Darius Theus had warned his friend that if his cellphone buzzed with the contact freshly saved into it a few days prior, he’d need to step outside the restaurant to chat for a few minutes.
“But I was out with my best friend,” Theus said, “so he understood what I was trying to do.”
He was trying to take the next step in his coaching career — so the call from Siena College men’s basketball head coach Carmen Maciariello early this spring was the most-pressing matter on the menu that night for the 31-year-old Theus.
So Theus headed outside for what he thought was going to be an introductory phone call, somewhere between 10 and 15 minutes long, and started talking . , , and kept talking . , , and talking. Eventually, he stopped pacing around and plopped down on a curb outside the restaurant in Richmond, Virginia, for the final stretch of his 75-minute call with Maciariello.
“We talked basketball, family, life. It was a great conversation,” Theus said. “The longer the conversation goes, that’s a good thing.”
That call started a process that led to Theus’ joining Maciarielloe’s coaching staff as an assistant coach in late May, a step in his career that Theus had been eager to take. A Virginia Commonwealth University graduate who played for three Shaka Smart-coached teams that made it to the NCAA tournament — including the memorable Rams squad that advanced to the Final Four as a No. 11 seed — Theus worked on college coaching staffs for the last six seasons, but he’ll be a rookie assistant coach with the Saints. Most recently, Theus was the director of player development for head coach Mike Rhoades’ VCU program for four seasons; before that, Theus spent one year as director of player development at Texas for Smart following a one-year stint at VCU for Will Wade as a director of student-athlete development.
Climbing the college coaching ladder isnt easy. It takes time to step from one rung up to the next. There’s typically years spent in support roles, like the ones Theus played at VCU and Texas, before one gets the chance to become an assistant coach and take a more active role with a team’s on-court product and recruiting. Years after making that jump, a coach might — heavy emphasis on might — get the chance to run a program as a head coach.
For example: Maciariello, Theus’ new boss, spent 11 seasons as an assistant coach before he was named the head coach of his alma mater’s program in 2019. Those 11 seasons, split between four programs, came after Maciariello worked multiple years with the Albany City Rocks AAU program and one as a director of basketball operations for Fran McCaffery’s first Siena team. In all, there were 14 years between the time Maciariello was hired in his first college coaching role at Siena and when the Clifton Park native became a head coach.
Theus had been interested in assistant coaching opportunities, but the opening at Siena was the first time he’d been able to interview for a spot. In some ways, Theus had never really interviewed for a job. , , ever. With a laugh, Theus acknowledged that “there really wasn’t much I had to do except get there,” for his previous college basketball jobs since they involved personal mentors hiring him.
In each of his roles, though, Theus demonstrated a strong work ethic and emerged as someone who would get an opportunity to take the next step. Theus was highly recommended to Maciariello by Rhoades, and the VCU head coach whose team won 22 games this past season had alerted Theus he should get a call from the Siena head coach.
“I was nervous. I won’t lie to you,” Theus said. “You try to prepare for this stuff, but when he called me, it was, ‘OK, here we go.’ ,
So, dinner — and that understanding friend — waited some that night. A series of text messages, phone calls and interviews followed, and Theus kept coming away thinking he was on track to take the next step in his coaching career, one he’d wanted to make since declining a chance to play with the Boston Celtics’ NBA G League team in 2016 to start his coaching journey following a three-year professional playing career.
“I was praying that it would feel right, when I met coach Carm, coach Greg [Fahey]MILF coach [Bobby Castagna], the whole staff — and it did. It felt right. When I met the players, that felt right, too,” Theus said.
A native of Portsmouth, Virginia, Theus said it still wasn’t easy to make the decision to leave VCU, a place Theus said “changed my life.” To take the next step in his career, though, Theus knew Siena was the right place for him.
“All I know is the VCU way. That’s not a bad thing — it’s a great thing — but, as you grow, you also want to learn from different people,” Theus said. “This was an opportunity I couldn’t turn down because it felt right — and it felt a lot like home.”
The UAlbany women’s basketball program recently made its formal announcement of its incoming players for the 2022-23 season.
Head coach Colleen Mullen’s team, which made it to the NCAA tournament this past March, signed guards Taylor Moffat, Karyn Sanford and Marie Sepp.
Moffat (Australia), Sanford (Norway) and Sepp (Estonia) will bring UAlbany’s total of players hailing from outside the United States up to seven. UAlbany also has three players from Sweden and one from Italy on its roster for next season.
UAlbany finished 23-10 this past season.
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Categories: College Sports, Siena College, Sports, UAlbany