The regular season has come to a close for the Marist Men’s Basketball Team after finishing out the 2018-2019 season with a record of 12-18, a significant improvement from their 6-25 record of the previous year. With these numbers, Marist picked up their most wins since the 2013-2014 season.
Coach John Dunne took the helm over this past offseason coming over from Saint Peter’s University and replacing Marist’s four-year Coach Mike Maker. From the start, Dunne promised a new and improved team philosophy. “We are trying to get a defensive mindset, and a toughness mindset,” he said in an interview back in October. This approach was displayed on the court as it helped the team improve their win record by battling their way out of tough games. The season was filled with up and down games, but there were plenty of bright moments, such as Marist upsetting Iona — the number one seed in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) — back in late January.
Into February, the men went on a tear going on a four-game win streak, which included victories over three higher ranked MAAC teams as in their 78-71 win over Canisius, 63-61 win over Quinnipiac and their 75-67 win over Monmouth.
“That four in a row, our confidence was at an all time high,” Dunne said. “For these seniors, it’s probably the most confident they’ve been in their whole career.” After a reputation of losing games late in the second half, the Foxes have turned that recurring theme around and built a new team identity.
“We need to get better at some of the things we can control, scouting report, defense and offense execution, not turning the ball over,” Dunne said. “I think we made a stride in that towards the end of the season.”
As the campaign wound down, the Red Foxes matched their four-game win streak with a four-game losing streak to end the season, which costed them a big advantage going into the tournament weekend. Had they been able to win two of those four games, Marist would have been sitting in the 6th or 7th seed. Instead, in order for them to win the tournament, they will have to play and win Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Their long road ahead to Minneapolis begins with Saint Peter’s on Thursday. The Red Foxes will be playing for their head coach as he duels his former team to keep Marist’s season alive.
The Foxes will be fighting for their seniors. After three straight seasons with under 10 wins, the core of Brian Parker, David Knudsen, Ryan Funk and Isaiah Lamb will be aiming to go out on a high note leaving their final mark on their program.
“We are not looking at our ratings or our record or anything like that, we are just looking at our next game,” said senior forward Isaiah Lamb.
The MAAC Tournament, which will take place at the Times Union Center in Albany, remains wide open and any team in this conference has a chance to come home with a trophy and a bid for the NCAA Tournament later this March. “At the end of the day, we have to believe there is no one we can’t beat,” Dunne said. If the Red Foxes, who are ranked 8th in the conference, are able to win, it would be the first time since the 1986-1987 season in which they advanced into the March Madness Tournament.
It will take a lot to come out on top this weekend, but their hard work in the regular season, and a wide open tournament bode well for what could be a Marist miracle. The Red Foxes will take on St. Peter’s on Thursday Mar. 6 at 5 p.m.
Edited by Meaghan Roche & Dan Statile
Header art by Kristin Flanigan