Head Coach Rob Sanicola ’99, who recently completed his 12th season at the helm, has developed a program worthy of the men’s basketball team’s rich history at Saint Joseph’s College, which headed into the 2012-13 campaign ranked ninth in the history of NCAA DIII Men’s Basketball with a .659 (720-373) all-time record.
The fourth head coach in the Monks’ 42-year history, Sanicola was appointed as the program’s leader prior to the 2003-04 campaign as the successor to Rick Simonds, who skippered the Royal Blue for 23 seasons while accumulating an impressive 466-176 (.726) record with 11 conference titles and six national tournament appearances.
Coach Sanicola has been witness to much of the program’s success during his 11 years as a head coach, four as an assistant under Simonds, and four as a player at Saint Joseph’s. During this time the Monks have tallied a 356-164 (.685) record including a 159-51 (.757) mark versus conference opponents.
Sanicola has registered three 20-win seasons and 10 winning campaigns during his tenure. Since his first year, when he took over a team featuring just three returners and a daunting schedule, Coach Sanicola has sported an outstanding .638 winning percentage and carries a 192-109 career record into his 12th season. In seven years as a member of the Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC), the Monks have posted a 91-35 (.722) record versus conference foes and have advanced to the postseason every year, including 2009 when his team defeated Emmanuel College in the GNAC Championship en route to earning a berth into the NCAA Tournament.
Coach Sanicola and his program have garnered numerous accolades over the past nine years. The 2007 NCAA DIII Independent Coach of the Year and two-time GNAC Coach of the Year recipient, Sanicola’s 2010-11 squad led all of NCAA Men’s Basketball - all three divisions - with a 43.2% (240-556) three-point field goal shooting percentage and the Monks, ever-disciplined, paced NCAA DIII with 13.0 personal fouls per contest the year prior.
Partially as a result of the Monks’ low foul rate and also emblematic of the courtside manner displayed by Coach Sanicola and his coaching staff, Saint Joseph’s was awarded with the 2009-10 New England East Region Collegiate Basketball Officials Association (CBOA) Schoenfeld Award, given annually to the program which best exemplifies "the highest degree of sportsmanship, character, and ethics among their players, coaches and spectators."
Saint Joseph's College completed the 2014-15 season with a 13-14 overall record and a 10-8 mark in GNAC play. As the #4 seed in the conference tourney, the Monks defeated #5 Lasell College, 84-77 in overtime, in a GNAC Quarterfinal on February 24th to advance to the semifinal round for the seventh time in eight seasons as a member of the conference. The campaign came to a close with a semifinal loss at top-seeded Albertus Magnus, a team that proceeded to win its fourth-consecutive GNAC Championship, on February 26th.
Senior guard Steve Simonds (Steep Falls, Maine) averaged 22.5 points, 7.9 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 1.4 steals per game while shooting 51.6% (190-368) from the field, 45.8% (98-214) from three-point range, and 87.7% (107-122) from the free throw line en route to claiming First Team All-GNAC and First Team All-State accolades. Simonds, who became the 38th member of the Monks' 1,000-Point Club during the 2014-15 campaign, recorded the sixth-highest single-season scoring average and posted the eighth-highest point total in the 45-year history of the Saint Joseph's men's basketball program as a senior.
Senior forward Zach Blodgett (Glenburn, Maine) collected Third Team All-GNAC honors after averaging 11.0 points and 3.6 rebounds per contest while shooting 44.5% (116-255) from the field. Freshman forward Quinn Richardson-Newton (Saco, Maine) was chosen as the State of Maine Rookie of the Year after posting 9.4 points, 4.1 rebounds and 1.8 assists with a team-high 55.2% (91-165) field goal percentage.
Coach Sanicola led the Monks to an 18-10 overall record, including a 15-3 mark in GNAC play, last season en route to earning the #2 seed in the GNAC Tournament. Saint Joseph’s defeated #6 Suffolk University, 80-72, in a quarterfinal matchup before tipping third-seeded Johnson & Wales University in the semifinal round, 66-64, in a thrilling finish at the Alfond Center on February 27th. The Monks’ quest for a second GNAC Championship would fall short, however, as the Royal Blue lost to top-seeded Albertus Magnus College in the title contest. Nationally ranked for the better part of the season, Albertus – a team the Monks defeated at home earlier that month – advanced all the way to the NCAA DIII Tournament Sweet 16.
Following the season a pair of Saint Joseph’s players earned All-Conference accolades, with senior guard Matthew Medeiros (Westport, Mass.) claiming First Team honors for the second-consecutive season and senior forward Nicholas Jobin (Westbrook, Maine) taking Second Team mention. Both players surpassed the 1,000-point plateau during the 2013-14 campaign as the high-powered duo netted 1,004 points combined, the most since Carl Howell ’99 and Ryan Martin ’00 scored 1,204, collectively, during the 1998-99 campaign.
Featuring a group that sought to replace three starters, Saint Joseph’s went 17-10 overall and 11-7 in Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) play during the 2012-13 season, which was Coach Sanicola’s 10th as the Monks’ head coach. As the #5 seed in the GNAC Tournament, Saint Joseph’s topped #4 Emerson College by a 73-68 score in the quarterfinal round but fell to top-seeded Anna Maria College, 75-63, in the semifinals two days later, a loss that effectively ended the campaign for the Monks.
