Coaching Tips Volume 2: Five Fundamentals



600 wife

George Sourlis won his 600th game on Friday evening and who it was against isn’t really important, what is important is that he joined a select club of coaches with 600 wins(9). He also became the only Shore girls’ basketball coach in history to win 600 games. One day he will become winning-est coach in Shore History period. When you talk about the history of Rumson Fair-Haven basketball you must start with one name…SIR GEORGE SOURLIS!  



When I think of George Sourlis the first thing that comes to my mind is defense. George Sourlis is the guy that made defense cool in girls shore basketball. He is the Coach who brought a style of defense that many seasoned coaches at the college level marveled about. The first time I saw a George Sourlis team play defense I was shocked. I have never seen anyone teach defense the way George does and that’s at any level.  I wondered why more college coaches were not stealing the RFH style of defense; I won’t bother you with all the details but it is so out of the box. Years later I found out the reason why colleges and other high schools could never copy his style…DETAILS, DETAILS and DETAILS.  I personally have never seen anyone at any level spend more time on defensive details as George Sourlis. This is why over the years he has been able to beat teams with more talent, and size.

When you think of the size of RFH and more importantly the talent gap that George Sourlis has been up against over the years, it’s almost amazing he has been able to keep RFH in the same company of larger and more richly talented basketball programs. He has done it by teaching kids to play the game the right way.  RFH won 10 straight CENTRAL JERSEY GROUP 2 TITLES at one point. I think it safe to say this record may never be broken. He has been to 3 T.O.C semi- finals and has won 16 division titles. People these are records that may never be matched again or at least not in my lifetime. But there is so much more to this story.

“An amazing accomplishment by an amazing coach and mentor. What makes him special is his PASSION for this sport, his team, and all those around him, day in and day out. WELL DESERVED”-Lisa Cermignano, Head Coach Wagner College



The records that George Sourlis has accomplished in his 28 years as a head coach may not come as a surprise today, but when George Sourlis took over the RFH program, the only thing they were known for was his sister Virginia who is one of the great players in not only RFH history but NJ basketball history. She scored over 2,000 points while playing with a men’s ball and no 3 point line. She later went on to star at Stanford. But winning states championships, having great teams, 1000 point scorers, star players and BIG wins were not part of the RFH legacy when George Sourlis became the head coach….but he changed all that. What we see now at RFH is one of the Top 5 girls’ basketball programs in New Jersey.  RFH  won 20 games in his first year and has done it 23 times since he became the Bulldog head coach.  Some of the schools that his players have attended read like a who’s who of colleges. Princeton, Yale, Harvard, Colgate, Maryland, Holy Cross, Villanova, Manhattan and the list goes on….take a look at this list of schools former and current Sir George players have attended..






When my daughter was sophomore in high school I decided that a change of schools was needed for her. No question it was athletic driven. I wanted her to attend a school that valued both basketball and education.  The only thing I knew for sure was that she needed to play in the best basketball conference in New Jersey and that was the Shore Conference. I called my friend Rob Kennedy my current boss and owner of the hoop group. I asked him for a list of schools for my daughter to look at. He mentioned RFH as one of those schools and said he was friends with George for years and that I would be wise to take a look. I called George and asked if we could meet? I went to his office and we talked, I wanted to talk basketball. He wanted to talk about Education, Traditions, Responsibilities, Accountability and wanted me to know that I would need to go though the same channels as any other student. My first thoughts were this guy doesn’t want my daughter, and if he does he has a funny way of showing it. I wasn’t sure what to think until we started to leave and he said these words” I can’t promise you anything except this, WHEN YOUR DAUGHTER LEAVES RFH SHE WILL BE A BETTER PERSON”   Those were his exact words and I can still hear them TODAY! My wife who was not exactly very concerned with the basketball part of all this said “Candice is going to RFH and I don’t care what you say” The Candice Green tour of the shore lasted exactly one day. You see it’s about family and life lessons sometimes. My Wife and Coach Sourlis got this long before I did.

Dianne Nolan The Head Coach of Lafayette College wrote the following about George Sourlis

“A true gentleman, that’s what I think about when George Sourlis, comes to mind”
A few years ago, I brought my 90 year old father (WWII Purple Heart Vet), to watch RFH on a recruiting trip.
He loved hoop and lived with our family.
He was slow to walk, failing eye sight, and required some care in the gym, but loved to watch hoops.
George immediately came over, introduced himself, and talked about his dad.
He went out of his way to be nice, accommodating, and caring.
He had a game to play, a practice to run but not so self-absorbed, not to take time to bring a smile to my dad’s face.
You don’t forget someone like that.
George the gentleman.

