Coach Maestri column

by: Andy Simmons

In a perfect world, the Troy men’s basketball team would have won this past Saturday and head coach Don Maestri would have been honored at home for his 500th career win.

Alas, the Trojans stumbled to put away North Texas, and Maestri’s long awaited, historic triumph will have to wait for tonight when they take on Louisiana Lafayette in Cajun Country.

Despite this years’ mediocre season, Masetri’s longevity and influence to the Troy basketball program has been nothing short of monumental.

So what will win number 500 mean for him once it finally arrives?

The Trojan nation has already embraced Maestri as the face of Troy basketball, so the win can only help but add to his already impressive legacy here.

Let’s be clear here when we say that Troy is not known for being a basketball powerhouse, unable to churn out teams into the big dance year after year. The Trojans only birth occurred in 2002-03, when they won the Atlantic Sun tournament. They fell to Xavier in the first round.

But Maestri has been able to find success at Troy despite it not being the traditional powerhouse.

Troy has won regular season titles in three different Division I conferences under the guidance of Masetri which include: The Great South Conference (91’), The East Coast Conference (94’), The A-Sun (2000, 2002-2004) and the Sunbelt (2010).

Maestri has also been recognized by his peers for his coaching efforts as well. Five different conferences have awarded him with Coach of the Year honors, tying him with West Virginia’s Bob Huggins for the most among active coaches.

And now, he’s closing in on the 500 club. An elite fraternity that only a few active coaches can lay claim to.

Coaches like Rick Pitino, Bo Ryan, Roy Williams, Rick Barnes and of course, Mike Krzyzewski.

To be able to join such company is a homage to the hard work that Maestri has put forth for Troy in his 31 year tenure here.

In todays’ modern era, where head coaches move to and from schools at the blink of an eye, the “Don” has stayed loyal to the Trojan nation and has reaped the rewards. Not many coaches can lay claim to hanging with the same school for as long as he has. In fact, the only coaches that have had longer tenures at their same institution are Coach K, Sacred Heart’s David Bike and Syracuse’s Jim Boeheim.

The thing is, it couldn’t happen to a more deserving individual.

Coach Maestri is one of the most humble and down to earth people you will ever meet. I’ve had the privilege to cover a plethora of games during my time at Troy and after ever game, win or loss, he is always upbeat and gives high regards to the individuals that were most deserving of his praise. His methods of motivation are also worthy of recognizing. He knows how to get the most out of his players and puts them in positions he knows that they will succeed.

So now the challenge of finally obtaining the 500th win is in the cards for him and the Trojans, but that does not mean that Maestri’s legacy was not already solidified as the greatest basketball coach Troy has ever had. It completely adds a whole new layer to the equation.

He is already a lock of the Troy sports Hall of Fame that much is for certain.

The question is, how many wins will he have by the time he gets there?

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