Championship, coaching change, construction highlight busy year for Troy
It was the announcement that many felt was coming, but no one was prepared to hear.
On March 9, just minutes after being eliminated from the Sun Belt Conference Basketball Tournament, and just hours after picking up career win No. 501, Don Maestri announced to the world he was done.
Maestri patrolled the Troy bench for 31 seasons. Over the course of his 30-plus year career on the Trojan bench, Maestri guided teams to post-season play on numerous occasions, including Troy’s only trip to the NCAA Tournament in 2003. He was named Coach of the Year by five different conferences, being one of two men with that accolade.
The teams improved over the seasons and Maestri’s Trojans became known for their shooting prowess. Troy has led the nation in scoring three times, 1991, 1992 and 1996 as well as leading the nation in three-pointers seven times: 1992, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2004, 2005, and 2006. On Jan. 12, 1992, Troy became the first and only team to score 200 points in a basketball game, defeating DeVry, 258-141. Troy hit 51 three-pointers during the game, still a NCAA record.
Late in the 2012-13 season, officials at Troy named the playing surface of Trojan Arena in Maestri’s honor. Maestri was also selected as a part of Troy University Sports Hall of Fame inaugural class in 2012.
Just a few weeks after Maestri’s retirement, Troy announced Phil Cunningham as head coach, and a new era of Trojan basketball began.
Cunningham spoke on what the future of the Troy basketball would look like in his debut press conference.
“From an effort level we can control how hard we play, how hard we work in the off-season, how hard our coaches work in preparation,” said Cunningham. “In academics, going to study hall and working to get degrees. Our effort level is going to be 10-for-10 in everything we do.”
On the field of play the highlight of the 2013-year for Troy was the amazing stretch run from the Troy baseball team, culminating in the 2013 Sun Belt Conference regular season championship. The title also allowed the Trojans to take part in the NCAA Baseball Tournament in the Tallahassee Regional.
Troy knocked off in-state rival Alabama twice in the tournament, including a wild 9-8 win that saw Troy score four runs in the bottom of the final inning.
The Troy softball complex began a new face-lift in 2013, and the completion will be prior to the season opener in 2014.
Troy head coach Melanie Davis was taken back by the designs, which add an 8000-square foot training facility that includes a locker room, player lounge, batting cages, hitting area, pitching area and training room. The press box will also be updated to included offices, a media area with press box and an expanded concessions area, as well as new officials locker rooms.
“I don’t even have the words to say what this means in terms of what it means to me as a person and as a member of the Troy University family,” said head coach Melanie Davis. “The fact that the chancellor is committing the University resources along with our donor dollars to elevate our facility to the highest and the best in the Sun Belt Conference and better than almost any facility in the region, it speaks volumes to his commitment to our program.”
The Troy football team finished bowl eligible for the sixth time in the last eight years. The Trojans picked up wins over UAB, Savannah State, South Alabama, Western Kentucky, Georgia State and Texas State, en route to a 6-6 year.
The Troy Women’s basketball team scored its first-ever win in Hot Spring, Arkansas by knocking off rival South Alabama 62-49 in the tournament opener.
The Troy women also made history by knocking off Middle Tennessee for the first time ever. The Trojans bested the Lady Raiders 74-70 in overtime.