Former Carteret, South Brunswick, and St. Joseph’s Boys Coach Making The Most of His First Chance at the College Level
|New Middlesex County College men’s hoops coach, Dave Turco looks on as former St. Joseph’s standout, Letrell West handles the ball against Union County College in a November 27th contest. MCC won 84-76.|
EDISON, NJ—As they did some 13 years ago, Dave and Bob Turco are making headlines in Middlesex County basketball. Then, they were taking on new challenges as Dave Turco began his first season as head coach at St. Joseph’s while Bob Turco was making his first tour of duty has a head coach by taking over the boys basketball program at Monroe.
At the time, both were featured in an article for the Home News-Tribune that was part of the preview for the 2005-06 boys basketball season. Dave Turco indicated in that article that he had goals to make St. Joseph’s a state power, and then perhaps moving on to the college coaching ranks. A little over a year ago, Turco and St. Joseph’s parted ways, but not after he accomplished that first goal of making the Falcons a team to reckon with on a statewide level in boys basketball in New Jersey.
Now, as older brother Bob returns to the GMC to coach boys basketball at Bishop Ahr, Turco is moving into the college coaching ranks. Earlier this fall, Dave Turco was hired as the new men’s basketball coach at Middlesex County College. A year ago, Middlesex County College men’s program only went 14-15 overall including a 13-14 mark in GSAC and Region 19 play. Already this season, the Blue Colts have won 10 of their first 12 games including a 9-2 mark in Region 19 and a 5-1 record in the GSAC (Garden State Athletic Conference). The only two losses were to defending NJCAA Division 3 Champion, Brookdale (91-85), and an 88-67 loss to Rowan College at Gloucester County.
There can be some comparisons made to Turco’s first year at St. Joe’s and his first season at MCC’s mens hoops coach. In 2005-06, the Falcons had taken some hits to graduation including the loss of future NBA player, Andrew Bynum, who won NBA titles with the Los Angeles Lakers. The year before, St. Joe’s started the season with 7 losses in its first 8 games before turning things around to reach the 2005 GMCT Championship. Sean Baptiste and Kenny Widgeon returned the following year, but the team lost a number of others from that 2004-05 season.
Nevertheless, Turco put his stamp on the team with a solid defensive identity that got the Falcons to the 2006 GMCT Semifinals, and a wild four overtime victory on the road at Holy Spirit of Absecon in the 2006 NJSIAA Non-Public A South Quarterfinals before falling to CBA in the semis. This year, Middlesex County College gave a Brookdale Community College team that was coming off a national championship, and a 34-0 season in 2017-18, a battle to the end before losing by five. Then, in a game covered by GMC Hoops, the Blue Colts trailed 35-24 late in the first half against Union County College only to rally in the 2nd half with a 49-26 surge surge to take a 73-61 lead and held off a late 2nd half Owls rally for an 84-76 victory.
Enlisting the likes of 2017 GMC Hoops Player of the Year, Letrell West (Piscataway Tech/St. Joseph’s) as well as other Middlesex County talents Deontae Crawford (Bishop Ahr), Cameron Saintil (Piscataway), Kemari Persol and Quran Robinson (Woodbridge), Alkiem Rains and Paul Rago (Edison), Abdullah Nieskens (Spotswood), and Quadir Butler (North Brunswick), Turco is already well ahead of schedule as far as getting the Middlesex County talent to join the MCC men’s hoops program. As a matter of fact, MCC’s roster currently features 12 of the 15 players from Middlesex County. In comparison, 7 of 11 players on last year’s MCC men’s hoops team were from Middlesex County.
Turco is the fourth different head coach of the men’s basketball team at MCC over the past six seasons. The school has always struggled in mediocrity although the team went 17-10 in 2013-14 and 22-8 in 2014-15. However, the last solid era of MCC basketball occurred under the guidance of former Piscataway boys hoops standout and Hillside Head coach, Corey Lowery, who immediately transformed MCC into a Region 19 finalist in 2006-07, and an NJCAA Division 3 Elite Eight appearance in 2007-08. Lowery did go outside the county and got players from Patrick School and Hillside among others, but eventually got the likes of Rodney Freeney, a 1,000 point scorer for the Blue Colts, and Brandon Rogers, a standout at North Brunswick to stay home and play for MCC.
Lowery, who later went on to coach at NJCAA D2 Essex County College, and coached Dion Rogers, the younger brother of Brandon, who led North Brunswick to a 2012 GMCT Finals berth before losing to St. Josephs, has provided support in the form of advice and encouragement. Lowery was in attendance at Middlesex’s win over Union on November 27th. Turco’s reputation and respect amongst GMC coaches gives him a solid chance to be not only successful at MCC, but be able to do so in a very short amount of time.