Marist introduces Mike Maker as new head coach, their third in as many years. (Photo courtesy of the Poughkeepsie Journal)
Mike Maker was introduced as the eleventh head men's basketball coach in Marist College history, marking the third consecutive year in which the Red Foxes have hosted a press conference to usher in the start of yet another new era after Jeff Bower departed in favor of the NBA one season removed from his own debut.
"It's a great community here from everything I've heard," the 48-year-old Californian remarked this morning upon his arrival in Poughkeepsie following six years at Division III Williams College. "It's a dream come true. I'm ready to get to work and excited for this opportunity."
Maker will almost certainly need to hit the ground running, as he takes over just weeks before the all-important July recruiting period at a program which comes off a 12-19 season and must replace a pair of integral parts to its roster in swingman Jay Bowie and 6-10 center Adam Kemp, both of whom graduated last month. The Red Foxes do retain senior guard and all-MAAC honoree Chavaughn Lewis, however; as well as reigning conference Rookie of the Year Khallid Hart, so it is not like their new leader inherits a total rebuild as he makes the jump to Division I.
"The most important thing for me to do is recruit the players I already have here," he said moments after being entrusted by athletic director Tim Murray to guide Marist closer to its first postseason appearance since 2007. "I try to concentrate on things we can control. I know what we can control: My relationship with the players, who we decide to bring into this great institution, and how we decide to play."
One thing the new coach does not need to worry about controlling is the positive image on the student-athletes that Marist has attracted over the years, erasing criticism from some of former coach Chuck Martin's recruiting tactics with the classes that Bower brought to the Hudson Valley in his brief stay, renewing the age-old hope that may soon to come to fruition after having sprung eternal for decades.
"We have enough character in the program now," Maker intimated. "The guys just need to believe in themselves and in our style, and play team basketball."