The Oral History of the Rik Smits Era at Marist College

Chapter 1: Getting Smits to Marist

Dennis Murray, Marist College President (1979-2016): “One of the very first decisions I had to make when I became President in 1979 was: ‘Are we going to make that big jump and become Division I?’ It was a big jump in terms of cost, a big jump in terms of commitment to athletics and commitment to recruit Division I athletes to the college. I ultimately became convinced that it was the right thing to do for Marist.”

Marist Men’s Basketball elevates to Division I prior to the 1981-1982 season.

D. Murray: “It required that all our athletic programs take a major step up to compete. In fact, that was always the question about Marist. Would we be able to compete at the Division I level?”

D. Murray: “In the early ‘80s, we were making that transition to Division I sports. Making some changes in coaches knowing that we would have to recruit better athletes, have more scholarships, etc. to really compete at the higher level.”

D. Murray: “Marist didn’t have the great campus we have today nor the reputation we have today. And, of course, reputation is how you not only recruit good students, but good athletes.”

Tim Murray, Marist Men’s Basketball Assistant Coach (1986-1989): “Mike Perry was named our basketball coach and never coached a game. He was hired, he had a lot of international contacts, and it was truly Mike who started the international recruiting.”

T. Murray: “He had a gentleman by the name of Bogdan Jovicic, a Yugoslavian, and between the two of them, they were the ones who recruited Rik, Miro Pecarski from Yugoslavia, Peter Krasovec from Hungary, and Rudy Bourgarel from Guadalupe.”

Rik Smits, Marist Men’s Basketball Center (1984-1988): “I was playing for a youth club team in the Netherlands. I was kind of out of options over there [the Netherlands] as far as schooling. I didn’t know what I wanted to do. So I said, ‘Hey, let me try the United States.’”

Smits: “So, I had sent some letters out to what’s called the ABA USA at the time, the Amateur Basketball Association. And I said, ‘Hey, I’m 7’4”, or 7’3” at the time, young kid, interested in maybe playing some ball over in the United States. How do I go about doing that?’ So, I got a letter back and they had some responses from interested schools, I think it was an NEIE school or Division III school, something like that.”

Smits: “At the time, I was practicing with a senior-style team in a different town. Practicing once a week just to get experience. Well, one of those guys that were on the team heard about a coach coming to watch one of their games and he was looking for players to go to the United States. And that was Coach Perry.”

Smits: “He said, ‘If you want, I can introduce you to him and you can talk to him.’ So, I went to the game, got introduced to coach, and I guess he was already told about me beforehand. But I got to talk to him, and he showed interest. We met again the next day; he came to my hometown. When we talked even more, he ended up offering me a scholarship.”

Rik Smits: “He never even saw me play, no footage or anything. But he just saw my height and offered me a scholarship. And that was it.”

Rik Smits accepts Marist’s scholarship offer.

D. Murray: “The coach at the time recruited Rik. He actually recruited a number of international athletes. I think part of his strategy was that it would be difficult for a new school to recruit talented American athletes because more established programs would get them.”

D. Murray: “Back then, there was not as much of an emphasis on international athletes in the United States. Every now and then, a coach could discover a ‘jewel in the rough.’ Today, they know every basketball player in every country, how good they are, what their potential is. It has become a very sophisticated international operation analyzing those people with those reputations.”

D. Murray: “Rik Smits really was a jewel in the rough. The Netherlands was not known for basketball at all back in that period. He was the first great basketball player not only at Marist, but from the Netherlands.”

Smits: “Actually, [there was] another school, right around that same period, a guy from Fresno St. His name was Ron Adams, who’s now the assistant coach at Golden State. He was over there and saw me play with the Junior team. And I was young. I only had a year, or a year and a half of experience. So, he’d seen me play but he wasn’t interested, I guess. He ended up taking two other guys from the Netherlands that ended up going to Fresno St.”

Smits: “Then, there was a coach. Dale Brown, who was the coach at LSU at the time. He had seen me play, but he thought I was too undeveloped and too raw. So, he hooked me up with a junior college in Texas somewhere. He said, ‘Hey, why don’t you go to this school for a couple years and maybe I’ll have you transfer or after junior college come to LSU after that.’ And I really didn’t want to do that.” 

Smits: “We had, at some point with the National team, played a practice game against Hofstra University, who was Division I. And I played really well against them. So, I had a goal set in my mind that, hey I can at least play Division I. I don’t want to do anything less. So, when Marist came along they ended up being the only Division I team to offer a scholarship.”

