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Goldman, Tonelli have USF connection

Posted Feb 26, 2013 by Nick Williams

Updated Feb 26, 2013 at 05:02 PM

Jesuit boys basketball coach Neal Goldman and Wharton boys coach Tommy Tonelli, whose teams play for state titles this week, are connected by more than the game of basketball.

Both men bleed green and gold.

Goldman and Tonelli graduated from the University of South Florida in the 1980s and missed each other by only a few months.

Goldman, who grew up playing basketball in Washington D.C., graduated from USF in 1982. Meanwhile, Tonelli, a basketball standout at Chicago’s Loyola Academy, was being recruited by former Bulls’ coach Lee Rose to join the 1982 incoming freshman class. Tonelli graduated in 1986 as USF’s all-time leader in assists and steals. Tonelli spent the 2007 and 2008 school years at USF as director of basketball operations for Stan Heath.

Jesuit (29-1) will face Jacksonville Bishop Kenny in the Class 5A semifinals Friday at 11:30 a.m. while Wharton (24-4) will play South Miami in the 8A semifinals hours later at 7 p.m

After 10 years as an assistant coach at the University of South Florida, Tonelli interviewed at three new schools opening in Hillsborough County in 1997—Wharton, Sickles and Bloomingdale. Sickles and Bloomingdale decided on other candidates.

Tonelli remains the only player in USF basketball history to play and coach in a postseason game for the Bulls. As a player he participated in the NIT in 1983 and 1985. As an assistant coach, he was a part of USF’s 1990 and 1992 NCAA tournament run and helped coach the 1991 and 1995 NIT teams.

As a student at USF, Goldman was an assistant coach at Jesuit, where he ran the JV program for seven years until he was named head coach in 1987.

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