Former Buffalo Head Coach Whitesell joins Albany Basketball Staff

The University at Albany men’s basketball team has announced the hiring of Jim Whitesell and Matt Cerruti. Whitesell will serve as an Assistant Coach, Cerruti will serve as the team’s Video Coordinator.  
Whitesell comes to the Capital Region after spending the last four seasons at the helm of the University at Buffalo basketball program, amassing an overall record of 70-49. In his first season as head coach in Buffalo, Whitesell led the Bulls to a 20-12 record, becoming only the second head coach in school history to win 20 games in his first year as head coach. In the 2020-21 season, Whitesell led the Bulls to a 16-9 record in a COVID-19 shortened season.  The Bulls earned a trip to the Mid-American Conference (MAC) Championship game and an appearance in the NIT, just the second in school history.
“I am thrilled to have Coach Whitesell join our program,” said Head Coach Dwayne Killings. “Jim is a high-character person, leader, and coach with a vast experience in the college game. With stops at Loyola Chicago, St. Louis, St. Johns, and most recently Buffalo, Jim comes eager to help us reach our program goals on and off the floor. Our student-athletes will benefit from each and every interaction they have with him. Please welcome he and his wife Connie to the Capital Region.”
In 2021-22, the Bulls finished with a 19-11 record and earned another trip to the MAC Tournament. Albany City Rocks alum Jeenathan Williams was named to the First Team All-MAC list, as Ronaldo Segu and Josh Mballa were Second Team All-MAC honorees. Last season, his team finished the year with an overall record of 15-17, going 9-9 in conference play. The Bulls made it to the MAC Tournament as the No. 6, cementing a playoff berth in all four years under Whitesell.
“I’ve been very impressed with Coach Killings and the vision he has for this program,” said Whitesell. “I had an opportunity to travel to the area and meet the staff and administration, I was amazed at their dedication and drive. With a new arena, outstanding returners, and several newcomers on the team, there is a lot of positive energy coming into the season. My wife, Connie, and I are excited to be here, and we look forward to learning more about the Capital Region.”
Before being named head coach in Buffalo, Whitesell spent four seasons as an associate head coach under Nate Oats. The Bulls completed their most successful four-year stretch in school history during that time, capped by a school and Mid-American Conference-record 32 wins during the 2018-19 season and 19 straight weeks ranked in the top 25, including a mark as high as 14th in the nation. The Bulls won three Mid-American Conference titles during that period, while winning NCAA Tournament games in each of the last two seasons.
Whitesell comes to Albany with a plethora of experience. In addition to his roles at Buffalo the past eight years, he has also had head coaching stops with Loyola Chicago (2004-11), Lewis (1992-04), and Elmhurst (1987-92).
Cerruti returns to the UAlbany program, having played under Coach Killings during the 2021-22 season. As the team’s Video Coordinator, he will be responsible for manage all video-related activities, including the filming of practice, shootarounds, and individual workouts for self-scouting purposes. In addition, Cerruti will prepare video edits of individual players and opponents for the coaching staff to review with student-athletes for scouting and game preparation purposes.
“I couldn’t be more thrilled to welcome Matt back to UAlbany,” said Killings. “Matt’s work ethic and desire to win helped him become an all-league player, and our guys will be fortunate to learn from him on and off the court. Matt’s future in coaching is bright and our program got better the minute he walked in the door.”
Cerruti suited up for the Purple and Gold as a graduate transfer in Killings’ first year in the Capital Region. The team’s top shooter, he finished the season by being named an America East All-Conference Third Team selection. Cerruti ranked second on the team with 327 points that year, averaging 11.3 per game. The sharpshooter was efficient from beyond the arc, hitting 50 of his 112 attempts from deep – good for a percentage of .446. From the field, Cerruti shot at a clip of .461 – one of the highest success rates on the team. He brought in 3.0 rebounds per game, nabbed 39 steals, and dished out 30 assists while averaging 32.3 minutes per game.
“I’m excited to be back in the Capital Region, especially under Coach Killings, who demands greatness,” said Cerruti. “I have a unique experience of playing for him in the past, which I feel will help me better relate to our players. I can’t wait for the season to get started and to help our guys both on and off the court.”
After graduation, Cerruti played two games for Basket Racing Club Luxembourg in Europe. He dropped 41 points in his first game with the team before scoring an unprecedented 63 his next night out. He moved out of Luxembourg shortly after, joining the Wichita Sky Kings of The Basketball League (TBL). There, Cerruti averaged 12 points in more than 25 games. Since then, he has helped with local youth basketball camps in his home state of Pennsylvania.
The 2023-24 UAlbany basketball coaching staff can be found below.
2023-24 UAlbany Men’s Basketball Coaching Staff
Dwayne Killings – Head Coach
Jim Whitesell – Assistant Coach
KJ Baptiste – Assistant Coach
Ryan Daly – Assistant Coach
Dan Madhavapallil – Assistant Coach/Operations
Matt Cerruti – Video Coordinator
John Weigner – Graduate Assistant

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