NEW BRITAIN - Kurt Reis wants to make New Britain boys basketball fun to watch again.
The process of making that happen started Tuesday morning, on what is to be his new home court, when Reis was officially introduced as the Hurricanes’ new head coach.
“As a kid, I walked into this gym and thought it was exciting basketball,” Reis said. “You have Tebucky [Jones] playing, his brother Shawn playing, you had Roosevelt Lee playing and [Stan] Glowiak’s kids playing. It was just fun basketball. You’re not guaranteed to win every game, but you’re not coaching to lose either. But kids will be diving on the floor, taking charges, clapping for one another, so I think it’ll be fun.”
Reis has a history of producing winning teams on a year-to-year basis, which was part of the reason that placed him at the top of New Britain’s potential candidates.
Reis spent the past 13 seasons at Hartford Public, 11 as head coach, and compiled a record of 179-76 (.702 winning percentage), leading the Owls to a Class M state finals appearance in 2008. Last season, Hartford Public went 11-9 before losing in the first round of the Class L tournament.
But perhaps most importantly, during Reis’ tenure with the Owls, his teams never missed the CIAC tournament, collecting 15 or more wins seven times, including most recently in 2015 when they won 18 games and went to the Class LL semifinals.
New Britain, meanwhile, has not posted a winning season in either of the past two years, missing the Class LL tournament both times. The Hurricanes were 7-13 in 2016-17.
When it came time make the final decision, Reis was the natural fit for the program, school and city.
“We interviewed quite a few people,” Hurricanes athletic director Len Corto said. “It came down to Kurt and another guy that had a lot of experience. But the deciding factor was Kurt was able to get a job in the school district and be accessible to the kids 185 days a year and be around every day. I think he’s going to do very well for us.
“Kurt is a veteran coach. He’s been in an urban district for a lot of years and we feel he’s a winner. He’s going to demand a lot of things from the kids outside of basketball that we’re looking for in terms of academics and being citizens. We’re pleased with the hire and hope it will help us build on our tradition and get us going in the right direction.”
Reis takes over the program from Todd Stigliano, who resigned after seven seasons to devote more time to his family and business commitments. During his time with New Britain, Stigliano went 78-65.
Despite the program’s recent struggles, Reis sees an opportunity to build a winner.
“I thought this was the perfect fit,” said Reis on why he decided to make the move from Hartford Public to New Britain. “I knew Mr. Corto previously and all the things he told me was a plus for me such as having the double gyms. You can practice early, you can practice late and have multiple teams practicing that before I didn’t have that luxury. I’ve coached in this building quite often and the atmosphere was attractive. I had the opportunity, I applied and I’m glad I was selected.”
Reis described his coaching style as “tough, demanding, loud, intense and all out all the time” and knows there could be growing pains along the way with the players and new coach learning one another, but one that could lead to results both on the court and off down sooner rather than later.
“I demand a lot and I think the kids know that and see the big picture: that I care about them and I’m looking out for their best interest,” Reis said. “I’m excited. This is a new challenge that I haven’t had in a long time.”
David Glovach can be reached at (860) 801-5085 or firstname.lastname@example.org
On Twitter: @DavidGlovach