NORWALK -- When the boys basketball head coaching position at Brien McMahon opened up recently, Ken Dustin approached the school's athletic director, Joe Madaffari, and expressed a sincere interest in returning to the hardwood.
As it turns out, he'll get the chance to do that pretty soon.
The search for a new floor general at McMahon officially came to a close on Friday as Dustin was announced as the school's new boys basketball head coach. He replaces Mo Tomlin, who resigned in March after compiling a 48-58 record over five seasons.
"It's a great opportunity being able to coach at such a high-class basketball school with a great history behind it," Dustin told Hearst Connecticut Media Group. "Everybody looks at this school as mainly a football and a basketball school, and I'm just really excited about having this chance."
Prior to taking over as the head coach of the boys soccer program at McMahon before the 2010 season, Dustin coached freshman basketball at the school for three seasons and junior varsity soccer. All together, he drew positive reviews. He had the respect of the administration and was well-liked by the program's incoming senior class, having previously coached many of the players.
"I never wanted to leave basketball. When this came open, I really wanted it. I told Joe I was going to apply and just like everybody else there, he was excited. A lot of the players--the incoming senior class I had coached as freshman--they had approached me as well."
The 28-year-old Dustin, who has taught physical education and health at the school for the last five years, was chosen from a list of 17 applicants--eight of which were given interviews. The list was whittled down to three candidates and Madaffari told Dustin of his decision Friday afternoon.
Described by Madaffari as "enthusiastic and very knowledgeable of the game," Dustin will attempt to resurrect a program that went just 4-16 last year and has gone 26 seasons since its last FCIAC title.
"He might be young, his age, but he's not young as a basketball coach. I have a feeling he's going to do an outstanding job," Madaffari said. "He's a hard-working individual and he'll give 100 percent every day."
"Basketball is the No. 1 sport I love to coach," Dustin said. "I love the challenge of thinking on your feet and making adjustments within the game--knowing when to use a time out or call a certain play, use a certain defense."
Madaffari credited Dustin's penchant for discipline.
"He's a disciplined individual and these kids will be disciplined," Madaffari said. "I think that had a big part (in the hiring)."
Dustin said his coaching style is predicated on intensity, defense and conditioning, and he believes the Senators can make a quick turnaround if the players buy in to his system.
"We have a very athletic group of players and if they can play defense and run in some type of structure, I think we'll be very successful," said Dustin, whose team returns a handful of impact players including soon-to-be senior guard Andy Mitchell, soon-to-be junior guard Larry McKinney (FCIAC Honorable Mention as a sophomore), and soon-to-be sophomore forward Tim Hinton Jr.
Dustin is familiar with several faces on the Senators' roster and said there's a "mutual respect and understanding of how I work and how they work," with the players he's coached. He acknowledged that developing that same trust with the newcomers will be one of the challenges.
"Making adjustments for these players that I haven't known, putting these people in places where I feel that it's going to benefit the team, along with themselves," Dustin said.
Dustin said that his future as McMahon's boys soccer head coach is "up in the air" at the moment.
"Joe and I have to talk about that so we'll probably sit down in a week or two," he said.
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