Barry Rohrssen, a friend of Chris Mullin's for over 30 years, is now his right-hand man, having been introduced as associate head coach at St. John's. (Photo courtesy of the New York Post)
Upon his introduction as head coach of his alma mater two weeks ago, Chris Mullin wasted little time relaying how vital a strong staff would be as he replaced Steve Lavin at St. John's.
Today, the most integral piece of Mullin's support system on the bench has arrived.
Barry Rohrssen, known to everyone in the New York college basketball circuit, has agreed to leave his post on John Calipari's staff at the University of Kentucky to join the new era surrounding the Red Storm, returning to the Big Apple for the first time since 2011.
"Chris is a lifelong friend," said Rohrssen, whose connection to Mullin goes back to when the two attended Xaverian High School in Brooklyn, albeit in different grades, "and it is an honor to join his staff at St. John's University. This opportunity is a blessing. It is with both pride and pleasure to be back home in the great city of New York."
A native of the Park Slope section of Brooklyn, Rohrssen, known affectionately as "Slice" within the basketball industry, is perhaps best known for his five-year tenure as the head coach at Manhattan College, leading the Jaspers from 2006 to 2011 before being replaced by Steve Masiello. Prior to his stint in Riverdale, Rohrssen earned his reputation as the lead recruiter on Jamie Dixon's staff at the University of Pittsburgh, where he returned for the 2013-14 season. While with the Panthers, he was responsible for establishing the pipeline to New York for Dixon, landing talent the likes of Chris Taft, Carl Krauser, and Levance Fields as Pitt established itself as a perennial contender in the Big East Conference. In his short time at Kentucky, Rohrssen played an integral part in securing a verbal commitment from highly touted recruit Isaiah Briscoe, the guard from Roselle Catholic High School in New Jersey who picked the Wildcats over St. John's.
"Let's all congratulate Slice on his new opportunity at St. John's," Kentucky head coach John Calipari tweeted earlier this afternoon. "When we talked to me about the offer, we both got emotional. At the end of the day, it was an offer in every way; including going home, that I didn't think Slice could pass on. Slice is not only a great person, he's a terrific coach and recruiter, and one of my most loyal friends."
In addition to Rohrssen, St. John's officially announced the hire of Matt Abdelmassih as an assistant coach. Abdelmassih, a Class of 2007 graduate of St. John's and one-time student manager under former head coach Norm Roberts, was in attendance at Mullin's press conference, where he was announced as the former NBA All-Star's first hire after spending the past five seasons on the staff of Fred Hoiberg at Iowa State. A rising star at only 30 years old, his resume speaks for itself, luring transfers the likes of Royce White, DeAndre Kane, Bryce DeJean-Jones and Jameel McKay to Ames to keep the Cyclones at the top of the Big 12 Conference.