Coach Samardzija considers St. Francis’ team to be in the top three teams on the entire East Coast, and top 15 nationally. “It’s the best opportunity to coach in the vicinity in the New York area by far,” he says. Last season the team placed third at the 2008 Eastern Championship at the United States Naval Academy. Samardzija considers walking into a program with so much talent and success to be “both an opportunity and a challenge at the same time,” and hopes to raise expectations as well as develop their talent.
Coach Samardzija will replace Carl Quigley, the coach of 34 years who led the Terriers to six Northern Division Championships and a trip to the NCAA Final Four in 2005. Although Quigley’s will be tough shoes to fill, Samardzija hopes his experience growing up and playing in Europe will help him relate to the largely European team and break down language barriers. “We learned the same type of game, so I think we will understand each other well,” he said.