In year one under head coach Jeff Bower, Marist faces a challenging non-conference schedule with many of their tilts coming on the road. This should come as no surprise for Marist as they had just three home games in the non-conference portion of their schedule last season at home. For a program that is looking to broaden their profile, playing games on the road and in high-profile preseason tournaments is a must, and that’s something Bower understands.
“The more diversified the experiences can be, the better it will have us prepared for MAAC games. The success on the road is something that has been hard to come by. This is going to give us an early indication of the progress that we’re making. It will force us to adapt to playing on the road, and hopefully we’ll benefit from the experiences,” Bower told the Poughkeepsie Journal.
Not only will playing on the road challenge Marist, but it most likely will challenge Bower who has spent nearly the last 20 years away from the bench in the NBA in various roles (Bower was the interim coach for the New Orleans Hornets during the 2009-10 season following the firing of Byron Scott). Once a coach, always a coach. Plus, Bower will be familiar with Marist having been an assistant coach with the Red Foxes from 1986-1995.
As for the schedule, it’s a challenging one from top to bottom. Games at Stony Brook, Providence, and St. Joseph’s to begin the season will challenge what will be a young team in the early going, and then Marist heads down to the Paradise Jam in the U.S. Virgin Islands to play Maryland in their first game. Assuming they’re unable to upset Maryland, Marist will play the loser of the Northern Iowa vs. Loyola Marymount game — both tough mid-major teams.
“We’re very much aware of the road record (in recent years) and its impact and the need to experience more success on the road. Any success creates momentum, and momentum can fuel most teams,” said Bower. “We think it’s very challenging. We think it’s a schedule that will expose us to a lot of different teams that are at the top of their conference. It’s a wide cross-section of conferences that are all highly successful basketball leagues.”
For a program like Marist who hasn’t finished above .500 since the final year of Matt Brady in 2007-08, it’s all about garnering some exposure and building the program back up — something that former coach Chuck Martin was unable to do in his five years at the helm.