Halley steps in as head coach of New Canaan boys basketball team
Halley previously served as a coach at Mount St. Michael Academy in the notably competitive New York City Catholic High School League. During his time at Mount St. Michael Academy, Halley was the head coach of the junior varsity and freshman teams, as well as an assistant coach for the varsity squad.
"The primary goal is to get the kids into a winning state of mind. That's the most important thing," Halley said. "Another goal is to put these kids in best shape that they've ever been in. I'm a defensive-minded guy, and I think there's a lot of talent in New Canaan. We'd like to bring a different attitude about the game."
Halley takes over for Jeff Bussey, who coached New Canaan for 11 years before deciding to step down in July. Before the last three seasons, Bussey enjoyed tremendous success at New Canaan High School, guiding the team to several postseason appearances.
"Bussey did a great job building the program, and I hope to take it to the next level," Halley said.
Halley has also served as the head coach of the Connecticut Flames, an under-17 AAU travel team based out of Stamford, and current New Canaan High School senior Nick Depuy played for Halley on the Flames.
It's been a difficult stretch for the New Canaan boys basketball team, which has struggled to the tune of a 22-39 record over the past three seasons. Halley noted, however, that New Canaan lost several competitive games during last year's 5-15 campaign (six losses decided by less than 10 points), leaving him with the impression that success is not far away.
"With a new attitude and by playing hard, hopefully the ball will bounce our way," Halley said.
Although Halley has yet to meet with his entire stable of returning basketball players, New Canaan's newest head coach mentioned that he's already familiar with Depuy and several other players.
"Nick Depuy played on my travel AAU team, and as a result, he kind of let me know what was going on about the school having the coaching vacancy, and the rest is history," Halley said. "I've met [New Canaan High School senior] Connor [Kilbane] and Nick, and I've seen a couple of the other kids playing on the AAU circuit, but it's a brand new situation and I'm very excited about it."
According to New Canaan athletic director Jay Egan, nine individuals applied for the job, four made it to a second round of interviews and Halley was ultimately chosen because of his knack for being able to connect with his players.
"What we ended up coming back to on Mike was how everybody said he relates to kids and how much they love to play for him," Egan said. "That was kind of the deciding factor -- he always does right by the kids."
The boys basketball team is one of the few athletic programs at New Canaan High School which hasn't enjoyed success in recent seasons, and coach and athletic director alike are hoping that the 2011-12 season can instill a new sense of pride in what it means to be a New Canaan basketball player.
"We want our players to feel good about the work that they do to prepare as basketball players at New Canaan High School," Egan said. "We want it to be like many of our other programs, and we want them to be proud to be basketball players."
"I think there's definitely some talent there, and I've received tremendous support from the New Canaan community," Halley said. "The town is hungry for a winner, and with that type of combination, I think we'll win some games."