Maestri remembers historic 1993, 2003 Troy teams

Published 3:12 pm Thursday, February 9, 2023

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This Saturday, Feb. 11, Troy University will honor the 1993 and 2003 men’s basketball teams before and during Troy’s home game with Louisiana at Trojan Arena.

The occasion will mark the 30-year anniversary of the 1993 team and the 20-year anniversary of the 2003 team, both historic teams in Troy history. Both teams were coached by Troy Hall of Famer Don Maestro, who will be on hand for the celebration along with a number of his former players. Troy is also being celebrating Letterwinners Day with all former Troy basketball letterwinners being invited to attend.

The 1993 squad was the first – and only- Troy team to reach a Division II National Championship game and the second to earn a Final Four appearance. The Troy teams of the 90s, known as “Trey State” for their three-point shooting prowess, were at their best in the school’s final season in Division II. Troy went 27-5 that final season in Division II and won 15 of its last 16 games, scoring more than 100 points in 25 games.

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In the semifinals, Troy survived a double overtime classic with Southern New Hampshire 126-123 on March 26, 1993, before falling to Cal State-Bakersfield 85-72 in the National Championship the following day. That game also marked the first time Troy played on national television, on CBS. Because the semifinal game lasted until the early morning hours of the next day, the NCAA made the decision moving forward to give teams a break in between the semifinals and finals in Division II games.

Troy State’s Terry McCord (30) knocks down a jumper against DeVry in 1992. (Messenger file photo)

“By the time it was over, it was 1 a.m.,” Maestri recalled. “We didn’t even go over the other team’s offense, we were pretty much sleep walking through the walkthroughs the next day.”

That 1993 team also featured Troy’s first, and only, First-Team All-American, Terry McCord. McCord averaged a Trojan single-season record 24.2 points per game.

The 2003 team may be just as historic for the Trojan basketball program as it was Troy’s very first team to make the Division I Tournament, a decade after moving from Division II to Division I.

The 2003 team went 26-6 and won the Atlantic Sun Championship for a second consecutive year, advancing to the Division I Tournament against Xavier. That team also earned the first Troy win over an SEC opponent, defeating Arkansas during the regular season. The 2003 team boasted quality players like Ben Fletcher and Greg Davis. Davis earned Atlantic Sun All-Decade honors following his career and Fletcher also earned Atlantic Sun Tournament MVP during the 2003 tournament.

“It’s great seeing those teams again,” Maestri said. “Troy Basketball during that period of time was great, the community was great. We had packed houses and it was really a great time for me and for the team and the assistant coaches. The town’s people would come to all the games and the faculty, too. We probably knew every faculty member’s name.

“It was a fun time, so it’s great to have those reunions and to honor those teams. Winning 26 games in one year, and 27 games another year, wasn’t an easy thing back then and it’s not an easy thing to do now.”

Maestri said he also enjoys seeing the Troy fans at reunions.

“It’s so great to see all those fans from back then still coming out to the games,” he said. “Both of these teams deserve to be honored because they were exceptional and were the talk of the country.”

It feels Maestri with pride to know that those Troy teams are still remembered, even nationally, to this day.

“I was watching the Duke-Wake Forrest game, and Duke was shooting a lot of threes,” he said. “(Commentator) Reece Davis said, ‘I can remember when the Troy coach would say, ‘If you want your name in the paper you better shoot a lot of threes and you better make a lot of threes.’’ Well, that goes back 30 years. Those comments were made years ago but we hold the Division I record (for three-pointers) even to this day, and the Division II record, too.”

Troy and Louisiana tipoff at 4 p.m. on Saturday and there will also be a special Mardi Gras celebration with free food outside of Trojan Arena before the game.