Jasmine Casimir // Contributing Writer
Joe Silvestri, new assistant head coach for women’s basketball, has high hopes for the success of the women’s basketball team for the upcoming season.
Although Silvestri has only been a part of the coaching staff for a month, he believes that there is something special about the team that will develop throughout the offseason.
The New York native moved to Spring Hill, Florida 15 years ago. Silvestri attended Palm Beach Atlantic University where he played basketball. After suffering a few knee injuries, he hung up his basketball shoes for good. He later finished his degree at the University of Central Florida.
“I would have loved to play all four years, but it didn’t work out that way,” Silvestri said. “I regret not being able to finish, but at the same time, I look at it and say that my path brought me to this.”
Before joining FIU, Silvestri was an assistant head coach at UCF for two years and served as the director of Program Development before that.
Earlier this year, he received an honor as one of the women’s basketball Coaches Association’s “Thirty Under 30.” The class recognizes 30 up-and-coming women’s basketball coaches, ages 30 and under in the sport. Silvestri was one of six male coaches to make the cut.
When Head Coach Tiara Malcom began her search for an assistant head coach, Silvestri was at the top of her list. Silvestri received a call from Malcom in May saying that she wanted to set up an on-campus interview.
It only took her a week to make a decision before contacting Silvestri again, letting him know that she wanted him on her team. Malcom appreciated Silvestri’s ability to work hard and the positive energy that he brings to all of his games.
“It was a really great honor that she called me and went through the process with me,” Silvestri said.
Since being hired, Silvestri has been working with the team in small groups for the off season, and says that he is happy with the progress they are making.
“So far, I know what they can and cannot do in some of the drills,” Silvestri said. “They’re very coachable, great listeners, and very attentive.”
Silvestri plans to learn about the team on the court, but he believes that growing a relationship off the court is also a big part of the off season for him.
“I think it’s important to really get to know the girls and have that connection for you to really take them to the next level,” Silvestri said. “It’s also important to have that relationship outside of this and spend time with them not on the court so that when they do come into work, they know that your relationship with them is genuine.”
The Panthers ended their off season in the second round of the Conference USA Championships against Marshall University. The game was the last for senior Taylor Shade, who scored eight points and finished her season 19th overall on the all-time FIU scoring list with 1,069 points.
“She was a really good player,” Silvestri said. “Those are big shoes to fill, but I think we have some kids with similar skill sets. We do have a pretty young team as far as our guards, but I think they do have potential to get to that level.”
One of the assets Malcom admires about Silvestri are his recruiting skills, and the ability to add great talent to his team.
“If I can get a ‘Taylor Shade’ or two ‘Taylor Shades’ in the process, then that’ll be great,” Silvestri said. “FIU is a great campus and beautiful vicinity, and once I get these recruits to come on campus, it’s going to be so easy to sell.”
Photo Courtesy of FIUSPORTS