PORTLAND — Dave Leitao, a 25-year veteran of coaching at the NCAA level, was introduced as the Maine Red Claws head coach Thursday morning and said he looked forward to the challenge of coaching his first professional team.

“I cannot wait to get started and immerse myself into this community,” he said during a press ocnference at the Boys and Girls Club.

The 51-year-old Leitao, who garnered a 143-129 record at Northeastern University, DePaul and Virginia, said his goal is to create a team that is as successful on the court as the Red Claws are off the court.

“I want to take that (business) model and produce the same success on the basketball court,” he said.

Leitao, who has been out of coaching for two years since leaving Virginia, replaces Austin Ainge, who left the Red Claws after their first two seasons to join the Boston Celtics.

He is regarded as a strong defensive coach and teacher, two traits that should help him in the NBA Development League.

Jon Jennings, the president and general manager of the Red Claws, said Leitao was his first choice for the position once the two started talking about six weeks ago.

“I think we have the best coach we could possibly have,” said Jennings.