Even though little more than a week has past since the Red Foxes’ season-ending loss to eventual MAAC tournament champion Manhattan, the legacy of these Marist seniors will endure further than their careers ever could.
Chavaughn Lewis exits as Marist’s all-time leading scorer with 2,119 points, but that is hardly the only accomplishment this group will be remembered for. Most programs don’t fight through the experiences they had in one year in any of their four years, yet this group dealt with new challenges in each season. Whether it was fighting for the head coach that recruited them, or learning two new systems from his successors; the games were only the tip of the iceberg for a group whose career ended against Manhattan last Saturday night.
They might not have compiled one of the best winning streaks in their four years, but they have endured through all of the struggles and came out and won just their second MAAC tournament game in their time at the school. After falling as the sixth seed last season to Niagara, it was a little bit of justice for this Red Foxes group to pull off an upset over sixth seeded Quinnipiac in the first round.
It was also in that fashion, for a school who has never won two consecutive MAAC tournament games, that the Red Foxes fought against the third-seeded Jaspers, only to fall 74-58 in their final game. After the game, senior T.J. Curry said he gave a speech in the locker room reflecting on his four years at Marist.
“I told them that, as soon as the horn went off, that was the end of my career and the upperclassmen, but its the beginning of yours,” Curry said. “Learn from our mistakes and that’s just something I just kept preaching.”
The legacy of Chavaughn Lewis, T.J. Curry, Manny Thomas and walk-on Tourron Whitfield will probably be the last class at Marist in a long time to all hail from the New York City area.
They won 43 of their 126 games over the course of their four years, but it was the difficult times that they had to endure that shaped their careers.
“I feel like we made a tremendous impact regardless of having three different coaches,” Curry said. “Everyday we practiced and played, we left it all out there and we stood humble. I feel like I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else, I’m happy with the choice that I made and I’m happy how I finished my career.”
When asked if they left the program better than they started, Lewis said that his journey through the four years he hopes laid a foundation for success.
“I preached to the guys that, don’t let the adversity go to waste,” Lewis said. “All the pain that we endured and all the obstacles that we faced, don’t let it go to waste, just keep pushing.”
“Hopefully the impact that we made on these guys and the struggles that we went through together can be led by Khallid [Hart] and the rest of the upperclassmen guys. I know the guys that are buying in and trusting the coaching staff and eventually things are going to definitely turn around.”
Now, after having the 6’5″ swingman Lewis as the face of the program, the torch will be passed on to the 6’2″ Hart, who already had his own challenges. He was forced to redshirt in 2012, Martin’s final season at the school, when he suffered a preseason injury. Last season he won MAAC Rookie of the Year, and he played alongside the seniors for two seasons, now it will be up to him to carry those lessons forward.
“All season they’ve showed a lot of toughness, resiliency, all season and I think that’s what I take away most from them,” Hart said. “They endured everything the past four years and to still walk up with their heads up high and still lead us the way they did, it’s an inspiration to me. It becomes my responsibility to take it on to the rest of the team.”
Ryan Restivo wrote the America East conference preview for the 2014-15 Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook. He covers the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, the America East conference and Hofstra for Big Apple Buckets. You can follow Ryan on Twitter @ryanarestivo or contact Ryan at rrestivo[at]nycbuckets.com.