Chapter 2: Adjustment, Development & Improvement

Smits: “I really didn’t know what to expect in the United States. I remember, at the time, there were a couple of TV series called ‘Dallas’ and ‘Dynasty’ and that was about it. That’s what I knew of the United States – looking at the television shows. Obviously, it was nothing like that at Marist.”

Smits: “Holland is such a densely populated country. I always felt like I was out of place and too crowded over there. So, when I came to the United States, it was all the big cars and all the room.”

D. Murray: “I do remember him when I met him the first time when he was a student. When you shook hands with him, his hands were giant. And I was an athlete and played a lot of different sports. But his hands would engulf you. Of course, the thing that struck you the most was his height because he was always a very big man.”

Floyd Patterson (former World Heavyweight Champion boxer), President Dennis Murray & Rik Smits at Smits’ graduation (1990). Photo courtesy of Dennis Murray.

Smits: “In Holland, when I was there, you get laughed at and you get pointed at just for being different and being so tall. And that’s what made me so insecure about myself. And when I came to Marist, for the first time in my life, I heard somebody say, ‘Man, I wish I was that tall.’ And I was like ‘Wow, I’ve never heard that in my life before.’ Right there is where my confidence started growing in myself. Like I said, I was always so insecure and so shy. And, here, somebody says that to me, and it’s like ‘Holy cow, really?’ Man, that is something I’ll never forget.”

Head coach Mike Perry and staff are fired in 1984. Only assistant coach Bogdan Jovicic remained.

T. Murray: “So, Mike Perry gets the job and recruits all these international players. But unfortunately, for the college, he was breaking all these rules. There was an incident with Mike Perry that forced the college to terminate him before he coached a game.”

Smits: “I don’t think it was frustrating. Perry never coached us one minute, so we didn’t really miss him there.”

. . .

D. Murray: “The coach, really in recruiting Rik, found an individual with great athletic potential, but was not a great basketball player his freshman year. That’s what most people don’t realize. They think Rik Smits came in here and was dominant from day one.”

John McDonough, Marist Men’s Basketball Guard (1984-1988): “Rik was a legitimate 7’4” when he showed up on campus. Kind of a bag of bones. Probably at that time had only played basketball for a year or two, if that. He had trouble even catching the ball. He just had never played basketball. Obviously, Holland, at that time, was not a hotbed for basketball. He was a work in progress.”

Smits: “In the summer, they brought me out here two months early before school started. So, I went to a summer camp in Upstate New York and we played ball there every day in the camp with a couple guys that eventually went pro and a lot of good college players. So, right there is where I learned a lot, and that helped me get ready for my freshman year.”

Smits: “I think I adjusted very well and very fast. I do remember the pace being a lot faster, everything being more intense and much more physical. But, yeah, I adjusted pretty well to it.”

Matt Furjanic is hired as head coach.

Smits: “I had no problem with Furjanic. Got along really well with Jim Todd and the other assistants. Bogdan was there, always helping out.”

T. Murray: “Matt gets the job, and Rik’s freshman year they are ok.”

McDonough: “I didn’t know anything about Rik Smits or any of the foreign recruits. The only thing that we knew here was that one [Smits] was 7’4”, and one [Rudy Bourgarel] was 6’11”. That’s all you knew. Back then there was obviously no internet or anything like that. So you just took it for what the coaches said. The new coaching staff didn’t really know anything about him either. They didn’t recruit him. That was kind of a trial and error as things went over.”

D. Murray: “His freshman year, I’d say he was a good player, but he wasn’t a dominant player by any means. The thing I remember about him most was how hard he worked.”

Dennis Murray: “He was one of the hardest working athletes I think we have ever had at Marist.”

D. Murray: “He’d get up early every morning and do one-on-one practices. Learn how to shoot. Learn how to work around the basket. Then, of course, the regular practices in the afternoon. He was very, very dedicated and the coaches developed him dramatically.”

Smits: “That’s one of the big reasons I ended up successful, I guess – putting in the extra time. Those guys [Jim Todd and Jeff Bower] saw the potential. They saw I was still raw, I didn’t have bad habits, and I did what they told me to do. That’s one of the things that they liked – I was very coachable. Definitely owe a lot to those guys for coming out in the gym early. I remember getting up at 5:00 in the morning before class. And I wasn’t a morning person, but I did it and it definitely helped in the end.”

