Your Hoopscribe had the opportunity to see both the Marist men's and women's teams this past weekend and is passing along information and personal thoughts on both.
Here's a report on the Marist men.
Despite a 2-8 record against conference foes, a 7-14 overall mark and an active seven-game losing streak, Marist has the clear look of a program finally on the rise.
A year ago, while it was struggling through a 3-15/6-25 campaign, Manhattan had a similar look and was touted in this blog as a program likely to turn it around quickly.
Now? The Jaspers are tied the lead in the MAAC standings with a 9-2 record and a 16-7 overall ledger.
The similarities between last year's Manhattan team and this year's Marist squad are, well, similar.
Manhattan last season, like Marist this year, had good young and developing talent. It had a key player out for the season and it had a good recruiting class coming in.
Sounds a lot like this year's Marist team that has just one senior on its roster (R.J. Hall), and he is not currently in the playing rotation, a standout (6-foot-6 forward Dorvell Carter) who won't play again this season, and has two incoming recruits (6-10, 240-pound Eric Truog and 6-7 Phillip Lawrence) to help a thin front court a year from now ... although recruits are always an uncertainty until they start playing at the college level.
Still, the Red Foxes look like the future will be well-served, particularly as freshmen Chavaughn Lewis, a talented swingman; the point guard tandem of Isaiah Morton and T.J. Curry and sophomore big man Adam Kemp develop.
Manhattan's quick turnaround also included a change on the sidelines as Barry Rohrssen, who accumulated much of his program's talent, gave way to current first-year head coach Steve Masiello.
And, on occasion, a coaching transition is part of a program's turnaround. Your blogger can't claim inside information as to Chuck Martin's contract status at Marist, but the feeling here is that any in-place coach that (if we can paraphrase former football coach Bill Parcells) buys the proverbial groceries should have the opportunity to also cook the meal.
Anyway, here are some thoughts from Martin on his program's current state, immediately following his team's 66-55 loss against Siena recently in which the Saints' junior forward O.D. Anosike scored 21 points and pulled down 12 rebounds.
"He's a different player than a year ago ... as a junior he has come into his own," said Martin. "He's just more physical than our guys."
Anosike is also a year older, and vastly more experienced than Marist's inside players, particularly Kemp (8 points/8 rebounds vs. Siena), who only played 16 games as a freshmen before a season-ending injury.
But, the potential is that opponents might be voicing similar sentiments about Kemp a year from now, as well as some other players whose physiques fill out (particularly the slender Lewis).
"With players like Morton, Kemp, T.J. Curry, Chavaughn, Manny (Thomas, a freshman), Jay Bowie (a sophomore) ... our future is bright," said Martin. "But there's still a long way to go this season, and we hope the process begins paying off before the year is out.
"What we really need right now is a win to kind of clear away the doubts. If we can get a win, get the pieces to start to come together ... we're capable of rattling off two or three more in a row. We're playing for today, but we know there's also a bright tomorrow here. We feel like the future here is legitimate."