Antoine Allen made his most notable marks as a high school and college basketball player for his tenacious defense.
His attention to that aspect of the game is also what helped resurrect the New Brunswick program in his five seasons as head coach.
Allen is moving on to Piscataway, but the only that is going to change about his basic approach will be the way he drives to his home gym.
"Defense is what I hang my hat on. Everywhere I've been that's how I've won," Allen said. "My brother (Kalief, an assistant) and I will probably install our defense all summer. We'll break it down and pull it apart, so that when the season starts, I know we've got it down. Then we can concentrate more on our offense."
Allen, approved as Piscataway's new head coach Thursday night at the board of education meeting, replaced Guy Jensen, who resigned in March after a successful eight-year run in which the Chiefs averaged 16.5 wins a year and won the Greater Middlesex Conference Tournament in 2007 and '09.
Allen, a Piscataway resident, knows of the abundance of talent at his new school, as well as its devotion to defense under Jensen. He figures his troops will be eager to learn under him and plans to test their mettle immediately.
"We'll be diving on the floor, running into each other going for loose balls, learning everything we can about playing good, tough defense," he said. "I can't wait until I can get in the gym with these guys."
Allen learned from some of the best defensive coaches in the business, starting with Wilbur Aikins at Linden High in the late 1980s. Allen graduated in 1989 and went on to play for Ted Fiore at St. Peter's College. Fiore, now at Montclair State, is considered one of the most innovative defensive coaches in the area. Allen also served for three years as an assistant at Linden under Phil Colicchio, another defensive mastermind.
"They all helped me along the way, along with my father and my uncles," Allen said. "They gave me an education on how to be a man from a teacher's point of view."
New Brunswick won a total of four games in the first two seasons under Allen, then quickly became a respectable unit in the White Division of the Greater Middlesex Conference. The Zebras won 43 games over the next three years, including a 15-11 mark last season.
"I'm proud of what we did," Allen said. "It was extremely hard to my hat in the ring (for Piscataway) because I knew how much work had gone into rebuilding this. I know the kids at New Brunswick were looking forward to next season, and so was I. But I think they'll understand that when you get these opportunities, you've got to make the most of it."
Piscataway graduated a large group of seniors from a 14-13 team. Junior guard Marcus Freeney was a consistent starter and sophomore JoJo Hoover logged appreciable varsity minutes.
Mike Kinney covers boys basketball for MSG Varsity. Follow him on Twitter: @MikeKinneyHS