McDonough: “With the coaches, Jim Todd was really the one guy who deserves most of the credit with developing Rik Smits. He worked him forever, and they started simply with him learning how to catch a basketball. Rik Smits put the time in and was there before practice started, after practice ended, and everything in between. He went from a guy who showed up at Marist struggling to even catch a basketball to the number two pick in the Draft.”

D. Murray: “I talked to Rik a number of times about his early years and what allowed him to, over his four years at Marist, turn into a great athlete. And I think one of the things that was key was he played soccer as a youth. So, where he wasn’t a great shooter or basketball player when he first came here, he had some mobility. And I attribute that to having played soccer, which is the number one sport in the Netherlands.”

D. Murray: “Every game, he was getting a little better and little more confident. All this extra work and practicing he was doing was starting to pay off. I was always impressed with how much he improved. That’s the key thing. We see today a lot of these one-and-dones coming to college basketball. They are good when they get to college. They leave after a year or two and they are good when they get to the pros. That wasn’t the case with Rik. Even when he started with the Pacers, he continued to improve throughout his entire career.”

Marist finishes with a record of 17-12 and loses in the semifinals of the ECACM Tournament.

Chapter 3: A Trip to the Dance & Another Coaching Change

T. Murray: “In terms of his development, he physically came into his own body from his freshman to sophomore year. And he learned how to play.”

Smits: “In the summer (going into sophomore year), I went back and played with the Dutch National men’s team, not the youth team. And that really gave me some confidence. I did really well in those tournaments. And playing against those European guys at the time as a young kid gave me a tremendous amount of confidence. And I carried that right over into the college season.”

T. Murray: “I remember we had tennis rackets we had to use in order to get a hand in his face. Nobody had a hand that could reach where his head was.”

Smits’ sophomore year, Marist completes the regular season with a record of 19-12 and wins the 1986 ECACM Tournament. It is Marist’s first ever trip to the NCAA Tournament.

T. Murray: “Sophomore year, they won the ECAC Metro. They went [to the NCAA Tournament], and they played Georgia Tech. John Salley.”

Smits: “I don’t even think I was familiar with the format of how the NCAA Tournament worked. The only time I had seen an American basketball game was at a camp. Somebody had a whole tape of a Laker game. That was the only game I ever saw before I came here. So I had no idea what the NCAA Tournament was like. And yeah, not even those first two years until we got there.”

Smits: “And then, the media attention and the hype of everything. It was pretty phenomenal. I know I really enjoyed it. You want it more. Once you hit that and once you got to there, you want it more. ”

Jim McKenzie, Marist College Student (1986-1990): “I decided to attend Marist in the spring of 1986, which was the first year that Marist reached the NCAA Tournament. There was buzz around the team that year, with the expectation that the school had an ‘up and coming’ basketball program that would be competitive moving forward. I did not know any of the players before the tournament, but was aware of Rik Smits after watching that year.”

Photo courtesy of Marist Athletics.

McDonough: “Playing in the tournament was obviously great. There were a ton of people watching the games. Once we won, none of us really knew what to expect going to the NCAA Tournament. We went down to New Orleans, we were at LSU, and it was brand new for us. We didn’t know what to expect or how things worked. It was a little overwhelming going down there.”

McDonough: “We took it in stride, and we went down there, and we were playing Georgia Tech in the game. We were playing them tight the entire game. Actually, we were leading and Rik Smits had three fouls. At about the nine- or ten-minute mark of the second half, he got fouls four and five. And that was the end of us right there.”

Marist loses to Georgia Tech, 68-53, in the first round of the 1986 NCAA Tournament.

McDonough: “He had been playing very well. The entire gym wasn’t packed, but the entire gym, with thousands upon thousands of people, I’d say about 90% were rooting for us just because we were the underdog. We played them very competitively, especially considering all of the future pros they had on their team at that time. That was great. It was a lot of fun. It was an experience a lot of basketball players never get to go through.”

Smits: “It wasn’t until the end of my sophomore year when we went to the NCAA Tournament and I played pretty well against Georgia Tech. And those guys went on to play in the NBA. It was like, “Wow, I did pretty good against those guys. I wonder if I have a shot.’ That’s when it [the NBA] first came into my head, not a minute before that.”

. . .

Head coach Matt Furjanic and staff are fired. Once again, only Bogdan Jovicic remains. Dave Magarity is hired as the new head coach.

