St. John’s moved swiftly in naming Dullea as head of the program; Connolly stepped down only two weeks ago.
“It really became an easy decision for us,” O’Leary said. “The direction of the program is such that it’s going in the direction that we feel is positive. We’ve been very successful, and John has been with Sean for the 10 years that he was a head coach as an assistant. He understands what we’re trying to do here at school, and coaching here at St. John’s is a lot different than coaching at a lot of other places. The expectations from the administration at the school, the students, the parents, our alumni, it’s very high profile, and John really for the last five years has been the liaison to the athletic office from the basketball program.”
Dullea is a physical education teacher in the Peabody school system. His role as an educator, in addition to his familiarity with St. John’s Prep, made it an easy decision.
“He’s an educator and understands that that’s the first thing we do; we always have to be educators first. He understands that the priorities are school here because he’s been in the program,” O’Leary said. “We weren’t looking for a huge change because we liked the direction the program’s going here.”
The Eagles are coming off an impressive season, having exceeded expectations by winning the Catholic Conference title and earning the No. 1 seed for the Division. 1 North tournament.
St. John’s is losing a trio of good seniors in conference and Salem News Player of the Year Drex Costello and league all-stars Tyler Dooley and Josh Syska.
Dullea does have a good core of players returning, including lanky sophomore Ben Judson, who is one of the area’s top three-point shooters. Juniors Quentin Bullen, Max Burt and Max Butterbrodt, as well as sophomore Jake Burt, also got significant playing time this year.