Flores, former Cal women’s basketball coach, dies

November 29, 2013

Paul Flores, who coached the California University women’s basketball team for 10 seasons and brought the Vulcans to the NCAA Division II playoffs, died Thursday night.

Flores compiled a 152-116 record as coach of the Vulcans and had a 198-136 career coaching record. But the people around him remember the person more than the numbers.

“He treated me like gold,” said Nick Mandich, who was Flores’ assistant coach for five seasons. “He was just a great person and so easy to work with. He always took care of his assistants.”

Flores was a graduate of Easton High School and East Stroudsburg University. He coached the ESU women’s team for 2 1/2 seasons and compiled a 46-20 record. Flores came to Cal in 1985 after leading East Stroudsburg to the PSAC East Division title.

“I was in his first recruiting class,” said Tammy Mandich, director of special education in the Central Greene School District. “Our kids were the building foundation of the program.”

Mandich graduated in 1991 and was inducted into the California University in 1991. She became only the fifth player in the women’s program to surpass 1,000 points, finishing with 1,122.

“Paul was a great guy, so level headed,” she said. “He never made snap decisions. He always took a step back and thought about it. He did his job, and he did it well.”

For a six-year period, from 1989 to 1994, Flores led the Vulcans to the most successful seasons in the program’s history at the time. The Vulcans won at least 18 games in each of those seasons and made the PSAC West Division playoffs four times.

He guided Cal to a then-school record of 21-8 and reached the PSAC championship game, where the Vulcans fell to Clarion. That season, Cal qualified for the NCAA Division II playoffs for the first time in school history.

“He treated his players with respect,” said Tammy Mandich. “You worked hard in practice. You could always go into his office and sit and talk. I liked that aspect about him. He wanted to get things done, and you wanted to work hard for him.”

Following his resignation, Flores was as an associate athletic director at Cal. He also was the executive director of the Vulcan Sports network and did extensive work with Cal’s national award-wining television (CUTV) and radio (WVCS) stations.

“Our birthdays were just a few days apart,” said Nick Mandich. “I know he had (diabetes), and I didn’t really know how bad it could affect a person. You couldn’t meet a guy who gave more than him. This is a sad day.”

Joe Tuscano has been with the Observer-Reporter since 1980. He has covered all sports for the newspaper, including the Steelers, Pirates, Pitt football, local college football and wrestling. He has worked for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the Jeannette News-Dispatch and North Hills Record. He graduated from Duquesne University in 1980.

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