Dianne Nolan, Head Women’s Basketball Coach of Lafayette College


When my daughter attended RFH many people accused George Sourlis who I had met a grand total of once in my life, of recruiting. Not once did he defend himself, he took all the heat and not ONCE SAID “the family called me I don’t even know her” he let people say the harsh words and he took the hit to his reputation for my daughter, and no matter what he says, he was hurt by this. He could have easily said…. hey the family moved to Rumson and they did it without my knowledge. Nope he simply told me and my daughter not to worry, “let them think what they want”. This is when I knew this man was special and cared about his kids. That year my daughter’s team won the Central Jersey and STATE Group 2 title and made it to the TOC semi –finals losing to eventual champ Trenton.  But the real story that year was the day before they lost in the SCT finals to RBC.  I was driving with a few of the girls in my car. I said how great it would be” if you girls won it tomorrow”. One of the girls in the Car turned to me and said “Mr. Green, we want to win this for Coach Sourlis not for ourselves.” That folks says it all about Sir George Sourlis, and why RUMSON-FAIR-HAVEN IS SOMETHING SPECIAL. Along time ago George Sourlis started something special and today it’s only right he takes a bow.





GEORGE SOURLIS…THROUGH THE YEARS-Large from Jake Brahney on Vimeo.


And some Tributes from former players

St. Anthony’s is Unique

In a recent interview with Dave Krupinski of “St.Anthony2020”, our very own Rob Kennedy had some very inspiring words to say about the history and tradition that exists at St. Anthony’s in Jersey City. He talked about Coach Bob Hurley’s reputation, the winning culture of the program, and what St. Anthony’s meant to him growing up as a basketball player.

I’ve had 12 years of Catholic education and besides preparing me very well educationally, it was a foundation for me the rest of my life. The benefit of a Catholic school education is tremendous. In particular at St. Anthony serving Jersey City and inner city population it is even more important. It gives kids an avenue, an opportunity to excel in the classroom and put themselves in a position to go to college and change the direction of their lives. One of the things about St. Anthony is so much attention obviously on their basketball program but the fact that each of their seniors goes on to attend college is even more remarkable than the national record of state championships that this tiny little school in Jersey City has done.
-Rob Kennedy, President of The Hoop Group

You can read the full transcript here.

Follow on Twitter:

St. Anthony 2020 @StAnthony2020
Jake Brahney @JakerBaker58
Dave Krupinski @DaveKrupinski
The Hoop Group @TheHoopGroup

Coach Profile: Jeff Bernardi

Jeff Bernardi

Coaching Position:
Valley Regional High School (Deep River, CT)
4th Season as Associate Head Coach

Phone Number: 203-605-0464

What are your biggest accomplishments as a coach?
2011 Class S State Champions
2013 Class M State Champions
2013 Shoreline Conference Tournament Champions
Two 25 Win Seasons in 2011 and 2013

How has basketball impacted your life?
I grew up around the game of basketball and from an early age I strived to always learn ways to improve and be the best I can could. Basketball helped me get an education at Hamilton and now it serves as a way for me to help young guys reach their goals.

Mentor as a Coach: My dad, John, and Coach K.

When did you know you wanted to be a basketball coach?
When I was in graduate school I began coaching a 6th grade travel team. It became my #1 priority and I loved working with the kids. I then decided to jump into coaching at the high school level and I’ve been there now for give seasons.

What are you looking forward to about coaching at Hoop Group Elite?
Being able to work with the most talented players on the east coach and having the opportunity to help potential Division I players improve their game and achieve their goals.

Coach Profile: Ray Bolton

Ray Bolton

Coaching Position:
Petersburg High School (Petersburg, VA)
Virginia High School League 3A
10th Season as Assistant Coach

Phone Number: 804-943-1364
Twitter: @ProdigyHoops

What are your biggest accomplishments as a coach?
2 VHSL State Final 4 Appearances
Coached 2 VHSL State Player of the Year Award Recipients

How has basketball impacted your life?
Basketball afforded me a college education and many professional opportunities. I now use basketball as a platform to teach and mentor hundreds of youth, which has allowed me to grow as a man, father, and coach.

