The Maryville Saints men’s basketball team is having one of the best seasons in school history, currently sitting at 16-6. The past few years haven’t been the best for the Saints. Last season, they ended 9-21 overall with only 3 wins in their conference. So, what has changed in such a short time that is making such a huge impact?
When Marvin Grant-Clark, currently in his last season with the team, was asked about the season he stated “it’s how you would want to end your college basketball career.”
Comparing the Saints’ season last year with their current season is like comparing night and day. The Saints record for the 2016-2017 season was 9-21, compared to 17-7 with 3 games left in the 2017-2018 season. A 3-15 conference record last season, with a 9-6 conference record this season. They were at 5-9 at home last season, 12-2 this season.
Many things have changed. New members joining the team, some players not returning and hiring a new head coach are the most notable changes.
The most obvious change from last season to this season would be the new head coach, Marc Stricker. The St. Louis-native was the assistant coach for the Saints for two years before he was given the head coach position.
When asked about the impact coach Stricker has had on the team, Evan Booker, senior player and assistant, said “I would credit coach Stricker’s recruiting and also his new system that he brought in. I just think that some of the new guys that we have, four of the starters are people who transferred from different schools. He’s brought in a lot of good players that helped us along this way.“
Under coach Stricker, the Saints recruited five new players, some who were Division I transfers. The new members of the Saints’ basketball team are Teehjay Bogan, Eugene Jones, Marko Pantovic, Casey Teson and Robin Thompson. Pantovic is the only new player that was not originally from the St. Louis area. Including Jimmy Barton, Nolan Berry, Evan Booker and Zach Colletta, the Maryville Saints have a total of eight hometown players on the team.
According to Booker, the team having such a hometown presence has helped them this season, especially at home. He said, “Everybody’s home. Everybody’s happy. It’s cool having everyone here. It’s cool not being the only one from St. Louis.
“We gotta protect our home court if anything. And a lot of the guys are transfers that went off to the big school, didn’t work out and this is like their homecoming. Their last shot. So that’s how we’re treating it. We got one shot at it,” Booker said.
The Saints are having one of the best seasons in school history, so make sure you get out and show support. Their next game is a home game against McKendree University on Feb. 17, 2018, at 3 p.m. Make sure you show out to the game and follow them on twitter @MaryvilleHoops to keep up to date with the team.