky recently left for a far better contract at Cerritos College.
The position has to be posted until the end of this month. Interviews are scheduled to follow and SMC won’t have its next coach until mid-August, leaving players in a state of uncertainty.
Cascio, who was Teplitzky’s chief assistant, would like to be the head coach. He has applied, but is merely one of many candidates who’ll be considered. There are expected to be between 50 and 75 applicants.
In the meantime he’s presiding over the team’s summer program, where returning players and recruits develop their skills. The ones, that is, who haven’t decided to leave.
Aaron Landon, Teplitzky’s other assistant, is assisting Cascio this summer while he waits to see what his future will bring.
“Aaron is doing a great job this summer and if I’m selected to be the coach I definitely want him to be my assistant,” said Cascio.” But he’s a young guy starting out in the coaching profession and he has to see what else is out there.”
Cascio played at Redondo High. He attended El Camino College but didn’t play and has worked in the corporate world since he was 20 while finding time to coach basketball too.
He coached lower level teams at Redondo, coached at Loyola High for five years and coached club teams before coming to SMC.
Last week he conducted his basketball camp for youngsters in the SMC gym.
“I’ve found a home at SMC and would like to continue my work here,” he said.
Cascio’s current work is important. He recently guided the SMC players in a summer showcase at USC. Players weren’t permitted to wear the uniforms of their school but were watched by scouts from four-year schools. In most games there were more than 100 coaches in the stands.
The SMC team won three games and lost one, defeating Irvine Valley 63-52, Canyons 54-52 and San Jose City College 60-36. The loss was to another team from San Jose.
The roster consisted of what is expected to be SMC’s team next season although that doesn’t become official until the semester begins.
“I felt great about the way we played,” said Cascio. “The players bought into what we were trying to do.”
Cascio will direct the team in another summer showcase July 30-31 at Azusa Pacific College.
Cascio and Landon came to SMC to be Teplitzky’s assistants. Cascio enjoyed being on the staff and felt good about his first season. But when he arrived at work exactly one year later he learned Teplitzky had resigned.
He’s aware of the situation at SMC, where the coach is a part-time employee with no health benefits. But he and a large field of applicants are quite interested.