Keith Coleman, a former Neptune High School boys basketball player, was named the head boys coach at Asbury Park High School for the 2015-16 season by the Board of Education.
“I want to thank the Asbury Park Board of Education and the community for giving me the opportunity to be the head coach,” said Coleman, 53. “I have been involved in basketball for most of my life. I enjoy watching it whether it’s boys or girls or adults. I just enjoy the game of basketball. The athleticism of the game is definitely one of the reasons I go to watch it as it is very exciting.”
Coleman said he has met with his prospective Blue Bishops.
“The boys are pretty enthusiastic about having a new coach,” he said. “A lot of them are playing football as well.”
Coleman said his voice will be heard.
“What will be my in-game personality?” he asked, repeating a question from The Coaster. “It depends. I have never been a coach who is able to sit down and be quiet. I coach throughout the whole game. I am not into doing a bunch of screaming and yelling, but it might look like that. I am vocal. I am very vocal.”
Defense will be stressed.
“We will work on defense in the first half of practice,” Coleman said. “Our practices will be structured, pretty intense. We will practice hard and get ourselves into the best shape we can be in. We will play a lot of man-to-man defense. Some of the Shore Conference teams have gotten away from that. They set up in zones. I am not like that. Everybody wants to shoot the three. If you are missing it, who is there to grab the rebound. The ball kicks out pretty far and the other team has the opportunity to start the fast break.
“You have to get out and contest those shots. What better way to do that than to be up on your man?”
Coleman, a 1980 Neptune graduate, played under the legendary Larry Hennessy for two seasons and Henry Moore for one year. He played under Hennessy as a sophomore and junior before competing under Moore’s direction.
With Moore at the helm, the Scarlet Fliers advanced to the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association Central Jersey Group IV championship game, losing to Trenton Central. At the start of the season, Neptune was ranked first in the state by the Star-Ledger. Coleman averaged around 10 points per game as a 6-foot-5 shooting guard.
“Nobody on the team averaged 20 points per game,” Coleman said. “We had at least 10 players playing in every game.”
Neptune put one of the state’s biggest teams on the court.
There was 6-foot-8 Kevin Thomas. There was Eric Satterwhite, who was about 6-foot-8. Terry Penniston stood nearly 6-foot-4. There was 6-foot-6 Ty Durcack. There was 6-foot-6 Bobby Braun. There was burly Carl Braggs at nearly 6-foot-4. Other key players were Terry Fisher, Brian Gabriel and Ed Arlington.
“People said the only team bigger than us was the New Jersey Nets,” Coleman recalled with a chuckle. “I don’t think anybody on that team started every game.”
Coleman graduated from Monmouth College (now Monmouth University) where he played small forward for three seasons under coach Ron Kornegay. A teammate was former Asbury Park standout Wilson Ross, the Hawks’ shooting guard.
“When I got to Monmouth, we were a (NCAA) Division II team,” Coleman said. “Heading into my junior year, we began converting to NCAA Division I. We played six or seven Division I games that year.”
One of those games was against the feared Georgetown University Hoyas.
“We were like a deer in the headlights,” Coleman recalled with another chuckle. “With about 1:05 to go in the first half, we may have been down by six or seven points or so. By the end of the half, they put the Hoya press on us and went up by 20 points.”
Coleman graduated with a degree in business management with a concentration in management. He worked for nearly 26 years in law enforcement. He retired from the Monmouth County Prosecutors Office in 2012 after serving as a Lieutenant in the Major Crimes Unit. He was a police officer in Tinton Falls for three years, working as a detective. These days, he operates Bladez, a landscaping business.
Coleman brings an extensive coaching career to the Blue Bishops.
He was a Neptune assistant boys coach for nearly 12 seasons under then-coach Ken O’Donnell. Coleman has coached travel and Amateur Athletic Union teams. He began the midnight program at the Monmouth Boys Club. He coached the seventh and eighth grade team in Neptune and piloted the Scarlet Fliers’ freshman club. He has also refereed games. As a high school and college player, Coleman coached in the Neptune Biddy Basketball League.
“You name it,” he said. “I have coached all over. It’s something I have always wanted to do. I consider myself not only a coach, but also a life coach so to speak. Guys I coached who are now in their 40s still call me Mr. Coleman due to the respect I have in the Neptune-Asbury Park area. I consider myself a mentor to a lot of kids around here because of what I did for a living. That brought me into contact with a lot of kids from around here.”
Will there come a time when the Blue Bishops will play the Scarlet Fliers?
“Neptune is not on our schedule at this point, but the schedule is not finalized yet,” Coleman said Nov. 3. “We are in the Holiday Jubilee (a Christmas tournament at Neptune) so there is the possibility we may get to play them there. We could also meet in the Shore Conference Tournament. We are in different groups in the state tournament. It was always a big rivalry, especially in my era, and it was always competitive. The whole town would come into our gym and most times it was sold out. We played Asbury Park at Monmouth in 1978. The gym was sold out and the lights went out. The game was continued the next day.”