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Haigh hired as Siena assistant

Former Saint Francis women’s basketball coach Joe Haigh has found a new home, getting named Wednesday as an assistant coach with the Siena women’s program.

“I’m excited about the opportunity, obviously,” Haigh texted to the Mirror. “There are a lot of similarities to Saint Francis, being a Catholic College, beautiful campus, relatively small school.”

Haigh led Saint Francis to the NCAA Tournament in 2018 and won 93 games in six years. But he stepped away from the program for what was described as personal reasons early in the 2018-19 season, and AD Susan Robinson Fruchtl took over the team.

“I really missed coaching,” Haigh said. “I missed the players so much. We had such a great group from the seniors to the incoming freshmen and transfers. I felt like we were poised to have another magical season, and be even better than we were in 2017-18.

“But being able to see my kids play basketball, especially following Anna’s senior year at Bishop Carroll and the younger ones who I never got to see play, was just amazing.”

Haigh said the rest of his family will be staying in this area while he’s coaching at Siena, in Loudonville, N.Y.

“The school and community around Bishop Guilfoyle has been amazing,” Haigh said. “The kids are happy, and we don’t want to disrupt that at this point.”

Haigh was asked how he feels about the way things ended at Saint Francis.

“I think there’s always some degree of heartbreak when life changes happen, especially when things appear to be going so well and you’re happy where you are in life. Now that it’s been a little while and there’s been time to reflect, I am proud of what we accomplished in my time at Saint Francis.

“We went to two NEC championship games as underdogs and lost. We were in position to get to the final another year and got upset in the first round, and then had one of the most dominant seasons in NEC history.

“On the floor it was a good run. In other areas, I think we did a good job of creating a positive community around our program with our camps and community service, we did a great job in the classroom and on campus at SFU, and entertained a lot of folks and provided positive experiences and opportunities for the community in Central PA. But I was never satisfied with anything less than perfection, so would never say I did EVERYTHING that I could.”

Siena is coached by Ali Jaques.

“Coach Haigh brings tremendous experience to our staff,” Jaques said in a university release. “He did a phenomenal job at Saint Francis, where he had one of the most efficient offenses in the country. I will rely on him, and I look forward to collaborating with someone of his coaching acumen. Our players will benefit greatly from his experience and knowledge.”

Haigh is looking forward to the opportunity at his new job.

“Siena is well known in that area for being a ‘basketball school,'” he said. “The upside is that the MAAC conference is really strong with Quinnipiac and Marist being recent Sweet 16 teams. And Siena wants to compete at that level. It has a little higher profile when it comes to recruiting, has a little more name recognition. And the location is more attractive to recruits in the northeast and along the east coast.”

Haigh had positive things to say about his former bosses at Saint Francis.

“Susan provided me an opportunity to be a Division I assistant coach,” he said. “Mr. (Bob) Krimmell and the administration gave me the opportunity to be a head coach. They allowed me the rare opportunity to live out a dream. And I can’t express how grateful I am for those opportunities or thank them enough.”

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