Brandon Sinawi now holding court at Catholic Central

Novi boys basketball coach changes jobs after leading Wildcats to state semifinals

By Steve Stein

A little more than two months after guiding the Novi High School boys basketball team on a remarkable journey to its first ap­pearance in the MHSAA state semi­finals, Coach Brandon Sinawi was no longer in charge of the Wildcats.

In late May, he stepped down as Novi coach and was named the coach at nearby Novi Detroit Catho­lic Central High School.

Applying for the Catholic Cen­tral job was an easy decision for Sinawi. Accepting the job required some introspection.

“Someone once said doing the right thing can be the hardest thing,” Sinawi said. “I had some sleepless nights thinking about it, but I feel I did the right thing for myself, my wife and our family taking the Cath­olic Central position.”

Sinawi said he’s always held Catholic Central in high regard and he hoped someday he’d have an op­portunity to coach there.

“Being a Catholic school also is a big deal to me because of my faith,” he said. “I can reach players on a dif­ferent level there than I can at a pub­lic school. I feel comfortable there.”

Sinawi, 37, is only the sixth coach in the Catholic Central bas­ketball team’s storied history, which dates to 1928.

“I’m up for the challenge,” he said. “I know what I’m getting into. It will be an honor to coach on a court named for Coach Holowicki.”

Bernie Holowicki, who coached Catholic Central from 1971-1994 and was inducted into the Detroit Catholic League Hall of Fame in 1980, died in June at age 86. The court at Catholic Central was named in his honor in January.

Sinawi was selected for the Cath­olic Central job by a committee that included Athletic Director Aaron Babiarz. Five finalists were inter­viewed from an original field of more than 25 applicants.

Babiarz said an awareness of the history of Catholic Central’s bas­ketball program played a role in the committee’s decision.

“We weren’t looking for some­one who would be at our school for four or five years,” Babiarz said. “We wanted someone who wanted to be here for at least 20 years.”

Sinawi will remain a health and physical education teacher at Novi Middle School, a job he’s held for six years. No teaching position was open at Catholic Central.

Being able to keep a teaching job he loves at a school located about a quarter-mile from the Catholic Cen­tral campus was a factor in Sinawi’s decision to accept the Catholic Cen­tral coaching offer.

“I’m a teacher first,” he said. “That’s my passion.”

Babiarz said the fact that Sinawi is happy teaching at Novi Middle School was a “big deal” in the deci­sion to hire him.

While Sinawi loves his teaching job and students and remains a huge fan of Novi High School athletics, he said coaching Novi boys basket­ball had its frustrations.

“It’s important that everyone is on the same page at all three levels of a boys basketball program,” he said. “I’ll have that at Catholic Central.”

Sinawi’s sudden departure as coach hasn’t been universally ac­cepted in the Novi community.

“I can’t control some people’s perceptions of why I left and their negative comments,” he said. “The majority of people I know have been supportive of my decision.”

Novi School District Athletic Director Brian Gordon told home­ that Sinawi “certainly worked extremely hard, and, for that, we thank him. We also thank him for everything he’s done for the kids here in Novi and wish him the best of luck as he embarks on a new en­deavor at Catholic Central.”

Babiarz said the selection commit­tee at Catholic Central was impressed with Sinawi’s love for basketball.

“That’s why Brandon coaches with passion and while he loves his players, he holds them accountable,” he said. “His guys play with passion, and they play hard. If you do that, the wins will come. Brandon under­stands that high school sports are about the kids. This is their time.”

Sinawi orchestrated a rapid reviv­al of Novi’s boys basketball program, which went 4-17 in the season before he arrived.

He went 63-33 in four seasons in charge of the Wildcats. In his final three years, his team won three district championships, made it to the regional finals twice and the state semifinals.

Novi won the first regional title in team history in March when the Wildcats defeated previously unbeat­en Ann Arbor Skyline.

Three of Novi’s six postseason wins en route to the state semifinals were by just two points, and all three nail-biting victories were achieved by a buzzer-beating shot.

Sinawi is replacing Bill Dyer, who resigned in April after being Catho­lic Central’s coach for 12 years and posting a 141-110 record, including 12-9 last year.

This isn’t the first time Sinawi has crossed coaching paths with Dyer.

Sinawi was on Dyer’s staff at Li­vonia Stevenson High School and he was Stevenson’s coach for four years (2010-2014) after Dyer had departed. Sinawi’s career coaching record is 93-56.

Chris Housey was hired last month as Novi’s new coach, replac­ing Sinawi.

Housey spent the last two seasons as coach at Grosse Pointe Univer­sity-Liggett High School. He’s in­herited a sizeable rebuilding job at Novi. Seven of the Wildcats’ eight players from last year graduated and the eighth player has transferred to Detroit Renaissance.

Catholic Central lost four players to graduation and several key players are back.

Sinawi graduated from Farming­ton Hills Harrison High School in 1999. He was on the boys basketball team there for two years.

He earned a bachelor’s degree in physical education and health from Eastern Michigan University in 2009 and a master’s degree in educational leadership from the University of Michigan-Dearborn in 2015.

He and his wife Suzanne celebrat­ed their 10th anniversary May 24. They have identical 6-year-old twin sons Jackson and Jude.