These pictures were taken on February 24, 2007, after the last game of the regular season from my junior year. We had just beaten Sienna College, our rival and toughest competitor in the league at the time. Both teams were tied for first place going into the game. It was the only Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) nationally televised game on ESPN that year, so not only was it great to be on TV, the game actually meant something. Luckily we settled that, winning in overtime 98-88.
This was my roommate (and still one my best friends) for three years at Marist. We had some good times for sure. I can confidently say that this day was one of the best, and he would agree.
Here’s then Marist coach Matt Brady, who coached the Marist College Red Foxes for four years, which happened to be the same four years that I had spent there. He had previously been the assistant coach for St. Joe’s University. He was responsible for recruiting Jameer Nelson and Delonte West, two current NBA players who were part of a great team the year before he came to Marist. His success as assistant gave him the credibility to become a Head Coach somewhere else. His first stop was Marist.
Coach Brady believed in me and picked me to be a walk on for the 2004-2005 season. After that there was never a question about it; I was a part of the team, as were all other walk ons who I played with during that time. He was a good guy and a great coach to play for. He truly loves the game of basketball and worked endlessly to make us better and get us to the next level. My junior season we were led by Jared Jordan, who is still playing basketball overseas. We had a real shot of making the tournament that year, but unfortunately we lost to Sienna in the MAAC conference tournament. It was as close as we (and Brady) got during our time at Marist. It just wasn’t meant to be.
Which is why it’s so rewarding to see him on TV today, Day #2 and Round 1 of the NCAA tournament. He is currently the head coach for the James Madison Dukes, who are the #16 seed, facing one of the top teams in the country, #1 Indiana Hoosiers. They don’t have much of a chance of winning this game (no #16 seed has ever won a game in the tournament), but getting there is an accomplishment all on its own. Matt Brady has already won, and there doesn’t need to be a score to prove it.
Here’s an email exchange between Coach Brady and I from a few days ago. I had wished him luck, let him know how proud I was to see him make the tournament, and ended it with this:
‘Seems like giving anything less than everything you got is merely just a waste of time; your dedication and work ethic as a coach has definitely led you down the right path.‘
He responded back: ’Your email was great to read…giving anything less than than everything you got is merely a waste of time. I will use that exact line with my team. Love it. Hope you are well. I know you talk w alot of your teammates. Hello to all. You guys were special to coach.‘
This is what makes playing basketball so amazing. It’s the relationships you build during your time together as a team. All the practices, games, road trips, pregame speeches, team meals; they all blend together, but any special team never forgets those moments. People move on in their lives, but those players never forget the moments it took to make it that special. This is why sports are so great.