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Get to know Mo

By Max Sass, Sports Editor

The Chronicle's Sports Editor Max Sass had the opportunity to sit down and talk to Hofstra University men's head basketball coach Mo Cassara.

Born? July 10, 1973 in Ogdensburg, NY, right on the Canadian border in upstate New York

Alma Mater? St. Lawrence University [for my] undergrad, Boston College [for my] masters degree

Watching on tv? A lot of college basketball, Seinfeld reruns, the Sopranos reruns and just about any movie I can get my hands on

What's your theory on how the Sopranos ended: I loved it. As a true fan I thought it really brought the whole family together

Favorite movies? Big comedy guy. Hangover, Old School, Caddyshack, Animal House. I'm a real comedy lover.

Which actor plays you in your biopic? Hopefully Ashton Kutcher. I think everybody likes that guy.

Does he have the looks to portray you? He's much better looking than I.

What's on your IPod? All different kinds of rap music, Top 40 to Jay-Z to OAR. That's probably about as far as I go.

Guilty Pleasure song? That's a great question. Probably some bad 80's tunes that show my age a little bit.

What are you driving? Driving a Jeep Cherokee, but I've got to get back to a bigger car. I traded in my Escalade when I moved here from Boston and I've got to get back to that.

Reading any books? I read a lot of motivational books and the biography of Apollo Ohno, given to me by my dad for Christmas.

Magazines? No.

Websites bookmarked? I check a handful everyday. DefiantlyDutch, I check in the morning, ESPN.com, FoxSports.com, Facebook, Twitter, usually in that order.

Any superstitions? Tons. Very superstitous in the way I dress, especially for games. Everything from t-shirts to boxer shorts to cuff links to shoes to socks. I've worn the same pair of socks during a winning streak without question. The way I hang up my clothes in the hotel room on the road, shining my shoes, different things like that. I'm a big shoe shine guy, so I'm usually always shining my shoes before games.

Who is your hero? My father. I think that's the easy answer because of the way he raised me and how close our family is. I have an amazing family and that's really given me the strength and support to do everything that I've done here, that we've done here at Hofstra. So I think that's the easy answer. Sports figures, I'm a huge Yankees fan so Derek Jeter is probably right up there. I think not only is he a great athlete, but he's one of those guys that does things the right way and I'm big on that. I like that he's a pro on and off the field. I would say the other one, that no  one would probably guess, other than Derek Jeter, the pro athlete that I admire the most is probably Sidney Crosby. I'm like a closet hockey fan, which people wouldn't probably ever guess being a college basketball coach, but growing up where I grew up in upstate New York, everybody played hockey and I've worked at some big hockey schools before. I think the Sidney Crosby story is amazing. He's one of those guys who, again, like Jeter, is a pro on and off the court and I think he's the best in the business and that's something that I try to be in my business or hope to be in my business.

You went to school and coached in Boston, why such a big Yankees fan? My mom and dad are both New Yorkers, I grew up in upstate New York so really it was their influence and their background, why they were Yankees fans and that's how I grew up but I spent a good chunk of my life in the New England area. I did at the end, start to watch Red Sox games on local TV sometimes, but I'm a die hard Yankees fans.

If you weren't coaching basketball, what would you have grown up to be? I would have grown up to be probably a resteraunt owner like my dad.

Favorite thing about yourself? Tough one. That I'm easy going.

Least favorite thing? I'm too hard on myself after losses probably. I'm too hard on myself privately.

Favorite food? Pasta.

Can you cook?  Yes, very well.

Where did you learn to cook? My mother's a phenomenal cook, my dad owns two resteraunts and being a bacheleor at 37 you are forced to learn how to cook. Any single women out there who are looking for a guy who can cook, I'm their guy.

On that note, I think every female at Hofstra wants to know, is that your status? That is my status. My status has not changed. My status is single with an exclamation point.

You were linked to the former Bacheolorette Ali Fedotowsky, why weren't you on TV? I'm not big time like that. That was a long time ago.

So no Valentines Day plans? No Valentines Day plans for me. I sent a few Valentines, but not Valentines Day plans.

Why no hard feelings towards Boston College? Great question. I think part of the reason is that I was able to move on with my career professionally very quickly and not have a chance to really think about some of the things that happened there. Secondly, I very much understand about the business, change is inevitable. And lastly, I'm a graduate of Boston College, I've been a Boston College fan since I was a kid, since Dough Flutie, it was just a place I grew to love and I love the University so inside, there is probably some feelings of resentment because Coach [Al] Skinner and our staff, I think, did a terrific job for years but at the same time I love Boston College as a university and I love what it stands for.

Trivia question: Do you know who caught Doug Flutie's hail mary in 1984? Gerard Phalen

What's on your bucket list? Things to do before I kick the bucket? I never saw that movie. Probably a lot of sporting events. Personally I would love to travel to Italy, I would love to go to the Masters, I would love to go to a football game at USC, I would love to go to Wrigley Field, I would love to throw out the first pitch at Yankee Stadium. That'd probably be my greatest thrill. I think I had probably put on there to get married too, for my mother. Get married and have a family.

And your Hofstra basketball bucket list? Win a CAA Championship and put this program and this University back into the NCAA Tournament.

Favorite saying or motto? I probably have a lot of them. I say so many of them all the time. I think the thing I say the most, I got from my father is, winners never quit and quitters never win. I think that's probably my favorite saying.

Dream date? Great question. I would have to say Jennifer Aniston. [I am a] huge Friends fan. Rachel or Jennifer Aniston.

Best gift you've ever gotten? My father gave me this ring when I graduated from college. It's a Cassara family ring that I wear every day. People probably see it, it's in a lot of pictures, but it's a Cassara family ring that has been passed down through generations. He took it off and gave it to me when I graduated from college.

Pets? I have two golden retrievers named Saint and Christopher.

Are you religious? I am. I came from a very Roman Catholic family, my mom and dad.

Do you keep any memorabilia? I do. I have some tickets from Yankees games. The last game at [the old] Yankee Stadium, I was at the first game at the new Yankee Stadium. I have that ticket up there [on the shelf], I have the ticket from the last game at Yankee Stadium with my dad. Other than that its mostly memorabilia from different places I've been able to coach at. [Pictures of] winning the Maui Invitational at Dayton, some different guys that have played for me. I'm sure I have some stuff at home too, but that's about it.

What about your playing days? I went to a great Prep school, Worcester Academy. Tim Welsh went there, Rick Carlisle, now the coach of the Dallas Mavericks, Donnie Nelson the GM of the Dallas Mavericks, Michael Malone is an assistant with the New Orleans Hornets, Jarret Jack, Craig Smith and played for a legendary coach there. I was real fortunate to play in that New England Prep School basketball league, which has been really the foundation of how I got into this business. Then I went back to my hometown and played at St. Lawrence University and captained a great NCAA Tournament team my senior year when I played for a guy who's now the head coach at Bucknell, Dave Paulson.

What position did you play? Point guard. I was slow, but I could shoot and I could run the team. The guys will tell you. I can still shoot a little bit. We do a lot of rebounding drills and I'm supposed to miss the shot. One of my favorite sayings is when they all look at me like, "Yo Coach!" and I say, "It's tough to break old habits!"

Which current player reminds you most of yourself? That's easy. Charles Jenkins [laughing].

Hidden talent? I can tie a cherry stem in a knot with my toungue in under five seconds.

What other tricks can you do? That's my best one. I used to be able to flip some bottles and light some things on fire but those days are long gone.

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