Woodbury High School dipped into its past in hopes of continued future success.
Mark DiRugeris, a 2009 graduate, was recently approved as the new boys’ basketball coach. The former standout point guard replaces Justin Barringer, who directed the Herd to the South Jersey Group 1 title and a berth in the state final last season.
“It feels great coming home,” DiRugeris said. “The opportunity came up and I chomped at the bit. I wanted to get right at it. … I know the fans will expect a lot. They’ll get 100 percent effort, and that’s all you can ask for.
“Being from Woodbury, we play extremely hard. It’s a small town, a great town. When I grew up, the gyms were sold out every game. You had the whole town on your back. It’s a great feeling coming home and trying to win games.”
In the first two summer league games, Woodbury defeated Eastern and Washington Township. DiRugeris said the Herd won’t necessarily follow a specific system but adapt a style that plays to the team’s strengths.
“I want to make it fast-paced, up-and-down the floor,” he said. “They’ll be pressure on defense and offensively as well. I can pull any play out of my head for certain situations, but we want to get up and down, get in the passing lanes, drive-and-kick.”
DiRugeris spent a season as an assistant at Bishop Eustace, while also serving as an assistant at Chestnut Hill College last year. He graduated in 2013 as the second all-time leading scorer at Chestnut Hill before playing two seasons in Spain.
“He’ll do very well, a hometown boy coming home,” said Bishop Eustace coach Bob Falconiero. “He was a star there and it’s a good spot for him to land his first job.
“He’s very intense and has a very high basketball IQ. He loves the game, loves the kids. He played at a high level and the way he approaches the game and sees the whole picture is going to really help. He did a great job with our freshman team the year he was here.”
Woodbury athletic director Grant Shivers is confident DiRugeris was the right man for the job.
“We had some real good candidates, but he stood out,” Shivers said. “Even though he is young, Mark eats, drinks and sleeps basketball. I’m confident he will put in countless hours making us successful and our kids better people.
“He has a lot of real good basketball experience. When he played here, he made a name for himself out in the community and he furthered it in college and overseas. Coaching a year at Bishop Eustace and then a year at the college level also helped him realize what kids need to do to get to the next level.”