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‘Teacher’ scores 500

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The youngest coach in PSAL history to win 500 games.Naclerio didn't even realize the impending milestone was coming up until he was told last week by someone who was assisting the coach with his resume. After the Judges beat Long Island Lutheran Sunday night at the Tom Crotty Classic at Hofstra, he called between 30 and 40 of his former players to let them know a win against Flushing would give him No. 500."I've always seen other guys do it and get applauded," Naclerio said. "500 is a lot of wins."Only two others from the city public school league have won more. Campus Magnet's Chuck Granby is the all-time leader (591 coming into this season) and Floyd Bank, formerly of Thomas Edison and Long Island City, is second.But Naclerio, 48, did it before either man Ð mostly because he had a head start. He has been coaching basketball in some form for the Judges since he graduated from the Bayside school in 1976.The fiery Naclerio, who can be seen every game pacing the sidelines, hands clasped, mouth running non stop, began as an assistant under Al Matican while he was a student and baseball player at St. John's University. He then actually played in the Chicago White Sox organization and led the minors in stolen bases for the Niagara Falls White Sox in 1979. Naclerio did all of this while still sacrificing time as a coach at his alma mater.A ripped ligament in his left ankle ended his baseball career and Naclerio was named the head coach of Cardozo in 1981, the youngest high-school coach in America at 21 years old.The rest, 500 wins later, is history. Naclerio has captured 17 division championships and two city championships, one as an assistant and one as a head coach in 1999. He mentored Royal Ivey, Rafer Alston and Duane Causwell at Cardozo, all of whom went on to play in the NBA (Alston is currently with the Houston Rockets and Ivey with the Atlanta Hawks).Naclerio has gotten countless players into Division I schools and has worked out dozens of college and NBA athletes in his career. So, after 25 years and accomplishing as much as almost anyone in the PSAL, what's his motivation to stay while still being relatively young? Well, he's never left before, so why now?"It's a cycle," Naclerio said. "I never broke the cycle. I came to Cardozo in September of 1972 as a student...I never left."There have been opportunities to coach at higher levels and he's shown interest in moving up on a few occasions, but has absolutely no qualms about staying at the school he has become synonymous with."When you coach at the high-school level," Naclerio said, "you say, 'Is it really all worth it?' When you think about all the kids in the past, the camaraderie, the reunions we have, you say: even though you're not getting the financial reward of an NBA coach or a college coach, you're getting a different kind of reward. Which, to me, is special, because I never did this for money."His current players had no surprise for him, no Gatorade bath of any kind after his 500th win and for good reason."Nah, he'd probably go crazy on us," junior guard Trinity Fields said with a laugh.Even after 500 wins, not much has changed.Reach reporter Marc Raimondi by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 130.

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