Dowling women's basketball head coach Joe Pellicane paces the sideline...

Dowling women's basketball head coach Joe Pellicane paces the sideline in the second half of a game against NYIT. (March 10, 2013) Credit: Joseph D. Sullivan

Dowling women's basketball coach Joe Pellicane, who guided his team to the NCAA Division II championship game Friday night, Saturday disclosed he has prostate cancer and will undergo surgery Monday.

Pellicane, 64, said the disease was first discovered in November 2011. "It's been watchful waiting," he said before boarding a flight from Texas, the day after Dowling lost to Ashland (Ohio), 71-56, for the D-II title. He said his doctor expects a full recovery.

Dowling (30-4) had its best finish under Pellicane, who also has coached men's basketball at Dowling, Farmingdale and then-Suffolk CC-Brentwood in a 28-year career.

Pellicane said only his immediate family was aware of the illness until recently. He told his team last week before the Elite Eight. "I knew I had to miss practice and I didn't want to lie to them," he said. "The [doctors] wanted to do it in March and I said, 'There's a chance we still might be playing.' I guess I was right. I said to the team, 'If you want to know if I ever believed in you, let me tell you how much I believe in you. I changed this surgery to April 1 because I felt there was a chance you were going to be here.' "

Pellicane said he wants to help others by talking about the disease. "I'm not Steve Lavin," he said of the St. John's men's basketball coach, who had prostate surgery in October 2011, "but if I can help anybody with the awareness. Please go to the doctor, get tested. Please do that for your family and yourself."

Pellicane said there are no regrets about losing the final game. He said he told his team, "I won my championship just being your teacher and your coach. I mean that."

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