T. Murray: “Even after having such a successful year, the college made the decision to terminate Matt Furjanic.”

T. Murray: “Dave Magarity was hired in the spring of 1986, which was after Rik’s sophomore year. So, Dave Magarity had to re-recruit Rik Smits when he got the job, and he actually went over to Eindhoven, Holland, his hometown, to meet with the family and convince the family that he should stay in Poughkeepsie, as opposed to all of the higher-level programs who saw the level he was playing at when they played against Georgia Tech in the NCAA Tournament.”

T. Murray: “When Matt Furjanic was let go, everybody said ‘Well, we can get this kid to transfer.’ Dave Magarity did a great job to convince Rik to stay, and it turned out very well for Rik being the second overall pick in the NBA Draft.”

Smits: “Man, I loved college. I never even thought a minute about transferring. I had friends there. I felt at home there. I loved the coaches, all of them. For the rest, I wouldn’t do anything different.”

Smits: “Magarity, when he came, he was awesome. We got along really well. Furjanic was more of a guy that didn’t get close with his players. He let his assistants try to get close. But Magarity was. He was close. He really felt like he wasn’t only your coach, but your friend and your mentor. And I responded to that really well. We still talk a couple times a year. I consider him a friend for the rest of my life.”

T. Murray: “One of the things Dave did was bringing in Jeff Bower. Jeff was a college guy, but was really into the NBA. Jeff would spend countless hours with Rik on the court with his footwork, with his hands. Whether it was passing him golf balls just so he would develop his hands.”

T. Murray: “I came in with Dave Magarity. He kept Bogdan because of his relationship with the international players. He brought in Jeff Bower because Jeff had worked with Dave at St. Francis.”

Jeff Bower, Marist Men’s Basketball Assistant Coach (1986-1995): “I was aware of who he [Rik Smits] was and what was starting to take place. The opportunity to get to know him and work with him was something that was an exciting part for all of us.”

T. Murray: “Dave Magarity had nothing to do with getting Rik here, but had everything to do with keeping Rik here.”

Chapter 4: Continued Progression Breeds Continued Success

McDonough: “It started off that Rik was just a 7’4” guy in the Northeast Conference and he just kind of stood there. Every year, he got a little bit more mobile, started understanding the game, put the time in, and he developed. Every year, you saw the strides that he made.”

Bower: “One of the things Coach Magarity wanted was to have a program that helped all players get better. One of the things we did was have additional morning workouts in between class schedules for about an hour. During those workouts, we focused on very basic fundamentals. Willing to try and get the simple things done, like balance, footwork, body positioning, shooting, technique, specific post moves, and how to play out of situations. But it was really a lot of drills to get that repetitive fundamental nature to things ingrained.”

Bower: “He was starting to develop. He had made a lot of progress in his growth as a player. I think the thing that was of significance was that, as his status grew and people became more and more aware of him, they started dealing with him in different ways from a defensive nature. And he had to learn to handle much more defensive situations and learn how play against multiple defenders.”

T. Murray: “Drafton Davis. He’s the one that took advantage of the fact that he was playing with Rik Smits. He held, up until Jared Jordan came, all the assist records at Marist.”

Bower: “That team [Rik’s junior year] really came together and played terrific basketball throughout most of the season. The stretch throughout February was really something we remembered. The crowds that were generated that were nightly in the McCann Center was something that I think was a lasting impression and memory that everyone has.”

D. Murray: “When we played at the McCann Center it would sell out every night. It was ruckus. I hope we get that back someday. It was truly exciting.”

McKenzie: “Basketball games were packed with students, alumni, and local fans. Back then, Marist was a ‘basketball’ school. Even the mascot ‘shooter’ was about basketball.”

Smits: “I have a lot of good memories about that time. It was always packed. It was just a great atmosphere to play in. We looked forward to every home game. I mean, I looked to every game, but the home games, they were pretty awesome. What a great fan base we had at the time, and the students were really into it. Yeah, it was a blast playing there.”

Smits: “Yeah, the nickname [the “Dunking Dutchman”] came here. One of my buddies, he was on the swim team. His name was Tom Begg. He was kind of ‘the guy’ in the fan club, man. He was the one that made the shirts, and he was the one that started the banners. He was one of the biggest Marist fans. I don’t know if he started it or it was an article. But I know he made t-shirts with my name on it like that and he was definitely a part of it.”

Photo courtesy of the New York Daily News.

Bower: “It was unique because that year, we were fortunate to host the conference finals, where we were able to win and clinch the NCAA bid on our home floor. That made it even more special. That was something that lasts with everyone’s memory.”

