Newly minted St. John’s head men’s basketball coach Chris Mullin has filled the first two positions on his coaching staff. The University officially announced on Monday that veteran Division I coach Barry Rohrssen has been named the Red Storm’s associate head coach, while former Iowa State assistant Matt Abdelmassih has returned to his alma mater as an assistant coach.
“It is going to be really important to have a strong staff around me,” Mullin said on April 1 when he was introduced at Carnesecca Arena as the 20th Head Coach in program history. “I always relied on my teammates as a player and that is how I am going to coach. I am going to rely on my staff, and that staff is going to be hard working.”
Rohrssen brings more than 20 years of coaching experience to the St. John’s basketball program, including five seasons as a head coach at Manhattan College from 2006-2011. The Brooklyn native is coming off a historic run with Kentucky in 2014-15. Rohrssen served as an assistant on John Calipari’s staff, and helped lead the Wildcats to a 38-1 record and the program’s second-straight Final Four appearance.
“Barry is a great addition to our staff,” said Mullin. “His experience in all facets of college basketball is going to be important for our program. He was a head coach and has participated in every role in the development of programs, so his guidance will be vital to our success.”
“I couldn’t be happier for my friend of 30 years,” Calipari said. “He’s not only a great person, he’s a terrific coach and recruiter, and one of my most loyal friends. I wish Slice and Kerry nothing but the best in their new opportunity.”
Abdelmassih returns to St. John’s after five seasons with the Iowa State men’s basketball team, where he spent the past four seasons as an assistant to head coach Fred Hoiberg and helped guide the Cyclones to four-straight NCAA Tournament appearances.
“Matt is one of the best recruiters in the country. He was the first guy I named to our staff after receiving a high recommendation from Fred Hoiberg,” said Mullin. “Matt is one of the top young rising coaches in college basketball with a proven track record for outside-the-box thinking, and even better, he is a St. John’s alumnus who has great passion for the University.”
Prior to his time at Kentucky, Rohrssen served his second stint as an assistant coach at the University of Pittsburgh for the 2013-14 season when he helped lead the Panthers to a 26-10 record and NCAA Tournament berth. Rohrssen worked for the Portland Trail Blazers organization in 2012-13 assisting their NBA Development League team.
“Chris is a lifelong friend and it is an honor to join his staff at St. John’s University,” said Rohrssen. “I have always admired Chris’ work ethic, character and basketball instincts, and feel all these qualities he had as a player will serve him well as a coach. This opportunity is a blessing. It is with both pride and pleasure to be back home in the great city of New York.”
On April 25, 2006, Rohrssen was named the 22nd head men’s basketball coach at Manhattan College. He arrived back in his native New York after spending seven seasons as an assistant at Pittsburgh. Rohrssen mentored seven all-conference players and seven 1,000-point scorers at Manhattan, including two of the top-eight scorers in program history.
Three of his recruits led Manhattan to the 2014 Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference championship. The senior trio accounted for more than 50 percent of the team’s scoring en route to the program’s first NCAA Tournament berth in 10 years. Rohrssen also improved academic progress ratings at Manhattan as he graduated every player that stayed for four years and dramatically elevated the school’s basketball NCAA Academic Progress Rate.
Rohrssen played a vital role in Pittsburgh’s rise to prominence from 1999-2006. During a five-year period, he helped guide Pitt to a 133-33 overall record (.801 winning percentage), a 59-21 BIG EAST regular season record (.738 winning percentage), four BIG EAST Championships (three regular season), three NCAA Sweet 16 berths and five-consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances. In addition, Pitt won its first-ever BIG EAST Tournament title in 2003. At Pitt, he served in three different capacities including the associate head coach under Jamie Dixon from 2004-06, assistant coach (2001-04) and director of operations (1999-2001).
Prior to his first stint at Pitt, Rohrssen served as the director of operations at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas from 1995-99 under head coach Bill Bayno. During Rohrssen’s time at UNLV, the program experienced a resurgence as the Runnin’ Rebels captured the 1998 Western Athletic Conference Tournament championship and advanced to postseason play in three of his four years. Rohrssen’s duties included serving as a liaison to the athletic administration and other school officials, coordinating student-athletes’ games, practice and daily schedules as well as serving as UNLV’s director of summer basketball camps.
He also worked as an assistant coach at his alma mater, St. Francis, N.Y. from 1993-95. He was responsible for organizing the film exchange program to scout upcoming opponents, overseeing the strength and conditioning program and monitoring the student-athletes’ academic performance. Rohrssen played for the Terriers from 1981-83 and graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in business management in 1983.
Rohrssen also has extensive international coaching experience. In both 1991 and 1992, Rohrssen represented the United States at the World International Championships in both Poland and England, respectively. He also co-coached an American All-Star team in 1998 that finished 5-0 in Tahiti. In 2000, he served as an assistant coach with a USA Junior Team that competed at an international tournament in Leon, Spain. Later that summer, Rohrssen helped lead a New York City squad to a gold medal title at the 2000 Empire State Games.
Rohrssen has supported a variety of charitable efforts, including the V Foundation for cancer research. During the summer of 2008, he traveled to Iraq and Kuwait with a select group of NCAA basketball coaches to visit American troops as part of a goodwill program “Operation Hardwood V,” sponsored by the USO and Armed Forces Entertainment. In 2009, Rohrssen was asked to take part in “Operation Hoop Talk” in Afghanistan. Both tours began with visits in the nation’s capital to meet with wounded soldiers.
Rohrssen played in the Catholic High School Athletic Association at Xavieran High School in Brooklyn and is a member of the school’s Distinguished Alumni Hall of Fame.
An assistant director of operations for Iowa State in 2010-11, Abdelmassih was promoted to assistant coach in April of 2011 and quickly developed a reputation as one of the top young recruiters in the country.
In his four seasons as an assistant coach, Iowa State amassed a 99-40 (.712) record, won back-to-back Big 12 Tournament titles (2014-15), made four-straight NCAA Tournament appearances (2012-15) and reached one NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 (2014).
“St. John’s has always held a special place in my heart so I am ecstatic to rejoin the program,” said Abdelmassih. “Being an alum and a lifelong fan of the program, to get the call from Chris Mullin to join his staff was a dream come true. I couldn’t be happier to be part of this storied tradition.”
Abdelmassih was instrumental in making Iowa State one of the primary destinations for some of the top transfers in the country, including DeAndre Kane and Royce White.
Recruited by Abdelmassih, Kane helped lead a 2013-14 squad that advanced to just the fourth Sweet 16 in program-history and finished with a 28-8 mark that included a school-record nine wins against ranked teams. Kane earned All-America, first team All-Big 12 and Big 12 Newcomer of the Year accolades.
Another Abdelmassih recruit, White was the only Division I player to lead his team in scoring, rebounding, assists, blocks and steals in 2011-12. White earned All-America honors, was a unanimous first team All-Big 12 choice and was the 16th overall selection in the 2012 NBA Draft.
Prior to his time at Iowa State, Abdelmassih worked for the Minnesota Timberwolves. Abdelmassih joined the Timberwolves staff in 2008 as a basketball operations intern and worked directly with the coaching staff. Abdelmassih then moved to the front office in 2009-10 with a promotion to basketball operations assistant, a role in which he handled salary cap issues, draft preparation, scouting and free agent analysis.
Abdelmassih was a student manager for the St. John’s men’s basketball team from 2004-07. During his tenure with the Red Storm, Abdelmassih assisted the director of basketball operations with travel, video and camp responsibilities. The 2007 graduate earned a bachelor’s degree in sports management.