By: Matt Pugliese
This season has been a tale of two teams. The Marist Men’s Basketball team has been used to winning in the past couple years. This year has been much different.
Coach Matt Brady left the team in the off season to pursue the head-coaching job at James Madison University. Chuck Martin, who was the assistant coach for the national runner-up for the Memphis Tigers, took over for Brady and became the new head coach of the Marist Red Foxes. He looked to lead the Red Foxes to the NCAA Tournament.
The men’s basketball team finished the season at 10-23. They started off the season win a rollercoaster beginning. Exchanging wins and losses, they looked to stop the losing and challenge in the MAAC regular season. There was a tough patch in the season that really hurt this team.
From January 15 to February 9, the Marist men did not win a game. With the season ending, they looked to win their last home game for the fans and for the two seniors. The two seniors on the team are Kaylen Gregory and Ryan Schneider. Marist defeated the Harford Hawks 57-35 on senior night. They now looked to do damage in the MAAC Tournament.
The Marist men were the 10 seed in the MAAC Tournament and would first take on the 7 seed Iona. It was a very
low scoring game; in fact, it was the lowest scoring output between two teams since 1985. The previous record was help by Fordham and Manhattan when they put up a combined 86 points in a 44-42 overtime win for the Fordham Rams. The Marist team defeated Iona by a score of 43-40. Ryan Schneider led the way for Marist with 14 points. They now looked to score another upset when they took on Niagara.
The Marist dream of another upset of second seeded Niagara ended abruptly when Niagara defeated Marist 79-50. The Purple Eagles (25-7) lead wire-to-wire and went on a 10-0 second half run to put the game out of reach. There was some good news to come out of this game however. Ryan Schneider scored 12 points to reach 1000 points in his illustrious Marist career.
Lawrence Williams said that they would look rebound next year from a disappointing season.
” I felt like this was a transition year for us. A new coach, and some new freshmen coming into our program this year it were tough to win games. The conference was at in all time high. We are losing the two seniors in Gregory and Schneider but I feel like we will have a good season next year. ”
The Marist women took a different approach to the season. They look to rebound from last years 2nd round loss to LSU. LSU went on to the Final Four. The women started off the season strong going 3-0 to begin the season. They faced their true tough test of the season very early going to Norman, Oklahoma to face the number 2 ranked Oklahoma Sooners. They would not come out on top, losing 83-57. The season would change dramatically.
After that crushing blow, the Red Foxes went on to win 14 straight games before losing their next game to Fairfield 73-65 in overtime. They finished the season winning six straight games before entering the MAAC Tournament. They were the prohibited favorite to win this tournament and get back into the NCAA Tournament for the third year in a row.
They started the tournament defeating Loyola 81-27. They allowed the fewest points in their existence of being in the Division 1 of the NCAA. The previous low was on December 10,2006 when they defeated Manhattan 70-30. Rachel Fitz led the team scoring 15 points. There were five players in double-figures for the Red Foxes. Nest challenge was Iona in the MAAC Semifinals.
The Marist women could not be stopped in the semifinals. They wanted to repeat as champions and they defeated Iona 76-69. Again Rachel Fitz was the story in the game. She dominated Iona scoring 29 points and had a career high in rebounds with 18. Julianne Viani also had a great game scoring 19 points and had 4 assists. The only thing stopping Marist from their fourth straight MAAC Championship were the Canisius Golden Griffins.
Marist defeated Canisius 78-63 to win their fourth straight MAAC Tournament and advanced to the NCAA Tournament. The team got 22 points for their guard Viani, who was also named tournament MVP. Rachel Fitz and Erica Allenspach were named to the All-Tournament team. Marist will advance to the NCAA Tournament for the fourth time in four years.
Marist Sophomore Chris Reynolds is excited to see the women back in the big dance.
“Two years ago, I remember them making noise by making it to the Sweet 16. Last year they played a tough team in LSU. They are now on the map and I am going to look forward to seeing them in the tournament and possibly making it to the Final Four for the first time in Marist history.”
The women finished the season 29-3 and have more work to do to add to their already incredible record.