Smits wins the 1987 ECACM Player of the Year his junior year. The team wins the 1987 ECACM Tournament after going 20-10 in the regular season. As a result, Marist advances to the NCAA Tournament for a second straight year.

Smits: “Growing up, I was always really, really insecure. So, all these accomplishments – I’m sure they lifted my spirits and lifted my confidence somewhat.”

McKenzie: “I recall watching in the dorm the CBS announcement of the NCAA Tournament brackets and Jim Nance saying, ‘Pittsburgh will take on the foreign legion from Marist College.’ The team had some other strong foreign born players including Miroslav Pecarski and Rudy Bourgarel.”

Marist loses to Pittsburgh, 93-68, in the first round of the 1987 NCAA Tournament.

T. Murray: “The game [vs. Pittsburgh] was over before halftime.”

Chapter 5: Violations & NBA Aspirations

T. Murray: “I remember when the decision came down. We were all called up to Dr. Murray’s office, the president at the time. It was a very emotional thing. Dave took a new job without any knowledge of any NCAA rules violations.”

As a result of violations involving former head coach Mike Perry, Marist was ineligible to participate in both the 1988 ECACM Tournament and 1988 NCAA Tournament. Smits was also suspended for nine games, which he served during his junior year.

T. Murray: “There was a lot of misunderstanding. Not only by the fact that an American kid would’ve been confused, but an international kid who didn’t understand our system of collegiate athletics.”

Smits: “I fully understand what happened. At the time, we were just impressionable kids who did what our athletic director told us to do, you know. We put our trust into him, and it didn’t work out too good, unfortunately. He didn’t know how to deal with it, either. He made some wrong choices that ended up costing us. Costing me nine games. And us. Not everyone got suspended maybe, but I know personally I would not have gotten penalized as much as I did if it just did what was right, right from the beginning. We were told to say certain things, and we went with it. And it backfired on us, unfortunately.”

T. Murray: “You wouldn’t know if Rik was distraught or not. If you knew Rik, he never got too high or too low. Didn’t matter whether we were playing Kansas or FDU, he was the same in terms of his temperament.”

Smits: “But, of course I was upset that I wasn’t playing and I was sitting on the bench watching my team lose some games. But, I looked forward to playing when I could and making the most of it.”

Smits: “Those nine games would’ve been nice to have. I wish I was truthful with the NCAA right from the beginning with the investigation. And told them, ‘Hey, Mike Perry gave me a ticket. Mike Perry bought me a meal. Mike Perry gave me a winter coat.’ We were told to say something different and that’s what we did. Then, later on when they hired an attorney, St. John’s gets in trouble with the NCAA, so they hired the St. John’s attorney. And he says: ‘Oh, you got to tell the truth. And when they ask you why did you lie the first time, just tell them you were afraid.’ So, that’s what we did.”

D. Murray: “Rik himself never did anything wrong. The NCAA rules were complex and intricate with massive details. Whereas the coaches made some mistakes, Rik had nothing whatsoever to do with it.”

McDonough: “We didn’t get to play in the ECAC tournament our senior year. It was kind of bittersweet. You get a taste of it [the NCAA Tournament] our sophomore and junior year and you want a little payback as to how bad we played our junior year against Pitt. To show, ‘Hey, we deserved to be here, but we couldn’t because of the violations.’”

McDonough: “We really didn’t pay attention to it. I can’t really remember when exactly the penalty came down and when we knew what was going happen. But we were good, so that kind of overshadowed the glooming end of our careers.”

Bower: “It was a disappointment obviously to walk into that type of situation. What we focused on, instead of that, was the schedule we had put in place. It was highlighted with marquee matchups because of the abilities of Rik and some of the other players. We had a home-and-home series with the University of Miami that featured Rik playing against Tito Horford, two of the best big men in college basketball. Other games like that that were great games to play, great challenges, and that’s what we focused on.”

Bower: “From an individual standpoint, we didn’t really change with Rik and that team. The goal was to continue to work and get as far along in improving as possible. The Draft was not the center point of anything that we did at that point. We were certainly aware of it and tried to bring some elements in that we thought would maybe be beneficial for him. We had a number of NBA scouts and team officials spend time with us, come to practices, watch practices, sit and talk afterwards about different things they thought would be helpful that would make a better transition to the NBA.”

McDonough: “He created a huge buzz on campus especially our senior year. That’s when the talks started of him becoming a first round NBA draft pick. And as the year progressed, it started to get into the top 15, top 10, top five pick, and that created a huge buzz around the school.”