Idol as a Coach: John Thompson and Magic Johnson

When did you know you basketball was a passion of yours?
I knew that the game would grow into a passion of mine at a young age, when I would see my coaches and fellow players use the game as a way to do the impossible. When I was in college watching Patrick Ewing and Michael Jordan play, I just became even more inspired to make the game part of my life.

What are you looking forward to about coaching at Hoop Group Elite?
I always look forward to developing the next generation of great high school and college basketball players and seeing where their hard work can take them.

Coach Profile: Kevin Clark

Coaching Position:
Pace University (Pleasantville, NY)
NCAA Division II
2nd Season as Assistant Coach

Phone Number: 914-773-3261

What are your most memorable basketball experiences?
When I played at St John’s University and got the opportunity to play and learn with great teammates and coaches.

Mentor as a Coach: Steve Lavin and Mike Dunlap

What is your philosophy as a coach?
“Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.”

What are you looking forward to about coaching at Hoop Group Elite?
I’m looking forward to gaining the experiences that come from being involved with Hoop Group and learning from my fellow coaches.

Coach Profile: Zach Kuba

Zach Kuba

Coaching Position:
Coastal Academy (Neptune, NJ)
1st Season as Head Coach

Phone: 412-551-3735
Twitter: @CoachKuba

What are your biggest accomplishments as a coach?
While coaching at University of the Pacific, we earned a 22-13 record and the Big West Championship, as well as a NCAA Tournament bid.

What are your most memorable basketball experiences?
Hitting a 3-point shot that sent a game between my university (NYU) and then-#6 University of Rochester into a second overtime, a game which we would go on to win.

Mentor as a Coach: Ben Howland and Bob Thomason

What is your philosophy as a coach?
My goal is to develop my players’ skill set and create opportunities for guys to make plays with spacing, cutting, and quick hitting on offense.

What are you looking forward to about coaching at Hoop Group Elite?
I look forward to making and maintaining relationships with great coaches and players. I am always learning while at Elite camp, and that allows me to help players improve as well.


Coach Profile: Hamlet Tibbs

Hamlet Tibbs

Coaching Positions:
Albany Academy (Albany, NY)
4th Season as Assistant Coach

Phone: 518-331-4333
Twitter: @CoachTibbs3

What are your biggest accomplishments as a coach?
Helping lead our team to the New York State Federation Title

What are your most memorable basketball experiences?
When I organized a basketball camp in Hungary and winning the NYS Federation tournament.

Mentor as a Coach: Brian Fruscio and Jim Hart

What is your philosophy as a coach?
Attitude, Character, and Enthusiasm. Always be  positive, respect yourself and others, and give 100% effort all of the time.

Why coach at Hoop Group Elite?
There’s nothing better than working with coaches from all different levels and hundreds of players who all love the game and are trying to get better. 

Coach Profile: Jon Showers

Coaching Position:
Marywood University (Scranton, PA)
NCAA Division III
1st Season as Assistant Coach

Phone Number: 717-487-1955

What are your biggest accomplishments as a coach?
Finishing in 10th place at AAU Nationals with the York Ballers
Finishing 3rd in the PSAC East and winning the first playoff game in 5 years with Millersville

What are your most memorable basketball experiences? 
Playing in state championships in high school and hitting a shot at the buzzer to defeat an AAU team coached by Geno Auriemma at the Albany GymRat tournament.

Mentor as a Coach: Mike Keesey

What is your philosophy as a basketball coach?
I just want my teams to work and play hard together, the rest will take care of itself.

Why coach at Hoop Group Elite?
I love being around the game and feel like Hoop Group runs a really great and well organized camp. Making connections with players and fellow coaches are also some of the best memories I have with the game.

Coach Profile: Casey Johnson

Coaching Position:
Lynchburg College (Lynchburg, VA)
NCAA Division III
2nd Season as Assistant Coach

Phone Number: 434-485-3109

What are your biggest accomplishments as a coach?
Being a high school assistant coach for the 2008 Virginia state champions.

Mentor as a Coach: Bob Johnson (Emory and Henry College)

What is your philosophy as a basketball coach?
I try to build our program based on certain ideals and principles and develop the offense and defense based on the talent of the team.

Why coach at Hoop Group Elite?
To coach up and coming players with other hard working high school and college coaches in a fun environment.