Villanova's Harry Perretta coached the moms, now coaches the daughters

Three daughters of former Villanova players who played for head coach Harry Perretta with their daughters. From left: Lisa Gedaka and her daughter Mary Gedaka, head coach Harry Perretta, Denise Juliana and her daughter Nicolette Juliana, and Jen Snell and her daughter, Sam Carangi.

When you are about to enter your 40th season as the head basketball coach at a university, you are in position to see some things that have to be unique. This season, Villanova’s Harry Perretta has a team that includes three players whose mothers played for him. It was not a plan. It just materialized.

“I have no idea if it happened anywhere or not,’’ Perretta said. “Dean [Kenefick, associate AD/communications] just said to me, `Do you realize you have three players that their mothers played for you?’ I said, `Yeah, I do.’ It’s kinda nuts.’’

It says something about the program Perretta has built. If the mothers did not have a good experience, there is no way they would be sending their daughters.

“We’ve created a family atmosphere, and kids kind of enjoyed themselves when they came here,’’ Perretta said. “Villanova itself is attractive. The kids came for education.’’

Sophomore forward Mary Gedaka is the daughter of Lisa Angelotti, who played at Villanova from 1984-88, was the 1988 Big East Player of the year,  finished with 1.622 points (fifth all-time at the school) and 854 rebounds (fourth in school history), and saw her jersey retired.

Senior guard Nicolette Juliana was a team manager for two years before making the team last season as a walk-on, just as her mom, Denise Lamay, did in 1983.

Freshman guard Sam Carangi has Villanova connections all over her family. Her mother, Jen Snell, played there from 1991 to 1996. Her father, Anthony Carangi, was a `Nova football player. Her aunt Mary Beth Snell played on Perretta’s team from 1996 to 2000 and was an assistant coach for a time.

More than just a mom

Gedaka’s mom also happened to be her coach at Gloucester Catholic. That made for an interesting recruiting experience.

“Lisa tried to be a coach, not a mother,’’ Perretta said. “Lisa did a good job of being objective, took her to different schools.’’

The concern for Mary, the coach thought, “was that she would just be Lisa’s daughter here. That was her biggest fear. That was a major reason she thought about not coming here.’’

Camera icon KEVIN COOK / For The Inquirer
Gloucester Catholic’s Mary Gedaka, left, drives against Rancocas Valley’s Katie McShea during a February 2016 game.

Gedaka did look around, but she was brought up on Villanova basketball. She went to games with her mom. And she knew Villanova’s offense because her coach/mom used it, too.

“Personally, I knew that I wanted to come to Villanova when I was going through the recruiting process,’’ Gedaka said. “I wasn’t a big fan of it. It was pretty overwhelming.’’

According to Perretta, Lisa is a “more intense’’ coach than he is. And he has never been confused for somebody without a passion for the game.

“My mom definitely made him out to be this hard, really pressing coach, which he is,’’ Gedaka said. “I think he admits that my mom was one of the players that he was his hardest on so she kind of prepped me to expect anything.’’

Gedaka was part of the rotation as a freshman and will likely play an even more prominent role this season.

“Mary and Lisa play very much alike,’’ Perretta said.

Gedaka described playing for her mother as a “roller coaster. Looking back on it, I wouldn’t have it any other way. It was such an amazing experience. … We had our moments, especially when I first came in.’’

That she ended up at the same university, however, seemed only right.

“This place has always been like a second home for me,’’ Gedaka said.

Reminiscent of Mom

Juliana was around the program for a few months as a manager when one day Perretta, who was not thinking about it because her mom had a different last name, said, “You remind me of a girl who played for me, Denise Lamay.’ She goes, `Yeah, I’m her daughter.’ ’’

Perretta calls all his former players by their maiden names for an obvious reason. He has had a few hundred players, and there would be no other way to remember.

“She helps us,’’ Perretta said of Juliana. “She’s very much like her mother, who used to help us a lot at practice.’’

Juliana, a Bishop Shanahan graduate, is under no illusions about playing time.

“My role is the bench. I know that,’’ she said with a smile.

She just wants to be part of it.

“I grew up coming to the games,’’ she said. “I went to the basketball camps when I was in grade school.  [Lamay] always likes to tell me he’s calmed down since she played.’’

Juliana is not necessarily accepting the calm comparison about her coach.

“We don’t think he has,’’ she said. “All of our parents that have played say he has, so …’’

‘Very intelligent’ duo

Perretta described Jen Snell as a tenacious, aggressive and intelligent player.

“Sam’s kind of like the same player, not super talented, but very intelligent,’’ Perretta said.

And like her mom, Sam Carangi is going to take a redshirt her first season.

“There’s just no room for her to play this year,’’ Perretta said. “She may have to wait two years because we have so many guards.’’

Camera icon LOU RABITO / Staff
North Penn’s Sam Carangi corrals a loose ball next to Cardinal O’Hara’s Mackenzie Gardler during a state playoff game in March.

Carangi went to North Penn, where she was second-team all-state and scored 1,000 points. With all that Villanova in her family, it was going to be hard to her pull away from what she knew so well.

“My top three were Villanova, Drexel and Delaware, but I think just the campus and the community feel here was what pulled me,’’ Carangi said.

If there is any tape of their moms playing at Villanova, none of the daughters has seen it.

“Looking through my pictures on my laptop and there is a photo of Harry on ESPN one day and my mom is in the picture,’’ Carangi said.

Carangi’s mother told her that, even though Perretta is intense, “not to take anything personally. It’s how a lot of coaches are.’’

For a freshman, Carangi has great perspective because of her mother’s guidance. She understands that the moment matters less than the big picture.

And she really gets the larger meaning of three teammates’ having mothers who played for their coach.

“If Villanova was bad, people who played wouldn’t want their kids coming through having the same experience,’’ Carangi said.

When he is coaching the daughters, Perretta said he is just coaching them. “Looking back isn’t going to help you,’’ he said.

In addition to coaching, Angelotti is a home care nurse, Lamay is an attorney who does medical malpractice defense, and Snell works in the Villanova education department as the field placement coordinator.

And they all will get to go to the games to see their daughters play for the same man for whom they played — in some cases, three decades ago.