Jeff Lubreski, one of the state’s most highly respected mentors, was approved as Rahway High School’s new boys basketball coach during a Board of Education meeting on Tuesday night.
“I’m very excited,” said Lubreski, owner of a 383-268 career record who resigned earlier this year after seven successful seasons at Plainfield and 19 more at South Plainfield.
“Following my resignation, when I went over to speak with the people at Rahway, from Tom Lewis the athletics director to the principal and the superintendent, it just seemed that everybody was on the same page, and everybody shared a similar vision. It just seemed like everyone was very supportive in a (collegial) atmosphere. That sold me right there.”
Lubreski, 55, was also hired to teach English at Rahway High School. He plans to meet with Rahway players on Thursday prior to their summer league game.
“Basically,” Lubreski said, “we’re going to try to hit the ground running.”
A North Plainfield resident, Lubreski succeeds Kevin Conroy, who resigned earlier this year after leading Rahway to a 13-8 record in his ninth season at the helm. Conroy spent the previous five years as a Rahway assistant.
“(Conroy) did a great job coaching at Rahway and stepped down after a long career,” Board of Education President Peter Kowal said. “He is a class guy. When we found Jeff was available, we just really felt it was a great opportunity for the Rahway kids and we jumped on it.”
Lubreski compiled a 141-63 record at Plainfield. He led the Cardinals to two NJSIAA Group III titles and four sectional crowns. His teams twice advanced to the Tournament of Champions finals (2011 and 2012), falling both times to national power St. Anthony.
His 2011-12 team, renowned for stifling defense and unselfish play, finished 30-4 and won the school’s first Union County Tournament championship since 1979, marking Lubreski’s best season as a coach.
Lubreski, who played basketball at St. Thomas Aquinas (now Bishop Ahr), began coaching in 1986 at South Plainfield, where he compiled a 242-205 mark and won two Greater Middlesex Conference Tournament crowns.
“He did an unbelievable job,” Linden head coach Phil Colicchio previously told MyCentralJersey.com. “He restored Plainfield to the Rico Parenti days of winning state championships. Jeff’s teams always played hard and his best teams shared the ball and played together.”
Kowal said Lewis “is really involved in basketball throughout the state” and that Lewis and Lubreski have “confidence” in one another.
Lubreski never elaborated on his reasons for leaving Plainfield, but several people familiar with the situation told Gannett New Jersey that dissatisfaction with bureaucracy in the athletic department played a central role.
Two other Union County coaches – Scotch Plains-Fanwood’s Danny Doherty and Elizabeth’s Chris Balent – also resigned this year, while a third – Governor Livingston’s Steve Petruzzelli – was not rehired.
Justin Sears, who starred on the 2011-12 Plainfield squad and is the reigning Ivy League Player of the Year at Yale, lauded Lubreski for “his commitment to all his players succeeding on the court as well as off the court.”
In a text message to MyCentralJersey.com earlier this year, Sears said, “A huge part of my success at Yale comes back from his guidance.”