Everett boys’ basketball coach John DiBiaso’s last postgame press gathering followed a script similar to the previous 100, and probably 100 before that.
First, DiBiaso provided a summation of the evening’s events, in this instance a 73-65 loss to Mansfield in the Division 1 state semifinals at TD Garden.
“I thought we battled to the end,” he said. “We didn’t play our best game, but I thought we played tough and we tried to stay in it till the end. We just couldn’t get over that second quarter deficit. We dug ourselves a hole there, we were down 15 at one point. It was uphill the rest of the game.
“Some shots didn’t fall; some calls didn’t go our way. They’re a real good team.”
Then, when asked what he told his players post-game, DiBiaso delivered the zinger, a staple anytime he encountered a hoard of audio recorders inches from his mouth.
“I just told them, ‘Pass in the uniforms. Coach wants to go home and eat,’ ” he said.
That perfectly captured DiBiaso’s essence, able to disarm a room with that patented sly smile, one that rarely emerged while he roamed the sidelines but couldn’t be missed the minute he walked off the floor.
When reflecting on DiBiaso’s time at Everett, many will turn first to the jaw-dropping numbers: 304 career wins on the gridiron, 503 on the hardwood. This is understandable; both are illustrious marks, and near unbelievable when viewed in tandem.
The 61-year old managed to stay ahead of the curve, cultivating and nurturing his players’ talents so no situation would faze them. When the Crimson Tide suffered key injuries early this season, DiBiaso moved big-man Isaiah Likely to point forward, where the senior shone until encountering Mansfield’s disciplined pack of Hornets.
“He’s done it in two sports,” said Mansfield coach Michael Vaughn of DiBiaso. “I don’t know how many times I could use the word ‘amazing’ when I think [of winning] that many games in both sports. He’s done it through multiple eras. He’s done it when coaches could still get away with a lot, and he’s done it within an era where it’s harder to coach. He’s done it in two sports and he’s won in two sports.
“It’s not like he has a sub-.500 program.”
When DiBiaso embarks on his next chapter in the fall, as Catholic Memorial’s football coach, he’ll be able to add to the gaudy win totals.
Perhaps the most enduring element of DiBiaso’s legacy lay in the interpersonal. A curmudgeonly type during the game, stomping and yelling and pointing in a manner that would make one-time Lexington coach Rollie Massimino proud, DiBiaso was a gentle embodiment of compassion and charm immediately after the final buzzer.
“I got the luxury to meet him in the hallway for the first time,” said Vaughn. “I aspire to be a guy like him.
“[Coaching] is taxing on your family, on your friends, on your life. Talk about a true role model for a younger coach. I hope to get all the accolades that he’s gotten over his years when I’m done, and get to go out as prideful as he has. He’s a good man.”
Strolling off TD Garden’s famous parquet, DiBiaso’s gait suggested a coach with few regrets.
“Thank you, girls,” he said to a subdued pack of Everett cheerleaders.Owen Pence can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.