THE DAY: "Montville's Quinn finds success in an unexpected place"

Former Bentley standout now a Stonehill assistant

BY Vickie Fulkerson

An interesting thing happened when Mike Quinn, the former Montville High School and St. Thomas More guard, sat down for his first interview for an assistant coaching position at Stonehill College.

Quinn graduated from Northeast-10 Conference basketball powerhouse Bentley College, taking the team to four Division II NCAA tournament berths and two Final Fours. His interview was with Stonehill coach David McLaughlin, whose team is Bentley's Northeast-10 arch-rival.

"We got along pretty well," Quinn said Monday night of McLaughlin. "But you don't really like someone we're playing against. We admitted we weren't the biggest fans of each other for four years."

Quinn, the son of longtime St. Thomas More coach Jere Quinn, got the job. And today, instead of playing in the NCAA's Elite Eight, as he did twice as a player, he'll coach in one. Stonehill, the East Region representative, will take on Atlantic Region champ West Liberty in the national quarterfinals at noon in Highland Heights, Ky.

"We've been telling the kids to really enjoy it, every moment of it," Quinn said. "Take it all in. They deserve it. It's something I remember vividly. Enjoy it as much as you can."

Quinn, a former All-Eastern Connecticut Conference, all-state and All-Area player at Montville and the point guard during a 30-win season at St. Thomas More during his prep year, helped lead Bentley to a four-year record of 110-23.

He red-shirted as freshman due to a knee injury, leaving after the 2010-11 season ranked first in program history at Bentley with 133 games started and 4,299 minutes played. He finished with 1,062 career points.

"As our past teams played against Mike, it was evident that he had a high basketball IQ and great feel for the game on both ends of the floor," McLaughlin said of Quinn on the team's web site. "His leadership qualities were evident as well, and the way he carried himself commanded respect."

Quinn graduated cum laude with a Bachelor's degree in finance in 2010 and while playing out his eligibility in 2011 earned a Master's degree in financial planning from Bentley's McCallum Graduate School of Business.

He actually interviewed for a few jobs in the financial world - "my mom (Judy) was excited that one of us might do something different besides coaching," he said, "but I took some of those interviews just to please her."

Instead, he embraced the opportunity from his longtime rival at Stonehill, which split a pair of regular-season games with Bentley this season including an 81-55 victory on Feb. 18.

"It's kind of ironic ... coming out in a suit as a coach with my new team, seeing my old jersey out there playing on the court. It was definitely a little bit weird for me coaching against my old friends and teammates," Quinn said.

"I definitely got a lot of funny text messages and phone calls leaving Bentley behind. I definitely got some 'traitor' remarks here and there. It's fun to still be in the league."

Of Quinn's brothers and sisters, Matt played basketball at Bucknell and is now the coach at the Winchendon School (falling this season to St. Thomas More); Colleen played at Southern New Hampshire, also in the Northeast-10, and is listed among the program's all-time 3-point shooters; and Caitlin, the youngest, recently finished her career at Saint Michael's of the same conference, leading the team with 44 3-pointers this season.

"All of us still argue who's the best shooter in the family; my dad still thinks it's him," said Quinn, 24. "... I knew when I finished up playing, college coaching was kind of my first goal. It was kind of in my blood.

"I absolutely use (my dad) as a resource as much as I can. I'm just trying to emulate from watching him. Same thing with my brother. Same thing with the coach I played for in college. Same thing with coach McLaughlin. A lot of coaching talk goes on with my father."

Quinn said he made the Elite Eight once more the same way he did as a player, with good players and good coaches all working together. Just now he's on the other side.

"I think," Quinn said, "I'm very, very fortunate."