The 2011-12 season was another banner year for Monks Basketball, as the Royal Blue went 18-9 overall and 13-5 in GNAC play en route to earning the #2 seed in the conference tournament. Saint Joseph’s skated past #7 Mount Ida College with a 79-43 quarterfinal victory, but fell victim to a tough Anna Maria College club and suffered a difficult 60-59 setback in the semifinal round. Following the season, seniors Zach O’Brien and Chris Petzy - a duo that combined to net 2,820 points over their four years - both earned All-Conference and All-State accolades.
Featuring a squad with just two seniors, the 2011 Monks entered the year forecasted to finish second in the GNAC Preseason Poll. With a 15-3 record in conference play, St. Joe’s did one better and finished the regular season as the top team in the GNAC. As the #1 seed, Saint Joseph’s defeated Mount Ida and Norwich in the conference tournament before falling to #2 Johnson & Wales in the championship before a packed Harold Alfond Center crowd.
The 2011 SJC Men’s Basketball team finished the year with a 20-8 record – the third 20-win season of Coach Sanicola’s eight years – and led all of NCAA Men’s Basketball in three-point field goal percentage. As a team, the Monks shot a staggering 43.2% (240-556) from beyond the arc over 28 tilts and the 2010-11 team featured four players with 30 or more three-pointers made, a feat that has been achieved just one other time (1998-99) in program history.
Despite losing six seniors to graduation, the 2010 Monks posted an impressive 19-7 record overall, including a 14-4 mark in GNAC contests, and earned the #3 seed in the conference tournament. St. Joe's led the GNAC in field goal percentage (48.8%) and three-point success (38.9%) and also paced the conference in rebounding defense and assists in 2010. Also, Saint Joseph's led all of NCAA DIII Men's Basketball with just 13.0 personal fouls per game.
In 2009, Sanicola's efforts helped earn the Monks their first GNAC Championship crown. St. Joe's went 21-8 overall and 12-6 in conference play to gain the #3 seed heading into the playoffs. The Monks defeated Rivier and Albertus Magnus in the quarterfinal and semifinal games, respectively, and hosted #4 Emmanuel in the title bout on February 28th. The Monks defeated the Saints, 74-72, in a thrilling overtime game in front of 1,184 fans to capture the team's first GNAC Championship and advance to the NCAA Tournament for the second time in program history.
Coach Sanicola completed his fifth season at the helm with a 14-13 overall record and guided his team to an 11-7 tilt in GNAC play in 2007-08. The Monks earned the #5 seed in the conference tournament and defeated #4 Johnson and Wales University on their home court in a GNAC quarterfinal game for the program's first GNAC playoff win. The Monks would see their season come to an end in a hard-fought loss at the hands of #1 seed Emerson College, 79-75, in the semifinal game.
Sanicola's 2006-07 squad was highly successful, as a team loaded with six seniors and five sophomores played a full Division III Independent schedule and posted an impressive 22-8 record - the most wins by a Saint Joseph's College men's team in nine years. The Monks finished the season with a Division III Northeast Independent Championship and also led Saint Joseph's College to an appearance in the title game of the ECAC Division III New England Championship. For his efforts he garnered the Association of Division III Independents and State of Maine Coach of the Year honors.
In his third season, Sanicola's Monks overcame perhaps their biggest challenge to date, entering the 2005-06 season with high hopes and expectations finishing the previous season with a respectable 15-12 overall record and having made a postseason tournament in three of the previous four years. Sanicola completed and injected the winning formula that produced a 19-8 overall record and an appearance in the championship game of the NCAA Division III Independent Tournament.
In his second season in 2004-05 Sanicola took the court with five newcomers and three returning starters. The Monks fought their way to a better record than the previous season, 15-12, including an impressive berth to the Division III Independent Championships.
Sanicola’s first season (2003-04) was a challenging one to say the least. That year he inherited a team - which was summarily dismissed by all prognosticators as having no chance to be competitive and perhaps finish winless - with only two returners and a handful of walk-ons, but led the group to a 9-16 record with seven in-state victories, including a triumph over rival Husson College. As it turned out, the losing season would be his last to date.
Prior to assuming the head coaching slot, Sanicola served as an assistant at Saint Joseph's under Coach Simonds for four years. He was promoted to first assistant during the 2000-01 season.
During his time as an assistant at Saint Joseph's, Sanicola contributed to a winning tradition that resulted in four winning seasons with a combined 69-37 record. During his four-year tenure, the Monks made three conference championship appearances, a Maine Athletic Conference Championship, and a berth to the NAIA Division II National Championships in 2002.
A guard on some of the most successful Saint Joseph's College men's basketball teams, Sanicola was a three time winner of the Charles Warren Award, emblematic of his hard work in the pre-season. His reputation was upheld immediately upon his arrival on "The Lake" when his first four Saint Joseph's recruiting classes were filled with young and promising talent.
A 1999 graduate of Saint Joseph's with a bachelor's degree in mathematics, Sanicola was a four-year letter winner for the Monks and served as team captain during his senior season. As a senior, he recorded 9.8 points and 3.2 steals per game in leading the Monks to a school-record 26 wins and a berth in the national tournament. He currently ranks 11th in career steals with 193 and is one of only three Saint Joseph's players in the history of the program to record a triple-double.
Coach Sanicola currently resides in Windham with his wife Audrey and their young sons Robert Jr. and Charlie.