T. Murray: “I don’t think, even up until midway through his senior year, that anyone ever thought he could be the number two pick in the draft.”

Rik Smits: “I didn’t really look into the future. I didn’t think, ‘Hey man, I’m going to get drafted. I’m going to make the NBA.’ That was never a goal. That was never even thought. I just kind of took things as they came, lived in the moment and went with it.”

Smits: “I just focused on winning Marist games. I never, even when it was after my senior year, I didn’t think I was going get drafted that high, and there really was no focus on it. In the back of my mind, I didn’t believe it was ever going to happen.”

Rik Smits ends his Marist career with a record of 18-9 in the regular season. Marist finishes first in the ECACM regular season but is disqualified from postseason play.

Chapter 6: A Lasting Impact On & Off the Court

McDonough: “As far as what the team thought of Rik, everyone thought he was great. A nice person. A good guy. I was very close with him. We got along very well. Everybody on the team did. There’s not one person that I know of that ever had a problem with him.”

Bower: “He was extremely coachable and an extremely good person. He was highly appreciative of the time that was spent with him and extremely appreciative with the Marist community of how they embraced him from the minute he first got there.”

Bower: “That goes for his family as well. Both his mother and his father were extremely grateful for all that had been done for him. Rik was a great teammate and a great ambassador for the school. He was a player who was very humble. He had unique abilities for anyone in college basketball, let alone for a student at Marist College.”

T. Murray: “Rik played basketball because he was 7’4″. I don’t think he ever played basketball because he ever had a tremendous passion for it. But, he was 7’4″, he was talented, he was a hard worker and he was smart.”

McKenzie: “He was around campus at parties, but was a low key type of guy that I recall was friendly and was seen with his girlfriend, players, and other guys that worked with the team.”

Bower: “The most telling thing about Rik is that he still keeps in touch today with the people at the college. He keeps in touch with the coaches he was with. He still has many of the same relationships that he had back in college. He’s a very loyal person and loyal to the school. That’s been the things that has impressed me the most.”

D. Murray: “It was not only that he was a good basketball player, but he was a good representative of the college. He was always respectful, always pro-Marist. He did a great job dealing with the community. I can remember all these little kids with him signing autographs. He always took time to deal with people. He was a class act; there’s no doubt about it.”

Photo courtesy of the Poughkeepsie Journal.

T. Murray: “I think it had an incredibly profound impact on a young college. Marist is still young, but even younger back then. We were on CBS Evening News on a story that took a look at the influx of international players and how Marist took advantage of that. Playing in the NCAA tournament, the exposure we received there was invaluable to our admissions process.”

D. Murray: “It made my job better to tell you the truth. First of all, I love sports. I’ve been involved in sports all my life. I think I’ve been to almost every home football game that’s been played here at Marist since 1979. I go to all the basketball games. It added an enjoyable element for me and the college.”

D. Murray: “Locally, it really established Marist Basketball as where your sporting interest was in the winter. Because he was good, we were in the press more. He was getting recognition, so Marist was getting recognized more. The whole college was on an upswing. I’m sure Rik contributed to that. I think there were many factors in terms of a new direction for Marist and a new enthusiasm about the college. A new mission and brand we were promoting. He was part of that very successful era, no doubt.”

T. Murray: “The athletic success with Rik’s help coupled with the growth of the college. They both grew together.”

D. Murray: “At pro basketball games, when they introduce the players, they always mention the college the players went to. Every time he played in a major city around the world, Marist was being mentioned. People were learning about Marist. He was one of the things that put Marist on the map.

Following his Marist career, Smits was taken as the second pick of the 1988 NBA Draft by the Indiana Pacers. Smits played all 12 of his NBA seasons with the Pacers, which included one All-Star Team selection (1998) and one appearance in the NBA Finals (2000).

Edited by Meaghan Roche & Will Bjarnar

Header image courtesy of Lily Caffrey-Levine

3 thoughts

  1. Loved reading this article and learning how Rik came to the US. Enjoyed reminiscing about basketball’s golden era of the 1980s. Rik played against, and stood toe-to-toe with, some of the greatest players of of all-time. Thank you.

  2. “There was an incident with Mike Perry that forced the college to terminate him before he coached a game.”
    -Tim Murray


    Shame on you Tim Murray,

    Shame on you for not having the pedophile Mike Perry prosecuted and put on a the national sexual predator list.
    Good thing you looked out for your best interests instead of your students. You and Mike Perry got away with it!

    …or did you? Sleep well Tim.

    -Another victim of Mike Perry

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